Thursday, March 31, 2005

A secret from my youth. . . .

Back when I was in college, one of my friends had a map of North America on a corkboard, hanging on his wall. When things were slow, we would take turns throwing a dart at the map, and wherever the dart landed, we would hop in a car and drive there.

A couple of times the dart landed in Canada or Mexico; with my supreme skill at the bad lucks I always had mono or strep then.

Eventually we made a rule that it had to be a place that we could reach and return from, over one weekend. That helped immensely. Mike cut down the map to show only those places.

Sometimes, we just had time to cross a state line before we had to head back to school. Why did we do this so often? I don't know. We were in college. We were young. We were creatively silly. Do you really need a reason? We didn't. It was fun. And we were young enough that going almost anywhere without asking permission first was a novelty. To cross a state line was a high that couldn't be gotten any other way. I never mentioned this to my parents. Mom still doesn't know.

Mom still doesn't know lots of things.

I'm counting on you all not to tell her. Thank you very much.

Mike, the map's keeper, was a great guy. Cute, too. He was an awesome dancer, and had the biggest stereo speakers of anyone I knew. (Back then, that was a plus, not a minus!) He could supply the music for an entire neighborhood with a flick of a switch, and often did. We used to go dancing all the time, a large group of us, at a club attached to a semi-sleazy motel on the far east side of town. It's no longer there. I was always thankful that it never got raided when I was there; my parents would have removed me from college and put me in a convent school. And we weren't even Catholic.

By "semi-sleazy," I mean that it had a working neon sign. Truly sleazy motels don't have neon. Or if by chance they do, it doesn't work.

And I never saw the inside of the motel, so I can't enlighten you about that. Which is not to say that I was never ASKED. . . . .

I dated Mike for a year, in college. About ten years ago, I got a call from one of the old 'gang' and was told that Mike had died. Of AIDS. I hadn't even known he was gay. Everybody else did, and knew it even back then, but I never suspected. It wouldn't have made any difference; I would have still liked him; but I didn't know. Looking back, I can see it, but at the time, I didn't.

Maybe that was why he was never pushy about the motel. He asked, but he never insisted.

Whenever I think back on college memories, his face is what I see first. I wish I could still see it. Somehow, wherever he was, everybody was happy, everywhere was fun, and everything was cool.

Wherever he is now, I'm sure he is having that same effect. Big speakers and all.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 2:15 PM | |

'Tis the season. . . .

I struck gold at the Dollar Tree today. Bath and BodyWorks Shower Gel! Not off-brand. Bath and BodyWorks! For a dollar! Sweet Pea!

They also had Cucumber Melon but I do not like to come out of the shower smelling like summer salad. Somehow it seems to negate the whole shower thing if you go in smelling like pizza and come back out smelling like all you need is a good dousing of French dressing to complete your meal.

Bath and BodyWorks! I haven't been so excited since the day I found M&M's at the Dollar Tree, that were the correct season!

Seasonal things. I wonder sometimes how old my kids were when they realized that not everybody used Halloween napkins in the summertime? But, you see, they're ON SALE after the proper season is over. And sometimes, they're 90% off!

This, after everyone else in the entire county has already picked over them and Mamacita buys what's left after that. I'm cool that way.

We were still using Halloween paper towels at Christmas. As I write, we have Valentine paper towels. The Christmas Kleenex is in the bathroom. The red notebook by my monitor? I bought it yesterday. Pay no attention to the "Back to School 2004" sticker on the cover. Who cares, I mean, really?

Of course, you have to buy regular stuff when your kids are going through that sentient phase where they want the household to be totally non-embarassing. But before that, and after that, you can save some serious money by buying seasonal things in the off-season.

Hmm. I should ask my kids if we were EVER non-embarassing. Somehow I think I already know the answer to that one.

Excuse me now, if you will, while I go into the kitchen and pack a lunch for my husband. I hope he doesn't mind the Christmas baggies.

If he does, he can pack his own lunch.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:01 AM | |

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

A promise is a precious thing.

I remember when my father was being fed via an intravenous drip. He was mentally alert; it was just that his throat was swollen and scratched and he couldn't swallow. Otherwise, he was ok for the moment.

I remember when my father was being fed via a stomach tube. He was mentally alert; it was just that his throat was swollen and scratched, and the intravenous lines were needed for medications and other things. Otherwise, he was ok for the moment.

I remember when my father would ask for his wheelchair. He was mentally alert; it was just that he had no legs and it was the only way he could get around. Otherwise, he was ok for the moment.

I remember when my father asked for a large magnifying sheet. He was mentally alert; it was just that his eyes had been destroyed by a failed laser surgery, and it was the only way he could see to read. Otherwise, he was ok for the moment.

I remember when he could no longer see well enough to read even with the magnifying sheet. We read TO him, then. He was mentally alert and understood and appreciated every word he heard.

As for me, I am totally dependent on my glasses. Without them, I can not read, drive, recognize people, sew, or tell the difference between shampoo, shower gel, shaving creme, and toothpaste. Otherwise, I am fairly mentally alert, and ok for the moment.

I occasionally require the use of a cane. I am still fairly mentally alert, but my Jerry's Kid-itis makes me disoriented sometimes. Without the cane I would be falling even more often than I already do.

I can't climb stairs very well now. I need the elevator. I know, I know, there are many people who do not, but I do.

I live about thirty miles from the college. Now pioneers, back in the day, would hike that far without blinking an eye. I can't. I use a car.

I take four pills daily. Without them I would die, and soon, too. My quality of life depends on them. My life depends on them.

In fact, my life, and my quality of life, depend on several outside sources.

So far my hearing is fine. (Don't pay any attention to my children's snickering.) But if the day should come when my music is never loud even when the volume is set to 11, rest assured that I'll get a hearing aid. Preferably one of those nifty 'invisible' ones, so nobody will know that my quality of life is dependent on yet another 'device.'


Aren't we all, to some extent, dependent on devices?

Cars are a device.

Elevators are a device.

Ball point pens are a device.

The Pope has a feeding tube. People still pay attention.

Occasionally, a baby must have a feeding tube until surgery/whatever makes normal nourishment means possible. This can happen to anyone of any age, in fact.

Some people have surgery so they won't require glasses or contacts. Some people prefer the devices. Some people have no choice, because their bodies dictate which is the best for them.

Some people can't poop or pee like the rest of us can. They have a bag strapped to their leg. So what? For some people, it's a temporary thing. For others, it's a way of life.

Some people can't feed themselves, but are able to eat. Others feed them. So what? So they can't feed themselves. I can't climb stairs. Joni Eareckson can't wipe her own ass.

Where do we draw the line?

Even bedridden, Dad's quality of life was, at first, pretty good.

I have some pretty bad days, myself. Without devices and medicine, I would probably have dropped dead years ago.

Is the fact that some people require temporary devices, and others require permanent ones, the decisive factor? Whick permanent devices are bad, and which ones are okay? And by whose standards is this list made?

Joni's list would be different from some people's, I bet. Stephen Hawking's list would be different, too.

Is being an inconvenience to someone, or a hindrance to someone else's preferences, enough to warrant a death sentence?

Mental incapacity vs. physical incapacity: which is worse?

Wouldn't it depend on each individual case? And who among us is omnipotent enough to judge for anyone except ourselves?

Isn't 'execution' something that should be earned?

Until Annie Sullivan came along with her unorthodox methods, most people thought Helen Keller was a retarded deviant who should be put away. Only her mother held hope. Her mother turned out to be right. The others were all wrong.

Sarah Scantlin woke up after twenty years in a coma. It happens.

A person who is definitely dying is one thing. An otherwise healthy person who doesn't fit someone else's vision of perfection is quite another.

If she were already dying, it would be different.

Vegetative state? PERMANENT vegetative state? Show me the scans, and the MRI's, and the signed verdicts of at least three doctors who are NOT in a judge's pocket, or the pocket of an adulterer. I know, it's none of my business. It's really not, you know. I just have opinions.

I can see unplugging someone who is definitely 'gone' from the machines that kept her articifially alive. But denying nourishment is not the same thing as unplugging the machines. One is allowing nature to take its course; the other is hastening nature by unnaturally depriving the body, deliberately.

Humans actually use less than half their brains. People have survived surgeries wherein most of the brain was removed. What's left can be retrained. We've done it. A liquid brain? Where is the proof. From what I've read, that is only someone's theory.

If Michael loved her, why wasn't he faithful? People who know what love is, don't shack up with another woman and have children by her while their lawful spouse is still alive. If he loved her, if he EVER loved her, he would move heaven and earth to at least find out what works and what doesn't.

He would have had every test available administered to her. He would have encouraged visitors. Perhaps he wouldn't have exhibited baby-tantrums in front of nursing home personnel. He would have bent over backwards to try to have her helped. The trying would have proven him right or wrong. But trying would have involved thinking about her, instead of about himself.

Something tried, might have worked.

But only when the person(s) legally able to request such services, have requested them.

I guess a person would have to care an awful lot about someone, to go to that length for them. It would take a lot of love. A lot of selflessness. A lot of caring. A lot of patience. A lot of waiting. A lot of hoping. A lot of work. And more waiting.

It would be a lot easier just to have the plug pulled, and walk out the door with your inheritance and the family you created with your new woman while your wife was in the hospital. A woman who didn't mind screwing and procreating with a married man.

Tough love isn't just pulling the plug and putting someone out of her misery. Tough love sometimes means waiting for whatever is to be, to be. That is not the same thing as hiring it done.

I hope we all have signed documents on file with everyone we know, dictating what we personally want done in such circumstances. Otherwise, your fate might well be decided by someone who couldn't even wait for you to die, to drop his drawers for someone else. I wonder what he'll buy for her first, with his first wife's money. . . . .

If money wasn't important to him, why didn't he just divorce her and let people who really did love her, take care of her? Why did he continue, year after year, to maintain control, when he obviously did not love her or care anything about her, other than her money? Why did he tell two nursing homes NOT to give her antibiotics for urinary tract infections, even after he was told she would die without them?

Starvation is a painful way to die. Condemned prisoners are shown more mercy than that.

He's been quoted as saying that he didn't divorce her because he was satisfied with everything just as it was. He states that he doesn't intend to ever marry the shack-up either.

What a gem.

I have this 'thing' about fidelity. So sue me.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 8:40 PM | |

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be: Exception One.

I am often lost in the past. I'm often lost on the freeway, too, but that's another post.

Lost in the past. Mostly, lost in memories of when my children were small and needed me. We have been extremely fortunate in that neither of my children was frequently ill. They both had migraines which were often severe, and they both had the usual measles and chickenpox. Belle had walking pneumonia a few times but it never got her down. But when it came to the usual list of childhood ailments, such as earaches, vomiting, diarrhea, bad colds, flu, etc, we were really lucky. It just hardly ever happened.

Which meant, of course, that the very few times it DID happen, it was scarier than it would have been for most kids. My kids were not used to it. They still aren't.

When they were sick, I would lie with them on the sofa or bed and rub their hands and arms, and mess with their hair, and run my fingers lightly over their faces. I would sing and hum and breathe deeply and slowly to calm them down. (That breathing thing really works!) And I would love on them all night long.

Last night I was sitting here remembering that. And trying to remember when it all stopped; when did my kids stop needing me to make the bad sickness go away?

And then the phone rang.

Belle was sick; she was terribly sick, and she called me sobbing to ask me what to do.

So I got into the car and drove up there and brought her back home. I put her in her old bed and got in with her, and rubbed her hands and arms, and messed with her hair, and ran my fingers lightly over her face. I sang and hummed and breathed deeply to calm her down, and I loved on her all night long.

This morning she was shaky but better. She rode back up to Bloomington with me and I dropped her off at her apartment on my way to the college. She was going to nap a little more and try to go to work by noon.

And now I am sitting here again, lost in the past, but I'm putting a footnote (1) on it.

(1) They will always need us; the old methods will always work; they're never too old to want Momy; we never forget how to comfort them; and baby, we've still GOT it.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:06 PM | |

Sunday, March 27, 2005

I'll adopt you if you ask nicely.

We're back. Trips are nice, and coming home is nice. Coming home to all of you is even nicer. I missed you. Yes, I'm talking to you.

I wonder if it is possible to have a nicer family than mine. . . . . I don't see how it could be possible, I really don't. I'm sure you all have lovely families, but I'm sorry: after meeting mine, you'd sell yours to the gypsies and beg to hang out with mine.

Music. My family is made of music. Music and love. They sing, and they play the piano, and they sing some more, and they listen to each other sing, and they take turns playing the piano, and they can play anything anyone can name or hum. The music flows from their fingertips and and from their incredible voices, and they sing alone and they sing together and the harmony is indescribable.

Harmony in music, and harmony in fellowship. Music, and love, and harmony, and fellowship. My family.

We had a joyful and food-full reunion.

We eat a lot, clear the table, wash the dishes, wrap everything up, sing, talk, and then we set the table, get everything back out, and eat some more.

Hey, I told you I was LARGE. And while I am not blaming the family for enlarging me, they certainly did their part by setting feasts of incredible yumminess before me for the past, um, "many" years.

This morning we went to Hub's cousin's church. I am a Christian. I do not generally attend a church. The past year has been so awful that my faith has been shaken beyond any kind of quick renewal. However, I must say in all honesty, that if I lived near it, I would attend Jeff's church every time the door was unlocked. I think that if I lived near Jeff and his family, I would be a nicer person. I mean that sincerely.

I could twist this rationale to mean that if Jeff and his family came down to visit me more often, it would help immensely.

Call it a Missionary Trip, Jeff.

I will also ask you not to judge Jeff's church by its website. We're going to be working on that.

The music, however, could not be improved upon. No off-key karaoke warblers; just great music. The worst singer in the room was me.

Bad church soloists have turned more people off to church than anything else. Even bad theology makes people want to stay and fight, even if it's just for a little while. But off-key soloists? I'm out of there. That is terrible on my part, but I can't stand it.

And why are the worst singers always the loudest? Brrrrrr.

Yes, I understand that even those who couldn't find the note on the best day of their lives, like to raise their voices in song. It's not them. It's me.

If I were nicer, I'd concentrate on the 99 in-tune instruments; but nooooo. All I can hear is the one sour note. It's like a misspelled word; it just leaps into my face and dominates my enjoyment.

Like most good times, the reunion was over way too soon, and we had to hop back into the car and head for home.

But as I said before, coming home is good, too.

Most of life is good. Most people are good.

I'm sure some judges are good, too; it's a shame that a bad one seems to have the power of life and death in his hands. And has chosen death.

Oh, and I PROMISED myself I wouldn't mention that tonight.


And now back to our regular programming.

"My kids are awesome!"

The End.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:37 PM | |

Friday, March 25, 2005

You tell me.

Q: Why can't a person living in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, be buried west of the Mississippi?

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:58 PM | |


Remember all those precious loving wonderful people who came to my house for Thanksgiving? They all live in Michigan, and we're going to visit them tomorrow! Or, rather, today. I'm baking pecan pies and they take almost an hour. I'll be up a while longer.

But I never go visiting with one arm as long as the other. It's one of my mottos. Another of my mottos is, "Age doesn't always bring wisdom. Sometimes age just comes by itself." I had a bumper sticker of that one, but it got buried somewhere in this house before I could put it on the car.

You were expecting maybe something profound? From me? An old fat chick who considers reading in the bathroom, multi-tasking? Oy.

Yes, we're going north to a family reunion tomorrow. I'll miss my computer, but the discipline will be good for me.



I can quit any time. I'm not addicted.

Why is my nose growing?

I think I'll start saving my allowance for a laptop.

Allowance. Those were the days.

We've hired a former student to re-roof our house. We'll have to get a loan to pay for it. When I tell you that we have no money, I'm not just whistling Dixie here.

We like to hire former students whenever we can.

I figure, a kid who shows up on time every day, brings all his materials to class, tries his best, asks questions, is seldom absent, behaves himself, and works hard, will probably bring those same qualities and habits to the workplace. Therefore, we hire them. We've not been disappointed yet.

Eight deer in the back yard this morning. They were clustered around the woodpile; I think they were eating the fungus off the firewood.

I am really tired, so I will probably ramble badly tonight. I can't go to bed 'till the pies are done.

Hub's family loves pecan pie, so I always make some when we get together. I use Splenda so Hub can have a piece or two; he's diabetic. I don't eat pie, myself. Never did. I just love to make them.

So far I haven't noticed any difference in the pain level in my knee. I am still "feeling" the needle under my kneecap. It felt so strange, almost dental; as if my dentist were probing under there with dentist tools. You know, that sharp/blunt metal object probing around your sensitive teeth and occasionally hitting a nerve feeling? Yeah, just like that. Times ten.

This weekend, Hub's family. Next weekend, my family. I adore reunions; it's odd how they almost always occur at about the same time.

It's probably obvious that my family is the most important thing in the world to me. My children are grown up now, but they'll always be my children. They don't really NEED me any more, but they need the things I taught them. It does something to me, to see them casually use MY methods, expressions, etc, in passing, not even realizing where it came from. But I know, and it thrills me to the core. I also see some of my own bad traits once in a while, and I'm ashamed; but you know what, we all have a few not-so-great traits, so why are we always so shocked when our perfect children display them? Why, even MY kids have a few. Not many, but a few.

It's also awesome to have your grown child call you up and want to just hang out with you. It more than makes up for all those years when having that child tag along really hindered your style, whether it was in the grocery store, mall, or wherever. I used to go almost everywhere with an infant on my front and a tiny little toddler on my back. I loved it when a tiny child would lay his or her little head on the back of my neck and go to sleep.

Mentioning no(Belle) names, but I know where every restroom in every store in the southern part of this state is located. And a few in each of the neighboring states.

And it especially makes up for those few years when hanging out with Mom was uncool and not to be considered. Sigh. I'm glad that phase is over.

My poor kids. Mom will never be as cool as they are.

Nor should she be, I guess. I mean, is YOUR mom as cool as you are?

Well, come to think of it, my mom is way cooler than I am. And so are my kids. I got skipped over.

Better them than me. If I had it, I'd probably take it apart and play with it.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:22 AM | |

Thursday, March 24, 2005

T-4: The American Version

I am not a brilliant person. I am not a rocket scientist. I'm not a goody-two-shoes or a self-righteous old biddy. My SAT scores were average. I am merely a person. A person with a brain, and a heart, and a soul, and most days I try to use them all.

I raised two children. I fed them, and they grew. If I had not fed them, they would have died. And I would have killed them, by withholding food from them. Some days, my children were not exactly as I would have wished them to be. I fed them anyway. Some days, they were ill, and completely incapable of taking care of themselves. I fed them anyway. If I had withheld food from them, I would have killed them.

I have a feeble, elderly cat. I feed him, and he is alive because of that. If I stopped feeding him, he would die. And it would be my fault, for withholding food from him.

I try to raise house plants. Usually, I forget to feed them. They die. They die, and it is my fault, because I withheld food from them.

We used to have a big iguana in a tank. We did feed him, but he refused to eat anything we gave him. Eventually, he died, because he was withholding food from himself.

I know that in order to sustain life, a person must be given nourishment.

And I know that if nourishment is withheld, that person will die. And whoever withheld the nourishment from that person, would be the cause of that person's death.

By definition, one who deliberately causes the death of another, is a killer. A killer is a murderer. A murderer is a criminal. Criminals belong in prison.

To deliberately deprive a person of life, is to murder.

Why does it make a difference whether this life-taking is done with a gun, a knife, a fist, a vial of poison, a lethal injection, an electric chair, a rope, or a signature on a piece of paper?

To deliberately deprive a life form of sustenance, is to kill. This holds true no matter what kind of life form is involved.

This is not the same thing as "pulling the plug" on a person who is no longer able to sustain life on his/her own, ie machines are doing all the brain/body's functions because the brain/body itself is no longer able to do them.

A body that is still functioning on its own, deprived of food and water, will soon cease to function. Yours will, mine will, anybody's will.

Who among us is willing to be the one to decide who shall live and who shall die, by feeding only those whose lives have merit enough, as defined by a judge?
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 10:33 PM | |

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

I'd rather stay here with all of you.

My rheumatologist gave me a cortisone shot this afternoon. Under my kneecap. My disposition, never completely good, is at this moment REALLY not completely good. Plus, I am walking funny. Funnier than usual. Don't laugh at me, though. My disposition is not completely good.

Tomorrow, after work, we are taking my mother back up to Indy so she can visit my uncle again. The next day, we are going up to Michigan. Already I am feeling the blogdrawal.

Does anyone else ever feel as though your blog were an extension of your personality, and quite possibly the part that keeps you from becoming one of America's Most Wanted?

Sometimes, I get the feeling that were it not for the venting outlet, I might disappear in a puff of smoke. Of my own making.

And, sometimes I don't really know where I stand on an issue until I read my own words. My thoughts and opinions become more clear to me, when I write them out and read them back.

Comparing them to those of other people are helpful also, not to even mention interesting. Comments help me immensely. They tell me that people I like and respect are reading my blog and caring enough to say so, or not. Feedback from caring people is like the other half of a conversation.

Plus, when I'm lost in my blogging world, I feel sometimes like I'm at a big party, with incredible awesome people. And who'd want to leave early from that? Not me. And probably not you, either. I know, let's stay forever!
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 5:55 PM | |

Another morning of loving my job. Really.

I absolutely love my job, teaching at the college level. My students are awesome, hardworking, kind, considerate, and just amazing. Every day I am prouder of them. Most of them are here at great personal sacrifice, money-wise and family-wise. They bring a great deal of prior knowledge to the classroom. Prior knowledge, and prior experience, too.

Today, I especially appreciate how they did not say a word, through two sections, about the wads of fabric softener poking out the bottoms of my pant legs. Both legs.

Somehow, I don't think the junior high kids would have let that one pass them by.

We're talking BIG wads of softener. The kind that look like gauzy fish nets. Two of them.

It probably looked like underwear from the back of the room.


Not that my underwear is the size of a fish net or anything.

My underwear is probably bigger.

Nothing like too much information early in the morning, huh.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:58 AM | |

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Flatulence won't fill the tank.

I'm still a little bit lost in the past, thinking about my dad. And I just Blog Explosioned five blogs in a row all talking about the price of gas.

These things together reminded me of this:

When I was a little girl, Dad would often wink at Mom after dinner, and say "Now I've got gas; I guess I'll go out and sit on the car." And she would roll her eyes and say that HER family didn't talk like that.

And I would be all happy because, hey. Free gas for the car. Maybe we can get ice cream with the gas money now. I was glad MY family talked like that. Free was good.

I am more than a little bit embarassed to tell you that I was in the fifth grade before I realized what he was talking about.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:27 PM | |

My very refined and talented daughter.

Oh, you people with children just crack me up. You poor things, thinking that YOUR child is the most talented child in the universe. I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but that honor goes to ME.

Not you. Me.

Yes, MY daughter is the most talented daughter in the universe. Not only can she sing, play the piano and violin, recite Monty Python and Princess Bride, quote Buffy and Bonanza, and write fantasy novels, she is apparently an expert shopper and party-planner.

Okay, so maybe your child can do all those things.

But can your child do all those things AND snort chili beans out of her nose? I think not.

I win.

Ever since I found her roommate's blog, I've been learning many interesting things about my baby girl.

So far, nothing that makes me want to fund retroactive birth control, though. Whew.

Both of my children have always been not only loving, lovable, and cool, but also really interesting and often fascinating. It's nice to find out that others think so, too.

Because, I just KNOW her roommate thought the chili bean snorting was awesome I mean, wouldn't you?

Well, of COURSE you would. EVERYTHING my daughter does is awesome.

Now, where did I put that contact information for American Idol. . . . . .
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:11 PM | |

Exactly what IS a "viable lifestyle?"

My father was many things, but "ordinary" wasn't one of them.

Skipping lightly over about 55 years, I want to talk about the last five. HIS last five.

Dad was diabetic. He was able to control it for a long time, but those last five years, it went from annoying and inconvenient, to murderous by way of slow torture.

The disease was affecting his eyesight, so his doctor recommended laser surgery. This surgery is effective 99% of the time. Dad was that 1% exception. Instead of clearing his vision, the surgery burst the blood vessels in his eyes and he became legally blind. Not blind as in, "in the dark;" he was blind as in " bright white light."

Then the disease affected his kidneys. One day I went to my parents' house and Dad showed me the shunt that had been put in his arm that day. He was laughing about it but I could tell he didn't think it was really funny. Three times a week, for the next year, Mom would drive him to the dialysis clinic for a four-hour wash.

After that year, his feet and legs started to deteriorate and Mom couldn't get him to the car by herself, so a MedVan picked him up and took him to the clinic, and brought him back home again.

His feet and legs got so bad, he could no longer support himself on them. He became at first chair-ridden, and then bedridden.

We watched his feet closely. He was diabetic. Diabetics have to watch their extremities.

And then one day Mom saw it. A tiny black spot on one of his toes. A quick call to his doctor, a quick office visit, and it was confirmed. Gangrene.

Gangrene spreads fast. As in, one day the spot was less than a quarter of an inch, and the next day, four toes were black.

A more thorough examination revealed that the gangrene had spread up his leg to his knee. He was going to lose his leg.

Mid-surgery, the doctor came out to the waiting room to talk to Mom. After cutting into the leg, they had discovered that the gangrene had spread well above the knee, and they were going to have to take the leg mid-thigh. Mom gave consent.

I wasn't there when Mom told Dad that his leg was gone mid-thigh. I was going to school every day and trying to teach, all the while thinking about my father having his leg sawed off like a cowboy in an old western, with whiskey being poured down his throat and five grizzly old cowpokes holding him down.

We brought Dad back home. Sometimes he was able to sit up in a wheelchair but mostly he was confined to his bed. It wasn't that he had only one leg now; it was that the rest of him was too weak to support him.

Every day after work, I went to their house, sat by Dad, and we watched Jeopardy while I combed his hair. He had always loved to have his hair combed. Even still, nobody could beat him at Jeopardy.

And then it happened again. A black spot on his toe. It spread. Another amputation above the knee.

Now Mom had to have help to get Dad into the wheelchair so the MedVan could take him to dialysis. On weekends or vacations, Hub and I did it. All the other days, dad's older sister and her husband came over and helped Mom. My two sisters and my brother lived too far away to come home regularly.

Those hours when Dad was in dialysis were the only free time my mother had for five years.

And then Dad had a stroke during dialysis and Mom would no longer use those hours as her free time for fear it would happen again and her not available to give permissions for things.

Dad got more and more vague; we knew he was "in there," but sometimes it was hard to coax him out to play.

He began to have mini-strokes. Sometimes, his memory was completely gone for weeks at a time and would return with a suddenness that blew us away every time. Sometimes, he was comatose for weeks, and then would wake abruptly, as though nothing had happened at all.

The last two years were the worst. Stroke after stroke, lapse after lapse. How much fun could his life be? He was blind, and he had no legs. Sometimes he couldn't even talk.

Ah, but when he could, he was still hilarious. He wanted a football for Christmas. He rejoiced that he would no longer get "any damn socks" as gifts. He told me I was too fat. Ouch.

He refused to let us park in a handicapped parking spot. Those spots were for people much worse off than he was.

"Dad, you're blind and you have no legs. There IS nobody worse off than you."

But he maintained that there were plenty of people worse off and the spots near the door should go to someone who needed them more.

Weeks, months, would go by, and there would be no response at all. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero.

The brainwaves on the machine by his hospital bed would show very little 'action.'

Sometimes, they would smooth out for a few minutes. But then they'd start up again.

We gave him up. The family would gather in the ICU waiting room every night, and wait.

Three times he came back from the 'dead.' I would walk into his room and he'd turn and say, "Why, there's Jane!" And he would ask for banana pudding, and I'd run to my car and race to the store and get some, and come back and feed it to him.

And then he'd have another stroke, and he'd be gone again.

And then he'd be back again. There was no regularity. He was definitely 'in there,' but he couldn't always get out. When he could, he was Dad. Funny, ornery Dad. When he couldn't, he was a blank page.

Finally, Dad had a series of strokes that he could no longer overcome by his sheer will power and inner strength. He had just turned 60 the day before.

I could talk about how he had so many things planned for his retirement, and got to do none of them.

I could talk about the workshop he built in the back of the garage, and how he never got to build anything in it.

I could talk about how he got a traffic ticket while driving home from work, and how the cop refused to believe that he was sick and actually accused him of being drunk. That was his last day at the GM plant. He was not able to go back, ever. Mom paid the ticket.

What I'd really like to talk about are the years before he was 55, but that is not the subject of this post.

The fact is, Dad was IN there, even when the machines by his bed said he was not. He came back, and he came back, and he came back some more. He was blind, and he had no legs, but he was still a person; he was still Dad. And he was in there.

Banana pudding. Socks. Footballs. Parking spots. He was IN THERE.

I still find it hard to believe, sometimes, that he's really gone.

But before he died a natural death, he was IN THERE. Even when logic said he was not.

If any death at that age could be called natural.

Mom was approached about pulling the plug on him many times. She even came close a few times. And then she'd come in the next day and he'd be Dad again, talking and making jokes.

I think sometimes about Dr. McCoy on Star Trek, and the incredible guilt he felt over pulling the plug on his own father, and then having the cure discovered the very next day.

I do not believe it is our place to make the decision as to when someone should die. That is God's prerogative, not ours.

I'm doing that Living Will thing this week. Maybe you all should, too. That way, someone else will not have to make that decision for us. We will have already made it, ourselves.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:46 AM | |

Monday, March 21, 2005

Test your fireplace BEFORE you have a party, not during. Trust me on this one.

We had some friends who remodeled their family room. They put in a beautiful fireplace. They replaced their furniture and carpet with white furniture and white carpet. They had children. They were asking for it, weren't they. . . .

The children were no longer allowed to play in the family room. The family room had become a parlor, for adults only. These parents became militant about no mess in the family room. No toys were allowed in there. No food. No cat. No dog. Nothing that might possibly cause any kind of mess on that white furniture or that white carpet, was allowed within shoutin' distance of this pristine room.

They were proud of this room. They considered it to be the showplace of the house.

They had a party to show off the new room. The fancy white room was full of adults. No children were allowed to enter the room. Children are messy.

Since they had remodeled during the summer, the new fireplace had not yet been used. It had been tested, to make sure it would draw, but there had been no fire in it for several months.

The husband knelt before his fireplace and struck a match. The paper caught, and then the kindling, and in a few minutes there was a beautiful fire roaring away in the beautiful new fireplace.

A few minutes later all hell broke loose.

Since the fireplace had not been used for so many months, rats had apparently nested in the chimney. The smoke blinded them, and they fell from all sides of the chimney's interior, right down into the flames. As the adults stood staring in horror, flaming rats poured from the fireplace and ran all over the white furniture and white carpets, each one eventually collapsing and dying. Black burned trails and black burned spots and black burned rat corpses were all over the white carpet and the white furniture. People were screaming and running out of the house, just like the rats were flaming and running from the chimney.

They had to re-do the room. This time they chose sensible dark patterned carpet, and durable dark furniture, and allowed the children back into the room.

That way, if the rats ever came back, the burned places wouldn't show as much. They would just blend in with the pattern, like the red creme soda stains and pizza sauce stains and popcorn butter stains and Koolaid stains did. You know, the stains everybody's family room should have, if it's a good family room that people of all ages USE, as a family room is meant to be used.

Besides, if you'd ever met their kids, you'd know that even a flaming rat would move heaven and earth to find another escape route, rather than run into any room that contained those two.

I think of this memory every time I see an all-white room, and I hope with all that's within me that such people have no children to exclude from it.

There will be plenty of time for "pristine white" after your kids have moved out. If "pristine white" is your idea of a good time.

Personally, I've always thought an all-white room looked like the waiting room at the nervous hospital.

The end.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 8:45 PM | |

Me and Cosmo's dad: We're both CONFUSED.

Please be informed that this post contains that which might offend some people. And I truly do not wish to be called 'offensive,' although it is too late to wish that, for it has already happened.

This is really only for two people. All the rest of you are absolutely wonderful and I adore you. And when I say "adore," what I really mean is ADORE. I'd wait on you hand and foot. I'd share everything I own with you. I'd have your babies, except for the menopause thing. But at least I don't have to buy "protection" any more.

I know it's my blog. I know I apologize too much. I know I'm insecure. When people criticize me and I don't understand why, it hurts. A person is never too old to be hurt by the opinions of others. This one still hurts me. Heck, GARY still hurts me. I'm not a terrible person, honest I'm not. It seems, though, that sometimes my attempts to describe things in a humorous way are really offensive to certain people. According to some people, my blog can best be described as an "offensive blog." Details on request.

I'm not perfect. I don't pretend to be. But I'm not offensive, either. Not on purpose, at least.

I shower every day. So there.

Oh wait. They meant the other kind.

I keep looking back at that Mary Poppins post, thinking that somewhere on there is something I need to change or fix or remove or make better somehow, so people won't think I am a bad person who has nothing better to do than make fun of Pentecostal holy rollers, in spite of the fact that several members of my husband's family fit into that category and I've already made my opinion of their sweet coolness publically known.

And while I'm sure there are countless ways it could be made better, I still don't find anything that needs to be changed or fixed because of offensiveness. I just wrote about that night, and how I perceived this experience, and how it affected me.

The only fictional part of it was the part where I said the woman looked like Mary Poppins. She really did look like Mary Poppins. Mary Poppins is fictional. That's the fictional part.

And yes, they really did have umbrellas. And Crisco. CRISCO. In a big round can labelled 'Crisco.' That's why I figured it was Crisco. If it had said "Mazola," I would have blogged it as "Mazola."

And I still maintain that when someone expresses his/her desire to NOT be smeared with Crisco, it is bad manners to chase them down and try to smear them with it anyway, and I don’t care how uplifted and carried away you are. Bad manners are bad manners, no matter what the circumstances or personal fulfillment issues.

Being carried away, personally, in the spirit of anything, is still no excuse to disregard someone else's feelings. It gives whatever your reason for being carried away, a bad rep. It turns your originally good intentioned happy dance into a selfish "you'll endure this because I'm personally uplifted and entranced and therefore you should be too, and I want you to endure it for my sake so quit trying to escape me and my can of Crisco" thing.

And when she says I phrased it so it would look like the Pentecostals ATTACKED out of sheer determined meanness, I don't see that, either. I never meant to portray them as evil hawks swooping down on a child to purposely terrorize her. I just tried to paint a picture of people so caught up in their own personal wildness that they didn't even NOTICE that they were terrorizing a child. And me. When I read and re-read it, that's what I see.

Or is it that I see that, because I know that's what it's supposed to connote?

And now for something completely different. Might as well have the game as the name.

Well, I give up. I give up. I'm just a rotten old woman who makes fun of undisciplined children, their parents, dancing in the spirit. , and holy rollers.

I guess this is the next step.

Just take me out into the street and shoot me now, you two. You know you want to.

As for the rest of you, I apologize once again for any insensitivity. I also admit that this time there was some.

Cut me some slack. I'm old and my son was terrorized last night by a criminal who was probably allowed to act up in public as a child.

And now, that criminal is a little richer, and I bet his self-esteem is soaring. And he probably did the happy dance when he got to his car.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:46 AM | |

Sunday, March 20, 2005

10 out of 10 Mother Grizzly Bears agree. And I agree with them.

Things were hectic here last night. Well, the 'hectic' part wasn't exactly right HERE, but let me just say that sometimes things happen THERE that make HERE, hectic.

My son lives about thirty miles away. He's a college student, and is working part-time to pay the bills. Last night, his co-worker needed to leave a little early for some family business, so Zappa told him to go ahead, no problem. That left Zappa there alone.

Less than an hour after the co-worker left, Zappa was confronted by a masked man, had a gun thrust into his face, and the store was robbed.

Fortunately, a customer pulled up out in the parking lot, so after grabbing the cash, the gunman ran out the door in a panic. The customer saw a masked man with a gun running out of the store, and hurriedly drove away. I'm angry with him, too; why didn't he go inside to see if anyone was hurt? Coward. Creep. Jerk. Etc.

Zappa called the police, and then he called the boss. Apparently a guy fitting this description and disguise had been hitting businesses all over that side of the city. The boss arrived, closed the store, and drove Zappa home.

We drove up and brought him back here. He's still sleeping, downstairs in the family room.

I asked him if he was scared, and he said that actually, he hadn't had time to be scared. Just robotic. Store policies everywhere tell employees NOT to put up any kind of fight, just to hand over the cash and hope they don't get shot. That's pretty much what he did. He didn't get shot.

But he had a gun pointed at his face. Some lousy petty criminal put a gun to my child's face.

I'm going to keep a close eye on him today. He might be 24 years old, but he's still my baby boy, and some TOTAL BASTARD put a GUN to his little freckly face last night.

And sometimes I really wish I were a MOTHER GRIZZLY BEAR so I could tower over anything, ANYTHING, and anyone, ANYONE, who dared lay a violent hand in any way on my child, or anyone else's child, and just RIP THEM TO SHREDS with my long sharp claws.

Because, you know, that's what such a person would deserve. Yes, and worse than that, too.

I suppose my reaction is just another example of the violence inherent in the system, but it's how I'm feeling right now. I want my children to be safe from monsters. Yes, and your child, and your child, and yours, and yours, and yours, too. I'd extend it to protect poor exploited Teri Shiavo from that money-grubbing adulterous greedy murderer who is her husband and his shack-up breeder girlfriend, if I could. And the judge who ordered her feeding tube removed. And all the other monsters in human form.

I am Mother. Hear me roar.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:19 PM | |

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Oh, the niceness of meeeeee. . . .

I've posted about this one before, but for some reason it's been running through my mind and making me giggle all last night and was still tickling me when I got up today.

When I was young, I had a bad, bad habit. It really was a bad habit, and I'm honestly ashamed of it. I picked up this habit in college, for my parents certainly never allowed such goings-on in their home.

Actually, they had kicked this same habit when I was a tiny child, but that's another post.

Anyway, this habit, as habits have a way of doing, had become such a, well, HABIT, that I didn't even notice it any more.

Those of you who are of a 'certain age:' Remember the movie "Love Story," and Oliver's friends' description of Jenny as "foul-mouth angel-face?"

That was me. Minus the angel-face.

I had potty mouth, and I had it bad. So did Hub, but I was much worse.

Now, young parents with potty mouth must remember something here. Tiny children learn to speak by imitating the language they hear.

This was an elementary bit of science that hadn't occurred to us, because whenever we spoke to our toddler and our newborn, we used VERY appropriate and pretty mommy/daddy/baby language. Oh, you all know it. That schmoopy pigin we talk to babies with.

Ah, but it's always the footprints you DON'T want them to follow, that they pick up on the fastest.

Belle had a touch of the potty mouth at a most inappropriately young age. I even thought it was kind of funny.

Looking back, I'm just appalled at my lack of judgment.

As we drove down to French Lick to the family reunion, I reminded Belle to be sure not to say, um, certain words there. She agreed. I think she even understood. That bothers me now, too.

Sometimes it takes a humiliation to open your eyes and make you shut your mouth.

With this background in place, I will now tell this story that some of you have already heard, again.

Hub's grandparents were awesome, lovely people; they were so good to us when we were first married, in many, many ways. They were also VERY conservative Pentecostal holy-rollers. Key words here: very conservative.

Dowdy clothes, bun-hair, dark hose, tongues, oil. . . .you get the picture. And no, I'm NOT making fun of them. I loved them dearly and deeply. I am merely DESCRIBING them, which intelligent people can see at a glance. So if a certain person who ripped an artery from my heart by misinterpreting my Mary Poppins post will just use her brain for a moment. . . . but I digress.

The precious and wonderful grandparents were hosting a family reunion. Reunions at this huge white Victorian house were so awesome, there is no way I can begin to describe them in this post, but I'll try at a later date. Norman Rockwell had NOTHING on these lovely people. Sigh. I miss them terribly.

Ramble, ramble. . . . .

At this particular reunion, their huge table was crowded with Hub's family, every single one a kind and loving and humorous and incredible person.

Newborn Zappa was sawing logs on Grandma's big bed, and Belle was dining with the rest of us at that big table. She was sitting in a red wooden high chair that had been in their family for generations.

At this particular time she was going through a dining phase that can best be described as the "banana chip and shaved ice" phase. She was thin as a rail, and simply wouldn't touch most foods at ALL. The grandmothers and uncles and aunts were all worried to death about her, even though she was bright-eyed and energetic and obviously loving the complete control that any kid with food issues has over the adults in her life.

At this meal, she was pressured from all sides to eat this, or that, PLEASE? Just a taste, for Mamaw, for Grandma, for Grandad, for Aunt, Uncle. . . .Skin and bones, SKIN AND BONES, she must EAT. EAT EAT EAT EAT EAT.

Finally, she'd had enough. Catching my eye across the table, she knew better than to disobey the orders about potty mouth she'd been given before we got there, but she'd had enough of the constant nagging about food.

So my princess, my precious baby girl, freshly two years old but talking in complete sentences from the womb, master of innocent satire, stood up in the high chair, put both tiny hands on her tiny hips, swept the room and the people with an exasperated glance, and said, "Oh Mommy, I wish I could say SHIT."

And I wished I could say 'abracadabra' and just vanish. I was torn between falling out of my chair laughing, and falling out of my chair to disappear forever underneath that massive table.

Nobody laughed. I'm sure they wanted to, but the shock and the environment hushed it all up.

No, I'm NOT making fun of the environment. (I'm making these snide remarks at one certain person who thinks I'm awful, so don't worry. It's not you. It's her.) (I wonder if she knows Gary?)

I think I'm making fun of myself. It was one of so many mistakes, I've lost count. It just happened to be a very public, noticeable mistake.

For many, many years, I cleaned up my verbal act enough that she had no more of "those" words to mimic. Most of me is ashamed, but part of the shame is in the fact that there is a teeny-tiny part of me that still thinks it was funny.

I'm also ashamed to confess that some of that potty-mouth is back again.

But I'm nice, really I am. I'm @#$%^&*())(*&^ nice.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:34 AM | |

Friday, March 18, 2005

Even my daughter's FRIENDS are funny!

My daughter's friend, SurelyNot, had a post on her blog that hit me in a really ticklish spot. I'm not sure why, I just found it hilarious, bloody frickin' hilarious, and maybe you will, too. Give it a try.

Please? It's my little girl's FRIEND!

Oh, I knew I could count on you.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:50 PM | |

Pearls beyond price.

When Zappa was in kindergarten, he gave me a pair of earrings for Christmas. He picked them out himself, and he chose 'the most beautifullest earrings in the whole store' for me.

Every morning, I put them on and wore them to school. Both of my children came to school with me (from K-8!) so I wore the earrings until they went down to their classrooms at 7:50 each morning.

As soon as the coast was clear, I took off Zappa's earrings and replaced them with another pair that I kept in my desk. He never knew. He still doesn't know.

As soon as my own students left, I hurriedly put Zappa's earrings on again. As far as he knew, I'd been wearing them all day. In my heart, I had.

He used to brag about how those beautiful earrings Momy always wore had been chosen by him and him alone, and purchased with his saved-up allowance. (He got fifty cents a week once he started school. A man has needs.)

I was young, and insecure, and my job was fairly new. I wanted to make a good impression.
Otherwise, I would have worn those earrings all day, and either held my head high and said nothing, or explained why they were so precious to me. Some of the other teachers would have understood. Some would not have. I was young, and insecure.

When he was in the fourth grade, he bought me another pair of earrings down at the school's 'Santa's Workshop' store. He wanted me to wear them, as well as the first pair. I agreed. They were a little less 'elegant' than the original pair, and I was able to wear them in public.

No pirate chest or Tiffany's window ever held such precious jewels.

When I cleaned out my desk last summer, that first pair of earrings was still in my pencil tray.

I do not remember the last time I wore them. I do not remember the last time I took them off and put them in the tray. I do not remember being asked where they were. I do not remember feeling different because I was now putting on 'normal' earrings in the mornings. I do not remember if he asked about them at all.

For four and a half years, I wore these earrings every morning and every evening. Purty, huh.

They are pearls beyond price. Close to three inches of pearls.

When he was in the 8th grade, I showed him the earrings in my desk drawer. He looked stunned, and said, "Mom, you've got to be kidding!"

I wasn't kidding. And when I told him how beautiful they were to me, and always would be, he looked incredulous. And then he grinned and said "Mom, you are so WEIRD."

Well, there's that.

If I had it all to do over again, I'd wear the dangly pearls the whole day.

When you get old, you get braver. And less concerned with what "people" think.

In some respects.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 10:00 AM | |

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Desperation sucks.

Last spring we sold some of the biggest trees in our woods. We hated to, but we needed the money, yes, that badly.

Our 'skyline' is different now, when we look out the patio doors to the west, but the sunsets are still beautiful through the many remaining trees, and, well, we had to do it, that's all.

Sometimes, when we do a thing, however necessary it may be, it has repercussions we didn't think about until it's too late. Even if we'd known about this particular repercussion in advance, it wouldn't have changed our decision, because we HAD no choice, but now, it makes my heart hurt.

Hawks keep the same nest year after year. It was always fun to wait and watch for our own personal hawks to return to their own personal nest, every spring. The kids were fascinated by them, by how huge they were, by the way the male would fly around to divert attention away from the nesting female, and scream whenever anyone entered the woods. For nearly twenty years, we watched our hawks and their nest. I think that nest was handed down from generation to generation, by our own personal hawk family.

This spring, when our hawks returned, their nest was gone.

For days now, the hawks have circled the sky above our house, and above our woods, screaming to each other. Once in a while they land on a high branch of a tree back there, but not for long. They spend all their time circling, and searching.

They're looking for their tree, and their nest. It's not there any more; it was one of the huge trees we sold.

I feel awful about it. And yet, there was really no choice for us. We were desperate.

And those circling, puzzled, confused hawks? I think they're desperate, too. A different kind, but desperate all the same.

I hope they are able to adjust themselves to a new nest, in a new tree.

Because, you see, they really have no other choice. Their only alternative is to die from despair.

I know exactly how they feel.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:38 PM | |

Faith and begorrah, sure, and it's surrounded by dimwittage, we are.

I just checked my email. I had six messages that looked like this:

From: (unknown sender) About: (unknown subject)

Do people really click on that? What kind of people would click that thing open?

Okay, I guess we all know what kind of people do that. And apparently there are enough of them out there to make such mailings viable.

The Saints* preserve us all from them.

I think I'm more scared of the people who open it, than of the people who sent it.

*It's too bad that St. Patrick only took away the snakes. Heck, I can do that by myself. What we really needed was for him to take away the Trolls.

Granted, "Time" and "Newsweek" are, to our national shame, written at a fifth grade reading level, but surely the people who would click that email open have read SOMETHING about the dangers. Haven't they? Wouldn't you think anyone who had an email account at all, would be reading at LEAST at that level?

I crack myself up sometimes.

At my old school, the virus-emails would make the occasional rounds, and we would get a notice that specifically stated "If you get an email that says "Snow White," do NOT open it. Report it to the office and the tech guy will delete it for you. DO NOT OPEN IT !"

Every single time, the same three teachers would open that infected email, and our whole system would go down.

The same three teachers.

Why would they continue to do this, time after time?

"I thought Snow White would be Disney." "I forgot." "I don't know." "How could Snow White cause any trouble? I saw that movie and it was harmless." "I like to get spams; the jokes are funny." "Who would send a virus to a school? We have children here!" "I thought just a glance at it wouldn't cause any harm." "It was addressed to me, so I figured it was okay."

And when asked if they read the warning email, the email that told them specifically not to open the Snow White virus?

"I figured that if it was just me, what harm could it do? " "Oh, that?" "Was that for me?" "I read it, but when I saw the name Snow White, I was charmed all over again."

It's astounding to me, that an adult in today's society, surrounded by information and guidance, can be so bloody stupid. Even the KIDS know better.

Age is no excuse for it, people.

There IS no excuse for it.

Faith and begorrah, I'm in one foul mood today. I think it started when I looked at my shamrock socks, and remembered who sent them to me. Bah.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:01 PM | |

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Ninja Turtles have left the premises.

My son is 24 years old, has long red hair, and many tatoos, several in places I've not seen in years. He was a precious, sensitive, loving child, a troubled snarly teen, and now a precious, sensitive, loving, occasionally snarly, young man. Did I mention that he's single?

I've made several posts about his sweet sensitivity as a child. Here's yet another.

The local newspaper headline was about a terrible fire in a tiny town just a little north of us. A family's home had burned to the ground, and the community was asking for help for the family, who had lost everything. A mother, a father, and two little boys.

As a family, we always hopped to it when such appeals were made. I gathered dishes and blankets and outgrown clothing, and slid my wristwatch off into the box for the mother. Hub called the phone number in the paper and asked if they still needed furniture, and then went down into the family room to search the cushions of the sofa, loveseat, and chair we would give them, for loose change, candy wrappers, and potentially embarassing anythings. Belle wasn't home on this evening, but Zappa stood watching us with wide eyes.

Finally, he asked me a question.

"Mommy, did those two little boys' toys all burn up in the fire?"

I had to tell him the truth. "Yes, honey, everything they had burned up."

He turned and walked away.

The family's church friends came to our house, with a big truck. We loaded the furniture and the boxes of kitchen and bedroom goods into it, and stood in the driveway talking for a moment.

I sensed a presence behind me. I turned, and there was Zappa, standing there with a huge Ninja Turtle air balloon, a box of assorted Turtles, and his Nintendo.

"Can I give these to those two little boys?" he asked.

"Are you sure you want to give them away? These are your favorite toys, honey."

"Well, Mommy, those little boys don't have ANY, and I still have some. And if these are my favorites, then I know those little boys will like them too, right?"

He put his boxes into the big truck, and watched it go down the driveway and up to the road.

I will never forget the look on his beautiful freckly face.

And, for the first time in my life, I understood why Jo March cried, after selflessly giving away her precious hair.

Zappa hasn't changed much, except that now he's nearly seven feet tall. Sometimes he's snarly, but mostly he's that same sweet sensitive boy who gave away his Turtles and his Nintendo, because two little boys he had never seen in his life didn't have anything to play with.

And ladies, let me remind you once again: He's still single.

Worthy candidates only, please.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:56 PM | |

My baby speaks up.

Ah, my opinionated daughter. She must have gotten THAT trait from the "other" side.

Because, you know, she couldn't have gotten it from ME. . . . .

Oh, all right. I might have a few opinions about things in general.

Just a few, mind you. Just a few. . . . zillion.

But I probably couldn't make them known in quite so eloquent a manner.

That's my baby. She grew up and moved out.

I'm so proud of her.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:57 PM | |

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

They never came back, yea, nor any of their descendants.

Once upon a time, there was a Mommy and a Daddy and a tiny little Belle and a tiny little Zappa who lived in a tiny little limestone house with a screened porch and about eight acres on which to plant gardens and play. And mow. Oh, and a woods in which to scamper and search for mushrooms and watch deer.

One day, the Daddy and the Tiny Children were out in the front yard, and the Mommy took this opportunity to strip and wash and wax the kitchen floor.

While the Mommy was down on her hands and knees scouring away with a scrub-brush and a bucket of Mr. Clean, she heard the Daddy yell "Mamacita, get the gun, QUICK!!"

This is not a good thing for a woman on her hands and knees in Mr. Clean and dirty linoleum to hear.

Changing voices to make the story easier to write. . . .

I ran to the door and looked out; Hub and the kids were standing together watching an area of the yard; I looked but could see nothing. He saw me standing there and told me to GET THE GUN, so I ran to the bedroom, where we kept the Thief Gun, well locked up and way up high, got it, and ran outside with it.

"What's the matter, what is it?" I asked.

"THERE! Can't you see it?" he replied.

I looked, but frankly my vision was then and is now not all that good, and all I could see were dried crusty leaves that had washed down from every tree on our side of the road over the winter. We hadn't raked them yet and they formed a crispy floating layer on top of the actual yard. But, that was all I could see.

The kids were excited. "There, mommy, it's right THERE!"

Hub hadn't fired a shot yet; he wanted me to see 'it' first. And finally, I did.

It looked like a big human brain. A big human brain, rolling and tumbling around on top of those crusty leaves. I didn't even know what it was.

I had never seen a snake giving live birth before. I had thought all snakes laid eggs.

Hub sent us all to the front steps, and fired. The big human brain scattered into pieces, and each piece was alive and went scampering across the crusty leaf layer and disappeared UNDER it.

"Well, that's that," he said.

"I don't THINK so," I replied.

He went into the house and took the children with him, and I surveyed the situation and decided what to do.

The first thing was to remove that leafy layer. A rake would take too long so I used matches.

Once the ground cooled, I surveyed the situation again. Those snakes were living somewhere in that immediate area and I was determined to find it. How could I let my children play there until I had removed every obvious danger that could be found? I considered the snakes to be an obvious danger. Duh.

So there I was, down on my hands and knees again, crawling around this blackened area and looking more and more like a coal miner with every passing moment. Hub wanted to get out the camera, but was apparently stopped by the look on my face.

Finally, I found it.

A hole in the ground, about three inches wide.

Remember back in grade school, when My Weekly Reader would show cross-sections of the inside of an animal's den?

I put a flashlight to that hole, and there it was: a cross-section of a snake's den that would have been the envy of any My Weekly Reader photographer. There were snakes everywhere, down in that hole. Coiled on little ledges, slithering around the bottom you name it. I was too angry with them to be scared. I put a pile of little driveway stones around the hole to mark its place and went back into the house for some murder weapons. One gun wouldn't be of any help. I saw the bucket of Mr. Clean. Eureka. I grabbed a pack of matches. I was ready to kill.

Back to the den entrance. I poured the contents of the bucket down the hole. This in and of itself drove a few of the snakes out, but I was ready for them with my rake and my ire. After a few seconds of head-stomping and what must have looked like wild ritualistic dancing on the blackened earth, I lit a match and dropped it down the hole.

It was awesome. I would never have believed it had I not seen it myself.

It was as if I had dropped a stick of dynomite down that hole. We heard a huge explosion down there, and the ground actually heaved up and then down again. And then there was silence, and then the real fun started.

Scorched snakes began to pour out of that hole, and I was there to greet them with my hoe and my fury. They were easy to kill, because the Mr. Clean had BLINDED THEM, and they had only red bloody holes where their eyes once were.

Hub was, by this time, nearly dead from laughing so much and so hard, but he finally gained control of himself enough to put the kids on the front steps and come out to help me stomp snakes.

Each time we got a pile, I gathered them on my rake and took them to the side of the yard to throw them over the fence, but every time I lifted the rake to throw, they slid down the handle and I ended up just sort of festooning the barbed-wire with them. You know, like Christmas garland. Yes, JUST like that.

Finally, no more snakes were coming out of the hole. I got down with the flashlight and checked. Their den was in ruins and there was ONE MORE SNAKE down there looking up at me.

I was patient. I got a lawn chair and a book, and made camp there by the snake-hole.

While I was keeping vigil, Zappa came out and wanted to know if there were any snakes left.

"There's one down there, honey," I said.

"Mommy, could you catch him for me? Tomorrow is "Show and Tell" at school."

I knew his teacher well, quite well indeed. When I stopped giggling, I said, "Sure, honey. Mommy will catch that last snake for you. Bring me something to put him in."

My happy smiling little boy ran to the garage and brought back a little green baitbox, the kind with the rubber slot on top to keep things from escaping. It was also the only way to PUT things into the box. Okay, I could do that. For Zappa, anything.

After several hours, the last snake slowly emerged from the hole. I was waiting; I grabbed him with one hand and thrust the baitbox under him with the other. It took both hands to force him into the box. Heck, by that time, he was probably in shock.

We sprinkled him with water all during the night, and gave him raw hamburger. He ate it.

The next day, Zappa was the happiest little boy in the whole kindergarten class. I don't think his teacher was quite so happy. The sissy.

But the really funny part of the story is this: My Mom picked Zappa up from kindergarten in her new car. She wouldn't allow him to bring the snake into her house, so he left the box in her back seat. It was a hot day. You finish the story.

It took her weeks to get the smell out.

We filled in the den. No snake has ever returned since then. We haven't even seen any back in the woods. Or in the garden.

Somewhere on our premises is a snake/hobo sign that says, "Don't even THINK about slithering over there."

They're right, too. I'm not the least bit afraid of snakes, but I don't want any in my yard, either. Even now that I have no small children, I still have my sensibilities, and I don't want them unsettled by having to deal with a den of snakes again.

Besides, I'm so old and fat now, it would be too hard to crawl around the yard on my hands and knees.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:20 PM | |

Monday, March 14, 2005

Got linoleum and snakes? Mr. Clean is your man.

When we lived in our old house (a small limestone with screened porch, for future reference) and the kids were little, we saw snakes all the time.

I was afraid to let them play outside because of the snakes. I was RIGHT THERE almost every second, with my baseball bat and my rake.

Snakes. Plural. We seldom saw just one snake, singular. They came in hordes.

Sometimes, when we mowed, the blades threw them to the side by the dozens. Turtles, too. But this post is about the snakes.

I've already blogged about the big one that got into the house that time. I think its Mafia-based family came to avenge it a dozen times a week.

Until, of course, we found their den and let Mr. Clean do the talking. Honk if you want details.

That little house is next door to the house we built and live in now; my sweet MIL owns it and has renters, who will be moving out within the year in case anyone needs a little limestone house with a screened porch to rent. But ever since we moved here, there have been no snakes. Not one single snake. The renters haven't seen any over there, either.

My kids think that once word got out to the snake community that a crazy lady who hung out with Mr. Clean, owned a lot of matches, and wasn't afraid to use either of them, lived here, they all slithered as far away as they could, and made themselves a huge underground den in someone else's front yard.

I hope that other momy knows how to utilize Mr. Clean to the utmost. He's a handy guy to keep around, if you have linoleum floors and snakes in your front yard.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:51 PM | |

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Bring your own ammo.

Not only do we have more deer than many wildlife preserves, we also have something else.

Check this out. Wild turkeys!

They used to be protected, but now there are so many, they're huntable in season.

I can't believe I'm doing all this hunting stuff; I'm no hunter.

But when the aminals be taking over the premises, you gots to do something.

Like maybe, invite you over to fill up your freezer?
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:43 PM | |


The sunset last night was beautiful. See?

(What's up with Blogger lately? It's fried! )

This is the view out my kitchen doors. There are many deer in those woods. Help yourselves.

Come on over and see for yourself. We can sit out on the back patio.

If it's too cold, we can just look out the kitchen doors.

I mean it, come on over. Bring ice.

The icemaker is still broken. It's been well over two years now.

But who's counting?
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 5:50 PM | |

"Something's Gotta Give" starring Colin Firth instead of Jack Nicholson

Last night Belle stole away my British lover.

Well, actually she drove home in my red Cutlass Supreme with the black leather interior and the fairly new cd player, that I PRETENDED was my British lover.

Colin Firth has left me and moved in with my daughter. How shall I survive.

He was so reluctant to leave me that at first he refused to go into reverse gear. I had to come out and persuade him to kick into gear. It didn't take much, I must confess: only a few well-aimed 'taps' with my clenched fist, a declaration of eternal love and sacrifice, and he surrendered to the inevitable and moved.

He was singing to her, too. One of my songs. I heard him singing to her as she drove around the house and down to the road. I guess she can have the cd's that were in there, too.

How soon they forget. Sigh.

Now, if I can just find the title, he will be all hers.

Although how anyone could find ANYTHING in this messy house, is beyond my comprehension.

I supposed an analogy about how she's living in sin with him until I sign the papers that officially release him, would be a bit over the top, huh.

Momy don't DO dat about her daughter.

Take good care of him, SaraBelle the Baby Girl. Or I'll tell everybody what I used to call you when you were little.


Well, at least I didn't spill the beans about "Poopie-Face."
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 4:01 PM | |

Saturday, March 12, 2005

It's a silly place.

Hub left a few minutes ago to drive up and fetch Belle and Zappa, and bring them back home to Mommy where they belong, and should never have LEFT. . . . wait a minute.

No, they don't belong here, and it was time for them to leave.

It was a tough time for Momy, you can betcher arsifal areas on that one.

But it was time. They were grown up. They had jobs. Etc.

Too many adults in the same house? Trouble. Especially when two of the adults are really just very tall babies who have finally been potty-trained. Well, to me they were.

They were glad to move out, but they miss me. They especially miss my refrigerator, but I know they miss Momy.

It's all worked out beautifully. They were mine for nineteen or twenty years and somehow then they were ready to go out on their own and give it a try, just like we all did.

So far, so good.

I know they eat right, stay away from naughty people, abstain from alcohol, have no druggie friends, pay their bills on time, and only watch G-rated movies.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAhahahahahaha. . . .

But that's how they were brought up, you see. I always wore a dress and pearls, and Hub wore a suit and tie and spent most of his time in his den.

Oh wait, that was Leave it to Beaver. That wasn't us. Turn the channel. What's that show there? Simpsons? Say what you will, it's maybe a bit more realistic. Fortunately, AND unfortunately. We weren't really like the Simpsons. But we were funky enough to appreciate them for what they were.

What kind of family were we? I like to think we were a meld of all the greatest snarkiest silliest goofiest warmest loving-est shows ever on TV.

But Belle probably summed it up best when she posted that growing up with Hub and me was like living with Monty Python, and Pinky and the Brain.

Throw a little unconditional love in there, and you've pretty much got the picture.

Did I say a LITTLE unconditional love? Try a LOT. That's better.

Now sit down here where it's cozy and warm, and Momy will fix you a grilled cheese sandwich and some eggs.


Okay. Now put the coconuts down and eat. We'll conquer the world after you've rested.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:27 PM | |

Keep out of my music, creepy stalker people.

My name is Mamacita and I do not own an iPod.

I do not know how they work. I've never seen one up close.

I want one, though. I won't get one, because we have no money, but maybe some day. You know, when they're obsolete and everybody's got something else, some new thing that holds twelve million songs, has interactive videos, and raises the dead.

When they replace the 8-track player as the goofiest piece of obsolete stereo equipment. That's when I'll finally get one.

Monster trucks will have them, factory installed, before I get one. I'll probably find one at a yard sale, for thirty-five cents.

Oh well.

I have thousands and thousands of songs on my hard drive, and all I have to do is hit 'random' and I'm fine.

Thousands of songs put there by me, and dozens put there by my (un)friendly hijacker.

It's funny, in a sick kind of way.

I'll be moseying through my songs, occasionally blushing at the antiquity and individuality and coolness-seen-only-by-me of some of them, and suddenly I'm face to face with. . . . Blink 182.


What the heck?

Okay, some of it isn't too bad. My own massive list is eclectic and funky and represents a little bit, or a lot, of everything.

But I'm not really a fan of teen ________. (I left that blank because I'm not sure what should go there. ) "Shit" comes to mind, as I found and hurriedly deleted a song by (gag) Ashlee Simpson several months ago.

I haven't found anything new lately, so maybe the worst is over.

The point is, it's MY LIST. It's MY COMPUTER. Get out of its innards and quit messing with me.

Now if you'll all please excuse me, I want to run a few thousand spyware programs. Build a few more walls. Install a few more locks.

I'm not as scared as I used to be, but sometimes I'm still scared.

I mean, Puddle of Mudd? I keep thinking I've got rid of them all but then I'll find another one.

And no, I don't want to know what really happened. Stop emailing me. I don't care. Just go away.

Not YOU.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:12 PM | |

Mix well, pour into large open mind, and let it set up.

My basic intolerance for public misbehavior has been showing, and showing badly, all week. I'd calm down a little, and then someone would have some disgraceful show in public, where I could see/hear it, and off I would go again.

Oh, I don't say anything to the misbehaving person, no matter what his/her age.

I just come home and tell all of you.

But right now, right this minute, I'm listening to some Eddie Izzard, and some DaVinci's Notebook, and some Moxy Fruvous, and some King's Singers, and some Rockapella, and some George Carlin, and some Hayley Westenra, and some Opera Band, and some Rhett Miller, and some Beatles, and some Love Actually S/T. . . . and the funky mixiness of it all is making me smile. I've hit 'random' so it goes from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again.

And isn't that what life is like, too?
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:12 AM | |

Friday, March 11, 2005

More proof of my unreasonably mean, hard-hearted stance on public misbehavior.

Dear Woman Who Was In Too Much Of A Hurry To Stand In Line At The Two Working Xerox Machines With The Rest Of Us,

There was a reason the third machine had no line. There was a reason the third machine was turned off. There was a reason the third machine had the little "Do not use" sign taped over the on-off button.

If you hadn't behaved like a spoiled selfish baby, flailing your arms around and waving your papers in the air and all-but-weeping real tears at the sight of the two lines, and complaining so loudly about how you didn't have TIME to wait in a line, you needed your copies NOW, someone in one of the two lines might have said something to you before you placed your one copy of your test in that third machine, tore off the sign, pushed the 'on' button, and hit 'copy.'

But then we wouldn't have seen you dance or heard you shriek when that third machine shredded your only copy of your test into confetti.

And when you had the gall to blame the little office gal, I'm glad the dean of your department came out of one of the offices in the midst of your tirade and asked you to step inside.

And when you came out of that office all red-eyed, there was not a person in either of those two lines who felt sorry for you.

We felt sorry for your students, but not for you.

You had a lot of nerve, yelling at the secretary like that. For shame.

And by the way, the purple lipstick didn't do a thing for you. Except match your face when you had your hissy fit.

Shame, shame, shame.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, after you left, nobody said a word about you or your public baby-tantrum. What was there to say?

Besides, the expressions on everyone's faces said it all.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:32 PM | |

The night I met Mary Poppins at a Pentecostal Revival Meeting, and she turned ugly on me.

Making that list of 100 Things the other night has caused me to remember a lot of things. I'll get around to most of them eventually. But right now here's this one.

This post will seem possibly a mite disrespectful. That's because it probably is. But when a person describes an event, it's usually from that person's point of view, so let the chips fall where they may. If I might use that analogy in this particular setting.

Remember that old boyfriend who converted from Tony Manero on the dance floor to Pat Robertson on the camp floor?

It happened to him out of the blue. One night we were sitting in the bar at the Greystone Hotel downtown, drinking Margaritas and screwdrivers and getting up to dance every time the band played a song we could recognize, and the next night, we were on our way to a revival meeting at the Church of Disgruntled Believers Who Left Other Churches Because People Who Wore Nude Stockings Were Allowed To Enter. No booze. No tobacco. No dancing. No elbows.

Who made up the rules for this church? The preacher made them up.

I looked around for Kool-Aid but fortunately I did not see any.

We brought his little sister with us. She was around eleven or so.

He had told me to 'dress accordingly.' I did wear a skirt, but I was later told that although it was of a 'seemly length,' it was made of an 'unseemly fabric' and the uneven hem had potential to draw the eyes of even a married man to "heights."

I was also instructed not to let my elbows show if I decided to return.

No problem there.

So, the three of us entered the church. It was absolutely jam-packed-full of people. We found seats about four pews from the front, and settled in. Everyone was talkative and seemed fairly normal, barring the dowdy clothes and the weird hats and umbrellas. It wasn't raining. Everyone had umbrellas.

The old lady behind us looked exactly like Mary Poppins. She struck up a nice old-lady-to-little-girl conversation with the Boyfriend's sister. A guy I remembered from high school was playing the piano. I was surprised to see him there, for as I said, I remembered him from high school. I dare say he was just as surprised to see me there.

At precisely seven o'clock, the placed hushed as though a bowl had been turned over the top of the building. Four old ladies walked down the aisle, sprinkling water from silver dishes, behind them.

The preacher (he was not a minister, sorry, but he was NOT a minister, just a preacher) stalked pompously down the aisle and took his place behind the pulpit. The four old women stood behind him.

The moment he opened his mouth and spoke, the whole place exploded.

I honestly have no clue what he said that night, because I couldn't hear him. The four women behind him raised their arms into the air and hooted like freight trains the entire time. Everyone in the church went nuts.

They were whacking their umbrellas all over the pews and the walls and each other. They were screaming and crying and singing and making freaky noises that were supposed to be 'tongues' but most of the time it was fairly understandable; plus, the 'tongue' people, while looking straight up or straight down, were flicking their eyes from side to side to make sure people were watching them.

Mary Poppins was shrieking like a banshee and hitting the Little Sister with her umbrella, so hard that she almost fell down. It was louder and crazier than many rock concerts I'd been to.

People were running around the room with cans of Crisco, smearing it on people's foreheads. I had to knock one old man away from me with my foot! He was DETERMINED to put Crisco on my face. And one of them got the Little Sister, who began to cry in terror.

And the crowd scared me. They scared me badly. Some of them were coming after me personally, with those rolled-up umbrellas and their 'tongues' and their screaming and prancing and wailing and moaning and Crisco.

You read about Shakers gettin' down. . . .Shakers had NOTHING on these people.

I looked back across the pews. People were standing on top of them and prancing. There were people dancing on top of the piano. Swinging from the rafters. It was like being at a campus rugby party.

I was more frightened with every moment that passed by.

Then I looked closely at his Little Sister. She was white-faced and shaking. That's when I got angry.

I took her by the hand and together we braved the aisle and aimed for the door. People jumped in front of us, and tried to keep us from leaving. I elbowed them aside with my sinful sensual elbows and led her out.

In the hallway, we looked around and found the restroom. We holed up in there for the duration of the meeting. I would have just left with her, but we were too far away to walk anywhere familiar, and I didn't have any money for a cab. She sobbed in my arms for an hour.

When things quieted down, we ventured out of the restroom and cased the joint. We found the Boyfriend standing outside in a group of cigar-smoking men (can you spell HYPOCRITE?) and he wasn't overly pleased with my "behavior."

All the way home, I told him exactly whose 'behavior' needed improvement.

I didn't expect him to call me again, but he did. Too many times.

I never did know if he was just taking a walk on the wild side, or if he saw me as one of the sinful who needed redemption.

Either way, I was no longer interested.

I am a Christian, but I am not a bloody lunatic. And adults who look and dress like Mary Poppins should not terrorize a little girl by screaming in her face and hitting her with an umbrella and attacking her with Crisco.

How dare those people frighten a child like that. I'm still angry on her behalf.

What kind of religion behaves like that? I have laughed about this experience for many years but I have also waxed indignant over it. I do not believe these people had religion. I do not believe these people had anything remotely associated with religion.

I think these people were repressed judgemental morons who saw evil in everything, and who forced themselves to live such anal lives that the corncob could fall out only when they were going nuts in church.

I do not mean to make fun of all churches. No, no, no. I've met lovely people in church before. I've also met them outside of church.

But I AM making fun of churches that encourage behaviour like I saw that night. And I am making fun of people who behave like those people behaved.

Because, you know, if we don't make fun of them, we might break down and cry over the complete and utter idiocy of much of the human race.

Perhaps that is why were were given a sense of humor, after all.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 2:40 PM | |

Thursday, March 10, 2005

I Never Saw Another Butterfly

Maxed-Out Mama sent me here, and I want you to go there too. It's another Holocaust story, but it's not like anything you might ever have read before.

There is no such thing as too many Holocaust stories. For each victim, and for each survivor, there is a story. We must hear as many of them as we can.

I taught the Holocaust at the middle school level for 26 years. A few people thought they were too young, but they weren't. It was exactly the right age to learn about it. My students wept. They were outraged, and then they wept some more.

And people say middle school students don't care about anything. People are often wrong.

For many of them, it was their first exposure to an adult theme in school, and their first exposure to adults committing evil, other than on a movie screen. It was politics, and apathy, and sensitivity and insensitivity, and cruelty, and blood-covered statistics, and compassion, and even, dare I say it, EMPATHY.

It went beyond Anne Frank. It was soap and candles and hair-shirts and gold fillings, and mountains of shoes. It was tattoos and shaved heads and ovens manufactured specifically for large quantities of human bodies. Ovens that looked exactly like the ovens that fairy-tale bakers and their wives used for bread. Only bigger. Ovens that looked exactly like the ovens that textbook peasants used for bread. Only bigger.

It was babies torn from their mothers' arms and bashed against a tree, or tossed off a moving train. It was families split apart, never to lay eyes on each other again, in this world.

It was whole towns levelled, and populations machine-gunned into pits, covered over, never to be found again. Or, later found by a farmer with a plow.

Students whose only exposure to concentration camps was Magneto, learned about train rides with people stacked like cordwood, and only the middle of the pile surviving, and why. Students so picky they'd eat only the red M&M's learned about staying alive by picking lice off a dead man's back.

Students who scorned their parents and siblings learned about sacrifices that would, could, and did, break a heart.

Students who obsessed over styles learned about making a cover for the body out of a burlap bag, and buying underwear with a week's bread ration. Having a bad hair day? Students saw what happened to everybody's hair.

Students who loved poetry, or who scorned poetry, cried over the pictures and the verses in "I Never Saw Another Butterfly," an awesome book about and by the children of Terezin camp.

If you have, or will soon have, a middle school-age child, do not fear.

Middle school students are smart, and sensitive, and innately kind, no matter what else you might have heard. To learn a thing exists, and to weep over it, is an indicator of great empathy.

People who learn while young to empathize, grow into adults who do something about it.

This was my job until a year ago. I loved it.

One of my students found this poem on the internet, about a year and a half ago. He copied it, pasted it, and printed it off for me. He brought it to me in the computer lab at school, and then he turned and sat down so I could "cry without being stared at."

Yeah, they all knew how I reacted to things.

Here is the poem that young man found for me. And fair warning: it's a toughie. Especially if you have a young child. Proceed with care.


And the child held her hand.
A child tiny for almost eight,
Deep blue eyes that dominated his face
When he explained new events to her;
That funny doggie
That pretty rock. . . .
And the freckles on his cheek. . . .
No one saw a sunrise more perfect,
To her,
She so vividly smells the fragrance of
His hair,
His ears,
His breath in the morning. . . .
She vividly hears that little heartbeat,
That was hers
Always hers,
And the laughter,
That raspy little laugh,
When he caught her in a conundrum.
All this,
But this is merely the surface,
As she watches her little God sheared,
And stripped,
For the gas chamber. . . .

--by Laura Crist

Sometimes, I greatly fear for the future of our nation. And then I remember my middle school kids, and I feel a lot better.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 8:48 PM | |

My blogrolled visitor.

Company in my house is my favorite thing, and when it's this particular friend, an hour goes past in a most Einsteinian manner.

The only political fanatic on my blogroll stopped by for a visit today.

He was in town to visit his hospitalized mother, so let's all send a wealth of good wishes her way.

Thanks for dropping in, Wes. It was about time. Your Christmas present had been collecting dust under the coffee table for almost three months.

Next time, bring the girlfriend with you. I haven't had a chance to inspect her suitability yet.

The long-distance vibes are feeling pretty good about it, though.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:06 PM | |

Two steps forward, three steps back.

Blogger is nuts tonight.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:32 PM | |

Old dog, old tricks.

Remember that student who argued with me over the difference between “two paragraphs” and “three sentences?”

He turned his paper in, today.

As he handed it to me, he said “Here’s my three sentences. I made the margins real wide, and triple-spaced it, so it would look longer.”

Oh well HEY.

That’ll fool the old gal, all right. No problemo, dude.

Does it make me madder that he turned it in like that, or that he thinks I'd fall for it?

His paper looked like a piece of concrete poetry.

It was also full of spelling mistakes that even a spellchecker would have caught.

It annoyed me so much, I put it on the bottom of the stack.

In some ways, teaching students who are older than I am isn’t all that different. . . . .

But wouldn’t you think that someone who has been “working on a degree” since 1984 would know better than to do that?

You wouldn’t?

Neither do I.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:24 PM | |

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Welcome to the Matrix.

It bothers me that all the Yellow Cabs in this town are white. I might be more inclined to use their services if they weren't driving around in disguise.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 8:34 PM | |

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

100 Things. Try not to fall asleep, ok?

All the cool kids were doing it, so here's mine.

100 Things.

1. My college boyfriend and I traveled all over the States on a motorcycle, and later in a little green Dodge.
2. We dated for four years.
3. He bought me a single-shot Winchester rifle for our first Christmas.
4. I still have the long wooden three-person toboggan he gave me for my 20th birthday. My kids have used it all their lives.
5. He gave me a beautiful green Motobecane racing bike when I turned 21. I gave it to my sister-in-law after I married someone else.
6. I dated his brother first.
7. He died of bone cancer soon after I got married. (The boyfriend, not his brother.)
8. I danced with Bobby Knight at a party in a trailer court.
9. I drive past John Mellencamp’s house every day.
10. My husband and I are both county spelling champs, and so is our daughter.
11. In high school, I broke up with a boyfriend over the phone because he was such a possessive baby. Someone in my family later married him.
12. I really am one of Jerry’s Kids. I’m not just being disrespectful.
13. I gave birth to my son in less than twenty minutes. I had him while my husband was parking the car.
14. Richard Chamberlain’s family lives in my town.
15. I was on the Board of Governors at Indiana University when I was an undergraduate.
16. I was on the Indiana University Trivia Team.
17. I have not taken a math class since my sophomore year in high school.
18. When I went to college, it was possible to substitute P.E. and Health classes for science classes. That’s why I have an endorsement in School and Community Health.
19. The only sciences I took in college were astronomy, geology, and advanced mammalian physiology. I flunked physiology.
20. I failed Mammalian Physiology because I would not crucify a live frog, cut it open, and measure its dwindling heart and organ functions. I walked out of the lab and never went back.
21. I didn’t have the prerequisites anyway. I took the class because my boyfriend was in it.
22. I used to have a denim tie-dyed string bikini. I later wrapped it around a split post on my son’s bunk beds to keep it from breaking. It was a size 3. When we gave away the bed, the bikini was still tied around the post.
23. Never in all my life have I ever pretended to be someone else, except at Halloween. And when I took the girls to get their ears pierced.
24. The globes on my computer lamp are two huge bloodshot eyeballs.
25. There is a life-size skull in my dining room.
26. A huge leering gremlin is pushing out of the wall to my right in this very room.
27. I love candles, although we try to keep them away from Belle since she dropped nail polish remover on a burning candle and nearly burned down our house. The carpet outside the bathroom is melted and feels all goofy on bare feet.
28. I met my husband in high school, although I wouldn’t date him then because I thought he was boring.
29. A few years later, in college, I realized my mistake.
30. I learned to aim and shoot a gun when I was seven years old.
31. I learned how to reload shotgun shells when I was nine.
32. I do not believe in social promotion. Still in school at 24? That’s fine with me.
33. Capital punishment is barbaric, and unworthy of a civilized society.
34. Undisciplined children are the devil’s spawn. Well-behaved children are higher than the angels. Self-esteem must be earned to be worth anything. All children know this; many adults do not.
35. I wore my sister’s wedding dress. I didn’t try it on until the night before my wedding.
36. I forgot to get wedding shoes. I wore brown sandals.
37. I had a chocolate wedding cake. Back then, that was incredible.
38. In college, I almost married a Chinese friend so he would not have to go back to Hong Kong after graduation.
39. He was accepted into law school without taking the LSAT, because the college badly needed his ethnicity for their records. I went with him when he applied to take the test, and we both heard the guy in the back room yell “A CHINESE GUY! WE’RE SAVED!!!”
40. If I had married him, I’d be rolling in wealth today.
41. All my old boyfriends are rich, except the two who are dead, of course.
42. My husband and I are poor. It is not our fault.
43. I cut our grass on a riding lawn tractor the day before my daughter was born. (8 acres!)
44. My husband and I both have several boxes full of comic books from the sixties and seventies, stored in the garage. His are Marvel; mine are DC.
45. I love to make lists and plan things.
46. I love to help people and give them gifts.
47. I would rather buy books or music than clothes.
48. My husband and I used to have pink sheets with kittens on them.
49. Christmas is my favorite season.
50. I always vowed that I would never get fat. I got fat.
51. In college, I had a friend named Velvet Bush . She was a huge black girl with a big ‘fro. I still think this is funny.
52. My father was blind and had no legs. He used to say this was cool, because at least he ‘wouldn’t get any damn socks at Christmas any more.’ He would ask for a football.
53. When my mother was young, she was the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in my life.
54. My friends used to go skinny-dipping in the quarries. I could never bring myself to do it. I watched, but I kept my string bikini on.
55. The water in a quarry-hole is colder than anyone’s imagination could ever imagine. Polar bears would scream if they jumped into it.
56. It was awesome.
57. We had to be careful not to touch the live wires stretched across the water.
58. My daughter celebrated her 21st birthday in Italy. I cried because I wasn’t there with her.
59. I don’t think she missed me overmuch. She lived next door to a bar.
60. I once walked through the men’s locker room at IU, on a dare.
61. I used to watch Mark Spitz practice his fancy dives.
62. I accidentally cut off my right thumb with a piece of broken glass. It was re-attached. When you press on my thumb-knuckle, I can feel pressure on my shoulder.
63. I have broken my little toes over a hundred times.
64. I once walked topless across the fourth floor of the IU library, on a dare.
65. The first time I ever tasted alcohol, my friends had to wheel me back to the dorm in a grocery cart.
66. That same night, I had shown everyone at the party my Tweety Bird underpants.
67. I once dated a guy who later died of AIDS.
68. I was a Candy-Striper in high school.
69. I used to hate recess beyond all imagining, in grade school.
70. I once dated a guy who later became a conservative Pentecostal. After his conversion, he wouldn’t take me anywhere public, because he didn’t want to risk being seen with a short-haired girl in jeans.
71. This bothered me, so I wore an “ERA NOW” t-shirt to his Bible study.
72. His idea of a date was to park behind the gas station, put quarters in the machines, and slurp pop out of the can.
73. Before his conversion, we used to go dancing every weekend.
74. The contrast was too much for me. I hired my baby sister to bust us up. She did.
75. I took my youngest sister and the little girl across the street to get their ears pierced. I told the store I was their mother and signed the papers. I did not have permission to do this.
76. I was amazed that mom and the other mom were upset.
77. I understand now.
78. My friends are an amazing and interesting mix of ultra-conservative/ultra-liberal in every possible aspect of life. When we get together, we have a blast.
79. I wish I were more discerning. I am easily fooled.
80. I love discussions, if the people are smart.
81. I have the worst case of empty nest syndrome in the world.
82. I miss being healthy.
83. Ordinarily, I am not bold.
84. I have never thought of myself as being very interesting at all.
85. I used to be really hot. Now, I am really not.
86. I am happiest when I am with PEOPLE.
87. I bet I know more songs by heart than you do.
88. I have a bad tendency to be scornful of stupid people. I need to work on my compassion for them.
89. People who make excuses for everything really disgust me.
90. I seldom watch TV.
91. I have all the MASH episodes on DVD.
92. I’ve already pre-ordered the new Harry Potter book. July. Can’t wait!
93. People who are easily offended are no fun.
94. People who jump to conclusions are not very nice.
95. I love children. I miss having them in my house.
96. I love to cook.
97. I love to take care of people.
98. Trivia games are fun.
99. Heavy discussions and arguments about issues, among friends, are one of the greatest enjoyments of life.
100. I hope no one has fallen asleep from sheer boredom, if anybody even managed to get this far. I am just not a very cool or interesting person.

And that's my 100 things. Good night, and bless you all.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:40 PM | |


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