The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Flashback Friday!

Well, well, well. Here we are at the weekend again. It took it's sweet time this week, didn't it, boys and girls? Anybody up for a little Flashback?

This weeks' funny is brought to you by the folks at Ford Motor Company (well, I guess that will be in the search engines now, huh?), and it's about my first car. The car was a blue 1968 Ford LTD, but it came to me in the fall of 1982 and was (always) missing it's front bumper, though it had an original 8-track tape player in it. (Remember those? Probably not you, Your Girl Friday...;) It looked MOSTLY like the pic to the left, there. I want to say I paid $300 for it, but I honestly can't remember.

I drove that car until I couldn't drive it anymore. I guess everybody does when they're a teenager with their first car, huh? This particular tale, however, is from the fall of 1984.

I have to do a little back story here and say that my first true love was a boy I met in college and fell deeply in love with. Let's keep him anonymous and call him Rob Andrews. Rob was a very handsome boy, who was a big flirt and yet, such a gentleman. He was a poli-sci major and was three years older than me. We had a very brief, very torrid romance, but decided that we made better friends than we did lovers. I'm leaving out lots and lots of stuff, but let's just say that we stayed very close and we were pretty much best friends for the years we spent in college, even though both of us were dating other people.

Had I been more foolish, he could have been my first ex-husband. But, he didn't realize he wanted that from me, until he'd moved away (and joined the navy) and we weren't spending time together anymore. Then he realized that he really WAS in love with me after all and wanted me to fly to Spain to be with him. I was pretty sure he was just lonely (so I didn't go), but it was a wonderfully flattering feeling at the time. We kept in touch for a long time thereafter. Whenever he was in town, he'd call me and we'd get together.

And, so, when I started dating my (now) ex, and Rob called to say he was in town, I told him I had someone I wanted him to meet. I'd only been dating M for about three months, but we were getting pretty serious.

When he pulled up in front of M's house, I went out to meet him and he smiled nostalgically to see that I was still driving that old car. In fact, he was standing by it when I got to him.

"Hi, you." I said to him.

"Missed you, kiddo."

"What are you looking for?"

"Do you smell gas? 'Cause I definitely smell gas."

Now, Rob was a sweet guy and very smart, but mechanically-inclined, he never was. Never.

"I don't know. I don't think so. Come in the house, I want you to meet M."

"Pop the hood for me. I think it's your car."

Like Rob would know what anything under the hood was anyway. So, I humored him and popped the hood. He looks around a little, moving hoses and acting like he knows what the hell he's doing. Finally he looks up at me and says,

"Your carburetor is leaking gas onto your manifold."

"Uh huh."

"I mean it, Tammy. You need to get something done about it."

"Uh huh."

"I'm serious, Goofy. That manifold gets hot when you drive and gas leaking on it could be pretty dangerous."

"Uh huh. Let's go meet M!"

So, he sighed an exasperated sigh and walked with me into the house and visited with us for a couple hours. When he got ready to leave, he asked me to walk with him out to his car. I haven't ever forgotten our conversation. Certainly, I should have gotten my head out of the clouds long enough to have actually listened to someone who cared so much about my well-being (he may appear in another Flashback Friday about how he rescued me), but, you know the whole deal about hindsight.

"You know, Tammy, I love you, but that boy's not good enough for you."

"You're jealous."

"Maybe. But, you deserve better than that. He doesn't love you the way you deserve to be loved."

"You only spent two hours with him."

"I'm just telling you what I think. He's not the right one and I hate to see you falling for him, 'cause I know you and I know you'll be hurt settling for him."

And he sighed as I looked at him with those glazed (and defiant) eyes. And then he said,

"Come with me to my car." And I walked to his car with him. He opened the trunk and got out a fire extinguisher and handed it to me.

"I know you're not going to do a damned thing about that gas leak, so put this in your trunk. You're going to need it."

"Uh huh."

"I'm serious. Take the damned fire extinguisher."

"Okay. Okay. I'll put it in my trunk." And I did. And he left. And I saw him (or talked to him) several more times after that (including the phone call from Spain), but haven't seen him (or talked to him) in close to twenty years now.

Now fast-forward about four days from that incident.

M and I had been out riding around town in my car and we drove back to his place for a little hanky panky. (Hey, I was young and single and it's totally allowed.) And, you know, Rob might be sweet and smart, but he totally doesn't know anything about the stuff going on in my life. So, M & I were there for about 15 minutes when M's roommate comes beating on his door and says,

"Hey, M, your girlfriend's car is on fire, Man."

So, we're scrambling around, getting dressed, and we run to the car, and, there's smoke coming out of the hood. M carefully pulls the latch and, true enough, there are little orange flamey things under the hood. Not a lot, but, yeah, some. And, of course, I can just SEE Rob saying "I told you so.", but I kind of meekly say,

"There's a fire extinguisher in my trunk."

M gives me this puzzled look, like "why the hell do you have a fire extinguisher in your trunk?" And I tell him the whole story about the gas and the manifold, blah, blah, blah. So, he gets the fire extinguisher and gives the engine a little spray.

So, we're standing out there now. Looking at the engine. And he says,

"Get in the car and start it up."

And I say, "Are you serious? The thing was just on FIRE. I am NOT getting into it and starting it up. What if it blows up?"

"It's not going to blow up. I've looked at it. It looks okay. It should start right up. And besides, I've got the fire extinguisher and I'm right here."

I'm not even CLOSE to being a daredevil. Okay, maybe there's the tiniest streak of that somewhere in my DNA, but it's buried pretty deep. So, I was pretty scared. But he sounded like he was confident, and it really didn't make sense for him to start it up, because I wouldn't know what to look for under the hood when he did. And I SURE didn't want to be the one fighting the flames if need be.

So, I swallowed hard and eased in behind the steering wheel. My hand was trembling as I put the key in the ignition and just as I was getting ready to turn the key, I looked up to see where M was. And do you know where he was? That fucker was slowly backing up the hill away from the car. I rolled the window down and hollered,

"Hey, where are you going?"

"It's okay. Just start the car."

"Uh huh. Sure. Why are you backing away from it, if it's okay?"

"Just start the car."

"I don't wanna start the car. It's gonna blow up, isn't it?"

So, this goes on for a couple minutes and, finally, I give in and start the car. And it doesn't blow up. And I'm kinda shocked, but definitely pleasantly surprised, about it. M gives the engine a cursory glance and we decide to drive it back to my house together (in case something happens).

On the way, it started losing power. The fire had burned through some alternator wires and caused some electrical problems. It never caught fire again, though. The story really peters out there. Sorry.

The thing about it for me, however, was always that Rob tried to prevent the fire (and more) and I totally ignored him, and, of course, the visual I will continue to hold of M backing up that hill and telling me to go ahead and start the car.


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Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Road To Hell...

should be paved with the carcasses of bad monkeys. And I know plenty of candidates for the job. The phrase 'Bad Monkey' has taken on a life of it's own around our place these days. Replacing 'Ello Puppet (uttered in a really outrageous cockney accent) as the Phrase Du Jour. I live with some really weird people. Though I will admit it's pretty fucking funny to hear them, from down the hall, as one of them walks into the room and a round of 'Ello Puppet erupts between them all (including HIGHLANDER). But, I'm already digressing. I wanted to talk about 'Hell'.

For the uninitiated, 'Hell' is the pet name for my main construction project at the moment. As of 11:00 this morning, I had already made three trips to Hell (with the potential for one more before the day is out...though I'm crossing my fingers I can avoid it). Extremely bad prognosis for the day.

When I have to go to Hell, my goal is to get in and out of there as quickly as possible. Lingering often results in additional...incidents. People pop up with new problems or issues that they are sooooo glad to see you about. And it will almost always turn a ten minute trip into hours. Hours there and then hours more when you get back to the office and are continuing to work on it.

Today, hasn't been terrible, so far, but here's the haps in Hell today.

Trip #1 - 7:15AM

That's right, 7:15 AM. Most of them (the hell spawn) are still in their designer pj's stumbling to their espresso machine and not apt to bother me at that time of day. I can get in and out without nary a conversation. Early mornings are the target time to go to Hell.

I needed to pick up some keys that won't work. I emailed the resident who had the keys yesterday afternoon and told him I'd stop by and pick them up "first thing" this morning. He was to leave them on top of the mailboxes or in the electrical room. Now, I realize that "first thing" is a little vague, but I was hoping he'd realize (given our many previous conversations) that we start pretty early around here.

So, I check both the mailbox and the electrical room when I got there. Nothing. Great. Either he hasn't gotten to it (and I'll have to go back) or they've been stolen (which isn't dangerous, because the keys won't work, but is a pain in the ass because I'll have to go get more keys cut instead of taking the ones that won't work back to the hardware store to have them corrected).

But, I consider the mission at least a partial success, as I'm able to get away virtually unscathed. Even if it falls a little short of the intended goal.

Trip #2 - 8:00AM

The painter calls and says that he needs to get a second coat of paint on some doors they did yesterday and needs me to go back to Hell to unlock them. Great. Well, a second pass on picking up the keys is probably a good thing, huh?

So, I head back the 10 blocks between my office and Hell and run into Bill (Biff's replacement with Larry, Moe & Curly Construction). Bill and I had some words yesterday. He's new and hadn't seen my skates yet. I finally had to tell him to be a man and suck it up. In fact, that's pretty much exactly what I said. Anyway, I unlocked the doors for the painter, touched base with Bill and...before I could get away again...I got tagged by a resident.

"That paint on the doors doesn't match the other doors, you know."

This from the chief complainer in the building. Though how he could even tell at 8:00AM through his hungover bloodshot eyes, I don't know. But he was right. The color on the newly painted doors was a little darker. The original doors were painted over a year ago and have been exposed to sun, rain and wind. It does fade them.

"I'll double check with the painter to make sure he's got the right color, but I think it's just that the other doors are a little more weathered."

"Well, it don't match. I'm just saying it. And somebody needs to fix it."

Fine. Fucker. Guess who "somebody" is? So, now I've got to call the owner of the painting contracting company and it's one more thing on my list. So, I flee to my car and head back to the office.

Trip #3 - 9:20AM

Hey! This trip netted me the keys I tried to pick up earlier, so that was a good thing!! Not sure I'd consider 9:20AM first thing, in the business world sense of the word, but, hey, got the keys. I'm good with that.

Now, in addition to that, I was actually able to add an entirely new talent to my skill set today. I must update my resume as soon as finish posting this blog page. The painter called me to tell me he was finished and needed to leave, but that we could not close/lock the doors back up yet because of the wet paint on them. Soooooo, I needed to go down there and wait for the paint to get tacky enough that I could close them without messing up the paint job.

That's right, gang. I spent an hour and a half this morning watching paint dry. You've heard of it. But have you ever really done it? Oh, you're just not living! I sat in a chair and watched people walking outside. At one point a bird flew in the open door and exited out another door. Bill stopped in and traded war stories with me for a bit.

"So what's the worst job, besides this one, that you've worked on, SG?"

(Heh, like he'd EVER call me SG. He totally hates me. Whatever.)

And I say, "Well, we were building this school in eastern Kentucky about 14 years ago and I got a call one morning from a woman telling me that our superintendent was dead. And then she just hangs up. I go tell my boss and within about 30 minutes, the police call and tell us the same thing. Turns out it was the woman's husband that killed him, because he was mad when he found out that she was fooling around with our superintendent. They found his body in some wet cement. He was shot at the jobsite and fell dead into a concrete footer that had just been poured."

And he's like, "Hey, I was working in that same town, I remember that story! Once, I was working in Ohio and my whole crew got locked up one night for starting a fight with the police in a titty bar. They called me at 3AM to come get 'em out of jail. I fuckin' left 'em in there. I don't need that shit, you know?"

So, now he's thinking I'm cool and all and he says, "You got any scars, SG?", as he rolls up his sleeve and shows me a really cool zig zag scar on his upper arm.

I think a minute and say, "Sure!", and I pull down my pants and show him the new scar I got from my tubal about six inches below my belly button.

Okay, I didn't, I showed him the scar in my eyebrow over my right eye and then did that whole Richard Dreyfuss thing from JAWS, where I pointed to my chest and said "Rob Andrews...he broke my heart." Okay, I didn't do that last part either.

How come there's always so many funny things that you totally just let go by? Oh, yeah, it's because you're suppressing your inner-dweeb. I remember.

Anyway, we kind of bonded and if it wasn't 10:00 in the morning, he'd have probably grabbed us a couple beers. What he did do was ask me out to lunch. But I told him I wouldn't be there that long and that I had LOTS of work to do at the office.

So, he took off and I sat there watching the paint a little longer. My mind started to wander all over the place.

Trying to figure out how to appease both of my older daughters who have conflicting concerts coming up in a couple weeks. Both want me to attend THEIRS, but obviously I can't go to both.

Thinking about shop drawings I had to finish up in my office and hoping I could get back and get them finished quickly.

Thinking about picking the kids up early on Friday and trying to decide what we could all do together for a fun afternoon.

Wondering if that bird would come back again. Or another bird.

Trying to work through the disagreement Highlander and I had yesterday.

Reminding myself not to forget to call my landlord because the heat wasn't working in our apartment. It wasn't freezing, by any means, but not knowing how cold it would get tonight, I didn't want it to be a thing.

Writing blog posts in my head. This one (oh yeah, totally got to blog about watching paint dry...totally) and one for Flashback Friday tomorrow.

Wishing I had a book, or a laptop, or something to do besides sit and watch the paint dry.

About 11:00, I locked it all up and headed back to the office. I didn't really feel all that different. But, now, when someone says, "It's like watching paint dry.", I can totally chime in with "I know EXACTLY what that's like." and mean it. How many people can do THAT?

In all honesty, the thing I like best about my job is that it's always new. Everyday, something different happens. And joke though I might (you have to, or you'll go insane), it's interesting to learn something new everyday. Even if it's only how to get some weird thing done that you know you'll never have to do again. But that's okay. That's what construction is all about. And if you're looking for a straight 8 or can't deal with something blowing up, pretty much every day, you are never gonna cut it in this business.

But I am really hoping I don't have to go back to Hell again today.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

International Day of Peace of the United Nations

Once again, I've been sucked into a meme. I am not one to normally do these, but this one was so easy and I liked the results, so I'm in, and wanted to share. Hey, I'm nothing if I'm not fickle about this stuff.

So, thanks to WEG, I'm playing along. The challenge, if we shall call it that, is to go to Wikipedia, insert your birthday into the search box (excluding the year), and then go to your blog and list three events, three births and three deaths (including the year) that occured on your birthday. The results of the search for my birthday (the International Day of Peace of the United Nations, btw) follow.


* 1780 - Benedict Arnold gives the British the plans to West Point.

* 1937 - J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" is published.

* 1970 - Monday Night Football premieres.


* 1866 - H.G. Wells, English Writer (d. 1946)

* 1912 - Chuck Jones, American Animator (d. 2002)

* 1947 - Stephen King, American Author

* 1950 - Bill Murray, American Actor

(I know that's four. Sue me. There's like a gazillion of them there. It's hard to pick just three. Be glad I didn't list Faith Hill, too.)


* 1776 - Nathan Hale hung by the British as a spy.

* 1832 - Sir Walter Scott, Scottish writer (b. 1771)

* 1904 - Chief Joseph, Nez Perce leader (b. 1840)

* 1974 - Walter Brennan, American actor (b. 1894)

(See note above. Insert Jacqueline Susann in lieu of Faith Hill.)

Okay, gang, go forth into that good night and see what the haps have been on your special day. Or put in some random day. The day you started your blog. The day you got your favorite shoes. The day the hot substitute teacher kept you after class in 8th grade and made a man out of you. Whatever. Let me know if you find anything fun.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Gentlemen, Start Your (search) Engines

Yeah, okay, so that blog title made you groan. If it makes you feel better, I groaned, too. But, I wanted to use it anyway. To illustrate that, sometimes, I'm easily amused.

I wanted to share something I found funny this morning. While looking over information at my web tracker/counter, I found some interesting searches that led people to my site. With a name like "The Oral Report", I'd accepted, long ago, that I might get a few disappointed visitors in search of something they aren't likely to find here. But check out these search combinations that brought people to The Oral Report.

* pantyhose + office

* dress tucked (I had no idea there was a fetish to be had here, or that I was freaky.)

* older neighbor taught me oral sex

* father + kids + divorce

* If it weren't for my horse, I wouldn't have spent that year in college. (I've gotten numerous hits to this since I posted that Lewis Black thing. In fact, it hits every day. I'd imagine me reposting the line is not gonna help reduce that. But, I will say that I've gotten a few notes from folks that they were glad I posted the entire piece by Black. So, they may not have been terribly disappointed by the search results.)

* raising sixteen children

* chocolate bunnies + conversation + cartoon

* oral + sixteen

* Orlando Bloom (or John Travolta or Demi Moore or Holly Hunter)...I guess that's what I get for listing celeb names!

* Ventilator + wheelchair

* Sgt. Santos Cardona

* How long do you cook duggar oatmeal cookies? (I have no idea what this is.)

* Meaning of Oral Report (and many other variations including "oral report kids", "oral report instructions", "oral report guidelines", and so on and so on)

* eating chocolate to get through the day (okay, I like chocolate as much as the next guy, but this sooooo isn't me)

* Chemical burns from Ben gay (See!! I'm not the only one!!)

* Puzzle postcards

* Hanging Vinyl Records

* Mel Ignatow

* Micro Preemies

* Pike County Kentucky politics

* wild animal links

* recovering from catholic indoctrination (I like that one!)

I suppose that's a good one to end on. Now, I realize that I'm pretty new to this game and that the more I blog, the odder the search criteria leading to my blog will become. But, some of these had me scratching my head, while some had me stifling a giggle. Have you guys ever been curious enough to check into this? What are some of the more unusual searches to your blogs?

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Monday, April 24, 2006

The First Cut is the Deepest

For the most part, I consider my childhood a happy one. Like most, I'd imagine, there are a few painful or embarrassing moments that I'd like to forget. But even those have factored in to who I am today and since I'm fairly contented with the woman I've become, I've long since accepted those things as kind of necessary evils. Overall, I think I'm happy remembering the way things were. I do have one exception, though.

One completely emotional, totally irrational, moment that still kind of nags at me. And it happened when I was five. If there's any genetics to it at all, I'd like to qualify that statement by saying that my dad's side of the family is NOTORIOUS for holding grudges. So, you know, it's not my fault.

My sister and I are 12 1/2 months apart in age. Growing up, that always seemed fairly close, but you don't realize what that means until you are the parent raising those children. There are lovely stories of me "stealing" my sister's bottles from her and that, because I was so good at it, my mother had to wean us together. The obvious two babies in diapers (which I lived through myself as a mother), too. The extraordinary amount of work that two small children put on you. And my mother and father both had full-time jobs in addition to parenting. So, I know they were scrambling for ten minutes to themselves. And not having much luck getting it.

I know this because I've been there, too. I worked full-time when my two oldest (who are 18 months apart) were little and it's bad. It's very, very bad. Large parts of that time are blurry in my mind and I believe my body went on some kind of auto-pilot mode because I wasn't sleeping much, I'm sure.

And, just as I know those things, I know that you have to cut corners. You don't vacuum as much as you should (and with cats you really should). And you don't always get the healthiest food choices, because you need something that's already cooked or will be ready to put on the table in 15 minutes. You feel guilty as hell about the environment, but you keep buying (and using) disposable diapers. But you have to get through one more day, the best way you can. And you just keep hoping that tomorrow will be an easier one.

As things ease up, like first one child, and then the other, getting potty-trained, and they begin playing together and entertaining each other for 20-30 minute stretches, you begin to come back to the world. You begin to see that there may be hope that you will ever have any semblance of life again. It's a very good thing. Because, I'm just not very good at slacking on my kids. I just take that shit WAY too seriously. I have fun with them and we have a great relationship, but I know it's in large part because they know, and have always known, that they come first.

My older girls have finally gotten to the point where they will push me to do more things for myself and will (quite literally) cheer my personal non-mom accomplishments because they know where all my energies have been directed for the past ALMOST seventeen years. That's nice.

Now, my own mother was also rather devoted to us kids. And she didn't have many hobbies or outside interests. But, she wasn't quite as bothered about short-cuts involving her kids. It's one of those short-cuts that remains a hurtful memory to me some 37 years later. And it's one that I have adamently refused to level on my children no matter how much easier it might have ultimately made my life.

I have thick, curly brown hair. And as I child I wore it long. My sister had thin, stick-straight, slightly lighter brown hair, which she also wore long. And my mom dealt with listening to us whine as she combed it, and the extra work involved with washing it and styling it. At least she did for a while. When I was five, my mom decided, and let me add that she made this decision completely independent of any input from me or my sister, that it was simply too time-consuming for us to have long hair.

So we were loaded into the car and taken to a beauty shop, where the stylist proceeded to cut my hair (which was, at that time, more than midway down my back) into a pixie style cut. For those of you who are uninitiated (and my bet is that it's mostly the fellas), here's a picture of a pixie cut. It's a pretty dramatic difference from what I started with. I cried. I pleaded with the stylist not to do it. I was mad at my mother for weeks afterwards. It was traumatic in the strictest sense of the word.

Now I realize it was a haircut, not civil war surgery. Okay. I get it. I do. And I have had five year olds in my house, three times now in fact, and I don't let them always have the final say in what happens to them. But I swear to you, deeply and profoundly, that if any of my children had ever begged me, as hard as I begged that day, I would have had to stop and re-evaluate how much letting them have their way would affect things.

As soon as I was able to take on the responsibility of washing and brushing my own hair (which was pretty darn soon afterwards), I grew it back out. Probaby in part as an "in your face" kind of thing to my mother, but certainly because I LIKED my hair long. And I felt she had no right to take that from me. And it still hurts today.

My own girls have each worn their hair long. When [Kid 1] came to me (as an 8 year old) and said she wanted to get her haircut, I wouldn't let her. How funny is that? Basically, doing the same thing as my mother...only in reverse. See how this stuff affects your kids? After I calmed down and tried to see her point a couple days later, I gave in and she got her long locks cut to just above her shoulders. She looked adorable and she was so happy with it. I couldn't understand it. I was sure she'd be just as devastated as I was.

I keep forgetting that they aren't me sometimes when these parallels happen. And she'd really, really wanted it. Which is, in essence, the difference. Having her look so much like me at that age, certainly didn't help me deal with it, either. But, we got through it. I cried. But I tried not to do it in front of her. My demons certainly don't need to be hers. She's wearing it long again now. I'm glad. She looks great with the longer hair and some part of me feels comfort there.

When [Kid 2] did the same thing, it was a little easier. I reminded her that it would take a LONG time to grow back out. But, when she got hers cut (and she went for a boy cut...AUGH!!!), she looked great. She really DOES look so much better with short hair. It was difficult for me to accept, but I was getting better at it.

Last week, [Kid 3], my six year old, came to me and said she wanted to get her long wavy blond locks cut off. And, those feelings just came reeling back at lightning speed. I tried, without pushing, to talk her out of it. But she was excited about it. And, so, reluctantly, I agreed. As she sat in the chair, giggling and chatting up the stylist, I kept tearing up. Trying not to, as I didn't want her to see that, but the nervous nausea was making keeping control tougher and tougher.

She got it cut to about her upper shoulder blades (we'd talked about it beforehand and I went over it with the stylist before he started). I suppose they took off about eight inches in all. She looks great. And she loves it.

This morning, I dropped her off at the daycare like I usually do. One of her little friends met her as she was hanging up her jacket, and was touching her hair. She said, "Oh [Kid3], you got your hair cut. It looks SOOOO cute!!" My girl was beaming. And I found that I was, too.

I wonder, sometimes, if I'll ever get beyond that long ago hurt. And then I think, "nah...I'll still be doing it when the grandbabies get their hair cut." There are no bandaids for some ouchies. And, sometimes, I guess they never completely heal. The trick must be not to spread it. At least, I think that's the trick.

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Weekend Update (and Links Galore)

It's been a busy (but very wonderful) weekend, so I've had no time to blog. A delicious dinner at a neighborhood eaterie was a sweet surprise. Along with the dozen pink roses and beautiful handmade card that were waiting for me when I got home from work on Friday.

The pot roast on Friday night was fine. And for those few of you who don't know that story, the "short" version is that I made a lovely pot roast dinner for Highlander on his first night in River City. He took one bite and it promptly got lodged in his throat. Many, many hours later, after a nightmare trip to the emergency room (is there any other kind?), it was dislodged. A little prevacid every day for the rest of his life should help us avoid a repeat.

I took one of his original art pieces (a stylized map of "The River") and had it enlarged to poster size, put a little colored pencil here and there and framed it. He seemed to be genuinely touched by it. Which made me feel good. And it's now hanging in our room over the bed. Flanked on several walls by some character sketches he'd also done. (Those I'd framed and hung when we first moved in.)

Other than that, it was a rather domestic weekend of grocery shopping, laundry, and cleaning up around the house. We were able to watch a few movies we'd rented/purchased, too. And Highlander got a couple long blog posts finished that he'd been working on for a few days.

That said, all I got for ya today, is some random links that I started throwing together the other day. Hope there is something you find interesting.

Could it be that it was 20 years ago that Geraldo Rivera destroyed his reputation on national tv? I'm sure the sting of the humiliation is still as fresh now as it was then.

This guy wants to be your pet cat. He believes he'd be good at it and has posted his resume for the position, on the net.

NASA's year 2005 in images. The photos are spectacular.

And while we're looking at pretty pictures, check out this guy's shots of a double rainbow in Missouri. Pretty cool. I wish I could take pictures like this!!

Story of wildlife flourishing in Chernobyl area. Is anyone else concerned about uncontained, unmonitored wild animals eating radioactive vegetation and then breeding and/or roaming out into the rest of the countryside? Or is it just me?

If Highlander and I got a couple of these, we could eliminate our urgent need for another bookshelf right now! Plus, they're kinda cool looking!

Cheeta (Tarzan's pal) just celebrated his 74th birthday.

CNN carried the story, but I hardly think this driving "study" is news.

Okay, that's it. I've got a few things brewing in my head that I want to post over the next few days. Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! And I hate to break it to you...but it's almost over. All together now, ::groan::

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Flashback Friday!

I'm copping out on you this week, guys and gals. It's my one year anniversary with Highlander today. And, well, we're making a day of it. I get off from work at 11:30 and he's got the entire day off. So, there's just no time for blogging in my busy schedule today.

We're getting lunch out. Maybe a little shopping. And definitely some snuggling.

Oh, I wanted to include a couple pics for you to show you what a sweet boy I have. The other day I mentioned something rather hurtful (for about the millionth time) that my ex had said to me some time back. I shared it with Highlander at the time that it happened (that was back in the days when we were merely friends) and he sent me something in response. I thought you guys might enjoy it ALMOST as much as I did.

So, no Flashback today. My humblest apologies. I'll be here with one next Friday. Cross my heart.

In the meantime, if you're just DYING to read something I threw together today, I'm guestblogging at Highlander's place. Go take a look. And you should check out the archives while you're there. He's the best!

Have a super weekend, Gang!!

And, Highlander, I'll be home in a bit. I just wanted to say, here, that I adore you and I'm happy you're in my life. I'm quite excited to start another year with you!

Oh, and I'm making pot roast for dinner tonight. Traditions start in the most interesting ways, sometimes...;)


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Thursday, April 20, 2006

They're Coming Right For Me!

Didn't intend to stick a second post up here today, but sitting here on the third floor of this five story building, I've been enjoying something I only get to a couple times a year. And wanted to share it with all of you.

Part of the kick-off event (which happens in two days) for Derby is a truly spectacular fireworks show. The other part is a pretty cool air show, with jets doing tricks, and vintage fighter planes, etc. All of this takes place along the river.

A couple barges will be parked in the middle of the river for the fireworks. And there will be a myriad of people picnicking at the parks along the banks watching the planes flying over head during the daylight and the fireworks after it starts to get dark.

But, that's two days from now. And here we are now. One block from the river. The jets are already here. Know how I can tell? I keep hearing the rolling thunder in the distance that keeps getting closer and closer and closer, until...THEY ARE BUZZING OUR BUILDING RIGHT NOW!!!!

It's bizarre to be on the phone, attempting to conduct business, and hear jets come screaming towards you. You're wondering if you need to get off the phone and crawl under your desk in a duck and cover manuever, because you're not sure if they are going to crash into the building or just fly reeeaaaaallllyyy close to it. Either way, it's difficult to keep your mind on work when it's happening like every 5-10 minutes for hours.

I feel like I'm having 9/11 flashbacks and I wasn't even in New York or Washington when that happened. But it is, most definitely, freaking me out!!

I suppose they are practicing for Saturday's event. And I'll be glad to be a little farther from the river here in an hour or so!

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Double Jeopardy

Every burg has it's villains. Those who have made a name for themselves by doing harm to others in the community. Most often, it's politicians. But, entirely too often, it's a star criminal. The names don't carry the same weight when you mention them outside their burg.

River City has a few. The most notable, by far, is a fellow by the name of Mel Ignatow. I doubt most of you have ever heard of him, but his story did garner some national attention and there has been a book published about his exploits.

Mel Ignatow is a local man who beat a murder rap. That link will take you to a very lengthy news story of the history of the case. It's worth the read. What it won't give you is the seething hatred that this community still feels for Mel Ignatow, some 15 years after he brutally tortured, raped and eventually killed his girlfriend. That he did it was bad. That he got away with it was worse. That after the trial, evidence surfaced that proved that he did do it, but that double jeopardy prevented him from being retried for it, provided the kick in the teeth that has staying power. And the fact that he is smug about it and gloats that he got away with it, really does slather the bitter flavored icing on that manure cake.

He is loathed in this area, and during the very few months between his release from prison for federal perjury charges and his reincarceration for state perjury charges, I would imagine that his existence was none too pleasant. He stayed with one of his sons and complained to the courts and the media that he was forced to stay inside most of the time, and could not get a job, because people were so openly hostile to him and he was afraid for his life. He didn't get much sympathy from either, though, and I'm hoping that when he went back to prison, he found the solace he so richly deserved.

I haven't thought about Mel Ignatow for some time. His name will, apparently, still raise the hair on the back of my neck and make the blood rush to my face.

I found this out the other day, when my oldest daughter was talking to me about her (sixteen year old) school friend, 'Mary', being pregnant. I've met Mary a few times, but I don't know her well. In fact, I didn't even know her last name. And, since my daughter has more than one friend with that name, when my middle daughter asked "Which Mary?" , in reference to the pregnant friend, my oldest daughter, being too young to know the infamy that surrounds that name, said "Mary Ignatow".

My immediate response was "Is she any relation to Mel Ignatow?", (because Ignatow ain't exactly Smith or Jones, you know). And my oldest said, "Yes, that's her grandfather." Her father is the son that Mel stayed with during his brief respite between prison sentences. The thought that my daughter possibly spent time with that girl, in that house, with that man give me chills. It really, truly does.

We talked about the case, then. About the circumstances, about how the photographs of Mel Ignatow spending five hours raping and torturing his victim were found after he'd been acquitted, about what kind of man he is. And I told her that I didn't want her spending time at Mary's house any more. "Mary can come to our house, but I don't want you back there." And she understood. And, better, she respects my feelings on this.

I don't like the feeling that I'm punishing Mary for the crimes her grandfather committed. And, in effect, isn't that exactly what I'm doing? But I'm never gonna be comfortable thinking of any of my girls spending time around criminals...especially murderers...and topping that list, Mel Ignatow. And as long as the potential is there, that protective mom thing is gonna kick in first. Which, may just be a justification for me being a control freak or feeling superior. I'm not sure.

I really do wish Mary the very best with her new baby, and I'm sure that my daughter will be there for Mary and for Mel Ignatow's future great grandchild...who will also share his last name, and, I'm sure, the stigma that surrounds it.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Where Are My Rose-Colored Glasses, Mr. Secretary?

A couple days ago, I ran across this article about SIX (count 'em six) retired U.S. army generals calling for Rumsfeld's resignation because of idiotic blunders regarding the Iraq war. My first thought was that it was sheer genius. Why hadn't I thought of asking Rumsfeld to resign? Oh, wait. I did. Think of it, that is.

Yesterday, I even saw a story about how Rummy says he's not considering quitting (even though everyone around him, including Scott McClellan as of 9:40 this morning, seems to be). Funny, I have. Plenty, in fact. And I'd wager that (even barring the six retired generals), I'm not alone.

I keep seeing more and more come out about his utter incompetence. Of course, Dubya is never gonna speak ill of Rummy, or his qualifications, or especially his actions (in the name of the administration) as they relate to Iraq. And, he'll do his level best to help cover up any loose ends for him, too. Because keeping control of Iraqi oil and building four U.S. middle eastern military bases to ensure our continued presence in the region is worth everything he's got Rummy doing. And, he sure as Hell, ain't gonna admit that he was involved in any mistakes regarding Iraq. No sirree! No how. No way.

The Iraqi civil war, I suppose, actually works to their advantage by giving Dubya, Cheney and company all the excuse they need to keep pumping the money and American soldiers into that bottomless pit. And, hey, all this noise about Rumsfeld is taking the heat off of Cheney and Dubya, and their dirty secrets. Plus, as Dick Cheney says, "I believe the natural state of man is war."

Despite, Rumsfeld being specifically implicated in the fiasco at Abu Ghraib, a military judge has barred the defense from calling him at a court martial trial for Sgt. Santos Cardona (who claims Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller directed him, upon receipt of personal dispatch from Rumsfeld, and who continued to take a personal interest in several of the interrogations for which Cardona is on trial.). Geoff Miller is being called, so the whole thing promises to be an entertaining tap dance.

And, once again, as with so many members of this administration, I am feeling more and more like incompetence, malice, and outright deceit are somewhere in the job description. I definitely don't want to watch this carwreck. And I'm getting that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Somebody at the White House Management Office really should be sending out rose-colored glasses to the rest of us if they are gonna continue this way.

I was looking over Rumsfeld's bio, certain that there would be some flaw that would be completely evident, and that, somehow, all of the reporters (and much smarter bloggers) had missed it, but that it would be the thing that force his resignation, and therefore start the fall of that house of cards. I don't know what I was expecting to see. Maybe that he had worked as a cashier at the Seven eleven instead of serving as a Navy pilot, and therefore had no qualifications, whatsoever, to serve as a U.S. military advisor. Or, that he'd been involved in several friendly fire incidents during his service. Something like that. But there was nothing in the bio. Dammit. I did, however, uncover this interesting story from Rumsfeld's youth that I found quite revealing. Though I doubt it will get the results I was hoping for.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A Dubious Honor Indeed

When I was growing up, my younger sister was the favorite in our family. She was much more like my mom and they got along swimmingly. I was not much like anyone in my family (and in fact, became the butt of an ongoing family joke because I was certain I was adopted for years) and often cast myself in the role of the outspoken rebel loner. Which doesn't usually do much to win favor with your parents. At least it didn't for me. They loved me, don't get me wrong. They just thought I was a handful and didn't quite understand me. It wasn't as if we were at each others' throats or anything. It certainly wasn't a contest.

Now, I'm not sure how much I think it affects anything to bear the coveted honor of "favorite". Probably a puppet-dictatorship at best. I mean, I don't think I would have cared overly if I had been (in my youth), though that could be sour grapes. But I don't think so. And, I'm not sure how it may have changed who I became as an adult. Emotionally, I want to say "not at all", but intellectually, I keep thinking it would have had to on some level. So, I'm not sure how big a deal it is to be the favorite at all.

It's not that my younger sister got more or better 'stuff' than I did, just that my Mom chose to spend more time with my sister. And, as I said, they had more in common and I was really okay with it. I had enough self-confidence that I wasn't insulted. (It's possible, that it could have had something to do with me wanting a Johnny Adventure Elephant Gun when I was 7 and spending more time riding bike and playing kickball, than wearing dresses and playing dolls. I'm not sure, though.)

My mother will tell you she never had a favorite. That she loved me and my sister just the same. My sister will howl with laughter at that. So will I. We both know. My mom did a lousy job hiding it.

I hope I've done a better one. I've tried not to have a favorite. I really have. And I adore each of my children individually. They are such different people and each of them has qualities that I find both endearing and intriguing. To not have any one of them in my life would be a tragedy of epic proportions, but, I suppose if I'm being honest, I may have fallen slightly short of my intent, here.

Because my youngest still requires so much "hands on" time right now, I suspect my older two girls would tell you that the "baby" is my favorite. I hope they would. That would mean that I've done a good job not making it obvious. The "baby" is my ex's favorite. She was the one that almost didn't make it and she sucked him in emotionally so much harder than the other two did. She's also his last chance for redemption as a parent. I love her dearly and would be lost without her. She can crack me up so easily.

But, she's not my favorite.

My middle daughter, like the baby, looks so much like my ex. But she has so much more of my personality. She's tenderhearted and generous. She's the one who keeps the order when I'm not around. And she's completely capable. She shares my love of cooking and I enjoy spending time putzing around the kitchen with her. She's so curious and always has questions about politics and religion and the world around her. And she greatly respects my opinions on most everything. The fact that I'm her "hero" doesn't make me feel bad, either.

But, she's not my favorite either. (Though, Highlander has made her his.)

I fell in love with my firstborn the moment I saw her. And while I've done the same thing with the other two, it was different the first time. She is the only one that had the common decency to come out looking like me. I mean, I'm the one puking my guts out for months, killing myself to birth them. The least they could do is LOOK like me. My oldest does. She rolls her eyes when it happens, but every time we are around family, someone always remarks about how much she looks like me when I was her age. And there are some aspects of our personality that are the same, but not alot.

She's so much more artistic than I could have ever hoped to be. We share a love of singing. Luckily, she does it so much better than I do. She's temperamental and has a sharp tongue when she wants to. She looks at the world with eyes that I used to have. Eyes that remind her that just because she may be seeing something one way, it doesn't mean that it can't change. That the potential isn't there. I still try to do that, but I've become more jaded and I realize that I have a much harder time doing it than I used to.

And so, she's my (undercover) favorite. Though, it's not like she gets some kind of bonus for it.

I'm pretty sure I treat each of them equally. Doling out rewards and punishments evenly, and appropriately, for all my girls. Believe me, you don't have to twist my arm to get me to spend time with them individually, either. They may be different people, but they're all loads of fun!!

Now, when they've asked...and they have...I give the standard "I don't have a favorite." line. Or "Chocolate Chip is my favorite. Get me a bowl, will you?". But I'm curious how some of you have handled it. Or if you even admit it to yourself, if you do have a favorite.

I would never tell my oldest that she's my favorite. Certainly, never tell her sisters that. In fact, I think Highlander is the only person I've ever told. I can trust you guys, though.

Can't I?

You wouldn't tell?

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Monday, April 17, 2006

They're HERE!!

River City is spiffing up this week. As if the weather wasn't doing enough itself, with the dogwoods, redbuds and azaleas blooming everywhere and all the trees and lawns greening up nicely. But today, when I got back from a brief foray into 'Hell', I noticed the sidewalk sweepers doing their thing around our building, and the "No Parking Saturday" signs on all the meters on Main Street.

Saturday kicks off the Derby Festival season and you can feel it in the air already. We're washing our faces and running a comb through our hair. Dusting and putting out the company dishes before everyone gets here. By Saturday, this town will be the cleanest it gets all year. And it will pretty well stay that way for the next two weeks.

The Kentucky Derby takes two minutes (120 seconds) to run. And for this 120 seconds of sporting history, we do two weeks worth (1,209,600 seconds) of partying. What's that, like 2-3 hours of partying per second of race.

It's the biggest influx of cash into our community all year, so we will host every nonsensical event leading up to the annual horse race that we (and by we, I mean, a lot of politicians and community leaders who aren't me) can think of.

I don't say this like it's a bad thing. I, like most of the locals, go to a few events and ignore most of the rest. (Except for the clogged traffic. We'll gripe like crazy...see upcoming blog posts!) But, we're pleased as punch for all you out-of-towners to come spend your money here. It vastly improves the quality of our life the other 50 weeks of the year. And, hey, it's kinda fun for two weeks.

Every year, we're overrun not only with the regular people, but with celebrities. Imported for various events, but also because the beautiful people love to congregate on Millionaire's Row and they can throw down the green, too. There are news stories and local reporters interviewing the celebs who are in town. Here are some celebs who've attended previous Derby's. None of whom I've ever so much as seen.

Angelina was here two years ago. There were some random Brad sightings, but they weren't here together "publicly".

Ms. Judd is a perennial favorite. A Kentucky native, she frequently attends the festivities.

This pair was spotted here together several years ago and then he showed up solo about two years ago. And got into a knock-down drag-out with...

Everybody's favorite Hoochie Mama. Big news when she flat turned down his invitation to party with him, and it turned into a thing. ::yawn::

And this guy's been through here, too.

In fact, over the last thirty years that I've lived in River City, I've missed running into John Wayne, Ed Asner, William Shatner, Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson, Demi Moore, Drew Barrymore, Orlando Bloom, Colin Ferrell, Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and...well...I could probably go all day.

Now, granted, I don't hang out in the lobbies of the better hotels, waiting to see celebs. I've just way more to do with my life than that. And I don't attend the black tie galas. But, wouldn't it follow that I'd run into somebody. Anybody. Over the last thirty years?

I mean, I don't want to form a lifelong bond, but I'd dig shouting "Hey" to Bill Murray over the gas pumps at the BP station one morning.

Or seeing Holly Hunter picking up some pepsi at the grocery store on her way to some gala and letting her know I love her work.

Hell, I'd even settle for running into Melissa Etheridge on the street as she's picking up some baseball bats for her kids.

I don't really lose sleep over this crap. I don't have a great deal of respect for most celebrities. It's just that, somehow, I feel cheated not getting to ever see them when they're right here.

In my own town, for Pete's sake!

And, gang, here we go again.

Two weeks of celebrities.

But it's not like I'll ever see one of them.

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Better Than a Basket Full of Chocolate Bunnies

Some people go months, or years, or even lifetimes, waiting for confirmation. Waiting for validation on life choices that may never come. But, well, today, I got some of that. Not that my other Easter presents weren't wonderful, but that was by far the best.

A nice day, other than the sporadic showers outside. As Highlander and [Kid 2] are busy playing on the x-box, [Kid 3] is working her way through a pack of Peeps, while watching THE WIZARD OF OZ (not particularly seasonal...though it IS tornado season here...but she wanted to watch it), and [Kid 1] just left, with her significant other, to have little picnic. Since I'm not starting dinner prep for another forty minutes or so, I wanted to share a few moments from today.

* With the weather front coming through, we've had a little wind today. It gave us all the opportunity to take the kites back down to the park. And, we had much greater success (short of a couple kite-eating tree incidents) than we did on our last foray. Much fun, of a family variety. And on an Easter Sunday, that's the best kind. Watching Highlander and the kids was quite a joy.

* Dying eggs this morning (I know. I know. I said I wouldn't be doing it this year) and my purple turned into black. Which my older girls thought was sooooo cool. So, we had black Easter eggs. We're rad!

* The first Easter basket I've had in...gee...thirty five (ugh!) years. Highlander was thoughtful enough to find yummy sugar-free treats for me - a chocolate bunny, chocolate raspberry truffles (that are GONE, but were to DIE for!), some tiny chocolate bunnies with caramel in the middle, jelly beans and a very large fudge nut egg (which I've taken one bite of and had to forcibly stop myself from eating the whole thing). And, as if that wasn't enough, he included an adorable little stuffed white bunny, some beautiful ceramic eggs that I'll be able to use for future holiday decorating, and a lovely, rustic looking wooden box with tarnished brass hardware. I love it. Inside the box, he had tucked away a little gold pin that looked like a watering can with tiny pink roses on it. A most thoughtful gift.

* Highlander hiding eggs in the yard before the first rain showers, so that the kids could hunt treasure-filled goodies. And the 20 minutes of wild abandon that followed.

Much thanks to Highlander for his help getting these pics uploaded. You guys have no idea how lucky you are that I have my own support staff on site. I'm terrible with the tech stuff!

My girls dress a little more casually for the festivities, as you can see. Everyone virtually all in black. It's almost the Johnny Cash Easter special.

Getting back to what I said before, some people go a lifetime, never knowing if decisions they made effected the results they'd hoped for. But, today, I got an Easter present from [Kid 2] that was a rather priceless gift.

To help you understand the magnitude of what it meant to me, I'll have to touch on some stuff that I haven't yet. At least not here.

The last five years of my marriage were pretty hot and cold. My ex and I would get along for a while and then we'd have a pretty bad flare-up. Two major rounds of marriage counselling (one at the start of that five year period - when I caught him in a pretty significant lie that shook my trust of him to the core, the other just before we eventually split - the last ditch effort to pull things together) helped, I suppose. But, it was over years before I finally pulled the plug on the respirator.

Over that last five years, I caught him in more and more lies. Keeping more and more secrets from me. His addictions were getting the better of him and no amount of help I could give him made any difference. And, even though the marriage counsellor also suggested it, he fervently refused any professional help to kick his thirty+ year habit. The craziness with his family (to which I've alluded in the past) was getting worse and worse. His mother calling and cussing him out, cussing me out, having rude, threatening phone conversations with my oldest daughter, and leaving hateful messages on the answering machine, which all of the kids were exposed to. It was becoming unbearable. And I begged and pleaded with him to do something to make this stuff ease up. Point blank telling him that it was ruining our relationship. That my level of respect for him was dropping to places where it could not recover.

For the last two years of my marriage, I was pretty hell-bent on taking care of myself better. You see, I'm terrible at it. I'm not bad at taking care of everyone else, but making myself a priority is just something I've never had any ability to do. But, a trip to the doctor had scared me sufficiently. Lose some weight. Exercise more. Get my blood pressure under control. Or else. Last chance.

So, it was then, that I started the never-ending diet. Cutting back on sugar, red meat, my beloved fats. And I started working out with a trainer once a week, with my sister once a week, and doing a great deal of walking in between. The encouragement I got from my kids, from my parents, from my co-workers, even from some of you here, was phenomenal. I was taking care of myself, probably for the first time in my life. Putting myself somewhere on the priority list. And it was pissing my ex off righteously.

He didn't like having to keep up with the kids when I took a 40 minute walk 4 nights a week. He didn't like keeping up with them when I worked out with my sister or the trainer. The emotional and verbal abuse that I'd dealt with throughout my entire marriage was hiked up to a whole new level. It was then that I started having conversations that sounded like...

ME: I've put dinner on the table. I'll eat later. Can you manage the kids, while I go work out? I'll do the dishes when I get home.

EX: How long is this going to go on? I don't have any time for me anymore and I'm not gonna keep doing this.

ME: I need to work out. I need to lose some weight and take better care of myself. I'm trying not to impact your life as much as I can, but I have to do this right now.

EX: You never asked me before you started this and I don't like it. I don't want you to do it.

Many, many conversations where he made it abundantly clear that he did not like changes in his world and I needed to step back into my previous role, no matter the cost to my health or the length of my lifespan because of it. Including my all time favorite...

"You're no fucking prize, and you'd better recognize it." Ah, the classics.

All of this was going on and I was getting more and more stressed out. Feeling like I couldn't stay, but I couldn't go. Pretty traditional feelings before the split, I'd imagine. Three kids make you think things out a little differently. And, as I said, I've never been one to put myself first.

One day, as the kids and I were heading out, he stepped out to the car and was arguing with me about something (honestly, I don't even remember now what it was). The kids were getting in the car, when [Kid 2] turned to him and said, "Dad, I don't like it when you speak to my mother that way." And it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. Really.

The HUGE piece of the puzzle that I hadn't even seen before was staring me right in the face. I couldn't believe I had never seen it before. I was modeling behavior to my daughters that I would never want them to imitate. Showing them that this was how relationships were supposed to be. That being in a relationship with a man who didn't respect you and who was verbally and emotionally abusive was the best they could hope for. That a woman's happiness was somehow secondary to a man's, or worse, not important at all. And, lastly, that there was no way out.

And, once I tunnelled out of the debris, I knew what I had to do. For me, yes, but mostly for them. You see, somewhere in my mind, it was one thing for me to put myself through these things, but for me to think of myself letting them down, being less of a mother to them than they deserved, was something else indeed. Something completely unpalatable.

It was then that I left my husband. Then, that I decided I not only needed to, but HAD to, because to wait any longer would be an even greater detriment to my girls. And that simply wasn't going to happen if I had anything to do about it.

I could be much stronger for them, than I could be for myself. And, honestly, that made it so much easier for me to do what I had to do. My main goal was to do this in a way that my children would respect. That would show them that if they found themselves in similar circumstances, there was a way to handle it.

When I left my ex, I made a great many concessions. I wasn't leaving him in anger. It was simply that we were no longer a functioning relationship. He was on one of his numerous attempts to quit smoking dope. And I was hopeful that me leaving (no longer enabling him) would be the one thing I hadn't done to help him previously. That maybe, just maybe, it would be enough to wake him up to what he was throwing away (along with the tens of thousands of dollars he'd already thrown away).

And so, things that were dear and precious to him (like his motorcycle and his thousands and thousands of collectible diecast toy cars), I left. I was certainly entitled to them. To half of them anyway. But, I wasn't spiteful. Instead of my full share of equity in the house (that he bought from me), I took half of it. I left more than half of the furnishings in the house. And in exchange, he agreed to give me the two things I wanted. He agreed that we would remain friends. That we would work together to raise our children, even if we had been unable to remain married. And he agreed to give me the children for every Christmas morning from that point out.

He has since gone back on his word on both of the things he insisted I could trust him on. That his word was good. And, now, I can no longer recoup the financial losses I voluntarily gave up to help maintain our good faith. I wrote out family recipes that he could refer to when learning to cook for his children. He'd never done it before, as I'd always taken care of that. I made him an excel spreadsheet to help him with monthly household finances. Again, something I'd always handled. I went through the medicine cabinet with him, instructing him on first aid and basic medical information.

You see, he and I were to share custody of the children. He believed he could be as good a parent to them as I was. I was less sure. But I knew that he needed them then. That if I took everything away, the likelihood of him conquering his demons would be slim to none. And that they, because they loved him, needed him, through this, too. So it was with some trepidation, that I agreed to give it a try.

The first few months were difficult, but he wasn't openly hostile to me. I believe, now, that it was primarily because he hoped that we could still reconcile. But after I met him for lunch one day, and told him (out of respect) that Highlander was moving to River City and that we intended to begin a relationship, all of that was over. He no longer felt he had to keep his promises to me. And he certainly no longer considered me a friend.

It was then that I believe he had a relapse. I didn't know it, for sure, at the time, but I've come to. I suspected it. In fact, I asked him straight out then. And he denied it. Repeatedly and staunchly. And with no hesitation. No difficulty lying to me at all. After everything I'd done to help him, to make things as easy on him as I could. And he continues to lie to me today. Better, he has the audacity to tell me that he doesn't understand why I can't trust him.

I've had some doubts, as late. Feeling rather stupid for allowing myself to be duped by someone I once loved and trusted. And when I've talked to friends about this, they all remind me that they told me, when I was first getting the divorce that I should never have agreed to make it so easy on him. I just kept remembering that it wasn't just about me...or him...that it was about setting an example for my girls. An example that would shine above all of the bad examples I'd set previously.

But still, I've had my doubts. Doubts that what I did was right, or that I went about it the right way. Today, I got my validation. At least a little bit of it. (Oh, I got a bit of it recently, when my two oldest darling daughters recently told their father off, in front of me, reminding him, when he asked them for yet another "one more chance" that he'd been a parent for the same 16 years that I had, and that he'd had the opportunity to learn, just as I had, only he'd opted not to and had dumped all of the parenting on me. Smart girls.) Out of the blue, in the middle of a conversation between me and [Kid 2], she told me that I was her hero. And that she had a note about it on her My Space profile. And then she took me to the computer and showed it to me.

I asked her if I could link to her site, but she was reluctant. Hey, I tried...;) But she did cut and paste the information for me. And while I'm as proud of this as I can be, I'm not including it here to brag. I'm including it here because it has given me such a sense of being on the right path that I wanted to share how excited I was to get this confirmation today.


i love my mother more than anyone in this entire plane of existence. she is my hero, and it took a divorce for me to realize this, but she is.

I might have, like so many others, waited years and years to truly know...that what I did may not have been the smartest decision in some people's eyes, but it was the right decision for me and my girls. I have done what I set out to do. I have shown them that there are other options. That there can be something better. That their happiness is important. And that I am always here for them. Always.

Now, they love their father. And I have ALWAYS encouraged them to work on building their relationship with him. I've encouraged him likewise. He refuses to listen to me. He accuses me of trying to manipulate him. And believes, because I have found happiness with someone else, that I am no longer wise in the ways of motherhood. Unfortunate, because these children will only be with us for a very short while. It is the relationships that we build with them now that will determine the ones we will have in the future. His decisions have already cost him so much. He doesn't even see it. And once they are gone to college and out into the world, it will be so much more difficult to manufacture relationships. With one nearing seventeen, that will happen in the blink of an eye.

I'm grateful...very grateful...that I won't have to know, firsthand, what that is like. I wish my girls wouldn't have to either. But, I have done everything I can to make it easier for him to have this. I can't do it for him. And, I sleep well knowing that my girls have a wonderful relationship with, not only, me, but Highlander, as well. And they will be okay. I know it.

Sorry, for the excessively long post. I suppose I've needed to vent about some of this more than I'd realized. I appreciate you hanging in with me. And, again, I'm so pleased to have gotten some feedback from my girls today. Knowing that they are proud of the way I've handled things with their father through this last year and a half means alot. I needed it. I really did.

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Saturday, April 15, 2006

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

Blocking out the scenery. Breaking my mind.

Do this. Don't do that. Can't you read the sign?

I've got links today. Lots and lots of links. No theme. Not many connections. Just odd and/or interesting things I saw and wanted to share. First, I wanted to start out with some funny sign links.

Have fun making your own "For Dummies" book. Turn this link into something like...this...

Or you can put your own message on signs here,or evenhere. Kinda like these.

Moving on from there, you've certainly heard of lawn gnomes trekking across the world and the myriad of photographic evidence of their exploits. But here's a twist...or two. While duck travels is basically, the same premise, only with a duck instead of the lawn gnome, The 15 Traveling Deaths is a site where a guy chronicles his travels around the world and takes a photo of himself in various death poses wherever he goes. Just weird enough for me to appreciate.

Toilet Snorkel is just one of the Totally Absurd Inventions on this patent list. This device is to be used in case of a large building fire to allow you to get fresh (well, not smoke-laden) air to breath until rescuers can get to you.

And while we're discussing toilets, how about this news story about Jerry Garcia's toilet being stolen. The police have no leads, but the owner is offering a $250 reward.

Something kinda cool on the fashion front. Clothing made from electrochromic polymers might still be a ways off, but geeks will be embracing this stuff like crazy!

Okay, you're wearing your cool new color changing clothes at the club. You meet a hottie, but you' don't know...50 or something. And she's like 23. You know what you need. You need a Viagra Ring! Keep the goods handy so you're always ready! Now, conversely, if you're wife buys you this ring, try not to get depressed.

A fun little game I ran across. It remains to be seen, however, once he's been rousted from the House Chambers, where, indeed, Mr. DeLay will wind up. Prison, is my first thought/suggestion, but it would appear that he may still be working in Washington. The old boys take care of their own, they do.

Representative Tom Delay has announced that he is resigning. Unfortunately, he's a little reluctant to leave and is hiding in the house chambers.

Using a hammer, you have one minute to convince him that it's time for him to move on. Be careful not to hit any of the other representatives that you may come across.

For any Edgar Rice Burroughs fans out there (and I know I have one shacking up with me), here's a link to an ERB zine site that has an unbelievable library.

Lastly, just for Tony Collett, here's a Star Wars Easter Egg Hunt. (And in a somewhat related story from last Friday,

As Ghyslain Raza recalled, whenever he walked by his high school's common areas, other students would jump on tables and chant, "Star Wars Kid! Star Wars Kid!"

There would be a commotion as they shouted and poked at him, trying to get a reaction. "It was simply unbearable," he said.

An otherwise ordinary teen in this Quebec small town, Mr. Raza had become a worldwide object of ridicule when schoolmates put on the Internet a video of him clumsily pretending to be a Star Wars character.

Three years later, Mr. Raza and his parents this week reached an out-of-court settlement with the families of three former schoolmates they had sued for $351,000 in damages.)

I hope everyone has a great weekend and Happy Easter (if you're celebrating it)!

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Friday, April 14, 2006

Flashback Friday!

How about some "mini-flashbacks" for this Flashback Friday? I had a few things that aren't really worthy of an entire Flashback Friday by themselves, but are deserving of a little air time nonetheless. And just so there will be a "theme" of sorts, they all relate to my ex-husband in some way or another.

* When my ex and I became engaged, he called my dad to "semi-formally" (we'd been living together for about 6 months at this point) ask for my hand in marriage. He said to my dad, "Sir, I'm really only doing this so that I can get closer to you." I thought it was funny. My dad didn't quite see the humor.

* Once, after my ex had been laid off, I approached him about getting him a job at the construction company where I was working. "Doing what?", he asked. "Cause I'm not digging ditches or carrying lumber or anything like that." (meaning anything 'menial' like that, of course). And so, I asked at work and found a job (on a prevailing wage site) where he could make $14/hr. (10 years ago) to be a general laborer. General laborers do whatever needs to be done. Which could very well include digging ditches and carrying lumber. When I told him what he would be making he completely changed his tune. The job lasted about six months or so. I don't think he ever saw a paycheck from the company, as I snagged them at the office before his ever got out to the jobsite. As the superintendent was handing out checks each week, he'd have one for each of the guys, and when he'd get to my ex, he'd just kind of shrug his shoulders and say "Sorry, man, your old lady got yours again." And, like construction guys do, they would give my ex shit about it.

* During the time when my ex was working the construction gig, many nights he came home really sore. Muscle aches from doing so much manual labor, primarily. I had a tube of Ben Gay in the medicine cabinet and, on one evening when he was complaining particularly vociferously, I grabbed it out and rubbed it into his shoulders for him. I wiped my hands off really well (NOTE: BUT DID NOT WASH THEM THOROUGHLY) and, well, one thing led to another and before I knew it, we were treating blistering chemical burns on his genitalia that took weeks to heal. Please don't do this at home. Always stop after handling anything this strong to thoroughly wash your hands before doing anything else. Even if you're really excited. Somebody could get hurt.

* When my ex (Mike) and I were first dating, he happened to be at my parents' house one weekend afternoon. My dad, my ex and I were shooting pool in the basement, when my ex decided to tell a joke. It had a curse word in it. "Damn", I think it was. And my dad, who raised us in a house where men didn't use foul language around women (which is hysterical given my repertoire...but anyway), said to him, "Mark, we don't use that kind of language around here." Which cracked me up, because we'd been dating for months at that point and my dad still didn't know my ex's name. Or, perhaps, he did and just wanted to treat him as insignificant. I still don't know for sure. But, it was pretty funny.

* One of the things that strikes most people about my ex is this next snippet. My oldest daughter is sixteen. She'll turn 17 in May. So, let's say she's had 16 Christmases, so far. And, as she's the oldest, my ex and I have had 16 opportunities to enjoy Christmas morning with our children. Except that, after staying up all night wrapping things, and stuffing stockings, and putting things together, we (like every other parent in America, I'd wager) were pretty beat Christmas morning. Factor in that he liked his dope a little too much and guess what, he'd take the opportunity to sleep in on Christmas mornings. Wasn't important to him to get up and watch his kids rip through the gifts and goodies. He'd wander through, about 10AM and ask them what they'd gotten from Santa. But, he never wanted to get up and see that first fifteen minutes. It's a fifteen minute period that I plan for months ahead of time. And I still can't believe he'd voluntarily give it up every year. But he did.

* In an effort to provide equal time, on the heels of that bad thing about my ex, here's one of my favorite good things about my ex. When my littlest bit was born, she was entirely too early and spent the first two months of her existence clinging to life in the NICU. On the first day that I was able to be wheeled from my hospital, across the pedway into the children's hospital across the street, to see her, he took me. I sat there, in my wheelchair, looking at her through the plexiglass side of the incubator. Way too many tubes and wires and gizmos hooked up to her fragile little body. I had never seen anything like it and I was scared to death. Her little hat was pulled down over her eyes and she had a ventilator taped to her mouth and her little head was about half as big as my fist. I sat and watched her. Not knowing what to do. Feeling utterly, utterly helpless. And feeling the tears welling up in my eyes as I did it. And my ex, very calmly, very sweetly, took my hand and said, "You have to touch her. It will help her if she feels your touch. And talk to her, too." And he placed my hand inside one of the portals in the incubator and stroked it across her tiny hand. I continued to cry as I sat there, not being able to do more than touch my daughter's delicate skin inside the incubator and talk gently to her. But, I always appreciated that he helped me remember to be a mother that day. That very, very difficult day. Because I wasn't doing it. I was too busy falling apart when my baby needed me.

* I greatly miss riding my ex's motorcycle. As soon as the weather would start warming up, he'd pull it out and get it going and we'd spend every weekend touring around on that old Yamaha. I love the feeling. The Yamaha wasn't the first motorcycle he had while we were together. The first one lasted for quite a few years before it finally gave up the ghost. I believe it was a Honda, but couldn't tell you the year. He bought it the second summer I ever knew him from a neighbor (and friend) down the street. I remember one specific ride, out near my parents house on the east side of town, years before we married. A lovely day and we'd been riding for a couple hours. We stopped at a little lake and as I got off the bike, the inside of my right calf (and I'd worn shorts and flip flops for this expedition) touched the exhaust pipe on that side of the motorcycle. And in the second it took me to move it (it was hot, I was going fast), my leg had burned, blistered and peeled, leaving a piece of my skin on the pipe that was slightly larger than a half dollar. Man, did THAT hurt!! As soon as my freak out was over, we got back on the bike and headed for my parents' house. The air rushing over the open wound, as we did so, was excrutiating. My dad, luckily, had some silver nitrate cream he'd used after a recent skin-grafting procedure and I started applying it regularly. The burn healed up nicely, but I thought I'd always have a scar there. The silver nitrate cream is all that, though. It took a few years, but the scar finally disappeared entirely. Needless to say, I NEVER wore shorts or flip flops when riding motorcycle again. And now that my older girls are riding with their dad, I have worn that story out to the point where they won't do it either!!

Okay, that's all the flash you get today. Yeah, I realize I spent twenty years with him, I should have LOTS more stories. And, I do. And maybe, someday, I'll share some more. But, for now,'s all, folks! Have a great weekend!!


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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Life's Evolving Door

I remember, that as a kid, I used to love to play with klackers. I had a couple sets. Some really cool clear blue ones, and another set of purple ones. I lost them both years and years ago. I don't often, but when I see them now, I get nostalgic. I really have no desire to run out and get a set. I'd be over them again in about five minutes. I outgrew them long ago.

Just like I outgrew watching "Scooby Doo" on Saturday mornings, and Nik'l Nip wax bottles, and mood rings, and David Cassidy, and riding on the handlebars of my friends' bikes.

As I got older, I outgrew wearing platform shoes and getting drunk on purpose. I outgrew staying out all night and trying to go to work the next day with no sleep.

I've outgrown alot of things in 43 years. Like most people (I'd imagine), I don't usually think much about it, when I'm doing it. I feel I've gotten better with age, and if that means outgrowing some things, I suppose that's okay.

Last weekend, I realized I've outgrown an old friend. Someone I had considered a friend for 28 years, even though I hadn't seen her face to face for maybe 15 of those years.

When we went to high school together, she and I were pretty tight. She was one of the four of us girls that did everything together. And I thought we had so much in common. Even then, she was the one of us who was the wildest and had the biggest mean streak, but I suppose the rest of us balanced it out.

But now, well, it's painfully obvious how far we've grown apart. She pulled out pictures of her kids to show me, and her 6 and 8 year old daughters had make-up caked on their little cherubic faces. Cheerleading camp. But, she said, they almost always wear it anyway. They like it. A throw back from beauty pagent competitions. ::sigh::

I offered her some dessert and she mentioned that she didn't cook much. That her kids lived on McDonald's burgers and fries. They'd be quite surprised to find anything home-cooked in front of them. And probably wouldn't eat it. Her full-term normal six year old, weighs the same as my micro-preemie, still underweight, six year old. ::sigh::

Maybe I'm just a snob when it comes to parenting. I try not to be. I do realize that everyone has their own way to do it. That, no one way is right. Just as all children are individuals, the approach you must take to raise them should be as well. And, beyond that, I don't want a world of autonomatron children. Where each of them is identical (and interchangeable) with any other one. And I know, that to get that result, different approaches must be used.

Now, my friend looked basically the same as she did in high school. Oh, she had a few wrinkles around the eyes and had picked up a little weight. But, I couldn't dismiss that she was the same girl. And as she sat there, talking about an episode of "Dr. 90210" (her favorite show...::sigh::) that she'd seen recently, all of the things we had in common just kept falling away, little by little.

It was a little sad. Maybe more than a little. Clearly, there's not much left between us. It's funny how we, as humans, have a want to hold tight to those things from our past. But, when we look them squarely in the face, we have no idea why we would want them now at all. Novelty's sake at best. Which is shallow and, definitely, unkind.

You grow. You learn. You change. You mature. And as you do, you presume that everyone else from your past does the same. And while you aren't together during the time you're growing and learning and changing and maturing, you're sure that you're somehow independently reaching the same results. Why do we assume that? It's the individual experiences that shape us, isn't it? And, even if, by some strange coincidence, those people from our past did have the exact experiences that we did, why should we expect that they'd turn out the same anyway. It's not as if we were the same person to start with.

Somehow, though, our mind overrides all of that logic, and produces genuine surprise (and then a little remorse) when it doesn't turn out that our assumptions were correct. Which is strange. Because, we're intelligent people, after all. It would have been abnormal to get the results we had imagined.

Is it that our youth takes a 'ding' because of how these friends turned out? Are we taking blame, in some way, for not being there more? For failing to provide more of an influence to help guide them down different paths. (Boy, that sounds rather immodest. Ugh!!) What is it that makes us feel this sense of loss when this happens? How do I outgrow that?

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Now All I Need is a Three-Headed Dog

Monday and Tuesday were gorgeous here in River City. Warm and sunny. Barely a hint of wind. Today. Warm we got. Sunny...not so much. But the wind, right now, is something else!! It's too bad I can't tell Highlander to "go fly a kite", because he's at work. But, the weather is perfect for it, and, honestly, I know he wants to.

I had to run down to 'Hell' to meet someone from the City. (We've begun to have some issues with graffiti and the City has a program where they'll take care of getting rid of it on private property in the downtown area.) He was lost and couldn't find the property. Gee. I gave him the address. And that it's literally on the corner of two major streets (and I even told him which two major streets). And that it's across the street from a pretty major landmark here in River City. And still he's telling me that he can't find it. Okay. Okay. I'm 10 blocks away. I'll stop what I'm doing and head down there and help you. So, I drive down to 'Hell' and he's, of course, no where to be found. I walk up to the next block and there he is. Idiots. I point blank told him the street address and the cross street.


So, we walk back down to 'Hell', and I walk him around and show him the three areas where we have graffiti and the wind is just whipping my hair all over the place while we're doing it. Now, this morning, I was running a little late. And so, since my hair wasn't too wild, I opted not to curl my curly hair and just go with the tousled look.

But now.

After walking around in the wind for half an hour.

I've got the Medusa look.

I'm thinking that Medusa works really well for 'Hell', actually. So, I shouldn't complain. Right? Even if I don't really like snakes very much.

There will be no pictures of me with my new 'do. But, you know how your old Barbie doll that hadn't seen a brush in decades looked? Well, that's close.

It's more...kinda like this...

I may need to run home at lunch.

And get a hat.

Or some hedge trimmers.

Or something.

What do snakes eat anyway?

Man, I'm feeling for the chicks in Chicago.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Hippity Hoppity

Yeah, yeah, you've all seen that cartoon. It's dated, but it still cracks me up. And when I was looking for something seasonal, I just had to use it. You know it's funny. Admit it.

As a child, I greatly enjoyed Easter. Rubbing the sleep out of my bleary eyes as I stumbled to the living room early Easter morning, where I knew a basket of goodies would be waiting. Gorging myself on candy and then everyone heading outside to hunt the colored eggs I'd helped my mom dye the night before.

What's that you say? Easter is a 'religious' holiday? Well, huh. When I was a kid, I suppose I knew that Easter had something to do with Jesus' resurrection, but we didn't go to church or sing Easter hymns or even pray. We did wear funny hats (and my younger sister has the pictures to prove it), scratchy dresses and patent leather shoes to go hunt pastel eggs in the yard. Which always seemed odd to me, but hey, tradition doesn't always make sense. Especially when you're a kid. I mean, hey, when you're 7, there's no logic to hanging a sock over the fireplace on Christmas. But, you do it as soon as you figure out that someone's gonna fill it with goodies, and you don't ask no questions.

Now, at my house, there was always egg salad sandwiches for lunch on Easter (since there was always an abundance of boiled eggs) and my mom would bake a ham for dinner. My family always did excel at holidays that involve eating. So, basically, Easter, for me, was a nice spring day, full of candy and wearing uncomfortable clothes to hunt eggs.

For my kids it's virtually the same. When I was married to their dad, we'd go to Easter mass some years (probably 5 or 6 times in the last 16 years), and maybe visit his family (before his parents became infirmed), but otherwise, that was about it.

When my older girls were quite young, I took wicker baskets and painted one for each of them. And I (well, the bunny, I mean) have filled those same baskets for them every year since. [Kid 1}'s basket has large brightly colored Easter eggs all the way around. Striped and polka dotted in pinks and purples and greens and blues. [Kid 2]'s basket is square and has two sides that are painted in alternating pastel stripes and two sides that have a brown bunny face. When [Kid 3] came along, I couldn't leave her out, so I painted her one up with Easter candy all around. Jelly beans (even a few black ones, though no one at my house would eat the black jelly beans on a bet) and chocolate bunnies. It would appear that I need to come up with a design for one more. Not for a child. But for my very loveable kid-at-heart.

I pulled the girls' baskets out of the closet yesterday. And have bought most of the goodies that need to go inside them. I plan to finish on Friday with a couple small trinkets I need to pick up. And I need to do grocery shopping then as well, so I can get all the fixins for my ham dinner. The egg salad sandwiches don't go over well with my kids. And so, because I'm about the only one who eats boiled eggs, the dying of the eggs has kind of fallen by the wayside. The plastic eggs, filled with treats, have replaced the hen fruit. A little sad. But, that's the way these things go sometimes. Oh, I held out for a while, doing some boiled eggs and some plastic eggs. But, the kids don't even look for the boiled eggs and just leave them out there for animals to eat. It just seemed like such a waste of time, when they didn't get out of it what I had. Not sure why I started pining about Easter eggs. It's not where I meant to end up. Ah, how these tangents just sneak up on you!

So, let's shift gears a little. A few Easter links that may be of use or may just amuse. It matters not to me.

I know it's a touchy subject with some people, but I'm a peep kinda girl. My dad loves the peeps. In fact, he has a bit of a peep monkey on his back. If anyone knows of a 12 step peep program, please forward me the information. This has really become a thing now that you can get peeps virtually year-round! I don't have nearly that problem. And I now there are schools of thought that swear that peeps are best eaten slightly stale. I say "BAH!" to these faux peepophiles. Peeps must (must, I say) be eaten when they are at their soft and squishy freshest. Now being a traditionalist about these things, I will only eat peeps at Easter. And only a few. But, if you don't like peeps. Perhaps this link of Peep Jousting will be a more appropriate outlet for you.

And, while we are on the topic of Easter candy, a very funny blog post from Tequila Mockingbird last Easter was memorable enough that I wanted to include it here. I can't get just the single post, so scroll down, just slightly, to her March 15th post. Funny, funny lady. Too bad she's not blogging much anymore. But, I'm imagining it's because she's moved on to much bigger things, so that can't be bad.

The gays are taking over the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. It should be a good time for the Bush family. I'd love to hear that Cheney's daughter was somehow involved. If that's not enough Easter Egg fun for you, try Cap'n Wacky's Extreme Easter Egg Hunt! Love the one of the kid hunting an egg on the railroad tracks as a train is barreling down on her. Not real, of course, but I liked it anyway. And, hey, it's not just kids that enjoy a little egg hunt now and again. How about the hounds? An Easter egg hunt for dogs and me with no pets.

Perhaps an Easter game, of sorts? It's Bunny Hunt. You shoot the bunnies and tally up the score.

All right, that's all you get. It's time to pull out those white shoes and hit them with a coat of polish. Run down to the drug store and get a chocolate bunny. And get ready for the wafting fumes of hot vinegar and boiled eggs. 'Cause in just a few days, it's Easter. Ready or not. And, try not to eat candy 'til you puke this year. Okay?

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