Monday, April 30, 2007

Down to only $20, and it isn’t even noon…

One word: Costco. Oh yeah. The Big Box warehouse. The place famous for bringing you the Lifetime Supply of Disposable Razors.

Today, I handed over $159.65 to the warehouse in exchange for a bunch of staples (I listed them out at the bottom – feel free to skip if it bores you to tears).

I’m having a lot of trouble adjusting to the new budget. If my budget is a bus to get us where we’re going, well, my brain got onboard, but my guts were still in the gift shop and missed the boarding call.

I keep having ‘gut feelings’ about things. Like, I have a gut feeling that I can totally afford getting pizza tonight, or I have a gut feeling that a new keyboard for my Treo is not only OK, but downright necessary, considering how often I’m using it to write things while waiting for one Denizen or another on the road.

I can afford a small amount of that kind of thing. Very small amounts. Each thing is usually under twenty bucks (negligible, right?), but kind of like the way a single drop of water is nothing to worry about but a bucketful can drown you, the twenty bucks come flowing together until at the end of the month I’m scratching my head going, “Wait, how in the world did pizza delivery end up costing us $2,521.72?”

I’ve decided to give myself the budgetary equivalent of electric shock treatment. Instead of using my credit cards, I’m getting my weekly allowance when I get groceries. At the first of the month, I get $180; each week thereafter, I get $140.

So when the register came up to $159.65, I swiped my card and got twenty bucks cash back. Twenty measly bucks. I looked at that lone twenty dollar bill and groused to myself. Well. Not entirely to myself. I may have muttered aloud a bit. Twenty @*^&@ing bucks. Ridiculous!

But it is exactly what I need to do. As I went through Costco, I was keeping a mental tab as I went. $20. $25. $35. $57. $80. I had to! I knew I only had $180 for the week, and this being the first week I have precisely zip in carryover from previous weeks!

As the mental tab was getting to be more than I had, I was putting things back. Prepackaged snacks for lunches. String cheese. Potato chips (shouldn’t be eating those anyway).

This is exactly what the cash diet is good for – it forces you to acknowledge how much you no, really have, and to act accordingly. I won’t be going into the supermarket and blowing $40 on stuff I didn’t go in there to get, purely because it’s ‘only’ $40.

I have $20. That’s it. There it is. One twenty dollar bill. And if I cheat, well. It’s like cheating a solitaire, you know? I’m cheating myself, and the family who rely on me to make it all work.

Fortunately, we have a half-full freezer, an almost full tank of gas, and good sneakers – there will be a lot more walking to and from school now, both to save gas and hopefully so that mommy can lose some of the jiggle that seems to have made itself at home around her waist.

Hopefully, next week’s grocery trip will be more of the $40 variety…

Costco Carnage

Item Price
50# Sack of flour $9.49
Milk (4 gal) $9.58
Mac N Chez (15 pak) $8.99
Ritz crackers $6.29
Canned mushrooms $5.49
Applesauce! $6.39
Diet Pepsi (oh, vice!) $8.79
Sin Tax (CA redemption) $1.44
Ramen noodles $4.29
12-pack bagels $3.99
Toilet paper $18.89
Shredded mozzarella 5# $9.89
Shredded cheddar $9.19
5 dozen eggs $6.49
Dishwashing gloves (9 pair) $5.99
Bananas $1.30
5# Rotgut non-gourmet WOE IS ME coffee $9.69
Babybel cheese, 28 $8.89
Yogurt $5.99
Half-n-Half, 1/2 gal $2.29
Butter $6.99
Pasta sauce $6.59
Tax $2.72
Total $159.65

50# of flour is a month's worth of six to eight loaves of bread a week (I already had a 5# sack of yeast in the garage), a weekly batch of cookies for lunches and snacks, waffles, muffins, and however many pies and banana bread and whatever other fool thing I take it into my head to bake. I go through not nearly as much sugar as you might think, though – one ten pound bag will last me a couple months.

The milk, though, will be toast by next Monday. Four gallons is conservative; I actually already had a gallon and a half in the fridge. We go through a lot of milk. A lot of it.
The canned mushrooms will last me several months. So will the Ramen noodles – we don’t really eat them all that often. They’re more of a junk-food-snack for us.

I’m sure I will survive the gourmet coffee deprivation. And it will make me that much more grateful when I do manage to acquire a bag or two of Da Good Stuff.

I go through dishwashing gloves at a shocking clip. I swear, I go through a pair a week. What am I doing wrong?! Even ‘heavy duty’ gloves always seem to acquire a hole in the tip of a finger within a week or two. ARGH.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Give me a year, just one short year…

So, I’ve actually been reading again. That I have not read a single book in about a year is a sad, sad commentary on my life in general. But lately, I’ve been chewing my way (between outbreaks of Denizen warfare and things needing to be cleaned [again]) through this:

Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping

As the title no doubt gives away, the author decides to give up shopping for a year. She buys only ‘necessities’, but foregoes things like movies, eating out, and new clothes (mostly).

It’s interesting to me as much for what it’s not as what it is.

Most people who turn to this kind of extreme consumer deprivation do so because they are going through traumatic financial times. For example, they may have gotten themselves so deep in debt that the minimum payments alone could bankrupt certain small nations. (Raises hand.)

From the review on Barnes and Noble: Not Buying It is no primer on the simple life and how to live it. It's the confessions of a woman any reader can identify with: someone who can't live without French roast coffee or SmartWool socks but who has had it up to here with overconsumption and its effects on the earth and everyone who dwells there

Long ago, I went through a similar cycle of not buying it - because I had to, because I literally did not have the money. Because I had to focus on those debts and get rid of them – they were sucking our life out of us, one interest payment at a time.

Back then, the list of debts was ‘too long to list here’.

Today, I have five: Mortgage, minivan payment, car payment, loan-for-furnace, loan-for-surgery-last-year.

That’s it. And none of those loans is at over 5% interest. A far, far cry from the days when my lowest interest rate was 18%.

Everything else is paid off as it comes in. Car and home insurance bills are paid annually at renewal. The credit card I use for daily purchases is likewise paid off each month.

We are in the blessed, blessed position of having enough plus a little extra. I can go to the supermarket without checking my account balances first, but if I’m heading to Best Buy a quick reality check is definitely in order. And, we’re funding our retirement quite nicely.

The new discretionary budget (money I can spend on any fool thing I want) is a lot tighter than I’d like, though, so I find myself thinking about ways I can pay off some of those five things sooner, to put the monthly payments back into said discretionary budget.

As I’ve been pondering the ways and means, and reading Levine’s book, I find myself thinking…what could I accomplish with the resources and (more importantly) the knowledge I have now?

I know how to work the banking system. I know that I will not, in fact, curl up and die if I don’t have…a vacation, or a new pair of shoes, or gourmet coffee. (There. I said it. I will not die if I have to drink Costco coffee.) I know how to leverage what I’ve got to maximize benefit.

One year. If I spent one crummy year trying to do my personal best with what we’ve got – what could I do? Where would we be, what could we have?

Right now, my discretionary budget is $600 a month. That’s for groceries, gasoline, vacations, ballet lessons – anything that doesn’t involve a monthly bill. Not a whole lot, for a family of six. It feels like a slightly-too-tight turtleneck, frankly, and I’ve been having trouble settling into it. I’ve gotten into a habit of overbuying (and under-thinking, if I’m brutally honest with myself).

If I took one year, just 1.25% of my guesstimated lifespan, and spent it working at both economizing and tightening the overall ship…what kinds of things would become possible for us?

Just what could I do, in a single measly year?

I have a feeling it could be rather impressive.

And even…fun.

In a bizarre, household-economics-nerd kind of way…

Thursday, April 26, 2007

School mess

Very Herodotus asked, Ok, I'm confused. What do you mean when you say if you are late with the forms then you have to live with whatever you got from the district? Wouldn't your kids by default go to the nearest local school? It sounds like you're saying the school district will decide what school to send your kid to, and maybe your next door neighbor's kids are at a different school?

Exactly. It isn’t random, though. What happens is simple. We have 60 openings for kindergarten per year at our school. Some years, only 45 kids are coming in and anybody who wants to go to our school – even those who technically belong at other schools, are welcomed in.

Other years, we have 75 kids who technically belong at this school – but still only 60 openings. 60 will get in, the other 15 will end up elsewhere. They start at the next school out in the ring, but if they happen to be full as well, they keep moving outward.

“Usually” you will end up at ‘your’ school. But then there is that ‘occasionally’ that happens and you end up somewhere else. If you missed the sibling deadline but hit the regular registration one, you still get in line ahead of all the folks trying to an interdistrict transfer this year – but if you missed the regular registration as well, you’re at the back of the line.

Clear as mud? Good. Glad I could help out there.

Now. Let’s go over the various schedules for fourth, second and kindergarten grades, all over which overlap but none of which are exactly-precisely in sync…

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Welcome to Bureaucratville

Boo Bug starts kindergarten next year. The sibling registration packets (for those with children already enrolled in the school) were available for pickup last week.

They had to be turned in yesterday, today, or tomorrow. Three days. That’s it. Get it in on one of those three days, or pay the penalty.

Not in by tomorrow? Too bad. Get in the regular line, putz, and thank you for stopping by. (The staff at the school is actually very, very nice – but they have to be very, very firm. If they make even one tiny concession on anything, boom. That’s it. All exceptions, all the time.)

I dutifully picked up my package last week, filled out the forms, dropped off one form at the pediatrician’s office and another at the dentist (can you believe it? now we have to have a dental report on file!), vaccinations up to date, birth certificate, blah blah blah.

Today, I picked up the last thing, went over the list twice, made sure my i’s were dotted and my t’s crossed and, trembling, dared to enter {dramatic music} the school office.

Every single time, every.single.time, I have to do something for the school system, I do it wrong at least once. Usually two or three times. Eldest almost didn’t get to go to kindergarten because she was ‘short’ a vaccination. I had to get two (2) doctor’s notes explaining that she couldn’t have the fourth vaccination until such-and-so a date due to the third having been on such-and-such, and fourth could not be given blah blah blah, and I almost missed the Absolute Last And We Really Mean It! cutoff date for registration.

So it did not surprise me in the least when the nice lady stopped dead at my mortgage statement and said, “Um, OK. No. We can’t use this to verify your address. We need a PG&E bill or city water bill to prove residency.”

Because, y’all understand, my driver’s license showing this address on it AND a mortgage statement showing that I pay $X every single month for the privilege of sharing ownership of the Den with the bank is not enough to hint that PERHAPS I LIVE HERE.


Fortunately, she had internet access. I am a ‘paperless’ kind of person and the only reason I brought the mortgage statement in was because it was the only official-like paper statement I had, of any sort, which showed our names and address together. But as she had internet access, I was able to log in to the PG&E website and printed out the last statement and we were good.

Let the record show that, on this day in history, Mother Chaos actually got a child registered for kindergarten without having to quit the battlefield and return another day!

And also, I got it all turned in one day prior to the last day! Which is early! Which is a Personal Best and I am so proud I may have to eat a celebratory box piece of chocolate!!

Now, I told you that so I could tell you this: I felt so sorry for most of the other parents in that office.

“Why can’t I turn this in now?”
“You don’t already have a child at this school.”
“But, I want both of them to go here.”
“But neither of them are registered yet.”
“But they’re siblings!”

Have you ever thought you were in danger of popping like a soap bubble because you were holding in your laughter so hard? Because seriously...busting out laughing right about then would probably have gotten me decked by that (now really annoyed) mom.

“How come you need a birth certificate?”
“We need proof of age.”
“Well, it says right there on the vaccination record! XX/XX/2001!”
“That isn’t proof of age – the doctor’s office doesn’t specifically…”
{Everyone in the office, thinking, Um, a copy of the birth certificate?}
“Sir, we are required to have a copy of her birth certificate on file.”
“@*^&@ this. @*^&@ it!!”

I feel your pain, buddy. But if Captain Adventure suddenly says @*^&@ to me, I’m gonna kick your @**. And I mean that @*^&@ing sincerely.

Why doesn’t this count? How come I can’t use this? Well, I live with my mom so the bill is in her name…but I swear I live there, too…but he turns five on December 3! C’mon, it’s one stinkin’ day!!

Not to mention all the parents who were picking up the packets today (they were available last Wednesday, but for some reason an awful lot of parents thought it was this Wednesday) and realizing they had twenty-four hours to get all the forms filled out, find birth certificates and so forth and get the pediatric and dental forms filled out and signed by their doctors and dentists, or they’d miss the window and have to live with whatever they got from the district.

None of the forms are optional. None can be turned in later. It is all or nothing. And if you goof it up? You have to wait until May and try again. The later you turn it in, the more likely you won’t get into this school, and you’ll have to bus your children all over town.

Welcome to Bureaucratville. Please remember to use blue ink on all your forms, make copies of everything and do not leave the office without a signature on the little slip of paper that says we took possession of the whole thing – otherwise, when it mysteriously goes missing, your child will be sent to the School of the Forgotten, with all the other kids whose parents forgot to do some obscure thing by the 14th of Octember.

Thank you for stopping by, and have a nice day.

Charmed again…

OK, these booties have just charmed the socks off me. Click on the picture to get to the pattern at Which has more pictures! YAY!

Tulip Toes

The Knitting 4 Children group strikes again!! I got the link to this (and a few other delectable babies things) in the digest. And now, of course, I’m going to be suffering yet another bout of promiscuous behavior…NO! Must. Finish. Vest. First.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Good news for YOU, maybe!

So I just got off the phone with the pediatrician a little bit ago. We now have the official diagnosis: Contact dermatitis, absolutely hands-down-no-question.

No new bumps, no fever, no itching, what spots there were getting smaller and paler without any eruptions or lesions. T’aint chickenpox, ‘tis probably something in the tub.

Which means that I am guilty-guilty-guilty and it is all my fault. Hmm. Where did I put that hair shirt of mine…

So after I hung up the phone, I turned to my beloved offspring and announced, “Good news, guys! You can go back to school tomorrow! You are neither contagious nor sick!”

Eldest looked me dead in the eye and deadpanned, “Good news for YOU, maybe!”

You know, it really sucks when they're wittier than you...

How I Know He Ain’t Deaf

Sometimes, I find myself wondering if Captain Adventure actually does have a hearing problem. You know, like, maybe he’s deaf or something. Because you say things to him, and he just…looks at you.

And doesn’t respond appropriately.

“Come here.” {Backs up until he runs into a corner}

“Don’t you throw that!” {Better duck}

“Pick that up! Pick. It. Up. Captain Adventure! Stop! You come here and pick that…argh!” {Yeah, you know exactly what happened there.}

The way he babbles. The way he says “daddy” and it doesn’t mean, you know, daddy. That he won’t say ‘juice’ or ‘up’ or ‘help’, no matter how much he wants or needs any of those things. Sometimes, I start saying to myself, “Well, maybe he does have a hearing problem! Maybe he doesn’t hear clearly! Maybe he needs hearing aids!”

Because seriously – sometimes even when he really is thirsty, he won’t respond to the word ‘juice’ in any way. He’ll just stand there and look at you, giving you absolutely no clue about what he thinks of the idea of juice…

So just now, I was asking if he wanted a snack. “Do you want snack? Captain Adventure want snack, now? Snack? Do. You. Want. SNACK?”

And he’s looking at me with the blankest expression. Almost imbecilic. (Yeah. The kid who yesterday built a town out of blocks that I swear my five year old could not have duplicated.)

We stared at each other. Then I turned my back to him and said, very quietly and with no particular emphasis, “Would Captain Adventure like a cookie?”

“YEAH!” And off he charged for the kitchen, where he stood before the cookie jar quivering with glee. He pointed at the cookie jar and grinned at me and clapped his hands.


I’m gonna call that a negative on the hearing loss thing…

I learn something every day

I just set a very annoying password on my Treo. It is going to annoy me every time I want to make a call, download email, or hand over the phone to a Denizen to play PDA Playground while we wait in a doctor’s office.

Because I just learned something about what kind of bills you can end up with if your phone is stolen.

Ten Steps to Cell Phone Security: This [complaints to the BBB] is mostly due to incorrect billing, confusing fees, unexpected charges, and deceptive contracts. These can certainly add up, but I was shocked to learn that the most significant -- even devastating -- monetary damage can occur when your cell phone is lost or stolen…San Francisco resident Wendy Nguyen was even more shocked to receive a bill for $26,000 after her cell phone was unknowingly stolen before she left for an overseas vacation. Cingular held her responsible for charges incurred after the phone was taken, up until the time Wendy discovered the theft and called the carrier.

Interestingly, it seems the providers pursue the folks who lost their phones until they manage to get television coverage about it. The industry says it tries hard to keep customers happy. But Cingular pursued Wendy Nguyen for months for $26,000. Only after she told her story to CBS station KPIX-TV in San Francisco did Cingular drop the charges.

Uh-huh. What a pain in the butt. Now, password protecting your device isn’t a ‘get out of jail free’ card. If what the thief is after is free phone use, s/he can take out your SIM and put it into another device and be off and running. But that will take a little more time, which gives you a chance to get the service cut off before any charges are incurred.

And shame on the industry for doing this. It isn’t bad enough that they sign you up for two year contracts every time you contact them in any way, they also have to make sure you’re fully punished for criminal activity you wanted no part of? What’s that about? In what way is that good business? Inviting Federal oversight to complicate your business? Encouraging consumers to demand same from their duly appointed representatives? In exchange for profits you probably won’t get from consumers who are going to get wide publicity in regards to your evilness for their plight?


The first day of the rest of my life

Boo Bug suddenly walked up to me yesterday afternoon, pulled up her shirt and said, “Hey mommy, I’ve got a dot on my tummy!”

Why, so she did. It looked like a little pimple. Hmm. Odd, but not crazy-odd.

Just as I was about to get up and start making dinner, Danger Mouse came into the office and said, “I’ve got dots on my tummy. And they itch.”


Sure enough, she has half a dozen largish ‘pimples’ on her tummy. And then she informed me that she also had some Down There.

By golly – she has quite a few Down There.

I ran out to the playroom, collared Boo Bug and said, “I want to check your dots.”

One dot on tummy. Three under her underwear.

Oh, crap.

Inspection revealed that Captain Adventure likewise has a few ‘pimples’ on his tummy but Eldest is free and clear.

We went immediately to their pediatrician, who said, “Ummmm…well, it could be contact dermatitis, or, it could be chickenpox.”


Apparently, the chickenpox they can still get after vaccination does not behave like the chickenpox of my youth. There may or may not be fever. There may or may not be massive quantities of dots spreading like wildfire over all their skin. There may or may not be sore throat, headache, or really any other symptom at all.

Adding to our uncertainty is the fact that these particular three Denizens take baths together, while Eldest bathes alone, thank you. It is entirely possible that these three all encountered something in the tub, maybe I didn’t rinse the cleanser thoroughly enough (great, yet another thing to feel guilty about) or perhaps they used a new soap or who knows really.


You know…when you start a new job, you get…a little ‘welcome aboard’ party. A new nameplate for your cubicle wall. A walk around being introduced to people. Hey! Sometimes you get taken out for lunch!

Me, I get itchy tummy-dots of mysterious origin, possibly contagious, possibly not.

But it isn’t really bothering me. Because! I don’t have to email anybody about it.

Hello, yes, I’m going to be encumbered with four children who may or may not have chickenpox. Yes, I’m aware this is about the eighteenth time this year. And that the average number of days per month is four. This is about weekly. Yes. I’m aware of that. I do math for a living, I understand how averages work. Thank you for pointing out the bloody frickin’ obvious. It makes it so much easier for me to deal with the fact that my kids may or may not have chickenpox and are in any case itchy and miserable to know that you’re ‘concerned’ about how often my kids are sick.

Go ahead and be sick, little ones. Get it out of your systems. I officially have nothing better to do than be with you.

Let’s make waffles for breakfast. Sure. We’ve got time.

Plenty of it.

Hallelujah, amen.

My Hero!

OK, so, there’s this preschool show called Higgleytown Heroes {warning: music will play}. Obviously, for the last year it hasn’t been a part of my life – no Denizens have been home when it’s on and for some inexplicable reason, I haven’t put it on for my own entertainment. (Can’t imagine why not.)

Today, Boo Bug (who got up ridiculously early) and I watched an episode.

So they had this ‘biggest tallest longest’ festival. And they wanted to have the longest scarf. So Grandma whipped out her knitting needles (ok, see, they had my attention right there) (and by the way, Grandma knits faster than a machine) and started making the scarf.

Then she ran out of yarn.

“Someone special, who could it be…this job’s too big for you and me…we need help but never fear-o! This is a jooooooooob…for a HIGGLYTOWN HERO!”

And who should burst through the door but a shearer, with a sheep clutched under her arm. With an Aussie accent, no less!


I watched a guy shearing last year and was so impressed it made me wish I had sheep. Or perhaps made me willing to entertain the (passing) fancy of keeping sheep. Because this guy was not only extremely good with the animals, but took that fleece off them with beautifully precise passes. I watched him do four animals (one of them extremely nervous) without a single nick AND YET without massacring the fleece to the point where it is useless to a spinner, hand or mill.

MY HERO!!!!!


You know we of the Woolly Faith have ‘arrived’ when our heroes make preschool programming. BOOYAH!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Why I love living here and now

My Scooba battery died.

I had to wash the kitchen and playroom floors {gasp!} myself.

That’s right! Your faithful correspondent was sent back to the Stone Age and had to get out the Hoover Floormate, and find the Lysol solution, and then push the Floormate back and forth, hither and yon, across the whole floor…herself…and it did not then bring me a fruity drink with a little umbrella in it and murmur, Madam, I have finished the kitchen…if it pleases you, I will now take myself upstairs and scrub the children’s bathroom floor… so that I could wave my hand languidly and say, “Make it so, Scooba dear, make it so…”

I was grumbling to myself. Did I have any idea (I asked myself, rhetorically) how much I didn’t want to do this? I mean, really! My mouth is still killing me, and when I bend over (say, to unload the dishwasher) it just throbs and throbs and I’m pretty darned sure that mopping the kitchen floor with the Floormate isn’t going to help any too much and wah wah whine whine complain complain.

But as I was pouring the solution into the tank and plugging the monster in, I had already moved on to thinking how darned glad I am that I live here, and now, with these household machines to help me deal with the mundanities of life.

It took fifteen minutes for me to thoroughly scrub about four hundred square feet of Pergo. Scrubbed, and dried, and ready to walk on again.

Fifteen minutes, and the movie-theater like coating was removed. The black spots from shoes and the fly-trap like areas where sippy cups had leaked were gone. The dirt was lifted. The floor was clean enough for a baby to crawl on.

I like here and now. I really do. The dishwasher is working on the dirty dishes, the Floormate took care of the filthy floors, tomorrow the washing machine will tumble the clothes clean and the dryer will fluff them nicely.

Hmm. I wonder if anybody is working on a folding-and-putting-away robot…

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Meanwhile, in the Land of the Lost

Let’s talk about something other than my dental angst, shall we? Oh yes, do let’s.

I finished the baby sweater last weekend! Well, except for the buttons, because once again – I don’t like any of the fourteen million I already own and must make a special trip for them. (sigh):

Finished Baby Sweater

I love the color pattern. I love the look of the seed stitch.

And I never, ever want to do that much seed stitch again. (Seed stitch is knit one, purl one – like ribbing, only on the other side you do the opposite of what you would have done to get a rib so instead you get something that looks like little ‘seeds’, hence the name. Got that? Good. You speak ‘Tama on Dental-Angst-Mitigating-Vicodin’ quite well. Quiz later. Carry on.)

Construction-wise, this was a fairly easy knit. Classic neck-down construction, with the sleeves picked up and knit straight from the body in the round. I like that on baby sweaters – it’s a small thing, but I like not having a seam down the arms. Seams can rub, even when you’re using soft yarns. No seam, no chafed baby arms. Good deal.

But I don’t know I if I’m actually going to make the other two on the list to this same pattern. The seed stitch got very tedious after a while, and frankly…well, I like the ‘clean lines’ look of this, but suddenly I have a wild hankering for more color. We’ll see if it passes…if not, I’ll come up with a Plan (Pattern?) B for the twins.

That done, I finally got back to the Celtic Lattice vest and by golly have cranked out a bit of yardage today. Seeing as how every time I stand up and move around my entire head threatens to explode, just sitting in my chair watching the television, trying to avoid being smacked by a rampaging toddler (he isn’t “hitting me”, by the way – he’s just enthusiastically showing me things) and quietly knitting seems like an entirely sensible thing to be spending the whole entire day on. (Whoops. Sorry. Angst showing again.) (Here look! A picture! Not of a tooth! Or imploding head! YAY!)

Behold the yardage!

Now, this little darling is pure pleasure to knit. The pattern is just interesting enough to keep me awake (even though I slept like @*^& last night and feel rather droopy today), but not so interesting that I can’t find my place when Captain Adventure pulls my post-it note placeholders off the pattern.

This one involves steeks. That funny non-cable down the front is the front steek – I’ll be cutting that right up the middle to make it a ‘vest’ rather than a ‘sleeveless sweater’. There are also steeks for each arm, and in about four hours (or so) I’ll be putting in neck steeks as well.

The neck steeks make me happy. They mean that, instead of going to ‘flat’ knitting (knit across, purl back), I can continue in the round. While I wouldn’t say that purling is my sworn enemy or anything the way some knitters do…it’s not my favorite, either. I find that my hands tire more quickly with purling, and when I’m doing color work it becomes a pain in the tookus. I have trouble seeing what color ought to go where and then when I’m knitting back, I’m constantly having to drop-n-fix stitches (this is where you intentionally drop a stitch which is the wrong color, and pick the stitch back up with the correct color from the strand – another great reason to make sure you strand loosely across the back of your work!).

You know what else would make me happy? Pizza. Pizza sounds really, really good right now. Hmm. I wonder if I have any cash to pay for a delivery...because see, not only does pizza sound good, it also sounds like ‘not cooking’, which sounds like ‘not getting out of my chair more than absolutely necessary’ which sounds not just good, but great.

Ah, sloth! What a marvelous state to be in…

By ‘great’, I mean ‘awful’

I was dragged kicking, screaming and crying by a determined husband duly reported to the endodontist’s office yesterday morning, ready to have my abscess fixed.

It went great.

And by ‘great’, I mean ‘awful’.

Apparently, I am immune to triazolam. One hour before my appointment, I dutifully downed the ‘maximum’ dose of this stuff. This was supposed to make me ‘drowsy’ and ‘relaxed’ and otherwise not squirming around in the chair like a squirrel on a triple venti macchiato with eighteen sugar packets in it.

One hour after I took the pills, I said to myself, OK, now, granted, I am often somewhat resistant to sleep aids and also EXTREMELY anxious right now but, uh…shouldn’t I be feeling…I dunno…A LITTLE MORE WASTED RIGHT NOW?!

Because people, the ‘wasted factor’ was negative. I was about as far from wasted as I have ever been in my entire life. I was downright hyper. And nervous. And the more I realized how anti-wasted I was, the more nervous I got.

The (devilishly handsome) endodontist came in and cheerfully asked how I was feeling. I cheerfully said “Oh, I feel fine. Ha! Ha! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! ha…”

Now, you must understand: this was nervous laughter. The kind that makes dentists freeze in panic. It is the laughter of a patient who may at any moment break down into outright hysterics, start screaming or kicking or biting or $DEITY ONLY KNOWS WHAT ELSE.

So he looked at me anxiously.

“Did you take the triazolam?” he asked.

“Yes, ha! ha!”

“When did you take it?”

“One hour ago! Ha! Both ha of ha them ha! HA! HAHAHA! Yeah! Ha! I don’t heh heh think they’re uh HA! working too well…HA! HAHAHAHAHAHA!”

“Ooooooooooookay,” he said slowly, looking very closely into my face. I think he was doing a kind of DUI test on me. “You’re probably a little resistant to the drug itself. This happens all the time, and what’ll happen is this: Once we get you all numb and get working, once you realize that you’re not feeling anything, then you’ll go ahead and relax and it’ll kick in and you’ll be fine.”

He said this with great confidence. I wanted to believe him, because I did not want to spend the next hour or so working at not freaking out. I wanted to spend it daydreaming. I wanted the triazolam to do all that work for me.

“Oh, OK! HA! Haha, yes, ha, I’m sure you’re right…yes, I’m sure you’re right. I had a cousin who was right once, you know, I mean, he used to race turtles. Which is nothing like dentistry of course, but the turtles used to get nervous sometimes so he’d blah blah blah…”

No, I didn’t really go on about turtle-racing cousins. But believe me, it was that absurd. I became aware of some idiot’s voice, babbling away inanely, and suddenly realized it was my own voice doing that.

Unfortunately, I can’t blame the triazolam. I do that when I’m anxious, with or without drugs in my system. I babble when I am extremely comfortable, or extremely agitated. Everybody who knows me in person wishes I would be just slightly uncomfortable or a lot less high strung, I’m sure.


I have to say, all the various kinds of numbing agents didn’t bother me much. Boy, have they come a long way in that department! They used a numbing gel first and after that? I only had one wee little squirmy moment as he injected eight! vials of various deals in there so he could take my mouth apart without getting kicked clear across the room.

Then he went away forever. Or fifteen minutes. Which, in Dental Time, is about six lifetimes.

I knit on my sock, trying not to dissolve into hysterics at my utter lack of sedation. I was so hyped, I got halfway through the heel flap, even though one of the Cocktail of Numbness had contained adrenaline, which he informed me might make me feel as though I were having a heart or panic attack.

Uh, yeah. Yeah, it did. And I’m hoping that wasn’t a lie to get me through an actual panic attack because…the triazolam still wasn’t kicking it.

It didn’t kick in as he started the cutting. Which didn’t hurt. I began meditating. “…completely relaxed…” Start at the toes, release and relax, release and relax…

It didn’t kick in as all the sanding and other ‘rrrrrrrrrowr! rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrOOOOOOOwr! Rr-rr-rr-rrr-rrrooooooooWWWWooWWWWowwww!’ noises commenced. Which also didn’t hurt. Except in my psyche, which promptly went into overdrive. I had to close my eyes and work at mediating – which of course is completely not how you mediate. RELEASE AND RELAX! RELEASE AND RELAX! @*^&@*^@ IT ALL TO @*^&@, RELEASE AND RELAX!!!!!

It didn’t kick in as he said, “OK, no, the root looks good…”

Or while there was a little more scraping and rrowwring and pushing and pulling.

Or when he added, “Hmm, well, can I get some air on this?”

Or when he went, “{mutter} microscope {something} {sigh}…”

Or when he grunted, “Well, OK. Let’s just get that irrigated and then we’ll patch it together.”

It was at this point that he began to explain that the one thing we really didn’t want to see was what he had found: the afflicted root of Tooth #3 has a fine crack running right down the middle of it.

There is nothing more to be done for Tooth #3. Its wild ways have caught up with it. It will be nothing but a bacteria-farm until such time as it is removed.


So he sewed everything back up and said, “OK, so, we’ll call you in a few days to see how you’re doing! And we’ll go from there! I’ll give you some options about what you can do next!”

I woke up this morning with a face that felt like it had been kicked by a peeved horse. And a very bad attitude. Because having a face that feels like it has been kicked by a peeved horse will do that to you, you know.

Especially if your two year old proceeds to whack you right on the stitches with a metal train.

Which reminds me, there will be a two year old boy for sale on eBay shortly. Very cute, low mileage, comes with his own train set, sippy cups and three month supply of diapers – reasonable starting price, free shipping!! BID EARLY BID OFTEN!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

P.S.: Thanks

I’ve been running around taking care of administrivia today.

So I’ve been, uh, praying an awful lot today. Mostly like this: “Oh, for GOD’S SAKE!”

Not to mention the occasional, “GOD BLESS AMERICA!” and possibly the sporadic “Dear God, why? Why?! WHY?!?!”

By the end of the day I was getting very tired, and very disorganized. In one of the most shocking developments of my entire life, I have somehow become a ‘morning person’.

I know.

I don’t know what to make of this either.

I used to absolutely be a night owl. Life began at about 4:30 in the afternoon and ended shortly before dawn. But at some point after Eldest arrived, I became one of those people who like to watch the sun rise, and found that I had energy first thing in the morning and then…slowly but surely…lost all but the most basic will to live by 4:30 in the afternoon.

The first cup of coffee in the morning is not nearly as vital to me at the 4:00 pick-me-up one. The first cup is spiritually satisfying. The 4:00 one is medically necessary.

So at 9:00 this morning I was busily calling contractors and organizing all the stuff that used to be in the built-in upstairs, and putting the finishing brushstrokes on the budget. Happy-busy-happy-busy.

By 3:30, I was fading fast and starting to yell, “CHRISTOPHER COLUMUBUS!!” about everything from sticky keyboards to having no blue pens (black pens, yellow pens, pink princess pens, NO BLUE ONES?! ARGH!!!!!) to my doctor being on {gasp! shock! horror!} vacation until next week. I mean! How dare the man go on vacation! I want to talk to him right now, mister! about Things. (Yeah, actually, DysdHousewife, you hit one of my major concerns in life right now: Mr. Vacation Pants prescribed a level of OTC drugs that I’m not comfortable with – I’m taking 1300 mg of Tylenol every six to eight hours, I’m getting a lot of the ‘unfun’ side effects and darn it, it ain’t workin’! I want to try something else now please, thank you).

I was fading so fast that 4:00 (which was when I meant to pickup the Denizens) (I have only one more day of paid-for childcare!) (aaaaaah!!!) came and went and I found myself saying morning-like things such as, “Just five more minutes…and also I wanted to make cookies…wait, or was that bread…?”

4:00 in the afternoon is not the optimum time to be starting a bread-baking experience. Rule of thumb is, it will take about three hours start to finish. So 4:00? Eh, not exactly ‘out of the question’ but definitely into ‘you will be dealing with this right in the middle of the Evening Madness’ realms.

Undaunted (and possibly temporarily insane), I started making bread.

Meanwhile, possibly due to the power of suggestion, my jaw has been throbbing like hot-holy-heck today. I don’t want to eat. I also don’t want to drink. I had half a gorgeous steak left over for lunch, and I couldn’t face it. Eh. How about some nice soup…I was starting to fret about how I’d feel by next Friday, the earliest appointment available to get this thing fixed.

Oh well, though. Whaddya gonna do? It isn’t like there are a whole lot of (devilishly handsome or otherwise) endodontists in town. It isn’t like a supermarket, you know, you don’t just say, “Oh my, no milk today? I’ll just dash off to any one of the fifteen other choices available to me!”

So really, it is what it is. No sense whining or worrying about it. One foot in front of the other, I said, and just be grateful you have all the blessings you have. Chill. Don’t worry, be happy. And also, get all that crap off the floor and back in the built-in.

So I carried on dealing with everything from getting a new screen on my laptop (I’m mobile once more! I’m so happy! Yay, Dell!!) to calling insurance companies about their rates and contractors about their licenses.

Finally, I made the last call. That’s it for today, I said grouchily. I’m out of here. Stupid what-nots and also I’m very tired of all this and besides…

Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?

Yes. I still have my melodramatic streak. And if I were to ever actually believe that $DEITY had indeed abandoned me, it would probably be at 4:30 in the afternoon on a work day.

So just as I’m getting up to pick up the Denizens, my email !boinged!.

Can we help this friend?, my husband asked. So I hesitated long enough to dig into some cash I was hoarding up for a tech-toy I don’t really need (but kinda really want) to send over to the Cause.

Just as I was sending it, the phone rang and it was the hotel I had put a friend in for the night (I don’t reward-point-monger for nothing, people! If I can’t go, darn it, I want a friend to!). Though I had already done it, they wanted signed authorization. *sigh* OK. So I faxed and signed and sent and called and then they put her into the room. But I’m glad I was here for the call, which I only was because of this other friend needing a little help to get by.

Because it would have severely sucked for them to demand payment from her because they couldn’t reach me. The market price of the room is…kinda ludicrous, really.

So it’s all good. Glad I got delayed OH FOR CARP’S SAKE, the phone AGAIN?!?!

Dentist. How about tomorrow instead of next week?

Tomorrow is better. Much better. Tomorrow, we still have childcare available – so if mommy is passed out in drug-induced happy-place all afternoon, this is fine. And also, no Denizens will be tearing up the nice man’s waiting room. Which they otherwise would definitely be doing. Loudly.

As I hung up the phone, having gone from ‘on the early side’ to ‘almost late’, I realized that I had been about to walk out the door leaving two loaves of bread burning in the oven.

I just had to sit back and laugh. Right after, you know, I took the bread out of the oven.

$DEITY just always has my back, you know it? Especially in the hours when I’m furthest away, least aware of it, not paying attention, or otherwise feeling like nobody AND I MEAN NOBODY gives a Flying Fudgesicle (you don’t believe they fly? you haven’t spent any time in the Den, have you…) about me or anything about me.

First, I’m given easy opportunities to help friends and sometimes even complete strangers. I’m put in the right place at the right time with the right resources – it makes me so happy to have that ability. So many people have been there for me, it feels so great to finally be on the other side, able to give back a little of what I’ve gotten.

And then, I’m given a backhanded gift in the form of getting my surgery seven days sooner than otherwise planned.

Plus also, by the way, P.S. – you left the bread in the oven.

I often envision $DEITY as a kind of…tough-talking parent. Yeah, yeah, OK, so here’s this and that don’t forget blah and for My sake will you PLEASE stop being such a twit {SMACK!} upside the head and oh by the way you left the curling iron on. P.S.: I love you.

But, $DEITY! I want and I need and I feel and what and why and how !ARGH! and name-in-vain a few times…

…and P.S….

Thanks. For, you know, everything.

Dentistry in the 21st Century

Dentistry in the 21st Century

So there I was. Sitting, in the (I must say) extremely comfortable, plush chair. Trying not to fidget. Staring at a blown up x-ray of my tooth which showed, quite clearly and even to radiologically-impaired-me, the rather large-ish black hole around the roots of my tooth.

Which had already had a root canal. And also a surgical procedure done to cap the root the last time this infection erupted.

Uh, yeah. Sure. I, uh, I remember…

Well. I can tell you that I’ve had four root canals, but I don’t remember which one came first or last or whatever. I can tell you that I once had surgery to repair an issue with one of those root canals, and that one other root canal had to be ‘redone’ and that it hurt – a lot. And we will not discuss the time the tooth needing work was in such bad condition that he couldn’t get it really numb until after he got the top off the tooth.

So, I had not forgotten that I had oral surgery once to fix a…something-something that had done something blah blah infection something about root canals and oh yeah. I distinctly remember that it cost me $1,400.

This was fifteen years ago. $1,400 was about $1,399 more than I had to my name. I had to do installments for three years to pay it off. Ugh.

But, with the help of the (devilishly handsome, which doesn’t hurt a bit under these circumstances) endodontist, I managed to patch the holes in my memory around {dramatic music} Tooth #3.

Tooth #3 has been a problem child for some time. Twenty years ago, Tooth #3 became my very first root canal. Number 1 of 4 to date.

Tooth #3 had a root canal back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. It was a barbaric procedure and the first time I had ever had anything more than a cleaning done without any nitrous oxide to settle my irrationally-anxious self down. I left vowing I would never, ever and I don’t care HOW MUCH IT HURTS return to that office. Never! NEVER I TELL YOU!!!

A few years later, Tooth #3 again erupted into ludicrous pain and I immediately and without even a moment’s hesitation went back to the same man who did the original root canal demanding answers. Because to my mind, dammit, I had already done my time and should never, ever have heard from Tooth #3 again.


Dead to me. That’s what Tooth #3 should be.

Now, the x-rays at the time were not anything like the instant-digital-clarity thing we had today, but the answer was much the same.

Oh my god, look at that, you have a massive abscess at the root of that tooth – and spreading!

So back in the day, they did dental surgery (which is a lot like, you know, surgery-surgery, except that you don’t have to be put under for it) (but they did give me Valium) (which didn’t work), cleaned it out, capped the ‘problem root’ with that silver ‘white triangle’ plug, sewed me up and sent me on my way. Clutching the installment payment plan paperwork.

At this point, you would think that Tooth #3 would indeed be done. That I would never again have to hear from Tooth #3.

Yeah. You’d think that, wouldn’t you? But no. Here is the general idea, in pictures, of what is going on in there. First, what it should have looked like this nice, neat example of modern dentistry:


And then, there’s what I’ve actually got:


Apparently, Tooth #3 is that teenager who insists on inviting all the wrong people to party when mom’s out of the house. Because once again, bacteria have moved in around the base of that root and are throwing one heckuva party in there. They’ve eaten a bit of bone this time – apparently, the high doses of Tylenol I take for the arthritis did a dandy job keeping me unaware of a raging jaw infection.

Lovely, huh? Didn’t do much to help my sore joints, but by golly it did wonders for allowing a bacterial mess to get to the size of a Chapstick inside my jaw. Which has only just recently actually begun annoying me – when the discomfort has spread from my jaw up to the bottom of my eye socket. And it still doesn’t really hurt, it just feels…weird. Kind of like…hmm. Like there’s a string looped around from my jaw to my eye socket, and then somebody pulled the string so that everything is being drawn together like a purse? Kind of “puckery”?

I’m told if I stopped taking all my Tylenol / Motrin / Vicodin-at-night, it would really, really hurt. A lot.

This just in: Tama is not a particularly curious sort of human. You know, the type who will respond to someone saying, “Hey, if you touch that stove? It’ll burn you! Which will hurt!” by saying, “Really?!” and thrusting her bare hand onto the stovetop.

Nope. Not even a bit curious about how much exactly this would hurt in the absence of large doses of acetaminophen. I will cheerfully go to my grave without that knowledge, and not miss it even a little bit.

Now, I told you all that so I could tell you this: I think I am going to loathe and despise aging. Not only am I just old enough to have medical professionals say things like, “Well, as we age…” to me, but apparently I am now old enough that ‘modern’ dentists look in my mouth and say, “OK, now, when did they do this? Uh-huh, I see, fifteen years ago makes sense because, see, that was how they did it back when dentists were trained by pterodactyls. These days, we don’t do things like that. It can actually lead to exactly what you’re experiencing right now.”

Dentists in the 21st Century use cement, not silver. Pshaw, silver! Whatever were those pterodactyls thinking?! We scoff at your silver!

Cement, that’s the modern-man’s ticket to tooth-root health.

However, it is only setting me back $1,200 to have this done, and he assures me I won’t need to have my crown replaced or even refinished because he won’t be touching the crown at all!

Only slicing open the gums and putzing around with the root of the tooth.

But the precious, lifeless porcelain will not be harmed in any way.


{Visualize an expression which says, “While I appreciate that this is saving me money and that I should be much happier about it, at this precise moment I am just not feelin’ the love.}

And by the way? Last night? This was me:

Drunken kitty

…not pretty, but at least my wallet stopped aching for a little while…

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Why ain’t this working?!

I am telling myself how lucky I am. Because you know – people have died of dental abscesses. So I am just downright fortunate that I live in a country where advanced dental treatments are available.

And that dentists are used to people not having dental insurance. And accept Mastercard, Visa, Amex – you name it. And hey! Lucky me! I have an Amex.


And also, how wonderfully blissfully lucky-luck-luck girl am I, that the endodontist was able to see me not next week as planned, but today! Today! Yes! In, like, half an hour, the nice, highly trained professional man will be available to take my *cough-gasp-choke* $1,200 and drill holes in my head to release the infection and reseal the roots of my tooth.

That’s right (I say to myself, firmly), I am one lucky person.


…for some bizarre reason…

I’m not feeling particularly lucky.

Actually? I'm feeling a little sickish. And abused. And really...downright un-lucky.


Hokay. Gotta go brush my teeth and take some Tylenol...and try harder to feel lucky.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Dork Factor: 10

Nobody who isn’t going to be quizzed on these things watches the UC Channel. It’s so boring it defies explanation. Basically, the things on this channel are…classrooms. Pretty much, that’s about it. The blackboard, the students fidgeting in their seats, and a lecturer, droning on and on about quantum physics or independent markets or the Revolution or whatever.

So, you know, yawn. And also, {Click!} NEXT CHANNEL PLEASE!!

But today, Oh My People, I proved yet again! (as if further proof were necessary), that I am a Most Profound Dork.

Richard Davis, President and CEO of US Bancorp was giving a talk at UC Davis, “Making Sense of Banking in the 21st Century”, and…


I think the thud of all those heads hitting the keyboards out there in cyberspace actually registered on the Richter scale. And the snoring! Whew. Like the chainsaws of a thousand loggers….

Anyway, I not only watched it, I enjoyed it.

Also, when she said ‘Richard Davis’ I thought…why do I know that name?…and then she said, “President and CEO of US Bancorp” and I said oh yeah, he replaced whazzizname last year, the guy who is still on the board, you know, yeah. Him.

Lord. There is no hope for me, you know that? I have technically been ‘retired’ from banking for {counts on fingers} {on account of because I am mathematically advanced} six years. And yet I can’t help it: I still follow banks and banking and trends.

And occasionally, I even remember (sort of) the names of bank presidents.

He was, by the way, terrific. He was funny, he was interesting, and suddenly it was an hour later.

Geez. Why couldn’t the lectures I had to sit through have been that interesting?!

See, now, THIS is why I hate going to the dentist

OK, you probably don’t remember this, but back in February I broke a crown.

I just went to the dentist this morning.

Yes, I am aware of the number of calendar days between then and now.

No, you don’t need to do that math for me.


I’ve got the general idea.


I finally got in for my appointment. So they took their x-rays and did their exam and proclaimed the following: The broken crown is indeed broken; but possibly does not actually need to be replaced. He’s “pretty sure”, but still making that “not quite completely sure” face.

Fortunately (which is really the wrong word here), he discovered in the course of my exam that another tooth, a tooth which had a root canal some years ago, has developed a nasty abscess around one of the roots – it’s kind of hard to miss, when you look at the x-ray. Even I, with my thundering lack of radiological knowledge, looked at the x-ray and said, “Oh my, that looks like an abscess!” (Well, actually, what I said was, “Hey, did you have your thumb over the lens or something? What’s that big black spot there, next to that white thingee?”) (“Um, OK, the ‘white thingee’ is a root, and that big black spot is the infection.” “…oh…{sob, sob}”).

So, I need to see a specialist anyway! Which means he can get a ‘free’ second opinion on the broken crown and whether or not it needs to be replaced!

Uh, yay?

Oddly, that area had been bugging me, but not that much and I just figured it was ‘transference’ pain. You know, it’s actually this other tooth that hurts, but it feels like this one instead? Well, you’ll just have to take my word for it. See, I’ve had four root canals, so I’ve become an expert on that whole thing where you walk in pointing at tooth #29 saying, “It is definitely this one.” And then they take this little ice stick and push on #29 and you don’t feel anything. #30, you don’t feel anything. #31, and BAM! Rocket ship in space. YOWSAH! OK, yeah, heh heh, OK. So, uh, I think we’ve found the busted one…let’s, uh, let’s not do that again. Ever.

Also (and I knew this, I’ve been ‘on watch’ for this particular jewel of dental problems for about five years now) (I just hoped my brand new dentist wouldn’t notice and I’d be able to say, “Ha! I knew that both of my previous dentists were lying!”), I have early stage periodontitis.

Also-also, this is the second dentist to trot out the, “Well, as we age…” explanation as to why, in spite of twice daily (with occasional bursts to three times) brushing and daily flossing PLUS ALSO I use mouthwash, I have sore, bleeding ‘pocketed’ gums. “As we age,” the nice man said.

He has no idea how close he came to living a Monty Python skit.

“I’m thirty-nine.”
“I’m thirty-nine, I’m not old.” (Followed a little later by cries of, “Come and see the violence inherent in the system! Help! Help! I’m being repressed!”)

And I don’t buy it anyway. Because really. I remember the movies from my elementary school days. The toothbrush and floss, partners against decay, capes flowing bravely in the wind. Dun-duh-DAH! It’s Wonder Brush and Flossman, Decay Prevention Patrol!

I expect my toothbrush to Save The Day, people. AND ALSO I FLOSS. Which I believe is supposed to all by itself prevent everything from cavities to nose cancer. And that should include periodontitis, which is a very difficult word to spell. Just so you know.

They gave me two choices: Continue ignoring it in the hopes that continuing to do what already hasn’t worked to reverse it will somehow work this time until it becomes so bad that I need to have ‘pocket depth reduction treatment’ (yeah, it’s as bad as it sounds) done to my whole mouth, or, I can opt for what they call “intensive, targeted cleaning to the two badly affected areas, plus a thorough ‘old school’ cleaning to the rest of the mouth”.

I do not see a ‘win’ in either of those, really. But, since they solemnly swear they can crank up the nitrous oxide for me BEFORE they hit me with the Novocain, I (with a great many hems and haws) agreed to let them scrape the living daylights out of those couple teeth and also clean the rest of them to within an inch of their enameled lives.

Gee, doesn't that just sound like fun-fun-fun? Doesn't it just make you jump up and down in your chair yelling, "Oh, pick me next! Pick me! Pick ME!"?

And then they wonder why it is that I ‘forget’ to call them for an appointment.

Gee. Yeah. I wonder why that would be...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Also, I need more Blogger Award Categories

I got an email from a friend saying, “Hey, did you know you got nominated for the ‘Hottest Mommy Blogger’ award at Blogger’s Choice Awards?”

No. Way!

So I went and looked and guess what? WAY!

My site was nominated for Hottest Mommy Blogger!

And then I noticed I have zero votes.

That’s right. “Hotness Vote = 0”.

That made me laugh really, really hard. Because seriously – I am sort of the anti-hot mommy…I’m more of the…coated in Kraft mac-n-chez sauce, boogers on the shoulder, sticky-kitchen-floor and oh-yeah-I-meant-to-wash-my-hair-this-week kind of mommy…

And then of course, with that visual in my mind, I went shopping at my friend’s Mary Kay website, even though I don’t even remember to wear what I already got most of the time.

Which made me remember that, yes, once again, I had forgotten to put on any makeup today.

Or, uh, wash my face. Which I kinda promised I would do at the very least. **sigh** {trudge, trudge, trudge she goes, up the stairs…}

While dutifully exfoliating my zit-garden face, I looked at myself in the mirror (doh!), and said, “Oh my. That’s right, I meant to go to the storage shed and retrieve my Jacob’s roving because I wanted to see how much I’ve forgotten about spinning.”

Now, why the realization that I am anti-hot led me to Mary Kay is obvious.

The connection between regarding my visage in a mirror and the roving is a little more obscure. I think it will become clear, however, when I mention that said roving is a lovely, variegated black and gray color.

I love gray and/or white hair. I love it. I find it arresting and beautiful, and always have.

Except mine. Mine is neither arresting nor beautiful. It’s just sort of…sad looking. My hair declines to go gray in good fashion. Oh no. It wants to go gray in random patches, and the gray doesn’t look like gray, or silver, or white.

It is the gray of a piece of cardboard left in the sun for way, way too long.


Hence, I have a great relationship with my very good friend, Ms. Clairol. She’s my bud, people. Oh, we’ve had a few hard times…like the time I thought I’d see what I’d look like with black hair. (Answer: Goth, only without the ‘cool’ factor) (Lord, I looked like I crawled out of a very bad vampire movie, I’m serious.)

And then there was That One Time when I changed my mind in the middle of a color and tried to strip it out and it didn’t go very well at all, and then I walked around looking like a calico cat for a few days before having it professionally redone.

And this post, this post right here, is why I need more categories over at the Blogger’s Choice Awards. See, if they had a ‘Most Chaotic’ or ‘Most Digressive’ or ‘Good Lord It Defies Description Somebody Get This Woman Professional Help’ category?

I would smoke it.

Oh, hey, that reminds me…did I leave the oven on…?

Infidelity in the Den

OK, so, I will give me this one. Because, you know, I only had about seven month’s warning and emergencies do happen. So, currently on (almost off, actually – I’m on the last button band, yay) the needles, one baby sweater:

Baby sweater

I am finishing this with literally inches of white yarn to spare. Well, I mean, duh. Even if I had fifty yards, there’d still be inches involved. But what I mean is, I will probably end up with less than a foot of ‘extra’. Which is cutting it rather fine, y’all. But I have measured carefully (several times) and think I’m going to make it.

Either that, or there will be a wild-eyed, drunken rant on this blog rather shortly. And the non-word @*^&@ may be thrown about with abandon.

But wait, what’s this? What is this object I have found (or, to be more precise, been handed by my husband, who was suffering from a rare moment of tidying up the front room)?


Why, could it be Cromarty from Alice Starmore’s Celtic Collection, in Ye Olde Plaine Woolle Which Hath Not a Name Upon it? (This yarn really is ‘generic’ – no name, not even printed on the mill cones) (Kind of scratchy-awful to work with pre-washing, but one quick dip in the tub with a little Woolite and the garment becomes soft and lovely and oh-so-warm.)

Why yes. Yes it could. And is. Hmm. Now that it is before me, I remember that I was doing this. And I said something like “…well, let me just whump out a baby sweater and a romper and then I’ll get right back to it.”

This was back in February, if memory serves. And memory serving is obviously not something I can rely upon. Since then I have cast on and completed several baby sweaters, the romper, a batch of infant hats, a pair of fingerless gloves, two adult hats, a pair of socks and, oh yeah. The only item I’m actually claiming to be working on right now?

Oh my

Celtic Lattice, which has been languishing at the bottom of the knitting basket for a few weeks now.

Even the lonely traveling sock has gotten more time in the sun…

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

…and people, it has been on the needles since mid-March. And remains a sock. No ‘s’ on the end, there. Not an end-s in sight.

Now, what makes this particularly pathetic is this. I was just saying quietly to myself, “Hmm, it’s almost May Day. I’d like to start something fresh and new on Bealtaine this year.”

I was pondering maybe doing a Bohus (only in rather muted colors, thus setting me up for endless arguments with myself about whether or not I ought to rush out and buy some brighter colors to mix things up a bit because after all, a Knitter does not live by earth tones alone), or plucking up my laceweight courage and attempting something flimsy and wafty, or knuckling down and casting on the sweater for the DH (He of the Never-Ending Arms), or then again I have this beautiful pile of Elsbeth Lavold’s Silky Wool (deviously acquired for about 40% off retail, bwa ha ha ha ha) and have been contemplating something silky-woolish.

All the while, I have four perfectly good projects languishing in the basket.

Huh? What? What projects? Where? {blank expression} I see no forgotten projects here…


See, infidelity is one thing. But at least one could have a little bit of conscientiousness around it, don’t you think? At least be aware that one is flirting with multiple partners? But noooooooooo.

All I do is occasionally mutter, “Now, where on earth do you suppose all my #6 circulars have gotten to…?” without it ever once dawning on me that, given the absence of about 3,000 pairs of #6 circular needles, well.

There’s probably Something Going On in the darker corners of the craft closet, you know?

I’m what you call a professional klutz

So. Don’t try this at home. It takes a pro to do something like this.

I made myself an afternoon mocha – it’s in a smaller cup, made with decaf and so forth, blah blah blah. The smaller cup has a 3” diameter. So, yeah. It’s a pretty small little area.

I wandered into the office and set down the mug. Logged on to check my email. Reached for a foil-wrapped chocolate egg with the carelessness of a mother who doesn’t have any children currently watching over her shoulder as she raids the Easter candy.

I can’t tell you how I did it. This would be a trade secret, and I have sworn an oath to protect the Secrets of the Klutz Klub.

But somehow, using my finely-honed klutz skills, I flicked the egg instead of picking it up. Almost like I was playing Tiddlywinks with it.

It flew up in the air, hung there for a second (just long enough for me to register that my afternoon treat was airborne and about to escape), then plummeted down toward the desk.

And landed in my mocha.


Nothin’ but net, people. It was so perfect an entry that there was scarcely a ripple on the surface of the coffee as the foiled chocolate plunged into its depths.

Only a truly skilled klutz could have managed this.

The poor little chocolate drowned in there, because I was so busy laughing I didn’t rescue it in time. Alas, poor chocolate, I wish I could have known it better…

Saturday, April 14, 2007

He is mine and I am his and we are each others, amen

There is an essay in Brain, Child from Summer 2006 (available online as of today) called Mommy Comes Back.

I think most mothers who have dropped children off at daycare have gone through similar routines. The crying, the ‘but mommy, I want to stay with you’, the unexpected eruptions from children you thought were over it.

One of the things that bothered me, every single day, was that Captain Adventure never got over it. From the first day to the last, he has resisted being left at daycare with every fiber of his being.

I was positively arrested by this part of the article: Unconvinced, he clamps his body around mine, ignoring Gracie's offer of Kipper's Sticky Paws. More children arrive. More mothers depart. Harry and I remain, frozen in our embrace.

This is exactly what I’ve been going through with Captain Adventure, with the intensity steadily increasing. What used to be ‘mere’ fussing has turned into outright clinging, to the point where I have to enlist a teacher to help peel him off me, every single morning.

And this after ten, fifteen, twenty minutes of just crouching on the floor trying to allow him to acclimate, get interested in toys or friends, start following the lead of the pack of toddlers in the room.

Nothing. Doing.

Captain Adventure is not a follower – and he does not want his momma to leave.


Every day is just the same. We arrive at daycare, babbling and singing. He cheerfully pushes the buttons on the keypad at the door as we go in.

We drop Boo Bug off in her room. She goes cheerfully, with barely even a backward glance. She has an extensive social life that needs tending, friends to gather with, clothing to check out, art to do…a very busy day ahead.

And then it starts.

His arm goes around my neck and holds tightly as we walk to his classroom. I try to set him down. He clings more tightly to me, desperately. If he can manage it, he puts his legs around me as well – literally clinging with every limb he has.

Other parents come, and go. We remain, crouching tensely together. I try to get him interested in toys, or snack, or art.

He smiles at me. It isn’t a happy smile. It’s a frantic one. It’s begging for reassurance. You aren’t leaving me, right?

All of my children had phases of separation anxiety. Shoot, Boo Bug started putting on a bit of a show a couple weeks ago, bursting into tears at the door and acting quite bereft as I walked away. It lasted a couple days, and then she was bored with that act and moved on.

Only Captain Adventure has taken it to this degree – for twelve long months, he has resisted being dropped off. He holds onto me for all he’s worth. As soon as I get one hand off me, the other claps back on. He wraps his fists in my hair, clamps his legs around mine. He seldom cries anymore. Instead, he smiles, stares up at me with wide, intense eyes, silent and frantic, and holds me for all he’s worth.

He drops to the floor as I leave, taking with me the knowledge of his unhappiness and despair. I tell him, I’ll be back, honey.

I say, Mommy always comes back.

It’s OK, baby. I say, as a teacher helps wrench his hands off me, helps me untangle his legs from around me. You play with your friends while I work, and I’ll be back soon.

He looks at me with those big, miserable eyes, and I honestly don’t know if he understands. Sometimes I’m sure he does; sometimes I’m sure he doesn’t. And I curse his speech delay, and my inability to communicate with him with words. I’ve taken for granted the ability to reason with even my very young children. Words provide great power when it comes to comforting our young; his speech delay robs us of that, leaves me with nothing but notoriously faulty intuition to tell me whether or not he’s really suffering or merely peeved.

He will sometimes go all day without uttering a single sound, I’ve been told. Or cry for hours. Or simply go off by himself and play quietly, ignoring the other children, just waiting.

Waiting for mommy to come back.

And then, when I arrive to pick him up, he runs to me giggling and shrieking, tries to climb up me like a jungle gym. He throws himself into my arms, turns and waves. “BYE BYE!” he’ll shout, beaming delightedly at the same teachers he has not even made direct eye contact with all day. “BYE BYE!!”

Then he buries his face in my neck, strokes my hair, pats my back, yells, “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” in my ear.

He came to me today with a book. He took the knitting from my hands and set it carefully into the basket, muttering, “’Er i-go” (there you go). He climbed onto my lap and pressed his face against my neck for a moment, then turned around, pushed the book into my hands and waited for the story. He looked up at me with such happy eyes…I am yours and you are mine…hold me, read to me, love me, tell me how special I am!

I held him and thought, I don’t have to drop you off anywhere like that again for a long time.

And it made me so happy I could have cried.

It has been hard for both of us, all this long year. We’ve both suffered separation anxiety.

I won’t mind not doing it to either of us for a long time to come.

I won't mind even a little, tiny bit.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sometimes I just gotta shut the @*^&@ up

I woke up this morning with a lengthy-long list of complaints.

My head hurt. My stomach hurt. I was hungry, and also queasy. My scalp is itching. My right big toe is aching. Along with every single joint on my left side. And my right elbow. And both of my wrists. Knitting? Not right now. Not with these ugly things embracing my wrists:

Fashion Statement du Jour

OK. New, they are not ugly. But mine are several months old and starting to look a little…ragged.

And I’ve been working on the New Den Order, which includes turning the screws on the household budget while simultaneously (and somewhat incongruously) shopping around for piano teachers, ballet studios and also mommy-n-me groups I can attend with Captain Adventure to ensure that he loses nothing and gains a lot by being home with me and while I’m on the subject, why me?! What would be wrong with daddy doing daddy-n-me, why is the burden of catching the boy’s verbal and social skills up with the bottom-rung-of-average on me?! I mean, it isn’t that I mind, or don’t want to…it’s just that I’m taking exception to pretty much everything today and that includes the whole ‘mommy takes the lead on all things social, medical and financial around here’ thing.

Wah wah wah gripe gripe gripe.

And you know what is really pissing me off?

The knowledge that none of it is anybody’s fault but mine.

Stupid maturity. I hates it, I haaaaaaaates it.

I hate knowing that I, and I alone, am in charge of my attitude. That nobody except me has responsibility for my happiness. That it is my job to do what I need to do to feel good.

And also that diving face-first into the Easter candy is not going to get that particular job done.

I mean, @^*^@&@*^&@!!!!

What kind of messed up thing is that?!

It’s like…knowing that while I could go to the mall for some retail therapy, it wouldn’t really make me feel any better. It might feel kind of good at that precise moment, but then I’d get the bill and say, “What were you thinking?!” and then I’d feel worse than I do right now.

Or knowing that if I don’t get off my lazy, ever-expanding behind and clean the bathrooms, I am going to be aware of their less than pristine state until such time as I do get off my duff and clean them.

The fact that I keep reminding myself that it will take less than fifteen minutes to whip through all three bathrooms in this Den just…really doesn’t make me feel any better.

Sometimes, I think I have an actual split personality. There’s this fifteen year old inside me who whines and kicks grass tufts and grouses about everything. And then there’s some old granny in there who says, “Now honey, we both know that…” and states the @*^&@ing obvious and my inner teenager gets so pissed off that she raids the liquor cabinet HA HA, that’ll show YOU, Granny!

But then Granny puts the bottle back before I can even get the cap off because, after all dearie, we both know that if you have even one little drinkie-poo this early in the day, you’ll be stretched out snoring on the couch by lunchtime, and you’ll wake up with a stiff neck and be ever-so-upset because you didn’t get anything done today and also missed Mad Money again…

ARGH! The witch! She’s always right!!!!!

“Here, sweetheart, have a nice cup of chai. There, isn’t that lovely? Nice and strong, just the way you like it…that’ll perk you right up, dear one…”

{grouse, grumble, sip}

I don’t have everything. But I’ve got enough. Anything above that is just a bonus. And while I’m finding it difficult to deal with my stupid arthritis this week, it’s not that bad. It could be cancer, it could be rheumatoid arthritis, it could be any number of things. But it’s not. It’s just aching joints, probably pissed off because of the sudden change from ‘almost hot’ to ‘downright chilly’ this week.

We’ve got money in the bank and meat in the freezer, know what I mean?

It’s all good. Even on pissy days, I’ve got it good.

And check it out. How can you stay pissy, when you’ve got pink roses…

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

…and purple ones…

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

…and your lemon tree is making promises like these?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

If even one out of ten of the blossoms on this tree become lemons, I've got about...eight lemon pies coming.



It’s time to shut the @*^&@ up about all my misery and woe.

And clean the bathrooms already.

With lemon-scented Mr. Clean.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Eeeeeeeee! It’s my first award, too!!

sleepycat tagged me with a Thinking Blogger Award!

Lookit, I’m thinking, I’m thinking!

And I’d like to thank all the little people who got me here. If it weren’t for their incessant banging on the bathroom door while I’m trying to read my magazines, wiping their boogers on my ‘dry clean only’ attire and, while staring down their noses at the healthy meals lovingly placed before them, demanding mac-n-chez on a regular basis, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Which is the madhouse. Where I have received an award. Yay!

I’ve been surfing around looking at the other blogs already sporting this little button and wow. What great company to be in! I love being with smart people. It’s like…you know how you can be ‘cool by association’? Hey! Maybe I can be ‘smart by association’.

And then I started going through my blog list looking for my five favorites ‘thinking’ blogs.

Several hours passed. During which I snickered, snorted, nodded wisely, went “awwwwww” and gave out a few virtual hugs and pats on backs.

And then I said, “Wait. What was I doing again?”

And started over.

You can see where this is going, right? It’s like trying to pack away your photo albums. Just going to put this album in the box…hey…is this the one with the pictures of us in Ireland? {Several hours pass, during which absolutely nothing goes into any box anywhere}

So, here are a mere five of my zillions of favorite blogs when I’m in the mood to be given a good think. I have pared this down from literally about two dozen. And I’m still second (third, fourth) guessing myself. And also? I really need to update my links. And now? I digress. Without further blather, I tag:

Three Beautiful Things. Every day, Clare posts three things that have given her pleasure. I love getting my daily dose of happy – and the reminder to stop and wonder at the wee little beautiful things around us every single day.

21st Century Mom. This lady does triathlons. She’s a feminist. She’s raised three gorgeous children who not only still talk to her, but think she’s cool. She gives me a much-needed kick in the behind when I’m feeling just ever-too-delicate to get out there and get the business done. Whenever I’m thinking, “Eh, but it’s all the way upstairs and my kneeeeeeee is just killing meeeeeeeeee…”, I can just think about her getting out there and conquering man-eating hills and then I figure I can probably manage thirteen crummy steps.

The Wonderful World of Nothing Worthwhile, which often during the romp brings up things to really think about. I’m pretty sure the author would neither confirm nor deny rumors that he is attempting to actually make us think with his stories and musings, but reading his posts often send me down introspective pathways. Or Red Lobster. Either way.

Dogs Steal Yarn, a freelance-writer mom, her precious Thumper and all things ranging from vegan eating to living in New York. Or not living in New York anymore. Either way.

And finally, a fairly new daily read for me, Second Effort. “Laboring in the obscurity he so richly deserves, your crusty correspondent offers his views on just about everything. Nothing herein should be taken too seriously: If you look closely, you can see the twinkle in the Old Curmudgeon's eye. Or is that a cataract?”

Hokay. Off y’all go. And I’m going to go check out blogrolling, because really now. I need technology to help me, here…my links are way out of date.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

And yet, we stay together

My husband and I have rather different ideas of what passes for well-spent time parked in front of the television. Especially on a work night.

See, if I had control of the remote tonight, we would be watching something like…Ace of Cakes, or that thing about the meteors, or possibly Dateline NBC.

Instead, I’m in here, and he’s out there watching Final Destination 3.

There are two things about this that drove me out of the room.

One is that it is a work night. To me, the idea of starting a movie which won’t be finished until 11:30 at night…when you will be rudely awakened by the alarm clock at 5:00 the next morning…is…well, how to put this kindly?

Um. Well. It’s…maybe a touch…

Moronic, OK? I think it is downright moronic. See, I want to be in bed within the next forty minutes. If I were watching television tonight, I would have quite intentionally picked something that would be over before then.

Not something that ended an hour and a half after I wanted to be asleep.

The other thing is, I’m a well-documented wuss when it comes to scary movies. I can’t stand gratuitous violence. I don’t like to be surprised that way. Well. In fact, I don’t really like to be surprised, period. Not in the ‘and now we all jump out and yell {SURPRISE, BOO, HAPPY LEIF ERIKSON DAY}’ kind of way.

I mean, Life is full of surprises. I’ve come to accept that. I know that whatever I think is going to happen is subject to being changed on me at the last second by forces outside of my control. I’m OK with that. I’m even OK with sudden drastic changes. Although I reserve the right to rant endlessly about them, I’m actually fairly good at keeping my overall footing as things change.

So, surprises are OK.

I just don’t want living ones jumping out of dark corners at me.

So a movie which is all about gratuitous violence jumping out of dark corners and tearing people apart or whatever-all else is going on in there (by the every-five-seconds bursts of wild screaming, banging and other noise, I’m guessing there’s quite a bit of it in this movie) (memo to me: buy darling husband a set of wireless headsets), is really not for me.

Not even a little bit.

Which brings me to my Question of the Day: How is it that a man who loves and adores movies of all sorts not only managed to marry a woman like me, and why we are still together?

Seriously. People have divorced for less, people.

He’s one of those people who will rush to a theater the same day a movie he wants to see opens. He doesn’t care if he is part of a capacity crowd. It doesn’t bother him if some kid is kicking the back of his chair for two and a half hours, or that some idiot child is blathering into her cell phone the entire time about who is dating whom when and OH MY GAWD I KNOW I SAW THAT TOO!

I will wait until the last possible day and then? I might just wait for the DVD. I don’t like going to the theater. I dislike being crowded in there with all those other people. Listening to them talk or shift or cough or giggle or whatever, all the way through the movie. I don’t like the stale smelling theater or the sucrose-substance coating on the floor that makes walking a cardiovascular workout rivaling any treadmill.

And also, I am ever-so-NOT above the ultimate sacrilege: I will walk away from a movie. Right in front of God and everybody, I will turn my back on the film and walk away if I don’t like it.

And sometimes even if I do like it. If I need to rotate the laundry, I’ll just go do it. And no, you don’t need to pause the movie for me. Really. Please. Don’t.

I will get up in the middle of a scene because I’ve decided I need to go to bed.

Yet here we are. Married ten years now, and still no signs of impending divorce.

Although we do have that big remodeling project coming soon, and I’m already having to become quite stern about things like taking sledgehammers to cabinetry before the architect has even come to take his final measurements, let alone given us, you know, blueprints of any sort…

Not really, but…

…sometimes, I half-wish that computers would just…know what I meant.

Let’s say I have a password which is ‘StockGoddess’. And I type in…StickGoddess, or StockFoddess, or StockGoddes.

C’mon. It’s close enough.

You know what I meant, you big old sack of moldy weeds, and giving me the ‘excuse me, but that password isn’t correct ha ha ha’ routine is really peckin’ annoying.

Hokay. Glad we had this little chat.

And no, I don’t really wish computers would be anything less than the utterly literal monsters they are. The last thing I really need in my life is my computer deciding that when I said I wanted to trade 250 shares of, what I meant was trade 520 shares of


Monday, April 09, 2007

OK, I’m so bored…

…that I’ll tell you about the rattlesnake. Obligatory Safety Message: Don’t ever go hiking alone. It is not the brightest thing we humans can do on this planet, being as how there are so many ways for us to get killed off out there in the big, bad wilderness.

So, I had gone hiking (alone) (idiot) and was about three miles from my car on the return trip when I decided to sit down and enjoy the view for a few minutes. So down I sat on the side of the road, which I checked very carefully for red ants. Because I was very concerned about red ants, because when you sit on them?

It sucks.

But there weren’t any, so I cheerfully sat down and began sucking on my canteen, enjoying the sweeping view of the valley to my left. Being the twitchy type, I soon decided it was time to get back up on my feet and head out. Fortunately, I had set my walking stick down on my right side – otherwise, I might have just jumped to my feet and earned myself swift retribution, instead of first glancing over for my stick and beholding the glorious sight of the snake. Which was a little over a hands-width away from my right foot and still moving forward.

Right. Toward. Me.

All kidding aside and in spite of the instant and paralyzing terror…beautiful animal. Beautiful. Glistening, elegantly scaled and capped with a stunning rattle. If it hadn’t been for that whole ‘painful bite and possible death’ thing, I would have been delighted to make its acquaintance.

My first thought was, “Whoa! That thing must be, like, eight feet long.”

My second thought was, “Don’t be stupid. They don’t get that long.” (The common species found up on Mt. Diablo [which is where I was] is called the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake, which generally doesn’t get much over five feet long – this bad boy was big, both around and in length, but he weren’t no eight feet. It was nearly as long as my walking stick, which was precisely five feet tall.)

And my third was a kind of mini-storm of realizations. Large snake, triangular-head-rattle-tail-forked-tongue-pit-face-oh-crap-yeah-that’s-a-rattler, close to my body, far from my car, molting season (theory supported by the fact that the animal had slithered right up on me like that without realizing I was a person - molting often impairs their vision and also? Makes them pissy, nervous and prone to striking at anything that moves. Great. Just swell.), DAMN that’s a big snake, not a lot of people out today if I need help and also? ACK.

Now, when I saw the snake I jumped and yelped. At this point, it became aware that I was not a nice, warm rock to sun itself on but rather a living Something.

We both instantly froze.

I pretended to be a rock. It imitated a stick. And thus we remained.

Mexican standoff.

I knew that snake wanted a way out as badly as I did. I knew that, in general, rattlers aren’t the aggressive monsters they’re made out to be by Hollywood. Some are, sure. But in largest part, they don’t want anything to do with people. They’d rather hide or run than fight you. They tend to bite people because they are either startled into it (when, say, a foot suddenly descends from Heaven onto their peacefully sunning backs or a hand is suddenly thrust into their den), or because they feel attacked or cornered.

But they don’t, as one particularly awful movie I endured proposed, chase people through their homes, desperate to attack and inject their venom, bwa-hahahahaha.

I also knew, though, that we were in a bit of a bind here. It was a trust issue, you see. I mean. I knew that the snake (probably) didn’t want to bite me – but I couldn’t be sure it wouldn’t just do it the minute I moved. And the snake had absolutely no way of knowing I wasn’t one of those wild-eyed snake-hacking types.

We took a long, long moment to size each other up. Felt like an hour, but was probably no more than a minute, possibly two. Neither one of us wanted to move. Hello Rock, meet Stick…Stick, Rock. Oh, how do you do…I’d offer to shake but obviously, being as how I’m a Stick and definitely not a Snake and all…

Eventually, it became apparent that one of us had to do something. Ever so gently, I turned my foot so that I was showing the snake the sole of my boot. I was hoping that if it did feel the need to strike me, it would hit the sole of the boot and not, uh, me.

When I moved, it’s tail whisked gently back and forth, giving a single rattle of warning. {shh-k!}

And then we both froze again, getting used to the new situation. It didn’t raise its head from the ground, coil, or make any other movement indicating it was considering striking; and I didn’t start wildly swinging my stick around screaming like a chimp on speed.

So far, so good.

After another long moment, I began drawing myself gently away. The snake just watched, only showing signs of anxiety when I got to my feet. The tail twitched. {shh-k! shh-k!} But it didn’t raise its head even a little from the ground. Just lay there…pretending to be a stick…watching and waiting…

I retreated. ‘Retreated’ should be pronounced ‘walked backward away from the snake as quickly as possible without flat-out running’.

And then I stood there and watched with great admiration as it began making with flank speed for the far side of the trail and disappeared into the grass.

That is the closest I have come to a rattlesnake in the wild…that I know of. It is entirely possible that I have walked right over one, or even sat down on top of a den and escaped getting a bite on my butt by the narrowest of margins.

It was beautiful and graceful and terrifying and utterly enchanting. I can see why those nut cases who do the animal shows insist on getting right up close to things. “Oh look, it’s a black mamba, one of the most venomous and aggressive snakes in the world! Let’s try to pet it!!” There really is something about being that close to these wild creatures – and being able to come out of the experience in one piece through the grace of the Almighty (and with due thanks to the park rangers who handed out all those pamphlets about ‘what to do if you encounter a {$Wild_Animal}’ I dutifully collected and read while using the…uh, I mean, in my spare time) which makes you feel alive in a way you just don’t get from surviving yet another trip to the supermarket.

But m’self personally…that’s the closest I ever want to come. And I didn’t want to get that close.

Even if it did give me one of the best cocktail-party stories ever. ;-)