The Oral Report

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

My Photo
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, September 29, 2006

Flashback Friday!

This week’s Flashback Friday! is more of a Flash Forward (well, from a Flash "back", forward, anyway). Most of you have been around long enough to know this whole story (in fact, many of you long before the beginning of this crap). You know who you are and you are all excused. Go play or something. The rest of you, please be advised that my blog is where I come to vent. Not that any of this is false, but it’s certainly bound to be more than a little one-sided.

Early this year, my oldest daughters were at a nexus in their relationship with their father. They’d had some pretty serious issues with him, but there had been a proverbial “last straw”. Because of that, they, BEGGED, to make some changes to the custody. It wasn't an isolated incident (though, his last blow-up certainly could have seemed like one). It wasn't something that had been a short time coming, either. It was, IN FACT, a problem that had been escalating for over a year. (A problem they had with him showing inadequate respect to them and some pretty significant trust issues in both directions, to put it as succinctly as possible.)

So, in February, when the wheels came off the bus, I called him. I reminded him how many times, in the past year, that I had suggested to him to work on his relationship with his children and to seek some counseling for his temper issues. I reminded him how many times, in the past year, that I had talked to the girls about giving him 'another' chance and allowing him time to figure out how to be their father. And I told him that I wasn't going to do it any more, certainly not at the expense of their mental health.

During that same year, what I had received from him in return for my help was spite and hurtful behavior that I'd neither earned, nor deserved. And I was no longer willing to damage MY relationship with my children by not taking their concerns more seriously.

It was then that I asked him to seriously consider making some changes to the custody schedule. You would have thought I’d asked him to poke out his own eye. I was advised, in CLEARLY uncooperative tones, that there was "no way" he would "roll over" on this issue and that he'd take it as far as he had to and fight it as long and as hard as he had to, to keep me from making any changes. HE deserved to spend time with them as much as I did. You may note that there is a significant lack of concern about THEM in there.

I sighed, asked him to reconsider, to think about what THEY needed and to try to do whatever he could to salvage his relationship with them, and to think about what further damage he would do if he pursued it in the manner he suggested. To all of us. He made it abundantly clear that this would be a fight to the death.

And so, it began.

I contacted my lawyer soon after and we set a course. For two months, while various motions were flying back and forth, I suggested sitting down and talking about it and taking the (VERY expensive) lawyers out of the equation. He refused to acknowledge a problem at all, and reiterated that the problem was MY making, because I allowed the children to escape from the non-problems at his house to me.

The judge ordered us to mediation, which was yet ANOTHER unnecessary expense on the ever-mounting list. The mediation did no good, as he refused to consider what the children wanted and had expressed that they needed. And so, the mediator suggested that maybe we should sit down, with our children, and discuss the issue.

Wow. Only two months after we'd started. And only after numerous failed attempts by me to persuade him to do the very same thing. I guess finally having a paid professional suggest it made it somehow more valid. Maybe it was more that he didn’t want to appear uncooperative in front of them. I don’t know.

It was the most grueling conversation I've ever borne witness to in my life. Bar none. My children, clearly emotional, demanding that their father respect their wishes in this. Making it clear how hurt they were that he refused to. Crying. Yelling. Begging. It was difficult to witness. Very difficult.

Saddest of all is that it was entirely similar (though on a lesser emotional scale) to the many conversations they’d had with me over the previous year. Again, this was a long time in the making. And I’d offered NUMEROUS suggestions to help all of them…specifically him. Mostly, I was told that there wasn’t a problem and it was none of my business. Denial is such a dangerous thing.

He was angry. And hurt. And likely more than a little jealous (at least that’s what his current girlfriend supposed to me some time back, but I can believe it, based on his actions). He refused to listen to me.

And so my oldest daughters began therapy. Sitting in on several sessions (at their invitation) and talking to their therapist made it ABUNDANTLY clear what the issues were. They felt their father didn’t respect them, didn’t understand them, and didn’t trust them. And they didn’t feel they could trust him. He was simply too volatile and insensitive. It was a mess. But every two weeks, two kids went and the copays mounted and mounted…right alongside the lawyer bills.

He, of course, felt that the problems they were having were related to me and Highlander. Though, to my knowledge, he never discussed that with the girls or their therapist. Had he made the effort to learn what the problems were, he’d have learned what I learned by taking that route. Not ONE TIME had the girls ever expressed a problem with me or Highlander. Not One. Ninety percent of what they were discussing with the therapist was issues with him. The therapist was helping them learn to stand up to him more, learn to deal with his temper flare-ups, learn to deal with the feelings of inadequacy and mistrust he gave them.

Had to do it his way. Couldn’t sit down and talk it out with me and his girls. Insisted on putting us all through it. Not me that made that choice. HIM. All him.

After the girls had made it clear to him what the problems were, it wasn’t long before he acquiesced. I was told that he expressed that it had been difficult to sit through, but that he had been talked into making the changes to the schedule based on a conversation with his girlfriend. I don’t know what finally did it. I was just happy that they were getting the relief that they so badly, and so clearly, needed.

So, as of the first of April, they came to be with me three weeks of the month and a week with him. This instead of the previous two weeks on and two weeks off we’d originally set up. He never once offered me an extra nickel to support his children.

Ironic, I suppose, since I’d taken so much less than was rightfully mine in the divorce, and had allowed the original order to be set up with no child support. I guess he felt he could continue to take advantage of my good and generous nature while continuing to spit in my face. But I’d had about as much of that as I intended to take.

In May, I talked to the girls and explained the situation to them. Told them that I wasn’t sure where things would go, but that I couldn’t financially continue to allow him to take this type of advantage of me. And, knowing that he was continuing to treat me so rudely, they completely understood. I told them that it may put a strain on their father and wanted them to understand that before I started this. That if any of that was a problem, I wanted to know. What I was told by them was that it wasn’t fair what he had done to me, and that if it made things difficult on him, he had brought it on himself. He should be made to treat me fairly.

That behind me, and with still nothing from him, I set about filing for child support. In June, he and I had a conversation in which he asked me why I hadn’t come to him to beg ask for money. I responded by asking him why he hadn’t come to me and offered any. Surely, he knew I was buying more groceries and spending more on the kids. Surely with him spending less, he had it to give.

But, still he offered nothing in excess of the amount of the (now) outdated order.

As slow as the court system moves here, we weren’t to get a court date until September. He sent me nothing extra in July, nothing extra in August. In fact, still he has not given me one extra nickel in six months on the new schedule. Not one. Not a bag of groceries. Hell, not even so much as an apple. Wanna know where I’ve gotten the extra money I’ve needed to raise his kids? Mostly from the man he most takes pleasure in mocking.

That’s right. The butt of his jokes has been the one to step up and support my ex’s children when he wouldn’t. Of course, it’s not Highlander’s responsibility to raise these kids. He’s never ONCE indicated it was a burden or that he didn’t do it willingly or lovingly. Not once. He loves the children and would never want to see them do without. Unlike their father, he realized that they’d need things during the extra time they were with us. And those things weren’t generally free.

In the meantime, the advent of the monthly lawyer fees and therapist bills had put a rather substantial hardship on me. But, still, once again, at the end of August, I had my lawyer propose a settlement that might allow us to avoid going to court and do something to stop the legal fee blood-letting we were drowning in. Him fighting the child support at all was insulting enough, but the initial settlement offer that my ex proposed was about $150/month LESS than what he was shooting for. Rather than starting at both of our optimum numbers and working toward the middle, he started on the other side of his low number.

I made a couple of VERY REASONABLE counter offers (that were turned down, btw), in an attempt to try to be fair. He’d put me in a very bad place financially by choosing this path, but it was never about hurting him. I suppose he was either insisting that he had to wait it out for some reason I do not understand, or was getting some bad advice. Whatever the case, he never made any attempts to adequately provide for his children during that time.

The standard calculations are based on the non-custodial parent having the children five days a month. He has them eight. And he didn’t think that the $160/Month I was offering him was enough to buy groceries for those three days. Well, he did, because he agreed to the number, he just felt that I needed to make MORE concessions. I needed to give up the tax deductions, too.

You see, taking a hit on the divorce, taking a hit on the child support since the split (two years ago now, btw), AND taking a hit on the new order, despite having run up a good deal of debt because he had to have things done HIS way, wasn’t enough for him. I wasn’t giving HIM enough. There's never too much for me to give, I guess.

Sooooo, when the judge dismissed his claims of financial hardship in providing for three extra days of groceries for his kids, and handed down the amount I should have been getting since the first of April (nearly three times what I’d been getting), he responded by sitting my kids down and explaining to them how I’d done all of this really bad stuff to him. The way it was expressed to me is that he made it seem I was “stealing” from him, and that I was somehow bad for not ALLOWING him to pay less than the court-ordered amount. That I was putting him in some financial peril.

What a guy! I’m sure he’s been staying up nights worrying about what he’s done to my finances while I’ve been (with Highlander’s help, of course) supporting his kids. Of course, it comes as no surprise (much as I wish I could say it did) to me that he would try to lay that malarkey on his savvy daughters.

That he would try to turn my kids against me with this nonsense sickens me. My kids have seen how he’s treated me for the past two years. My kids love their father, but they are not misled by his deceptions. And so, when he weaved his web, they listened and had little or no response. While the reality is that this judgment may, indeed, hurt him badly financially, they’ve seen how much advantage he’s taken of me not ONLY since the divorce, but for most of their lives. Seeing me stand up for what is rightfully OURS is not something they have a problem with.

And as I’ve noted repeatedly, it’s not like I haven’t given him many opportunities to make this easier on himself. Had he done what I suggested in February, the kids wouldn’t have needed therapy…the lawyer bills would have been quite minimal…and we could have easily worked out an equitable support schedule. He just adamantly refuses to listen to me when I TRY to help him. Having chosen every step on the current path, he now has the audacity to play the victim.

I did not pick the figure that the court ordered him to pay. There are standard calculations that apply based on various documentation (tax records, costs of health care premiums, etc…numbers that cannot be misconstrued) that were used to determine the amount of the support. And, in fact, I offered to take substantially less than that figure. He declined.



Once again, His. Choice.

Until he realizes that this is about ALL OF US, not just him, I don’t know that it can get better. As it is, he's asking me NOW to make concessions on what the court has ordered. Something tells me that if it had gone in his favor, and I'd asked him to do better, he'd still be doubled over laughing at me. ::sigh::

Oh, well. I’ll keep hoping things improve. It’s about all I can do. I understand he's quit reading my (and Highlander's) blogs. A step in the right direction, but, sadly, others are keeping that wound open and salted for him by reporting anything they feel needs reporting, thus keeping the agitation at maximum capacity. Not much I can do about that, though. Some people thrive on the drama, I guess.

Overall, the girls are doing much better since the new schedule has been put in place. There have been far fewer incidents with their dad and they are dealing with them much better when the (unfortunate) need arises. So, I know it was the right thing to do. And so do they. Raising them happy and healthy, dear readers, is the most important part of all of this. The rest is simply aggravating horseshit. You try to ignore it as much as you can and when you do step in it, you try to scrape it off as quickly as you can.

Now, I can start to recover financially. And that feeling is even better than I’d expected.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend. This one is my parents’ big soiree’, so we’ll be quite busy.

One tiny final note...Highlander, the girls and I have all deeply appreciated everything you've done for us, not only in the past six months, but always. Thanks for being there for us. I wish I wasn't repaying you by dragging you around this weekend. I'll try to think up something else to pay you back...;)


Click here for more!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Strike, Struck, Stricken

Ran across something today and wondered how universally known it was. Not that this readership isn't pretty darned smart, but I'm just not sure how well some of this stuff is known outside the industry.

Being the Oral Reporter, I thought it my duty it.

When you see picketers at a construction site do you assume they are employed by the firm they are picketing? I mean, based on your historical knowledge of unions and such, it doesn't seem to be a leap that those men and women carrying the picket signs are actually wronged employees of the firm they are "on strike" against.

You guys know that's not how it works, though. Right?

I mention this because, believe it or not, I had to run down to 'Hell' today at lunchtime (a quick errand and it was completely uneventful) and noticed strikers in front of the building. I didn't have to cross their line, I just happened to notice them as I drove past the building to park around back.

The first floor tenants are retail and one of them (a coffee shop/wine bar) is doing renovations and plans to open in the next week or so. Luckily, I am not working on that at all. The space sold and the new owner is responsible for the entire ordeal. My best to him.

It occurred to me, though, that if someone didn't know better, they'd assume that, because the strikers were carrying/wearing signs indicating that "BILLY BOB CONSTRUCTION Does Not Pay A Fair Wage", they were disgruntled Billy Bob Construction employees.

But they're not.

I've run across this phenomenon a GREAT deal in the last fifteen years or so. And I suppose it shocked me at first, but I've long since put it in that "yeah, whatever" category and give it barely a thought anymore.

Those strikers have NEVER been employed by Billy Bob Construction. It's possible some (or all) of them have never even worked in construction. Does that shock you?

Local carpenter unions, when they can't find work for their members, strike non-union jobs. And if their members (that aren't working on the construction job being picketed) don't want to do the actual striking themselves, the union will round up someone else to do it for them. The intention, as I understand it (and I've talked to union reps about it at length), is to force contractors to hire union workers. If they won't (or can't because of prior contractual obligations), the union will agree not to picket them...if they are paid a "donation". Can you say "extortion"? I knew you could.

Soooo, you're an unsuspecting carpenter and you sign up to be in the union. You're thinking you'll have a higher earning potential than a non-union carpenter, benefits, etc. But does the union solicit work for you? No. And by "no", I mean the union does not look into new work before it is contracted and try to get union contractors involved. They do not cultivate relationships with developers to use union shops. They simply don't care if the carpenters get work or not. It's easier for them if they can simply get the "donations".

Many union carpenters get fed up and quit the union. Not quite the same as getting out of a gang, but it leaves the union in a precarious position. Without actual carpenters, forcing the issue of employing the non-existent workers gets damned tricky. And "donations" slip off, too.

I'm not going to go into my feelings on unions in depth, except to say that I believe that, they served a great purpose at one time and were completely necessary for all of us working today.

The folks I saw at 'Hell' today, though, were not even in the union. In fact, they weren't even carpenters. They had never been employed by Billy Bob Construction in any capacity. Get this. The union had so little interest from its members in picketing, they HIRED temps to do their picketing for them.

A dozen men and women yelling enthusiastically that Billy Bob Construction treated people like crap. How the hell would they know? All they know is they're getting $5.25/hr. to walk back and forth on a piece of pavement and carry a sign. They couldn't care less about the union or the company they are picketing.

Worse, is that I don't think people driving down the street would ever realize that. And the union is manipulating us with the natural sympathy that we have for folks being mistreated to extort money. How's that for fucked up?

Click here for more!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Slightly More Than a Drop in the Bucket

I just wanted to send a note out to those of you who wished me and my girls 'good luck' on the child support front. A note from my attorney today let me know that the new order has been handed down (less than a week after court...impressive) and the amount is IN EXCESS of what we'd requested. It's WUNNERFUL news!

* Highlander (and a couple of the kids) can get some new shoes.
* We might be able to go see a movie.
* The lawyers, doctors and mechanics are hosting a party in River City tonight!
* Christmas gifts have become a real possibility again!

Much appreciation (ALWAYS) for all of your support!

Special thanks to Highlander for all of your incredible emotional support (as well as all of the financial support) you've had to provide to get us (mostly ME) through this. What would I do without you, my love?

Click here for more!

Remember Me?

Okay, gang. My apologies (up front) for what's likely to be a somewhat cryptic and incoherent post. It's not entirely intentional, I assure you. Bear with me. Please.

Another Monday from Hell this week. And though I badly wish I could just unload here and now, because I know that you guys would be immensely supportive, I cannot.

I've been considering a kind of mass email to those I know would be most concerned. But, I just haven't had much in the way of time or energy. If that changes, you may find something in your box. In any event, let's just say that River City's been kinda rough on ye olde SuperFiancee' and company.

I didn't mean to have such an absence around here, and feels like anything I write about is insignificant in the wake that I can't share. Which is enormously aggravating, I gotta tell ya.

Leaving next week for our vacation and before that is my parents' re-nuptials. Consequently, I don't have much time for reeling (or babbling) anyway.

Luckily for me, work, though busy, isn't at the insanity level. What I mean is that it's entirely plausible that I could actually get what I need to get done...done...when I need to do so.

Given the wildness of the next week, however, it's unlikely that this blog will get much attention. (There's only so much of me to go around.)

So, while we're all working at digging out around here, and moving forward with the chaos that is our life, feel free to check out some of the links to the left. All worthy reads, including Mike Norton's latest and greatest...Turn This Bus Around!

I'd like to ask a favor though. Give everyone you love a hug today. Okay? Thanks!

Click here for more!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Greetings From WaterWorld!

How's the weather up there? Monsoon-like here. Never thought I'd hear myself complain about getting 8-10 inches overnight.

But I am.

The ground is completely saturated and water is coming up in many basements. (Ours included.) Doesn't help that our upstairs neighbor didn't lock the basement door last night and it must have blown open during the storm, thus allowing even more water (than what was coming up the drain already) into the basement.

I found it submerged in about 2-3 inches of standing water this morning. The water had gone down some, but then the rain started again. And it's been raining most all day. So...guess what. It's pretty bad again. In fact, Gaming Area 1 is closed until further notice.

One of our major highways is flooded and has been closed. Some idiots out playing in the flash flooding were swept away. (This is Kentucky after all.) And, hey, we've made the national weather services' reports today.

Grab your innertubes and come on down!

Highlander had some mandatory training today and a couple girlfriends had emailed me about getting together for lunch. Not a standard Saturday, but that was okay.

My girls went back to their Dad's for a week, today, so the prospect of kicking around this place alone this afternoon was something I wasn't much looking forward to. Some time with good friends, good food and catching up with each other sounded divine, actually.

We all used to work together at my current place of employ. As it is, I'm the last one left. It was great to see them though and "P" made a scrumptuous lunch of smoked turkey quesadillas and some apple bundles (apples with butter, sugar and cinnamon, wrapped in pastry) for dessert. "M" brought a bottle of the best vermouth I've ever had. Okay, I haven't had much vermouth, so that wasn't really hard. I'd definitely recommend it, though!

Ironically, Highlander noted, beforehand, that I'd be off getting drunk with my friends while he had to work. (Funny, because I do so little drinking.) I assured him that it wasn't going to be that kind of afternoon. Lucky for me, there wasn't TWO bottles of that wine or I guarantee it would have turned into EXACTLY that kind of afternoon.

Highlander got out of his training class early, due to the weather, and we're kicking around having a pretty quiet evening at home.

Watching the rain.

And building an ark.

Pleased that we're on high ground here.

Click here for more!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Flashback Friday!

Look, Ma! No hangovers!!

While I certainly had no shortage of reasons to get drunk yesterday, nary a margarita crossed these luscious lips. Instead, embraced in the bosom of my family, I had a most lovely birthday evening...completely sober.

Generally speaking, I start thinking through a Flashback Friday! post on about Wednesday. This week was no exception in that regard. I had narrowed it down to a couple possible posts and then yesterday, with my uber-exciting day, I completely switched gears. Then, this morning, I switched them in an altogether different direction. Those of you who know me, know that this is, unfortunately, not terribly unusual. I have a penchant for overthinking things. In any event, in honor of my recent birthday, I've decided to do a few memorable (that rules out the college years...heh) mini-Flashes from the Ghost of Birthdays they are, in no particular order.

I'd been dating the Baron for just over a year, at the time of my 22nd birthday. We had very casual plans that night. I was to meet him at his place (he didn't have a car at the time) and then we'd likely go do something together. In those days, I was driving my old Ford LTD. It was missing a front bumper and had assorted dings and dents. It was my first "real" car and I LOVED it, but I had no illusions about it. It ran, but it wasn't pretty.

At the time, I was working nights at a laundrymat and didn't get finished until about 9:15. Baron was living about 15 minutes from where I worked and so I headed over there directly afterwards.

He was renting a gorgeous house in a very nice neighborhood, though it had one fairly minor drawback. Parking. There were very few driveways, so street parking (on both sides) was the norm. As I was heading up his curvy street that particular evening, a car turning from a side street had some (understandable) difficulty seeing the oncoming traffic and struck my car. The damage was minimal and I was more miffed about being late (especially since I was about a block from his house) to start my birthday soiree'.

The guy got out of his car. Looked over the damage to both cars and asked me if he could give me $100 and we could just both go on our way.

Hmmmm. My birthday. Raggedy car with minimal new damage. $100. Oh yeah. I'm in.

Can't remember what we did or where we went that night, but I remember being in a much better mood!


I've gotten much better about surprises now, but on the occasion of my 9th birthday, not so much. My mother had planned a surprise party for me and my younger sister (our birthdays are twelve days apart), that year. She had our Grandmother take us out shopping, while she got the party prep done.

When we returned home, the house was full of kids, some my friends, some my sister's. I was furious. I suppose feeling that she'd gotten something over on me. Being a complete beeyotch, I refused to attend the party and retreated to my room.

Several guests, my Mother and my Grandmother each tried to persuade me to come downstairs. But, I was having none of it, and spent the entire party holed up pouting in my room.

That'll show THEM!


The first time I ever got flowers from a man was on my 17th birthday. They were the most beautiful yellow roses. I've seen many yellow roses since, but never as lovely as the ones my father gave me that day. I remember him putting them in my arms and tenderly telling me that he had always considered seventeen a much more significant birthday than sixteen, and that he was incredibly proud of me. He made me feel like such a princess that day.


I'm sure there are others I could share, but right now, I should really get some laundry done before my kids head back to their Dad's house tomorrow. Feel free to share any amusing or poignant birthday stories that won't get you arrested.

Have a great weekend and 'God Bless us, everyone.'...;)


Click here for more!

Thursday, September 21, 2006


It was 45 degrees out when I dropped the kids off this morning. Brisk. But I LOVED it!! Here we are at another autumnal equinox. The calendar will likely tell you either that today is the last day of summer or the first day of fall. In either case, it feels like fall around here, and I couldn't be more pleased. The leaves are just starting to turn, the temps are dropping and once again begins my most favorite of seasons!

I had a few links I wanted to share with you guys. Nothing terribly exciting. Hope you find something you like.

A little something for the geeks, it's the Worst Comic Book Museum. Check to see if you may have (or need) any of these for your own collections.

What You Tube is to Video, GoEar is to Audio. You can search music categories or artists. Many times, you can also turn on a lyric feature.

Remember Toonces the Cat? Okay, if, like me, you were high at the time, you may not remember him. Toonces was a bit that ran on SNL about a cat who drove a car. Badly. Like SouthPark's Kenny, Toonces (rather predictably) would always run the car he was driving off a cliff. The same cliff. Yeah, I guess you had to be loaded to appreciate it. Anyway, if you've always wanted to know, here is a link to a whole bunch of Toonces videos. Have a few beers first. It'll help.

Harry Eng's Impossible Bottles
were new to me. But, I think they're pretty cool.

How could he get some of that stuff in a bottle?

Here's one that still has me going EWWWWW! A newstory about a Hong Kong man saved from being eaten alive by maggots. Ew! Ew! Ew!!!!

Oooh! Almost forgot the "one for Tony Collett"! An article about the recent release of the original Star Wars movies on DVD. Though you'll have to have plenty of change socked away to get 'em. And you better hurry. According to the press releases, they will only be available until the end of the year!

Speaking of movies, The Black Dahlia just opened. It's a movie I have some interest in seeing. Won't be this weekend, though. Far too much going on. Didn't know if anyone else had any plans to see it. Anyone who doesn't know the most gruesome case (and wants to), can find plenty of information here, or more condensed (and far more graphic) version here.

*They say it's your birthday! It's my birthday, too, yeah!*

That's right. I'm another year older and deeper in debt! But here are a few birthday links to take my mind off it all! A birthday calculator that will tell you everything you never wanted to know about your birthday. For instance, I was born on a Friday, during the Egyptian month of Hathys and am currently 16,071 days old.

And stop by the World Birthday Web to wish birthday greetings to the people that you meet, when you're walking down the Add your birthday and get random birthday greetings from strangers.

In "Life Just Keeps On Mocking Me" news, I have child support court this afternoon. Uh huh. On my birthday. Go figure.

Much later, that most wonderful of fiance's, Highlander, is taking me and the kiddies out for dinner at one of our many neighborhood eateries, plus he has presents for me. (YAY! Presents!!) So, I'm greatly looking forward to the celebration after the less than perfect start of this particular birthday.

Have a great last day of summer/first day of autumn, gang.

Click here for more!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Charlie's Still Hustlin'

I'm sure no one woulda guessed it, but there was a time that I considered myself a baseball fan. Oh, it's been years and it's pretty effectively worn off. Sure, there are times when I catch myself changing channels and pause, almost instinctively, as a familiar name catches my ear. Sadly, it's likely the offspring...::groan::...of someone I remember.

Living in River City, I found myself drawn to the Big Red Machine in the late 1970's. I had just a little crush on Johnny Bench. Mostly it was his eyes, but the incredible leg muscles were part of it, too.

There. I've admitted it.

My Dad, who embraces all things baseball, basketball and football, has ALWAYS been a die-hard Yankees fan. And, admittedly, mostly because I still consider myself a New Yorker, I have a sentimental affection for them as well. But, I never really considered myself a true fan.

My friends were all Reds' fans (as it's the closest major league team to River City), and I considered myself one, too. He, of only daughters and grandaughters, found some solace in the fact that at least I was enjoying baseball and, I'm sure, figured he'd get me turned around on my team alliances a little further down the road.

That day never came, though. Like so many other things from my childhood, the baseball fandom was left by the wayside. Making room for partying with my friends and for chasing boys, I suppose. Geez.

Never really a cheerleader for Pete Rose, but he was a pretty integral part of that World Championship team, so I rooted for him. I held him in some esteem, because he had been part of that special line-up with Johnny and Joe Morgan and Ken Griffey. Part of me was pleased to see him later managing the team. Part of me felt pity for anyone who had to put up with Marge Schott on a day to day basis. ::shiver::

I gotta tell you, though, the way he has handled himself through all of this gambling nonsense (and the accompanying drama of his refusal to accept any personal responsibility, fighting with commissioners, and the much later admission of guilt) has really made me wonder what the hell I was thinking in the 70's.

Pete, you were an outstanding baseball player, and maybe that's where I should leave it. As a man, sir, you simply have no character. Unfortunately, the folks over in Cooperstown take integrity and "playing by the rules" almost as seriously as they take the childhood hero thing. I realize that sticks in your craw.

I'm no expert, Pete, but I'm thinking maybe you should consider refraining from further reloading and firing at your wingtips. Aren't you out of toes by now anyway?

I guess not.

'Cause the latest is that there are baseballs you signed admitting to betting on the game being auctioned off.

Oh, Pete. When will ya learn? Can't keep a rein on your secrets if you're writing them down and flinging them out into the world!

Bad enough you did it, must you remove all doubt as to your overall intellectual prowess as well? Not to mention that you're totally screwing with my childhood memories. Hard to do the whole "remembering fondly" thing when you keep showing up in the news doing something else stupid! GAH!

Click here for more!

Aye, Matey!

Avast ye lubbers, it's Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Grab an ale and a wench and give a hearty "Yo Ho!" (but not to the wench...they don't like that stuff anymore).

Eye patches, peg legs and parrots optional.

Click here for more!

Monday, September 18, 2006


Right now, I'm laughing out loud.

[Kid 3], freshly home from a grueling day in first grade, is hopping around the living room with the bottom half of a ballerina outfit on (black tulle skirt sans tights and shoes) and the top half of a ninja outfit on (long-sleeved top and ninja mask), and shouting "HI YA!", as she does.

I asked her to change out of her school clothes. This is what she came up with.

I'm sorry.

I know I'm easily amused.

But if I had a digital camera at home, I'd have a picture up here right now that would have you grinning, too.

Surfing the net while this was going on behind me (though I should be cooking dinner...I'm slacking!) or I'd have skipped mentioning it at all. It is, quite honestly, the general level of insanity that I usually have going on in the background around here. Helps me remember what's important. And reminds me what's not.

You can never have too much laughter in your life. Don't forget how! Enjoy yourselves while you can!

Click here for more!

Only Ray Palmer Could Relate...

After reading this newstory, I couldn't understand why all the manly men in a position to do something to stop global warming and clean up the environment weren't rushing headlong at pretty much any solution offered. I gotta imagine that just the words "shrinking testicles" would be enough to motivate most of them.

Of course, it could be that it's too late for most of them already...

Click here for more!

Love is in the Air

After checking all the 'regulars' this morning, I found no less than three blogs talking about death today. Happens, I suppose. I've got a Flashback Friday! brewing that would be pretty consistent with the trend. But right now, I've got other stuff burbling in me brain!

I've got a birthday this week. (And really, that's the nothing part of this entry.) Very shortly, thereafter, my parents will be celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary. A significant milestone.

When I was a kid, I used to accuse them of marrying after I was born. The reality is (and I've seen the marriage license and my birth certificate...I was that kind of kid) I was almost (9 days early) a first anniversary gift. Ironically, my sister was almost a second anniversary gift, overshooting the mark by 3 days with her arrival.

My mom was 17 when she married my (then 20 year old) dad. They were married by a justice of the peace in a photography studio. No fancy dress. No wedding cake. No big party. Clearly, the 'smit' took precedence over waiting for them to be able to afford such extravagances.

This year, to celebrate their tenacity, they are renewing their wedding vows. Appropriate, I suppose. They are not, thankfully (for tact's sake, anyway), attempting to 'recreate' the wedding they missed. This ceremony will be grander than the original, but we are keeping in mind that it's not a wedding.

My younger sister and I have been helping to advise and coordinate. (She taking more of the lead than I have.) It's been interesting. I'm loving watching my parents get so excited about this.

This weekend, I bought the silk flowers that I used to make my mother's bouquet and my father's boutonniere. That still sounds odd to me, even though I finished them both last night (with Highlander's help). I think they will both be pleased with the finished products.

My mother's dress is a deep purple and I found some silk hydrangeas that were a purple and cream and pale pink, that I thought would be gorgeous. A couple accent flowers and some ribbons and it was done.

For dad, I bought a single purple rose that complements the colors of my mother's flowers and her dress, and attached one of the (less feminine) accent flowers to it and wrapped the stem. Voila'. It should look pretty spiffy with his gray suit.

Next on my "To Do" list for Mom & Dad's ceremony is typing up the vows they've written to each other. For two people who have lived a lifetime of bickering, they both have pretty tender hearts. I'm also in charge of finding a poem (any suggestions would be gratefully appreciated, btw) for [Kid 1] to read at the service (at their church).

As they want to have all four of their grandkids participate, [Kid 2] has volunteered to hand out programs to guests, and [Kid 3]'s near constant begging to be a flower girl has her standing beside my mother to hold her flowers for her. My twenty year old niece will be running the camcorder.

Consequently, for the next couple weeks, my household will be even more chaotic than it's usual level of insanity. Making sure everyone has appropriate clothing for the event, helping decorate the church and reception hall, working on programs, dinner out with my family as a pre-event, and all the general orchestration that comes with an event like this. (Yes, Highlander will be looking for condolences. Please, don't be stingy with your love.)

The trickiest part, for me, is that we leave for our vacation a (very) few days later. Whew! I'll definitely be NEEDING a vacation!

Click here for more!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A Public Service Announcement

Luckily, Popeye is into the canned spinach thing, else he'd be in for a spot of trouble. For those of you who buy the bagged (presumably ready to eat) stuff, please check this link.

Click here for more!

Friday, September 15, 2006

It's a Flashback Friday! BONUS Flashback!!

That's right, you lucky guys and gals! Here's a BONUS Flashback, just 'cause you're the best! Anybody remember this?

Smash Up Derby toy TV commercial


Click here for more!

Flashback Friday!

Highlander and I have been making plans, of late, for our upcoming sojourn to the land of Hurricanes. Still a few weeks away, but, well, neither of us are the sorts to wait ‘til the last minute on this stuff. Of course, if you factor in that we’re both pretty excited about making this trip, that only kicks up the organizational plan that much more!

With all of that starting up, it seemed to suggest a travelogue piece for this weeks’ Flashback Friday! Not one to disappoint, I submit to you a little something about visiting the St. Louis Gateway Arch.

River City isn’t terribly far from St. Louis. Having lived here as long as I have now, I’ve been to St. Louis a few times. The first was with some girlfriends when I was in high school (a VERY fun trip, I assure you). The last time with my ex and my girls. That’s the one I’d like to share with you today.

Now I don’t want you to get the impression, before I even start, that it wasn’t a fun trip. It was. Just not the same as three teenaged girls let loose in a strange town. Some of you may understand that phenomenon better than others.

Before I digress any further, let me get to the matter at hand.

This flashback goes back about four years. The kids were 14, 12 and 2. My ex and I had decided, because money was (as usual) pretty tight, to take a few day trips over the summer, rather than trying to afford a vacation. One of those day trips was to visit the St. Louis Arch.

A pretty impressive structure, even if minimalism isn't your thing. At 630' at it's peak, it's more than twice the size of Lady Liberty.

Standing at it's base, looking toward the top, you can't help but be awed.

Riding to the top (in their innovative tram system) is an adventure, but it's one well worth undertaking. The view from the top is nothing short of spectacular.

And so, on that summery August day, we embarked on our day trip to see the sites from the top of the Arch.

The trip there was largely uneventful and when we arrived, we parked (the photo I've included actually shows how far away the closest parking lot was located), popped [Kid 3] into her stroller and headed up to the Arch.

At the base of the arch, underground, there are gift shops and ticket counters and a museum about the history of the Arch and the "opening" of the west through St. Louis. We bought our tickets and, as they were for an upcoming time, we decided to wander the museum and shops. It was all very touristy.

When it became time for our group to trek to the top, we grabbed our place in line and proceeded toward the trams. I gotta tell ya, though, those things are like very strange elevators. The doors open and it's like a little booth inside. Had [Kid 3] been much bigger we'd likely have had to split up into two trams.

Just as we approached the front of the line, though, the young lady who was taking tickets advised us that strollers were not allowed on the trams. Ever helpful, she pointed to a nearby area where half a dozen strollers were parked and advised me that we could leave it there, it would be no problem.

And so we did.

The laborious ascent took several minutes as the tram rocked back and forth climbing the curved leg of the arch. Once we reached the top, there were large windows on both sides. One overlooking the river, the other overlooking the city. Quite breath-taking, even for someone with a little agoraphobia thing going on.

We enjoyed ourselves. My ex took some photos. The kids "oohed" and "ahhed", and then we were directed to the other side of the arch for our descent. Upon arriving at ground level, we walked across to where we had left the stroller and planned to head out.

Alas, our little umbrella stroller was not in the area we'd been instructed to use. There were other strollers. Just not ours. I inquired with the young lady taking tickets as to where my stroller was. I was advised that I was, perhaps, confused as to location and that I should check the other side.

I knew damned well that I hadn't left it on the other side, but, being in an unfamiliar place, I felt it enough of a possibility that we walked back to the other side to check. Nothing there. While there, I inquired with the appropriate party on that side, and he advised that if we came up on the other side, it would likely be there. Helpful. All of them.

Now, there were throngs of people there. So, walking back and forth involved parting the red sea with a tiny toddler in tow. We were tired. We were ready to go home. And, well, I was starting to feel as if I were being fucked with.

Once on the other side, a different employee was now shepherding visitors to the tram entrances. I asked her about the stroller. Of course, she had no idea. So, I quickly brought her up to speed on what had occurred since she clocked in. No sense enjoying this 'fun' alone.

She advised me, rather of matter of factly, that the park was not responsible for lost items, including strollers and she couldn't help me any further. I advised her that I wasn't leaving until I had my stroller or had been reimbursed for it. A park employee had instructed me to leave the stroller in a designated area and I had followed those instructions and now I had no stroller.

I could feel the skates lacing themselves onto my feet. The employee advised me to file a report at the ranger station and perhaps they could help, and then she directed me to the station.

My ex could see the look in my eye. Without a word between us, I heard him tell the children, "You wait here with me. Your mommy can take care of it."

I talked to two different people at the ranger's office and then was escorted by one ranger back to each side of the arch to "make sure I hadn't overlooked" the stroller. GAH! My face was getting red. I know it. They were just wasting time.

Mr. Ranger and I talked to the female employee who had referred me in the first place. She had no idea where the stroller was. Yeah. Been here already. Making absolutely no progress. I was clear, and unyielding, and focused, and stern. I didn't cuss. Not once. But I was not pleasant company and I could tell that both of them would like to be done with me.

The ranger took me back to his office to fill out a report. Gee, there's an idea. It happened to be adjacent to the employee break room. Which, by the way, had no door. So, I was standing there, describing the stroller and the incident to the clerk at the ranger's office through a window. In the background, I could hear people talking. I wasn't paying much attention until I heard a juxtaposition between the words "bitch" and "stroller", and I turned to see the young lady I'd been speaking to not more than five minutes prior. Of course, she and I had spoken a few times that day.

She was regaling her fellow employees about the horror that was me. What an evil bitch I was. I walked away from the window and closer to the employees seated at the table. Her back was to me and she didn't see me approach, but I announced myself.

After she commented that "I hope that bitch has gone back to Kentucky by now.", I advised her that I had not. That "the bitch", in fact, was right there. The eyes of her fellow employees widened and she turned slowly. I looked her in the eye and then turned and walked the few steps back to the ranger's station.

Of course, the hushed whispers were coming in a flurry in the break room after that. I didn't care. I'd done what had been asked of me and now my property was gone. Granted it wasn't an expensive stroller, but my LAST...child was two. Investing in a new stroller, at that point, was a waste, as far as I was concerned.

I left that day without my stroller.

I did not make it easy or painless for them to do that to me. I filed a stolen property report and obtained the address and telephone number of the officials I could contact to seek further satisfaction. And I let everyone there know that I was...unhappy. I'm pretty sure I made an impression, but I'm equally sure they were delighted to see me go.

As I noted, the stroller wasn't expensive, but it was something we used daily. Buying a new one for a child who would soon outgrow it, in a situation where we were not going to have any more children was just foolish. I sent two letters and made three phone calls, but I finally (three months later) got a check from the Missouri Parks Department. A check that I had been initially assured, I would NEVER see. Of course, in the meantime, we had picked up a second hand stroller at a yard sale.

A memorable trip to be sure. Honestly, the biggest part of the trip was quite lovely. It was just that last part that stung a little.

Ironically, my older daughters have mentioned, subsequently, that they were impressed sitting and watching me handle the situation. Not sure it's the behavior I'd most want to model for them, but I suppose refusing to be a doormat is something I'd like to impart. Showing them that you can be both nurturing and strong.

Funny, we intended it to be an educational trip. I guess you don't always think about just how much (or what kind of) education a vacation can offer.

NOTE: Thanks to one and all for your positive energies/thoughts/prayers. I'm well on the road to recovery and am feeling much, much better.


Click here for more!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

What You Knew and When

I wanted to share a little local news update. Probably nothing you guys are following, but it was interesting to me. And, hey, that's what's important around here, right?

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned a newstory about a plane crash near River City. Today, a story came out about an air traffic controller sending letters to our two state senators. One of the them the state senator who recently sent me a response to my letter to him on stem cell research, letting me know he didn't give a rat's ass what I thought. Obviously, I've got alot of company in my group of noisy know-nothings.

People here won't like it much if they think that the potentially life-threatening problem was brought to the attention of their elected officials, and then promptly ignored...until 49 people died. You can't much blame them.

Just wanted to share an interesting twist to this story that is still very much news here in River City.

Click here for more!

Blue Oyster Cult - Don't Fear The Reaper

One for my Baby! Thanks for all your help lately. I love you!!

(See I AM feeling better. I'm even back at You Tube!)

Click here for more!

Did Anyone Get The License Plate Number of That Bus?

Whew! Rough few days here in River City, guys and gals! But, hey, here I am upright (mostly) and coherent (partially) and just wanted to throw something up here...uh, let me rephrase that...just wanted to give you guys notice that reports of my death have been largely exaggerated.

Some kind of nasty respiratory infection has had me in it's grips for the last three days now, but I'm definitely on the mend. And, yes, Mike Norton, it's all due to the wonder of my dear friend zithromax. My apologies to those of you who think that we (as a people) or me (individually) overuse antibiotics. I won't deny that I rely heavily on them, but, man, oh man, they do the trick.

Still home today, but, barring something ELSE unforeseen, I should be back to work tomorrow. Luckily, I was pretty well caught up with everything the end of last week. It will be interesting to see what's waiting for me when I get back, though.

I've been watching a great lot of season 1 DEADWOOD on tv while convalescing. Funny how much of it (given the short length of the series) that I'd forgotten. Or, not really forgotten, but moved past and considered insignificant as I did. Richardson was smarter in season 1. I didn't even remember him being there. I didn't remember Con hanging out at the #10. I didn't remember him at all until he showed up at the Bella Union. Oh, well. Could be the fever, too. I don't know.

I had intended to do a little post today reminding everyone to "get their gobblefunk on". As today is the very first ever Roald Dahl Day!

An author who was dear to my heart as a child, Roald Dahl enlisted children in all kinds of terrible situations and gave them the tools to overcome all odds. Sure, that may be a little unrealistic, but he certainly taught me to dream big. And, I can't think of a better gift for a child.

His book, JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, was banned in 1995 from Stafford County, Virginia classrooms because "it teaches children to disobey adults". 1995.

::shaking my head::

I don't suppose it matters that the adults in this story are horrid, hateful women who NEED to be disobeyed. It doesn't appear to matter that teaching children to make decisions for themselves in the face of such a situation is a GOOD thing. No. No. Conformity in all things is the way.

This book and MATILDA and CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY were such a big part of my childhood. If you are a fan, I didn't want you to be left out.

Okay, I'm gonna go lie back down for a while. Feeling a little tired. And while he has noted it on his own blog a couple times, let me state, for the record (and/or for all those doubters out there), that Highlander has been taking the most superb care of me while I'll been ill. I could never ask for someone more supportive and caring. Thanks, Sweetie. You ARE the best!

Click here for more!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Two Thousand Nine Hundred Ninety Six

When I was about 9 years old, I asked for, and received, a POW bracelet. For the unintiated, it was a simple metal band, with the name, rank and serial number of an American soldier who was a Prisoner Of War (during the Vietnam War) stamped into it. It was a way to remember the Prisoners of War on a much, much more personal level, and it was something I felt strongly about. I lost the bracelet years ago, though I wish I still had it. It left a definite mark on my childhood. The name on the bracelet, I do still remember. It was Charlie Brown Davis, Jr. I always thought it was a pretty funny name, which gave Charlie and I more familiarity, as opposed to him being a stranger whose name was emblazoned on a bracelet I wore for a short time in my life.

Seeing the information on that linked site (most of which is information I never had known until recently) is like finding an old friend. I had never known that he was born in Kentucky (though I was living in New York state when he and I first became 'acquainted'). But, I find that a rather ironic twist.

I mention this because these people were more than "merely names" on a rapidly increasing list during the early 1970's. They were the brothers and sons and fathers of people I knew when I grew up. While I didn't know Charlie Brown Davis, Jr. personally, I felt like somewhere he had people who loved and missed him, just as much as the people I knew loved and missed their relatives. And he and I became connected. Forever, I guess.

Several months ago, I found a link to a site where someone by the name of D.C. Roe had a notion to individually memorialize each of the 2,996 victims of the 9/11 attacks. A very daunting task, but one I felt was both admirable and worthwhile. Not losing site of the personal impact of such a tragedy is often impossible. (In fact, you can go here to see a list of all the individual tributes. Your humble Oral Reporter is blog #357. I guess that means I got in early, huh?)

So, I sent along a little note and promised that I would be happy to include a post, on this day, remembering someone who had died in that terrible tragedy. That is how I came to be introduced to Keith Eugene Coleman, five years after his death.

I felt it was a particularly rewarding cause, because the group organizing this endeavor made it clear that this was not a finger-pointing expedition. It was not a project meant to talk about the politics of the day at all. It was simply a way to honor each of those who died in a terrible tragedy. Something about that deeply appealed to much the same way the POW bracelets had. Knowing about the person behind the name on the list.

There is some basic information about Keith that can be found here. Sadly, even though he was only 34, he had a younger brother Scott who worked in the same office and suffered the same fate.

This piece gives a little more personal insight into Keith's life. His children, then 2 and six months old, will likely never remember him in their lives. As a parent myself, that hits entirely too close to home.

This was a man with a wife and two kids, getting up and going to work just like any other day...on a day that was anything but any other a famous landmark that would soon become infamous. And while the rest of the world goes on, his wife raises their children and they grow, but a hole is left behind. A hole that will always be a part of those people's lives. That's what death does. The chain reaction doesn't stop when someone dies. It starts. The effects of a death spread in ways and places you can't imagine. It affects those left behind and they, in turn, interact with others, and so it begins.

Maybe not in your world or mine, but in the lives of those who knew him personally, he is NOT just another random name on the list of the dead that day. He is a father and a son and a brother and a husband. He will be cherished and remembered not because he was a victim, but because he was a man. A man who was lost to this world too soon, and who was loved by his friends and family, and who will be missed by them. Always.

I'm thinking of Keith Coleman today.

Thinking of his family.

Wondering how they get through a day like today. I can't even imagine it.

I'm going to send some positive energy their way. And I'm hoping I'm not alone in doing it.

Click here for more!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Hitting the Links

It's been a while. Anybody up for some links?

Now with an update from the kiddies!

Nothing terribly snazzy, but since I appear to be blowing off Flashback Friday!, I had a couple things I wanted to share with you.

UPDATED: My older girls had this link that they thought was hilarious, and wanted me to share. Okay, okay, I think the likelihood that this kid could function in his "before" state without being suspect, is slim...which is what they find funny. But, I'm sorry, the grown up in me thinks it's a little scary, too.

First up, it's "8 Important Lessons Learned From 80's Cartoons".

Some people, clearly, may have picked up the entirely wrong lessons.

Couldn't call this place "The Oral Report" and let this somewhat salacious newstory slip by. Oral sex amongst teens is a trend on a serious increase. I know some of you guys are regretting that you were born too soon.

Now you can act like a four year old and be justified in doing it! This site calculates your age on other planets. Accordingly, I will soon be relocation to Mars where I am a mere 23 year old!

In the "Gotta have one for Tony Collett" category, here's a new trend for the Star Wars fans. They're called Femtroopers and they are becoming just as popular (or moreso) than Princess Leia in her infamously sexy outfit. Wonder where the geek blogs will take this one.

Yeah, you know what, I really don't have to...

According to Like Better, based on the photos I liked better, their crack virtual psychoanalysts were able to determine that I'm a liberal, not very religious, right-handed, planner. They also determined that I'm a thirty something man. I'm chalking that up to me not being easily categorized. It was kinda cool seeing the various photos and then having the program "learn" things about me, though. If you try it, you simply click on the pic you like better of the two shown. Then, periodically, when the little brain in the lower left corner turns pink, click on it and you can see what has been "learned" about you. CAUTION: I'd rank it about as accurate as a National Enquirer horoscope.

I have tons and tons of "nostalgic" (yep, that's what I'm gonna call 'em) commercials, openings/theme songs to old tv shows, music videos, animated shorts, etc. on my Favorites list on You Tube. Anyone interested in an invitation, just email me and I'll shoot you one along. This will allow you to see just how deep the pit is. Some of the stuff is pretty hilarious, though, and will CERTAINLY take you back. (This is the Flashback portion of our show, and it's as close as you're likely to get around here today. If you have any complaints, take a number.)

Happy surfing, folks! Hope you all have a great weekend!! Oh, and Feliz Navidad to the Nortons!

Click here for more!

New and Improved

Remember those ads back in the day? The ones that would tout some product as being "new and improved"? You'd buy it. Get it home. And then discover that it was the same thing it always was. Maybe with different packaging.

Yeah. New and improved.

Well, I was working on a Flashback Friday! (that I'd actually started yesterday). It wasn't coming along as well as I'd have liked (and I may finish it and put it up here later...or not), and I had something else on my mind. So, here I am blogging about that. Instead. Fickle, I know. You all show up, fully expecting to trip back through my yesterdays and I'm all full (for those of you who said 'shit', same to ya!)

I'm not much on playing games. Oh, don't get me wrong, when it comes to Scene It!, or Scrabble, or Magic the Gathering, (and lately Crazy 8's) I'm on board. Big time! But games in relationships...any kind of relationships...sicken me. They are insulting and disrespectful and I simply have no use for them. Life is entirely too short for that crap.

That does NOT mean that I can't play them if my hand is forced. Simply that, afforded the option, I choose not to be that kind of person. I do not like it when I have to become that person. I do not like it, Sam I am.

Last night was [Kid 3]'s open house at school. And despite my ex and I having an understanding that we'll keep each other informed of this type of thing, I didn't mention it to him. Let me tell you why.

This past spring, while [Kid 3] was in kindergarten, her school had a reading program one evening. Know when I found out about it? After she and her dad got home from attending. It happened during the time in the visitation schedule when she was with her dad. It hurt my feelings terribly. I was sure she wondered why it hadn't been important enough for me to attend. But, as I've noted previously, a six year old's understandings of these things is extremely limited. Still, I let my ex know that I didn't appreciate it and he assured me it wouldn't happen again.

Of course, I was foolish enough to trust that he'd show me the respect to keep his word about allowing me the opportunity to be included in this part of my daughter's life. Why I continue to believe him, after so many lies and the continued disrespect...I don't know. I want to believe him. I want to believe that he is "new and improved".

Last week, while, once again, on the visitation rotation with their dad, the PTA put on a skating party fundraiser. Once again, I was excluded. Well, let me clarify. I got a call as they were heading out the door to the function. Once again, my feelings were disregarded. As I was told, "I figured since she was with me, I'd just take her." Gee, considering she's with me three weeks out of the month, that's setting a precedent I wouldn't think he'd be anxious to set, but maybe I'm wrong. Maybe that's just exactly what we need, though. NOT to be around each other at all.

If that's the plan, I think I can live with it. But, once again, here I am being dragged to a place I didn't want to be, on a course I tried so hard to avoid.

Now, when I called him last night to let him know about the function (as I was heading out the door), I honestly wasn't sure if he might not already be on the way there. He had, you see, received exactly the same notification I had. The open house had been listed on the marquis in front of the school since the day school started. While he had the kids last week, he was back and forth to that school ten times to drop off and pick up [Kid 3]. I saw the notice. He certainly had the same opportunity.

I never had any such opportunity on either of the previous TWO occasions he failed to notify me.

So, last night, when I called him to tell him we were on our way and that "I figured since she was with me, I'd just take her," the "new and improved" Baron said he would have liked to have gone and would have appreciated a little more notice.

Gee, I guess I can understand that. It's a level of insensitivity and disrespect that no one, especially the parent of your child, should have to expect or endure. The reason I know this is not because I'm a Christian who believes that you should expect to be treated by others as you have treated them, it's because I've seen plenty of insensitivity and disrespect. Lived twenty years worth of it. It's neither "new", nor "improved". It's the same old thing, in a new package. Only this time, I'm not buying it.

Click here for more!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Lewis Black - If it weren't for my horse

Because I'm STILL getting hits EVERY DAY for the post I did months and months ago about this routine. Here's a little something for the drive-by folks. (You regulars might enjoy it, too.) Enjoy!

Click here for more!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Feeling Motivated!

Ran across a link at Girl's Gone Child recently (and if you don't read her regularly, you are missing out on a really well-written hysterically funny blog) and wanted to share. Highlander threw this one together for me (thanks, Sweetie!), but I like's it!

If you want to put one together yourself, here's the link that will let you do it! Have fun!!

Click here for more!

Hell Still Sucks!

Can I bitch about work for a minute? Sorry to blurt it out like that, but I’m having a bit of a day. I know it’s been a while since I’ve shared work goodies (especially 'Hell' work goodies), and this one probably isn’t prime, but it’s driving me batshit nonetheless.

To start with, we’re at the conclusion of the first hour of our Civil Defense Sonata here at the office. Please stay tuned for the next hour’s Duck and Cover Marathon, followed by the all night Watta Lotta Racket Concerto. It's certainly providing mood music. Let me tell you.

I hardly know where to start with today's little fiasco. Let’s say a couple weeks ago, I got a call from one of the Hellspawn. Yes, yes. My little demons are gone, but not forgotten. This particular one actually happens to be a fairly nice guy. He had run into a problem with the retail spaces on the ground floor that he purchased, regarding the tenant fit-out of the space. The problem, of course, was related to the original construction.

Gee, with Larry, Moe and Curly Construction building it, who’d a thunk it?

Apparently, the building inspector had brought to the tenant’s attention that the security system wiring (and telephone wiring) was not rated properly (it needed to be encased in conduit because of the plenum ceiling return for the HVAC system...did you get that Nate?...and possibly Mike N.?...everyone else feel free to yawn through this part) and would not pass a final building inspection. That could translate to his tenant not being able to occupy the space or open for business.

Kind of a thing.

A few minutes after that call, I got a call from the security system contractor, who advised me that without someone authorizing the additional expense to go back and encase all the security wiring in each of SIX retail spaces in conduit, they would not start this work. Basically, they wanted some assurance that they’d be paid for the extra work. Who could blame them? No one wants to accept responsibility for the error and everyone is pushing them to do it. I’d sure as hell make sure someone was going to be liable for MY bill before I set foot on the property, too. So that’s what they were doing.

I was asked, by my boss (you remember Santa Claus?), to set up a meeting with the security company, the original building contractor, the HVAC contractor (who designed the system and opted for the plenum return) and the owner of the space. As a responsible project coordinator (and all around nice chick), I did. Everyone was to meet at “Hell” Monday of last week at 10:30AM. The fact that I was not invited was more than a little okay with me. Any day that I can stay out of “Hell” is a good day for me. Mostly.

So, how many of you see what’s coming next? Yeah, see, it’s because I suck at the delicate art of foreshadowing.

My phone rings at roughly 10:15 that Monday morning. It was Santa. And the exchange went something like this…

SANTA: I didn’t know if you needed a ride to “Hell” this morning. Since I’m on my way downtown, I thought if you did, I’d swing by and pick you up.

ME: ::blink:: ::blink:: ::long pause:: ::looking at my watch:: Um…

SANTA: Are you there?

ME: Yeah, I’m here. I didn’t realize you wanted me to join you in your meeting this morning.

SANTA: Well, I really thought it would be better to have an extra set of eyes and ears there. Did you have something else going on?

(As an aside, I’d like to note that Santa just celebrated his 70th birthday a couple weeks ago and has some memory issues.)

ME: (had I been smart, I’d have lied my way out of it, but I know he needs me...::groan::) No, nothing else going on. Yeah, okay, if you want me to go, sure, stop by and pick me up.

SANTA: Great! I’m on my way now. I’ll call back when I’m close enough for you to run downstairs and meet me.

ME: Okay, see you soon.

At 10:35, I start worrying. Wondering where the hell he is. Knowing that the rest of these people are standing around waiting for us. But, finally, shortly thereafter, he calls. Luckily, I suppose, “Hell” is about twelve blocks from here. So, it doesn’t take us long to get there.

After walking around and reviewing options, it becomes clear, fairly quickly, that the ceiling cannot be lowered enough to add the ductwork which would be necessary to eliminate the plenum return situation, so we will have to change out the wiring. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be able to completely walk away from this project. I mean it. Ever. Like, will [Kid 3] be walking down the aisle at graduation (eleven years from now) and my cellphone ring and it will be someone from “Hell” with some issue that can’t be solved by anyone but me and has to be done RIGHT NOW?

The security contractors tell us they have the people available to do the work immediately, they just need someone to authorize the extra expense.

Great. How much?

“$150.00 a pull”, they tell us. I hate looking stupid at these things, but Santa has a tendency to give away the farm and, well, I had no idea how many ‘pulls’ we were talking about. So, sure, yeah, I’ll bite. “How many pulls are we talking about, at $150 per?” The security contractor looks around and says, “On average 5 or 6 per space.”

Now, we’re looking at six spaces. Santa knows this. He was there, too. I can’t spend his money for him, but I’m trying to give him the information necessary for him to make an informed decision on how to do it himself. Amazing to me how rarely that works. I’m no math whiz, but I’m thinking, worst case, 36 pulls at $150 each is over $5,000.


On a job that is done and over and on which we’ve already spent FAR too much money above and beyond. Santa looks around, scratches his beard, lays a finger aside of his nose and tells them to go with it. He’ll be responsible. And he said it in front of everyone.

Now, fast forward to today.

I get a call from our controller. She received an invoice from the security company on work at “Hell” and wanted to know who she should send it to. Because, you know, we’re done on that job and don’t have any more expenses, so it must be someone else's invoice, right? Sadly, I had to tell her about my meeting last week. And I ratted Santa out for authorizing the work and accepting the financial responsibility for it.

“How much is it?”, I asked her. “$4,200.00” was her reply. Whew!

She further clarified that the invoice broke out how many pulls in each space and indicated that they were done at $150 per. Can’t really argue it, but Santa’s partner is gonna be pissed as hell. Guaranteed.

Guess what happens next? Guess? That’s right. Santa comes back to my office and is flabbergasted by the price on the invoice.

“Why I had NO IDEA it would be that much!!”, he bellowed.

“Well, Santa, they told us $150 per pull, and that there were 5-6 pulls in each of the six units. How many pulls did they bill you for?”

“28. But this is too much! I had no idea it would be this much! This isn't RIGHT! I'm not paying it! I'm not! I'm not! I'm not!!”

Now, what the hell am I supposed to say to that? He knew what the rate was. He knew the terms. He authorized the work. And NOW, after the work is done, he wants to renegotiate the terms? Judge Judy would eat his shorts!!

“Santa, I’m not sure what you want me to do here. You authorized the work and they told you how much it would be.”

He much prefers it when I play the “Yes Man”, but I suck at that. Big time.

Grasping at anything strawlike, I said, “Do you want me to set up a meeting with the building contractor and the HVAC contractor and you can see about having them split the cost with you?”

To which he replies, “Yeah, yeah. That’s what I want! Set it up as soon as possible!” It was a little creepy the way he was sneering and rubbing his hands together while he did it. I just doubt it's gonna do him any good.

So, I’m setting up this meeting. To talk about splitting the cost on work that all of these people witnessed Santa assuring everyone that he would cover. Good luck backing out of that pile of doo. Hours and hours of wasted time. Frustrating.

I’m gonna be sick that day. ::cough:: I feel it coming on already.

[As a postscript, let me note that one of the Hellspawn dropped in (before I could even finish this post) to dump yet another issue at my feet. Can't get enough of Hell's love, Baby.]

Click here for more!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Labor Day Specials

No, no, not all the last ditch travel deals you see at the end of the summer season. More like a fun weekend with Highlander and the girlies! The first one back (after a week away) is always full of giddiness and catching up. This one was no different in that regard...only longer! As for particulars, I'm going to "borrow" Marcy's (wherever she is) format in such situations.


I know this is doomed bound to be pretty rambly, but here goes.

* (too much of) Saturday afternoon was spent hunting for pipe cleaners and googly eyes. Don't act like you haven't driven all over town looking for pipe cleaners and googly eyes. You know you have. Highlander, representin' for the men, thought we could just pick up the (overpriced) all white variety at the local grocery. HA! As if! [Kid 3] and I had been planning egg-carton caterpillars since before she left. We HAD to get something colorful. And googly eyes. We DEFINITELY needed googly eyes. After a couple frustratingly (for me only, btw) unproductive stops at two neighborhood drugstores, I gave up and headed towards a craft store, with Highlander and [Kid 3] in tow.

The craft store offered an outrageous collection of both pipe cleaners (while the metallic glitter colors were first on the list, we ended up going with the larger package of assorted neon colors) and googly eyes (any size, any color you could want...we bought the assorted pack of pink/blue/red/black/yellow/green eye varieties). Afterwards, [Kid 1] (who is my artsy fartsy kid) opted to help her youngest sister make a spider and a caterpillar out of the egg cartons I'd saved up. Plenty more materials, so I'm sure we'll be making some other goodies soon.

* Saturday evening we all trapsed off to the WorldFest 2006 culture bazaar downtown. The weather wasn't as cooperative as I'd have liked (it was gray and dismal and turning cooler), but it didn't rain. We all enjoyed some Ecuadorian dancers...with [Kid 3] dancing along in the audience. The older two wanted to walk around and look at some of the booths, so they took off. Highlander and I took "the baby" around and found a tent where they had hands-on activities for kids.

She got to make a Chinese fan and a necklace with South American wooden beads. They were closing up the booth, so we missed out on the Egyptian Hieroglyphic bookmarks and the Brazillian sand art project. Disappointing, but there was so much to see.

We all wanted to sample something different in the cuisine department. So many local restaurants and groups had set up food booths. It was hard to choose. [Kid 1] ran into her significant others' mother working in a booth where they were selling Vietnamese food. We opted for Cuban. Grabbing up a Cuban Sandwich and some plantain chips, with a grape nectar, it was plenty for the three of us. I noticed, while we were at the booth, that they also had some yummy looking "guava pastries". Later, when we were looking around for something sweet to nosh on, the line for fruit filled crepes was ENTIRELY too long and the Greek walnut cake and baklava wouldn't work for [Kid 3] (who doesn't much care for nuts), we ended up back at the Cuban booth, picking up a guava pastry and a coconut one as well (at 2 for $1.00 they were a steal!). By then, we'd hooked back up with the older girls and we all got to sample the treats together. After our world tour, it was back home for the evening.

* Highlander and I had picked up a game for [Kid 3] before she got home. My idea to get a new game. She's got a few, but only ever wants to play either Finding Nemo or Wig Out (which is a card game similar to Go Fish!) and I'm sooooo over both of them. We got her a box of seven games (Disney Princess themed...right up her alley) that included bingo, checkers, dominoes, tic tac toe, Crazy 8's, Old Maid and Go Fish! We've been playing ALOT of games this weekend. ALOT. She's been particularly fond of bingo and Old Maid. But is also enjoying Crazy 8's quite a bit, too. We haven't tried dominoes yet, but checkers is gonna take a bit for her. My Dad was a big checkers player when I was a kid and I can remember him coming home after work and telling me to set up the board and we'd play several games before I had to go to bed.

Just so you won't think we make a difference in them, we also picked up four second-hand paperback books for [Kid 2] who is on a STAR WARS reading kick, and a couple cool military rank patches from an Army/Navy store in the neighborhood (she's big into the camo). She was delighted with all of that. [Kid 1] got a box of 100 assorted Magic the Gathering cards (all artifacts) and a copy of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (which we picked up second hand).

* Speaking of Magic the Gathering, there has been a great lot of that going on all weekend, not the least of which was yesterday (at 10AM) when a friend of [Kid 1]'s came over and we played three (partner) games back to back. Apparently, partnering with Highlander is all you need to do to win, as he won every game and the rest of us each partnered with him one time.. Go figure, huh?

* I made some no-bake cookies on Saturday morning (before the kids got home), but [Kid 3] and I also made some cherry almond coffee cake (Sunday morning) and some triple fudge cupcakes with buttercream icing on Monday. I made homemade doughnuts on Monday morning and [Kid 1] (who is perenially voted least likely to be found in an apron) wanted to help with those and ended up running the fryer for me while I "glazed" and "sprinkled".

* As the weather was best (in River City) on Sunday, we ended up cooking out some brats and hot dogs then. I threw together some devilled eggs and green bean casserole and we had chips and dips, too. The kids gobbled it up like crazy!

* After dinner, we opted to drive downtown to Waterfront Park. A couple pictures cannot capture all the fun stuff they have there for kids! A long line of sprinklering pipes, three different LARGE playground pieces, a sandpit, a canoe to play in and then picnic tables and grills for the grown-ups and a few really nice chair swings overlooking the river. Highlander and I even took a turn on the tube pipe slide. Really nice park. And it was packed on Sunday. As I said, though, it was the nicest day of the weekend, weatherwise.

On the way home, we stopped at a neighborhood pie and ice cream place and had some dessert. The older kids had seen some Iraq War protesters (at the end of our street out in front of the Church) on our way to get dessert and insisted that they wanted to go join them when we got back. Alas, the protesters had called it a night before 8:20PM.

* Yesterday was another gray day. The temps were moderate, but the sun wasn't out beckoning us to be outside. Highlander and I ate lunch on the porch and [Kid 3] and I got in a couple more games of Crazy 8's out there as well. Most of the rest of the day was spent around the homestead, though, playing games and hanging out.

All in all, it was a good weekend, filled with laughter and fun. Almost three whole days with the people I love most in the world. You just can't go wrong with a plan like that. That's why the specials never get me. They can't compete with with what I can get at home.

Click here for more!

I'm Talking About My Baby

...she's some kind of wonderful...

Hey. Guess what? This is my 200th post. Really. And while I'd love it to be some really awe-inspiring piece of brilliance, you're stuck with my standard rambly stuff. I've got about a half dozen things I want to talk about...most of them weekend updates...but rather than do a forty page post, I'm probably going to break them up a bit. So, you know, check back as I'll be hitting this again as time permits.

First up today is some stuff with my youngest. She's hardly a baby anymore, but it's a name she's going to have extreme difficulty putting behind her. As the youngest in the family, she's still the baby to us, even though she's closing in on seven pretty quickly. Given the logistics, she's always gonna be the youngest. Consequently, that baby thing is gonna be pretty hard to shake.

She's pretty good about tolerating it, and, from time to time, is only too happy to play the part. I'm sure I send her mixed signals when I remind her not to talk like a baby (which she does with far too easy frequency), while asking her to curl up in my lap and cuddle me. Selfishness on my part, I assure you. I want her to grow up independent and strong, but I find myself clinging to that tiny, tiny babe that she once was. I suppose the point of all of that was to point out that it made what happened over the weekend difficult for me.

What I wanted to chat about today is something that happened Saturday. My ex brought the kids back (after his week long visit) and it was fairly uneventful. They were all happy to see me and Highlander and, after unloading their mountains of chattel, we started to go through things to see what had been forgotten. It's become an all too unfortunate ritual that we do every time they come home from their Dad's house. Something (usually more than one something) is always left behind when they come back to us from their daddy's place.

The one that bothers me the most is forgetting [Kid 3]'s stuffed sleeping buddy, but that one made it back this week. She was missing a couple pieces of clothing, but had wanted a toy that her Dad had bought her (though I'm not sure if it was something she thought about en route, or if it was something they'd discussed beforehand) at a yardsale that morning. He had, before they even got to my place, promised her he'd bring it later on Saturday.

And so, several hours after he'd initially dropped them off, he ran back by to drop off the "forgotten items". Because [Kid 3] loves both her dad and I very much, and even though it's been nearly two years since we split, she has moments when she's really torn. We had one of those on Saturday. The worst one I've seen since the split. Her loyalty to both of us makes it difficult on her. She was upset that her Dad couldn't stay and visit with her longer. She clearly enjoys his company.

She cried, pleading with him to stay, and when he finally left, she was still upset. I held her and talked to her and told her that he loved spending time with her, too, and that she'd see him next weekend, and I was sure they'd have a nice time.

Not enough, though.

What I got back was, "Why did you and Daddy have to get divorced?". That's a tough one. The older girls know. They saw and understood things, but the baby...well...she was a baby. She doesn't remember the problems. I got a lump in my throat and told her that Daddy and I just couldn't get along very well anymore. She's entirely too young to understand the intricacies of a marriage dissolving.

Part of me is glad that she doesn't remember the bad stuff. Part of me wishes she did. Maybe then, I wouldn't have gotten her follow up. "Why didn't you try harder to get along with Daddy? You should have tried harder." Of course, she has no idea how hard I did try. In her eyes, Mommy fixes everything, why couldn't I fix this, too? As easy as it would have been to tell her that her Daddy was a drug addict and that Mommy tried and tried and tried to make it work, but that he just wouldn't STOP, I can't.

I can't stand the thought of seeing that little light flicker out of her eyes forever, and I never want to be the one who has to do it. Instead, I tried to explain that it was complicated and that while she was getting to be a very big girl, there were things she just couldn't understand yet. Things that we will talk about and that she will understand better when she's older. But for now, she should know that Mommy tried very, very hard to keep the family together and that while it's always important to try your hardest, sometimes, even trying your hardest doesn't always work.

It was hard to hear the hurt in her little voice as she told me that she's starting to forget what it was like for all of us to be living together as a family. She wants to hold onto those memories pretty desperately. She will forget, though. Memories of being four don't stay with you for a lifetime. She told me that when she's at her Dad's and starts missing me, she looks at her bedroom wall (at the fairies and butterflies that I painted there for her, what seems like so long ago now), and she feels like I'm there with her. I'm sure, though, she doesn't remember the days spent painting that wall. I'm glad I do.

I'm glad, too, that she loves her Dad. For the record, the other two do, as well. They love him in spite of his flaws. The baby loves him, but doesn't see any flaws. She's still at that stage where she believes the people she loves have no flaws. Reality for a six year old is such a different one from yours and mine. There are moments that I wish I could share it with her.

Moments like when, after leaving him three phone messages on Sunday (and an email on Monday), his explanation for not returning her call (until she called him, yet again, on Monday evening) is that he accidentally erased all her messages. Of course, she's already forgiven him.

She's the baby, though. As her mother, I want to protect her from every hurt. All you parents know how futile that is, though. Not that it will stop any of us from trying.

I can't fix it for her this time. I can't turn back the clock and make the whole thing come out differently. I know that someday she will understand that I did everything I could do to make it work. For everyone. Obviously, I have my flaws, too. In the meantime, I intend to do everything in my power to help her become the happy, independent, strong, smart, beautiful young woman she is destined to become. There's not much else I can do.

Click here for more!