Lyle Lovett and the Best Song Line Ever

The Boy was getting picked up from band practice last night.  On the radio was a Lyle Lovett song (She’s No Lady) and he asked who this was.  I said, “It’s Lyle Lovett, author of the best song line ever.”  He, of course, scoffed at that.  He is 14 and always right.

“What song?” said he.

“If I had a Boat,” said I.

“It does mention Kemo Sabe, which is cool,” said he.

“Yeah, but that’s not the best line,” said I.

“What is?” said he.

“Kiss my ass, I bought a boat, I’m going out to sea.”

That is the best single line in any song ever.  Ever.  Discuss amongst yourselves.  We’ll see what Mr. 14-year-old-know-it-all comes back with.


Mountains of Leaves

The weather in my part of the country is definitely turning towards fall.  This morning, we had to drag out long pants and sweatshirts to go outside.  We are painting the outside of the house, so this is perfect weather for that.  And by we, I mean the Boy and the Husband.  I don’t do ladders.  The leaves are starting to fall off of the trees and I can tell that soon we will have mountains of leaves in the yard.

When I was growing up, we have about a dozen poplar trees in our back yard.  These trees would, over the course of a week, dump all of their leaves onto the lawn.  If we were lucky enough, we would have a really good Indian Summer and the weather would cooperate for about two weekends worth of world class leaf pile jumping.  The whole neighborhood of kids would work together to rake all of the leaves into one big mountain.  Our lot was flat and deep and we could get a good 50 yard dash going to lead up to a giant leap into the leaf mountain.  We would bury each other, have leaf fights, make funeral pyres upon which some unlucky victim got to lie while the rest eulogized him.

Having come from a lot with only newly planted trees, my kids don’t know anything of leaf jumping.  I can’t wait until we have enough leaves to make a mountain.  I may bring out some of my inner child and jump in a mountain of leaves.

Standard Issue Grandparents

On the playground in Elementary school, we used to compare everything.  My hair is redder than yours.  I am 32 days older than you.  I have 42 first cousins… on just my mom’s side.  I never won these contests.  I was not a child with special family situations, or really red hair, or the ability to win first prize in anything for any reason.  I did envy other children what I envisioned as their Standard Issue Grandparents.  In this area, I felt poignantly lacking.  My vision of the SIG is this:

  1. Cookie baking
  2. Across town living
  3. Available for weekend’s at Grandma’s house
  4. Open to hugs and kisses and curing all ills

These were not my grandparents.  On my mother’s side, there was only my grandmother left, my mother’s father having died from “The Cancer” in the mid 60s before I was born.  My mother describes her own mother as a ‘hard woman’ and rarely was there any communication.  When she passed in my early teens, I remember getting not a huge sense of sadness from Mom, but more a feeling of regret, of unfinished business that now would never be finished.  Even now, when Mom speaks of ‘Mother and Daddy’, there is that melancholy about her.  It feels like not many of the memories are good ones.  My childhood friends were aghast when I told them I had a grandmother, still alive, that I had never met and probably never would.  I did meet her once or twice, but never felt any connection.

My father’s parents, however, were involved in my life.  They lived in northern Arizona before everyone in the world was retiring to Arizona.  They lived in a lovely town called Prescott.  We went there once or twice a year for my entire childhood.  But they were not available for weekends.  I desparately wanted weekends.  Now I know that my parents probably desperately wanted someone close enough to take their kids for weekends also.  My grandmother did not cook or bake well.  She was an early convert to the church of the Microwave – you know – full meals of this preprocessed food-stuff can be prepared daily in the microwave saving you time and money.  YUM!  Much of the time we spent at their house, my mother would grocery shop and cook.  I think this was to save us all.  (My grandfather loved my mother especially.  I think it was because she fed him real food.)  We did a lot of sight-seeing and game playing.  There was a distinct lack of ills, so I felt my grandparents were not good at the cuddling, love and ill-curing.  These were failures in the eyes of my comparitive playground friends.  I remember them asking “YOUR grandparents aren’t here?  You don’t see them every month?  Where are your cousins?”  Cousins?  I don’t remember those either!  God, these grandparents of mine were failures.

Of course, I know now that my grandparents loved me.  Fiercely.  They would have lived closer if we lived somewhere that they wanted to retire to.  We didn’t.  They would have taken us for weekends and kissed our scraped knees and cuddled us through colds if they were able.  They weren’t.  What I do have from my non-Standard Issue Grandparents is a love for playing games, a wicked-mean mind for Scrabble, memories of going to places like Yellowstone National Park in the still snowing June, the Grand Canyon, driving through Sedona and Jerome Arizona.  I am more adventurous than people I have known, leaving my parents in Colorado to live far from anyone I have ever known in Iowa, uprooting my children to move to Kansas.  I have from them the knowledge that family does not have to live in the same town to be family and that love travels over great distances.  Seeing each other once or twice a year does not make us love any less.  Valuable life lessons, those.

I loved my grandparents fiercely.  I still do, even now that they are all gone.  I am proud to be their granddaughter and I wish to go back  and proclaim my love and my admiration for them for all on the playground to hear.  They are good grandparents, they are my grandparents and I love them.  No matter what you think of them.

Raccoons and Opossums

This morning I was rudely woken from my slumber by the screech of a 12-year-old girl.  Nothing quite matches the pitch or frequency that particular age and gender can hit.  “Dad! There’s a raccoon in the garage!”  This was indeed a rude awakening.  I had visions of a snarling, feral raccoon tearing up everything in the garage that can possibly be torn up – pet food, trash cans, boxes from moving.  Could I have heard none of this from my bedroom which shares a wall with the garage?  I am not a sound sleeper in the early hours of the night, but sleep more soundly as the sun starts to rise.

The Husband and the Boy head to the garage, curious to see what it looks like.  I bury my head under my pillow once more.  I have no need to go see what the furor is.  And there is no furor.  They see nothing.  “Bunny, did you see the raccoon?”  “Yes, Dad, I saw it looking out at me.  I thought it was Spud at first, but it’s not.”  Spud is one of our much spoiled and much-loved cats.   The garage is suspiciously untouched with no signs of the ravages one would expect from a raccoon being trapped overnight.  After looking around with no success, everyone leaves for work and for school.  I drag myself out of bed and head off to work.  In the kitchen.

I start my day by making a cup of coffee (Green Mountain Breakfast Blend) and sitting down to read the emails I had received overnight.  Something catches my eye outside the kitchen window.  A sharp-toothed, rat-tailed opossum sauntering across my field of vision from the garage side of the house to the patio side of the house.  Hmmm… I muse, could this be the raccoon that Bunny saw?  The next question in my mind is does my 12-year-old really not know the difference between a raccoon and an opossum?  I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt on this one.

So, here is what I have learned today:

  1. Raccoons and Opossums live in the 5 acre wood.
  2. Working at home leads to all kinds of new adventures.
  3. Opossums have a great love for cat food.
  4. Never stick your hand into the cat food bag without peeking in first (just to be sure!)

I would add to that a #5 that I like coffee, but I already knew that!

Noon Update:  I guess today is the day for wildlife.  I just looked up and a couple of turkeys wandered across the lawn.  Sorry about the poor picture quality, but I just grabbed my cell phone.

Turkeys in my front yard
Turkeys in my front yard!


Would You Rather…

It’s a game we sometimes play in the car when the natives get restless. The Boy who is 14 doesn’t often play games, but sometimes this is one he will tolerate. Bunny (12) and Monkey (8) like to play too. They have been raised on the easy ones, the ones with no consequences, no harsh realities on one side or the other. Their game consists of Would you rather have a pet unicorn or be a unicorn? Be bitten by a snake or a shark? The Husband doesn’t like this game so much. Is it too silly? I don’t know. I just know it keeps the kids occupied for a long period and sometimes starts conversations that we normally wouldn’t have.

But when you grow up, the world presents new questions that make it less like a game. A couple of weeks ago, we were watching Real Sports on HBO. I don’t know who is in charge of this show, but they do an excellent job. And I don’t really like sports all that much. Anyway… The story was about a former football player (Steve Gleason) battling ALS [link to the show preview].  It was riveting, chronicling his life before the disease, his life now and his future.  I couldn’t turn away. The horrifying tragedy of this disease is that it takes your body, slowly or quickly, and leaves only your mind intact.  It will kill you and you know it. You know every time your body betrays you, every time there is one less movement you can make on your own, every step backward. To the Huband and I, this presented a new and horrifying Question, one that as we age, our parents age, and our children are moving towards adulthood becomes a greater nightmare than any horror movie I have ever seen.

Would you rather lose the function of your body one muscle at a time and be fully aware or lose your mind slowly leaving a fully functioning body, as with Alzheimer’s? What if it is not you, but your parent, your partner, your child? If you had to wish one of these horrors on yourself or someone else, which would it be?  And what about the people left behind?  What scars does that leave?  What scars are you wishing on your loved ones in your choice of Would You Rather?

You don’t have to choose. No one does, thank goodness. But it certainly is enough to keep me awake at night. And enough to pray the little prayer that I say to ward off all evils I don’t feel I could face. Dear God, there, but for the grace of you, go I. It feels less like a prayer and more like a plea. Please, don’t ever let me face any of these options. This game of Would You Rather isn’t very fun.

First Thoughts

Hi all.  I think I should introduce myself.  My name is Maura.  I live outside of a city in the middle of a bunch of trees.  I have a husband, a son, two daughters, a dog and two cats.  I work from home and while my kids are at school that leaves me a lot of quiet time.  I always have about a million things going through my head at once.  I thought I would start to chronicle them.  Things like childhood memories, memories of my children, recipes I like, things I like to do.  I don’t necessarily have a theme.  I just like the idea of randomness.

One thing I will probably go overboard on for a while at least is my need and desire to lose some weight.  I recently joined a gym and signed on to a class to help with this.  Blerg.  I hate the fact that I have to go through this.  I hope you are along for the ride.  And I may curse.  Because I curse some.  Okay, I curse a lot, but I will try to keep this relatively clean.


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