Saturday, May 31, 2008

Hey, Lucy!

Lucille Ball has nothing on me.

Husband and I had a lot on our plates this weekend so we planned carefully to use our time and our gasoline to the best advantage. We planned to talk to the three offspring via long distance, as per usual for Saturday morning, pick up the house, leave when the maid came, drop by the bank to cash a check, gas up the car and fill up the lawn mower can, drive to Lowe's for bags of dirt to build up our planting bed, stop Husband's new glasses off at the optometrist's because something was wrong with them, run by the post office, then pick up groceries at HEB and drop off a prescription next door at CVS.

All three offspring were out of pocket when we called, which put our schedule back an hour. Two of them called back later, one flashing on top of the other, but we have yet to hear from the third one. Then, as I read the paper, I suddenly realized that there were 31 days in May, not 30, as I had supposed when I scheduled the blog I wrote yesterday to be posted on what I thought would be today but turned out to be tomorrow. At least I thought that was what had happened, but couldn't know for certain until I traced exactly what date I had scheduled the blog to be posted on. I searched the blogspot for half an hour and couldn't figure out how to find out what date I had specified.

Two hours after the maid was scheduled to arrive, we gave up on her and left the house. Three blocks down the road she passed us so we turned around and went back home to unlock the door for her and were off again. Husband was running low on gas and didn't want to stop at the bank so we went directly to the gas station, where he filled the tank and the gas can while I ran inside to get a lottery ticket (gotta pay the maid somehow) and a couple of bottles of Ozarka.

We drove toward the big shopping city ten miles away, missed our turn, and had to circle back about five miles. As we disembarked from the car at Lowe's, we smelled gasoline. The full can of gasoline in out trunk had fallen over and was now empty. We fled the car for Lowe's. Poor Robert was nearly asphyxiated when he packed our six bags of dirt into the trunk for us half an hour later. Then, with windows rolled down, we drove across to the optometrist's shop. I sat in the car for a few minutes while Husband took his glasses in. Then as the minutes ticked by and the gas fumes began to congregate inside the car, I escaped to the shop. It took ten more minutes until we left--minus the glasses, which won't be ready till Monday. Meanwhile I adjusted our list. The groceries could wait till tomorrow, but we did need to mail some bills and cash a check to pay the maid (I don't trust the lottery).

Then we headed home. The fumes must have gotten to Husband because he missed the turn to the post office and again we had to circle back. We tried to drop by the bank, but it was closed. At home, we parked the car outside the garage and opened everything openable. Then I had to make a mad dash to HEB to cash a check, stopping at CVS on the way to drop off my prescription.

I paid the maid, and Husband made waffles for supper. As I checked my blog once more, I realized all I had to do was go to the "edit" page to find out what day I had set my last blog for. It was June 1. I owe you one for today, so I have been typing madly for the past two hours, in between planting crape myrtle and cleaning up after dinner.

It was a day when everything that could go wrong did go wrong. As Robert Burns said, "The best laid schemes of mice and men/ Go oft astray." (Well, actually he said "Gang aft a-gley.") But the fact that people have said this sort of thing so often that it's become a truism is comforting to me. At least I know I'm not the only one in the world who has bad days. In other words, we're all in the same boat and misery loves company.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Coumadin Nurse from Hell Is Gone!

The coumadin nurse from hell informed me that I shouldn't even consider lap-band surgery because I would just gain back the weight, plus some. She had been a bariatric nurse, she said, and she knew. Instead, she told me, I should go to a nutritionist, hire a personal trainer, and stay away from all those fad diets I had indulged in, grapefruit and all that.

I have never been on a fad diet in my life.

The next time I showed up to have my finger pricked, I mentioned that my doctor had told me to switch from the generic warfarin to real coumadin because there could be as much as 20% variance between batches. "Not so," the coumadin nurse told me. "I know because I'm a coumadin nurse. The government won't allow more than a 10% percent variance, and I have 403 patients on warfarin, and none of them have any problems." Then she upped my warfarin dosage because my blood was running thick.

"You've been eating too many dark green vegetables," she said.

I have never eaten a dark green vegetable in my life.

The next time I showed up, I kept my mouth shut as to any future medical intentions. After all, the woman controlled the finger pricker. As I left, she said, "That's it for today, young lady!"
I briefly considered strangling her to death, but decided there were too many people around for me to get away with it. The next time I visited, she called me "dear."

Now, an older person can address a younger person as "dear" or "young lady," and it's rather sweet. But a younger person using these terms to address an older person is insolent, rude, and patronizing. I wanted to turn on her and inform her I was not "dear" or "young lady," but "Your Majesty, Queen of the Universe." But she had the power of the pricker so I kept my mouth shut and stewed. During my quiet times, I did learn , however, that the coumadin nurse had been not only a bariatic nurse, but also a pediatric nurse, and a surgical nurse. She got around.

Last week I went in to the Coumadin Clinic and someone I didn't recognize was sitting at the nurse's desk. She introduced herself with a big smile and called me "Mrs. Plum."

"Is the other one gone then?" I asked, hoping against hope.

"Yes. She said it was too overwhelming."

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mother Knows Best

I am in the process of inventing a new board game which, once Grand Theft Auto #103 has run its course, will take the country by storm. It's called "Guilt, the Fun Game Mothers Play with their Daughters," to be advertised as "You'll always be my baby."

I envision the playing field to be drawn in the shape of a giant uterus, with long, apronstring-like fallopian tubes snaking out from either side. In the middle of the organ is a great pulsating heart, on which is emblazoned in tremulous gold, "All I want is for you to be happy."

There are about ninety spaces marked off on the board, the starter labeled "womb" and the final stop, "tomb." The object of the game for the mother is to get all the way to the finale while never allowing the daughter to advance further than square twelve. In certain circumstances, Mother can even continue to dominate the game from beyond the grave.

Daughter's only objective is survival. There is no escape.

Mother always starts her token on at least square twenty and, of course, rolls the bones first. After taking as many steps as the dice have designated, she passes to Daughter--if she feels like it.

Daughter starts at "womb" and passes through such juvenile guilt squares as "Where did you learn THAT word," "What do you and your friends talk about when you close your door" and "Why do you find hidden meanings in everything I say?"

When daughter reaches square thirty, Mother redoubles her efforts, drawing a pink card which enables her to ask:
1. "Why are your children sick all the time?" (Ten extra points)
2. "Why isn't your garage as clean as your neighbor's?" (Ten extra points)
3. "Why are you so defensive?" (Jackpot--twenty-five bonus points)

On the other hand, any pink cards Daughter draws return her square twelve, minus the number of points Mother would have gained from the same card. Thus it is possible for Daughter to accumulate a negative score and dissolve to nothingness.

Yellow cards enable the mother to change the rules in any way at any time without the least notice, which is why all the yellow cards the daughter draws are automatically forfeit to Mother.

I have also thought about tokens for the players. A crystal teardrop seems appropriate for the mother player. The daughter, of course, doesn't need one--she isn't going anywhere.

The beauty of this game is that it uses familiar, everyday materials, is easily transportable, and has universal application. The daughter becomes more inept with every round as the mother increases her skill to a fine art. A seasoned motherplayer can get a special charge out of watching a daughter player work herself up to thirty or forty, then tumbling her back to twelve with one master motherstroke.

I'll give you an example:

"That's an awful lot of money to pay for a new transmission," my mother said in a suspicious tone of voice when I told her about the car repairs.

I started stewing. Was she right? Had I been taken? Could I have gotten a better deal somewhere else? I felt completely inadequate to a situation I had been handling with perfect confidence one hour earlier.

Twenty-five points! My mother doesn't even know how to drive!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Do sliming snails dream of snail heaven?
Do cows believe in meadows in the sky?
Do signing apes imagine life hereafter.
Are elephants aware they too will die?

Do animals know more of death than pain?
Or was it prime in our ignoble flight
From ancient Eden's cursed and blessed tree
That we alone know death and thus know life?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Eyelid Lift

Whoop-ti-doo, a lot of fun!
I am getting my eyelids done!
The tests have shown most definitely
That I can't see what I ought to see,
But lift my lids and I'll see great
And look good too--I just can't wait!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Writing in the Fast Lane

Experts say that writing is a full-time job. And marketing one's manuscripts is a full-time job. And keeping a house is a full-time job. And taking care of one's health is a full time job. Now all I need is a ninety-six hour day.
For me, writing a story is like sculpting a statue. The story already exists out there in the ether somewhere, and my job is to chip away everything that isn't. Think of it as a tabula prescripta,* a pre-written slate, rather than a tabula rasa, a blank slate.
I am lying on a chaise lounge on our balcony now, soothed by the sound of the water trickling across the rocks into the little pond in our back yard, my laptop at hand. I am my own idealized picture of an author. Well, sort of--actually, I'm lying with my upper body twisted sideways and my laptop balanced precariously on my hip, securing my copious notes. Oops, not quite: two pages fly off across the yard. I close my laptop and dash downstairs to retrieve them, but too late. So much for the image. I'd better stay downstairs and loll on the couch from now on.
I am compulsively communicative. I write essays, short stories, poems, and novels. And my e-mails are a diary of my life. My friends are very tolerant.
I used to teach creative writing, but I always told my students that it should be called "rewriting" rather" than "writing" because the craft is in the editing. And editing. And editing.

*Forgive me, Miss Osborn, if I've muddled up the Latin. I
can't find my Cassell's and I've been all over the internet
trying to find the correct form.

Lyin' for Zion

I am appalled and amazed at how well Warren Jeff's minions have manipulated the press and thus public opinion. And the women, those flocks of pastel flowers, did it all.

First of all, there was the visual image. The long "prairie dresses" bespoke a time we all revere in our Hollywood-ized past, when life was simpler and Maureen O'Hara fought off rascally Indians while Grace Kelly stood by her man. Then there were the sad faces, all duly recorded by cameras and camcorders for public display. "We just want our children back," their spokeswomen said, but their eyes were crafty.

They didn't hide from us, those women. They didn't shun the media. They were in our living rooms every night. We couldn't get away from them. So we started to think about them, to try to understand them, to put ourselves in their klunky shoes--which is right where they wanted us to be.

Of course, the press tripped over its own prime ethic, fairness, and told us so much of the women's side of the story that we started liking them. And we remembered that our Constitution promises freedom of religion. And our hearts told us mothers should not be forced to deliver their children up unto to the sheriff.

At the same time, the women were screwing up the works behind closed doors, refusing to give their last names, trading name tags, exchanging their clothes and their children's clothes, anything to obfuscate their individual identities. Maybe they didn't have any.

And, as was often asked, what about the boys born into the cult? With male/female birthrates usually about equal, how could so many women end up married to one man without leaving many other males wifeless? Uneducated, inexperienced with the world, what happened to the leftovers? Apparently they get tossed out of Zion and often end up hooked on alcohol and drugs. What else do they have in their lives?

But where were the married men, the bulls in the cowpen? Nowhere to be seen. After all, they could be arrested for bigamy if their wives ratted on them. And when DNA fatherhood was proven, the state might find some way to make them support their children themselves rather than registering the kiddos for welfare, as reported by Nancy Grace.

Why did the women do this? For the same reason abused children will move heaven and earth to defend their abusive parents, pleading to return to houses of horror: because the familiar is always more comfortable than change. Besides, abused people often have the idea that they are in control of their situations, that they have somehow caused their own abuse by not being "good" enough. Come on, you've seen it on LAW AND ORDER a jillion times.

Keep up the good fight, Texas. Save the kids. And save the women from themselves, if you can. They can keep the prairie dresses and turn Amish, if they want--the Amish fully cooperate with civil law. Or they can join that Baptist sect the Dugger family exemplifies--seventeen kids, but with just ONE wife.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wendy the Weimer Saves the World Again

Her nape is high, her lip is curled,
Her bark is loud and clear
As Wendy the Weimer saves the world
From flying bird and chittering squirrel
And utterly unconcern-ed deer .

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Harry Potter, Harry Dresden

Adults missing their annual Harry Potter fix might want to try Harry Dresden instead.

Harry Dresden, the only wizard listed in the Chicago phone book (at least according to author Jim Butcher) is a grown up Harry Potter with a twist. For one thing, he's strictly American (although played by a British actor). For another, he's sexy. Also, he's something of a ne'er do well, extending Harry Potter's Cinderfella-ness well into adulthood.

And if you are really, curious, Harry Dresden didn't emerge until 2000, after the Potter phenomenon had really caught on. It's a natural.

I first became aware of Dresden when I was exercising my thumb on the channel changer. I had ignored all the commercials for THE DRESDEN FILES, assuming it was just another spy thriller, which I am NOT interested in, but got caught up in an episode before I knew what the program was. I became a dedicated watcher from then on, but, as usually happens with the shows I like, the series folded after one season.

So I checked out the books--literally-- from the local library.

They're a lot of fun, but more complicated than the hour-long TV episodes. Jim Butcher must have a taxonomy chart a mile long to keep track of all the various supernatural types he introduces in each book. When I read the books, I sort of let all that pass me by and head straight for the characters and the plot.

Husband likes the books too, so much so that he bought the whole series off Amazon. And I hear there are more to come. My cup runneth over--a Harry Potter that never ends.