Monday, September 22, 2008

All I want for Christmas is a Foam Turkey


This from a Barbie-wielding, Bratz-loving GIRL! My girl.

Fred has a friend who has land, who hosts a “Bow-Shoot” every year for youths. Fred took Krista practice shooting a few days ago in a hunting store. Krista came back stating she loved it, had shot a turkey, a bear and a caribou--all foam of course.

As a Mom, in theory, I want her to do what makes her happy. As a woman, I feel her drive to do something boys “typically” do—I applaud that. As Heidi, I am brooding.

Fred and Krista came back from the “Bow-Shoot” Saturday night. Krista traipsed in with new clunky, brown hiking boots, slinging her quiver and holding out the binocular strap she won as a prize. When I saw my little princess in those bulky man boots, my heart sank. After they unpacked, Krista said:

“Mom. Can you buy me a foam turkey for practice shooting?”

“I think that is your Dad’s department.”
”He said I should ask you. He’s not sure how you’re going to handle it. He didn’t think you’d let him buy it.”

“Could you please go in your room? Daddy and Mommy need to talk.”

If words could cause movement, mine would have. I would have been the cartoon you see when someone is yelling, blowing hair and cheeks back like a G-force. Fred meant well, but turning my daughter into a bow-toting, huntress with big, bulky, hiking boots was the equivalent of shaving all her beautiful hair off and saying, ’Don’t you LIKE it?”

“NO. I don’t think a foam turkey is a good idea.” I pushed out my lips, later, through gnashed teeth.

“Why?”

“Because it implies that she’s going to shoot an ANIMAL.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

Hyped on “Yooper,” and the deer meat his mother served them for dinner that night, Fred was unwittingly conjuring a Mad City Woman.

“Because MY daughter loves animals and if she kills one she will never be able to forgive herself.” I hissed.

And so began the night of “right vs. wrong”, “instinct vs. upbringing”; a never ending culture and territory dispute. It is under these conditions, that I can feel the passion and sentiment behind war and feuding. Passion can be irrational, at times, and with irrationality comes a plethora of colorful, sometimes surprising words.

“$%^#&*! &*(&^%$!” Fred said

“Well, ^%#&,&*(#* to you too” said I, conniption subsiding to a dull harpy mode.

Back to our corners, I spent the time between bells formulating a very wise, indisputable comparison to blow him out of the water, which would:

- render him stymied, bowing before me

- groveling for forgiveness

- begging for another chance

- promising to wrong-me no more

- even agreeing to return the hunting boots in a blink of my RIGHTEOUS eye

I spoke it:

“It’s as if I took the boys to Make-up Artist Camp and they came back talking about eye-shadow and wanting their own brush sets.”

I spread the word banquet out for Fred to feast on. He would have no choice but to see my point of view.

Stay tuned.


Farsighted and Hairy (this is not a personal ad)

With each passing year, new and different challenges jump in the way of my day-to-day life. More complicated computer programs, “new-fangled” gadgets for my cell phone (which force me to ask my children for assistance and translations), negotiating tax returns, getting my kids to email me… all those. Life can’t just wait until I catch up with it—it has to keep leapfrogging ahead. I find it very exhausting---must just be part of getting older.

My latest new challenge is plucking my eyebrows. I’m finding that standing my customary distance from the mirror is no longer sufficient for a clear view. In order to see my face, I have to stand nose-to-nose with the mirror in our dining room (where the light is better) and, without my glasses on, stick a pointy metal pincer millimeters from my eyeball and hope I yank a hair and not my iris. At this point, I’ve pulled the same hairs about 100,000 times. Why do they persist? Can’t I plug up the hair-hole?

Old age is Hell.

While on the subject of hair…what’s with the mustache region? I never had a problem when I was younger. So far I’m waxing, coloring, plucking, “Nair-ing” and shaving unwanted hairs on my body. Is it finally true what we they say about owners looking like their dogs? What if I just let it all grow in? I’d have a whole new career--“The Bearded, Farsighted Sasquatch Woman.” [I come from South African circus-folk—could be a recessive circus-folk gene]

It all makes sense now

I watched “Oprah” the other day and Dr. Oz was on presenting a startling magnification of skin that was sun-damaged. It looked like Mars with little beach-blankets of pigment buried deep in the sand. Apparently, as far as permanent skin damage goes--most of it occurs before you’re 21! THAT’S JUST GREAT! Stick it to Heidi again. All these years of maintaining my pasty, chicken-meat skin all summer long, donning “Mrs. Howell/Mrs. Roeper” type hats, wearing “prevent you from sweating” sunscreen/shellac and WHAT I’M HEARING is all that careful protection is useless because my “Irresponsible-baking in a blow-up-pool-basted with Hawaiian Tropic Frying Oil” days gave me the skin I’ll have…forever.

Old age is hell.

I went into a photo-booth with Krista at a local mall here recently. We took 4 photos. If she hadn’t been there, I would have torn them to shreds. Photo booths have this uncanny resolve to point out and accentuate liver spots on your face, which you never realized were there. Liver spots, which are so named because their color resembles liver, are also called sun spots or Lentigos (which somehow makes me hungry for Mexican food.) Having, previously unknown to me, Lentigos on my FACE in those photos makes me look like my Grandma. Now, if I want to see my Grandma again, all I have to do is go to a photo booth, force my eyebrows down with my hands and scrunch my cheeks together and Whoop-- there she is!

Today, I’m going to take advantage of my position in life and get myself a mood-altering pedicure. Maybe I’ll even ask for the senior discount. I’ll have to shave my toes first, of course.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Seagulls are Circling

“Watch out for the birds, Mom.” Krista said on the porch, as I locked the door behind us on our way out.

“What birds?” I wasn’t listening carefully, fumbling with my sunglasses.

“THOSE birds.” Krista said, pointing up.

Above us and down over a few streets were hundreds and hundreds of swirling seagulls. They weren’t swooping at us “The Birds”-like, or waiting on electrical lines and roof-tops, but they were circling, definitely, behaving as they do over an open landfill.

I was absolutely dumbstruck. What would cause those birds, uncommon to our area, to act like that?? By the time I got us in the car, the “bird circles” were migrating north. Krista suggested they might be feeding on bugs.

I did the only thing I could think of…I called David-Mavid.

“David-Mavid, David-Mavid, the birds are circling, the birds are circling! Are they circling where you are?” David-Mavid said, “Mom, how could I see them, I’m in Milwaukee?”

“So you DON’T see any circling seagulls?” ”Uh-no.” “Oh, that’s o.k., talk to you later.”

Next I called Jonny-Lonny.

“ Jonny-Lonny, Jonny-Lonny, the birds are circling, the birds are circling! Are they circling where you are?” “Uh. No. Why?” asked Jonny-Lonny, annoyed. “You don’t see any circling seagulls?” “No.”

This must be what it feels like to be whacked with a piece of falling sky.

Somehow, knowing that the circling birds were JUST in my neighborhood meant that it wasn’t some “7th Sign” or an animal-frenzied prediction of pending doom. It must be a dead animal attracting them, or bugs, like Krista suggested. Whew!

I’d like to tell you that this was the only time I pulled my “Chicken Little” act…but it wasn’t. The first time was just after 9-11 in 2001. I was alone in Wisconsin with my 3 children on a Sunday afternoon and I saw fighter jets flying over my house. FREAKED out that we were being attacked, I called the non-emergency police phone number and said:

“Is something going on? I just saw military planes flying overhead!”

“Lady, it’s the Packer Season Opener. They do fly-bys.”

I said what Chicken Little had, when she found out it was only an apple that had fallen on her poor little head:

“Oh.”


Monday, September 15, 2008

Take our snake, please!

Wanted: Loving home for our beloved ball-python, Sabrielle:

She helps around the house and makes a wicked pan of lasagna. She is cuddly and remembers her manners. She is tidy and odor free. She speaks 4 different languages. She lays golden eggs.

Not buying it, are you? How about if I throw in a 19 year old?

Our son Jon wanted a snake for many years, but our answer was always “NO.” As a boy, he idolized Steve Irwin and wanted to be a snake expert. So… when my oldest son, David, went to college, leaving Jon without his lifelong buddy, we felt a suitable replacement would be the snake he’s always wanted. Fred came home with a young ball python in August of 2005 as a 16th birthday gift for Jon.

Initially, “Sabrielle” was pretty cool. I got brave enough to feel her black and white skin when Jon was holding her. Jon handled her frequently, so she got used to him. Jon was buying food and reptile bark---all was well.

Eventually though, disgusting things that have to do with owning snakes started to rear their ugly, reptilian, “scaley” heads. Snakes spend every free moment trying to get free. They don’t relax the vigil. They test the perimeters, “Jurassic Park” style, constantly looking for weaknesses.

The feeding procedures are not for those with weak stomachs. They eat frozen mice that you thaw and “offer” by wiggling, so the snake thinks it’s killing a live mouse. Fred and Jon rigged a “feeding” bin with a slot and a cardboard paddle like a spatula. It was genius…and grotesque.

Interesting fact: When snakes eat, they GROW…and shed their skin, which does not come off in one, right-side-out tube like on T.V.; it comes off in flakes that cover the bottom of the cage. The last flap of skin to shed is always over its eyes, rendering it blind. When it’s blind, it doesn’t know the different between a yummy mouse and your hand.

For months I swore Sabrielle smelled. I insisted Jon keep his door shut at all times (now, what the smell was doing to Jon and his lungs in the room together with “Putrid the Snake” was of no consequence to me). However, when he went to college, we noticed the room, minus Jon, did not stink at all. We now blame his shoes.

With Jon away at college, and a promise he’d find a home or person to care for it for her, Fred offered to take care of Sabrielle for a while.

Things I said I’d never do:

1. Touch a bag of frozen mouse. Did it. Asked for a two-pack. A woman in line asked me what I had, and when I said they were frozen mice for a snake, she asked me if, when they were thawed, they came back to life (I’m not kidding).

2. Keep “said frozen mouse” in our laundry room freezer. Did that too. That’s one way to starve me off of ice cream.

3. Prance around the house with it wrapped about me like Brittney Spears. Nope. Still wouldn’t do that--not unless it made me look thinner.

It’s been a full year of snake-sitting now. Jon returned home last weekend, just in time to feed Sabrielle. He left the mouse out to thaw, but had to leave in a hurry. He reminded Fred to feed her and then left.

Hours later…

I said, “Fred, did you ever feed Jon’s snake?” “No. I didn’t. I’ll do it now.” Fred got up.

We walked into the “Jon/Sabrielle Suite” and found that, unlike his usual thawing method of leaving it on top of the grate above the snake terrarium with a light on, he tried to hurry things along by putting the mouse, on top of its rodent dinner bag, on the room heater…ON FULL BLAST! The fur-singed smell of mouse fricassee wafted through the room, driving the snake into a frenzy. Half-crazy by the smell of baking mouse, Sabrielle was jutting her head up at the top of the grate, nearly pushing it up and off.

Are you sure you won’t take the 19 year old?

Bidet in My House

The story of why there was a Bidet in my childhood home goes like this. My Dad, upon hearing my Mom talk about Europe and the Swiss “facilities,” insisted the architect designing our new home in the mid-1960s add it to the plans. It was an average sized, modest home with a great-room, big fireplace and the unusual apparatus in the only full bathroom. Our Bidet was lemon yellow, to match our other porcelain utilities, with a hot/cold control on the wall, and a douche lever, which controlled the height of the up-spraying water. You’d sit reverse-toilet style, and…..well, douche.

Mom would parade guests on tours of the house and proudly point it out. Most adult visitors in the ‘60s and ‘70s had never seen or heard of one before. They asked if it was a urinal, a very low drinking fountain or, I actually heard someone guess, a bird bath. To Mom, it was a status symbol; a useful and grand addition. To me, it was a source of embarrassment

Because we had one and a half baths, anyone using the larger bathroom noticed the mysterious trough. When I was little, my friends would ask me, “What does it do?” “I think it’s a foot bath,” I’d answer, not really knowing. One day I asked:

“It’s for washing your backside,” my Mom said, plainly. “Crocodile Dundee” stole that line from my mother.

We had equipment for butt-washing…with a douche lever on it!!!

I hated that Bidet.

No kid wants to be famous for having the only butt-washer in the township. I took a lot of flack for that Bidet. Somehow, someone on my street found out, and told someone, who told someone, who told someone. Having a Bidet in my house was the equivalent of having an “accident” in your pants; more embarrassing than having your dress tucked up into your panty hose in a glass elevator, descending into an atrium full of people; more humiliating than sprinting for a tossed bridal bouquet, then tripping…and missing.

It’s impossible to blend in when the whole neighborhood knows you have a butt-washer.

“You must have really dirty butts to have a BUTT-washer in your house.”

“Haven’t you ever heard of toilet paper?”

“I bet your MOM uses it.”

All those comments made sense to me, so I never made a move to defend the “offending” porcelain "doucher."

“Mom, why do we HAVE to have a Bidet?”

“It’s the perfect way to get clean.” Mom said. “Everyone should have one.”

When I was older and had friends over, I’d try to cover it up or make sure the door was closed. “Don’t go in there. We have a vicious dog.” I’d lie.

Oh—did I mention our Bidet was loud?? The bathroom was right next to my bedroom. At night, and in the morning, we’d hear first the water running, then a whining of the pipes, then a noisy whoosh-bubbling, full-on hose sound. That sound could only mean one thing…someone was washing their butt!

I NEVER used it. Even if I wanted to—I wouldn’t have given “it,” or my Mom, the satisfaction. The only time I can ever remember thinking it made sense was right after I gave birth to my kids, and by that time, I had already moved out. It would have been a little awkward at that point:

“Mom, I’d like to use your bathroom.”

“What’s wrong with yours?”

“Nothing. Can I?”
”Uh—O.K., dear.”

Whooooshhhhh…. Bubble, bubble

Upon hearing those sounds emit from the bathroom—Mom would have been well satisfied.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I’d hate to be that guy who hikes the ball

I am a citizen of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

It is my responsibility to be a football fan.

I am married to a former University of Michigan Wolverine Offensive-Tackle

It is my responsibility to ruin football for my husband

I don’t do it on purpose. I try to keep up with the teams and the plays. I make football food and mark all the Wolverine and Packer games on the calendar. But I’m a girl, and a former charm-school graduate (no snarky comments, please), and Miss Manners never touched on the subject of football and the dos and don’ts of viewing it with men.

While watching the Green Bay Packer’s game last night amid the talk of Brett Favre (BF) and how the city is mourning the loss of him to the NY Jets, I expressed my feelings to Fred on our new quarterback, Aaron Rogers. “I feel sorry for him. If he does well, they’re going to say it was due to BF’s good mentoring. If he sucks, they’ll say the Packers never should have let BF go. Why don’t they give the poor guy a chance?”

Fred was distracted by my question and put off. I’m guessing from his reaction that football players don’t like to be pitied.

*****

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have their legendary dark grey football pants that show sweat, so I pointed that out to Fred one season. “Why don’t they pick another color? How would you like to be falling all over sweat stains like that?”


Fred gave me a “just don’t talk to me” look and said nothing.

*****

Recently, we visited Fred’s hometown and had occasion to attend his former high school’s football season opener. The team needed support; a team that meant a lot to Fred. Looking down at the home-team players, I did not see my husband’s number, 75.

“Did they retire your number?” I asked, honestly, innocently. Fred was quite a star. Fred growled at me and did not answer. Krista repeated the question, louder:

“Dad! Did they RETIRE YOUR NUMBER?”

I got the definite impression my question embarrassed Fred.

As we stood up to watch the season’s first kick-off, I took a tube of Carmex out of my purse and I must have put the cap on with a little still on the tip, because when I squeezed it, nothing happened, and when I squeezed harder, the Carmex exploded like a rocket into my face.

”Do I have Carmex on my face anywhere?” I anxiously asked Fred, trying to smear it off where I felt it hit.

As Fred turned to me, irritated, to examine my face, he missed the kick-off, which was returned for the first touch-down. Doh!

*****

Fred took Krista and I to “Family Fun Night” at the Packers’ Lambeau Field this August. It is an event where they allow common-man the privilege of sitting in the stadium to watch the Packers scrimmage (hear: practice).

On the night of the big event, skies were black and stormy, so common-man was not allowed in the seats until the lightening flashes had dissipated. 50 thousand damp fans, sat, leaned and squatted in vestibules, hallways, and on ramps, waiting for the all-clear sign. It looked like a refugee area.

“Fred. I’d like to leave. I’m wet and uncomfortable.” Krista was bored and I was, well….me.

“Why?” he asked, eyes large and clear like little brown shoe-buttons, “Why would you want to leave? The players will be coming out soon.”

As we left, the ticket-takers said, “You can’t go back in, you know.”


”We know.” Fred said, defeated.

The confused, baffled guards actually had to clear a pathway for us to leave, because we were the ONLY fans to leave the stadium before the scrimmage (hear: practice) actually started.

By the way, why doesn’t Tampa Bay pick a different color for their pants?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

ACME Humor

I think I have a disease.

I claim to have caught this disease as a kid, watching Abbott and Costello, Bugs Bunny and Road Runner and Little Rascals and similar slap-stick type shows. They desensitized me and deadened my “initial compassion nerve endings” such that when faced with someone’s stumble or awkwardness, it’s like witnessing Curly go “Wub, wub, wub, nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.” Were we supposed to first feel sorry for Lou Costello when his pants fall down? How about when Alfalfa hit a wrong note? Exception: I did feel sorry for Wiley Coyote. Also when that “America’s Funniest Videos” program shows their obligatory baseball-bat-to-the-privates--that makes me cringe.

Don’t believe me?

My husband, Fred, was walking through our bedroom and stubbed his toe on the bottom of our bed. I laughed out loud at the “OW” position his mouth made, the inflection of the word “YOWF” and the “hip-hopping” he did on his good foot. I didn’t show concern at all until his toe started to swell. It turned out to be broken. Fred still brings that up.

But I didn’t learn my lesson from the Fred-folly.

My friend told me about her bike ride with her dog. It was going fine, until Daisy, the black lab, decided she’d had enough and crossed in FRONT of her bike, which caused my friend to wipe out. Bravely, she righted herself, and climbed on the seat to ride again. That’s when…”Whoops Daisy did it again.” My friend was describing a traumatic event, but all I could think of was the visual I was getting and laugh. I feel bad, but I’m chuckling as I type this.

Disease!

Recently, my 8-year-old daughter was taking a swim class. She was doing really well, but just wasn’t catching on to the side stroke scissor kick. As she attempted a lap-line voyage across the pool, she looked like she was being operated by some spastic remote control signal, “ziging” over the lane markers, sinking and kicking wildly. I BURST out laughing…..and she heard me.

“I was just thinking a funny thought.” I said to her later.

”Right, Mom.”

Disease!

During another swim class, my friend and I were watching her daughter struggle with the dolphin kick. She’d sink and then every…… few…. seconds…… you’d see just her rear-end slowly surface and rise up out of the water like she was trying to take a breath through it. It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in my life. Of course we laughed. God would have laughed at that child. Luckily, her ears were underwater.

I did have the tables turned on me. On a recent weekend up north, a bug (I still don’t know what kind) flew in my mouth and down my throat. I coughed, sputtered and fussed for a full 15 minutes while my eyes watered and I tried to squeak out, in a rough voice, words like:

“Hey—A BUG just flew in my mouth!” and

“Hey---A BUG just FLEW IN MY MOUTH!!” and

“HELP!”

It’s a good thing it was a small bug and I wasn’t truly choking, because Fred was useless to help. He had witnessed the whole thing and was paralyzed with laughter. Laughter at my potentially life-threatening bug swallow!!

I don’t blame him, though. He watched the same shows as I did as a kid.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hold on to your Follicles!

As I glimpse the pile of yellow hair on my front porch; a recent crop brushed from the coat of my shedding, yellow dog; I am transported back to a time when it was my hair in piles.

It happened in 1996.

It happened again in 2002.

It will happen again. With the predictability of the Olympics and Leap Year, Presidential races being dirty and Duncan Yo-Yos becoming the “in thing” again, it’s coming. Hold on to your follicles… it’s the dreaded 6-year shed.

In 1996, I started noticing large amounts of stray hair on my shoulders. It got worse, and I was clogging drains. I went to my doctor. She told me I was experiencing a normal growth/shed pattern. 90% of hairs are in 2 to 6 year cycles, the others are “resting.” A lot of my hair must be on the same cycle, it would seem, and it will grow back.

That’s just GREAT! How did THAT happen?

1. Did I put my pony-tails in too tightly?

2. I was born with a full head of hair. It’s my Mom’s fault.

3. Was it the time I lit rubber cement on fire in my dorm room sink? I’ve been waiting for something bad to happen after that.

Life went on. My hair grew. I didn’t think about it again.

In 2002, I went to Dr. Frankenstein, the beautician, who “peroxided” and over-processed me repeatedly, trying getting the color right. I went blond, went back, and went blonder like someone was turning off and on the lights. A few days after my last color job, I looked in the mirror and my nose looked bigger.

What’s next after grey hair, wrinkles and white eyebrow hairs, you ask? NOSE and EAR growth. Soon I’ll look like an ant eater.

“I’m old,” I decided, and bought a shawl.

But it wasn’t my nose. In the many, many times I had been processed in Frankenstein’s lab, I didn’t realize I had lost massive amounts of hair….again! The volume of my hair had changed so dramatically, the whole perspective of my face changed. My GOD! I counted and gathered the hairs in my bathtub like a migrant worker. I’m going bald, for SURE, this time.

But I wasn’t going bald. It was the 6-year shed….again! I am a pet…with a season.

It’s 2008. And THIS time I’m going to be ready. It could be any day now and I’m waiting and like an expectant mother, squirreling and nesting and planning for the upcoming shed. I bought soft hair brushes, a pet-rake, hair bands, a floppy sun hat, and lots of knit caps. My shed pattern can be predicted, like El NiƱo, charted and dealt with!

Unless….this time I really AM going bald.