Thursday, October 25, 2007

Jim, Jim, Jim...

Okay...did you watch The Office tonight?

Jim and Pam?

I hope you naysayers are happy.* This is how it's going to go down. It's starting.

* You know who you are. And no, I'm not mad at you, honest. :-)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I Sw...I Mean, I Do Declare

Recently I gave the kiddo a one-day pass on swearing. He'd been asking questions about one or two words in particular: "ass" and "crap" (the latter of which I don't have a huge problem with, but I don't think it sounds especially nice coming out of my kid's mouth). I was never allowed to swear when I was a kid; although my mom had grown up in a family that used "hell" and "damn" fairly casually, my dad declared our house a no-swearing zone. As a result, swearing always held a certain mystique for me, and when I was in junior high and high school, I experimented, let's say, with a lot of naughty language. Despite the no-swearing rule at home, my folks did allow us little sips of alcohol on occasion, and drinking was never that interesting to me, so I figured if I let the kiddo swear under controlled circumstances, maybe he would lose interest in it eventually.

Well, let me tell you, there's nothing quite like spending a day hearing a first grader muttering about one baseball team or another kicking each other's asses. The kiddo shook his head during the games and swore under his breath periodically throughout the day, with the understanding that this was his one chance to do so. I have to say it worked for now. He seems to have gotten something out of his system for the time being, and I spent the day feeling alternately dubious and amused. We also talked about acceptable words to say, like "dagnabbit" and "tushie" and "doggone it" and the like.

As we drove to a parish festival up by my folks' house, the kiddo told me, "We'd better get our asses over there," and I reminded him that his swearing day was long past. "Oh, that's right," he said. "How about 'We'd better get our tushies over there'?" I told him that was totally okay to say.

"What about heinies?" he wanted to know. Also good.

"What about nipples?"

Oy. ;^)

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

The Santa Ana winds are dying down a little, but the wildfires are still burning in our county and the smell of smoke is wafting through the house. Our town isn't endangered, although some of my family 95 miles away are skeptical; they're just not as familiar with the geography around here and to them the fire maps on the news broadcasts make it look like the fire is coming straight for us. Nonetheless, I've been checking the fire maps and the local fire blog online and I know we're not even close to having to evacuate. What's more, I ran into the father of one of the kiddo's schoolmates while we were at the bookstore this evening (we were bored silly after staying indoors all day -- no school all week due to the fires). It turns out he was a firefighter for 12 years and knows something about all this stuff; he said the wind direction was starting to change, the fire would likely start blowing back on itself, the firefighters would be better able to get control of it, and the fire would burn itself out in spots.

So the biggest problem we have right now is the smoky air. I would close the windows, but the temperature in the house reached about 84 degrees F during the day, and we have to get some cool air in here overnight. I figure the respiratory effect from the current amount of smoke is less than what one would incur while sitting next to a beach bonfire, but the smell keeps the fires constantly on my mind, and my heart is with the folks who live closer to the flames.

The stadium nearby is being used as an evacuation center and people are sleeping on cots in the stadium itself, or in tents, RVs and cars in the parking lot. At first there was a call for donations of all sorts: diapers, formula, blankets, sleeping bags, portable showers, prepared food, plates and utensils, water, etc. I talked with the kiddo last night about possibly donating some toys for the kids who are probably bored out of their minds; he was less than enthused about the idea and excused himself to bury his face in the couch and cry. Eventually we talked about feeling conflicted -- that one part of him wanted to share his toys, and one part didn't. I mentally inventoried our house, thinking of any items we could spare; we do have a fair amount of boys' clothing that we will bring to the community center for their next trip to the stadium. I wish we could do more.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Giddy with Sleep and Relief

The phone rang not long ago, at about 4:30 a.m. I happened to have gotten up moments before to check on my son and shut the window upstairs; we're having wildfires in the county and had spent the day with the windows shut and the air purifiers on, but I had to cool the place down a little come nightfall. Anyway, when the phone suddenly rang, my first thought was that it would be a wrong number and I should ignore it. My second thought was that it could be a family member with bad news or a panic attack, so I answered it...and it was a new client calling from an aparently different time zone. We'd only dealt with each other via email until now, so I had no idea where she was based. I don't think she's on the east coast (it would've been 7:30 a.m. there), and I think she may be from another country. I would guess India, but I don't know the time difference between there and here, and I'm too tired to look it up. Anyway, I was so relieved that it wasn't a family member that I started laughing when the client identified herself. I finally told her it was 4:30 a.m. here; she apologized profusely and said she'd call back in about five hours. She did sound a tad puzzled about my laughter, though.

And now...back to sleep for a little while.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Crying Uncle Over Ants

Last night as I dried yet another load of laundry, I noticed a sporadic clacking sound coming from the dryer, but I assumed it was caused by my son's cargo shorts. Imagine my surprise when I removed the clothes from the dryer and an arsenic ant stake clattered to the floor. (Our laundry area is adjacent to the kitchen, and I'd placed an ant stake near the wash after noticing ants there.) The arsenic gel was all gone, however, assumably having dissolved during the wash cycle. How I failed to notice an ant stake (about four inches long) while loading/unloading the washer and loading the dryer, I can't tell you. But I was squicked out enough at the thought of any possible traces of arsenic goo on our clothes that I ran them through the washer again -- sans ant stake. Yuck!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Which Is Scarier: Green Cloud or Ants in Dishwasher? You Decide.

Well, I guess we had our first major experience with a scary show, but in all honesty, I had no idea a silly kid program would scare my son so much. He'd been dying to watch some stupid TV show that had been advertised on a kid channel, so I let him watch it and it turned out to be about a bunch of teenagers who encounter a ghost. I had no idea what the storyline would be; all I knew was that Spears gal's little sister was in it, so I figured it would be kind of dumb. Anyway, said ghost appeared as a mysterious green cloud and made things move around a room. The acting was predictably terrible and the special effects were oh-so-lame, but the kiddo was getting spooked halfway through and I had to turn on the baseball game to clear his mind. Lot of good that did. He kept asking me about the green cloud and begged me to keep some lights on. I tried telling him how lame the show was, described how the kid actors had to fake everything because the computer animated cloud had to be added later (he knows a little about how cartoons are made, so I thought he might get this) -- basically criticized the show for a few minutes, totally going against my intention of never criticizing a show he likes (after my dad killed one of my favorite shows many years ago with his negative comments). Then I started talking about the ballgame we were watching, asking lots of questions and getting him to talk about the players and the strategies. I finally thought he was fine, and thought he was falling asleep...and then he asked me again about the green cloud. Thankfully, though, he did fall asleep and hasn't woken up during the night so far. I can't imagine what would have happened if I'd let him watch something even scarier, like the movie that Flea's kids begged to see. (I think she wound up putting the kibosh on it.) I know there are a lot of kids who love scary movies and who don't suffer any negative effects afterwards, but I guess my son isn't one of them. It's just as well, and I definitely will be reading the descriptions of any new shows he wants to watch.


Since I was putting the kiddo to bed for such a long time, answering questions and trying to steer his thoughts toward more wonderful things, I wound up falling asleep with him for a few hours. When I woke up, I stumbled down to the kitchen and, on a hunch, opened the dishwasher. Sure enough, the ants were back in full force, going for the one dirty dish I'd set on the bottom rack. Lovely. I ran the rinse cycle, then opened the thing back up (ants were temporarily gone), loaded the rest of the dinner dishes, threw in some detergent and turned it on to wash properly. I still saw a few ants on the outside of the dishwasher, but killed those. Blech. I'd really thought the ants had disappeared for the season. I think they live around the dishwasher, though. A Google search revealed more ants-in-dishwashers stories than I had a tolerance for, it turns out. I'd thought I could pick up some advice, but I ended up feeling...itchy. Yep, my personal scary movie features ants in my kitchen. *shudder*

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Has This Ever Happened to You?

I'm hoping I'm not the only one who experiences this. Please tell me I'm not!

Last night I had the dream I often have when I'm asleep and have to pee: I dream that I'm searching for a bathroom. Usually I find one, but it's labyrinthine or terribly dirty or the stall doors are extremely short and I can see everyone's heads (or the doors are missing entirely), or there are shared stalls in which at least one person is already, er, seated, and I don't want that kind of intimacy. Sometimes the toilets are broken, and sometimes the doors have no locks, and sometimes someone walks in on me before I can accomplish the mission. Last night's dream incorporated all elements.

As usual, after the dream had gone on for quite a while, I woke up and realized that I needed to go to the bathroom, and I was so, so glad to have one that's functional and all mine.

Some folks might say that the people in my dream represent me, and assign some obscure symbolism to the dream, but I think this one is pretty straightforward. And I do have to say, it's a very entertaining way of being notified that I should get out of bed. ;^)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Now We're Cookin'

My son, the Top Chef fan, has taken to addressing me as "Chef," as in "Yes, Chef," and "Thank you, Chef," said in a quietly respectful tone.

When he sat down to eat some mac-and-cheese I'd prepared, he took one bite and told me quite seriously, "This dish is very well-seasoned."

I'm starting to like this. ;^)


The kiddo was plenty mad at me when, at 4:00 a.m., I dosed him with cough medicine and asked him to get out of bed to go potty before going back to sleep. "Why are you ruining my life? Don't you love me?" he wailed. He's six-and-a-half going on thirteen. (In all fairness, though, I'm not very delightful when awakened in the middle of the night, either!) But after having listened to him cough for most of the night, I finally decided that intervention was necessary...and now he's sleeping peacefully, so we both win.

Maybe I should try for a bit more shut-eye before our day officially starts. I'm walking with the kiddo's class on a little field trip tomorrow. I may even break my eighteen-day caffeine-free streak. Hmm... ;-)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Tired Thoughts

My son occasionally talks a little like Garth from Wayne's World. I have no idea why this is, and I'm trying to stop it because it sounds...ridiculous. His swimming instructor told the kiddo he had an "accent," so now the kiddo thinks he does. It's driving me a teensy bit crazy.


Tonight at bedtime, the kiddo suddenly realized he was hungry. When I informed him that he should've notified me long before bedtime (and he did have dinner -- I'm not an ogre), he dissolved into tears and said in a tiny voice, "I'm your son..." Guess who ate oatmeal at about 8:15?


My son is utterly heartbroken over his beloved pro baseball team's loss last night, and about the fact that the baseball season is pretty much over. Does it make me a bad person if I say that part of me is dancing for joy now? Thank goodness (!) we still have past games recorded on DVD for our infinite viewing pleasure.


A neighbor's dog is howling mournfully and at length. Maybe they went on vacation and left the dog out. (This is what another neighbor suggested a few months ago when the dog howled for a few days straight.) If I knew for sure which neighbor it was, and their address, I'd call Animal Control and ask them to check for food, water and shelter. I've watched too many Animal Planet shows (Animal Cops, etc.) and can't stand to think of animals abandoned or mistreated. This is why I left a note on the windshield of a truck yesterday that was parked squarely in the sun and had a whimpering dog inside. And why I waited around for the owner for a while. And why I contacted mall security. And why I was glad when the security guard let me see the surveillance monitor, which revealed the truck's owner reading my note and then driving away. When I picked up my son from school, my car was intolerably hot after I left it for only about ten minutes in the sun. I can't imagine how hot the dog owner's truck was after more than twenty minutes. If you think I'm a little nuts, you might be right, but if you watched an Animal Control officer try to remove a dead Labrador Retriever from a hot car, you might understand.


Speaking of calling authorities, last week I took out the trash at night and saw a figure in the field next door. Whoever it was had some equipment with blinking lights on it. Ordinarily I'd assume someone was photographing the moon or something, but I live near an environmental facility and the equipment was aimed in that direction, so I called the police. Turned out I was the second person to call. I watched intermittently out the window and saw the police eventually show up and question the guy as he was packing up to leave. I don't think they arrested him, so I suppose everything checked out okay. I hate to be the Gladys Kravitz of the neighborhood (although this time I had company), but I'd rather be safe than sorry.


Recently I had about four or five inches chopped off my hair. The other day, the kiddo's school principal said it was very flattering and I was inordinately pleased by this.


I met someone really interesting. A man. A married man. Who's into stuff that actually interests me. No, I'm not pursuing him, and he's not pursuing me. It's not like that at all. It was just eye-opening to talk to a man who was pleasant and engaging and interested in the same things that I like -- and who actually smiles. It was never that way with the kiddo's dad. More on this later.


I'm really tired now, and a little bit sad. Must pry myself off the computer.