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Archive for March, 2009

Springtime in this neck of the woods is characterized by capricious weather and the subtle awakening of critters large and small.  Nothing makes my heart sing more than hearing the birds twittering in the trees outside my window first thing in the morning.  It means they’re happy, and that it’s warm. 

The downside to warmer weather is that the insect population starts to pick up where it left off in the fall.  Around my house, that means an invasion of ants. 

We’ve had several ant invasions over the years, and while I can’t say I like the big black carpenter ants, at least they’re easier to see scampering across the floor.  And easier to exterminate.  The ones that give me the most consistent trouble are what’s known in this area as sugar ants.  Sugar ants are very tiny and when you crush them they release a sweet-ish odor.  And where you see one, there are about a thousand more coming right behind. 

Right now the little buggers are all over my house.  They traipsed in to dine on cat food and stayed to clean up the crumbs that have fallen due to our bad habits of eating in front of the TV and at the computer.  And when you have a child, crumbs are inevitable. 

While I don’t consider myself a spotless housekeeper, I am a cleaner.  I’m constantly wiping down counters and cabinets, sweeping, vacuuming, and generally trying to keep the house clean.  I pick up the cat food when it’s not being eaten, and I don’t leave open containers of food sitting out.  And though I (mostly) stay on top of things, we still get ants.  It’s maddening.

My latest volley in the neverending war has been to buy ant traps and put them everywhere.  Except I have to conceal them because they’re full of poison and I don’t want any cats or kids getting into them.  Which means that even though I put them where established ant trails are, I have to offset them from some of the trails, which I’m not sure is getting the job done.

Once the weather settles out a bit the ants will retreat to their summer activities and mostly leave the inside of my house alone.  But until then I have to keep fighting the good fight. 

Hurrah, hurrah, indeed. 

 

 

— Mox

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Don’t you just hate it when someone takes something that works just fine and tries to improve it? 

I went for a massage last Friday.  I’d been needing a massage since our ice storm back in late January, but time and money prevented me from doing so.  (Five days of my parents living with us = tension in my neck and shoulders)  But I found a gift certificate that I forgot I had, and I had the free time, so I made an appointment. 

I’ve been a regular massage client for over ten years, with the frequency of visits waxing and waning along with my finances.  Still, it’s the best way I know of to combat the stress that invades my life.  And on those occasions when I turn my head just so and rip the muscles along the back of my neck, the massage therapist is the only one to bring me relief.  It’s completely worth the hour’s rate, in my book. 

The massage therapy group I’ve been going to has been located for as long as I can remember in a business park, in a suite of offices repurposed into a rabbit warren of dimly lit rooms.  It was cozy, and relaxing.  Each room had a distinct personality, some even included antique furniture or new-age crystals and fountains.  It was quirky, and I liked it. 

But as with any business that’s been successful, the lady who owned the business decided it was time to build her own place.  It’s a little further out of my way now, but out of loyalty and knowing what to expect I decided to follow them to their new place. 

The new place was very nice, very modern and, well, new.  All the chairs matched.  All the rooms were painted the same color.  Gone were the distinct characteristics that made the old place so homey. 

The massage was the same, at least.  But I’m finding myself wishing they didn’t feel the need to improve and update the place. 

 

— Mox

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Dipping back into the “things that annoy the holy living shit out of me” file: 

Every two weeks, we have our recycling pickup.  This past weekend, I discovered a box in our outbuilding, full of beer bottles and aluminum cans.  I am assuming it was left over from one of our barbecues last summer, and my husband was either saving those bottles to reuse for his next batch of homemade beer (truly, the man has no hobbies that make any sense to me) or he was just too lazy to cart them around to the driveway to put into the recycling.  So I did it for him.  It’s been sitting there for over a week, his truck has been parked next to it, and after all that time if he didn’t retrieve those bottles I am assuming that yes, everything in the box is free to recycle. 

So I set the box out along with the other two bins of stuff, and when I got back from the gym (walked two miles in 30 minutes, thankyouverymuch), the recycling guy had come and gone. 

And left the box. 

Seriously?  A cardboard produce box?  Is not recyclable?  Because it wasn’t cut down into 14 x 14 sheets?  Are you kidding me? 

So I left it, uncut-down, in the recycling bin.  Anybody want to wager how long it will take for him to take that box?  Because now it’s become something of a game to see how long it will take before one of us will blink. 

It’s the little things that piss me off. 

 

— Mox

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A fool and her money.

Spawn’s class won the used book sale collection contest, no doubt in part to the three cargo-area loads of books that I took to the school.  My SUV may be small, but it can pack a whole lot of books. 

To my credit, I came home with only two boxes of books.  Such are the perils of volunteering to stack books, pre-sale.  But for a mere $21 I was able to beef up my bookshelves with a few tomes that I consider integral to a well-stocked shelf (ie., Carson McCullers, Hemingway) as well as a few books I’ve been wanting to read but didn’t want to spend full-price dollars for, and a few childhood favorites (ie, Watership Down, The Borrowers, Black Beauty) that I hope Spawn will find interesting some day. 

Spawn’s class gets a free dress day and an ice cream party, and I get to add to the leaning tower of books beside my bed.  The school library gets many thousands of dollars and the recession takes another hit.  Everyone wins! 

A while back, one of my charming and faithful readers asked me: “Do you have any book suggestions? Something you couldn’t put down? Something so good you don’t care that you don’t get anything else done?”  And try as I might to write that post, life keeps getting in the way.  Pesky thing, life. 

I’ve read thousands of books over the years, and some have stuck with me while others have passed through my system like a carnival hot dog.  I have certain genres that I prefer over others.  In the past several years my proclivity has been toward memoirs and biographies.  I enjoy the essayists.  Southern writers.  Travelogues.  Good old classic fiction. 

In a meager attempt to answer the above questions, here are a few books that have hijacked my brain over the years: 

I have attempted to order them, OCD style, with regard to how much they burrowed into my gray matter. 

  1. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
  2. The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd
  3. All Over But The Shoutin’ – Rick Bragg
  4. Ava’s Man – Rick Bragg
  5. The Prince of Frogtown – Rick Bragg
  6. The Last American Man – Elizabeth Gilbert
  7. The Orchard – Adele Crockett Robertson
  8. Without Reservations – Alice Steinbach
  9. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  10. Beach Music – Pat Conroy
  11. The Color of Water – James McBride
  12. Fortune’s Rocks – Anita Shreve

I haven’t even unpacked the boxes of books from the book sale and already I’m trolling for more to add to my list.  I carry an index card in my purse with titles and authors listed on it, just in case I happen upon a bookstore and have an hour or two to kill.  Truly, I am pathetic. 

I have a feeling that if I ever did hit the big Lotto, my days would quickly become consumed with lazing about on the veranda (somewhere on a tropical isle, of course), reading voraciously through a stack of books. 

 

— Mox

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Schoolitis.

As kids, most all of us have faked being sick from time to time.  I know I did it, I clearly remember doing it.  I can remember lying on the couch in the teacher’s lounge at my small rural elementary school, waiting for my mother to come and get me.  Like any kid, I just wanted my mom, and if I had to fake being sick to get her to drive all the way from her job in town out into the country to get me, then that’s what I did. 

I knew, of course, not to go to the well too often with that scheme.  If there was something I was avoiding, I had to really want to avoid it badly in order to pull out the sick script.  I only remember doing it a couple of times, though my mother might disagree.  And after all these years, I don’t recall what it was that I wanted to avoid.  I did eventually learn how to deal with stuff that I wanted to avoid, and me faking sick became unnecessary. 

Now that I’m the mom to a second-grader, it’s becoming clear to me that I am paying for my raisings.  Spawn is, among other things, one of those kids who has a fertile imagination and a very thin skin.  It’s easy to wound the kid, and Spawn has learned to garner some sympathy (or at least stop the offending party in their tracks) by faking sick.  It wears on me pretty quick.  No one should suffer so much, so often, from a sore throat or tummy ache or headache or hangnails.  I’ve taken to calling the kid Candide, such is the level of tragedy. 

In a way I hate to be so callous about Spawn’s “illness” but caving in to it makes it ten times worse.  And like the boy that cried wolf, I tend to not take Spawn very seriously once the complaints start.  Most of the time I can tell if the kid is faking it; like me, Spawn’s true ailments show in the eyes.  When I’m under the weather my eyes give me away, and Spawn has inherited this trait from me. 

But I can be faked out.  This morning I went in to roust the kid for school and was met with a complaint of a tummy ache.  There is a throw-up bug going around at school, so rather than me send the kid and then have the school call me to come back and pick my child up, I called the school and told them Spawn wasn’t going to be there today.  Then I called my parents and forewarned them that I was bringing them a sick young’un.  To be fair, Spawn did look a bit peaked this morning. 

When I called my parents a couple of hours later to check on the patient, my father told me he thought Spawn should have gone to school today.  Turns out, the kid did nothing but eat, all morning long.  No throw-ups, no tummy ache, nothing.  I don’t know what the kid is avoiding but whatever it is, being away from school seems to have cured it. 

So tonight I get to spend a good deal of time teaching, since my best friend is going to pick up Spawn’s homework pack from the school for me.  So instead of escaping the schoolwork, Spawn is going to have to do the homework AND the classwork, and in a shorter time frame than would have been if the kid had just sucked it up and gone to school today.  Seems fair to me. 

 

 

— Mox

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Nothing.

You know what I like best about the beach? 

Nothing. 

And I mean that in the best possible way. 

Nothing, as in “doing a whole lot of” or “thinking about” or “an ample supply of.”  There are no expectations at the beach, beyond getting some sun or digging in the sand.  If you time it just right, you don’t even have to be sociable.  The beach is where I can empty my mind of all the distractions that compete for my mental real estate and finally exhale.  It is also my favorite place to read a book. 

My favorite beach is one located within the confines of a state nature preserve along the Gulf coast in Florida.  This means that there is no development along the beach, beyond the state-mandated visitor center with restrooms and park ranger office.  There are no homes, no restaurants, no piers.  It’s just:  sand, ocean, and critters.  Consequently, there are not too many people, either. 

(Sidebar:  there are plenty of other beaches around the world that would qualify for “favorite beach” status.  But alas, I’ve never been to Tahiti.) 

I love this beach because of its’ nothingness.  Plunk my chair down in the sand, put up the umbrella, and stare off into the horizon.  It’s great.  It’s that mental, emotional, and psychic rest we all need from time to time, like the rest in between bars on a musical score. 

Because I am a landlocked, dry-docked, and otherwise high-and-dry would-be sailor, I don’t get the opportunity to take to my chair, with a book, at the beach very often.  More’s the pity, but then again it’s probably a good thing I don’t get that much mental downtime.  I might start to like it. 

I’ve often wondered what would become of me if I were to be presented with the opportunity to live my life without the spectre of money looming over my every move.  It boggles the mind.  Things would get done a heck of a lot faster if I didn’t have to wait on cash.  In fact, things would actually get done, not postponed.  But once the have-tos were accomplished, and the want-tos attended to, what would I do? Get a job? 

Just the sort of ponderance fit for the beach, if you ask me. 

 

— Mox

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Conversation in the Irish pub last Friday night: 

Friend:  Man, I’m getting where I can’t see my watch anymore.  Or my cellphone screen. 

Me:  Get yourself some reader glasses. 

Friend:  I’ve never had glasses. 

Me:  No, the magnifiers you get at the drugstore.  You can see little stuff better with them. 

Friend:  Huh.  No kidding. 

Me:  I’ve got several pairs. 

My husband:  Yeah, I was working on my laptop the other day and I had to sit way back from the screen.  I looked really relaxed, leaning back in my chair like that. 

Me:  I’m not quite there yet. 

My husband:  I’m getting bifocals.  I’m so excited! 

Friend:  (chuckles)

Me:  (chuckles)

My husband:  (chuckles) 

 

 

— Mox

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