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 27, 2007

Un-Flashback Friday!

Yeah, I'm still way behind schedule here in River City, folks. See, my house is a wreck. I have two refrigerators filled with leftovers. (YGF and Nate, you could totally have eaten high on the hog this week!!) The kids have kid-stuff going on. Work has been overwhelming. So, you know, the blog...she has suffered.

It's a good time to catch up on reads elsewhere. (I'd start over at Highlander's place, which is always an excellent read.)

This promises to be a busy "catch-up" weekend...with a [Kid 1]'s senior prom, [Kid 2] has a date, finishing up starting wedding "thank you's", plus we're hoping to take the whole family to one of the Derby events on Sunday, thrown in for good measure. More about that stuff later.

I hope all of you are well and happy and are having some of the same lovely weather where you are, that we are having here. Makes me want to start digging in the dirt!! Have a great weekend, gang!

Oh, and if you need a little inspiration, let me point you to a story about Nola Ochs.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Okay, let me preface by saying I'm delighted to be married and am deeply in love with my new husband. But, BOY am I glad to be done with wedding planning/implementation!! And while my hubby would likely rather I tell you all that I'm exhausted as a result of our honeymoon, I think it was the entire weekend's worth of toting barges and hauling bales and all the other addition to the honeymoon...that got me.

I've decided not to post about the wedding, as those of you I want to know about the events were either there, or have received the 411 via other methods. Those whose business it is not, will have to find the information elsewhere. Nosy, though they are, I'm certain they will try. The short and sweet is that it was a beautiful day, a memorable ceremony, and we're all very happy to be where we are. (Well, considering we're back to work, that last may not be entirely apt. But, you know what I mean.)

I feel like I've been gone forever, as I haven't posted here since last Friday. And, geez, a few pretty significant things have happened whilst I was away. Likely you are all aware of them already. But, just in case you missed them, as well, here are a few things you should know.

'Kryptonite' has been discovered on earth. Though it's a bit of a let down, if you ask me.

Russia's first president, Boris Yeltsin, died and was buried.

They've found a new planet that may be able to sustain life. (Which will be pretty cool when we finish screwing up this one.)

Dick and George have continued to battle with "us" over how many Americans they feel it's appropriate to return home in body bags. That's hardly news, though. And, of course, George and Laura have had it roughest of all...::rolling my eyes::

Other than that, we're back to business as (mostly) usual around Castle Anthrax. We've nearly convinced Nate to move to River City. The kids are well and happy. (And we're gearing up for proms and graduation over the next few weeks.) Deliriously happy to be married. Thanks to all of you who blogged about our happy occasion (Mike, Mark, Tony, Opus, Your Girl Friday, Nate...sheesh...there's sooo much more going on in the world, guys!), and/or sent notes or gifts, and/or were able to attend. Highlander and I both love you all to pieces and appreciate everything you've done to make this a special time for us!

Now back to the heaping piles o' shop drawings for me! Ahhh, being missed at work is just the BEST!!!

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Flashback Friday!

This Flashback Friday! is going to be many things. Too short. Too mushy. Too inept to adequately express the sentiment. One thing it will not be is too far in the past. Oh, and it may not mean a goddam thing to anyone other than me. But I'm okay with that. The rest of you may proceed to deal.

Just over two years ago, I took a trip.

I took a trip to meet a friend I’d known for about a year and a half at that point. A friend that I’d never seen face to face, but had only known via the electronic conveniences of the internet and the telephone.

I won’t drone on it, except to say that had Highlander not been an exceptional writer, I wouldn’t be with him today. That is not to say that I will only spend my time with people who fit that bill. (Oh, I’d RATHER, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not a requirement or anything.) Just that, had I not happened upon his writing and sent him a little note, we’d likely never have found each other.

And so, as you all know, we began a correspondence. Chatting first about science fiction and writing and then, as we became friends, about music and politics and philosophy and movies and life in general. We shared our pasts and our todays and our futures. Of course, in the beginning, they were two very different futures than the one we are at now. Which is actually rather odd to recall.

I remember being excited for him when a date with a coworker was in the offing. And being disappointed for him when it didn’t work out. I remember advice from him, when my ex and I were having problems, and then, after my ex and I had split, about him genuinely being glad I was having some fun with one of the guys I was seeing on a fairly regular basis. I don’t think either of us saw an “us” for a long time after that.

But we were becoming very close friends. When something happened in my life, I wanted to share it with him. When something happened in his, he felt the same. He made me laugh when I felt like crying. I made him smile when the world was kicking his ass.

So, sometime fairly early in 2005, we broached the subject of coupledom. It was impossible, of course. Hundreds of miles separated us and neither of us wanted (or could afford) a long-distance romance. I couldn’t live there. He didn’t want to live here. Plus, my single-mom life was chaos and I just couldn’t put a single guy through that.

There was something, though. In the back of both our minds, telling us that this relationship might really be good. Special. I remember him telling me at one point that it was too bad that it would never work out, because we were likely exactly what the other needed.

We let it lie for a long time. (Maybe it just felt like a long time.) Neither of us wanting to create more headaches for the other. It felt a little sad, but we both saw it as the smart choice at the time. Better to maintain the ever supportive friendship that was mutually beneficial, than it was to risk destroying it with romance nonsense.

Who was I to argue? That friendship (along with many others) saw me through more than a few hardships, and I didn't want to risk screwing it up.

When a three-day-weekend afforded us an opportunity to spend some time together, we talked it to death. And then decided to "just see". What could it hurt, right? Even if we didn't think we could have a romantic relationship, we could still have a fun weekend just hanging out and doing "friend stuff".

Okay. Okay. I hear you all cracking up. But we really didn't start at Syrupy Sweet Central. We didn't even take the express route there. (It just seems that way, I know.)

Consequently, I was southward bound. Normally I'm deeply directionally challenged, but I did pretty well finding his place...only getting slightly lost a couple times. When I pulled up in front, I couldn't help the smile that spread so easily across my face. He was sitting out front with a book...waiting for me...with a HUGE sign behind him that read "WELCOME TAMMY". (Because he's CooCoo for Cocoa Puffs, that's why.)

Although we both had a pretty nice weekend together, going to a movie and out to dinner along with a little sightseeing in his town, afterwards, we still didn't make the leap. Oh, the chemistry was everything we both knew it would be. We were intensely comfortable with each other. We talked about anything and everything. And it was fun. But the distance was just insane. And it had only been one weekend.

So, I went home (leaving his fridge full of leftover home-cooking). Not really disappointed, because we still had this great friendship. And we continued to talk every day. About our worlds. Our very separate worlds. Until one day, and I don't even remember the day, we started talking about what it would take to make a relationship between us work. The logistics of it all.

Both of us still so unsure about this. (Well, me anyway.)

By early April of 2005, we were making plans for Highlander to move to River City. A place he'd never set foot in, to embark on a relationship with a crazy woman with three kids and a whole lotta baggage.

The rest is history, as cliche' as that is. My best friend did, indeed, move to River City. Into the tiny apartment that is across the hall from the one where we now live together. The kids adored him immediately. He and I couldn't have meshed better. He made me intensely happy and my girls were afforded an opportunity to see how good it can be. That was (and still is) important to me. We really are so good for each other.

So, tomorrow, exactly two years to the day after Highlander's arrival in his newly adopted home (and our "official" beginning), since I've got the day open anyway, I'm gonna marry my best friend. I'm looking forward to spending the rest of my life with him. Laughing and talking, making each other happy, and growing old together as we bounce grandbabies on our knees. I can't think of anything in the world I'd rather do. Or anyone in the world I'd rather do it with.

It's funny. All I have to do is close my eyes and I can still see that gigantic cardboard sign welcoming me. Only this time, it's welcoming me into the next part of our lives together. Plus, there's jewelry...;)

Can't wait to see most of you there tomorrow. Those of you who are dear to us and who aren't going to be able to make it are in our hearts and our thoughts and we appreciate the contributions you've made to our day and our happiness. The next time I 'see' ya, I'll have a whole new name!


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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Can They Do That?

I was surfing around while noshing on leftover deli goodies in the office and ran across THIS!!

Double-take isn't even close to my reaction!

I had no idea that they could just skip right over George and go to the purest evil. Can they?

What a loverly wedding present!!

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Day of Infamy

I'm sure all you good Americans have done your taxes and gotten them into the mail. That behind you, I hope you will join me in wishing good friend and fellow blogger, Mike Norton, a most happy natal anniversary!

When I ran across this You Tube video a couple months ago, I had to put it back. You may have already seen it, but I'm SURE it's EXACTLY like what will be going on at Casa Norton today!!

Happy Birthday, Mikey!! Have a great one!

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Flashback Friday!

Ah, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha! You guys are a crack up!

Did you really expect a Flashback Friday! to be up here today?


Please chalk it up to too sick/busy/stressed to work on the ol' bloggeroo right now.

I do actually have a little something already on tap for Sunday (so check back then), but, me-oh-my, catfish pie, I am hard pressed to do anything else HERE between now least a week, I think!

If I get a break at work [insert more uproarious laughter here], I'll try to post something somewhere next week.

Until then, you'll have to stroll down Memory Lane via You Tube. Here's a few to get you started...

Now off with you, and enjoy your Friday the 13th!...;)


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Monday, April 09, 2007

That's What It's All About...

You put your right foot in. You put your right foot out. You put your right foot in, and you shake it all about. You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around. That's what it's all about.

A recent skating party for one of [Kid 3]'s friends has that little ditty stuck in me noggin. But, it seemed appropro for the graphic below.

Sent to me by my eldest daughter, today. She says, as a reminder.

Always nice to get the appreciation that one's doing right by their children. Especially, that the children, themselves, actually see and appreciate the efforts.

Indeed, that's what it's all about.

I hope everyone had a good Easter. I'm trying to battle back a cold. Wedding projects are all but done (with seconds to spare, huh?). A few last minute things to check, some organization to be addressed, a few team meetings, and then the cooking. Still a good deal of housecleaning, (else Nate will be telling you all that my house is a sty!), but, with Highlander's help, everything appears to be getting checked off the list. Just as well, since I'd pencilled some time relaxing by the pool and eating bon bons this weekend...::guffaw::

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Happy Keester!


Had to do it.

Had to.

This is, bar none, my favorite internet Easter photo.

I don't care how old it is, it still cracks me up every time.

::snicker, snort::

Cracks me up. Get it?

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Flashback Friday!

Once upon a time, Superfiancee' was a wee little thang. Oh, she was still clever and funny, and had the prettiest curly brown hair evah! Even then. And so, of course, everyone loved her.

As the eldest grandchild (on both sides of the family, to boot!), she was adored and cherished long before those other rotten grandkids had the audacity to show up. Which was, of course, as it should have been. Hmph! Fucking interlopers cutting in on MY oh, so sweet arrangement! The nerve, I tell you!

Luckily, though, SF was (and continues to be, btw) truly adorable. Enough so that she was able to maintain a very special relationship with all her grandparents. Even through many, many more grandchildren/SF wannabes.

Now this particular Flashback Friday! happened when SF was in kindergarten. So the memories are a little fuzzy. However, this is pretty much exactly how it happened.

For the most part.

More or less.

Our tale begins on a beautiful, warm, spring afternoon and SF's parents had opted to take a drive out to the country to visit SF's paternal grandparents. Yes, yes, they took SF's little sister along, too. (Sheesh, couldn't go ANYwhere without the little sister.)

The sun was shining and the trees were just beginning to "leaf out" after a long, cold winter, and SF was muchly looking forward to spending a good deal of quality time being spoiled by her grandparents and maybe even playing in the woods at the back of their property. Both activities which she greatly enjoyed.

Grandma was making chicken and dumplings when SF's family got there. She always made chicken and dumplings for them. (That's why SF has been burnt out on chicken and dumplings for the last twenty years, btw.) They were pretty yummy, though.

After a lovely visit, in which SF sang and danced while her grandparents clapped and threw roses at her feet (or something like that), her father grew angry with her. Likely, it was because he was jealous that SF was becoming more beloved to his parents than even he, their eldest son, was. Of that, I'm not sure. It's possible that SF may have inadvertently done something else...however unlikely that may seem. The point is, though, that angry he was.

SF's father is a big teddybear now (having mellowed considerably in his advanced youth), but in those days, he had all the panache (and stature) of a marine drill Sergeant...and none of the cool clothes.

SF was not normally scared of her father, but on this particular occasion she was. She slipped outside before he had a chance to see. And as she eased off the back porch steps, watching carefully to see if he was following her, she felt someone's hand grasp hers from behind. It was a little startling, but she turned to see the trusted face of her grandfather.

With his free hand, he gestured to her to keep quiet and then to come with him. And they awayed into the wood. Stealing, quietly, deeper and deeper into the wood, SF found that she was no longer scared at all. She found that she felt completely free and safe. Surely her father would not defy the grandfather! Even if he did ever find them.

When they came to a massive felled tree, the grandfather crouched down behind it with her. They stayed there for a very long time. Whispering about the animals that lived in the woods, and living in the country vs. the city, about the grandfather's vegetable garden, about how sometimes mommies and daddies get angry, about how my grandfather had gotten angry a time or two himself (he chuckled when he remembered that, and had to catch himself before he made too much noise). They talked about little sisters and bikes and friends and starting school and Christmas coming and why there weren't very many bugs in the woods yet and...well...a million other things. All the while whispering and still crouched down behind the big tree.

The grandfather, you see, was 6'6" and he couldn't really crouch as well as a six year old. But he did an admirable job for a grandpa, and SF was, rightfully, impressed. He stayed there with her for what felt like hours. Keeping her safe. Making her feel like the most special girl in the whole wide world. Knowing that her father would only be apt to yell at her, or paddle her bottom good, still the grandfather did not want the child to be afraid, and could not bear to see her spanked, or even to cry. The first grandchild that he so loved.

Eventually, the father, realizing that the grandfather was missing, too, and knowing that the grandfather adored SF, decided to quit looking for them. That he'd never be able to compete with the wise old man and the clever child! He yelled into the woods, "You can come out now! I'm not mad anymore! We need to get back to town."

At first SF thought it might be a trick (though it's possible that she just wanted to stay crouched behind the log whispering with her grandfather forever), but the old man took her hand and led her back out of the woods. All the while, telling her that she had nothing to fear.

So she didn't.

They walked out of the woods together and SF's father grinned at the grandfather and rolled his eyes. Then he tossled SF's hair and told her to get in the car. He didn't lose his temper at all (which was a shock to SF, I assure you). SF and her father never spoke of it again. SF wonders, sometimes, if he even remembers the incident at all.

But SF does.

And her grandfather did, too.

From time to time, they'd reminisce about him hiding with her in the woods behind that long ago house in Kendall, New York. In fact, when SF had daughters of her own, the grandfather would tell them the story of hiding their mother in the woods. It was one of the last laughs that SF and her grandfather had shared before he passed away nearly ten years ago. (Does that seem possible?!?!?)

The grandfather knew that SF's father just needed a little time to cool off. The grown-up SF did, too. But it never diminished the feeling of overwhelming love she got from hiding behind that fungus covered tree, her grandfather's giant hand holding hers, while he whispered to her about frogs and snails.

Sometimes, when life gets to be too much, she longs to do it again. To feel his hand grasping hers tightly and taking her somewhere quiet and safe to become lost in a moment all their own.

Even just one more time.

Have a good weekend, you guys! Mine is cram-packed with housework and wedding nonsense. And those of you who are experiencing some global warming issues, please send them here. Despite temps last week in the MID-80'S, this week it's been 30's and 40's!! I've had to pull coats and sweaters back out, and the weatherman said there's a chance of FLURRIES tonight into tomorrow.

And that ain't makin' me happy!

My girls won't be spending Easter with me and Highlander this year. It's the first time, ever, that I haven't had them for Easter. And that's a bit of a tough pill for me to swallow. However, we've made plans to have a little something waiting for them tomorrow morning when they awake. Kind of an Easter eve thing. It'll have to do, I guess. One more of the adjustments that have to be made in our situation.


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Thursday, April 05, 2007

JibJab Does It Again!

In their usual "oh so topical" fashion, JibJab has put together another gem. Had to share with you!

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I'll Be The Judge of That!

Our downstairs neighbors (at the office) have an annual fundraiser going on right now. Departments come up with a "theme" Easter Basket and then they sell chances on them. Chances are $1 each and all of the money they collect is gifted to whatever charity they sponsor for the year. This year it's The Grace House Project.

Volunteers of America of Kentucky and Tennessee
The Grace House Project allows pregnant women and women with children to heal together from the scars of substance abuse in an intimate setting. Grace House serves 8-10 families at a time, for up to one year, with the goals of ensuring newborns are born drug free and families with young children are reunified. The program uses evidence based assessments and treatment models to treat substance abuse, and provides a full range of other services. Children are served along side their mothers by a family specialist and two children’s advocates. Children and mothers work through issues of attachment and bonding with the aid of play therapy, counseling, and structured, intentional recreation activities.

To make it more fun for their employees, our neigbors make a competition out of it. A prize for the basket that generates the most donations, and another prize for the basket that gets the best scores on originality, presentation and creativity.

That's where I come in.

This is the fourth year that I've been asked to judge. It's a blast, too. Because they really go all out to make some interesting adaptations, and it's really fun to see them.

In previous years, they've had a "gambling basket" that was replete with poker chips, cards, electronic black jack, etc., a "day at the beach basket" full of suntan lotion, a folding beach chair, beach balls, bottled water, and all kinds of stuff to make a fun day. There have been baskets full of baby stuff, baskets full of DVD's (and I MEAN full) along with a small portable tv/dvd player to watch them, and one of my all-time favorites, a basket decorated to look like a gorgeous flower arrangement. Only the flowers (and butterflies) were made of intricately folded dollar bills. There were five or six dozen flowers in that basket, plus butterflies. It was simply breathtaking!

Earlier this week, the girl that spearheads the fundraiser caught me leaving work and asked if we'd be available to judge this week. "Oh, sure!", I said. And I've been looking forward to it since.

I drafted a couple of draftsmen (heh, I'm punny), and we went downstairs to officiate. I've included some pics to give you an idea of the effort to which they go.

Basket #1 - Pasta-bilities!

(We didn't take points off for the name, btw. In fact, this was the winning basket for us!) They were able to stuff spices, pasta, sauces, a bottle of chianti, a bottle of extra virgin olive oil, a pizza pan, a garlic press, a red checked tablecloth, a DVD of UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN and all kinds of other goodies.

A really cute (and TOTALLY utilitarian) basket!

Basket #2 - Baking Up Some Easter Goodies!

A pastel apron (with spatulas and recipe cards in the pockets) was draped around this basket full of baker's delights. A 5 lb. bag of flour, a 4 lb. bag of sugar, twenty different cake/cookie/muffin mixes, graham cracker crusts, rolling pins, specialty baking pans, cookie racks, and so much more. For someone who bakes (and I do), it was a real treasure to behold!

Basket #3 - Grilling Up A Great Easter!

This amazing basket included a large bag of charcoal brickets, a small grill!, a folding chair, various marinades and barbecue sauces, a cookbook, a FLYSWATTER (how innovative is THAT?), meat thermometers, basters, and even a twelve-pack of beer!

Basket #4 -
On The Road to Easter

Each year they have one basket that has a little more "guy" appeal than the others. This year it was all about the cars. This very cute presentation was full of carwax, a chamois, a sun visor, tire gauges, a one year AAA membership, and lots of other goodies (including a Hotwheels Easter Bunny).

Basket #4 - Hoppin' Healthy Easter

Last, but not least, this basket was filled BEYOND brimming with bandaids and tissues and hydrogen peroxide and any kind of first aid product you could imagine, but it also had things like chamomile tea and Campbell's healthy choice soups and an exercise video, too.

Any of these baskets would be a STEAL if you got it for $1. There's not one I wouldn't want to have. Not to mention the good feeling of helping families work through addiction issues. That's one near and dear to my heart, for sure.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Another Collectible

Just what we need at my house.

Another collectible.

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Feeling a Little...Anxious...

Here's a little taste of what my life is like these days...

Over the weekend, I finished up a couple nagging wedding projects that had been giving me fits. Oh, I'm not done with wedding a long shot...but that's two more things off the list. (In fact, yesterday, I marked a couple more off the list, too...but there's still like twenty things on the list and LESS THAN THREE WEEKS TO DO THEM!!!)

In addition to the wildness that is pulling together a wedding (even when you actually have the help of the groom...which is far superior to NOT having the help of the groom, let me tell you), doing it when you have three kids, and those three kids have lives, too, is...well...interesting.

Because [Kid 1] is graduating this year. So we're talking about graduation, and prom (dates and dresses), and getting college applications and FAFSA forms in, and fighting with school administrators about getting the goddam official transcripts that you should have had when you asked for them weeks ago and you're kid isn't going to be accepted at college because of the complete ineptness of MORE River City School System personnel. It's aggravating as HELL!!

She (the administrator) finally, after NUMEROUS messages, returned my call and ASSURED me that she'd have the transcripts for [Kid 1] to pick up and that she'd call her from class to get them as soon as she had them. Of course, [Kid 1] comes home without so much as a clue that she had something to bring home. The next day, I called back. And I tried to make it clear that I was more than a little upset that things had not been prioritized. And the transcripts were delivered to my office.

But that's still hours tied up on a project that should have taken one call.



And that's just one of [Kid 1]'s 'things' right now.

Highlander and I have decided what we are getting her for a graduation gift. I know she’ll like it. But, I still need to get it ordered. I'd love to wait until after the wedding. Unfortunately, that only leaves me a few weeks.

I've also noticed that [Kid 1] and [Kid 3] are having a little trouble with seasonal allergies. The pollen is fierce around here right now, as everything begins blooming and greening up. Looks lovely, but hay fever sufferers BEWARE! Trying to keep everyone healthy for the next few least.

[Kid 3] has also recently developed a serious bug phobia. Not sure where that one comes from as, to my knowledge, she hasn't been stung by anything other than a mosquito, ever. Of course, it's possible I just don't know. This seems to have begun during her last visit with her dad. Now, she doesn't want to go outside. Not to play. Not to sit on the front porch. Not to get in the car. And it's becoming a thing. For a kid that LOVED being outside, I am saddened to see the change. She stiffens up and is simply terrified. We do bug surveillance before we make a dash from the back porch to the car. Citronella candles and insect repellent have always been around, but right now, they're both getting plenty of play.

Romance is never far when you have a house full of women. [Kid 2] has ended a very serious relationship with a boy she'd been dating for about 4 months. It was painful for her and Highlander and I had to break some news to her (that had been brought by [Kid 1] to us) and that was most difficult. But I was glad that we could be there for her when she needed us. [Kid 1] is still single, but [Kid 2] has already been on a date with the next Mr. [Kid 2]. And she had a good time. And they are constantly talking. So, she's rebounding well. But, you know, being a mom, I worry a little.

Not to be ignored, my car is acting up. Mechanics are going to take a look at it today, but my guess is the alternator. The battery would be entirely too cheap for my luck.

A (very) little something else that had my sphygmomanometer registering, but that's so insignificant that I won't go into it here.

Some medical issues with my extended family have had some of my attention. Along with my (involuntary) sideline tax service. (I'm pretty sure I've taken care of everyone who needs my help there.)

Oh, yeah, and I'm working, too. A go-zillion shop drawings spread across my desk would testify to that. If, of course, they could testify, that is. I'm trying to get everything done and even ahead of the curve. It's an attempt to keep from returning (after my upcoming time off) to find (the inevitable) piles of paper awaiting me. Yes, I know. I'm kidding myself. But I'm playing along anyway.

So, if I can get my house cleaned up and apply the rejuvenating elixir to my follicles in the next couple weeks...along with driver training for Highlander, therapy sessions for [Kid 1], and checking into summer camp for [Kid 3] (in case her sisters both get summer jobs...hey, they're threatening, I need to be prepared), and everything else, of course, I should be golden.


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