Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Damn Ants

Prologue: We had a bad ant problem in the downstairs bathroom this summer so I went all Caddy Shack on their asses.

Today I go out onto the front porch & discover a little red squirrel trying to feast on one of the plastic ant traps I'd left near the door. He's as adorable & innocent as a Disney squirrel, turning the toxic thing & chewing on it, unaware of what he does...

Crooning, "Oh no, honey, that's no good for you..." I walk towards him trying to get him to drop it. He does drop it but scrambles to recover the fumbled danger and scampers up the backside of a tree.

In my bare feet I carefully step (to avoid any dog poo left by careless dog walkers in our neighborhood) and continue to scare him into scampering so fast he'll drop the poisonous plastic square.

Circling the tree, I hear him scratching & scrambling his way up & away. I continue my chatter, staring up into the tree, shading my eyes from the bits of sharp pointy sunlight that shatters through the leaves.

And that's when I notice that the neighbor across the street is noticing me, the crazy lady, alone & looking up talking to the sky. Or maybe the tree. Either way, she's embarrassed for me & scuttles away. Much like the squirrel. Only my "crazy" likely won't be as toxic to my neighbor as the ant trap will be for the squirrel.

I now await the death of the little red squirrel.

Look at what the ants have made me do.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Children's Bulging Eyes

We held a family rummage sale Friday & Saturday. A week's worth of preparations, one day miserable in the damp cold, two days with the Blue Angels & other loud planes passing overhead from the local air show (I hated those planes; but hubby looked up -- mouth open -- for every one), and, because we don't have a garage, sore muscles form all the repeated set-up & take-down.

The results of all this was just enough money (after paying for the ad) to buy the family three large pizzas. (The combined funds raised by the kids equaled more than what we made; next year, they chip in on the ad.)

I consoled myself with the fact that only three boxes of crap would return to the basement. And that for two days we spent quality family time on the front porch. (Not much different from quality family time when you work from home.)

When the rummage sale was over, we packed all but those three small boxes of trinkets into the old conversion van to donate them to the closest thrift shop. There, while waiting for the family ahead of us to unload, I spotted a guitar in the back of their SUV and committed the cardinal sin of asking, "How much for the guitar?" The man brought it over, showed us where it needed repairs, but said we could have it.

The eyes of the 13 & 9 year olds bulged with delightful surprise.

From there, we decided to go to another thrift shop we had not been to in awhile. (The kids & I had just shopped this thrift store earlier in the week.)

A few blocks away, in the middle of construction, the old conversion van (named Ookla, after the the mok in Thundarr the Barbarian) made a few strange noises and then died. Hubby & I sprang out and, holding onto the door frames, began to push the van. We made the left turn through the intersection surprisingly well and, now trotting as much to keep up with the rolling vehicle as anything else, I could see a number of open angled parking spaces ahead on the right on Broadway, the main drag in the old downtown. I was thinking how lucky we were, good weather, close enough to home -- we walk to & from the old Fargo downtown rather regularly.

And then the dinging warnings of an approaching train on the train tracks just a feet ahead of us. Hubby flew into the van and used the brakes to stop us just before the bars lowered before us.

Hubby & I began to laugh hysterically. What else? Who else?

The kids, still buckled into their seats, had bulging wide eyes again -- this time because they were freaked. I talked them down from their panic while the train rolled by. But we grown-ups was still giggling.

The train passed, we rolled the van into one of the angled spots, locked her up, and began to walk towards home. More quality family time.

Just a few blocks to go and the 20 year old calls on my cell. "Hey mom, just passed you guys walking; we're going to eat at King Buffet."

I told you we walk a lot; it never occurred to her that there could be a problem associated with our walking. So I replied, "Wanna know why we're walking?" and then gave her the quick run-down of events since she's departed the rummage sale.

When we got back home, we ordered the pizzas (yummy Duane's!) and then busied ourselves with taking some pictures for blogging (yes, that's a tease). When the pizzas arrived, we paid the delivery girl with our meager rummage sale earnings and sat down to watch Rock-a-Doodle (review to at Kitsch Slapped soon).

'Round here, we call crazy days like these "Saturday."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

You Can Insist Upon An Apology, But You Shouldn't Insist Upon A Hug

AAG discusses childrearing in The Problem With Politeness -- which I found incredibly fascinating not only because the middle child eschews hugs (and most signs of physical affection; she does not like to be touched at all), or because of my firm belief in children & adults being allowed to assert their own boundaries, but because of the uproar in responses. In case you don't want to go to Babeland's blog, here's the gist of what AAG had to say about the aftermath of her two kids bumping heads & her daughter's refusal to accept an apologetic hug from her son:
[My mother] spoke my daughter’s name. “You have to accept his hug,” she scolded. “If someone wants to hug you it’s not polite to refuse. They’ll feel bad.”

...It would probably have been altogether forgotten by the children but I couldn’t let the matter rest. “You know what grandma said today?” I asked on the way home. “About hugs?”

She barely looked up from her book to grunt but I carried on. “I don’t agree with her. At all. If you don’t want to hug someone you shouldn’t, period. It doesn’t matter if they feel bad. You never have to touch someone in any way unless you really want to. Ok?”

The book was so interesting that she couldn’t tear her eyes away from it. “I know, Mom,” she managed to answer. “You’ve told me so many times. Why did grandma say that?”

Grandma’s always said that, I thought to myself. My absolute terror of being thought rude or of hurting someone’s feelings was one reason I found it so difficult to ward off unwanted contact, both sexual and otherwise, well into adulthood.

My children will be prepared for a different world, one where they neither have to bend to guilt-based pressure nor feel especially hurt when their advances are rebuffed. And if someone else finds their behavior rude?

Too stinkin’ bad.

While I do feel for the boy whose hug was refused, I don't see either A), how a person can be forced to physically accept an apology (especially in the heat of the after-moment), or B) how a person should be forced to accept physical contact period. But again, the comment section is full of people who disagree.

In order to read all the conversation, you'll need to visit Babeland's blog -- but honestly, there's nothing graphic at this post.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I'm Not Always A Crank, Part Two

(In case you're wondering, Part One is here.) I'm not always a crank, or an intellectual, or an obsessive collector, or whatever this is... Sometimes, I'm a fun mom. Just a fun person even.

Today's evidence comes from a recent excursion to the countryside...

Turning the minivan around in a farmer's driveway, I spotted an animal that at first glance looked like a cat. But once it started walking way (then bounding through the corn field) it was clear it was too long to be a cat. Hubby said it was a polecat -- a term used 'round here for everything from mink to skunks. It looks a lot like a cat, but a few inches longer, making the dark legs seem a bit too short, like a (very large) ferret. But with little bear-like faces.

As he bounded off through the corn field, we spotted two more polecats running into the field. We pulled over to get a closer look at what looked like furry slinkies bobbing in & out of the young corn. Occasionally, one of the polecats would sit up, prairie dog style. Then, along came another two polecats!

I was so excited! I jabbered at them like women do with animals, telling them how cute they were and how happy I was to meet them.

Then one last polecat came along -- this one bounded towards me. I swear (and have hubby & the kids to testify!) this polecat was as into me as I was into him or her. It would bound a few steps closer, then sit up and look at me. Then walk-bound or slink a bit closer & look at me again... On & on, while I crooned it closer, until it stopped on its side of the ditch and looked at me one final time before bounding off in the directions all it's little polecat friends had gone.

I was 12-15 feet away from my first polecat!

Turns out, these specific polecats are Fisher martens. They are supposed to be solitary hunters, so seeing a small "herd" (i love saying "a herd of polecats lol) of them was pretty rare... We suppose that either it was a mother with nearly-raised young, or a group of individuals who was feeding on the food the farmer left for the farm cats until the pending rain moved too close and they were heading home for cover. Despite my interview attempts with all the polecats, not one gave me any answers, so I don't know...

Here's the one photo hubby managed to get that doesn't look like a blur bounding through the corn:

I'm completely in love with Fishers -- absolutely ga-ga for them!

The kids were fascinated with them too. Until a few nights later when we went back there at night to watch the meteor showers. Then they, especially Hunter, were afraid any noises were dangerous predatory Fishers (or worse!). I would have loved to add Fisher martens to our meteor show. But none showed themselves.

I like to think they were there in the corn, watching us.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Raise Awareness Of Domestic Violence

Today, thanks to the generous sponsorship of Twolia, Alessia of Relationship Underarm Stick is participating in the Hope For Healing blogathon, raising awareness of domestic violence & money for supporting victims of domestic violence.

You can help too: Comment at, link to, & Tweet her blogathon posts!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fashion's All The Rage

Since the wonderful Elizabeth is talking about the horrific fashions for girls, I feel compelled to point out my earlier post about such things (including horrible things for boys & infants!) and to point out my questioning ode to The Golden Age of T-Shirt Iron-Ons. Also see Slip of a Girl's battle with the school over a bra strap.

I Ordered The Cheeseburger, Not The Cheesebooger

You know how I feel about permissive parents who let their children run amuk...

But sheesh, can't a person eat a meal without having to grind their teeth so as to maintain a polite, but defensive, visage while impolite persons let their 8 year old offspring lean over the shared booth back & pick their noses, threatening you with "flicks" of it on your food? Added joy when you must also listen to their 10 year old "baby girl" scream that her meal isn't coming quickly enough.

Why do parents sit stoically by & do nothing to correct their child's behavior? They see it, but they do nothing -- save for, perhaps, talk loudly on their own cell phones about how annoying & inappropriate their child is, rhetorically adding, "But whatcha gonna do?"

I'll tell you what you can do: Parent your child.

I'm seriously thinking about getting a copy of The Restaurant Rescue Kit & Guide in preparation for my next meal out...

Maybe a big stack of them; then I can write & attach notes that read as follows:
Excuse me, but I could not help but notice -- no matter how desperately I tried! -- that you have neither any control over your child nor the desire to even try to teach them how to behave in public.

I can only conclude that your child is the product of permissive parenting & that despite your continued compliance with your offspring's demanding cries of "Entertain me at all times!" you have failed to foresee your child's need to be quietly entertained here and have provided nothing, not even simple conversation, with which to help your child pass the time... Or maybe you just don't give a damn that you & your family are rudely intruding upon the rest of us here.

In any case, please use this book to keep your child busy & entertained in a quiet manner.

No need to thank me; the ability to enjoy my meal is thanks enough.
I'll need a really big stack of these books because once the parent reads the note, I'm sure they'll be so angry at my "audacity" that they won't be polite and return the book when they (or my family & I) are done with their meal.

Or maybe they or their bratty kid will throw the book at me and I'll get the copy back.

In any case, my point will clearly have been made; but I bet you a hundred bucks, not one of these parents will feel compelled to actually properly parent.

Monday, August 03, 2009

My Reviews Are Honest, How About Yours?

All my reviews, no matter where they are published, are honest.

But I'm so sick of hearing about & being suspicious of "blog-ola," paid postings, and other forms of payola -- why can't people & companies just be ethical? that I ranted.

The biggest offenders are the ones complaining about FTC involvement -- they should worry.

Still Guarded Regarding Gardasil

Remember when I blogged about Gardasil? Well, Des started the vaccine -- against my wishes; it's hard for step-moms to out-vote biological parents & a physician pushing it.

My thoughts on the Bush nepotism aside (you know I've never been a fan); my thoughts on the sexism in this vaccine (males are carriers & "vectors" of HPV, but they neither have a vaccine nor a requirement to take it) aside; seems there's enough concern about the vaccine to warrant CNN attention on Empowered Patient. Check out all the conversation regarding the Gardasil controversies at TwitterMoms.

I do hope the conversation will stay way from the moral majority/Christian BS (young women & men have the right to the facts, not be forcefed your belief systems, thankyouverymuch) and focus on what matters: the health of our children & young women, so I've sent in my email.