I Don’t Think That’s What They Meant

I’ve always known that reading to my kids was good for them.

Expanding their horizons, showing them different worlds, different people, cultures, ideas, crammed in the pages of a bound book.

And there are books on all sorts of topics for kids now.

Books just for the pleasure of reading an entertaining story, books for education.

There are books for potty-training, for bed-time, for learning to deal with siblings, leaning to cope with the death of a pet, learning how to be better at this or that, for learning everything from alphabets to zydeco music playing.

I know that reading – reading almost anything – broadens anyone’s mind, not just a child’s.

But – the other night, I added a twist.

OnlySon is 16.  And he and I both understand that he’s far more esoterically knowledgeable than most people think.  We talk to each other in a manner most wouldn’t expect a parent to talk to a 16 yr. old.

I talk to him more as I would another adult.  Well, at least, another adult who just so happens to be my 16 yr. old child.  There are still some subjects we both agree are not appropriate, not – ugh – comfortable for either of us.  And our agreement works.

He can handle it – and he respects me for respecting that about him.

So, the other night, I was reading a new book I’d picked up at the book store – Augusten Burrough’s “Magical Thinking”.

It’s a hilarious set of stories about things that have happened to him in his own life.  And he freely admits that he’s “emotionally damaged goods”, so, even while I can feel bad about the fucked up things he’s had to experience growing up, and since, I can laugh along with him as he laughs at himself.

I sat and chuckled, snickered, and gut-busted laughed for 2 hours straight after bringing this home and immediately sitting down to enjoy it.

Of course, OnlySon had to know what was so funny.

So – I read a chapter – out loud – to him.

All about how Augusten had found a “rat/thing” in his bathroom, and proceeded to destroy it, then to go on to practically destroy his bathroom in order to rid himself of the taint of the rat/thing’s infestation of his life.

It’s funnier in the book.

And, after hearing the story, my son proceeded to tell me about a story he’d read – about a man who’d chugged half a soda, only to find a ground up frog in the can…..

The things we do to one another for the sake of a good story. *urp*

Later than night, I was standing in the bathroom, contemplating the meaning of life (brushing my teeth, actually, but close enough), when I heard EldestDaughter downstairs.  The cadence and rhythm of her voice told me she was reading a new story to the ToddlerTornado.

And I was struck by the coincidence, and the slight difference of the subject matter we’d each chosen to read to our sons.

At least… well, leaning out of the bathroom, I was pretty sure my new book was still sitting by my chair.

I don’t think that’s what they meant when the “experts” said “Read to Your Children”.


The Shape of the Day

I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. It’s my biggest (no pun intended) personal demon.Demon Wrestling

Chocolate makes for a good snuggle… but a bad case of eater’s remorse later.

My first memory of the issue is when my mom looked at me, getting ready to dig into dessert after supper one night – and her saying “Honey, maybe you shouldn’t have so much ice-cream.  You’re starting to get a spare tire.”

I think I was about 7 or 8 at the time.

Growing up, my mom made healthy meals -meat, potatoes, vegetables.  Dessert didn’t automatically follow every meal, and we lived out on a farm, so there was no store nearby to grab snacks all the time.  I worked hard on the farm, taking care of horses, helping with calves, chickens, running up and down the barn stairs from hayloft to ground with the cats and dogs.  I rode horses all the damn time.

In high school, I grew to be 5’7″, and weighed approximately 130-135 lbs.

And yet, I was considered the fat girl.

Sandy & Me

I’m the one on the left – my junior year

Does this girl on the left look fat to you?

And yet, I always felt that way.  Because of the way I was treated by classmates, among others.

And so the girl I saw in the mirror was, in my eyes, fat.

Objects in the mirror appear larger than they really are?

I have old pictures from my first wedding, too, that show me at that 130 lb. mark, at the age of 23… and I’ve been told that people thought I looked too thin in my dress.

But at the time… I still felt fat.

I’d had a baby, who was 3 yrs. old at the time of the wedding, and I’d lost most of the baby weight by that time, true, but I still had the “baby belly”, that little bump that… never… quite… goes… away.

So, I must be fat, right?

I had another baby at the age of 24, but lost the weight fairly quickly the year after, thanks to long walks & a good friend who I walked with every day. Back down to 130 lbs.  But still feeling fat.

And then… I got married for the 2nd time.  And slowly, over the next 10 years, I gained, and gained, and gained.  The first few years were good, and then the marriage started to go south.  My self-esteem crumbled like soggy graham crackers in milk, as my -at the time- husband slowly started pulling his love out of the marriage, and putting it all into our son.  Baby number 3.

I never lost that baby weight, not completely.

At the time of our divorce, I was at my heaviest.  I have no true idea what that weight was, as I refused, at that point, to even look at a scale.  Even when I went to the doctor, I would stand on it backward, and wouldn’t let the nurses tell me what the number was.  I told them that it was because the numbers made me neurotic.

In fact, it was because I was ashamed.  I was, truly and really, fat.

There are very few pictures of me at that weight – I refused to be in front of the camera most of the time, ducking out on one reason or another.  When it was unavoidable, I’d do my best to “hide” whatever of myself I could, tucking myself in behind others in the frame, or “sucking it in”… a meager attempt at best.

I would say that I was probably somewhere between 250-275 lbs.

After the divorce – I lost a good bit of that weight.  I started eating better, started exercising.  I felt better, inside and out, than I had in a long time.

And yet, I still struggle.  There’s more I want to lose, a better shape I want to be in.  Health concerns and just emotional well-being are the 2 things I want this for now.

It’s slow going.  I have multiple food allergies, which knocks out a fair bit of healthy foods I could be eating.  Some of the most favored diet foods – cucumbers, melons, bananas, pineapple – all of them could kill me due to my allergies.

But I work at it, in my own way.  Healthier foods, smaller portions, more exercise, no more soda – only flavored water.

The struggle is real – and it’s time people stop shaming others.

As a child, I might have been a little chubby – but that’s no reason to compare me to the Michelin Man.  Maybe there shouldn’t have been any ice cream in the house?  And who was supposed to teach me about healthy eating and self-control?

As a teen, I wasn’t heavy at all.  I was just the right weight for my height – and yet, because I wasn’t emaciated, and you couldn’t hang clothes from my collarbones, I was called fat in school, and shamed for it by my peers.

As an adult, I finally took back my self-esteem from others – and stopped letting people put me down in subtle ways like my ex-husband had, little by little.

Like the recent co-worker who told me that I “really look like a girl today” on the day I wore a dress to work.  The same co-worker who, upon being told that I’m actually 10 years older than her, remarked that it was my red-dyed hair that is the only thing that makes me look younger, even though she evinced surprise at my actual age.  And, upon being shown a picture of my sweetheart, looked up at me in total shock and said “Really?  But he’s so good looking.”  As if I weren’t good enough for someone she thought was that handsome.

Whether she realizes it or not, she’s a bully.  And I refuse to be ashamed and bullied anymore because of my shape.

So, I still work on my weight, but I’m not doing it for her.  I’m not doing it to “prove” anything to anyone.

I’m doing it for me.  I’m doing it for my sweetheart, and for my kids, and my grandson, so we’ll be able to have many more years as a family.

And that’s the shape of the day.

Ironic Shift

rainbow lightningJust when I think I’m getting ahead in life…

Along comes the lightning to show me the truth.

I should know better by now, hunh?

Things were looking up, I was looking forward… so of course, I didn’t see the bus coming up behind me that had plans of rolling over the top of me.

I’ve been sick for about 2 weeks now… starting with the flu, it morphed into an upper respiratory infection.  Snotty bobblehead in extremis, I’ve been coughing, fevered, exhausted, stuffed up and generally miserable for a while.

Ok, so far, I’m still able to deal… so here comes the kicker.

Thursday night, I went to bed early.  And woke up an hour and a half later with extreme chest pains, located directly behind my sternum.

Thinking it was probably just acid reflux, I took some meds, thinking – ok – 20 minutes or so, and I can go back to bed. Right?


Woke up at 12am – still in extreme pain at 1:30 am.  Feeling like someone was attempting to yank my heart out through my back, I decided I’d best get a professional opinion.

I’m not waking up EldestDaughter.  She’s got the toddler, so she’d have to get him dressed, drag him along at Zero o’clock, and sit and wait with the baby in a waiting room for godknowshowlong.  No.  OnlySon has school in the morning too, and has been sick, right along with everyone else in the house, so – no.

So, I drove myself to the emergency room.

Drugs, tests, more drugs, more tests… they talked about a possible pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung).  Let’s do an EKG, shall we?  Ok, no blod clots.  So far, so good.  So why am I still in excruciating pain?

Well… let’s do a CT scan, really up the game, here, hunh?

God-awful freezing cold room, with a dye test that makes you feel as though your insides are on fire and you’ve peed yourself.  Good thing I’m so tired at this point and so full of pinholes from IVs and blood tests that I no longer care whether I’m some mad scientist’s latest class project.

Oh, at this point, it’s approximately 4am, and I’ve been in the ER for about 2 hours, still in pain, going on an hour and a half of sleep, and all alone.

CT scan over… they roll me back to the ER, and back behind my protective curtain.  Wavering in and out of consciousness, between exhaustion, fear and drugs, I wait to hear back from the doctors, wait for a glass of water from a nurse that I can hear.. just on the other side of the curtain… playing FAMILY FEUD with her co-workers.

Hey!  Let’s do an ultrasound, shall we?  Just for shits and giggles?

Fine.  I no longer care.

Lucky, lucky me, I have a hiatal hernia – AND a super nice collection of gallstones.

At 6:30am, I’m desperately trying to reach my work before my phone goes dead.  I need to let them know that I’ve been here, in the ER, and won’t be in to work today.  I’m still in excruciating pain… the pain meds they’ve given me only last for about an hour, then the pain is back, shinier and sharper than ever.  But… it’s not a heart attack, so it’s all good, right?

Here.  A pack of papers telling you that you need to talk to a surgeon within the next few days.  Take some acid reducers to help with the GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease – super-duper heartburn) Change your diet, don’t drink pop (haven’t had pop in months, thanks, stop looking at me like that).

Ok, here you go, get dressed and see ya later!


A never-ending series of ironic shifts, twisted plot lines and WTF moments.

Only way to go from here is forward.  It’s a good thing I’m resilient. (Read – too stubborn to stop)



I have a few minutes… and nothing really pressing to do.

It’s Christmas Day.

My family celebrates on Christmas Eve.

Which means ~ that I have all this time, lovely glorious minutes, hours, and even days… to myself.

The children are all off to other family gatherings, well, except for OnlySon, but that’s because he’s still in bed, sleeping.  The human bat, ladies and gentlemen!  When on holiday, he is almost completely nocturnal, and only vacates his room when forced to by body functions such as consumption of nourishment and elimination of waste.

He will be going to his father’s later, and will spend the remainder of his school holiday there, sleeping away the daylight hours, and playing video games through the night.

The girls are both at their father’s, in another town.  EldestDaughter will return, sans Toddler Tornado, later – or not – depending on her plans with her boyfriend.  TT will be visiting his other grandparents for a few days, so will be out of the office as well.  YoungerDaughter will be staying with her dad’s family for a few days, then returning to her apartment in the college town to go back to work for the rest of her holiday.

Which leaves me… *sniff, sigh, snort… giggle* all alone.

And… I’ve already taken down the tree.

I’ve cleaned up all evidence of gift-giving and receiving.

I’ve swept, swiped, dusted and washed.

And I’ve worked myself into my downtime.


No TV.

No radio.

No hollering, no crying, no requests or demands, or extraneous human speech.

Just the ticking of the clock, the humming of my laptop, and the clicking of the keys as I type.

Oh, and a couple of yawning cats.

Do I need a nap?


No.  I’m good.

Read a book?

Eh, not at the moment, although there’s one sitting next to me.  (There’s always a book sitting next to me)

Movie?  Nah, not in the mood.

So… I think I’ll just close up the laptop, slide back the curtains a little, and watch the evening roll in, slowly dimming the lights outside. Snow quietly melting, and the faint breeze fluttering the left-over leaves attached to my porch trellis.



Oh… how serene.

not a view at my house... but so serene, don't you think?

not a view at my house… but so serene, don’t you think?


Totally Twisted

Ever since Thanksgiving ended, I’ve been dealing with an ever-increasing amount of anxiety.

And even just thinking about it now, is causing the anxiety to re-double onto itself, heartrate elevated, hands periodically shaking, and my brain… oh, my poor brain.

I’m already one of those people who tends to over-think and over-analyze everything.  I spend so much time, worrying about the future, concerned about the present, my brain just twists itself into Gordian knots.

gordian-knot-mark-sellersLooks a bit like a brain, yeah?

I haven’t been able to even leave my house all weekend, knowing that there are things I should be doing, but I just – can’t.

And it hurts.

Few people understand just how debilitating General Anxiety Disorder can be.  It’s a “hidden” mental disorder, because it’s mostly internal.  The person suffering from it has a tendency to tuck it away, to not want others to see it, because that makes them appear “weak” or “incapable”.  If only they could just “get over it and stop worrying”, everything will be fine.  Geez, have a little faith, be more optimistic, wouldja?

But, it’s not that simple.

The Mayo Clinic, as well as many other reputable health sites, define GAD as:

“Generalized anxiety disorder has symptoms that are similar to panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other types of anxiety, but they’re all different conditions.

Living with generalized anxiety disorder can be a long-term challenge. In many cases, it occurs along with other anxiety or mood disorders. In most cases, generalized anxiety disorder improves with medications or talk therapy (psychotherapy). Making lifestyle changes, learning coping skills and using relaxation techniques also can help.”

And I am taking anti-anxiety meds, which do help considerably.  I’ve been trying to make healthier choices in my life, both in food, exercise, drinking more water, and working on cutting down on caffeine.  My doctor has been impressed with the changes I’ve made since I started seeing her, but we both know there are more changes to be made, so we’re working on the “plan”.  So, even though the medication and the change in lifestyle aren’t total fixes, I’m trying.  I’m really trying.  I don’t want this to be something that takes over my life.

But, this weekend… it’s locked me in place.

The uncomfortable “talk” I had with my dad pretty much threw me off the edge I’d been balancing on, and I’m struggling to pull myself back up and out of it.

I’m working on it, but please, be patient with me.

It’s not as easy as you think to cut through that totally twisted knot.

Anxiety mental health symbol isolated on white. Mental disorder icon design


It’s Just Nuts

imagesL259ZCWIIt’s crazy, I say.

Why are so many male human beings so overly-attached to their male dogs genitalia being intact?

EldestDaughter’s boyfriend tonight was asking about the dog that he had given up not long ago, that one of my co-workers had decided to adopt from him.

I told him that the dog had been neutered.

He immediately became depressed.

As though his right to ever procreate had been stolen from him.  (Don’t get me started on that topic…I’m not even going there.)

What is the deal with some of these male human beings?

Spaying and neutering your pets is only responsible pet-ownership.

Go here if you don’t know – get edu-ma-cated.

I’ve owned enough animals in my life, both fixed and intact, to know that spayed, neutered, is the best way to go.  I’m not a dog or cat breeder, never will be.  So, there’s no other reason to ever have a pet who lives in my house that is NOT spayed/neutered.

And that young man’s imagined “insult” to his ex-dog’s dignity…?  Ended when he gave the care of the animal up to someone else.

Spay or neuter your pets.

It’s just downright nuts to be irresponsible pet owners.



The Value of A Thing

I was born and lived in a small town in Iowa until I was 11.  My parents both worked, Dad was a plumber, Mom – worked at my school as the principal’s secretary.

It wasn’t a life of luxury, but I never knew that.

My folks had a decent two-story house, that my father had built additions onto.  And we also had a half acre of land, right on the north edge of town – only a couple of blocks from green, growing, countryside.  We were actually able to keep a couple of horses on our property, even though we technically lived “in town”, so I did feel like we were rich.  I mean, not every kid gets to have their very own pony and cart, right?

imagesIt looked a lot like this, only my pony was a brown and white Shetland named “King”.

Horses are a sign of money, right?

Not exactly.

My parents were just that good at budgeting.

My brother and I never went without the necessities – food, clothing, a roof over our heads, and lots of love and laughter in our lives.

But, looking back now, as an adult… I realize that we really didn’t have “all that”.

And, I’m ok with that.

My parents struggled to make ends meet, and the summer I turned 11, they moved us – all of us, kids, dog, cat, and horses – to North Dakota.  I hated them for it for a while, ah hell, for a long while.  I was moved away from all of my friends, all I’d ever known, to hell-and-beyond-North-Dakota.  It was the back end of no where, right?  With tumbleweeds rolling down the streets, and those streets weren’t even paved, amiright?

Well, not exactly.

New horizons, new opportunities.  North Dakota was all that for my parents.  And the house in Iowa?  Went back to the bank.

I didn’t know, as a kid, what that meant.  I do now.

And so, we moved.

They owned a hardware store in the little town we moved to, for a while, but there just wasn’t enough business to justify keeping it open. But that wasn’t so bad, as Dad was in high demand as a plumber.  And Mom worked at the local Cenex gas station/convenience/farmer’s coffee shop/garage, then moved on to work for the town doctor for many years.

Once again, we always had everything we needed, if not necessarily everything we wanted.  I even had a pet goat for a while, till she ate my Mom’s raspberry plants down to the ground.

heidiHeidi and the tomcats.  Hmm, sounds like a rock band.  And in a way, she was a rock band all on her own.

Couldn’t keep her room clean worth a damn, but she was cute as hell.

Needless to say, by this time, I was a little more aware of the fact that we weren’t exactly rollin’ in the dough.

But, when you’re a young, teenage girl, you have horses, a goat, tons of barn cats, and a couple dogs… what more do you really need?


I was fairly happy with my lot in life, financially.  Didn’t need much, because I had all the important things.

My parents, my brother, my friends (the very few that I had as a kid – keep the circle small), my books and my animals.  That’s what was important.

The value of a thing, comes from your own valueing of it.  You set the worth, because it’s only as valuable as long as you set store by it.  Once you no longer care, it ceases to be worth anything.

I don’t need much in this life to make me happy.

As a matter of fact, I’d rather have someone spend time and thought on me, than money.  Why?

Because money comes and goes – but time is something you can never get back.

And it really is the thought that matters.

That’s the true value of a thing.

Coming Home

It’s been 2 years and some change…

but I’m coming home.

Back to where it all started – here, at Brea’s Air.

Things might look a little different, but that’s ok.  Change is good.

And it can be found in couch cushions, if you look.

Hold on, I’m currently burning some bridges and razing some fields, but then I’ll be back. Covered in soot and feeling happier than I have in a long time.

Then we’ll get down to business.

Luck of the Irish

OnlySon broke his arm a few weeks ago.

While out walking our dog, Jack, he decided to run across a busy street to try to beat a motorcycle that was headed his way, slipped on some gravel, and slammed his left forearm into a curb, snapping the radius, and also causing a small “greenstick” break in the ulna. 

In other words, thoroughly messing up his left arm for the summer.

He’s been in a cast now for the last few weeks, and today is our last x-ray to decide whether or not the doctor wants him to have surgery to straighten it out, or let it heal, slightly crooked.  The doc assured me that when a child breaks a bone like this, often times they will heal better if they just let it grow back together at a small bent angle, than to do major surgery and try to correct something that won’t make much difference in the end.


OnlySon and I went in for his x-ray appointment last week, and the doc wasn’t entirely happy with the way the films looked. 


So, today, we find out whether OnlySon has to go under the knife, and ends up with his whole summer bound up in plaster.

Luckily, OnlySon is part Irish, on his father’s side.  He’s a lucky kid most of the time, as witnessed by the fact that whenever I take him out somewhere – grocery store, restaurants, parks, etc… he finds money on the floor.  No kidding.  He found a $20 bill on the ground once at a park here in town.  Just randomly laying on the ground.  The kid’s got it, whatever it is.

So here’s hoping the Luck o’ the Irish is with him, and me, today. 

Official update:  NO SURGERY REQUIRED!!  Found out yesterday afternoon that OnlySon is a mutant self-healer lucky-charmed kid, and is healing faster than the doctor expected. 

In 2 weeks, we go back, they’ll take the current cast off, and x-ray again.  If everything looks good then… OnlySon can finally have his summer!