The Good, The Bad, and The Sad

The Good

The Boy arrived on the 22nd of December and spent Christmas with us. We had a good time (well, the Spouse Thingy and I did, I can’t speak for the Boy, who may have been simply humoring us…) We saw a couple of movies, ate out a lot, laughed a whole lot (especially when the Boy clobbered the Spouse Thingy with a gigantic snowball right upside the head), and had a very nice Christmas Day – complete with 5 inches of snow. Which is, thankfully, already melting. I wanted a White Christmas but have no desire for it to stick around.

The Bad

We completely trashed the house. Now, I’m not the world’s greatest housekeeper by any stretch of the imagination, but since we moved in here we’ve managed to keep it looking halfway decent. But, the day before the Boy got here the vacuum cleaner broke, and with a dog that sheds like crazy, that’s a bad thing. Everything is covered in a thick layer of golden dog hair. And we left things laying around, didn’t really pick things up… so there’s quite a bit of housework to do now. And the Boy went back home yesterday.

The Sad

Today is the one year anniversary of the death of one of my most treasured friends, Moe Brennan. She was far too young to die, only 50, and left a huge hole in not only my life, but the lives of many others who were drawn to her sparkling personality, and the love of her life, Rick.

Moe was an amazing person; she lived with incredible amounts of pain due to a long list of medical problems, but she somehow managed to be completely supportive and positive, even though her life was lived through a cloud of pain. I miss her still, and can’t imagine how much Rick must miss her. And how hard this day must be hitting him.

Most days I think of Moe with a smile, but I think I’ll let myself feel a little sorry for myself today, sorry for no longer having her in my life. But only for a little while, because if she could, she’d kick my ass if I dwelled too long on things I can’t change. But damn, I still miss her.


Return To Sender

Today I made a woman cry at the post office. Oh yeah, Merry Christmas from me!

I got there right at noon; normally they have 3 or 4 clerks at the counter, but with it being lunch there were only 2; one of them was helping a person who had about 15 packages they were trying to get off. The other was taking the trickle of people; there was only one person in line ahead of me, so I figured I’d hit the post office jackpot.

I got in line, and within a minute there were 15-20 people behind me. I felt even luckier, if I’d hit one more red light along the way, I’d be at the end of that line.

And then it happened. The lone person ahead of me got to the counter, and immediately started to whine. I kid you not, this was a fully grown woman whining in the voice one might expect out of a very tired and cranky 4 year old. She’d gotten an envelope from the wall display, where she saw a sign that said “39 cents.” The envelope she’d chosen, however, was 99 cents. And she didn’t want to pay the difference. She really didn’t want to pay the different. She let everyone know she didn’t want to pay the difference.

The clerk very patiently tried to explain to her the cheaper envelopes were right under that sign and she’d picked one from the display just under that, and showed her where, on the envelope, the price was clearly marked.

Well, now she didn’t want it. Not at 99 cents.

Sorry, m’am, but you already addressed it, you have to pay for it.

For three or four minutes, she argued. She demanded to see a supervisor. The poor clerk’s eyes got wide, and he said—nicely—it’s only 60 cents difference. It didn’t matter; she wanted that envelope at 39 cents.

He went to get a supervisor; she, too, told the woman she was sorry, but she’d written on that envelope and had to pay for it. And again the woman whined but I don’t waaaaaant it now.

This is when I’d had it. I wasn’t especially nice, but I piped up, “Look, if it’ll speed things up, I’ll give you 75 cents for the envelope.”

If looks could kill. She spun around and whined “It’s not the money, I have the money, it’s the point.

“But it’s just sixty cents.”

“It’s the point!

Thumper no longer cared; I took a deep breath and seethed, “The point is that you’re holding up an entire line of people who are holding heavy packages over sixty cents. Either take it from me, or pay it yourself, just pay it already.”

At least ten people behind me were snickering. The clerk was trying not to smile.

Envelope Lady burst into tears. “But the sign says it’s thirty nine cents!”

Okay, this is when I started to feel like perhaps I’d made a huge mistake. Here was a woman who looked to be about thirty years old crying over sixty cents. She either wasn’t quite stable, her emotional age was not the same as her chronological age, or she was completely stressed out and was about to go postal in the post office.

I felt bad, yet I also didn’t. Kind of that, ohhhh, I should have been more patient and/or kept my mouth shut feeling. Yet if I hadn’t said anything, we probably would have been there an hour later while she argued in that spoiled little-kid voice about having to pay for an envelope she’d written on.

I probably ruined her day.

Or maybe she got to her car and realized how foolish she’d sounded to the entire post office. Over sixty cents.

Probably not.

OTOH, after I left there I went to buy doggy toothpaste (poultry flavored, yum… anything has to smell better than the poop-breath he already has) and decided to buy the PsychoKitty his Christmas present. I’d been eyeing it but it was more than I wanted to spend. I decided the hell with it, Max was getting it no matter that it costs too much.

I got to the self-cashier thingy, scanned it, and it was on sale. Half off.



Ahem... Well... Apology Retracted

Of all that snow and ice predicted for yesterday we got... nothing. It rained all day, never got cold enough for ice, not even at 2 a.m. when I was up checking on why Hank was whining (bad dream, I suppose; he was alseep when I got down the stairs and seemed fairly annoyed at being woken up).

For that we didn't go see the new Star Trek movie.

So, I'm not sorry, Dayton! Cuz we didn't bring bad things this time around!


I’m Sorry, So Sorry…

Everywhere we go, something happens. As high schoolers in Northern California, there was drought. Water was rationed, lawns went brown, and Folsom Lake began to shrink. The few odd rainy days were quite the treat, though never quite enough to make up for the dry days.

Then we went to Utah. They got enough snow that come spring, the runoff was so strong that the Jordan river overflowed and went right down the middle of State Street in Salt Lake City. That wasn’t too bad; the city sand bagged and kept the damage to a minimum.

In San Antonio flash floods whipped through the area, including one sorrowful incidence of a school bus caught in the path of the Guadalupe River as it swelled suddenly, sweeping several kids away.

Back in CA, we were there when San Francisco was hit with a huge earthquake. The damage was severe; a double decker freeway system collapsed, crushing the cars on the second level. I don’t remember how many people died, but it was far too many.

We took floods back to San Antonio with us, and then up to Saint Louis. Twice flood waters lapped up the steps leading to the Arch while we were there.

In 1996 we headed for Grand Forks, North Dakota. That winter they got 100+ inches of snow, several blizzards, including one that knocked the power out for a week (life is kinda chilly when ice is floating in your toilet.) That was a late season blizzard; just a couple weeks later it all melted, flooding the city to the point it had to be evacuated. Entire houses were under water. People lost everything.

You see the pattern here, right?

When we got orders to Wright-Patterson AFB, people told us the winters wouldn’t be bad; they get an inch here and there, but it melts after a day or so. Nothing major. Our neighbors all assured us the last few winters had been pretty mild; one said that if they got an inch of snow all totaled last year, he’d be surprised.

Well, we’ve had snow a couple times already, and some ice. Today it’s been raining, and as the temperature drops, that rain should turn to sleet, then snow. Anywhere from 2-6 inches. Lots of snow on top of ice. Should make driving fun in the morning.

Daytonians… this is our fault. If we had stayed in CA you’d be having a nice, mild winter, like last year. Since we’re here, tonight’s snow will probably hit the 6 inch mark, and it’ll be like this all winter.

We bring bad things.
If it’s not snow, it will be floods or fire, quite possible some famine and pestilence.
We’re sorry. Really.
It should only be 2-3 years. We’ll probably leave after that.

Unless we like it here, then we’ll retire and Dayton will just have to suck it up.


Ice, Ice, Baby

We had warning last night it was coming, freezing rain coating the streets, driveways, and porches, that would solidify even further during the cold night hours to form a slick layer of ice. We pulled the truck into the garage so the Spouse Thingy wouldn’t have to spend half an hour scraping the windshield off at 5 am, enjoying the knowledge that all but one of our neighbors would be out there in the cold, trying to create a decent sized visual field on their respective vehicles.

Wives were surely complaining to their husbands, “Their garage is cleaned out enough to park. When are you going to clean out ours?”

Sooner or later one of the husbands will wise up and point out that gender knows no bounds when it comes to cleaning out a garage; after all, most of them saw me hauling stuff in and out, creating ample truck space soon after we moved in. They know who did the grunt work.


Like the weathermen promised, there was ice when I got up this morning. While Hank had his breakfast, I grabbed a king sized sheet and went outside, covering the back patio so that he wouldn’t slip. The guy that lives behind us was outside smoking his cigar, watching me, with that look of “what the heck are you doing?” And later, “you did that for your dog?”

Well, yeah. Hank is very old and falls a lot. A slip on the ice might be the last move he makes. I’d rather ruin a sheet than break the dog. And new sheets might be nice. Something bright purple. That would be cool.

Hank dutifully used the sheet as a mat, walked across it to the lawn, and walked back, avoiding the cement on either side. When he was done he came back in to the warmth of the living room, curled up on his big fluffy bed, and went to sleep. I peeked outside occasionally to see how bad it was getting; it never got really bad, but an hour later my neighbor was back outside with his dog. And a sheet on the patio.

It’s nice to start a trend.

By late afternoon it warmed up enough to melt the ice, but after eating dinner, when Hank goes out again, he waited at the back door, and looked up at me expectantly.

“There’s no more ice,” I told him. “Go on. It’s okay.”

He looked up.

I went and got the sheet, and spread it out for him again. As I was pulling the edges out, my foot hit a slippery patch and I almost went down. So I apologized to him for not wanting to get the sheet, his eyes are obviously still better than mine.

Or he’s just spoiled, and it was a coincidence.

Tomorrow it’s supposed to be near 40 degrees, so we’ll see if he sits by the door and waits for the sheet.

Watch him pee on the floor. Or worse.

At least there won’t be any ice. I need to go places, and I’m too big a wuss to drive on it. The effects of having flipped a truck over on the ice, I suppose.

But I’m still a wuss.


Ho, Ho, Ho, It’s Just Snow

When it snowed in San Antonio, January 1985, it was understandable that a mere 13 inches shut the city down. After all, snow is not what you expect in southern Texas, and the city has no snow removal equipment. Nor do many people there know how to drive in it. Closing schools, businesses, even the Interstate, makes sense when a foot of snow hits in a normally warm place.

Now, this being Dayton, Ohio, you’d think a little snow would be no big deal. At least I wouldn’t think so. Maybe I’m just a little surprised, having lived in North Dakota for three years. When they got snow, they got snow. Three foot drifts across the driveway were nothing unusual. The Boy was 14 and learned to drive in snow there; when he was 15 he was driving after 5-6 inches had fallen with no appreciable problems. He slid off the road once, but that was on ice and a sharp curve, and there was a lot of snow at that point.

Last night we got maybe two inches of snow. It’s kind of pretty outside, but it’s nothing to blink twice at. Just little bit of nice fluffy white stuff.

Schools were delayed a couple of hours today, if not completely closed. Kids were outside playing, throwing snowballs, knocking our Christmas decorations over, sledding down the hill behind the house. They were home, having fun, and not in school, learning about math and English and the science of 1 small hill + 2 kids on slick cardboard = smashing into someone else’s fence.

(There’s a guy on TV who just said “Ice and snow are slippery.” No! Say it isn’t so!)

I wonder what’ll happen if we get a foot of snow here…
Spouse Thingy and I may be the only two brave enough to venture outside ;)


Tis The Season To Be…

…mean? Roughy over at Unrealistic Expectations had a Really Nice Idea -- use his website to start a little fundraiser, and collect $500 for people who really need stuff this time of year.

It is a nice idea. It’s a pretty bowl of Holiday Cheerios that a few people seem to have some pressing need to pee in. They’re harping at him, suggesting he should just cough up the $500 himself and quit bugging everyone else for donations.

Eh? In what world does putting a suggestion on a website and inviting people to participate constitute bugging? It’s a simple enough idea: If you want to kick in $5, then kick in $5. If you don’t, that’s fine, too.

I just don’t understand people sometimes.

…stupid? I was at a store (not to be named 'cause some people don’t need to know where I was shopping) yesterday, and overheard a woman talking to her small child. It was late afternoon, and I gathered from what the child was saying that they had not yet had lunch. The kid was hungry, and was letting her know in a typical 4 year old way: he whined a little. Just a little. “Mommmmmmy, can we go eat now? I’m hunnnngry.”

He didn’t cry. He didn’t stomp his feet. He didn’t scream or kick or hit or bite. He just asked, with a tiny little bit of whine in his voice, if they could go eat.

Her answer? “If you don’t shut up I’m telling Santa what an awful little boy you are, and you won’t get anything for Christmas.”

I don’t care if the kid had been a pain in the ass all day. You don’t talk to a kid that way and you don’t threaten them with cruelty. Sure, my kid drove me nuts a few times over the years, but it never would have occurred to me to be so snotty to him. I saved “Santa is watching you” until he was well into his teens.

Just… damn…

…cute. The other day I went to McDonald’s to have a soda, and sit at a table in the corner to work. I take a notebook and make notes about the manuscript I’m working on; changing my environment helps quite a bit, so I tend to go sit in fast food places to work.

While I was sitting there, an older woman and her two granddaughters sat at a nearby table. I was engrossed in my notes until my ear perked up at one of the little girls talking. She asked of the older woman, very sweetly, “do you have someone who loves you?”

“Yes,” she answered, “Grandpa loves me very much.”

The little girl clenched her hands to her chest and squealed “Oh, that is just so wonderful!”

I was not the only one trying not to laugh out loud. Ten tables all around me erupted in hushed snickers.

Yep, kiddo, that is so wonderful.

…funny. We put up 95% of our outside Christmas decorations the other day (and yes, it was cold! We try to do it up right – we have 5 artificial trees that we light and place in the yard, we string lights along the gutters, we have a snowman and penguin and polar bear that light up and are in front of the tree. By the time we’re done, there are enough lights for an airplane to use as a navigational point.

While the Spouse Thingy was staking the last tree into place, a neighbor’s kid opened their door too peek outside; he turned around and yelled into the house “Dad… they’re gonna make us look bad!”

Heh. That wasn’t intentional, but it’s nice to know, anyway.

…kind. Just be kind. Don’t let people piss you off, don’t get mad even if you feel rushed. Just let the season happen. Drop a quarter into the red bucket even if the bell ringer annoys you. Hold doors for people.

And smile. ‘Tis the season, after all.