My family is getting very martial art-y of late; my daughter takes Karate as part of an after school educational program and my husband has gotten involved rather deeply with Jiu-Jitsu. I was attempting to help my daughter with her Karate curriculum last night, as there is a chance that she may advance to a new belt and she needs to practice. What I discovered is that she does not know her stuff very well. She is supposed to have memorized a number of standard moves, but only with a listing of the moves (and sometimes not even then) can she perform the actions required. She kept asking my husband for help, but Karate is nothing like Jiu-Jitsu, so he was of no help whatsoever. She is supposed to be able to count to ten in Korean, which is a complete wash because she can only remember the first four numbers and I can’t pronounce the rest of them. Every set of movements culminates in some kind of block named after some kind of animal. If she is to be believed, all of them involve making claw-like motions with the hands, and all of them are amazingly similar. There is a monkey block and a Statue of Liberty block and a panther block and a praying mantis block and they all seem to involve the same clawing gestures. Then they do splits, all kinds of splits, and she makes me nervous with how far apart she will try to pull those little legs. I guess I’m afraid she will just flat get stuck, and we will have to take her to the ER with her legs sticking out into the air.
My husband’s Jiu-Jitsu is a little more involved. He’s been in it for over a year, and he’s advanced, I think, to about a blue belt. The thing is, he keeps coming home injured. It doesn’t happen so much in class; it seems to happen when he practices with this brown belt Mike fella. He came home with a broken toe, and a cheek bruise, and a pulled shoulder. The most interesting injury of all was when he got kicked in the head and split his scalp open. This happened at Mike’s house, and apparently he bled all over the floor. I got this text saying, “Meet me at Hwy 67 and 31 and tell me if I need stitches.” Well, it is never a good sign when you get a message like THAT. I told him that since he was close to my hospital, that he should stop by the ER, because if he had to ask if he needed stitches, he probably did. Well, the husband didn’t feel like waiting around in the ER, so he went up to Labor and Delivery where I work. He showed the nurses his wound and asked what they thought about stitches. They thought maybe the skin could be glued, so they gave him some Dermabond and sent him home. So here he comes home, with a great big goose egg on his head with a bloody gash in it, clutching his tube of Dermabond. Well, I had him hold together the skin edges while I squeezed on the glue. Unbeknownst to me, the glue ran down a bit, and next thing we knew, his hand was glued to his head! I attempted to fix this by using a scalpel blade to slice the hair between the hand and the head, and I guess we know where THAT went. So our next try was to get some fingernail polish remover and saturate the area. Needless to say, that made the gash on his head really burn. I wanted to take pictures of his hand stuck to his head for Facebook, but for some reason, he didn’t seem to think that that was a good idea. The fingernail polish remover eventually worked, and his head healed up great. You can’t even see where the gash was. I did have to call our daughter and our babysitter to come take a look while his hand was glued to his head. He was quite indignant and it was really hysterical. So we all eagerly await his next maiming to see what kind of ersatz medical treatment I can offer. Hopefully it will not involve an ER, stitches, casts or gluing of body parts together.
OK, I felt like this picture deserved more than three words. This is a picture of a honey bee colony that has eaten its way into the ceiling of a house. I found this on Pinterest – I did not take this picture. I would not have gotten anywhere near this situation as bees freak me out and this picture just gives me one more reason to freak. This is one of the most grotesque looking things I have ever seen and if that were my house I would set it on fire.
Now as a blogger I have a new obsession. First, I obsessed about what I was going to write. Then, I obsessed over how much of my true self I dared reveal in my blog. Then, I obsessed over Views and Likes and Subscribers and Comments (OK, I’m still obsessing about those.) I obsessed over blogging awards. (YES! I finally got one!) But now: I want to be Freshly Pressed! Oooooh, I want it soooo bad. Think of all the traffic! The comments! The massive self-validation! It’s gotten so bad, I stalk the other authors in the Weekly Writing and Weekly Photography Challenges, thinking, “MINE is better than that! Mine is better than that!” And then “Ooooh, you bitch!” when I find one that’s better than mine. The other day I wrote what I thought was a very good blog about life changing in an instant, and then, and THEN, I find this blogger that describes their life changing event as the day that they discovered that albino Africans are having body parts removed to create magic potions and that families are selling their albino children’s body parts. And I thought, “Really! Albino Africans? Of COURSE they’ll Freshly Press that! That’s just too weird and meaningful-ly for them to pass up! Rat bastard!” So I am now officially obsessed and am in search of some albino Africans (or other bizarre and arcane cause) to espouse so that I may too be Freshly Pressed! How about Aardvark Phobia? Or People Who Live In Trees? Or start a benefit for roosters in cock-fighting rings? Just Freshly Press me! Pleeeease! Pretty please? I’ll come up with something exotic and memorable and haunting! Cats Who Commit Suicide? Yes! I’ll be Freshly Pressed! I’ll make sure and include a photo that makes no sense, for use in the Fresh Press header!
Arrrrgh! This week’s Fresh Pressed came out for the DPchallenge, and my tragic but true story was not featured! I returned hopelessly to the scene of the Fresh Pressed crime in hopes I had missed the email notifying me of my triumphant debut. I did not. However, I was pleased to see that the cannabalized albinos did not make it either! And ah-ha! I have found the perfect picture of me on webcam displaying my bewilderment at my non-Freshly-Pressed-ness! That is certain to win over the editors!
So unless you editor-type-folk want me to be a loon cyber stalker, I’m begging you! Have a heart! I need a good Fresh Pressing! Just Press me and I’ll iron right out I swear. I’ll be the freshest-pressest-sparkliest hottest shining star in the sky! And I can call my mom, and my dad, and my husband…
Nothing makes me more thankful than the sight of my daughter, healthy and happy. I have been thankful for her since the day she arrived (or even before). She is a wonderful, bright, loving child and we are so blessed to have her!
For those of you who don’t live around these parts, armadillos look like little armored anteaters, with longish snouts and rounded ears, and a little bitty tail protruding out of a shell. I am not sure how they got into the states; I think they just came up from Mexico perhaps. They are thriving here, surely, and have moved out of Texas into the rest of the southern states. There are three problems with armadillos. First, they are known to carry leprosy, but as most people don’t cuddle armadillos, that’s not often a problem. Second, they dig. This is perhaps the biggest complaint, as they love to dig holes in gardens and lawns in search of worms and other tasty treats. Third, they hop. This almost guarantees that they become roadkill en masse on southern roads and highways. This is because, when you see one in the road, if you can manage to steer your wheels to miss the armadillo and pass over it, the little fool will give a startled hop and smash itself into the undercarriage of your car.When I was in residency, my program director despised armadillos. You couldn’t even bring them up. They destroyed his lawn and garden, and he would spend nights on his porch, gun and drink in hand, blasting armadillos when he saw them. I had a pair of armadillo earrings I liked to wear just to get under his skin, since he was patently incapable of remembering the names of any of the female residents. He took the guys fishing. This irritated me; he irritated me; it seemed only fair that I should irritate him. I think he wanted to shoot me when he saw them.
When I was an Ob/Gyn in Atlanta, I had a patient who had an injury by armadillo. These are fairly gentle animals, so I had to question her how on earth she had come to fall on her pregnant belly because of an armadillo. She explained that she had been in her garden and she had startled one and it hopped at her (remember the armadillo/hop reflex). She mistook the hopping for an act of aggression and retreated from it shrieking, tripping over a low row of shrubbery in the process. We had to check out the baby and make sure it hadn’t been hurt by her armadillo-induced belly flop. The baby was fine, and for the rest of her pregnancy, I referred to her as “armadillo girl”. She at least had a sense of humor about it.
My folks have an armadillo problem. Like most everyone else, the armadillos dig holes in their lawn and plants. Mom was told by someone she knew (I kid you not) that the best way to trap an armadillo was to bait a Have A Heart trap with Juicy Fruit gum. They swore armadillos loved this substance above all others. So mom bought and baited the trap, and woke up in the morning to… a raccoon. The coon had been attracted to the gum and got caught in the trap. Now the problem was, the raccoon had to come out of the trap. Those of you who live in the city may not realize this, but raccoons are incredibly vicious fighters and can be very dangerous when cornered. My dad had to find a pair of leather gauntlets just to open the trap. The raccoon caterwauled and hissed the entire time, and Mom and my daughter retreated in fear. They finally got the thing out of the trap and the coon beat it for the hills.
When I was visiting the folks for Thanksgiving this year, I saw Mom out in the backyard, doing this incredibly slow, gingerly dance out in the back yard. She looked like she was practicing some form of insane foxtrot. I went out in the backyard and asked what strange dance she was doing. “I’m replacing armadillo divots,” she explained. We laughed and laughed at Mom’s armadillo foxtrot, but she is still incredibly put out that the armadillos are tearing up her yard.
Those little suckers are real pests. I don’t think they’re getting eradicated any time soon – they like it too much here. I have to giggle when I see an armadillo though. I have way too much history with them just to pass them by. I’m just waiting for the next exciting armadillo event.
For the Thanksgiving weekend, my father brought home a surprise. He remembered the days when he and Mom and I used to stand in the front yard for hours batting a badminton birdie back and forth. He found a badminton set with racquets and shuttlecocks, but no net. So he bought a full size volleyball net to set up in the yard and play badminton with. He and Kevin set it up in the yard and the game was on!
Amanda had never seen a badminton set before, so she was given a crash course by her daddy. There was much wailing as serves were missed entirely, whacked into the net, or falling birdies fell straight into the server’s head. She’s never been much on learning new stuff -she expects to get whatever it is right away and hates being bad at something or having to practice it.
I, of course, went and got my camera, as I recognized a photo opportunity in the making. Amanda was not pleased that I was photographing her while she was floundering, but I insisted as always that if she let me take her picture, she would be famous in my blog. She cannot pass that up. I got some shots of Kevin lecturing her as well.
Then I decided to grab up a racquet, since I remembered being fairly good at badminton when I was a kid. This proved to be a bit problematic, as I was wearing boots with at least a two inch heel, and had left my camera with the long lens slapping around my neck. When we started out, I wasn’t doing much better than Amanda. We elevated the whole thing to a comedy art form, with Amanda missing the shuttlecock and giggling and me sending it off into the azaleas. My husband, of course, was supremely competent the whole time, except for one epic moment when he slid on the pinestraw, pulling his groin and whacking his knee. He shook it off, though and we kept playing until it was almost dark. My muscle memory was returning to me, and I was pulling off some return backhand shots and some high shots that were pleasing me immensely.
Mom came out into the yard to see what was going on. She was a bit indignant that the badminton set had been erected just when it was time to do the holiday dishes, and she seemed a bit concerned that there was now a volleyball net semi-permanently installed in her front yard. At that point, we were giggling and whacking the birdie all over the front yard. We were distracted only by the discovery of poisonous bright red mushrooms in the yard, and some time was taken out to peer, poke at, and photograph said fungi.
By the end of the game, my feet were killing me in those two inch boots, and I had taken off the camera so it didn’t get joggled and bounced all over while I dived for shots. We managed a volley of eleven and were pretty proud of that, considering we were drunk off Thanksgiving turkey and our own high good humor. There was much shouting, and I am certain the neighbors were quite indignant with the racket that was coming from the house right next to them.
I informed Kevin that this was a form of exercise I had always enjoyed and I would not be at all averse to a set appearing in our yard as well. Maybe not the front yard. He told me that that was duly noted. I have a feeling that a badminton set may be forthcoming for Christmas this year. And as far as I’m concerned, that would be a great thing!
1. A good, decent husband who does far more than his share of the work. He supports me and lets me rest when I’m tired and he carries out the trash and cooks dinner and (almost never) complains. When he complains, I know I’ve crossed some kind of line, probably involving lying around in bed reading my Kindle while he does all the work.
2. A sweet, good, well mannered daughter. This is no accident. We have worked so hard to keep her mind on her manners. She says please, and thank you, and yes sir, and yes ma’am and doesn’t throw tantrums (usually). She is, however, a very picky eater.
3. My parents are still alive and live close by. My dad has some trouble getting around, but his health is generally good and Mom is as spry as she ever was. Mom is a great cook and keeps us so well fed when we come to visit. We are so lucky to have them and they are such a Godsend when we need someone to help us watch our daughter when we go out of town.
4. My job – we could not do without the income. Let me just say I do not love my job but I am grateful that I have it.
5. My husband’s job – he loves what he does and we need the income. I am so thrilled that he actually has a career that he enjoys and finds fulfilling. So many people (me included) live those much vaunted lives of quiet desperation and feeling lost and unfulfilled in their jobs.
6. Our house – it is beautiful and I love it, even if it’s falling apart. I loved it the minute I set eyes on it, and even though it has had some pretty major problems for such a young house, it still has so much personality and is so roomy.
7. Our health – my husband and daughter and I are very healthy and don’t have any major medical problems. I have gotten a bit overweight and am fighting that but my husband stays trim and fit and exercises almost daily with his Ju Jitsu, and our daughter is so active, just like her Daddy, that I don’t think she’ll ever slow down long enough to get sick or put on weight.
8. My sense of humor – couldn’t have gotten this far without it. Absolutely invaluable. Helps me cope with things beyond my control and helps me to bond with my husband and friends.
9. We have enough food to eat. More than enough. We don’t cook healthy meals as much as we should, but we could. We have access to all manner of delicious and exotic food through our local Publix. Last night we bought pine nuts for a special Thanksgiving recipe.
10. My husband’s sense of humor – we get along so well when we share our senses of humor. We have a similar wicked turn of thought and phrase that really helps us to enjoy each other. We enjoy many of the same movies and shows and books and this helps us to better get along.
11. My daughter’s school – she got into the magnet school and is getting a fantastic education. Her education just fell into place; she spent K3 and K4 at St. Anns Catholic school and received terrific care and education. We then moved her to a public kindergarten, Walter Jackson, so that she could be tested for the public magnet school. She tested in just like we’d hoped and is now ensconced in the second grade at Benjamin Davis.
12. Our cars are paid for. This makes a huge difference in finances. My husband’s Explorer (Exploder, I call it) is older than my van, and I am hoping one day soon that his car will die so I can give him the van and get a new car. Preferably not another minivan.
13. Our grounds – we have an acre of land and it is beautifully landscaped. We just had the landscaping redone last year, with all new sod, and new shrubbery and trees. It is a bit dicey to take care of, which I have devoted an entire post to here. But the neighbors all tell us it’s beautiful, and it sure is much better than it was when we moved in.
14. Our housekeeper, Vicki, who keeps our place shipshape and even plants flowers for us outside. She is so sweet she even offered to cook for me when I was home alone with the baby on maternity leave. She loves animals and plants and people and is just so reliable and trustworthy. I don’t know what we’d do without her.
15. This blog – it helps keep me sane and my mind working. Plus the friends I am making here are helping me a lot. I feel like I am finally engaging with some new people, which I need desperately to do. And these friends are of like mind and we are brought together by a love for both writing and photography.
16. My photography – a hobby I love and am fairly good at. I caught the bug from my mom, who is a very accomplished photographer. She is especially great with landscapes and nature. I currently have a Nikon D-5000 and multiple lenses. I am so excited because I am getting a new macro lens for Christmas!
17. Jewelry making – my true passion. I would love to make a living doing this one day. I have a house full of jewelry making supplies, too many if you want to know the truth, and when I feel up and inspired, I will crank out dozens of beautiful pieces. I do beadwork and stringing and wirework and chain maille and metal work and enamelling. Right now I’m mainly into stringing, metal work and enamelling, as my eyes aren’t too good lately.
18. Our health insurance – something we take for granted but everyone needs. Thank goodness my job provides it so that my husband and daughter and I are covered.
19. The nurses I work with – they make my job so much fun and easier. They are a wonderful group and I will miss them awfully when they move our deliveries over to the other hospital. Hopefully some will stay on and work over there.
20. Sunshine. Sunshine make me feel great and tickles my pineal gland. I need it to help prevent my seasonal affective disorder, which rears its ugly head in the winter, usually after Christmas. The more sunshine and warmth, the better.
Thanksgiving is a lot of work. Hosting a Thanksgiving dinner is a scurrying, spastic event, running around madly turning burners on and off, opening and closing the oven, hovering over the slow cooker, agonizing over the pie. I have a special Thanksgiving apron that I wear when I cook Thanksgiving dinner, of course with an adorable calico turkey on it, with a big happy turkey smile. Little does it know…
There are the inevitable menu wars at Thanksgiving. My husband likes ham, but not for Thanksgiving. He only wants turkey. I hate turkey. I think no matter how well it’s prepared, it’s like dry, stringy cardboard. Not even the gravy can rescue it. My husband’s pickiness has caused me a lot of Thanksgiving grief. He doesn’t like any variation in cranberry recipes, not a single one. He only likes cranberry sauce straight out of the can, with the ridges still on it. One year my mother and I served him the contents of the entire can, still in can shape, with a sprig of parsley on top. He was not amused. He only wants Stovetop stuffing. Any attempt at something new and delicious, like cornbread stuffing, or New Orleans style oyster stuffing, is reviled and scorned. And then he must, repeat MUST have the dreaded green bean casserole with the fried onions on top. Nothing says Thanksgiving like everything out of a can or a box.
My mom has pretty much declared guerilla warfare on my husband’s pickiness. She ignores his preference for turkey, makes ham, and makes homemade dressing and cranberry compote. They are delicious. She is a fabulous cook. My husband also has the awful habit of going on the Atkins diet every year right before Thanksgiving. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he’s trying to give my mother a heart attack. For the first few years, she tried to cook Atkins friendly sides, but at last she has seen the hopelessness inherent in trying to please the unpleasable. She lets him fend for himself. I definitely agree with this (non)strategy.
There’s even stress inherent in where Thanksgiving is going to be held. Will we go see the folks? Will we go see the half-sister-in-law? Will we stay at my house because I’m stuck on call? This year I’ve evaded Thanksgiving call and we will be going to the folks’. Mom has already piled extra stress on me – she has requested that I make a side and a dessert “that my picky family will eat.” Well, I guess we’ll break out the green bean casserole. I don’t know what the hell I’ll do about dessert. My daughter wants apple pie. Does she realize how difficult it is to make an apple pie? She is only seven. I think not. Here it is Monday and I haven’t chosen recipes or gone for groceries. What do I do? I may make french green beans with almonds, as that is something my dieting husband will be able to eat. The irony is, my husband is on this strict diet and he only weighs 150 pounds. I’m the one that needs a diet. I’m on one – I just don’t know if it will survive the holidays.
Thanksgiving holiday also means The Iron Bowl. The epic battle between the University of Alabama and Auburn University takes place every year over the Thanksgiving holiday. This game alone can make or break a season for these schools. The rivalry is that serious. Since I am a U of A graduate, I of course root vociferously for Bama. This game has caused many a near-heart attack for all of us. Sometimes I just have to get up and leave the room.
So, Thanksgiving stress is upon us. But still, I love the idea of Thanksgiving. I love the idea of giving thanks for our many blessings. I love that we come together around the table and clink glasses and feel festive. I like to think that, despite the cynicism of the era, that Thanksgiving still has meaning for most.