Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

When The Moon Hits Your Eye Like A Lemon Merangue Pie, That's Amore!


I believe Doc was moved by Sammy Davis, Jr. (and an overt message from me) to provide a memorable gesture for our 10 year anniversary. It was a little more Sammy than it was Flannery, but I'll take it.


There were many memorable things that happened today. For instance, Lucy, when she got out of the tub, wanted to be Super Lucy and insisted in the way only a three-year-old could, and I obliged. I loosely tied a blanket around her neck and she was transformed.


I told the girls I needed two super heros to help me on my mission: To find the DVD remote. They gamely agreed to help me in my quest. Lucy even went to get friends. She ran into the bathroom and said in the mirror, "Mommy needs some super heros to find the remote...do you want to help? [pause] Good! Let's go!" And she raced back into the bedroom.


I told the girls to check under the bed while I stripped it of its sheets. "Not here!" I said.


"Not here!" said Riley popping back up from under the bed.


"Now I need you to help me remake this bed!"


"Yay!" they yelled as Riley jumped on the bed. We had some fun flapping the sheets around and then we decided to straighten the covers. By this time, Lucy was on the bed too, jumping and superheroing. Riley and I got the sheet and one blanket on and Riley lost interest. I straightened my side up and looked at Lucy.


"Ok?" I said.


"NO!" she yelled and started stumbling around.


"Are you caught in your cape?" I asked, looking at her feet.


"No, no, no, no, no!" she said and then pointed to the covers, "It's not straight!"


"Well, why don't you straighten it?" I asked.


"Super heros don't do that," she said and leapt off the bed.


*****


After the girls went to sleep, I came out to the garage to see how Doc was doing.


"I've been thinking about that gesture," he said.


"Oh?" I asked, "What is it?"


"Well, I want to make sure the kids are asleep first."


"Hmmm...they're out," I said.


"Ok," he said, "Follow me."


He lead me outside and into the driveway, under the nearly full moon. He walked me clear out to the spotlight of the lampost at the end of the drive and said the following:


Tonight is our tenth anniversary. I want you to stop and think back and call up all the memories of every time I've been late or screwed up or forgotten anniversaries and hold that image in your mind. Got it? OK. Now wait here.


He walked back to his Jeep and started shuffling things around. Oh, God, I thought, He's going to shoot me. But the thought passed as he finally got everything how he wanted it. He turned and started walking toward me with a pie in one hand and the other hand behind his back.


He leaned into me in that way he does when he really wants to make sure you're listening and said the following over a lemon merangue pie: "Now, I want you to take this pie and shove it in my face."


"No," I said, "I won't do that."


"Come on," he prodded.


"No..."


"You can do it."


So I stuck my finger in the cream on top and wiped it on his chin.


"There," I said.


And he got this look in his eye and his right shoulder dipped. In a half second I caught sight of a second pie.


"Oh no you don't, you bitch!" I yelled and ducked as I brought the pie up and over and hit him square in the face. My duck saved me (ducks will usually do that for you), all but the right side of my head.


"I can't believe you did that!" I yelled as he laughed, wiping pie off his face.


I started walking into the house pissed and amazed. Who does that? I wondered. He followed me in and we went into the kitchen and started to rinse off. He's laughing and I'm still trying to recover.


"I can't believe you did that; you're such a little bitch!"


After we were nearly cleaned of, the joy of it started to wash over me. God, that was fun. And you know what? I think I kind of liked landing a pie in his face. We talked later about how ten years is a long time and we've both driven each other nearly crackers and we decided that we both deserved what we got.


Phase two of Operation Gesture was much more Flannery. Doc went back to the Jeep and fetched a dozen beatiful roses and a cool bottle of Asti, my favorite.


"Now," he said, "I want to tell you: the pies were reduced, but I paid full price for those roses."


And my heart melted.



Monday, October 22, 2007

Unexpected Exile

I'm sitting in my parent's basement, watching MASH with Lucy and Doc. The Orkin man came to day to give the fleas the business. You'd think two giant aerosol cans of flea killer would pretty much take care of the problem. Nope. Jesus H. Tap-Dancin' Christ, you should hear the list of things we have to do:

  • Buy a dog sized flea collar and cut it up; put it in the sweeper canister
  • Vacuum the house 3 to 4 times a day for at least the next two weeks
  • Scrub the linoleum and basement floor with hot water and bleach

I'm exhausted just thinking about it all. It's a good thing I quit school or I'd be dangling out a window about now. Doc thinks we need to stay at Mom & Dad's at least one more night to make sure all the chemicals are gone and to start the vacuuming rituals. We've been here since Saturday night and I miss my bed. I don't miss the fleas though.

I'm trying to look on the bright side of all this. Maybe all the vacuuming will be like swinging two bats on the on-deck circle...it will just get us warmed up to the idea of vacuuming more often. I hate to vacuum. It's noisy and monotonous, like an AC/DC concert. I'd much rather dust, personally, but dusting ain't gonna kill any fleas. Also, all this flea business might mean that I will soon have some brand new carpet in my bedroom to replace the teal green plush from the Emerald City collection that currently lurks under my bed.

I worked so hard this weekend. Friday night: I finished the paper below. Well, it's not really finished. There are plenty of errors, as I noticed when I read it for the podcast. But it was done enough for government work. Saturday, my Mom and Grandma came over while Dad took the girls to his house to play. Mom, Grandma and I swept, picked up, dusted (whee!), packed up and gathered all the laundry we could find and headed off to the laundromat.

We stopped on the way at Milk & Honey, a Canton institution that serves steak burgers and sundaes. We fortified ourselves and started in on the laundry at about 2:30. By 5:45, we had finished nearly 30 loads of laundry.

Oh, by the way, a cute little Asian guy tried to pick me up at the laundromat. At first, I couldn't figure out that he wanted a date. He kept asking if I would be his friend.

"Sure," I said, "I can be your friend."

He mumbled something unintelligible that included street names I recognized. Then he asked me for my number and then offered me his number. I had a flash-forward of him calling me constantly and telling me about his problems with an accent so thick that I'd want to scratch my ears out as my better nature did battle with my bitch nature over whether to stay his friend or ditch him like a sack of rotten bananas.

"Um," I said, looking around for my Mom, "I don't have my phone."

I was able to tear myself away and get back to the task at hand, pumping quarters into greedy washing machines. Later on, as I went to my car to get some baskets, he cornered me.

"Do you want to have dinner tonight?" he asked me, plain as day.

"Uh," I stammered, "Well...I'm married...I've got kids."

"You're married?" he asked, surprised.

"Yes," I said, feeling like I may be out of the woods.

"Oh," he said, "I don't mind."

"Well," I said, "I think my husband would. Thanks anyway though," and I walked away.

He made himself scarce, while he waited for his laundry to finish, talking on his cell phone. I think he might have been a bit of a con artist.

Sunday, I worked on the house, colored my hair (finally) and crashed out on the couch. I was late for work this morning; I couldn't find my keys. Someone had hidden them in my purse. Imagine that! But work was good and I got my hair cut, so I look fabulous. I had a leisurely dinner on my own and finished reading my book. Riley's out cold and Lucy, well, who knows when she'll crash out. She seems to be a bit manic right now. But she's got to sleep sometime, right?

So what, I'm faced with one more night without my bed. At least it's not in a hotel, but rather Mom and Pop's Comfy Couch Inn. And Doc is going to handle a lot of the to-do list this week. Hopefully by the weekend we'll have a new routine that includes vacuuming until our fingers fall off. Dirty deeds...done dirt cheap and all that rot. Wish us luck and send us a post card.

Until then, fleas be not with you.

Friday, October 19, 2007

It's Not Like I Ain't Been Writin'...

Hear all about it to the left...

Or read it here...


1979-1984: A Failure of Accountability

“A new year is not really new if we live the same old life,”[1] The Plain Dealer quotes from a “sage observer”. One could even say that about a new decade or a new century when talking about Cleveland. Politicians are continuing to make promises to help those who need it most and fail to follow through or set up check points to make sure plans are enacted as intended. More interested in protecting their power base than pulling together and finding ways to serve the greater good, politicians, including school superintendents, continue to drop the ball and those who suffer are the ones who need the most to survive. The year 1979 opens with proclamations of doom and gloom. Inflation and unemployment are out of control and the politicians seem to lack the skills to bring people out of it all. According to the front page of The Plain Dealer on the first day of 1979, “the city is broke and the politicians sometimes act like monkeys or as if their New Year’s Eve party was occurring every day.”[2]

In the neighborhoods, people suffer as landlords and contractors fail live up to promises to repair homes in Garfield Heights. The county has given two women, for example, grants of $10,000 each to fix up their crumbling houses. Once again the best intentions of urban renewal falter as contractors cut corners and politicians turned a deaf ear, claiming the women shouldn’t complain about inexperienced workers conducting haphazard repairs because it is free. In the end, the beneficiaries could end up paying the price for shoddy workmanship in fines for code violations. [3]

The director of the program, Vincent J. Lombardi, was sympathetic to the women and explained that new workers would be hired to complete the work. However, the contractor scoffed at the women’s complaints and called the ladies “foolish”. The women and the contractors were left to arbitrate the work on their own, without county oversight and intervention. The county has offered many promises, but has failed to follow through. A pattern that has appeared over and over throughout the early twentieth century with regard to urban renewal is perpetuated in 1979: Politicians promise and don’t follow through. The county selected the contractor, forced the homeowners to accept and deal with him, and then overloaded him with work, all the while sincere in their expectations that the job would be done. No accountability measures were in place and no investigations were allowed into the contractor due to state privacy laws.[4] Fortunately, a few days after this article ran, the powers that be were forced to examine the situation closely. Commissioner Robert E. Sweeny ordered an investigation.[5]

In 1982, there seemed to be little improvement in the housing situation. Public housing projects are worse than what was available before. Since the state gave tax breaks through depreciation. “Why should a landowner, especially an absentee landlord or real estate investment company renovate or rebuild when it will only serve to increase one’s taxes?” wondered the editor of the Call & Post. He recommended that the state adopt a site-value system that would encourage improvements. [6]

Housing was also becoming more segregated as real estate practices that encourage resegregation were “threatening some integrated areas. The Call & Post recommended affirmative marketing efforts” to slow the process of resegreation. The Report on Population and Race, based on the 1980 census, revealed that integrated areas were expected to “undergo more racial change over the next three years than less-integrated tracks.”[7]

At the county level, there has been a high level of turnover on four different boards of county commissioners within three weeks’ time. [8] Coming off of a year of fiscal failure, having defaulted on its debts in 1978, The Plain Dealer tries to put a positive spin on the hopes for the new year, recommending that everyone just forget about 1978 all together.[9] It’s not that bad, claim the editors. Let’s just forget last year and hope for the best. This attitude is pure Cleveland: just ask any Browns fan. But a city that refuses to conduct a post-mortem on its failures, will never learn how to do it right. Relying on luck seems to be a common practice for Cleveland politicians, who neglect to examine their missteps and correct them. Over and over, they seem convinced that things will work themselves out on their own, and they move on to plan their next run for office.

Having lost the race for Mayor to Kucinich, Edward Feighan was sworn into office as County Commissioner, returning the commission to the hands of democrats after three years in republican control. Feighan swore to work responsibly and maturely to straighten out the problems in Cuyahoga County during the “most turbulent political period in our history.” His focus will be on welfare reform, treatment for alcoholism and programs for battered wives.[10] He was also poised to take on City Hall and Kucinich head on as the battle between the two organizations was sure to continue.[11]

The battle continued between City Hall and City Council. Having won the mayoral election based on appealing to voters rather than relying on political connections, Dennis Kucinich entered office with few debts to other politicians and the freedom to follow his ideals. But it also left him as an outsider with very few allies in the city government.[12] On January 5th, the courts blocked the Mayor’s proposed lay-offs of 400 city workers. An order to stall the lay-offs was presented to the city administration in order to give the City Council time to find the money to bolster the payroll. A land deal and a proposal for early pay-off of an RTA debt needed time to be passed through. Meanwhile the city personnel, while dreading the effects of loss of human resources, were realistic in understanding that they could not afford to wait on hope to pay off. [13]

While City Council and the Mayor’s Office tried to work a deal, the Fraternal Order of Police chimed in, mocking the Mayor for his fool-hardy plans to lay off hundreds of police officers. William D. Gallagher claimed that there was money enough to postpone lay-offs until late February when they could be reconsidered after the land deals went through.[14] However, the planned lay-offs would save the city $600,000 a month, but would end if voters would approve a .5% income tax hike.[15]

The city’s financial woes were decried in the January 3rd issue of The Plain Dealer. The editor noted that city has had warning of its troubles since at least 1974 but the government and the people have fooled themselves into thinking that things would work out, due to lack of understanding or political reasons. Politicians had been pointing blame at each other for years without sincerely researching the problems. At least at this point the negative national attention has been forcing the city to seriously examine what’s wrong.

But the political fighting didn’t only go on between City Council and the Mayor’s Office, but also among City Council itself. In 1982, the Call & Post reported about the way Council President George Forbes indiscriminate use of the gag order. Because certain legislation about the deduction of union dues, the police unions were fighting amongst each other. The Council, who were tired of long Council meetings, refused to discuss the issues of snow-removal and blight removal. Those issues were not on the agenda so, according to Forbes, no one had the right to talk about it. This infuriated several council members who planned an investigation. [16] At least these politicians were good at enforcing their own rules for their meetings, they certainly weren’t seeing through anything else.

On the national front, in 1979, the minimum wage had been raised by 9.4% to $2.65 percent. However, lack of follow-through is evidenced by the observation made by economists that “as the minimum wage increases, compliance diminishes.”[17] Without accountability measures in place, what’s the point of trying to enact any law? With a city facing lay-offs and tax hikes, the unenforced minimum wage hike seemed pointless.

In the letters to the editor on January 2, 1979, it is interesting to note that a reader from the city of Cleveland suggests that the city and the suburbs join forces and become one. She recommends that if the suburbs want access to their profit-generating water resources, they should share their recreation facilities and snow plows. She complains that the suburbs want to keep their own resources and take Cleveland’s as well.[18] Other Clevelanders complain about the arrogance of the few in the near-west side of Cleveland wanting to secede. A few wealthy people moved there, tidied up a bit and immediately wanted to separate from the problems of Cleveland, they even threatened to put up toll booths at their border. All of these actions were led by a politician, William Sullivan, claiming to represent the entire ward, when in actuality he was representing the interests of a privileged few.

In October of 1979, Kucinich faced George Voinovich in the mayoral race. Kucinich was in a tight spot due to his confrontational style. Because he was unwilling to pay party politics, even just a little, he couldn’t make deals and move forward from the default. As Swantstrom notes, “Default…was a serious blow to the administration. Unable to borrow money, the Kucinich administration was forced to rely on a depleted tax base to make ends meet. Default was essentially an economic boycott of the city for political reasons.” Business leaders refused to help Cleveland until Kucinich was gone.[19]

Kucinich’s refusal to compromise and his frontal political assaults on banks, in particular, for not investing in the city, caused a hostile reaction in the bankers. They took their “attempt to bribe an entire city…” public in the form of default. Default was possible because the banks had financial power over the city; it could issue municipal credit. The banks wielded this power over a mayor who wouldn’t bend, even when default was imminent. [20]

Voinovich ran a smooth campaign for mayor in November of 1979, and held a nonpartisan stance as Kucinich ran around trying to attack, claiming that Voinovich was in the pockets of the wealthy business owners or “Fat Cats,” While many Clevelanders didn’t care for fat cats and appreciated the way Kucinich stood up to them, voters knew they needed the fat cats for the city to survive. The people of Cleveland started to blame Kucinich for the lack of “business confidence.” [21] Voinovich seemed willing to carry forward with the current administrations plans of hanging on to Muny Light and rejecting tax abatements, but he took umbrage with the “chaos and confrontation at City Hall, which, he claimed, was holding back civic progress.” [22]
Suburbanites continued to exploit the city in the form participating in prostitution.

Councilwoman Artha Woods started a campaign to fight prostitution in Ward 18 on Cedar Avenue and discovered that most of the customers drove in from the suburbs. She hoped her new law to prosecute both prostitutes and their customers would bring an end to the unhealthy practice. While the benefits to ending prostitution are obvious, she was immediately criticized by the ACLU, who presumably were opposed to exposing the identities of the suburban customers.[23] Who knows where her hope comes from, as she explains that many laws are not enforced in her ward, especially with regard to housing.[24]

By 1982, some of the housing woes seemed to have been eased. E. 55th Street neighborhoods were booming with local business and friendly home-owners. Though there were crime and drug issues, and some businesses were leaving, residents and business owners had a plan for growth: renovation of structures, more sales and services, improve parking, acquire new equipment, and significantly increase employment. [25]

In 1984 other neighborhoods were gaining momentum in finding was to improve their situation. The Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland was spending time getting to know ethnic communities and finding out about their employment needs. By providing communities with supplies and equipment appropriate to their skills and culture, ethnic community members were able to make enough money to put food on the table.[26]
The Office of School Monitoring and Community Relations criticized a student rights and responsibilities code in 1979, claiming that it was confusing and worse than no code at all. The OSMCR explained that this kind of code should be upheld at the school level to protect all students from arbitrary discipline during this period of desegregation. The code is described as being inconsistent.[27] Meanwhile, even if there were a suitable code in place, the Cleveland Schools lacked sufficient staff to enforce it. The Assistant State Superintendent put the school system on warning, threatening to withdraw over $800,000 in state aid if the number of teachers failed to meet the standard of 40 teachers to every 1000 students. There was a huge teacher loss at the beginning of the year due to a six-week strike and administrators were scrambling to fill jobs.[28]

Staffing seemed to be one of many problems facing Cleveland Schools. Complaints were growing about East Side schools. Students were unmonitored and allowed to loiter and play games rather than given instructional activities. Teachers were there more for security reasons than educational ones. Stanley Tolliver decried the inequity of services offered at the East and West side schools. “…how could there be such a difference between the schools on the East Side and West Side? I don’t think it’s a coincidence…These kids are getting ripped off. There are hundreds of millions of dollars going down a rathole every year, and I think it’s high time…for a wall-to-wall audit of the school system.” [29]

High school and junior high school attendance dropped 2.8% and 2.3% respectively in the beginning of the 1984-85 school year, contradicting the claims of Supt. Frederick D. Holiday’s claims of successfully fighting absenteeism. Attendance steering committee members noted that their recommendations for raising attendance had been followed, as long as they didn’t cost any money. Once again, lack of enforcement drains the life out of good ideas.

By 1982, the Editor of the Call & Post was decrying the lack of compliance in Cleveland with desegregation rules. They called the federal government’s policy “putrid” and cried foul when the federal court denyied tax-exempt status to private schools who discriminated, yet let discriminatory practices continue in Cleveland Schools. “The federal government is no longer going to enforce those laws aimed at correcting the racial injustice that has been the dark side of America’s greatness.”[30]

In 1982, Dr. Frederick Holliday became Cleveland School’s first black superintendent who was facing a huge task: School closing, administrative in-fighting, low standards, and red tape. His hopes were to raise achievement and improve the system’s standing as the leader in suspensions in the nation. By taking a firm stand and a hatchet to the budget, it seemed accountability was about to return to Cleveland schools.[31]

During this time it seems like the only accountability measures in action were the spotlights of the national and local media. Politicians drunk with power and thirsting for popularity enact program after program all with the hopes that something would stick. Each effort to improve the city seemed doomed due to the lack of enforcement measures. Nothing can succeed without appropriate follow-through. And how could it with the many branches of the city government (the City Council, City Hall, the police force and schools) constantly fighting with each other and name calling? Meanwhile, the citizens suffer the loss of adequate services and reliable resources such as livable housing and adequate education. Throughout the 20th century the citizenry suffered as the politicians played games with money entrusted to them for the public good.
In November of 1984, Cleveland’s infrastructure was crumbling and suffering from neglect. In the race for County Commissioner, State Rep. Mary O. Boyle was challenging the incumbent Vincent C. Campenella and accused him of working too hard on tax hikes and not working hard enough to get federal funds for improvements.[32]

It seems that our best hope for the future of our city is taking time to find out what we are about and what we are good at and poring resources and accountability measures to foster growth rather than force it or allow it to trickle down. “Most important to the city’s recovery is a new realism about the city’s problems.”[33] Let’s stop building Conference Centers, while they may bring in artificial communities, born to serve a market, their cotton candy foundation will not last a Cleveland Winter. Better we pull together, decide what we’re good at and do that. Haven’t we learned by now that the best thing about Cleveland is us?

[1] The Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 1, 1979, p. 26-A
[2] The Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 1, 1979, p. 1.
[3] The Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 1, 1979, p. 1.
[4] The Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 1, 1979, p. 6-A.
[5] The Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 5, 1979, p. 14-B.
[6] The Call & Post, January 23, 1982, p. 8-A.
[7] The Call & Post, January 23, 1982, p. 16-A.
[8] The Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 1, 1979, p. 4-A.
[9] The Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 1, 1979, p. 22-A.
[10] The Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 1, 1979, p. 30-A.
[11] The Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 1, 1979, p. 1-B.
[12] Swanstrom, T. (1985). The Crisis of Growth Politics, p. 9.
[13] The Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 5, 1979, p. 1-A.
[14] The Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 5, 1979, p. 12-A.
[15] The Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 3, 1979, p. 1-A.
[16] The Call & Post, January 23, 1982, p. 18-A.
[17] The Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 1, 1979, p. 36-A.
[18] The Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 2, 1979, p. 20-A.
[19] Swanstrom, T. (1985). The Crisis of Growth Politics, p. 213.
[20] Swanstrom, T. (1985). The Crisis of Growth Politics, p. 230.
[21] Swanstrom, T. (1985). The Crisis of Growth Politics, p. 217.
[22] Swanstrom, T. (1985). The Crisis of Growth Politics, p. 219.
[23] The Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 5, 1979, p. 1-D.
[24] The Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 5, 1979, p. 2-D.
[25] The Call & Post, January 8, 1982, p. 14-A.
[26] The Cleveland Plain Dealer, November 2, 1984, p. 1-B.
[27] The Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 3, 1979, p. 1-A.
[28] The Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 3, 1979, p. 3-A.
[29] The Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 3, 1979, p. 3-A.
[30] The Call & Post, January 16, 1982, p. 8-A.
[31] The Call & Post, January 1, 1983, p. 7-B.
[32] The Cleveland Plain Dealer, November 1, 1984, p. 20-A.
[33] Campbell, Thomas E., “Cleveland: The Struggle for Stability.” p. 131.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hear It Here

Dale inspired it. Blame him. I've posted the first chapter of my novel and it's loooooong. Enjoy!

Proud Moments In Parenting.

Not only can Riley say the Pledge of Allegiance like a champ, she can also say it in a way that sounds like she's saying it under water.

Sniffle. We're so proud.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

You're All Wonderful Humanitarians!




I'm am so happy right now. Sure, I've got a good job that's close to home. I'm looking forward to spending the weekend with Doc. We've made it to our 10 year anniversary, almost. That's a lot to be happy for. But I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge a group of people that helped me pull through the dark times. Namely: You.


Sitting here at the computer, I've found a lovely group of friends who make me laugh, think, wonder and marvel. My life has been in a whirlwind for a good while now: but I knew I could count on signing in and hooking up to some wonderful stuff. The many kind words of encourage meant and the healthy doses of righteous anger you expensed on my behalf are what helped me beat this mess by a nose. I look forward to hanging with you without also hanging by my finger nails.


I wanted to thank you all from the bottom of my heart. And to show my appreciation I've designed a limited edition, lifetime Humanitarian Award (see above). If you like, you can snag it and post it on your blog to show the world what ginormous sweethearts you all are.
xoxox

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dreams

"A bit beyone perception's reach
I sometimes believe I see
that life is two locked boxes,
each containing the other's key.

Piet Hein, as quoted in PopCo by Scarlett Thomas

"Mommy!" Lucy yelled, "Watch me pee!"

"OK," I said. It really is exciting, after three plus years of diapers. She plops herself on the seat and I gasp to myself, remembering the time I fell in the toilet when I was a little bit older than her, but whenever I threw myself on the seat with anything resembling gusto. This happens to me everytime I am called to bear witness to my youngest daughter's WC adventures.

Lucy finishes up and I help her sort out her clothes. I make my way out of my parent's master bathroom and into their wonderful sitting room with Lucy in tow. I wander into their bedroom where my Dad is loading up the last quarter of his music collection. He's only up to hundreds of gigs so far.

We both turned around to watch Lucy come into the room and proceed to be sweet. She went over to the bed and gave Riley a kiss. My Dad and I both melted.

"She's so sweet," I said.

"Yeah, she wears her heart on her sleeve."

"And she's such a snuggler." I remarked.

"Hey," he said turning toward me, "I had the strangest dream this morning."

"Oh?" I said. I was standing in the doorway by this point and I could see my Grandma sitting in a wooden chair against the far wall, reading.

"Yeah, it was early in the morning and I had woken up briefly, but I fell back asleep and had this dream that was more like a movie. Like, I wasn't in it but I was watching it."

"Ok" I said.

"It was in color, too, which is unusual."

I never understood my Dad's claim that most people dreamed in color. It seems impossible to me. How can we, i.e. human beings, dream in black and white if we've been seeing everything in color up until the early 20th century when silent pictures were first seen. I mean, how would you even know black and white without knowing Buster Keaton? I never questioned him about this. I just took it as his rule and made my mind up later on. It doesn't seem worth arguing over anyway; it's not easy to really know what's going on in someone else's head, even if you know them well.

"There was a crane that was outside our house and it burst into flames. I remember picking up Lucy and holding her."

"Oh, weird," I said. "Shall I interpret it for you?"

"Huh?" he looked at me, "Oh, I read your dream on your blog on Friday. I just couldn't work anymore."

Just so you know: Yes, my parents read my blog...and I've apologized for every F-bomb I've dropped over here.

Anyway, he said, "Ah, no...I just remembered holding Lucy and how sweet it was."

"That's nice," I said.

"How did you interpret that dream?" my Grandma asks from the living room, "Did you have a book from the library? Can I borrow it?"

"Well, I use an online Dream Dictionary at Dreammoods.com." I explain.

"Oh," she said.

I walked over and plopped into the love seat next to her.

"What do you want to know?" I asked.

"What does it mean when you dream about dead people all the time?"

"What?" I'm surprised, but recover after a few beats, "Who are you dreaming about, Grandma?"

"Oh, your Grandpa," she said. She rested her elbows on her knees and her head in her hands.

"Oh?" I prodded.

"Yes, he's always fighting with me."

"Fighting? Why?"

"He's made at me for moving his stuff."

I paused and looked away. I remembered my feelings of forboding about touching his stuf a few months ago.

"Grandma, do you remember when I volunteered to clean out his workroom?"

"Yes..."

"Well, let's just say I could feel his anger when I went down there. I didn't want to touch anything and make him mad at me. I mean his coffee mug is still there like he just went upstairs!"

"Oh, I know!" my Grandma laughs, "He's mad about that!"

"I dream about him sometimes," I offer.

"Oh?" she asked.

"Yeah, but he doesn't say anything. He just gives me a hug and a kiss."

"That's nice," she said.

I felt a bit guilty. Granpa should be hugging and kissing her. Maybe I'll tell him to lighten up the next time I see him.

I was telling this story to Doc the other night after we were chatting about the recent heaviness of the stubble left behind since the moustache growing contest ended.

"I was standing in the bathroom at work when I noticed that I had a 5 o'clock shadow. Of course it was 7:30. But I was thinking about growing it back into a pencil-thin moustache like Granpa C.I. I was looking in the mirror considering this when his image floated up in front of mine on the mirror. I could see my face through his."

"Weird," I said.

"Yeah," he said.

"So, is the moustache coming back?"

"No," he said. "I'm going to wait until I'm 60. Then I'm growing a moustache again."

"Oh, good," I said, "Then we'll both have one."

Monday, October 08, 2007

Flea!

I've been living with Flea.


Let me rephrase that: I've been living with fleas. That's right, Midnight the wonder kitty brought them home. I don't know why she couldn't have just brought us a dead bird or a mole. And what with this heatwave of 87 degrees Fahrenheit and rising for the past week, those little buggers just seemed to flourish. Our ankles are ravished and covered with a Biblical itchiness that made me seriously consider donning a sandwich board proclaiming the end of the world is hand.

But cooler heads prevailed and Doc hid the tempra paints, so we were forced to deal with the problem head on. After two bottles of "Natural" insecticide, a half a bottle of carpet sprinkles, "Frontline Advantage" (Betty White, you are dead to me now) and endless loads of laundry: We still have fleas. So, the cat has been banished to the garage. Actually, she has it pretty sweet. Her cat food is in a new bowl, she's got biodegradable litter boxes, new treats, and she can go outside whenever she wants. Meanwhile, our dryer broke; it's now fluffy inside, since a chenille blanket practically exploded in there. I'm hoping I can take the back off the dryer and clean that shit out of there. Anything to avoid the laundromat, another place you can go to feel like God is punishing you.

Tonight is really important in the war against fleas: If a few things don't happen everything will spiral out of control. This must happen tonight:

  • Fix the dryer
  • Wash the clothes
  • Color my hair
  • Paint my nails (done)
  • Put ointment on the children
  • Finish treating the carpets
  • Replace the pillows

It's 7:39 p.m. I don't think I'll get to it.

Any advice? Not that any of you would be the type who would have fleas.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

It's Saturday Night...



You're eight years old. You are settling in to watch the Love Boat. You're wearing your new Christmas jammies (not Christmas themed, but something nice your aunt bought you) with your Underoos underneath. Your hair is still damp from the bath (It is Saturday night after all). Your best friend is sitting next to you; she/he's staying all night.


What snack are you eating?

Us? We're eating popcorn popped on the stove, sprinkled with Mary Jane's Crazy Salt and drinking grape Kool-aid. Oh, yeah!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

While We're On The Subject Of Dad Shaw...

Doc stirred some memories for me tonight about him. It's funny how much better you get to know a person over the years, even after they're gone. I remember one thing that used to bug the shit out of me.

About 3 months after we were married, Doc's Mom suffered a stroke. We were living in town in a tiny corner of a victorian house with remarkable plumbing. Honestly. It was like the fucking rain forest when the drug dealers upstairs flushed the toilet. The lease was about up and, while it was difficult to tear ourselves away from the rain forest that was that close to the highway and next door to a pizza parlour...that delivered...to us, we headed home to the country to help out.

It was OK. We worked it out. I kinda liked it, actually. It was really cool to be a part of a bigger family. But after awhile, not long after the honeymoon (for real), things started to rub. I'm a city girl. I'm used to city services. I'm used to setting the trash out on a Tuesday night. I find it convenient and one less thing to worry about. But Doc Shaw was...green. He separated the trash and has been doing that since before separating the trash was cool. Paper was burned. Cans recycled. What was left? Went in the back of a cherry 1980 White Ford pick-up truck with Jack Daniels decals on the tinted windows down the road a couple of miles to my sister-in-law's house and dumped it in her trash cans on Tuesday night.

I remember literally shaking my head watching him do this. I mean, come on! It's about 20 bucks every three months to cut, like hours off the process. But Dad Shaw wouldn't hear of it. Wouldn't indeed let me pay for it. He just never got over the fact that nowadays, one must pay for trash disposal.

Back in the day, he could burn stuff and then a "colored man" would come out every now and then and carry off his trash for him. I'm sure he payed this guy in some way. It kind of sounds bad as I read it back, you must understand: Dad Shaw was very progressive. At some point, times changed and Dad Shaw drew the line. There were just some things he wasn't about to pay for.

I understand this now. Someday in the next 30 years, I'm going to draw my line. And I'm going to enjoy all the extra leg work it's going to take to do something my way. There's only so much a person can take of taking orders. Yeah, I think I'll be ready to take a stand by then. And while I do, I'll think back and smile and Dad Shaw will be standing next to me lighting his pipe.