Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Rhyme? Reason? Where?

Today's been a pretty rotten day for me. And, trust me, I know that sounds selfish. Imagine how Cameron's poor mom feels! Well, that's why it's been such a rotten day. I can't stop imagining how she's feeling. How can a mother possibly survive something like that? I know they do. I know they do it every day. I just cannot imagine how.

I've had complete strangers walk up to me and tell me that I'm going to die because they see me smoking. Well, they're almost assuredly right there! I assume they mean die of lung cancer. Maybe. Maybe even probably. Then again ...

My sister-in-law's uncle died of lung cancer two short years after he quit smoking. Interestingly, it was not the kind of lung cancer you can get from smoking.

A good friend John lost his wife to cervical cancer. She was 35. Didn't smoke, didn't drink, ate well and exercised daily.

Lane's 14 year-old friend just died even though the prognosis for his full recovery was originally good.

Where is the rhyme or reason in any of this? I know I sound whiny. But I feel pretty whiny.

The good news is that Lane seems to be coping fairly well. He's had a few tears today but that's perfectly natural. The funeral will be hard. Who am I kidding? The funeral will be a nightmare.

This is one of those days where one keeps asking 'why'? But there never are any answers, are there?

Dear God.

On June 14 I blogged that Lane's good friend, Cameron, had found out he has leukemia.

He passed away this morning from complications from the surgery and treatment. I just got the news. I'm reeling. I cannot quit crying. Lane doesn't know yet. I have to go pick him up from work soon. How do you tell a child something like that? Because, 6' tall or not, working man or not, he is still a child. And so was Cameron.

Anyone who is so inclined, please, please keep Cameron's family and friends in your prayers. They will need them.

Well, a guy's got to collect something, right?

Last night I was using the guy bathroom. And I'll just interject here that is something that I try NEVER to do. Unfortunately, Steve goes to bed way before I do and my bathroom is open to our bedroom. Don't want to wake him with that flush so I'm usually forced to endure their bathroom once a day. But I digress ....

When I was washing my hands I noticed that they've amassed quite a collection of toothpaste in the little basket I've provided them for storage of such items. Seven. There are SEVEN tubes of toothpaste. For three guys. WTH? Admittedly, one of them was donated by me and, in all probability, two of them. Since Colgate quite making the kind I like, I've been on a search for a new toothpaste that tastes good. I'm very picky. I'll try a tube and, if I don't like it, I put it in their basket knowing that Steve is not picky and will use whatever is available. Still, that leaves five other tubes. For three guys. Lane and Levi each have a particular kind they like so that leaves three different tubes just for Steve.

Oh well. I guess there are worse things they could be collecting.

Monday, June 26, 2006

When good jobs go bad

You know how sometimes something that should be a relatively simple job ends up being way, WAY more than you bargained for? That's how my recent "brilliant" idea to fix up my porch ended up going.

First, the cement was all stained and icky looking. Second, it gets slicker than whale snot (and, I'm pretty sure that's really, really slick) when it's wet. So I decided to stain and texture it. Simple, right? Yeah, sure. It should have been, but ....

I washed the porch all squeaky clean in preparation for staining. Then gave it a day to dry (per the instructions of Mr. Sherwin Williams as concrete absorbs water.)

By now, there is rain in the forecast. Waited a day.

Now the wind was blowing. REALLY blowing. Not only blowing, but blowing cottonwood seed so thickly that it looked like it was snowing. Well, I didn't want a porch that looked like one of those preschool-made lambs with cotton balls stuck all over a piece of constructions paper, so I waited.

Days went by.

Now the porch is all dirty again from the wind blowing in dust and cottonwood seed. Washed it down again. Waited another day.

Ya-HOO! A day that is not rainy, not windy and between the recommended temperatures of 60-90 degrees. (Anyone live in Kansas? Anyone know how rare a day like that is here??) I got two coats of stain on. It looked great!

Life briefly interfered so it took a couple of days before I could get to the sealer. Still, the porch was pretty clean and just a good blow job with a leaf blower prepped it for the sealer.

Start sealing. Do a strip of about 2' by 6'. Uh-oh. Is it supposed to turn orange?? Methinks not. Stop working.

Next day, go see Mr. Sherwin Williams. After some detective work on his part he finally deduced that *I* bought oil-based sealer to go over water-based stain which is, apparently, a no-no. Um. No. Actually, YOU SOLD me the wrong sealer. I was the one in here a couple of weeks ago asking what I needed to pretty my porch.

Armed with a free can of the correct sealer and instructions to go home and sand the part that turned orange (and a bit of a pissy attitude that I was going to have to sand), off I went.

Break out the sander and the coarsest sandpaper I have. Sand. And sand. And sand. Hmmm. Apparently sanding cement sealer has only slightly less effect than using an emery board would have on a diamond.

Sherwin Williams is now closed and so, I assume, that Mr. Sherwin Williams has gone home for the day. Hit Ace Hardware and plead my case. After being treated like I was slightly stupid for trusting Mr. Sherwin Williams (but, to be honest, he's never steered me wrong before) I am sent off armed this time with a can of extra-strength stripper.

A few notes about extra-strength stripper:
1) It burns the flesh
2) It burns the nose hairs when inhaled
3) It, mixed with the sealer you're trying to remove, turns into super glue and adheres permanently with anything it comes into contact with including skin. (See note #1)

After about two hours work on roughly 12 square feet, I got most of the orange off.

Washed the area down with bleach water, per the instructions of Mr. Ace Hardware cramming old towels along the edge of the porch to hopefully soak up the bleach and keep it from running in to the bed killing my recently planted flowers and thus adding serious insult to injury.

Let dry.

Re-stain the areas that I stripped.

Spend a few days doing other things.

Wash down the porch again since it's gathered all new dirt and bugs since the last washing.

Realize that the un-sealed stain has acquired stains. And, by stains, I mean ugly, dirt-type stains and not pretty paint-type stain.

Do some touch-up staining.

[At this point, you may notice that I have refrained from sharing any of the comments or special words that I have been saying throughout this ordeal. I'm trying to keep this, at the least, a PG blog. I'm sure you can imagine, though.]

Start rolling on the new sealer. Stop and say a few of those words I'm keeping myself from sharing. The first (wrong) batch of sealer was about the consistency of paint, but clear. In fact, it looked a lot like clear fingernail polish. The new (supposedly right) sealer is both the color and consistency of watered-down milk. And it turned foamy when rolled on. This can't be right!?!

In a fit of pique I cover the whole porch with this mess thinking that I'm doing it, I'm not stopping and if it is the wrong stuff than Mr. Sherwin Williams is going to have his ass (sorry, a girl can only resist for so long) out here tomorrow with a sandblaster and HE is going to be re-doing it!

Huff off.

Come back outside about an hour later. Wow! What do you know? It dried clear and actually looks pretty good! Do a second coat. It also dries clear. And it still looks pretty good.

Soooooo, (no making this long story short) it's now all done. And I finally got all my house plants moved to the porch, which is their summer home. And it still looks good. So, was all the hassle worth it?

I don't know if I'd go that far.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

I'm addicted to soft-core

Soft-core literature, that its. Not porn. Although .... Never mind. Too much information. Hmmm. Where was I? Oh, yes!

I'm addicted to light-weight literature. (Maybe that's how I should have worded it to begin with?) Anyway, my latest craving is for the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter books by Laurell K. Hamilton. (Thanks, Dotti. Lord knows I needed another excuse to avoid laundry!) My little sister loaned three of them to me. I'm only on the second one but realized quickly I had to read the rest of them so bought four more yesterday.

These books will never make the recommended reading list for high school Lit students. But, man, are they ever fun to read. Very little thought required. And isn't that nice at times?

I know people who are literature snobs. They won't read it unless it is "literature". Dang. Don't you think these people miss out on a lot of fun? Good literature does have its place and I do enjoy reading it as well. But isn't life deep enough at times? There are days that adding deep reading material would be just too much for this simple girl. Give me some fluff on occasion!

Speaking of fluff, that brings to mind another bit of written cotton candy that I crave .... Stephanie Plum. Book twelve just came out. I've got to get to the library and get my name on the waiting list for this one. The Stephanie Plum books are even airier than the Anita Blake books. But that's part of what I love about them.

So, you literature elitists can look down on me if you like. But, try to remember that the definition of novel is "new and not resembling something formerly known or used". So try something new. Try reading a book that melts in your intellect nearly the instant you bite into it, but leaves a faint, sweet taste in your memory.

[Note: The Anita Blake books are not for those who are squeamish. They're about vampires, werewolves, zombies and other "monsters". While they aren't scary at all, they can be rather graphic, especially in the places where Anita is investigating a murder. The details are easily skipped over, though.]

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Life in the Passenger Seat

Lane has now had his driver’s permit for a sum total of 18 days. I wish I could say I had acquired only a sum total of 18 grey hairs because of it, but I’d be lying if I did. It’s not that he’s a bad driver necessarily. Just a … um … very, very new one. For the most part, he really does a good job. But then there’s his quirks.

For starters, and it’s not really a quirk, but he wants to go every place I go now. Every. Single. Place. With school out we’ve got an awful lot of togetherness as it is. Now I can’t even escape for a peaceful, solitary stroll down the grocery store aisles any more. Anyone with a new driver will attest to said driver’s willingness, nay eagerness, to suddenly accompany Mom on literally any errand. So they can drive, of course.

And then there’s the speed. Not high speed. Oh, no. sometimes I wish it were. He drives like an 80 year-old woman. I get to the point where I just want to shout GO!!! But of course I’m supposed to be instilling good habits. Speeding is not one.

On the other hand, there is one location in which he is all too willing to drive fast. Corners. For someone who is very timid on the straightaways, he’s a demon on the corners. He denies it, but I think his driver’s ed instructor challenged the kids to see if they could get Mom’s minivan up on two wheels when cornering.

Then there’s the all-over-the-road thing. Most of the time he drives right down the middle of his lane like a good little boy. On the highway, when a car is approaching from the opposite direction, it makes him nervous and he squeezes the edge of the road. This makes Mom nervous and makes Mom squeeze the seat. And I don't mean with her hands. I think there’s a permanent ridge in the leather now. Or, at times, he just oozes over and drives Pac Man-like right down the dotted line. I can almost hear the ‘chomp, chomp, chomp’.

What has really surprised me in this whole adventure is discovering that he’s got octophobia. It never manifested itself when I was driving. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a little-known fear of stop signs. It has to be a phobia as he always stops about 10’ back from one. He can’t really see into the intersection to check for traffic from where he stops, but his phobia forbids him from getting closer.

And, to top it off, they practiced “emergency braking” today in driver’s ed. His eyes literally glittered with joy when he explained it to me and told me he didn’t know you could stop that fast. I really think he’s just dying for a dog or a small child to run out into the street in front of him so that he can slam on the brakes in my van without repercussions.

And I’m suffering through all of this for what? So he can ask to borrow the car every Saturday night?

God. Help. Me.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Interesting postion

No, you perverts. Not THAT kind of position! Sheesh.

Lane and I went to the Juneteenth Festival in Ponca City this past Saturday. I had heard of it, but never gone. We went because BIL Jeremy was playing in a reggae band performing that night. We wanted to see him and see him play.

"Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery. From its Galveston, Texas, origin in 1865, the observance of June 19 as the African American Emancipation Day commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement."
from The Ponca City News.

This, naturally, meant that it was primarily attended by African Americans. Having lived all my life in small towns, which usually have smaller minority populations, I've never been in the position of being the minority. And Lane and I were the extreme minority here. It was a little odd at first. Not really uncomfortable. Just odd.

I think it was a good lesson for both of us in how those of minority races often feel in "our" midst. We found a table and shared it with a couple of ladies. We had a little conversation, made friends and listened to the band. It was a good evening, all around.

I did not, however, think this might be the time to mention that I have discovered that I'm coloured.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

He Hibernates

Levi must have been a bear in a former life. My reasons for deducting this are thus:

1) He has a very bear-like attitude at times. A pissed off mama bear protecting her cubs has nothing on Levi when he hasn't eaten and his blood sugar is running low. He could rip your head off with one verbal swipe.

2) He hibernates. Not just in the winter, though. He's a very non-discriminating hibernator, season-wise. He actually hibernates more in the summer since he has more opportunity to do so. After all, in the winter, he's got school and all. But in the summer .... It's not unusual for him to go to bed at 11 or 12 and sleep until noon the next day. You'd think after a number of successive 12-hour sleeps, he'd catch up. He hasn't yet. One day I expect him to go to bed and not wake up until the seasons change. If this ever happens, I'm gonna sell the story to The Enquirer. I can see it now: Half-boy, Half-bear Discovered Living in Kansas!!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Ouch. That kinda hurt.

The boys do rocketry for a 4-H fair project. They needed to get their rocket kits so they can get started as these can be fairly time consuming. Yesterday we went to the big city of Wichita. Their big Hobby Lobby has more selection than our smaller one so I wanted to get the kits then. Problem ... they aren't on sale. Hobby Lobby usually puts them on sale sometime in the summer but I really didn't want to wait for that. They DID, however, have a 40% off coupon. One per customer.

Our summer budget is pretty tight. Lots and lots of extra kid-related expenses. I really hated to pay full price for both as they totalled up to about $40. Hmmm. Well, technically, the boys are different customers, right? These rockets are for them, after all. Soooooo, I gave them each a $20 and a coupon and sent them through different lines.

Then I felt guilty. Ugh. Is this what they call "painfully honest"? I mean, I don't think Hobby Lobby will have to file bankruptcy because we used two 40% off coupons in one day. But I still felt bad. Does that make me an upstanding citizen? Or just an idiot?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

So you think YOU'RE having a bad day?

Sometimes I really let life's trials get to me. And then, every once in a while, something happens to slam me back into reality.

I've been irritated with SIL's drama queen antics the last few days. I've been letting it bug me. Plus had some other irritations and was feeling a bit grumpy.

Yesterday one of Lane's friends called and asked if he wanted to go with them to see another friend, Cameron, in the hospital. Lane did. He didn't know why Cameron was in the hospital as he hasn't talked to him since school let out.

It's leukemia. He's 14.

You know, my SIL may drive me nuts and my yard may be pissing me off, but at least I don't have to go take my kid for his chemo today.

Kind of puts things into perspective.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Gentleman and a Gentle Man

I heard Bob Brown described that way this evening. And it couldn't be more fitting. Robert A. Brown passed away on June 8th. His funeral was tonight. He was 93. This is a man who came into a small, family-owned bank in one small town in Kansas. During his administration, he grew it to a three-state, ten-location enterprise. I am amazed at the fact that a man can have lived so long and have built such a large business and there is not a single person who can find a bad word to say about Mr. Brown. And that's what most people called him. Not that he was stuffy or remote and one didn't feel comfortable calling him by a more casual name. They called him Mister because he deserved the title of respect.

Actually, if I think about it, I'm not surprised that no one has anything negative to say about him. I had the privilege of knowing the man. I wish I had known him better. I have heard him described in terms like ... shrewd, determined and a human business barometer. And yet he was considered to be unfailingly kind, generous, caring, giving, gracious and always a gentleman's gentleman. Even in the course of guiding his bank to multistate status, he never lost the human touch.

When my time comes, I will be very fortunate if people think even half so well of me as the world thought of Bob Brown.

He will be sorely missed.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Little Big Man

You know, it’s one thing to know your kids are getting big.
It’s quite another to be confronted with solid evidence.

This weekend, Lane -14- wanted to know just exactly how big he’s getting.

6’ even
214 pounds

Oh, and I just had to buy him new shoes.

14 E

God save me!!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Psycho SIL Strikes Again

It's a proven fact. My sister-in-law is nuts. Purely freakin' insane. See my previous Drama Queen post for further proof. And now she's done it again.

MIL wanted us to paint her living room. SIL and I painted her family room together in March. SIL spent the entire weekend bitching about having to do it (even though we were getting paid.) She and BIL mow MIL's lawn and all summer long I also have to listen to her bitch about traveling (45 minutes) to MIL's to mow.

So, I was at MIL's this weekend. I had the paint. I had the time. SIL had told MIL the day before that she had a terrible, terrible sunburn. So, trying to be nice, I didn't call and ask her to come help. It was one room. Something I could easily do myself and spare her the pain of both working with a burn and having to spend yet another weekend at MIL's.

Guess who got royally pissed when she found out I painted without her? It seems she *wanted* to help.

I guess she's mad because she missed the opportunity to have something to bitch about.

Oh, wait. She does. She can bitch that I didn't call her.

I guess either way I was gonna make her happy.

I just bring sunshine wherever I go.

Update 6/12/06 - SIL is still ranting and raving about this. Now she feels "betrayed". All because I was cruel enough to do some work without her. I'm such an ass.

Update on update 6/13/06 - SIL called this morning to discuss this. After a GRUELING two-hour conversation, she decided she may have overreacted a bit. Gee, ya think? As Claire Fraser would say .... Jesus. H. Roosevelt. Christ.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

the daily MUMPS

You have GOT to check out this blog:

I don't even remember who recommended it to me, but it's hysterical. Those poor kids. They'll be scarred for life. Well, once they're old enough to read what Dad's written about them, that is. But then, I have the sneaking suspicion that, by then, they'll know he's a lunatic.

Thanks Dave, for your permission to post this. I don't know about my very few readers, but I'll be checking in regularly.

Discovery of the day ….

I’m coloured.

Yeah, I know. You’d think I would have figured that out before now, huh? And I do know that we Americans spell it colored but the Aussie ladies on SS say coloured and I like that better. And, in this instance, I think it fits better.

I think us “whites” actually had it right when we started calling “black” people “coloured”. Problem is, we stopped there. We didn’t extend that description to include ourselves. I mean, have you ever seen a truly white person? Even albinos have a pale pink shade to their skin. Have you ever seen a truly black person? No. Even the darkest black is not black. Honestly, I think seeing a truly, completely black person would scare the crap out of me. Then again, seeing an absolutely white person would scare the crap out of me, too. But I read too much Stephen King so never mind me.

Have you ever seen a yellow Chinese? Have you ever seen a red Indian? Nope. Nope.

No one is actually the colours we describe them by. Or did, before we got so PC.

We’re ALL coloured. Even amongst a single race/colour there’s a huge spectrum of shades. And then there’s those of us who change colours with the seasons. Primarily those of us formerly known as white.

I think the next time I have to fill out a form that asks for race, I’m going to write in “coloured”. Wonder what kind of response I’ll get?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Holy Gators, Batman!

If you live anywhere in southern Kansas or northern Oklahoma, be afraid. Be very, very afraid. Keep your children at home. If you must venture out onto the streets, do it cautiously. Stay ever alert. Stay ever vigilant.

Lane got his driving permit today.


[I will post a photo later but all they give at the time is a temporary paper permit. The real one will come in the mail later. The paper one looks like a grocery store receipt. Somehow that doesn't hold quite the same photographic eloquence.]

And, on an unrelated and yet related, subject ... I got my first pair of Crocs yesterday. Women all over the county (via Scrap Share) have been recommending them to me. Twenty thousand scrappers can't be wrong, can they? I took the plunge. I came home with these. The world's absolute ugliest shoes. The experts were right, though. They are darned comfy.

Damn. Now I'm going to have to buy some other colors.

Oh, and Lane calls them Gators. Now I'm calling them Gators. So I'm going to keep calling them gators, because I think it's funny and these ones are kind of gator-colored, and one day I'm going to say that in front of someone else and they're going to think I'm an idiot.

Oh well.
What else is new?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

You want fries with that?

I made a startling discovery last night. Well, not so startling really. If I had thought about it for, oh ... half a second, I probably could have come to the conclusion without having done the experiment. The conclusion is that I am NOT cut out for a job in the fast food industry.

Lane is in 4-H Junior Leaders, a service organization. Jr. Leaders runs a food stand for two major events in our area - the Country Round-Up and the Bluegrass Festival. This is our first year to be involved. It's Round-Up time now so Lane and I did our first shift in the food stand last night.

For starters, it was hot. I don't really "do" hot. And the food stand isn't air conditioned.

For seconders, I somehow got stuck running the big ole fry vats cookin' up chicken strips and French fries. Standing over huge pools of boiling grease isn't foremost of my list of fun things to do. And the fry vats are right next to the burger grill which is also kicking up splatters of grease and great waves of heat.

Did I mention that the stand isn't air conditioned?

All in all, it wasn't a bad experience. I only got burned (luckily, mildly) about 18 times and only bonked my head on the overhead vent hood about 47 times. I was too busy to wonder why there is actually a hood when there's no working vent under it. I'm thinking there's some sadistic gnome watching from a hidden location keeping track of how many times the human idiots smack their heads on an overhang that is completely useless. But that's just a guess.

Plus, my favorite pants are now covered in grease spots. Why did I wear them? Well, that's a darned good question. I'd like to claim it was the head injury that led to that particular decision, but I dressed before that occurred. I really have no good excuse.

But the good news is that I get to go back and do it all over again on Friday night!! Whee!! I'm formulating a game plan, though. Last night was my first time so I waited for someone who appeared to be in charge to tell me what to do. Friday, I'll barge in like I know what I'm doing and claim an area. That cash register was looking pretty darned good.