The look she seemed to be going for was Suburban Soccer Mom: blond hair tied back into a ponytail, too-cute t-shirt, jeans, and Keds sneakers sans socks. But...she looked like she was pushing 50, and her make-up was troweled on, rivaling Tammy Faye Bakker, circa 1980-something.

I noticed her standing at the digital card catalog, then went back to scratching notes onto the pages of my manuscript with my nifty red pen, trying to fall back into the story, but not deep enough to keep me from being able to pick it apart.

Then her phone went off, loudly. It was enough to make me look back up. I didn't say anything and barely looked at her. It was nearly a Pavlovian response: phone rings, I look up to see where it's coming from. Apparently looking up implied an interest in her conversation, something she obviously did not wish to share.

"Don't you be gettin' all up in my bizness."

Take a deep breath, look back at the manuscript.

"I ain't tawkin' for yo' enterTAINment."

Glance up, raise an eyebrow. I couldn't care less, really...

She snapped the phone closed and shoved it into her back pocket. "Whatchew doin' anyway?"

"Teetering on the precipice of irony, apparently."


"I'm writing."

"You writin'? Whatchew writin'?"

A guide to passably correct grammar... "A book."

"A whole book?" No, just the second half. "Wassit about?"

"Right now it's about 200 pages." Please go away...


Another deep breath. "Basically, it's about someone coming to grips with growing up in a dysfunctional family, how she remembers it as opposed to how it really was." I didn't mention the dead guy.

"Oh, like Dr. Phil makin' people seen how shit's their fault, too?"

"Pretty much."

"That's cool," she said, hands going to her hips. I was seriously hoping she would go away; I was feeling rude and abrupt and sure that my mouth was going to catch up with my mood. But then she went on. "I'm sorry I bitched at you. I'm just pissed. My boy got hisself into the air force and now he's goin' someplace I never heard of and I just wanted to come look it up 'n see where he goin', you know?"

She was terrified.

"Where's he being stationed?" I asked.

"Land's Stool?" she asked herself.

"Landstuhl. It's in Germany."

"It ain't nowhere near Iraq?"

I shook my head. "I know people deploy from there, but it's pretty far from Iraq and Afghanistan. I think the base there is Ramstein Air Force Base."

"Says he's goin' be a lab vampire. A pleebo-somethin'."

"Phlebotomist?" I guessed. "Lab vampire is a pretty good description."

We talked for at least half an hour, until her phone rang again and she had to leave. The longer we spoke, the less street her speech became. And I got it: sound tough, and people back off. But really, she was just a Mom, absolutely terrified that her 18 year old son might be headed for war. She only knew bits and pieces from short phone calls and had no clear idea where he was headed and what might be waiting for him when he got there. She was filled with a mixture of anger and pride, and had no idea what to do with those feelings.

Seems I got all up in her bizness after all.


You would think that being downstairs, where the doors and windows are that would be mostly likely broken into were some nefarious soul decide to invade our space, would make me sit up in bed all night, wondering about all the different little sounds that create the symphony of night time. Embarrassingly, I have spent more than my fair share of time wide-eyed and heart pounding in bed, thinking someone who didn't belong here was tip-toeing through the house at night. They never have caught Vacaville's serial rapist, and we have a problem with vandals in the neighborhood. And we do live close to the prison. Really close.

Heck, I've slept better the last couple nights than I have in a long time.

I think it's because from downstairs, where all those sounds originate, I can tell what they are and I don't lie there worrying that the odd little bang is someone slipping in through a broken door. No, I can tell that it's Buddah, his little head banging into the wall after sliding 5 feet across the wood floor as he chases a toy mouse. Or it's Buddah chasing Max, simply for the sheer joy of ticking Max off. Or it's Buddah sharpening his claws on one of the few things he knows he's allowed to scratch on.

Buddah, it seems, is a very noisy little guy at night.

Dinner TheaterSpeaking of the little guy, we're pretty sure he's going to wind up with a raging headache over the next couple of days. The Spouse Thingy put up a bird feeder right outside the window by the chair he likes to lounge on, and he'll probably be running head first into the glass 15-20 times per day as he goes after his little feathered friends.

You think he'd learn after the first 5 times, but of those times the glass might magically vanish, and he could catch himself a tasty little snack.

With my luck, he'll find a way to get himself a bird, and he'll bring me half.

At night.

In bed.

So much for peaceful sleeping.


Post #1001...Seriously...1001

003I love the look of these stairs, especially with the bookcases placed Just So (ok, it wasn't asthetics that made us line the stairs with the bookcases, it was the cats. We did it so the cats could have someplace fun to play.) (Shuddup)

AS nice as I think they look, those stairs became the bane of my existence. Bedroom upstairs, office upstairs, everything else downstairs... It got to where I was planning chunks of my day around going up and down those stairs, finding every possible way to avoid it.

Yes, I am lazy. But mostly, it just fricking hurts to manage stairs, especially going down them. When you find yourself complaining to one of the cats that life would be so much better if he learned to fetch like Murf's dog Stoner--he'll open the fridge and get you a Coke if you just say "beer please" (LOL yeah, I guess whatever can he can get his mouth around is the can you get)--and then feel a bit put out when the cat's response is to sit back and lick his junk, then it's time to move the office downstairs.

OK, it's time to get the Male Type People with whom you reside to move the office downstairs. Then there will only be a couple of stair trips daily. Doable. (And it gets the Bowflex out of the living room and into the garage. The living room will look better, even though the garage will be cramped.) (Yay for the living room.)

But then, because the Boy is no longer 12 years old with his head wedged up into the buttcrack of puberty, even though he had specifically wanted that downstairs space, he moved his bedroom upstairs, and the rest of my personal effects, including the tres spiffy I-love-you-and-I-hate-you Tempurpedic bed, was moved into his room.

Bonus points: he gets 2 rooms to spread his stuff throughout, instead of the cramped 9 x 9 room he was in.

Double bonus points: I no longer have to go upstairs.

-1: I now sleep across the hall from the Kitty Litterbox Room, and both of them made sure to leave me aromatic little gifts last night.

The only thing that really bugs me is that I'm 45 years old and have trouble with stairs. I don't even want to think about what it'll be like in 10 or 20 years...


75 degrees is not hot. In fact, 75 degrees is down right nice; warm enough for t-shirts and shorts, cool enough to be comfortable.


Park your car in direct sunlight. Turn the engine off, leave the windows rolled up, and wait. It doesn't take long for the heat to become uncomfortable, and not much longer for it to be painful. I wouldn't do it to a dog; I certainly wouldn't do it to a kid.


For the record, the commenter in the last post who made light of it was (I think; he has a good sense of humor) being tongue in cheek, but it sure as hell is filling my email. And one of those emails pointed out that in the biggest of the big pictures, my reaction of nausea and dizziness and what-the-hell-do-I-do was not because the imaginary kid was going to be cooked alive in the car; it was because even the hint of an idea that someone with ill intent could snatch that kid was fizzing in the nether regions of my brain.

When my son was 2 months old, he was snatched while in his stroller, right next to me. Granted, his would-be snatcher didn't get far, paid a pretty hefty physical price, was a little nuts, and we didn't pursue civil charges, but it left an indelible mark. [July 25, 2002]

I'm a little touchy about kids in danger, it seems.

But the commenter was right; times are so very different. Thirty five years ago it wasn't uncommon to leave your kids in the car for a few minutes. We'd be threated with bodily harm if we so much as twitched wrong, the windows were rolled down for fresh air, and alone we were. We sweated, we moaned, and no one had any idea how close we probably were to dehydration.

When we were kids we rode our bikes without worrying we'd fall off and split or heads wide open; hell, most of us probably heard more than once from an irate parent to knock off the stupid stuff, or else just that very thing would happen. Your skull is going to split and your brains are going to roll right out! I still don't like to wear a bike helmet. Heck, if I survived all those years, I can pedal my way through a few more. My son was on the periphery of bike helmets; they weren't required by law, just by strong suggestion. I didn't make him wear one until it did become law. And then he stopped riding his bike.

Thirty five years ago we also spent most of our free time outside exposing ourselves to dangerous levels of UV rays. We played in the streets. We risked intestinal distress by drinking from the neighbor's hose, even when we knew the dog had licked it just the day before. We played tackle football on concrete, for Pete's sake.

We survived.

I think we go overboard with kids sometimes these days, but that's the nature of time. It flows towards the future, not towards the Good old Days. In thirty five years today's kids might be sending their young ones outside covered from head to toe in protective suits that inflate with automatic airbags at the slightest bump. They'll be slathered in 567 SPF sunscreen and their vitals will be monitored and adjusted electronically for optimal health.

Maybe there won't be cars to leave the kids in. Who knows?

If I'm still around then, cars or not, safety features out the wazzoo or not, I'm probably still going to be a little touchy about the potential for a kid to be yanked right off the street, even right out from under a parent's nose. Because if it could happen with me standing right there, it could happen to anyone...especially to a kid asleep in a car with no responsible adult in sight.


Before I headed off to the library to get some work done, I stopped at Tarzhet Booteek in search of memory foam insoles for my delicate little size 10 feet. I did not find any, and my delicate little feet stopped being important 1.3 seconds after I opened my car door and dropped my tired ass into the driver's seat.

Something was amiss; I blinked and then realized that someone left a kid, slumped over and asleep, in the backseat of the SUV I had parked next to.

My first impulse was rage, the sort of which, when you act upon it, can get you 2-3 years in County. Well, I'm guessing that's how long it would get you. It might be more, depending on exactly how much blood was drawn, and how loud the screams were.

I blinked again, and quickly realized I needed to assess the situation. It was not hot out, maybe 75 degrees; if I called 911 and the kid's parents were only in there for 2 minutes, they were stupid and negligent, but not necessarily criminal in the life-altering way that gets you hauled off in handcuffs while your kid is screaming in fear and crying giant tears with boogers streaming out of his nose. A strong verbal ass kicking would probably suffice. I sat in my car without the air on, using that as a comfort gauge; if I was just a little uncomfortable, a kid would be very uncomfortable. At 75 outside, I figured it would get to 85 inside, but I wasn't sure how quickly.

I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket, ready to use it.

And then my brain began to make attempts at higher functioning. Target has a security guard up front, right? So I could write down the license number and make and model of the SUV, run in there and get him, and have some backup against what could potentially be some 6'5" beer-addled 5th degree black belt. Confronting a stupid parent might not be my best idea; going and getting the guard might be.

But what if while I was sprinting to get inside the store the parent(s) returned and just took off?

I reached into the glove compartment for a pen and pulled my ever-present notebook from the pouch behind the passenger seat. I would write down the license number, yes I would, and I would either run into the store and get the guard, risking the parents taking off, or maybe I could find an employee outside who would either go watch the car or go get the guard while I went back to watch the car.

And my brain wandered some more. What if I called 911 and it turned out the kid was only in the car for 5 minutes and was just fine; I would turn this kid's life upside down. Sure, his parents deserved the hell that would cause, but did he?

I watched the door for people headed my way. If that ONE PERSON would just walk over and open the SUV's door, I would spring out with a mighty You are such a sucky person! and a lecture on how quickly a car heats up and how easy it would have been for any random kiddy freak to break into the car and steal your kid, but the few people who wandered my way came no where near.

Oh yeah, I am a shy person and don't care to speak until spoken to...but this is different. I'm pretty sure I could wind up into Crazy Lady in about 2.2 seconds under those circumstances.

I then realized I was sweating like crazy, was a touch dizzy, and I felt a little sick to my stomach; I wasn't sure if it was heat building up in the car or nausea from blinding rage--I was reaching the point of I will do you bodily harm if I see you--so I got out of the car with cell phone in hand. Screw getting the guard, I was going to camp my ass on the bumper or the hood and not let them go anywhere until the cops arrived.

I flipped the phone open, had 9-1 dialed, and something poked at my brain again. Something still wasn't right. That kid hadn't so much as moved a fraction of a fraction of a millimeter.

Holy crap, I waited too long and he's dead!

I lifted a fist, ready to bang on the window, hoping to wake the kid up as my finger started to press that last -1.

But I stopped and flipped the phone closed. My nausea passed, the sweating stopped, and the urge to kill abated.

It was a child-sized mannequin head.


All righty...let's try this again. Apparently, if you mention the word "cash" in an eBay listing, they think it's a solicitation for payment with cash through the mail or wire transfer service. Even when the listing specifically says "If you are local to the area..." before mentioning the word "cash." Hopefully, rewording the listing will allow it to stay on for the duration of the auction.

In other news, sometime next week the guys are moving my office downstairs. They are not thrilled about it, since it requires heavy lifting ( desk weighs a ton...) but the stairs are no longer kind to me, and I only want to have to deal with them twice a day.

I don't think the cats will be thrilled either since they like hanging with me in the office, all curled up on their climbing trees where they can gaze out the window, but they'll learn to deal with it. And maybe, if they're good, the climbing tree fairy will get them another one for downstairs...

I do not spoil my cats!


Last year we sold the Boy's Mazda on eBay, so we decided to give it a try with the convertible. There are already a couple of bids on it, under the reserve price, but at least someone's bidding. I was reluctant to go this route since we don't own the title, but I made sure I stated that in the auction. The buy-it-now price is well under the blue book price, and the reserve is just over what we owe on we'll see.

And...I listed it on Craig's List back in March, which was a little ahead of the convertible season, I think. If it doesn't sell on eBay, I'll give it a try again. If that doesn't work...maybe we're destined to keep the car. I had a dream last week that we sold it and the next day the Hyundai blew up. That would be inconvenient.

And...On the house front...the property manager did determine the owners are not looking to sell the house. He doesn't know why they were taking pictures, but they're not selling. So hopefully that means we get to stay another year, and without a huge freaking hike in rent.

And...I still have that damned song going through my head.

And... one time, at band camp...



  • I have had How To Save A Life stuck in my head off and on--mostly on--for at least a month. It's not just floating around in the back of my brain like a pleasant little melody; no, it's pounding away in there, like a lyrical hammer and chisle, chipping away at my sanity. I wake in the middle of the night to ...And I would have stayed up with you all night, had I known how to save a life... and if I blink wrong the order of the lyrics reverses and I have ...Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend, somewhere along in the bitterness... I like the song, but it's starting to seriously make my head hurt.

  • I looked out the window today; the owner of the house was taking pictures. I do not know why and he did not come to the door...but I can't think of any reason to take pictures of a house you own and don't live in other than in preparation to sell the house. Our lease is up at the end of August, so now we're a teensy bit worried. Spouse Thingy even called the property manager, who did not know anything but said he would certainly find out if our lease will be renewed, and made the point that this is a horrible market to try to sell a house and lose that rental income. We hope he's right, because we're not in the position to move. And we don't want to, we really like this house.

  • Maybe the lottery fairy will come through...? But then I would have to buy a ticket, and I never seem to remember to do that.

  • Anyone ever sold a car on Auto Trader? We're wondering if this would be worth the $70...



Odds N Endz # 6,938

  • The chicken fajita pita at Jack In The Box only has 280 calories, so that makes it taste a whole lot better than a burger.

  • Guy in line ahead of me told his wife she couldn't order onion rings because she's fat. I wanted to kick him in the nads and point out his 48 inch waist and the fact he ordered a Large Combo, but I didn't. I just stared death ray needles into the back of his head.

  • Yesterday was my Bike Anniversary Day, and I did not buy my favorite toy a present to remember the day, nor did I take it out for a ride. And I feel bad about that, because surely it deserved to be ridden on its anniversary. It's the wind's fault; I don't mind it up to 23-25 mph, but those 40 mph gusts would have had it all over the place.

  • I could have ridden the Spouse Thingy's heavier bike, but that would have defeated the Happy Bike Day thing...

  • A lady at the library offered me $50 for my spiffy NEC MobilePro 780 PDA. I told her I could only sell it for $1500, because it's that valuable, and for 10 seconds I think she believed me. I won't sell it for $50, but I will for $1500, so I suppose I wasn't really lying...

  • The piece I've been working on for 2 years may be kind of close to finished; it's not nearly long enough to be a novel, but that's all right. It's not as good as I would like it, either, and rewrites might help, but right now I just want to be done.

  • I'm going to miss the dead guy in it.

  • The small chocolate shake at Jack In The Box has 880 calories. I don't think I will ever have one again, even if they are tasty. Between the calories and the lactose intolerance, I just don't see the Want ever developing again...

  • Well, not anytime soon. We'll talk when it's 100 degrees outside...


Dear Car Sales Fairy,

Please steer someone towards the Travis AFB Lemon Lot, and bonk them over the head with your mighty Buy That Car wand. My convertible is lonely out there, and is pining away for its next owner. If that's not possible, please speak with the Lottery Fairy and arrange for us to win it, because we have things we need to do, and we either need the car sold or a winning lottery ticket to do them. Oh, and I would also appreciate it if you would put in a word with the Nutrition Fairy, and make chocolate calorie free.

That is all.
Thank You.


One, it should be illegal for the Diet Coke to be out in a McDonald's drink fountain. Some of us need a Diet Coke fix while we're waiting for the Walmart pharmacy to open from their lunch break. It's very inconsiderate for them to have it break on the very day I want to sit there and nurse a cold one. I sat there, grumping over the Lite Lemonade I was forced to sip upon instead, an older woman came in with what I assume was her grandson and granddaughter. She held their little hands, one on each side, and as she gazed up and the menu she asked what the usually had at McDonalds.

Little Boy: We've never been here.
Grandma: You've never had McDonalds?
Both kids shake their head.
Grandma: Well, chicken nuggets are good. Do you want a soda, or juice, or milk?
Little Boy: We never had soda before.
Grandma: mouth gapes for a moment, then she recovers Well, juice or milk?
Little Boy: Milk!
Grandma: White milk or chocolate milk?
Little Boy: What's chocolate milk?

What's chocolate milk? What's chocolate milk???!!?!? Those poor, deprived children. Who makes it to 5 or 6 years old without tasting chocolate milk?

Grandma, to her credit, rectified that parental oversight.

Rock on, Grandma.