Saturday, August 30, 2008

A meme by any other name.

A week or so back (because I'm a procrastinator that way) Vodka Mom (what's not to love about that name!) tagged me for a meme. A meme to list 6 unspectacular things about moi. I'm always up for a little self inflicted public humiliation, so let's just jump right in. Shall we?

1. I can usually track the day's menu by the crap I've spilled on my shirt. "Over here we have the morning coffee. Oh, and look, over here. Wait, what the hell is that? Oh, right. I had Mexican for lunch" I swear the girls end up wearing more food than I actual get into my mouth.

2. I mispronounce words all the time. Sometimes on purpose, most times not. The Tapdancer calls me Ms Malaprop. My friends are used to this, and sometimes these mispronunciations become part of our lexicon. They call it "Chandeese".It can get a little sticky if I use these little jewels in different company (which I have). It has garnered me the reputation for being a bit ding bat. The most infamous of these pearls of verbal perfection? "Mutual,like Sweden". Don't judge me.

3. I never wash my car. Ever. I'd like to say it's because I'm green, and conservation of our natural resources is more important to me than a shiny car. In fact I do say that, but the bottom line is that I'm a slacker, and I'd rather be slacking off than washing a car. My co-workers have started calling my car the cookies and cream mobile because the black flecks of gradoo embedded in white paint my car look like a giant scoop of cookies and cream ice cream. I'm kinda okay with that.

42. I love all the Douglas Adams books. I was so sad when he died. The world became a little darker when he packed up his towel and left us to muddle through on our own.

5. I have two cats. I would have more, but as a single woman of a certain age *cough 41 cough* I obsessively worry that I'll become that scary cat lady covered in hair, mumbling to my 50 million cats, and hiding from animal control. Seriously, these are the thoughts that keep me awake at night.

6.I need a pedicure.

Here's the part where I'm supposed to tag someone else to perpetuate the fun. I usually don't, what with all the hate mail and evil looks I got the last time I did that, but I feel like living dangerously today, so I'm tagging Cammy over at The Tippy Toe Diet. She's a great writer, and one of my personal heros for being able to drop 90 lbs and still keep her sanity, and her humor. Cammy, please don't kick my ass. :)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Just a few more.

Have you ever gone on vacation or visited someone, come home, unpacked, done the requisite 18 loads of laundry, but still feel like you never left? Your head is still back there, stuck in that visited place days or weeks after the rest of you called it quits. I've been back from visiting the homestead for well over two weeks, but here I sit, still perusing the pictures I took, yapping incessantly about this mundane detail or that. I don't know what's come over me. I'm not worried mind you, it will pass soon enough. But you? You, my lovelies are now going to have to slog through one last post involving the trip home. The worst kind of torture, the blog equivalent of a vacation slide show. Muwahahahahaha (queue menacing music).

Actually, it's not all that bad. No really, I promise, just a few pictures I took walking around the yard. Like this one. This little fellow is a baby osprey (he's not really that little, nor do I know if he is actually a fellow, but just run with it), his parentals were busy all week trying to teach him to fish for himself.

He was not happy about the prospects of self sufficiency, you could hear him crying from his perch most of the day. Much like I was when my parents cut the financial apron strings. "What do you mean you're not going to pay for my fifth year of college? So what if I'm still a sophomore."

Moving on. Here's one I surreptitiously shot of my brother and his "mini-me". The Niblit may have blond hair ,and eyes like his mother; but this whirling dervish,from his endless energy and mischievous curiosity, down to his infectious cookie monster laugh, is my brother all over again.

Hang in there guys, you're half way through.

Here's a shot of the dock my dad had built, and the boat lift he insisted on installing for the boat he swore he was getting ten years ago. Where's the boat you ask? Good question. I think the money the Old Man of the Sea would have to shell out for a boat has left him on dry ground. Of course, now that the Niblit has visited and talked about his other grandpa's boat, my father has finally started shopping around for his own. Ahh the joys of grandparental one-upmanship.

More importantly, however, is what comes from out at the end of the dock (boat-shmoat). One of the all time best perks to coming home in the warmer months are these; what I like to call Tidewater comfort food.

Blue Crabs; the quintessential "session food". My brother pulled the pots that evening, cleaned all the gross stuff out of the crabs before he boiled them in water, a little beer, a little Malt Vinegar, and a lot of Old Bay. From river to table in less than an hour. It does not get any better that this. We sat for hours picking crab, drinking beer, and talking. It's better than General Foods International Coffee for celebrating the moments of your life!

There! You made it! The blurb at the end of the post. The final phrase that tells you there are no more boring vacation pictures to wade through. We are now moving on. Give yourselves a pat on the back, you deserve it.

Yay! That's the end!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Scar Tissue

Highway 17 is the four lane scar that runs the length of Gloucester County VA, puckering the landscape with strip malls, car dealerships, and corrugated steel mega-churches. I marveled at how altered it had become over the years. Old landmarks were gone, and the Super Wal-Marts of the world had arrived to swallow up wide expanses of wild country bramble with hellish, heat rippling asphalt. A typical but none the less heartbreaking scene these days.

Gone was the old mill house turned rollerskating rink my friends and I haunted all through Jr. High. Gone was the dirt road to nowhere we had,in high school, affectionately christened "The Zanoni Screw Stop". It was there, in breathless curiosity, I touched "it" for the first time. Oh yeah, I was a bad girl.

Yet as I turned off the highway, down the back roads of my youth, the rural landscape seemed for the most part intact. It was still that strange mixture of farm country,and wide brackish rivers that have supported "watermen" and their families for centuries.

I sat in the parking lot of the marina situated on the edge of the York River lost in thought. It was here I had spent every summer from age 10 to 20 in the community pool. This was the place of my first summer job, and and a few years prior, my first summer crush. The job was as pool life guard, and it was the first I truly "wanted", so I took the certification class at the nearby coastguard station. I spent 6 weeks the previous January dragging grown men ,"coasties", twice my size out of the pool in mock drowning scenarios. Not as bad as it sounds, actually. The crush was a boy, not much older than my 14 year old self, who was staying with his family at the marina. On their house boat. The thing had a piano in the living room, I kid you not. We spent a week of summer afternoons on that boat, listening to "The Best of Bread" and necking on the couch. His kisses tasted like salt water and Chapstick.

From the marina, I drove down to the beach where I played out my childhood. Time folded in on itself, and I was four years old again. Sitting on the dock on a warm summer night, wrapped in my beach towel, and munching fruit loops out of a plastic baggie. Watching enthralled, as my father and his friends caught blue crab with bits of string, bait, and a net; I believed he was magic. To my four year old eyes, my dad could do anything.

I was not prepared for the tsunami wave of nostalgia that rushed over me as I revisited my old stomping grounds. I did not expect to feel anything but ambivalence. I had run away to an out of state college, eighteen and angry at family and friends who I imagined had never understood me. I had left heartbroken over a boy I loved with blind teenage passion, but he was selfish and cruel, and left me unsure of myself. I was more than ready to leave this small hick town where I felt invisible, and blamed everyone for making me feel that way. It was easier that way, easier to look outward rather than in.

I drove for hours, from place to familiar place, and the overwhelming sense folding around me like that beach towel was of home. For the first time I felt free to enjoy the memories of growing up here, even the painful ones, without them being blurred by the bitter film of regret. This place, for whatever it's worth, helped shape the person I am today, and I am grateful.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Niblet.

Last week I packed up the "yoda" and made the trek to my parent's house in the boonies for a much needed break, and to help my mother take care of my nephew. The Niblet (a nick name coined after seeing his ultra sound picture) is almost two years old, and I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen him. Always in a sea of family, and never for very long, so it was my intent to put in some valuable auntie time.

The visit wasn't quite what I expected, in a lot of ways the Hallmark moments I envisioned just never materialized. I've always been good with kids, babies and toddlers especially. I don't know why exactly, they just seem easier to make a connection with than older children. Perhaps I'm more in tune with them because I'm just a big baby myself. Anyway, I was anticipating making an effortless leap into favorite aunt status,I even brought a couple of groovy toys wrapped in brightly colored paper with which to break the ice.

I was surprised at how hard I had to work to gain his trust. We did this two steps forward, one step back dance for the first three days. One minute he was all smiles, the next, a small dark rain cloud of baby temper would appear, and a petulant demand to "go away" or "move" would follow. At first this mini munchkin rejection really hurt my feelings. Silly I know, because a lot of it had to do with him being away from his parents for over two weeks. He clung to my mother,"Nana", because she was familiar. So I kept at it, and little by little he got to know me, started to trust me more and more each day, and by mid week we finally hit our stride.

I could make him laugh by pretending to cry when he tried to send me away (perverse little bugger!), and by the second half of the week he had decided I was okay. He still preferred his Nana (who doesn't), but he also started looking for me when I wasn't there, playing with me without Nana, and only tried to send me away as a game. Evidently faux crying is highly entertaining.

By the end of the week, as I pulled out of the driveway to head back home, he was waiving and shouting "bye bye Shawnee".
I have to say, it brought tears to this auntie's eyes.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The God Squad

I am not a morning person, I never have been, but having to work for a living has forced my week day hand, and I have to get up Monday through Friday at the butt crack of dawn. So on the weekend I take great pleasure in sleeping late. Those who know me know not to call before 10:30, 10:00 at the earliest, but somebody better be on fire.

Imagine my bleary eyed surprise, a few Saturday's back, when I heard someone knocking at my door at 9:15 am. Thinking there must be some sort of emergency, or mass evacuation, I threw on my robe and shuffled through the living room to answer my door. Before me stood an overly dressed little old white haired couple, smiling at me like it was perfectly normal to knock on a stranger's door too early on a Saturday morning.

I immediately knew what this was. This was a visit from the dreaded "God Squad", those annoying folks who take it upon themselves to zealously peddle their religion from door to door. I don't understand it. I'm fairly certain that when Jesus came up with the idea to get the word out, he meant in a public forum, a park or obliging field, someplace where people could, oh I don't know, CHOOSE to listen or not.

My first inclination was to tell these lovely people I was a card carrying-broom toting witch, and kindly get the hell off my porch before I turned them all into toads. I didn't of course. I didn't have the heart. They were old, and smiling kindly, and it was hot outside; besides I'm really not a mean person(mostly). So I agreed to listen to their scripture passage about how you become wise by speaking softly, and answered their pop quiz question about how does that apply to marriage today (like I know). I even took their pamphlet of thinly veiled hate (immediately destined for the recycle bin), smiled and sent them on their way thinking I was done.

I was so very wrong.

So, here I am, 10:15 on yet another Saturday morning, fuming after being awakened by the same couple, this time schlepping along some other member of their cult-uh-church. This time peddling slightly less veiled hate about the gay and lesbian community (couched in the guise of discussing the challenges faced in being married.) I guess the first visit was just a test run. Now they were back with the big guns.

Enough. Old codgers or not, I should be able to speak my mind in my own damn house. So I crossed my arms, blocked the door with my body, and using the voice I save for telemarketers said, "I respect the fact that these are your beliefs, and they somehow bring you comfort, but they are not mine, and I find them extremely offensive. I also understand going door to door is something you folks feel strongly about, but I have no desire to hear anymore of what you have to say. Please take me off your visitation list". I was so proud of myself, I spoke up, spoke out, kindly, but firmly. I had faced the God Squad and lived to tell about it.

Looking utterly nonplussed, and without missing a beat, the old man said, "May we take a moment to pray together for your soul?"

What? Did I just hear that by speaking my mind,and politely asking someone to leave my house, I can actually put my soul at risk for an eternity of hell fire and brimstone? Seriously? With all the political and social injustice, senseless violence, and greedy pillaging of the earth going on these days (much of which is done at the hands of men who claim to be Christians themselves), THIS is what gets you sent to hell?

Maybe I'm not such a nice person after all, or maybe it was because I hadn't had my coffee yet, but I just couldn't help myself. "You are free to pray for whatever you want, but not on my God damn porch. Please leave!" Oh Yeah, I said it, and now I've pissed off the Southern Mafia.