Flashback #5,782

When I was young, the bugs liked me as much if not more than they do today. It was nothing to go through the summer covered in welts, with patches of orangey-pink calamine lotion slathered on and evening doses of Ben Gay ™ on the worst ones.

One particular summer stands out as the “bad” one when my bug bites started to swell into something worse – they became infected and turned into boils. At first my mother had a nurse friend come to lance the mini volcanos, but as the summer progressed and they kept coming, I was finally taken to a doctor.

Back then the word antibiotic was not on every three-year-old’s lips and every label throughout the grocery store. My mother was advised to buy Dial soap – the gold one. It was the only one of its kind. From that summer on I never used another soap until I was out of my parents’ house and make the reckless decision to buy a different kind.

Tonight I grabbed a washcloth from the pile I use to remove my makeup. You know, the ones I don’t care if I ruin with makeup stains. It was thread bare and I realized it was one that had been handed down from my mother sometime along the way. The combination of the worn washcloth, the summer breeze, and the night sounds coming in through the open window immediately took me back to gold Dial soap and camping with my parents.

I remember standing in a cold concrete shower stall in some campground in the middle of Estes Park in Colorado taking a shower in the middle of the night after a long day of traveling and an extended search for an open spot.

It was the summer we took the Chevy station wagon camping. Being an only child, I was designated the front seat, and my parents would sleep in the back which my mother had lovingly furnished with hand-sewn curtains while the rest of the camping supplies had been delegated a bear-friendly spot on the picnic table, covered with a tarp. Every day we would change campgrounds and each day became the unpacking and packing adventure of a lifetime. (This was also when I was exposed to my first taste of coffee. My mother had forgotten to bring cocoa for me, and in her infinite wisdom deemed it necessary to push hot coffee down my throat on these very chilly mountain mornings. Once. Uh. No. To this day I love the smell, but can’t stand the taste.)

There is no point to this story… Just a brief flashback to an 8-year-old standing in a cold concrete shower with a worn washcloth and a bar of gold Dial soap on a family camping trip. I wish I knew then what I know now.

Guilt: The Gift That Keeps on Giving*

I was not raised Catholic, nor am I Jewish, but they’ve got nothin’ on me in the guilt department.

Hubs and I have an odd relationship, to some. For us, it works. It is probably deep-seated in my “only child syndrome”. That’s what he calls it. It fits. Yes, I’m an only child. No, I don’t like to share, and I have always been able to keep myself entertained. I have four children, a husband, three dogs and five cats. I still don’t like to share. Go figure.

A typical evening will revolve around the television. His and mine. Yes, two different televisions, two different rooms. He is a junkie for the Military Channel, the History Channel, NASCAR racing, an occasional football or basketball game, and every rerun ever shown of “The Hunt for Red October”… or “Danny Boy”. Yeah, he likes John Candy, too. Strange combination, but it works for him.

Me? I’m more into the BBC Mysteries, CSI’s, Lost, and feed in most of the dramas on television that actually have a plot. I don’t watch the reality shows after the second season of Survivor I got bummed out by the plotting and scheming and decided most of it was probably staged anyway. I’d rather watch my plotting and scheming by professionals, thank you very much. I also don’t like commercials, so am known to tape (no TIVO) the shows I want to see, then do marathons of jammie days when I’ll watch hours (okay, maybe months) of tapes at a time.

So he takes over the living room (or the family room and the big-screen TV when he remembers it’s there) and I am usually found in the master bedroom, or in the wintertime when I want to be near a fireplace I go to whichever room he’s not using, be it living room or family room. No, I’m not trying to avoid my husband. It just works out that way. (Throughout the evening, we’ll generally drift through on the way to the kitchen or the bathroom or just make a lap to make sure the other one knows we’re still there.) Generally, while I watch TV I’m cross-stitching or crocheting or knitting or doing something like that. Multi-tasking is my middle name. If I’m not watching TV I’m reading or on my laptop computer playing WoW (World of Warcraft).

Herein lays the guilt.

When my daughter and her husband got me into this game, I played a lot. It was a new experience and fun and something I was better at than I ever thought I could be. For all my computer experience over the years (did I mention we started with a Commodore 64 and thought it was really something?) I’d never gotten into computer games. I never felt comfortable with the controllers of the Nintendo or the Playstations, so it didn’t become something I ever felt I could do. (Okay, I did / do have a Gameboy and a Tetris champ I was, but that’s about it. That can hardly qualify as “computer game”.) WoW was not only a fun game, (as a computer geek I was amazed at the graphics and attention to detail), but because of the chat features, I was able to talk to my daughter daily – in real time – as well as play with her. It was great. I was hooked. I found out my elder son and his girlfriend were both playing and I got my other daughter involved. At the time she was living out of state and again, it became a terrific thing to be able to get online and play and chat every night.

When we got together, we would all start talking about the game. We’d talk about the other people we knew who played, and we even had some who we were meeting in real life! (…and did! It was great!) It started out slowly, a comment here, a comment there, and pretty soon it became a full-out statement from Hubs: Stop Talking About WoW. Can’t we talk about anything else? Um…yeah… I guess.

I became self-conscious about WoW. I started watching when and how much I talked about the game… or the people in it. I started being uncomfortable when Hubs would come home from work and find me playing, or would come into the room after dinner and I would be playing instead of watching some crap on TV. Not wanting to sneak around behind his back, I just stopped playing unless I went to my daughters’ house or I knew Hubs would be gone for the evening to the races or some other pre-occupation that took him away from home.

Now, before you all start yelling at Hubs for this, let me remind you that he did nothing. This was ME. This is my own self-imposed guilt.

I don’t understand why I feel this way. I don’t understand why the guilt is so strong. I haven’t done anything wrong! I know this! It’s a terrific and creative game and I’ve had so much fun playing with everyone… I’m known as the “guild mom” … the one who asks everyone the questions and gets to know them better. I’m more out-going on WoW than I ever can be in person (until I get to know you). It’s very freeing. So why the guilt?

I swear I’ve got enough hang-ups to fill a closet.

*Erma Bombeck

He’s a Baaaad Influence

Once again, Andy has become a bad influence. Here I was, all ready to post a lovely tale from my childhood when I made the mistake (bad, bad mistake) of going to read some blogs first. Here are some anagrams (a very, very tiny sampling) made from MY blog name. Of course these could use some punctuation, use your imagination, people!! Feel free to vote for your favorite.

  1. a gophers tent
  2. rent pet hogs
  3. strange pet ho
  4. rage then stop
  5. great pet nosh
  6. parents get ho
  7. spatter en hog
  8. hag en protest
  9. hags rent poet
  10. grasp thee not
  11. trash get open

I know what MY personal favorite is. I’ll tell ya tomorrow.

Update: My fav is number 10. grasp thee not. There are just those days when I feel I have no clue whatsoever.

Every murderer is probably somebody’s old friend*

I’m in a quandry. Opening myself up to some advice here, people. This is the situation:

I have a friend (this may be the quandry) who I’ve known for several years. When we met, she was applying for a job that I had held and I was part of the interviewing process. Then I became her trainer (not her boss) and over time and many conversations on breaks and over lunches, I found out she had lived in the same town I did at one point in my life as a child… and she had a couple of children. Things we had in common. Gradually, time passed and her husband began cheating on her, and our conversations were based on all the issues and emotions that pass through a family when there is such infidelity… and divorce. I was her support system through it all and beyond. On into the future when she found another man, got married (I was her matron of honor), and moved away.

We didn’t talk often, but got together whenever she would come back to town. One thing that became an uncomfortable issue with me was the fact that she was still so “worldly”. She had a college degree (I do not) and she and another mutual friend (who had a college degree) would carry on these long, elaborate conversations about the “high-falutin” books they’d read or the lectures they’d attended on the campuses they worked at. (We’d met when we all worked on campus here, but I’d left to pursue a job with more potential.) Now, I’m not dumb. I may play one on TV, but I am not a dumb woman. However, the more time passed and the more conversations we had, the less interested I was in the things we talked about. We had less and less in common.

I began avoiding her. I would be busy when she would come through town. I would think of reasons why I couldn’t meet with them. It just wasn’t a comfortable situation.

I felt bad. She had always come to my kids’ graduation parties, weddings, whatever. She’d make the effort, drive the 3 hours, and come. Me? I went to her eldest sons’ graduation, but missed the younger ones’.

A couple of other developements have made me step back. The first was when she became a Pampered Chef “consultant”. Every communication has to have this link to the “job”. No, this is not her main job… she’s a teacher. This is just the part of her life that she has chosen to get involved in and spread across the land. I don’t know how many times she told me they did “wedding showers” when my daughter was getting married. I know they do. My daughter, however, is not the ‘girlie’ type who gets into all that crap and had no interest in having a shower like that. I politely told my friend this. More than once…. and yet, she still kept coming. Besides the fact that I have a personal “law” that says I don’t. Do. Parties. You know, Tupperware, Longenberger baskets, etc…. I don’t. Do. That. My friend knows this, and yet…

Okay, now the second huge development. She’s evidently found GOD. Yes, that must be in capitals. GOD. Now whatever e-mail, christmas letter, or other sundry communication I get from her, not only must have some scripture, quote, or cutsie little churchie picture made out of commas and periods and whatever other keystrokes will make it, but we get that plus the Pampered Chef stuff. I swear, the few things she actually says are so overwhelmed by the rest of the “messages” she’s trying to get across (Serve GOD… sell Pampered Chef) that I cringe when I see her name in the e-mail. (Do NOT send me hate mail about this. I have nothing against people who serve and believe in God in their own ways. It is the method to the madness that I am objecting to here.)

I hadn’t heard from her for awhile. It really didn’t bother me. I figured she was mad that I hadn’t made it to her son’s graduation and I just went on with my life… Uh… Hello! I made the mistake of forwarding her a cute e-mail that I thought she’d appreciate (no, I normally do not do this and I now know why because God is punishing me for doing so this one time…). I get a message back. She didn’t get in touch because my e-mail address had changed and she hadn’t caught that message. Oh. Doh.

Now she wants to talk. She wants to know everything that’s going on. How do I get out of this? How do I say, we really do not have anything in common anymore and it makes me uncomfortable to talk to you and I am a bad person but I just don’t want to be friends. I am sooo going to hell. Have you ever had this happen? What did you do? Do you all think I’m a horrible person now?

*Agatha Christie

New Friends and Refreshed Links

As busy as I’ve been, I’ve still found time to have new blog connections. Go figure. Go visit these people and give ’em a minute of your time… I also updated my list and found a lot of people I haven’t visited in awhile are gone or on a break. Amazing how much this happens. I guess I’ve been known to miss a week or two, but to just stop? I think it would be hard to do… Hope the ones who are just “on a break” will come back!! *hint* *hint*

Nicole over at Sleepyfroggie. I love her “love story”… reminds me a bit of my own! Plus she loves animals, so of course I’m gonna like her immediately!

The Gorby Corner is a great site started by Helen to raise money for the RSPCA. Good reason. Great dog.

Over at Dad Gone Mad you can check out a man’s perspective. We don’t get that often enough, sad to say…

Remember, Em (Not Dorothy) has moved. Her new site is Mellow Chaos.

For yummy recipes from a former chef, as well as kitty tales and facinating poetry and stories, slip on over to Michael’s blog Recipes for Life.

It’s Official: I’m Getting Old

I’ve always prided myself of being open-minded. I can see many points of view and am open to many ideas. It’s about the only way I can see the six-year difference in Hubs’ and my ages. He isn’t quite as open-minded about some things and I chalk that up to his age.

Well, I’ve found my limit. I’ve seen the point where I am hitting the wall… and saying, I accept it. I must be old now. I watched ABC’s “limited series” The Outsiders last night. I have seen the point where my mind has suddenly clamped shut tighter than a nuns’ legs. I can’t accept The Lifestyle. I listened to these people justifying their choice to have sex with everyone and anyone and telling us it was “just sex” and it was “improving the relationship with their spouse”. Uh huh. Okay. Whatever. I’m not buying it.

So, what do you think? Am I just being close-minded? Am I just getting old?

The Long Non-Existant Weekend

It’s Monday? Um…no. It sure feels like it, tho’!

Friday night I played. I went to my daughter’s house and played WoW. Fun? Hell yes! I think we end up talking almost more than we do playing… that’s a good time, let me tell you.

Saturday we spent half the day getting ready to go camping and racing and the other half getting unready. (Is that a word?) It rained. Buckets. The rain came straight down for hours… and it was nice. The races were rained out, consequently the camping got rained out, therefore… no camping with MIL. Whoot! It’s all good.

Saturday night Em, Hubs and I went to dinner at our favorite steak house then to the movie “Invincible” with Mark Wahlberg. There is something about that guy that reminds us of our eldest son. (I’d link him but he never updates his blog anymore… *hint*) It turned out to be a pretty good movie, considering I do not like sports much… or sports movies. But am always willing to root for an underdog (except Rocky… I’ve had my fill of that clown… and another one? Plluueeaszzee! Give it a rest!). Was a nice evening out.

Sunday and Monday I spent torn between household chores and crafts – watching shows I’d taped. I managed to wash windows and curtains (something long overdue) and worked my way through about six months of “Mystery Monday” shows from the BBC-America. I love BBC shows. Hubs can’t stand them. Thinks they’re soooo boring. Me? I think they have intrigue and interesting stories without all the car chases, shoot-em-ups and gratuitous sex. Not that I have a thing against any of that! Plus I’m a sucker for an accent.

Last night the big, week-long, national dirt track races started nearby. My son isn’t racing it this year, as the car he’s been driving is on the sale block (they thought they had it sold to someone who actually was going to race this week, but he backed out) so he’s being a spectator and cheering on some friends. The race Saturday was to be the season finish for the regular track he races on, but now the race has been postponed for a couple of weeks and he won’t have a car to race it. I think he’s okay with that… He was track champion for his class (stock car) last year and now that he’s changed classes (a-modified) he wasn’t in it enough to get the points needed. However, rumor has it he may be up for rookie of the year in that class…! At any rate, Hubs, son, and dil2b went to the races last night and had a good time. MIL was not invited… and I don’t think she even knew they were going. Hubs came home in a jovial mood. Was a nice change.

On that thought. Saturday night? When we went out? Son and friends had prepared food and a keg to take to the track for the season end race. It’s rather a tradition. So, when it was rained out they decided just to have everyone over to the shop to eat and drink. Although we had other plans and didn’t go, guess who did? You guessed it. MIL. She hung out with them all. night. long. Talk about a wet blanket. Poor guys…

Last, but not least, I want to mention some people who need some hugs. Please go over to Amy’s site and tell her it’s gonna be okay. They got some bad news over the weekend and it’s rough… she doesn’t deserve this. Also, Deb has lost a loved one. Very unexpectedly. And last, but certainly not least, Helen is posting. Heartbreakingly sad, but posting. There is nothing we can say to make it better, but please say a prayer in your heart for these people. They need some peace in their lives. We (I) bitch a lot, but know I am very, truly blessed.

September 1

Fall has officially begun. I realize, to the calendar people, it isn’t for another three weeks. That is insignificant to me. To me, this is the day it begins. It used to be (long, long ago) that children did not go back to school “in the fall” until after Labor day. That is the weekend the city swimming pool would close, the white shoes would be religated to the winter off, and the air conditioning would officially end for the summer season. Labor day weekend was the last big “push” at the camp grounds and theme parks, knowing that those kiddies would be sitting in classrooms the following week.

Everything changes. School for my grandson began two weeks ago. Two. That’s just unreal. The theme parks stay open on weekends for another month or so, and the white shoes? Well, I wear white tennis shoes practically every day of my life, so that’s not gonna change.

I, too, have noticed the light changing. It no longer is light at 5 a.m. when the puppies and I go out. It no longer is light at 8 p.m. when they go out for the last time at night. Although my maple trees haven’t started to change, I have seen evidence of others along the roadside (as I’m watching for those pesky suicidal deer). The corn and beans are changing – some so fast that I’ve been notified we could be in the field combining in a couple of weeks.

This makes it fall. Officially. The harvest will begin. I love fall… I love so many things about it. Even the harvest, although it becomes a mind-numbing track meet of trying to make sure everyone is where they need to be and has the food/snacks/beverages to see them through to the end. I barely see my Hubs, unless he’s sitting in the cab of a pickup eating a sandwich… covered with grain dust and bags under his eyes.

I love the leaves changing and the gardens putting out their final burst of color right before the frost takes it all out. The smell of leaves and wood-burning fireplaces fill the air and I can cuddle with the kitties in front of my ‘fake’ fireplace, warm just the same. The sweaters and sweatshirts come out and I no longer agonize over the “tummy roll” that I just can’t seem to hide in summer wear. The breadmaker gets put back into use and the crock pot is filled with stew and soups and ‘comfort’ food.

It’s supposed to rain this weekend and have a high temperature of only 70. That, to me, is saying Fall. We’re going to camp at the races. We’re going to have the RV. Yes, we’re going to have MIL. It’s not going to be as good as a cup of hot cocoa in front of the fireplace, but I’ll make it work… It’s going to be okay. I’m just going with that thought for the rest of the day…