Tuesday, February 26, 2008


The Brainiac came home with a note from his teach today. They are doing a talk on puberty and we are invited to attend. Not something, I necessarily intended to discuss with him, but during dinner, he wouldn't cease his incessant banter about Weird Al, so I changed the subject to puberty. Lesser of two evils? You decide.

My husband took the ball and ran with it and gave a pretty good explanation to our boys. So good, in fact, that I became a little nauseated. Some things shouldn't be discussed at the dinner table. The Braniac looked a little embarrassed discussing testosterone and pubic hair. The Firecracker was just laughing and answering "sexy" to the question, "what changes happen to girls during puberty?"

Perhaps, this discussion should have been exclusive to the Brainiac. Hindsight is 20/20, they say.

Rain, Rain

It is raining like crazy this morning. Of course, we need it. We always need it. This morning I was telling my boys about a recent news article, buried on the back page of the local paper, that spoke of the drought being perpetual. It will never end.

Back in September of 04, we had two Hurricanes come through our fair city within 8 days of each other. First Frances, then Ivan. Round here it was called the hundred year flood.

The only road out of our neighborhood, one that runs along the banks of the Swannanoa River, was flooded. The power was out. School was out. We couldn't drink the water. Word got around that a neighbor's Mom was missing, presumed dead by the local authorities. They found her car in the middle of River Road, door standing open, flooded with water. She was found around 4pm, safe on top of a truck in the lot of a business along the road. She had left for work at dawn, driving her car right into the flooded road.

A couple of other neighbors decided to hike out around our flooded road to check out things. Just as they were emerging from the 2 mile walk in the woods, one stepped on a wasps' nest, allowing a direct tunnel up to his groin where he was stung multiple times. Stepping out onto the road, he collapsed into Anaphylactic shock. Luckily there was a group of people nearby, surveying the damage to their river houses. One happened to be a nurse, and one had a truck. They piled in the truck and headed for the VA hospital upon the nurse's urging- it was closer than Mission, our city hospital, and my neighbor seemed critical. My neighbor survived but the doctor at the VA said he wouldn't have made it had they decided to go Mission.

The next morning a rainbow appeared over this lucky man's house.

Monday, February 25, 2008

'nother sick day

The Brainiac is home "sick" today. He woke up with a sore throat. He did some passive whining aimed at securing his day off. I nipped that in the bud. If you don't feel well enough to go to school, just say so. I trust your judgment. So, he's home.
Hmmm. He has already spent some time working on his AIG (Gifted class) project, playing legos and watching Youtube with me. We were comparing Weird Al videos with the ones they were intended to spoof. Not so sick. But, hey, everyone needs a mental health day every once in a while.
Last week I sent the Firecracker to school, no so well, because he wanted to go. He did spend two days at home pretty sick. And Friday he came home from school and took a nap. Go figure.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Super Tuesday

I often speak of life's challenges as waves. A wave can't last forever, eventually it crashes on the shore and recedes into the dark water of the ocean to form again. My wave of status quo- everything seems quite normal here - crashed on Friday. I've only been riding it for a week or so, but I enjoyed it while it lasted. Still the crash wasn't too bad. My mother-in-law's kitty died and she was beside herself with grief. She lives 30 minutes away in a retirement community that she chose last fall based on the fact they allow kittys. She didn't weigh anything else in her decision which is regrettable as the food is southern through and through - fried or overcooked, and virtually everyone there is in a wheelchair or walker. It's depressing. To me anyway. She's 72 and mobile but needs some supervision as she has some dementia.
On Friday afternoon, as my DH settled down for a nap on his afternoon off, he received a call from the Retirement Community that the kitty had died; my MIL wouldn't let anyone take the kitty from her, and was demanding an autopsy. The kitty wasn't that old, maybe 3 or 4. My husband took off to console her and brought her home to hang with us for a while. While here, she asked for a glass of wine. I politely refused. She has been sober since the fall- by that I mean Autumn and the time she fell down, drunk, and broke her hip. They can't stop her from buying alcohol on the weekly trips to the grocery store. In fact, once she was well enough to walk again, she made the trip and bought some. We conspired with the management and told her if she was going to drink, we couldn't stop her but it was either the bottle or the kitty. You can't take care of a kitty when you are drunk.
She chose the kitty. But with the kitty done, I'm afraid the bottle will be back. They go grocery shopping on Tuesday. I'm sure to hear about it if she does buy it. She can down one of those mega bottles in a couple of hours. Gives new meaning to Super Tuesday, eh?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Just Another Day

The Firecracker is home sick today for the second time this week. Nasty cold, I guess. Or maybe just a mild version of the flu. He had the mist. I suppose I should be doing something productive like my taxes or perhaps working on one of the many unfinished projects about the house. Like sanding and staining the stairs. We ripped the carpet up a year and a half ago. I don't know what I have been waiting for. Inspiration, perhaps? No, more like forethought because I have to purchase wood putty to plug the holes, rent a sander and pick out the stain. But it needs to get done. Along with finishing painting the basement (from this summer). Finish painting my son's room - just the corners remain (from two years ago). Hooks up inside the pantry door, coat closet and the boys' rooms. What else? Paint the mantel (it has been a different color than the rest of the living room for over a year), the stairwell (this one may be for hired help as it's tricky) and the wall in my bathroom where the cheap mirror needs to come down. Then there's always my website for my business. I had some friends get it started six months ago, using software that allowed me to be the webmaster. I haven’t touched it since. YIKES!

You just can't ever get it all done. And in the past six or eight months I have begun subscribing to taking care of myself first. Ok, maybe it is second or third - but it isn't last. This means making Yoga once or twice a week as well as playing a little tennis. This translated into low stress Holidays. I wish it translated into flab off the belly, but that's going to require some work. And throwing out the Girl Scout cookies. I ate through the "Thank You" ones in a couple of days. My Brainiac came home yesterday looking for them. Who ate them all, he wailed. I dunno, must have been your Dad. You know he has a sweet tooth. Damn those Girl Scout Cookies. It takes 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer to burn off four of those suckers. Lucky for me, I don't like the other two flavors I purchased: Thin mints - that's like squirting toothpaste onto a chocolate cookie - gross. And some cinnamon thingies. However, I did order from two other sources who have yet to deliver their goods. How can you say no to sweet little entrepreneurial girls? Maybe my best plan is to never let the boys see them, then secretly drop them in their classrooms for a fun snack.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cuba Reflection

Last night, I gave a "reflection" about my Cuba travels at my Church. It was good to have a deadline to make me get something on paper. Here it is. I sang the song lyrics that are quoted. Probably not a good decision but I think it kept people engaged.

It was Friday night. 10 o’clock. 8 days into our travels in Cuba. M, a college student from our congregation, the Braniac and I were bunking together at the Martin Luther King Center in Havana. We were in a dorm like setting with each room having two sets of bunk beds. Our suitemates – the ones we shared a bathroom with – were Cuba women. We turned out the lights, exhausted from days of traveling, including 5 days with our sister church, conversing and fellowshipping with these faithful and generous people. I was almost asleep, when loud guitar music startled me from dream land. Someone’s radio, I thought! No, wait. Not a radio, but guitar music, live, coming from our suitemates' room! It was quite stirring and lively but not exactly what I wanted to hear at this particular moment. “Pssst, M,” I whispered, “How do you say your music is lovely but I’m trying to sleep in Spanish?” And M said through muffled giggles, trying not to wake the Brainiac, "Por Favor la musica es muy bonita pero quieremos dormir."

I thought I’d wait for a few moments before I drug out of bed to ask. It wasn’t difficult to wait; I had spent this last week learning to live in the waiting, drinking it in and embracing it. For waiting was something we found ourselves doing quite often. Waiting for someone to arrive or for someone to lead us to our next destination or for dinner to begin. We even jokingly changed the words to Marcharemos, (a song that we often sang in church in Spanish and English, that our sister congregation also knew) to Esperamos – (we are waiting). The waiting, lingering, was a gift to me. To slow down, to live in the moment, not thinking about what my next move or task was. I didn’t have any. Surely the folks from our sister chuch had things they had left in wait, to spend time with us, but I never knew it. They were just as present as we were.

Our first night in Camaguey, I found myself trying to explain to a congregant in our sister chuch what a nursing home is – in Spanish. Don’t ask me how I got there. I desperately scanned the room for help from our Spanish speaking Circle, but they were deeply engaged in other conversations, so I waited. I leaned in to the awkwardness of the wait and after much stuttering I said, "Las Casa de abeulos" – home of grandparents. It was the best I could come up with. Yet she got it – I think.

I’m certain I was the most na├»ve traveler, over the age of 10, in this group. Collectively, my fellow travelers had been to Korea, Guatemala, India, Burma, Honduras, and Romania to name a few. I had been to London. Far from the third world country of Cuba that I thought I was traveling to.

But third world was not the Cuba I encountered. Certainly, before signing up for this trip, I knew little of Cuba besides what had been spoon fed to me by the “history” books and the US Media. There’s a line from a song by John Mayer, “Waiting for the World to Change” that says “When you trust your television, what you get is what you got. Cause when they own the information, they can bend it all they want. That’s why we’re waiting, waiting for the World to change.” True for me in more ways than one.

I had read some before arriving so I did have some better information to draw from. But to witness it with my own eyes and ears was powerful – people living with enough to eat, housing, education and health care – something our country can’t provide to all of our citizens. Not a land of milk and honey by any means; I found myself moved to tears by the many malnourished stray dogs. We were told not to touch them; they were so filthy and carried diseases. This was difficult for me. I just wanted to lean over and give them a little love.

Then there is the government. We had some intimate, intense conversations with a few folks we encountered there. They are waiting. Waiting for change in their government but most don’t see hope that it will. One day, I had on t-shirt that dons the date 1-20-09, the date we inaugurate a new president here in the US. After explaining what it meant, the proprietor of our inn in Camaguey said, “We don’t have a date like that. We don’t have a date for hope.” Another time, someone speaking about hope for change said, “our only hope is in Jesus”. These were stirring conversations – ones I will never forget.

So, there I lay, on my bunk bed in the Martin Luther King Center, waiting for the beautiful guitar music to cease. After all, trying to ask graciously, in my broken Spanish, made me a little nervous. So I breathed in the music and the wait and a few minutes later, it stopped. I found out the next morning, one of the Spanish speakers paid a visit and asked if they wouldn't mind closing their door. And they obliged.

Since returning home, I have found myself dreaming of the day that we will host some of our sister church members here in the US. What would we cook for them? What sights would we share? For now we will have to wait and hope for our government to change. Until then, I’m glad that our congregation has chosen this partnership, this journey, with these faithful people.

Got Flu?

My Wild Child is home with a sore throat today. After breakfast this morning, he took some advil and went back to sleep. This kid just doesn't slow down. He's in constant motion, so I'm fearful of the flu. It's running rampant through his school. He did have the flu mist but apparently there is one strain that isn't covered in that vaccine. We'll see. I think I need to change the WC's blog nickname, even though he doesn't know about it. It doesn't quite fit him anymore. He is definitely a ball of energy. Maybe firecracker? Or Cracker Jack? Hmm, I'll have to think on that one.