Friday, June 24, 2005

Livin' Free in America

So far within the past week we really feel like we have been living free in America. We’ve gotten free food twice at chick-fil-a with coupons that came in the mail, been to the free movies and we just got a bunch of stuff for free at the new CVS pharmacy on Congress and Northlake today. Casey and I went and browsed the aisles with our hot little hands clutching our free coupons like treasure. I considered it a double whammy because it was like going on a free outing for the afternoon too. Casey was looking for something to do that didn’t involve one of her summer book reports that I keep making her work on, or anything involving cleaning supplies or garbage or recycling chores... or yard work (kid’s these days, go figure), and I wanted her to give the TV a break. So she received the coupon for one free candy item up to $1.00. (Yeah, we know how to live!). I had given Cally the free $5.00 worth of make-up coupon which we took with us on her behalf and got the revolutionary new eye shadow she’s been talking about for over a week. I had given Cael the coupon for a CVS brand item up to $3.00 for free so he could get something he needs for his new apartment. Since he hadn’t used it yet, I took it along with us and got him some laundry detergent. We also had a free greeting card up to $2.00. It was like we were poor people from a third world country walking into a brightly lit store with all it’s glitter and glam, seeing something like that for the first time, seeing all the goodies displayed in their opulence, and us with our free coupons in our hands had our heads in the clouds. It was a regular shopping spree. The free coupons just seem to keep coming in the mailbox...and I’m using ‘em. So we got $11 worth of stuff. It was fun. Yes, free is fun. Now, I’m not saying everything we’ve done lately was free. Oh no. Yesterday, I took Cael to Bed Bath and Beyond to continue our college apartment purchases. Little by little, I’m knocking things off the list to trick myself into not really grasping the enormity of the associated costs, although, like all my lists, this college purchase list is rather long. But, I can say we used either a $5.00 off or a 20% off coupon on each and every item we bought. It was quite a joy. We saved enough to feel good about it despite the fact that we still spent plenty. We’re buying the generic things at Target and such but certain things that we liked at Bed Bath and Beyond were still good deals and then the coupon helped too. You know, if I went through all the neighbors’ recycle boxes, I could probably find a ton of those free CVS coupons and have free summer fun all over again. I guess there are times when being gutless is a good thing. Otherwise there might be a scene.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Of rats and termites

I’m trying to refocus. OK, “focus” would be a better word. I probably shouldn’t get ahead of myself and think I am farther along than I am. One must first focus before they attempt to refocus shouldn’t they? I am at the business of ticking things of my always daunting list, but I have hopes and dreams brewing in the background. Does anyone else find it hard to hope and dream with a list always nagging at them. Usually I feel the need to finish everything chore-like before I get my heart set on something dreamy. But I have decided to take a stab at allowing dreams to simmer while going about the mundane, yet necessary, business of getting life done. It’s a new approach. Now, if dreams simmering are anything like foods simmering while I go off and do other things at dinner time, I may be in trouble. I am not known for an ability to keep things cooking in the background while distracted with chores. But I will take a stab at it.

That’s all, I thought I would be surprisingly brief just so that I am up-to-date with my blog. Nothing worse than a stale blog site when one comes to read hoping for info or entertainment or correspondence or just for something to occupy the moment. I have failed miserably at keeping up, I know. But there are others too (whom I won’t mention by name) who are not all that on top of their own blogs lately either. So off I go to pursue dreams in my mind as I work on the lawn, go to the store, finish the Peru album, make dinner, and on goes the list... the stupid, ever-present list.

Oh and for the record, the number of severed termite wings and bodies that have been present in my kitchen each morning for the past few months seems to be dwindling. I'm thinking that either this means they are dying out (I like to think things like this will just go away if I ignore them) or they have quit coming out because they are too busy feasting on the parts of my house they’ve found to consume. These termites are one of the curses of the ages that I have grown quite tired of. I have dealt with the problem so many times, I really have lost my edge about it. Probably because there are other situations to confront. Like yesterday I noticed a large population of slow moving flies on the screens of my front windows. A perilous sight, since the last time this happened many years ago, it meant dead rats in the attic. Now that I think about it, I did hear some scurrying sounds above me and out my window the other night as I was trying to fall asleep. It was an odd sound I couldn't place, but yup, rat scurrying is just what it sounded like. Anyway, I have as of yet not smelled dead rat in the house (a profoundly distinct smell), although outside the windows where the flies were swarming, there was an icky dead animal smell that was only noticeable when I was in a certain place and tried real hard to find it... and I didn’t want to find it if you know what I mean. But I did look around somewhat hoping something might be laying in the yard nearby that might account for the smell. But no. If it’s anywhere, it’s in the attic. I guess time will tell. I am just not sure how to handle this episode. Dead animals in the yard are almost too much to take, but I have dealt with them so many times I have some sort of experience and ability there (sure chalk that up on my list of talents), but dead things in the attic, forget it. I will, no doubt, pay someone to remedy this evil if a brave masked man in a cape doesn't just happen to show up at my door to rescue me from this grievous peril. Since we know how like that is, I guess I’d best be off to check my bank balance.
So much for my short blog entry.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Learning Something New Everyday, X 2

Yesterday’s chick-fil-a cup, now filled with ice water, is still attached to my hand. It has been there for about an hour now. I had just filled it with ice and water and set it inside by the front door because I was mowing the lawn and knew I would be getting hot and thirsty. But the rain seemed to be getting harder so I decided to pack it in and rake up all the grass laying in thick lengths over the two strips of yard I had finished mowing (it’s been raining every day for almost two weeks and the grass is growing like weeds). I wanted to get the mower into the garage out of the rain, but the only space to fit it in requires that it go in backwards. I was in a hurry as my hair was turning to something sadly pining of hurricane hair and the rain was gaining strength. The mower wheel always catches on the ladder propped up next to where I store it when I try to get it in, and it is expected that I will have to work it around to get it back far enough to close the garage door. Usually I climb over and pull the mower to jostle it in place, but this time I was in a rush so I leaned over and I pushed instead. I wasn’t getting good leverage pushing from on top, so I reached under the motor housing a bit and grabbed good and solid and gave it a sound push when, “aghhhhhh!” I screamed a fantastic scream and quickly separated my forefinger from the fiery metal part of the mower that the directions warn you in large red letters never to touch or you will surely face severe injury or death. Well NOW I was reminded of those directions and without any conscious thought, I shot off running to the front door and submerged my hand in my icy chick fil a cup where my hand has remained ever since, even while i raked up the rest of the grass (yes, I am talented, thank you for noticing). I even managed to keep my hand in the cup during almost my entire shower. I was particularly impressed by this myself. Typing is tricky with only a left hand to hunt and peck with, but I’m a trooper, even while having flashbacks of that day 11 years ago on fourth of july when I learned another lesson about hands and heat and things you should never do. I panicked a bit for a second when I took off running for the ice water, thinking back and hoping I wasn’t gonna relive that part of my life back when I learned my lesson in sparkler physics. Once was enough. But I decided this was a much smaller burn area, so I was gonna treat myself this time no matter how charred my skin. Good to know I am still learning new things every day. In fact I am such an astute student of life that I learned two things today, the other being this morning when I learned that if after flushing the toilet very early in the morning, you go back in later and find the water in the toilet is very low, so low that a sense of foreboding falls upon you like a thick dark cloud, don’t flush it again. Just don’t. No matter how tempting, because even though you may be certain that any clog would surely have dissolved by now, don’t fall for that. Don’t tempt toilet fate. Go for the plunger. Just go. I don’t care if it is all the way at the other end of the house and you don’t think you feel like walking that far and you think you can take your chances rather than make an extra trip for nothing. Plunge first. Flush later. You will be glad you did. Because you probably don’t feel like cleaning the bathroom floor that early in the morning. I can almost guarantee it.

Did I? What? Did I plunge first? Well, no, or what would I have learned. I would have learned nothing. I would have been just another regular unenlightened bozo. I chose instead the path of wisdom, the path of practical knowledge, the path of pee water all over the floor and being late to work, and enjoying the early morning smell of Dow Scrubbing Bubbles and all the exercise I got when after flushing and standing there with my mouth hanging open as the water rose, I suddenly decided to run like a madwoman screaming, “Crap!” “Crap!” “Crap!” hoping to somehow make it all the way around 6 corners at top speed to get the plunger before the water flow spilled like a graceful fountain highlighted by streamers of disintegrating toilet paper, ebbing like a bubbling brook throughout the bathroom. I learned, baby. And I am richer for it. And not only am I a notch smarter now, my bathroom floor is clean too, and so is the toilet. Because you can’t leave pee residue laying around all day. As it was I spent most of the morning after my lesson in learning washing my hands compulsively. Hey, when I learn, I like to make the most of it. How else does anyone ever get these chores done anyway if not for such life lessons. It is beyond me.

So now I find myself flashing back to my time in the emergency room all those years ago, the feeling of the freezing solution they had my hand in as I lay there with a blanket of fear over my heart, imagining the pain I would be going through in the days and weeks to come. I had watched enough TV, and I had read the “It could happen to you” stories in the magazines. I knew the horrors burn victims go through. I also remember the lady in the emergency room on the other side of the curtain with a bug in her ear, shrieking relentlessly for over a half an hour at the top of her lungs and hardly pausing for breath, pleading with them, in a demanding manical way, to get the bug out of her ear now! An unnerving experience in and of itself, even if you aren’t laying there with the fear of imminent torturous pain clawing at your mind. Then all those weeks of holding my hand up to avoid the throbbing, as friends and family mimicked me and my adopted hand posture in jest. Today when I took my hand out of the cup in the shower for a few minutes, there I was, hand up, palm turned inward. It all came back to me, just like riding a bike. I think this time I will just walk around with the cup on my hand for a while instead and try something new. People enjoy having a wide variety of things to make fun of. I think they get bored if you can’t give them something new to work with. Our culture sort of frowns on those who exhibit behavior like walking around with a chick fil a cup attached to their hand, but I don’t know, I don’t have any of that silvadine cream (or whatever it was) or those plastic gloves they had me wear last time for stupid effect. It really hurts like heck still if I take my hand out of the water and now it’s been two hours since my fateful choice to push the burning mower from underneath. So my styrofoam chick fil a cup has become my security cup. It’s gonna be hard to sleep with it full of ice water, but I’ll manage it somehow. When I glom onto a solution, I gotta go with it. It’s like my many rigging scenarios. I make it work, no matter how impractical or how seemingly odd.

So there you have it. I learned two new things today and I didn’t even have to spend a dime at the emergency room. I’m feeling pretty proud. And now I have another story that will go with my other often-told, story-laden warnings to my children. They just “love” it when I tell stories of my mishaps in life every time I warn them about safety of some kind. Oh yeah, they just love it. The well of life lessons is just getting fuller and richer. My wisdom never ceases to amaze them... Well, Cally said she’s surprised I didn’t stick my hand all the way under the mower while it was running and chop my arm off. I suppose one’s life lesson could be construed as another’s stupidity. To each his own. I see only the wisdom grasshopper. I feel the pain of stupidity, yes, but I see the wisdom. (wimper, wimper)

Friday, June 03, 2005

Shrinking Vistas

They have finished, finally! The anxiety of the past few months during which our main sewer line was being repaired is at the place where it is supposed to be a memory. In many ways it is... the roaring backhoe, the workers leaving their trash and destroying my yard and the constant fear over what will be torn up next are in the past and happily so. I had only so many “anxiety years” worth of leeway there. I think I used them all up.

I came home last Friday and happened a glance out the kitchen window on my way by as has become my habit and did a double take. The fence was back and seemed imposingly out of place after months of open devastation and that orange see-through barrier. All the sudden I felt claustrophobic, like my world had shrunk. I didn't remember the fence ever seeming so imposing, so on top of us before but we'd had time to adjust to a fence-free back yard more or less during the course of the work. As we stopped to look we began to get the feeling the fence was indeed closer than it had been. It looked as if one were to take a swing on the ever popular tree swing, they might now hit the fence. Something was not right. Upon further inspection it was confirmed; the fence was replaced about 2 and half feet further into our yard than it had been before. In one day I lost valuable real estate and what feels like an acre of green. It's all the usual blessings and curses of my life. The sewer runs clean and the fence is far superior to the chain link all the neighbors down the line had put back up. It's a wood fence exactly like its predecessor, rustic and pleasing to look at, however, being that it is wood and creates a barrier, now that the barrier is creeping so much closer to the house, the feeling of open green vistas has diminished. The surveyors came and decided where to put the fence all the way down the line in the middle of the easement. My neighbor hadn't wanted the fence so far into the easement originally but said they never asked before replacing it last week. So he has now gained some valuable real-estate and an even more open feeling and unfortunately I feel like the world is closing in. I'll get used to it I'm sure, and we don't actually hit the fence while swinging, but all during the torturous process of the work I calmed myself with the thought that all would be back to normal when they were through. It would all be over one day. It's over all right, and while the sewer runs free, my backyard view will never feel the same.

Ok, time to get over that, I have a video to keep after. I did actually quit going through old tapes and have begun editing. Despite the fact that I haven't got all the music I need, I am working with what I have for now in hopes that I will find a way to get it soon. I did a chunk of editing last night, but a chunk really is a spit in the bucket with all there is to work with. I have over 1200 items of video and photos to work with on this project. Most of the time if I remember a clip to use in a spot it is almost impossible to remember what I named it and find it in the overstocked bin. Luckily I love this stuff and when it comes together I am completely satisfied.

I also have a new photo album job - a trip to Peru. I just want to work on my video though, and yet the checkbook is starving for deposits. I must get to work. Lifelong personal projects feed the soul but drain the wallet. If only it were the other way around.