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  • Enlightened

    September 28, 2009

    Sean’s kindergarten teacher called me on Sunday night to ask if I would be the art teacher this week at school.  I was thrilled when she asked because I have been chomping at the bit to use my hard earned, but mostly useless, degree in art.

    When I think of all the time, money and effort I invested in my degree, I remind myself that education is never a waste.  I tell myself that for me, education was about enlightenment more so than employment. Which is good, because that’s pretty much how it has worked out.  In the ten years since my graduation I have on many occasions been enlightened but have yet to be employed.

    As Mrs. D. worked her way toward asking if I would help out, I was mentally planning my lesson:  I would start out with color theory, maybe introduce  perspective drawing combined with a brief survey of Classical Greek and Roman art and then….

    “I was thinking we could decorate small pumpkins,” she said, “Have the kids paint faces on them, maybe glue on some google eyes….”

    “Yes!” I said, “That’s exactly what I was thinking!”

    Okay, so we’ll skip the Greek ideals of beauty and go right for the google eyes.

    I will teach those little children to glue on google eyes using the Greek ideals of beauty.  Education is never a waste.

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    This is what you can do with or without an art degreee

    Flaming Pineapples

    September 23, 2009

    Warning: The following post contains hyperbole and mockery.  No actual pineapples were harmed in the writing of this post.  This post is not intended to insult those who love flaming pineapples, coconut bras or themed parties. Although it probably will.

    * * * *

    It always starts out small.  It does.  “We’ll keep it simple,” they say. “Just getting together,” they say.  “It will be fun,” they say.  But at some point, there will be a flaming pineapple. Mark my words.

    A number of years ago, I was in a supper club with five or six other couples. The gal who invited me enticed me to join by saying, “We’ll keep it simple. Just getting together. It will be fun.”

    That sounded good.

    “Every month, someone will host the supper in their home,” she went on to explain.

    “And they will plan the menu and the theme.”

    Theme. A chill ran up my spine. I know what theme means.

    Theme means that someone, at some point, under the influence of estrogen, will go all Martha and do something uber-creative, like carve a watermelon into a sailboat for a centerpiece, and she’ll make place card settings out of peppermints and pipe cleaners, and she’ll greet you at the door wearing a sailor suit while Anchors Away plays in the background.

    The watermelon sailboat ratchets up the Martha factor exponentially for the next hostess and each hostess thereafter.  Things begin to escalate.  Before you know it, there will be a flaming pineapple for a centerpiece and the hostess is wearing a coconut bra and a hula skirt.

    And then next month, when it’s your turn to hostess, you spend 30 days racking your brain to come up with something that could top a flaming pineapple. And you begin to measure your value as a human being against the creativity of your table favors.  And then you are left to hang your head in shame, because who can top a flamPhotobucketing pineapple?  No one. Only Martha.

    Earlier in the week, I got an email from Sean’s room mother asking that each mom sign up to host a monthly luncheon at school for the kindergarten class.  Then I got an email from another mom who suggested each month have a theme.

    So I signed up for May, the last month of school.  That should give me plenty of time to learn how to properly ignite a pineapple.

    * * * *

    Post script:  I’m supposing that I was still on the email list only because word hadn’t gotten around that I sent my child to school this week with a lunch of bacon and cookies.  Wait… I think I just settled on a theme.

    Half Price Books – Spa For the Cheap and Uptight

    September 15, 2009

    I hear a lot of women saying how they love to go to the spa. They love to get a massage and get their nails done, they love the soothing new age music and the aroma therapy.  It’s a treat to get away for a couple of hours and relax and recharge.

    I’ve been to the spa a couple of times and it was nice and all, but being a person who freaks out a little at the thought of being touched by a stranger, I’d rather go to Half Price books.

    This morning, I was feeling the need to get away and recharge, so I drove to the Half Price Books spa where I spent a couple of hours relaxing and recharging.

    Whereas the spa plays new age music in the background, at Half Price Books Dean Martin was crooning quietly in the background.

    Whereas the spa smells of heather and lavender, Half Price Books smells of books and coffee.

    Whereas at the spa, I’m clothed only in a towel while strange people touch me, that almost never happens at Half Price Books.

    The spa usually costs about $100 and I leave with polished toe nails.

    At Half Price Books today, I spent $30 and got a big bag of books and movies.  And I didn’t have to tip anyone.

    You can go to the spa.  I’m going to Half Price Books.

    Why I Don’t Buy Magazines

    September 3, 2009

    I do not buy fashion and/or celebrity magazines.

    I really kind of like looking at them to see what the R&F are wearing, but I never put one down that I feel better about myself having spent time looking at it.  And I say “looking at it” rather than “reading it” to be precise.

    I figure that there’s no need to cut down trees and pay good money to feel badly about myself when I do a great job of that all by myself for free without endangering any trees.  It’s a greener approach to feeling like you don’t quite measure up.

    However, because I am human and weak of flesh, when I’m in line at the grocery store, I cannot resist a peek at celebrity fashion.  I peruse.  I partake of the eye candy.  I have a fair degree of disdain for all things Hollywood and all that it represents, yet I love to gawk.  Apparently, my alter ego is Mary Hart.

    Today at the grocery store, as I waited in the checkout line, I saw Jennifer Aniston on the cover of some magazine, so I leaned in a little closer to get a look.  Jennifer was looking fabulous in a short black dress.  I love how Jennifer always looks so natural, so girl-next-door.  Almost like one of us, except for her fabulous hair, perfect teeth, flawless skin, great clothes and awesome bod.  Yeah, just like us, only prettier. And rich.  Anyway, there she was, looking over her shoulder at the photographer; her famous blond locks floating out behind her like a golden cape. It was a vision of beauty, I cannot argue with that.

    What made me sniff loud enough to make the cashier look up was that below the picture of Jennifer was a headline which read something like:  How does Jennifer keep her butt so firm?

    Apparently Jennifer knows the secret to having a firm butt, and if we knew the secret, or if we were Jennifer, we could have firm butts too.

    Well, I’ll tell you her secret.

    First off, she doesn’t have any kids. I used to look like Jennifer Aniston too. And then I had a kid.  And I inherited a whole bunch of new real estate in the south 40.  It happens.  My weight is just about what it was before I had my preshus snookums, but time and declining estrogen have a way or rearranging the furniture without your permission.

    Second of all, since Jennifer doesn’t spend her day building forts in her den and practicing sight words, she has a lot of spare time to stand in front of her full length mirror and contemplate the state of her butt.  Although.  She’s so rich, she probably has people whom she pays to stare at and consider her butt for her.

    Third, Jennifer probably never dines at restaurants where they serve food with color crayons. Those kinds of restaurants don’t serve foods conducive to perky butts.

    Fourth, Jennifer probably has people who come to her house and kick her perky little butt out of bed every morning and make her work out for three hours.  Or maybe they work out for her.

    Now that I would pay for.

    Let’s see, there must have been a point to this post other than Jennifer’s butt.

    Nope.

    Sorry. Carry on.

    Fire Ants Are Of The Devil

    August 15, 2009

    God made all the animals. It says so right in the Bible. But I’m convinced that fire ants are of the devil.

    I say this because fire ants are so vile and so wretched and seem to be born to pour out misery upon humanity.  And also I say this because of the many similarities between fire ants and sin. And also because I thought it would make a clever little post.

    Now I did not grow up with fire ants. I grew up in the mid-west where the icy anesthesia of winter calls the earth and everything within it into a long and deep frozen sleep.  And for some, like the cockroach, the long  cold mid-western winter brings death. (insert applause)

    But. The Texas winter is more of a power nap. After a short nap, the fire ants wake up refreshed and energized and after a few stretches and push-ups, they are ready to destroy happiness and all living things.

    Now, how are fire ants like sin? Well I’ll tell you.

    For one thing, like sin, fire ants are ubiquitous.  In Texas at least, they are everywhere, all the time, and one must never let one’s guard down. In Texas and in life, one must always be aware of where one is standing.

    As well, like sin, fire ants are opportunistic.

    For example, right at this very moment, just below the surface of my lush and spongy green St. Augustine grass, are likely a number of fire ant mounds, invisible to the naked eye. Just below the surface is a menacing mob of fire ants, rubbing their six tiny hands together in anticipation and cackling with glee, just waiting for some unsuspecting tender flesh to happen by.  And in Texas, it eventually happens. Sooner or later you will find yourself standing unawares in a pile of fire ants.

    And because fire ants are the spawn of the devil, they are sneaky and surreptitious.  An entire army of ants will silently tip toe up your leg in stealth mode and at the appointed time, the ant commander will give the signal to BITE! And all at once, all of the little bastards will joyfully chomp down on your ankles and that very very tender space between your toes. And you will scream in pain. And maybe even cuss.

    And it’s not just the fiery sting of the bite that issues agony.  Some sort of substance in the bite sends a nausea-inducing, bone chilling current of electricity, pulsing and snapping up and down your spine and out your eyebrows.

    And like a wiener dog, once a fire ant bites, it will not let go until it dies.  Many people do not know this, but the fire ant was the model for the modern day invention we all know as The Jaws of Life. It’s true. No it’s not. I just made that up.  Everyone knows the wiener dog was the model for The Jaws of Life.

    Anyway, like sin, fire ants always leave an ugly calling card.  After a fire ant bites, he leaves behind a tiny, hard, painful puss-filled, hateful blister. And there is nothing you can do about it but cry just a little and poke at the blister and maybe show other Texans hoping for some sympathy.

    And finally, so that I might take an analogy just one step too far, as I like to do — like sin, there is nothing to be done about fire ants. Oh sure you can try this and that and for awhile it might even work.  But not for long.

    Sin and fire ants.  Man can master neither – for very long.

    Blue Parachute Guy And The Fellowship Of All Believers

    August 10, 2009

    As we settled into our seats at church on Sunday morning, Sean opened his fist and proudly showed me a tiny blue guy wearing a parachute.

    “Dude, that is awesome!” I said. “Where did you get that?”

    He told me that he got it in Sunday school, that it was a reward for reciting his Bible verse with no help.  I told him I was proud and impressed and that I looked forward to playing with it WHEN WE GET HOME.

    I had a nightmarish vision of him throwing parachute guy into the air and it landing several rows ahead into someone’s lap.  Or worse, it lands in the hands of another child who throws it again.  And it becomes like a beach ball at a rock concert.

    We attend one of those churches where every Sunday they serve communion by passing little trays of crackers, followed by little thimbles of grape juice.  In this past year, Sean has decided that he is a big boy and as such he should like to pass the communion and offering trays ALL BY HIMSELF — which is fine when he is sitting between his parents, but a bit more nerve racking when the next person is a further down pew.

    I mostly hover and flinch as he takes the tray of grape juice and this makes him bristle, my hovering and flinching.  But I will say this, he’s gotten better at walking slowly and holding the trays evenly and gently offering it to the next person.  The first few times, instead of handing off the tray carefully,  he thrust it at them with a bit of enthusiasm which caused me to involuntarily shout “Help me Jesus!”

    To be honest, the passing of the grape juice always puts me on edge no matter who is doing it.  It’s just such a precarious proposition.  The likelihood of one of those trays getting dumped seems pretty high to me.  Yet in all of the Sunday’s I’ve sat in a church that takes communion in this manner, I think it’s only happened once or twice, and then on the other side of the assembly. I had nothing to do with it and that in and of itself is amazing given my propensity for this kind of thing.

    So then, you’ve got the high likelihood that 30 or so little cups of grape juice could get dumped on someone’s Sunday clothes at any moment and then you add to that a five-year-old who wants to help.  And that gives me a bit of anxiety.  They should pass around a little Xanex along with the communion for the uptight believers like me.

    That’s my dissertation on the perils of communion which has nothing to do with anything thus far or hereafter.

    So I’m sitting on the end of the pew and the usher hands me a fresh tray of grape juice. I’m holding the tray with one hand and choosing a thimble-sized cup with the other hand. And just as I lift the tiny cup to my mouth and throw my head back, out of the corner of my eye I see blue parachute guy buzz the tray.  Blue parachute guy does a military-style flyover over the grape juice, complete with sonic boom sound effects.  The tray vibrates and wobbles.  The juice sloshes from side to side. My heart comes to a complete stop.  But by the grace of God who loves that boy and saved him from imminent parental-inflicted harm, nothing spilled. Not a drop. A miracle.

    “Parachute guy wants communion too!” he whispered at me with bright-eyed glee.

    I turn to see AD give Sean “the look” — the same one that God used in the Old Testament to set various things on fire.

    AD nabs parachute guy and removes him from the fellowship of all believers. Parachute guy is disfellowshipped (which as it turns out is not really a word).  Excommunicated.  Cast into the deep dark depths of purgatory to await mercy and redemption.

    I passed the tray over Sean’s head, which was now hanging chin to chest in sorrowful repentance.

    The rest of the service passed without further incident.

    Because we are a family who has received grace freely, we extend grace freely and absolved parachute guy as soon as we got home.

    But he will not be welcomed back into the fellowship of all believers any time soon.

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    Simple and Old, Just Like My Car

    July 27, 2009

    Earlier in the month, we loaded up my car and drove to the Midwest to see my parents.  I love my car. It is 10 years old and it is paid for and I can eat all the French fries I want in my car. And I know what all the buttons do. My car, it is not complicated. It is old and simple,  much like myself.

    AD has a newer fancy car that I do not care for.  Besides the fact that it is some sort of inner sanctum where no French fry shall pass, it has all kinds of buttons and dials and thingys on it that do stuff that frighten me. Screens pop up and people talk to me, people I do not know and cannot see.  And I can never figure out how to get any of the buttons to do what they are supposed to do.  It is a hateful car.

    One time I had to drive this car to a gathering at someone’s house, after dark. And as soon as I get in the car, I sense the car thinking, “Oh. It’s you. I suppose you will be wanting some fries.”

    After I got to my destination and parked, I could not get the headlights to turn off. Or the door to lock. Every time I would take three steps away from the car, it would unlock itself just to be spiteful.  So I couldn’t go into the house.  I just stood outside the house locking and unlocking the car and turning the lights off and on and off and on and waving to the normal people going in.

    Another time I had to take Sean and his little friend to school in this car and I could not unlock the back doors. I pushed every button I could find, but those doors would not open.  You know, I already have a reputation at this school as “that” mom, the one who can’t operate a calendar.  Now I’m “that”
    mom who can’t figure out how to unlock the car door.

    The people in the car pool line behind me were getting a little antsy, so finally I crawled into the backseat, unstrapped the children and then had them crawl into the front seat and out the door. Just like at the circus.

    Shortly thereafter, my brother sent me the link to Blonde Star. Very funny John.

    Goody Bags

    July 16, 2009

    I was chatting up some other moms on Twitter yesterday and it turns out that some of us — and not just crusty old me as I previously thought — do not like the whole culture of the goody bag that is prevalent among the preschool crowd these days.

    Yes, we are bitter. We did not get goody bags when we were growing up, so why should these little twerps?

    At Sean’s school, he gets a goody bag for every child’s birthday, every holiday, every minor occasion. At the end of the school year, he got an “end of the school year” goody bag and by bag I mean a giant brown grocery bag.

    Each mom was asked to contribute a “summer fun” item (x13 kids) which made for a giant bag of plastic goody goodness that thrilled and delighted the little children for all of 20 minutes.

    I don’t approve of all this goody bagging, but I go along because I don’t want to be “that” mom or Sean to be “that” kid with “that” mom. Although at one time I wanted to be That Girl.

    Anyway.

    As I trolled up and down the aisles of the dollar store looking for a suitable goody bag contribution, just to amuse myself  I composed a mental list of inappropriate goody bag items:  disposable lighter, Sterno, gift card to the liquor barn, pocket knife, small bottle of capers, car air-freshner cards, can of WD-40…

    Ended up going with brightly colored bug boxes with the tiny butterfly nets and tweezers. Got the pocket knife for myself.

    Now I know that some of you are going to say that you would just say no and not go along, but you don’t know what I’m up against.  The other moms are a lot younger than me. They are the original goody bag generation.

    Mourning The Mourning Dove

    May 6, 2009

    As quickly as she came into my life, she was gone.

    Yesterday morning, I checked on my sweet little dove.  She was sitting quietly in her nest in the Carolina jasmine, just the same as ever.

    Although she did not seem thrilled to see me, she did not glare at me either.  I suspect that is only because the dove lacks the ability to glare or cast disparaging looks. With no eyebrows, the dove is stuck with an all purpose blank expression, a lot like Jessica Simpson.  Otherwise, upon the sight of me, she probably would would have narrowed her eyes and curled her lips. If she had lips.  Another problem.  It’s also probably good that doves can’t make gestures. The symbol of peace indeed.

    So early this afternoon, I went outside to get the mail and I couldn’t stop myself from toddling up the driveway to check on her again.  I was surprised to find that her nest was empty! Very surprised. No dove, no eggs, no feathers. Nothing. No Tom, not even a note.

    I assumed that when the eggs hatched that she would hang around until she saw her young out of the nest and then she would fly off into the sunset, but not before perching on my kitchen window ledge, tapping on the glass with her delicate slender beak and then casting me a knowing and grateful look for all I had done for her.  I would dab a tear from my eye with a dish towel and wave her off. “Go on you crazy bird,” I would say, “Get out of here! Go see the world!” And then she would spread her wings to fly, but pause one last time, wink her round black eye at me and then be off.  I would rush to the window and wave as she melted into the sky and became a dot in the distance.

    Or something like that.

    When I told Sean that the dove was gone, he said he thought it was my fault, that she had left because I had disturbed her.

    Perhaps so.  I was a terrible landlord, I know that – nosy and overly interested. I was Mrs. Roper, not in a caftan, but in a frighteningly sad pink chenille robe.

    For more than a week she had put up with cold rain, hail and high winds.  But it was me dropping in on her and asking all kinds of personal questions that sent her over the edge. She just couldn’t take another day.  Perhaps  it all became too much and she threw herself in front of a cat. We will never know.

    And now (dramatic pause, dropping chin to chest) I must mourn my mourning dove.

    No, really. I’ll be fine. (sniff sniff) Carry on.

    ~The end~

    Margie

    April 26, 2009

    You know, the thing about having a camera is that sometimes the people you hang out with get tired of you pointing it at them.  It’s true. I was in Tuna this past weekend and the only one who wouldn’t run away from me was Margie.  So now, Margie is my muse.

    I present to you, the lovely and mesmerizing – Margie!

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    Pensive Margie

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    Come Hither Margie

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    Contemplative Margie

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    Serene  Margie

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    Meditative Margie.  Or, Margie Nods Off.  Shortly thereafter, Margie got up and wandered off.

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    Oh hey! My old muse! Yo! Dude!

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    Muse! Come back! Where ya’ goin??