Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sparkle Plenty

YuYu is seven. It is hard not to wax rhapsodic about this child and if I could do her justice, I might try. But this loving child’s gifts are beyond my feeble words and descriptive abilities. I wish I were a poet. YuYu needs a poet to capture her loveliness and my feet are not long fellows. All she wanted for her birthday? Seashells. How lovable is that? She was thrilled with this cheap basket of shells from Oriental Trading Co. You wouldn’t think there could be merchandise out there a step down from Lillian Vernon, but then I found Oriental Trading and not only is the quality much inferior, you buy all the inferior products in multiples of 12 or more. Our birthday party goodie bags entered a whole new realm of awesomeness when I discovered this cornucopia of cheap crap.

YuYu is wearing the most deliciously green pajamas her friend Hunter (or more accurately, Hunter’s amazingly thoughtful mom Trish) selected for her in New York’s Chinatown. The color makes her skin look like it is lit from within and she is cool and toasty at the same time. YuYu proclaimed her new pajamas to be “handsome and popular.” What dreadful video has she been watching that gave her handsome and popular? I don't know, but I love it. I love her. She makes my heart high.

Happy birthday bird girl, please don’t grow up too fast.

Friday, June 22, 2007


I was actually, no lie, sitting beside the pool tonight as the little girls were splashing and having big fun and thinking to myself: I should go get the camera to snap a few of girls and my Mike's Hard Lime to illustrate a blog entry along the lines of all's well that ends well, but it hasn't ended well, yet. Bastards.

Yesterday we had 14 Girls Scouts and assorted siblings in the pool for an end of year shindig and badge extravaganza complete with exhortations by Juiliet Gordon Low from beyond the grave. I don't know the netiquette for loading up photos of other people's pre-teen kids in bathing suits, but I'm pretty sure I shouldn't, so here is a photo of Ellie finishing up the requirements for her small craft safety badge. All I ever remember getting badges for was embroidering and making puppets, man, did I grow up in the wrong generation.

So, it gets to be the end of the evening, I'm inside scooping up root beer floats like I'm on a conveyor line when I'm informed by one of the troop moms fresh from ouside that the pool is giving shocks. Electrical shocks. Not big shocks, but still, I'm pretty sure it shouldn't be giving shocks of any size, big or small. I run outside to turn off the pump, not because I think it is the pump causing the shocks, but because I have no earthly idea what could be causing the pool to give shocks and it is the only thing electrical that is on and operating around the pool and I had to do something to make it look like I was in charge and had a handle on the whole pool giving shocks thing. I didn't try to duplicate the problem by getting my own shock because I was needed on the rootbeer float assembly line and by the time everyone left, I wasn't really thinking about it until Ellie started asking about shock and it started to appear to me that maybe the whole thing was a product of over-wrought pre-teen imagination and maybe some girls had seen the empty bags of Sock It To Me chemical shock in the crap bucket in the corner by the deck and thought it was fun make everyone get worried about getting "shocked" ala the Salem Witch Trials where innocent women were burned at the stake based on the testimony of attention-seeking teen-aged girls. I thought no more of it and assumed that I had been witch trialed and my pool was in fine working order after all.

I thought nothing more of it that is until this evening when I thought better and thought that maybe I should question Ellie to see if the "shock" was a product of empty chemical bags and fevered imaginations. I asked her good leading questions and she fell in line and agreed with me: it wasn't an electrical shock, it was because of the empty shock bags. But even I knew her answer was based on my big person intimidation style grilling and the apparent lack of distinction in Ellie's mind between an electrical shock and chemical shock. So I backed off a bit, gave her a chance to explain. She reminded me that it was a troop mother who told me the pool was giving shocks and Ellie confirmed that the troop mother got a shock when she touched the surface of the water NEAR THE POOL LIGHT while standing on the deck. And guess what, you CAN get a shock when you sit on the deck and touch the surface of the water because I GOT a shock when I tried it too.

Which brings me to the bastards. Those pool guy bastards. Drain my pool to the bottom, a thing I should never have had to witness, pull the fixture out, leave it hanging for awhile, then reinstall it so inexpertly that I get a whole new amusement park quality feature in my back yard pool: think hair-raising, thrill-a-minute, Terror Ride, you never know what's going to make you jump out of your skin or Speedo as the case may be. Bastards.

Then add the dust storm in downtown Baghdad that's been happening just over the property line as the excavators tear out a small mountain of dirt to make way for the new Jr. High and didn't have the good sense to get the damn water tank trucks on site to spray down the dust like the damn contract says they should and the money the sub-contractor saved by going thbbbpt to the contract terms should be disbursed equally to all the neighbors to clean the dust off of every surface imaginable. But I kind of doubt that's going to happen, but I think I'm more pissed off about the time it took me to get all the right names so I could call and complain oh so diplomatically right after I made the first call to the county DEQ. Wouldn't you think the school district or the general contractor would have had the sense to warn the neighbors that this shit was going down and wouldn't you think the general would have the good sense to at least apologize when confronted in person by a calm but assertive home owner about the lack of any attempt to mitigate the dust? bastard.

So, no photo evocative of warm, relaxing summer evenings poolside with a cold bottle of alchopop and wet kids enjoying the hell out of the water after a hot hot day. Just my meandering diatribe about the bastards and yes, I have let them get me down, just a bit. I'll review a motivational poster this weekend about the bastards and how not to let them get you down and I'll be better when the pool isn't giving involuntary eletrolysis and the air on my street doesn't go crunch when you get some in your mouth.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Does he have a single brother?

I know, I know what I said about my handsome bright yellow Kartchner power sprayer and I still do love it so, but I've found a man to make me rethink the pronouncement about not needing a husband. I was poking around the big web to do a little self educating on the money sucker embedded in my back yard and I found The One. He should be mine. Too bad The One is married with kids and living somewhere happily, looks like the South, no snow or ice in any of the pictures and the dirt, she is so red. Unfortunately, regardless of the married with kids thing he has going on, at the very least, I'm geographically undesirable, who would want to relocate to the land of bitter cold turns to dry heat and odd liquor laws. And I'm not even going to get into the oh so many factors that make me oh so unmarriageable at this point in time and space, but, I digress and you really need to check this flickr story. Tell me you don't find this man ultimately attractive even though you can't really see his face in any of the shots. What he looks like just doesn't really matter, does it? This Adonis, this faceless god amongst us, this true American hero, rent/wrung/brought forth on this continent that gorgeous after out of the hideous before with his own bare hands and a crummy cement mixer. Gives me the longings that I thought I had long long long ago learned to suppress. Big sigh.

Friday, June 15, 2007


Hey, who wants to take a dip? Come on in, the water is fine!

Oh good hell, I gasped, then I swore like a cop when the pool guys pulled back the cover to expose this stinking mess. It was either curse or cry and I was all cried out last week, so cursing it was. What the hell, what the hell? Just when I thought I was climbing up the slope on the cement pond learning curve, I got kicked all the way back down. This cost a fortune and I don't know who to blame.

Every fall, I pay someone to "close the pool." They dump a ton of chemicals in the water, float some bags of chlorine, stretch the winter cover over the top and when they come back to open it in the spring, there's a lot of debris in the water, but it's pretty clear other than the floaters. Not this year, that's for damn sure. It was revolting. I had a different pool company close the pool last fall and I called them to schedule the pool opening back in March because every pool service gets so overbooked in late May. The woman I spoke to apparently thought I was a nut job, because she ignored me and didn't put me on the schedule. So by the time they got to me, it was three weeks later than I had anticipated, but still, this didn't get that bad in three weeks, did it? When I moved into the house, we didn't open the pool until July 7 that year and the water was fine. The two young men who had come to get the pool open were full of speculation, all except for the obvious to me answer that someone fucked up the closing and further fucked it up when they didn't get out to open in until three weeks after I asked for it to be done. So, to add salt to the wound, I had to let them drain the damn pool, do an acid wash, and fill the money sucking pit back up with fresh water. I hate financial rape and I'm feeling very victimized, to the tune of $987 victimized not including the water bill yet to come, that will be at least $200. Damn. Then, when the pool was empty, a sight I NEVER want to see again, you can see where the plaster has been worn away (the chlorine eats it up) and the concrete is starting to show and that can only mean one thing (or so I have recently learned); it will start leaking unless it is replastered. Who the hell do you get to replaster a pool? and how the hell much is that going to cost? Now I understand the comments I've received from any number of people who find out I have an antique swimming pool in the back yard: "so, are you going to fill that in?" Well, yes, I just might, dammit.

And last, but not least in my graphic essay of swimming pool nightmare hell, the one bright spot, My Hero. Seriously. Who needs a husband when you already have a power washer?

why I’ve been MIA, or things that whip my ass

Ever felt like Stretch Armstrong? Too many obligations, too much drama, not enought time? Now imagine a vintage Stretch doll that’s someone’s been hoarding all these years in case it became a collectible that could be flogged on eBay for ninety times it’s original value. The plastic on this Stretch is getting crumbly and takes a dog's year to snap back to it’s original shape and it looks like the skin around the lips of a skinny old woman who’s had a two pack a day habit since before the Big War. That’s the kind of Stretch Armstrong I’ve felt like for the last three weeks. Aha, that's telling, it's only been two weeks, but I typed three because the last two weeks have felt like forever and a week.

My Mom, aka my best friend, had quintuple bypass surgery June 5 because she had an episode (can’t get any better info than that, but apparently whatever the episode was, it was significant enough to get her immediately admitted to the CCU) during an angiogram on June 1 to determine why her circulation is so bad no one can find a pulse in her right foot and a big old wound from erupting celluitis that she swears she got because my niece got into their hot tub with too much body lotion and hair product and Mom got blood poisoning from the tainted water. Hey, she's old, she's entitled to a few crack-brained ideas, I guess.

So, starting from the "episode," it all got very melodramatic: thoracic surgeon gives us a cheery prediction of a 50% chance of death or stroke during the bypass because her right carotid artery is 70% occluded (which she knew about but the medical professionals were just “keeping an eye” on it, WTH?) which resulted in a lovely Sunday afternoon with me perched on her hospital bed with a college ruled notebook jotting down her wishes for her funeral service and all the specific dispositions of certain assets that she was too tired to fight my rat bastard father (and no, I do not exaggerate or use the term lightly, in fact, I toned down the description to retain credibility) about when they did their estate planning but she figures that with a wedge of guilt and the wedge of my personality, she can make it happen from beyond the grave. Much too much drama for me, too many tears, so much to lose, very hard, very hard.

But, she survived the surgery! Recovery was a little dicey, heart rate wouldn’t regulate, but eventually it did, on its own, no pacemaker needed, and they sent her home yesterday. And just so you know what a rat bastard my Dad is, when they stopped at the local grocery/drug store to get her baker’s dozen of prescriptions filled, he went inside, determined that he did not want to wait, that he could come back later to pick up the meds, but that Man had his priorites straight. He bought a box of bear claws and Danishes because he was feeling a bit peckish. He had the nerve to hand the box to my Mom, my diabetic heart failure Mom, to hold on the way back to their house where he had not brought groceries home since she was admitted to the hospital a full two weeks prior. Frankly, he would not know how to shop for any food item that wasn't next to the check out stand. In all his 72-years, he has never grocery shopped. There wasn’t a speck of fresh food in the house, but by damn, he had something to eat for breakfast. Rat bastard.

Mom is now on the mend, which is such a relief. She will not last as long as I assumed she would last. My granny was 92 when she kicked the bucket and I didn't bother my pretty little head with thinking about what diabetes was doing to my mother because it looked like she had that old diabetes smacked into submission. But, sadly, the damn diabetes was just silently killing her, damn diabets. In a month, she'll go back in for the carotid artery surgery, then the femoral artery as soon as possible after that, and if she’s not dead or on the way there by that time, they will consider the renal arteries. My poor Mom. Diabetes is the real rat bastard, but my Dad gives it a run for the money.

So that explains where I’ve been, treading water and feeling pulled in a million jillion directions. I still have to work, no family emergency days for the self-employed; I have to keep the specter of malpractice away from and some revenue coming in through my office door, no matter what: I've got four kids. I had the big dilemna about whether to retain Nora in Kindergarten another year. Made a decision and then backed down. I'll try to blog that soon, I need to get my thoughts straight again on that issue. Then, to add to the big basket o’stress, I got a couple of other ass-kickings from some home improvement headaches which have vacuumed my bank account as clean as the 12,000 gallons of fresh water in my pool and, as always, Nora, who absorbed my stress and sadness and reflected it back in her best less than charming fashion. Just when I need her to suck it up and be a team player, she falls apart and acts out as badly as she ever has. Nice. I'm a sad and scared daughter, one step ahead of a bar complaint professional, rigid and over-reactive mother, home handy man failure kind of gal. But my mom is still alive, it's good to be me.