I drove EWO to Walmart to return the death glad bag of fish carcasses. There was a foul smell in my truck, and it wasn't coming from the fish. It was the smell of bigotry.
I was in Holland last year, visiting my niece, when I met two lovely ladies in the park by my nieces house.
Each lady was carrying a small child. One a boy, one a girl. These ladies were so lovely. So smart. One was a professor. The other was...hmm...well something professional, I can't remember. I really liked them. Every time I saw them I would wave to them.
One day I mentioned them to my niece. She said, "Oh I know them! They sing in my choir at church. I have to tell you something, Auntie. They are Lesbians!"
Well, I gasped in shock. "Well how did they get their children?!"
"Oh. They researched sperm donors at the sperm bank and chose their future children from that. One of the lesbian ladies carried the babies."
"I tell you what..." EWO said to me as I drove, "I wondered what they would say to their children when the children were old enough to ask questions. It's so unfair to the children."
"If the children are loved they will be just fine" I said, breaking my silence.
"Well I refused to wave to them anymore." EWO said with a self righteous sniff. "How dare they do that to those poor children."
"Do what?" I asked, "LOVE their children? Provide them with a loving home?"
"They are living in sin." EWO said through pursed disproving lips.
I sighed and bit back my temper.
It does no good to argue against such blatant bigotry. The small wrinkled mind is closed.
Let's just hope that the God she worships has a bigger heart then the minuscule one that beats in bony disapproving chest of EWO.
I took EWO (evil wrinkled one) on a mini road trip today. She's from Holland and about 20 miles from my house is a Dutch Tulip Farm. We also visted the Lilac Garden. I forgot my camera, so I had to make due with my phone camera. Boo! I must say...it was an enjoyable outing. EWO lost her perpetual prune look and cracked a smile of happiness. Hurrah! Furry Red Tulips
Pink flowers had fallen from a tree and carpeted the grass below.
I had never seen such deep purple colored tulips. They were stunning to see in person.
A rogue red tulip grew between a bushel of white tulips.
I'm sorry my phone camera could not aptly pick up the beauty of the rows of tulips.
Angel fairy statue reading a book amidst the flowers.
I have this 10 gallon fish tank that I purchased and set up about 2 months ago at MiniWarrior's pleading request.
The thing has been a pain in the...
Every two weeks the tank looks like it's been through the War of Algae and has lost. Big time.
So, every two weeks I've faithfully removed the fish (placing them in a bowl for safe keeping), drained the water, scrubbed the fake plants, rock and tank, and filled it back up again--depositing the fish back into their clean home.
Inevitably a fish would not survive the transfer and would end up in a zip lock baggie in my freezer, awaiting transport back to the Walmart Returns department. **Walmart sells you the fish with a 90 return policy on them--that should have been my first clue as to the stability of fish lives**
This past Saturday I tackled: Project Tank Cleaning. 2 hours of transferring, draining, scrubbing, refilling, plant setup and re transferring fish. I purchased Algae killer and new Tap water detox stuff so I was excited to see if that would keep my tank clean longer then the 2 weeks.
I fed the fish, dropped off MiniWarrior at his Dads and Evil Wrinkled One at her friends then went to go "live in sin" for the rest of the day. Next day I arrived home after work and went to go feed the fish.
All. Were. Dead.
Two lay on the rocks, one was sucked up against the filter tube and one was floating near the top of the tank.
Evil Wrinkled One stood beside me expressing her dismay at the carnage with little moans and flutters of her claw like hand. I sighed and set about scooping the carcasses and flipping them into the death glad lock baggie of Walmart Returns.
When I went to scoop the fish floating at the top of the tank, it suddenly twitched, and gasped for air. Evil Wrinkled One shrieked "It's ALIVE!" and took a step backwards clutching her ancient chest bones.
"It's pretty much dead, Mom." I said, steering the net to scoop it up.
"No!" She yelled clutching my arm. "Don't scoop it, it's alive!"
"Look at the thing. It's floating upside down. I think it's just death twitches." I pointed out, determined to scoop the fish and be done with the whole "fish tank" business.
"You're...you're heartless!" She cried. "You have no conscience!"
I won't even go into how ironic THAT statement was coming from the Evil Wrinkled One.
So I rolled my eyes and set the fish scooper down and closed the lid. "Alright already. I'll scoop it when it dies."
Evil Wrinkled One shuffled away from the tank muttering things about my lack of soul while I deposited the death baggie of carcasses in the freezer.
Walking back to my recliner I shot a look over to the floater and saw that it was now laying still at the bottom of the tank. Dead.
"You should scoop that fish out before it starts stinking." Evil Wrinkled One admonished upon seeing the fish carcass at the bottom of the tank.
"I will. When the Devil gives me back my Soul." I smirked.
She shook her head in Motherly disgust and walked away.
Tuesday I attended a security class all day in Hillsboro. It's a long drive,the roads filled with crazy people who I cannot fathom HOW they passed the drivers test.
I stopped at Target on the way home to purchase a new inner tube for the EVIL metallic THING that resides in my garage. I figured I'd try Target this time and avoid Walmart. Changing fate, shuffling things up like a card dealer at a Black Jack table.
I stood before the plethora of bike crap and hunted for a 26 1. 3/8's size tube. Plenty of 26's...but no 26 1. 3/8's.
*Sigh* Things just couldn't be easy...could they? I rolled a glare up towards the cosmos where the bastard Murphy dwelled.
"Laugh it up, you schmuck. LAUGH it up."
I fingered a can of "fix a flat"...should I? Wouldn't that be like letting the Evil garage dweller win?
I left the can hanging and walked away.
I couldn't find it within myself to go back to Walmart. I just couldn't. I stood for a moment and ran the local stores through my brains Mapquest. Home Depot? No. I don't think they have tires. Linen and Things? *snort* yeah right.
"Toys R Us!" I said out loud, startling a woman walking by. She gripped her child closer to her and edged around me giving me the stranger danger stare. I met her look with a disinterested *sniff* and headed to the checkout counter, superciliously smoothing a hand over my hair.
Scuttling across the parking lot through a Spring downpour I clambered into my truck and headed over to Toys R Us.
One again I found myself staring at a plethora of bike crap and found no size 26 1. 3/8's tube.
A Walmart trip loomed before me. I eyeballed a green tube of "fix a flat" and felt my hands twitch.
"I can't. I won't!" I muttered to the traitorous tube of goop.
It stared back at me and whispered, "Walmart".
"But you don't understand!" I whined. "If I use you, the Evil garage dweller will win!"
"Waaaaaaalmarrrrt" it hissed back at me.
"Oh Jesus help me..." I looked left and right hunching my shoulders in fervent guilt and snatched the green tube of goop off the shelf.
"Can I help you?"
"Wha..?!" Startled, I dropped the goop, instinctively shoving my hands in my pockets.
"Can I help you, Ma'am."
I rolled my eyes sideways and spied young man decked in a Toys R Us apron standing beside me then rolled them down as he bent and picked up the green tube of goop off the floor; then back up as he stood and held the traitorous object out to me.
"Is this what you wanted?" He asked.
"Er. Um. Well I..I.. was just looking, I wasn't really going to USE it." I stammered.
"Got a flat, do you?" He said, leaning back on his heels in the manly stance men automatically assume when a hood of a car is popped.
I slumped and sighed. "Yes. Yes I do."
"Yeah those can be tricky." He said, nodding his head sagely.
I nodded, numbly and slid a sneak look at the green tube in his hand.
He caught my look and held out the tube to me. "You should try this. It's real easy and works real good."
I felt my brain freeze at the word "easy" and snapped it out of his hand.
"I'll take it!"
I crab shuffled past him in the aisle and headed towards the teller.
Plunking the tube defiantly on the counter I faced the clerk with eyes that dared her to judge me.
"Wha..? Uh. No. I don't give that out."
"Do you need batteries?"
"What? Batteries?" I stared at her blankly.
"Would you be wanting to buy some batteries today." She muttered in monotone saleswoman speak.
"Uh. No. No. Don't need them."
"Would you care to donate a dollar to the Autism fund?"
"My son is Autistic. I donate enough raising him." I quipped, smiling at her.
She stared at me, lips puckered into a prune shape. Unamused.
"It's a great thing you're doing though." I said smiling gamely into her prune face of unamusement.
"Er. What?" I blinked and stared at her.
" Six Twenty Five " She spelled out to me in "the customer is an idiot, must speak slowly to her" speak.
"Oh. OH!" I fumbled with my wallet and lay the money in her outstretched hand, snatched up the tube of shame and scurried out the door.
Once home, I avoided the garage and headed inside the house. Tonight, I was going to relax. I would continue the war with the Evil Garage Dweller tomorrow.
I curled up in my recliner and flicked on the T.V.
I slid a look at the Green tube of goop sitting on my kitchen counter.
"No. I won't. Not tonight." I muttered, turning determinedly to the T.V.
Tuesday night. Crap. Nothing on. I tossed. I turned. I slid a look at the goop.
Tuesday night! Garbage night. Gotta go put out the trash.
I gathered bags and recycling and headed to the garage. I grabbed the goop bottle off the counter and into my pocket. Might as well take it out to the garage for tomorrow...
Two hours later, garbage strewn around me, back aching, fingers glued together with green goop, I sat on the floor beside the Evil Garage Dweller and cursed.
The %$#! tire was STILL flat only now it was filled with green CRAP!
Home again, I marched into my garage armed with the new 26 1. 3/8 "by GOD these better FIT tires" and stood before my upside down, one wheeled bike.
I slit my eyes Clint Eastwood style and planted my feet in a fighters stance. It stared back at me with its one wheeled belly up glare.
Ripping open the first cardboard box the acrid scent of rubber wafted around me as I reached in and pulled the 26 1. 3/8 tire free.
"Oh yeah, baby. It's on now."
I circled the naked wheel rim that lay mocking me on the garage floor. Shaking out the rubber tire I bent down and gripped the errant wheel. The 26 1. 3/8's rubber circled and embraced the naked steel rim like a lover come home from war.
I did a little victory dance around the newly covered wheel then slid it into its place on the bike frame and tightened the bolts.
Next, the back wheel. Much trickery maneuvering it around the chain and gear wire thingie but, WALLA! Success!
I skipped over to my bike pump and filled the back tire with air.
Pump. Pump. Pump. Pump. Pump. Pump...WOO! Look at that! I did it!
I danced over to the front wheel and connected the bike pump to the wheel air thingie.
Returned to Walmart to return the "Honey, 26 will fit" $@! bicycle tires.
The Returns line wound around a hideous display of fake potted plants, snaked past a Walmart Pedicure office and ended at the entrance to the Walmart restrooms.
And there I stood, trapped; clutching my "Honey, 26 will fit" tires to me like a mini rubber Kevlar vest while hefty shoppers dressed in stretch pants bumped repeatedly into me as they exited the bathrooms.
(Dear God, people, why. WHY must you terrorize me with material that displays every lump, bulge, cellulite crater, one family size Cheetos bag too many, clothing?? Breathe, Kat. Breathe. Phew! Man. Toenail cleaner and bathroom solvents making me dizzy...Huh. Look at that. A sign advertising a book signing by Lisa Jackson on Wednesday. Wow. Wonder who she pissed off to end up doing a book tour at Walmart?)
I snapped from my internal revelings and shuffled my way to the Returns counter.
Plunking the "Honey, 26 will fit" items onto the counter, the Returns clerk speared me with suspicious beady eyes.
"Why you return?"
"They are the wrong size."
She picked up the "Honey, 26 will fit" tire that I had spent an %$@! hour trying to wedge onto my bike rim and held it away from herself with the two finger grip of disgust.
"You no use?"
"You no use this?"
"Um. No. It didn't fit. How could I use it?"
"Well. That would be from the $#@! HOUR I spent on my garage floor trying to CRAM it on my bike frame." I said with a gritted tooth smile.
Transaction complete, I lumbered off to the Bike section to search for the correct size of tire.
Huh. Look at that. 26 1. 3/8 Kevlar Road Tires. Right next to the "Honey, 26 will fit" ones!
I snapped them up, paid and headed home, victorious.
I have a little 3 speed Schwinn bicycle that I picked up for 20 dollars last year. Great little bike, however its tires were old and decaying.
I have been trying to get a hold of the local bike shop, from where I purchased the bike, to set an appointment to get new tires put on but they aren't answering their phone.
So. Last night I decided that I could change the tires on my bike.
Project GRRRR Phase One:
I took the measurement numbers off my old tires. Drove to Walmart and purchased two new kevlar tires at Walmart helpers advice. Size 26. I pointed out that the measurement numbers I had pulled off my old tires was 26 1 3/8. I was grazed with a patronizing look and given a "Honey, 26 will fit". Ok... Purchased two inner tubes for inside of Kevlar tires. Purchased Bike tool thingie to help me put on new tires. Purchased Chain grease. Wandered around Walmart for &%$! hours trying to find dispenser for chain grease. Apparently no one sells that anymore... Packed up truck and headed home with new purchases.
Project Grrrrr Phase Two:
Flipped bike upside down. Took out new bike tool thingie and wrestled with bolt thingies holding tire on frame. They wouldn't budge. Cursed. Tried again. Cursed. Lumbered off to laundry room/storage room and pawed through crap. Found slightly rusted can of WD40. Sprayed bolt thingies on bike with WD40. Grunted. Strained. Cursed. Grabbed small sledge hammer by wood pile and tapped tool thingie on %$@! bolt thingie. Walla! Stood looking down at wheeless bike with poofed out chest in girlie pride. Pried off old tire with plastic wheel remover thingies on tool thingie. Wow. Those things work pretty darn good! Opened new tire.
Project Grrrr Phase Three:
Spent next %$#! hour trying to wrestle new tire over bike rim. Cursed. Tried again. Cursed. Realized that "Honey, 26 will fit" was a damn lie. Cursed. Put new tires into truck to take back to %$#! Walmart. Cursed. Stomped off to search "installing bicycle tires" on Internet. Discovered that 26 1 .75 (size of new tires) is (in mystical bike math) 4 inches SMALLER than 26 1 3/8 Cursed.
Last year, when I was going through an extremely stressful time, someone dear to me took to reading out loud to me while I relaxed on the sofa. One of his books of choice was Florence King's "Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady"
We laughed til our sides ached at times during a period when I thought it not possible to laugh.
The other day, I lumbered over to the used bookstore, around the corner from my work, and pawed through their .35 cent book section that they had displayed outside their store.
I came across a slightly battered copy of another Florence King book, "When Sisterhood Was In Flower". Remembering the enjoyment of her previous book, I snapped it up and happily plunked my .35 cents down on the store counter.
I was not to be disappointed. Florence had taken a normally dry subject ( the feminism movement during the early 1970's) and had flipped it upside down and spun it in a web of absolute hilarity to her readers.
She recalls a time in her life when she became a sort of hostage by a radical feminist neighbor when the wall that separated their apartments crashed down from after shocks of a bomb explosion. Their two apartments became one and was soon filled with a neurotic cat and a hippy waif that they had found curled up in a cement mixer:
"When we came to the dumpy part of the beach, we found an abandoned cement mixer lying on the sand. Childlike, we peered into the ball, but instead of the nothing we expected, we found the something nobody ever expects: a dead body.
It was a white female, approximately twenty-five years old. My fingers automatically tapped out the familiar words on an imaginary stenotype machine. Polly misinterpreted my gesture.
"Stay calm. You must stay calm; otherwise the newspapers will say "the hysterical women who discovered the body." They always say that, just like they always say "the women passengers screamed" when they write about a skyjacking. Do some breathing exercises and then we'll go for the police. Ready? And one, and two, and thr--'
We both screamed. The corpse had moved."
If you happen across a Florence King book in your travels, pick it up and give it a try. I guarentee you won't be disappointed.
With gas prices on the rise, some of my coworkers have purchased motorcycles and are driving them into work. I went down with one coworker to the parking garage to view his new bike. Man, it was a beaut!!! I felt the tug of the "ride".
When I was 13, one of my neighborhood friends dad bought her a Kawasaki 100. She asked me if I wanted to try it out. I climbed on the beautiful shiny black machine and took it for a tentative test drive around her driveway and then down Blueberry Hill (yes, there is actually such a place) and back.
By the time I clambered off her bike, I was hooked. The purr of the engine, the power, the absolute freedom one felt controlling that machine. Mmmm. *sigh* it was grand!
I set about the very next day on acquiring a bike of my own. A few weeks later I purchased my first bike for 100 dollars from an old man down the street. It was an old 100 Honda street bike. About the size of a 50 dirt bike. It was ugly as sin, but awesome to ride! My brother promptly spray painted the whole thing RED in an attempt to surprise me...I suspect it had more to do with his fascination with spray paint.
My siblings and I rode the heck outta that bike. Up and down hills, zooming across fields, hiding in ditches to allude police who were chasing after us for riding the bike on the street. Ahhh the memories.
When I was 16, my Dad took me to a motorcycle shop and said, "Pick one out". My Mother had developed a fascination with riding on the back of my bike and had told my Dad to buy me a bike so she could ride on the back of a nicer one (ha ha ha).
I ended up with a 200 Honda street bike. Dark green, so dark that it appeared black until sunlight hit it and illuminated the green undertones. It was a thing of beauty.
I rode it every day to High School. Private school. My uniform tucked daintily underneath ski bibs and a parka. *grin* I loved that bike.
I experimented with a dirt bike. Purchased a YZ 125 Suzuki I bought off a man who had specially built the engine for racing. I got it and the bike trailer for 500 dollars. This was a BIG bike. So big that I literally had to climb on to a block of wood so I could get my short legs over the top of it. Once on, the shocks would lower and I could touch the ground with my toes.
The first time I took it out of my parents garage, for its first trial run, I slid it into first gear, popped the clutch and flew up and back into a wheelie! I threw my body forward, slamming the bike back down and flew out the garage and down the driveway, riding it like a horse with a bit between its teeth!
PHEW! That bike had some POWER! Too much. Especially for a 5'3 100lb girl to be riding.
My old 6th grade boyfriend showed up at the house (out of the blue) one day while I was out polishing that bike. He stood admiring it and chatting with me when I asked him if he wanted a ride.
"Sure!" he said, and climbed up on the back.
I started the beast up, popped it into gear and flew down the driveway and out onto the country road. I don't know how fast we went (the thing wasn't street legal and had no speedometer) but the scenery flying by us in a blur told me it was way too fast. An internal warning was screaming "RED ALERT RED ALERT" inside me but the power had a hold of my reasoning and didn't let go until we pulled up onto my parents driveway once again.
My ex-boyfriend climbed shakily off the back of the bike, gave me a pale faced wave and headed off back to his home. I heard he went to California. I don't know. All's I know is he never showed his face to me again.
I received an email, earmarked for my Mother, yesterday evening. Her sister, "Mary" (older by 3 years) had died.
I called up my Mother (who is currently residing at her friends house) and gently let her know. She took the news calmly. It seems this sad event was expected. Still...it's family. An ending. A loss.
A short time later, I typed an email response back to her family in Holland. My Mother dictated it to me, letter by letter, as it was in Fries. The language her family (who live in Friesland--a small country attached to Holland) speak.
Message sent, I sat back and let the memories drift over me.
When I was 18 and living in Holland for a short time, I took the bus with my Dutch boyfriend to go visit my Mothers family in Friesland. I had been there once as a child. My memories were bits and pieces.
I knew my Mother had come from a very wealthy family. That her family owned most of the town of Sexbierum due to good investing after the War. My Mother had instructed me to ask directions to her Mother's house (my Beppe)by saying one word. Beppe "Smith".
I hopped off the bus as we entered Friesland and loped over to a man pumping gas at a station. I said, "Beppe (grandma) 'Smith'?" Just as my Mother had instructed. I was shocked when the man's eyes widened and he quickly pulled off his cap out of respect to me. His hand trembled as he pointed to a large brick house across a freshly plowed field. I felt a fragmented memory shift inside my head. I remembered that house from my childhood visit 10 years before.
My boyfriend and I set off for my Beppe's house and were greeted warmly by Aunts and Uncles and Cousins. We spent a fine evening feasting and playing rowdy games of table top shuffleboard.
The next morning, my boyfriend and I walked to my Tante (aunt) "Mary's" house. A maid opened the door and I informed her of who I was. I waited in the large entry way for my Tante's arrival. A woman who's features bore an almost identical stamp of my Mother's walked into the entryway and paused when she saw me.
Blue eyes, crystal cold, swept over me disapprovingly as she stepped closer to me. Then, very deliberately, she turned her cheek and pointed to it. It was, like something out of an old time English tradition, a cut direct. She did not greet me with the two cheek kiss of family welcome. However, out of respect to my Mother, I shoved down my anger and stepped forward to kiss her cheek.
My Mother was so angry when I wrote her later of the greeting her sister gave to me. Apparently, because I am adopted, I am not blood. Therefore, I was not "family".
I saw my Tante a few years later after my college years. She was having hip problems and I had taken some linament and rubbed the soreness out of her hip. She had softly laid a hand against my cheek and thanked me in her native tongue. The once cold disapproving eyes were damp with tears of pain and filled with belated family warmth.
Black and white memories of a life that has now passed. I wish her well on her next journey, whatever that may be.
I am on a quest, Folks. A quest to complete my Wizard of Oz doll series from McDonalds Happy Meal toys! I am missing the Scarecrow and cannot seem to find him in any McDonalds. I must have him! I have Scarecrow needs!
Those close to me, who know (some) of my childhood stories, question my reasoning in allowing my Mother to visit my home.
They are not alone in their questions. I too have run them through my inner logic filter.
There was so much fear in my household growing up. Every day when the school van would deposit my siblings and I back at our house we would argue as to who would be the first to walk through the door. The victim of the day. The person who would step in, check the Mother atmosphere on whether or not the rest of our day would be hell or not.
Often times that victim was me, as I was the baby of the family. I'd like to think that they chose me because they thought somehow abuse would come less swiftly from our Mother as I was the smaller of the tribe. Truth is, as I was the smaller of the tribe, I was easier to bully into entering the Mother lair.
If it was a good day, she greeted you with smiles and talk of how she missed you while you were gone the long school hours. There would be a special treat she made, saltine crackers with chocolate frosting and hot chocolate. She would fill our night with stories of her growing up years as we sat by a crackling fire in the fireplace and ate popcorn. The house would be filled with laughter and warmth.
If it was a bad day there would be slaps and kicks and horrible verbal abuse that would not cease until she grew tired of tormenting you. Which, could take hours or days or weeks.
I'll never forget that feeling of my stomach muscles clenching in terror as I took that first step into our house to see what kind of day it would be. It was so impressed upon my brain that after I had grown every major decision I made was influenced by my passion to avoid ever feeling that form of terror again.
So why. Why do I continue to keep this person in my life? To allow her, her yearly visits to my home? I can only say this.
It is not in me to turn my parent away from my door. It is not in me to cause her pain.
I made a vow, when I was 5, that I would not grow up to be like her. I made a vow that I would treat others with kindness. That I would raise my child(ren) with love. That in all things I would be the opposite of her. For by doing so, I would win. And she would not.
My Mother is gone now, visiting a friend. I survived the 4 days (thanks due to some creative blog therapy and good friends) without strangling her or treating her unkindly. :)
Last night as my son and I enjoyed our home with the one we love, I realized that not only had I survived, I had achieved all I had hoped to achieve when I made that vow so many years ago.
Am I right in allowing her to remain in my life? I don't know. I only know that it is a decision that I can live with myself over. And ultimately, it is myself that I have to answer to, in the dark of the night, when such questions creep up from the soul at midnights haunting hour.