My mother-in-law just found out we’re thinking about camping at the racetrack Saturday night. She’s already chittering and chattering at Hubs about going. It came out in conversation that my brother-in-law and his family are camping this weekend. So why isn’t she camping with them?!?!?! Hubs even asked her. She wouldn’t answer.

Skeet for Dummies

This would be my neighbor. This would be my neighbor at 8 o’clock last night. After dark. Shooting. What the hell is he shooting? It’s dark. It isn’t like he’s shooting the random racoon or possum off of his deck… or squirrel for his supper. Unless he is a horrible shot and it takes him twenty times to hit the damn thing.

I suspect he shoots skeet. I suspect he does it with a group of people, either that or he has several guns loaded and goes from one to the next without hesitation. There are too many shots that go off too close together to be one person shooting, then reloading.

I suspect he’s getting ready for the long weekend. It seems long weekends are made for him to shoot. All. Day. Long. …and into the night. He has become the worst thing about living in the country. Him and his gun. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind hunters or an occasional practice session… but it is like Chinese water torture (not that I’ve ever had Chinese water torture)… one shot after another echoing through the countryside. Over and over and over again. Even the pups spooked last night when they were out and the shooting resumed!

Yeah, I’m grumpy. Tired and grumpy. Asshat.

“Do you know why they call it ‘PMS’? Because ‘Mad Cow Disease’ was already taken”*

So… I have to drive my Hubs to town this morning. He has his full-strength-caffiene-coffee-to-go. He is Awake. Morning is his time. He’s fresh and awake and chatty. Have I mentioned I am not a morning person?

I. Am. Not. a morning person. I do not drink coffee. I used to drink Pepsi in the morning, but since I’ve been banned from it, I no longer have caffiene to stimulate my senses and get me ready for the day. I wake, usually to the low growling and quiet woofing of my pups politely letting me know they want to go use the outside facilities. They have internal alarm clocks that unfailingly read 5:15 a.m. I stumble out in the dark morning in my pj’s and wait patiently on the porch, hoping this will not be the morning they get a wild hair to go running down the drive or play … ignoring all my pleas and barking to return to the house. That is the extent of our conversation – “Good Dog” and “C’Mon…let’s go!”…occasionally, “Damnit, we aren’t going to play this game this morning!”

Back inside, I shower, dress, dry and fix my hair, and put my face on. Do the dishes (if I’ve been lax the night before), fold some laundry, make the bed, pick up the house a bit, possibly pay a bill, then I tell the pups “good bye” and “be good”, pet the cats, kiss the Hubs, and dash out the door. After six years, the guys at work have learned not to talk to me… for at least an hour. They ignore me, beyond “good morning”, and wait patiently for some alertness to dawn in my eyes. Woe is the man person who gets into a heated discussion with me first thing in the morning.

Which brings me to this morning. “Chatty Cathy” (aka Hubs) was talking to me all the way to town. Some conversation was repeated, which is fine… I’m known to repeat myself from time to time. A nodding of the head, a brief “uh huh” or “nuh uh” is required. I can handle that. But then came the moment. The one in which I am trying to talk and drive at the same time and he is giving me the hand signals. You know… the “I’m the passenger, but I really want to be the driver” signals. Yes, dear… I see the truck. Yes, dear… I know he wants to turn. I should go? I was trying to let him go first, I was trying to be the polite driver. Oh? I’m to stay in this lane? I am. I never left this lane. I wasn’t going to turn into that lane. I CAN talk and drive at the same time… even first thing in the morning. (And he accuses ME of having A.D.D.!)

Needless to say, we did not end the drive on a good note. He made the critical mistake. He talked to me in the morning. We’ve been together for 27 years. He’s supposed to know this by now. What? My fault? Me? … oh… yeah, I suppose. Sorry, sweetie. I’m awake now.

*unknown author

The One Where the Nightmare Comes True

So… have I mentioned I get anxious in situations where I am expected to actually talk to people? You know, live ones? I usually leave the talking to my spouse, who is one of those chameleons who can talk to anyone. Occasionally I accuse him of “dummying down” to get along, and he admits it, but it is a very effective trick he’s perfected and it serves him quite well.

I’m shy. I’m painfully shy. I always have been. You’d never know it from my blog, or from my WoW friends, but I am. Deep within the bowels of a computer I can be a very chatty, out-going person, but in the real world? Not so much. At least until I get to know you. However do I get to know you if I’m shy and can’t get the words out of my mouth to ask you the questions and carry on the conversation necessary to get to know you? Ah… Now you see the dilemma.

Fast forward to Saturday night. Being as it is a saturday night, son is racing and Hubs is with him. That’s just the way it is. My husband and I both feel it isn’t just for enjoyment that my husband be there, but also it’s a safety factor. If someone must take son to the hospital, one of us must be there to fulfill that duty. I prefer it to be him… as he enjoys the racing, too. I am ‘on call’ however, to race to said hospital at a moments’ notice. I am not fully relaxed and in my jammies until I know the car is safely on the trailer and the race night is over for my son.

Saturday night we were invited to a wedding reception. Hubs told his friend, who’s reception it was, that he would not be there and why. I was going to go to “represent”. First you must know that this is said friends’ second marriage. He was reluctant to even get married again and they have been living “in sin” for about five years. They actually got married last week at the courthouse, so this has all been rather down-played. Nonetheless, it was a wedding reception. At a local country club.

I fight down my normal panic throughout the day. I imagine telling them I suddenly got sick. I tell myself that wouldn’t be nice and buck up and get through this. I keep telling myself it will be okay to drive home after dark, that the law of averages says I’ve hit my one deer for the year. It will be okay.

I do my nails, I lay out my clothes, I shower, put on my lovely new slinky skirt, blouse and blazer and even wear the dreaded panty hose. Only another woman can know what I mean when I say dreaded. Thank god I work in a job (now) that I don’t ever have to wear them. Thank all the stars in heaven I can wear jeans to work! I do know how to play dress-up, tho’, and can when I have to. I put on my face, spritz some of my trademark perfume on all the ‘hot spots’, and brace myself for smiling and small-talk.

The first clue should have been the flat tire.

I go out to the garage to get my vehicle and see the tire is flat. Okay, to be fair, not entirely flat, but low. Too low to drive out of town to the reception. Fine. Hubs has ridden with his mother to the races, his truck is sitting there. I call and see if I can borrow it. No problem… except it probably will need fuel. It’s a diesel truck and you can’t get diesel just anywhere. Do I really want to have to mess with getting fuel? Dressed the way I am? Em! Is home! I beg her to let me borrow her vehicle. She agrees. Whew!

I stop and wash her truck on the way out of town. (You can never ever be seen with a dirty vehicle…especially at some type of party. This is one of the small-town-silly-rules.) I take deep breaths and check my map. Again. I’ve not been to this country club before, but am pretty sure I know how to find it. Piece of cake.

Thirty minutes later I am pulling into the country club parking lot. According to the invite, the party started about 15 minutes ago, but I figure it is one of those where people are going to be coming and going all evening… I stop the car, gather up my purse and the card (no gifts, said the invite), and wait, there in the back row of the parking lot, watching the other people walking in. Watching the other people walking in with cards in their hands and c a s u a l clothing on their bodies. Wtf? Maybe it was just those two couples… no, wait, there comes another one… jeans, no less. Oh, shit. I look at the invite once more, scouring every single line of print to see if the word ‘casual’ appears. It doesn’t. Not once. Somehow word of mouth has gotten around and it is clear as mud that casual is the theme of this party. As I sit in my slinky dress and hose with my heart racing in my chest, I realize I can’t do this. I’m having an all-out panic attack. It’s bad enough having to walk into a.) somewhere I’ve never been, with b.) alone, c.) without knowing hardly anyone there, let alone to do it improperly dressed. Nothing like drawing attention!

This is where you can start cackling. Yes, I was a chicken. I called Hubs who told me I should just go in anyway and be the “best looking one there”. Me? I turned around and slunk out of the parking lot, thanking the gods that be that I had a vehicle no one would recognize and hoping the three other vehicles who were coming in as I was going out was no one I knew – but of course, I didn’t meet the drivers’ eyes to see if it was or not. I drove home, cursing the ball of self-conciousness that is me, and wishing I could just fall into a hole. Home never felt so good or so safe. So… how’s your weekend going?

The No Good Very Bad Day

Warning: Not to be read while eating or if you have a weak stomach.

I hope today improves. It has to.

I hit a deer on the way to work, less than 1/4 mile from my house. It came out of no where and by the time I saw it, I was squarely aiming for it’s side. Amazing what damage going 40 mph can do hitting an object that size (it wasn’t tiny). I had my “beater” car, and felt a big whoosh! as I hit… glass from the headlights tinkling and pieces of the grill shattering all over the place. One minute the deer was there, the next it was gone. Sitting at a standstill, I tried to get out of the car to see what damage there was, but the door wouldn’t open. My nerves jarring, I looked out over my … well, not so straight hood. I realized it had buckled and was probably pushed into the edge of the door, causing it to be blocked. Fearing if I got it open I wouldn’t get it closed, I decided to limp it home, since it was still running. Steam was coming out from under the hood, but I figured as close to home as I was it would be okay.

I turned around, looking to see if I could see signs of the deer anywhere… hoping it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. No signs. Maybe it was going to be okay?

As I drove home, another huge buck lept across the road. I watched it, to see if it stopped – perhaps noticing the other one, but it kept going. I got home and slid across the bench seat to the passenger door which worked fine. I walked around front and felt sick. The whole grill is gone, as well as the headlights on the driver’s side and the hood is pushed in. The worst? It had um…”stuff”… on it. I’m guessing stomach contents. Looked a lot like chewed up grass. Ugh.

I call Hubs at coffee and break the bad news to him. Yeah, I’m okay. Yeah, at least it was the beater. Okay, I’m going to get my good car and head to work now…

I go exceptionally slowly through the area where I hit the deer. I’m hoping not to see anything. I realize that I’m probably going to see a dead deer. I steel myself for this… then, I see it. It’s not dead, but it’s not in good shape. It’s thrashing in the ditch, trying to get to it’s feet. I know this can’t be good. After the way my car looked, it’s going to die. Why couldn’t it have died quickly? I’m tormented with that thought as I call my husband again. I’m crying as I try to tell him what I see. He thinks at first I’m upset about the car… then he gets it. He’s lived with me enough years to know what’s really going on. He promises me he’ll take care of it. Have I mentioned I love this guy?

Today has to get better. It just has to. I can’t feel much worse at this point.

(Update: He just called. The deer was dead when he got there. )

Mind or Body?

I’m having a quandry. I’m trying to decide what I want to do with the minimal amount of time I have left in my day. Seriously, there is no minimal amount of time left in my day… and will be even less when the harvest begins, but I have a couple of things I’ve been debating on doing and I can’t make up my mind which is more important. I think I know, but maybe I’m just too close to the situation. I welcome your input.

Option I: The Mind
From my earliest recollection, I loved music. All music. My parents would have Montovani, Jackie Gleason, or Andy Williams playing during dinner. I would sneak to the basement on Saturday afternoon to soak up American Bandstand on our 12″ black and white TV. (Yes, kids, there were things called black and white TV). I had a little am radio that I would sit in my corner of the basement and rock and listen to until my mother would yell at me to get out of the house and go play…and from my earliest recollection, I loved guitar music and piano music.

I’ve told the story of ending up with a trumpet… and how years later in my adulthood I would finally learn to play the piano. Unfortunately, I’ve long forgotten all that I learned. I don’t know how it happened, but lack of time led me to let it slip away. I’ve regretted that decision. Lately I’ve been contemplating taking lessons again. It just so happens my best friend is my piano teacher and she never pushes me a bit, but has said she can always fit me in. I would need to get the piano tuned… a piano that is much better than the one I learned on, thanks to her. We bought it at a ridiculously reasonable price when she got a new one. I’ve never really played this good one! It would mean hours of practice. If I do something, I want to do it well. It would mean spending more time with a friend that I e-mail each and every day, but rarely see any more (due to my anti-social tendencies?). It would mean music to feed my soul.

Option II: The Body
My body is junk. I’m falling apart before my eyes. I’m not the person I used to be, thanks to the passage of time, gravity, and a love of all things lethargic. I used to be in good shape when I was young. I used to ride my bike everywhere, walk when I couldn’t ride, and was a skinny little thing. I remember those days of energy and boundless enthusism. Okay, I remember the days of energy… I’m not sure I ever was enthusiastic.

Everything I do, every hobby I have, involves no physical activity to speak of. I sit at a computer every day, all day long. In my free time, I … sit at a computer… or, read, cross-stitch, crochet, rubber stamp, and watch TV or movies (some of these can be done in conjuntion with each other). I do the normal house-wifey things like cook, and clean, which involves physical activity, but in minimal doses. Same with gardening. I go in spurts, but in no way does it constitute long term “exersize”. I walk my 50-lb beagle, but he goes slower than I do. I ride my stationary bike. A little. I fall down. A lot. Injuries to my ankles and feet and wrists and back are common. I could lose a few pounds… okay, probably quite a few pounds. At least a beagle’s worth.

Now that Em (don’t forget! she has a new blog!) has moved home and changed jobs to one less physical, she’s been wondering about joining a gym to keep in shape. We’ve had some talks about it. Several years ago when I worked at a job on campus and a girlfriend and I who worked in the same office would go to the gym on campus after work. It was handy, being right next to our parking lot, and we would go in all pumped up to get in shape. This was the old gym, the one with the free weights and the weight machines that were not automated. We each had a weight key and lifting gloves and amidst the raging testosterone and sweating twenty-something muscle bound college men, we two middle-aged married ladies would try and make ourselves transform into something better. It worked for awhile, and I probably was in the best shape of my life, strength wise. I was getting toned and fit… and then… life changes and I got a different job and she got a different job and we no longer had access to the gym or to each other and it never fails to amaze me how fast that toned body can melt back into goo.

I had my doctor appointment Wednesday. My blood pressure is a bit high. My blood sugar is a lot high. My ankle is still swollen from falling out of the RV. (I knew it was still twinging a bit now and then, but didn’t realize it was still swollen!) My doc is waiting for some tests to come back to see if she’s going to put me on insulin. It isn’t the end of the world, but it’s a sign that things are getting worse. I’m too young for this shit. I love my family, my critters, even this stupid blog-stuff, and I want to be around for a long time to see how the story ends.

I think Em is going to be around for awhile. She’s going back to school this month, and at the moment living with us. I don’t see that changing for awhile. She’s in pretty good shape (oh, who am I kidding – she’s in GREAT shape) but has promised not to leave me in the dust. The gym we’re thinking of has three locations in our town, plus one has an olympic sized pool. Have I mentioned I love to swim? As long as I can get over my phobia about me. In. A. Swimming. Suit. I love the water. I could use the exersize for so many reasons, and I know if I had my coach urging me on (and hopefully, I could do the same for her) I think I would actually use the facilities. These are all pluses.

Okay, there are the options. Discuss among yourselves and let me know what you decide. I’m putty in your hands.

You Can’t Kill ‘Em – Special Edition – You Be the Judge

Observe the following behavior:

-Name calling (not bad names, but cutesy irreverent names)
-Using things without asking (vehicles, tools, shop supplies, basically anything they can get their hands on)
-Never see ’em unless they have a problem or want something.
-Taking things that don’t belong to them (in the real world, I believe this is called theft)
-Unreliable (saying they’ll do one thing and then not completeing the job or doing it half-assed)

Now, is it just me or would all of these things rolled into one family piss you off? I’ve probably left a thing or two off of this list, but this is my brother-in-law and his family. The name calling? I swear he doesn’t know my husbands’ name. When he calls and asks for him on the phone, he’s always got some stupid cutesy name to call him – always. C’mon people, at least one of you is in his 50’s and the other one is in his late 40’s. Grow up already. This is not a revered childhood name, just whatever stupid name he’s thought up at the time.

The latest fiasco? Involves aluminum beverage cans. Here in Iowa we have a 5 cent can refund. You pay it up front and get it back when you turn in the empty cans at a recycling center (hence the term “refund”) . The recycling center gives you a huge cardboard box with large plastic liner bags in which to facilitate this exchange. My hubs keeps one at his shop, and we collect cans at our home which he then may either take to the shop and put in the bigger sack, or just take in when he takes in the rest. A filled sack can get you something in the range of $20. It’s worth doing.

Yesterday, Hubs walks in his shop to see the younger brat nephew lugging a filled sack of cans out the other door. WTF?

Hubs: what’s up?
BIL: (nephew) is getting the cans
Hubs: I don’t think so.
BIL: …
Hubs: Those are my cans, I take them in, and I collect the money. I don’t recall saying (nephew) could have them.
BIL: … (mouth hanging open with dumb look on face – note:he does this expression quite well, has had years of practice)

Hubs said BIL left the farm a bit later throwing gravel all over from his spinning wheels. His mother was nearby (MIL). He asked her what (brother) was so upset about.

MIL: I guess something was said down at the shop that disturbed him
Hubs: Well, the last time I looked, I didn’t go into town and scrounge around their place for something to sell.

I’m sorry if I come off being a bitch. I really am. I’d like nothing better than to be able to get along with my Hubs’ family. Much as this woman has trouble with her asshat neighbor, I have these battles raging inside of what I should be feeling toward my in-laws and what I actually do feel. It seems every time I let the “good” angel sitting on my shoulder talk me into making the attempt to get along, they do something else to my family (remember this one?) and it just drives me right over the wall again. It’s one thing if they don’t like me, but it pisses the hell out of me when they treat my husband and family this way.

When my father-in-law was alive, this was his shop. His gas barrels outside. His electric, heating, and insurance bills. What he chose to do with his equipment and his building was his choice. As a father, he chose to open it up to his younger son to use. He provided his son with free fuel, and an open-door policy on the equipment. I have no problem with that. It was his son! My husband, the elder son, farmed and worked with his dad and he put a hoist in the shop to work on vehicles in the off-season, as well as collecting a vast amount of (not cheap) tools. Of course, he had no problem with his father using the tools and equipment as they worked together and it was a joint venture. Mutual respect.

When my FIL died eleven years ago, everything changed. Everything in the shop building that my husband didn’t own, we bought from my MIL. Everything. The farm equipment, the shop equipment. Everything. We don’t pay “rent” on the building, as such, but we pay all the utilities for the shop and my MIL’s home, as well as the insurance. We pay for all the supplies stored within… the oil, the filters, the nuts, bolts, screws, and washers. Everything.

The first thing my husband did was to change the locks on the shop and put a lock on the fuel barrel, giving keys to only those people who needed one. We provided one for MIL (which she proceeded to use for many years, fueling up her car and mower at our expense), the hired help (one of their perks), and our kids. OUR kids. Who was one of the first people to complain? Yep…you got it. BIL. He couldn’t understand why the barrel was locked. He complained about the shop being locked, so MIL made him a key. He complained that Hubs locked his toolbox, so MIL chewed out Hubs, making his life miserable until he started leaving it unlocked again. No, he never did get a key for the fuel barrel… although he tried the ruse of saying he needed it to fuel up Mom’s mower that he borrows. Uh huh. Yes, we provided fuel to her to mow her yard, but you think we’re going to let you take it, full of fuel, to your house… mow… then come back and fill it on our nickel? You’re NUTS. I can understand your dad letting you have all this stuff, but c’mon! You’re 40-something years old and you are NOT OUR SON. We shouldn’t have to pay your way!

In their minds (Hubs’ sister and her family are the same way, only they don’t live closeby) it’s still “Dad’s” shop. Still open to come and go as they please, to use it and anything in it at any time they chose, without asking. Using the tools and supplies with no thought to who has to pay for them.BIL uses all the oxygen? Oh, (Hubs), you’re out of oxygen. More often than not, he doesn’t even bother to tell him he used it all… it’s just “surprise!” when Hubs or our son, now working with him, go to use something and it’s gone. It does no good to tell BIL to replace it… he just says his wife has his checkbook, or she hasn’t given him any money, or he just puts it off until it’s needed and can’t wait for him to replace it. Trust me, he’s got this mooching thing down to a science.

Obviously, he’s training his children well. Me? I’m getting pretty darn tired of it. I’ve stayed out of the whole mess as much as possible, mostly because of some things that have been said since I had my breakdown. I just steer clear of him and his as much as humanly possible and bite my tongue bloody trying to keep civil. What do you say when your husband calls up ranting and raving because the “asshats” have struck again? Those are the times I bless the stars I’m an only child…

I swear, I’m going to go off on them one day… and it won’t be pretty. What would YOU do?