Thursday, October 16, 2014

Torn Between Here and There

The sun is shining and from all reports it will be a beautiful day. Reservations are pouring and it should be a great weekend. I have plans to spend a nice evening among my friends Saturday night and all appears to be well in my world.

Appearances can be deceiving. I feel caught between two worlds. I should call my Dad every day and hate to admit that I don't. It is not that I forget. I don't think one hour goes by that I don't think about him. It is that the calls leave me drained. Hearing him sound so weak and resigned to his fate breaks my heart. I need to go and I want to go, but I also want to stay here and pretend it isn't happening.

I find myself sitting for long periods of time watching mindless TV, or cleaning out closets and cupboards in a frenzy. My car is loaded with things to take with me. I look forward to the trip and dread it all at the same time. I have decided to drive, as I doubt the flu shot will protect me from Ebola on a plane.

I hate to leave my cozy little home and my four legged children. I don't want to go a lone and I do want to go alone. My mind is neither here nor there ......

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dinner Show

The rain seems to be never ending. I am miserable, the dogs are miserable. Cabin fever is setting in. My back has a catch in it. Right beneath my left shoulder blade. All my joints are staging a protest, and the flu shot arm still aches.

All I managed to accomplish yesterday was to cook a meal and clean the kitchen. Comfort food. Country style steak and gravy, mashed potatoes (I would have preferred rice, but buying 15 lbs. of potatoes dictates that I use them) and peas. The peas were my downfall.

We have no set time to eat here. Check-ins and tow calls interfere and when I find both of us inside at the same time I serve it up. I prepare both plates at the stove and put them on the table. The only constant about our meals would be the presence of our canine children under the table. Oscar is always positioned at my feet. Toni Louise makes herself known and begs relentlessly. Wall-E and Cujo are in the background patiently waiting until the first morsel should be offered.

Last night, I was hungry. I have no table manners to speak of when it is just the two of us. I tend to eat fast and talk all at the same time. Bad habits, both. But I am always in a hurry to complete a thought before I should be interrupted. He Who tows could get a call. While I have him trapped at the table next to me I can talk at a normal volume and be heard. Last night was no different. I was eating and talking ......

I inhaled a pea. I stopped talking and started coughing. I turned to my right, away from my dinner companion and carefully sucked in enough breath to cough. Over and over again, I felt like I was going to cough up my toes. There was Toni Louise, watching me with great intensity as I coughed. When the pea flew out of my mouth, she caught it in mid-air!

After the pea left my body, I was still coughing and made my way to the bathroom as I found that my bladder had failed to hold it's contents. Toni Louise followed along, hoping for another pea, I suppose.

All the while, He Who Eats continued with his dinner. Seems like the dogs were the only ones concerned about my well-being. He did say that he was watching and that he would have performed CPR if the need had come up. I was duly comforted by that.

My throat is sore and I felt something in my back grab me while I was in the throes of expelling the offensive pea.

This is what we call a dinner show in these parts.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Flu Shot

I stood at the door looking out on my soggy parking lot as I listened to the coffee maker do it's special thing. A fifth wheel sat idle in the exit drive and the driver came round the back and began replacing the huge rocks he ran over with considerable effort, looking back from time to time. Guess he was wondering if anyone had witnessed his error in turning. Let me explain right now that the driveway is plenty wide and the parking area behind is huge. An 18 wheeler can make the turn without disrupting my garden.

I realized that I simply did not care. I cleaned the muddy mess in my bathrooms yesterday and simply did not care. I witnessed a Dodge Ram pick-up truck violating my 10 mph speed limit and said nary a word. The children in the park are the would be bomb making terrorists and I did not feel particularly protective towards them. I figured they should have a fleeing instinct since they are practicing to live outside the law.

Nothing seems important. Nothing tastes good. No activity appeals to me. It must be the flu shot.

While the debate of flying versus driving is still on-going, I went in for my semi-annual check-up. Only because my re-fills were out and I wanted to make sure I had a three month supply before I go back to Georgia. I love my nurse practitioner in my primary care clinic. Hate the doctor, but that is another tale to tell. She was concerned about some of my "symptoms" and sternly admonished me about not having my mammogram done this year. We talked about my dad's cancer and that I was planning a trip back to Georgia. She insisted that I have a flu shot, especially if I planned to fly.

I don't like flu shots. No, I am not afraid of needles. I just don't like the idea of injecting a virus into my body. I explained all this and she totally disagreed with me and convinced me to get the shot. Last time I had a flu shot was 40 years ago. It made me so sick. I was working in the ER in the hospital and the shot was a requirement. But, I remember just how crappy I felt and that 7 months later I gave birth to twins.

If that happens again, I will be very upset.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Mischief Makers

Have you heard of the endurance course known as the Tough Mudder? It is an obstacle course that is in mud and apparently, folks will pay to challenge themselves to "compete" in this event.

It came to our little town last year and the Chamber of Commerce was agog with all the revenue they expected to bring to our county. They sent representatives out and about to encourage local businesses to welcome the crowds. I was told that the hotels and motels were all booked and there would be more tent campers than I could handle.

Events were planned to celebrate this surge of economy and street vendors prepared to take advantage of all the crowds. I took reservations and was prepared to rent some portable toilets to accomodate the crowd. So glad I waited, because I had cancellation after cancellation when it was discovered that homes nearer to the event were offering their lawns as tent sites at a highly reduced rate.

This year when taking reservations, I let it be known that I would be charging a cancellation fee. It is this weekend and it has rained since Wednesday. Cold and wet is not my idea of fun, but, what do I know? I have been checking in Tough Mudders all day long. When not checking them in, I have been answering phone calls from those who will be arriving late. No, I will not stay in the office until midnight to check someone in.

My front door is plastered with site maps for the 5 late arrivals and I am ready for bed. He Who was out delivering firewood reported that a gaggle of prepubescent boys were gathering our gas cans and looking for stuff in his barn (aka Fred Sanford Emporium). When he questioned them, they informed him that they were looking for stuff to build a bomb.

Now I am afraid to go to bed. I want to kick them out, but He Who was once a boy and did things his mother was lucky enough to never know about, assured me that he told them to stay out of the barn. Somehow, I don't find any comfort in this and I have sent him out to report the actions of the boys to their parents. Had these kids even mentioned this at school, they would be expelled.

I have been told to go to bed, the parents are aware now. I still don't feel safe. What kind of people are these Tough Mudders if the kids want to build a bomb?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Cat and Mouse Games

After I found the first snake and dispensed with him, removing his head from his body, I went on with my outdoor chores.

I grabbed up my pail of paint and headed to the fence that had been taken out by a camper and recently replaced. This fence is on the corner of the main road going to the full hook up sites, put there to prevent drivers from going into the deep ditch next to it. I painted it redwood stain, like everything else in the park, but am wondering if I should paint it neon yellow, glow in the dark ....
This is not the first time it has been hit, but it does prevent one from ending up with their wheels in the ditch and needing to be pulled out. I have adorned it with reflective lights ...... maybe I need more.

But, there I was, slathering paint on the new and old boards. I was required to step carefully on the back side to paint it. I was hyper-vigilant since the snake made his appearance. I saw what I thought to be a bird feather in the tall grass. Normally I would have pulled that weedy grass up, but figured it was preventing erosion and should just be treated to a good shave by the weed eater. I peered closer and thought I saw a face in the feather. I nearly lost my footing and decided to just slap the paint on the fence and get done.

But, curiosity won out and I took the shovel that had been used as a murder weapon on Mr. Snake and using it as a walking stick to maintain my balance, I got a lot closer.

A tiny mouse. whose eyes had yet to open was my "feather". I gently scooped him onto the shovel. Rolling onto his tiny back he squeaked and stretched his tiny arms out, no doubt looking for his mother. He was about the size of my thumb.
This time, He Who Mows, responded to my text and came to look at my find.

He told me to "kill it" before it grew up to raid a camper. It was easy to kill the snake, he threatened me. The tiny mouse, well, that was different. He was helpless, his eyes not yet open. He was cute, too. His head too big for his tiny body and limbs and he was making those squeaky noises again. I could feed him, and train him to be a good mouse. I could name him Stuart. After all, I did that for Martha, the boy cat.

Okay, that would be a problem, I admit. Not only Martha, but Oscar and Cujo. They were bred to eliminate rodents. So, I did not touch the mouse, or cuddle the mouse, or bath the mouse.

Instead, I gave the mouse to Martha, the boy cat. Martha, the squirrel hunter and rabbit hunter. Martha who killed a crow and left it on the lawn to find. This cat is fearless. Apparently, my gift was of little interest to Martha. That is the tiny mouse on the edge of the stump. Martha looked, then sniffed, then lay down with his back to the mouse I gifted him.

Could this cat possibly be less interested in the mouse? The mouse fell from the stump and died in the night, never touched by my picky cat.

I did say "first snake" didn't I? The second one still lives. A garter snake in my garden. A good snake. Perhaps I should have offered the mouse to him!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mowing Therapy

I am finding that I have an unlimited capacity for tears. Every day I cry. Some days I think I have cried all my tears, but I am wrong. It comes as no surprise that my Daddy is wasting away. I have known for some time that any more therapy was useless. Mama simply refused to accept it. Far be it from me to take her hope away. I did not try to convince her otherwise.

When I left to come home my sweet Daddy could not walk outside with me, but sat smiling at the breakfast table and told me to call him when I stopped for the night. He was too weak to get up. He told me that he knew he was dying when I arrived and seemed to have made his peace with that knowledge. We had a good visit.

He had a doctor's appointment last week to learn the results of his latest PET scan and MRI. I wish I had stayed. There is nothing left to do for him but to make him as comfortable as possible. I knew that, but now that Mama has accepted it, I can't seem to stop crying. Maybe her hope was also my hope.

I try to distract myself with TV, but can't seem to pay attention. I mow and mow, but find it to be a perfect opportunity to cry really loud. My face is not pretty and I don't care.

I discovered a snake under the trashcan in my dog park. It looked like a fat gray shoelace laying there when I moved the trashcan. I stopped, mower still running and entertained thoughts of picking it up so it would not get caught in my mower blade. For all the reasons above, I am not moving or thinking fast of late. I watched, in fascination as the shoelace moved and then coiled itself. I pulled my cell from my pocket and texted He Who mows and takes care of all things reptilian.

I simply texted "snake". He was across the open field on the big mower and I know he got the text because I saw him swerve as he was reading. I fully expected him to change course and drive the mower to me to see my find. I did not want to kill a "good" snake. This was just a baby snake and I am not good at identifying snakes. I used the shovel on my golf cart to scoop the shoelace snake up and move him out of my way.

The shoelace snake had the audacity to strike at me (well, the space between me and him, there was a lot, too). So I pronounced him a bad snake and used the shovel to disconnect his striking head from his shoelace body. Then I texted He Who did not respond to my first text, "dead snake" and continued to mow.

Think I will go mow some more now.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ode To Billie Joe

 Okay, all Hertz rental cars are equipped with "Never Lost". Took me a bit to get it programmed, but I did. Unfortunately I chose the "shortest route". That means the shortest in miles, not time.

I took highway 78 from Memphis to Birmingham. It was four lanes and 70 mph. A straight shot and not bad at all. There were red lights and the speed limit dropped at every little community. But not so bad.

After my night's stay I was ready to go. Got in the car and Never Lost asked if I wanted to "resume" and I chose that option. I traveled through Mississippi. I crossed the Tallahatchee River. I did not see where Billie Joe McCallister jumped ..... or maybe I did. After I traveled through Birmingham, I think I hit every little two lane road there was in Alabama and Georgia. I had to keep listening to my friend Never Lost, because I had no idea where I was!

Lady, Get A Cab!

It was all worth it. I got to spend the day with my little granddaughter, Jailynn and her mom, Amber. Just looking at her sweet face makes me smile.

Her mom, Amber is as sweet as she is lovely. My grandson chose well when he picked her to be his wife. If you are wondering what my grandson looks like ....... just look at his daughter. She has his eyes. She would tell you "I am eat up with him!" She did tell her Papa Drew that when he told her she looked like him.

This day was definitely a high-light of my trip. The ride home was a nightmare. You have read about day one and the smelly hotel room. I did not get much sleep and woke at 5:30. Really tired, I thought I would be able to sleep longer, since I was instructed to wait until I heard from He Who solves my problems before heading to the airport to return my car.

In addition to being smelly, the air unit needed some maintenance. Every time it came on, the fan would rattle and it sounded like someone was tapping on my window. This was disturbing, since while I was parking I saw a man climb out of the window in the same wing my room was in. I did open the window for awhile hoping to eliminate the smell, but I was careful to lock it tightly before retiring for the night. I decided at some point in the night that should the fire alarm go off, I would ignore the evacuation route and exit through the window. It was a tall window that slid from side to side and would easily accommodate my girth. These are things I ponder in the night when I can't sleep.

So, after hearing every door open and close (seems sound proofing was not a priority either), I was up and showered by 7:30. I marched to the lobby several times for free coffee. Figured I got a little exercise in, since I would be sitting and driving for 6 hours or more to make it home.

You will recall that I was without many options to get to my car. He Who knows people was busy making arrangements and I was told to sit tight in my stinky room until summoned to the airport. At 9:07 I got the call that my car would be at the airport in roughly two and a half hours. I did some mental calculations. I was not quite 6 hours into my trip when my car died and left me rocking in the wake of big trucks on the side of the interstate.

The same tow company was to be dispatched to bring my car. This made me a little uneasy since the same tow company was responsible for my current dilemma. The same tow company owned by the man so rude to me on the phone and who called me "lady" (and not in a good way). He Who knows me well instructed me to play nice ...... like I had a choice.

I checked out of my room, hoping that I didn't smell like it and arrived at Hertz without any problems due to my on-going friendship with Never Lost (I wanted to take her with me). Then I cooled my heels on a hard, backless bench for over two hours. I had been told that the driver had my cell number. I waited patiently until 11:30, then 11:45 and then 12:00. All the while recalculating my ETA for home .... remember I have night blindness.

By 12:30, my stomach churning with anxiety, I wanted to cry. All the information I was getting second-hand from He Who was making calls on my behalf. I was told:
The driver had been calling me and I did not answer my phone.
My car had been towed to my hotel and the tow truck was at the Hertz lot to pick me up to take me to my car and to walk out into the parking lot to find the truck ......
The same people who picked me up were there to get me.

I assured him that I was answering my phone and when he asked me if it was working, I reminded him that I was talking to him at that very moment. I asked how they knew which hotel I had stayed at. He didn't know, he was simply relaying info to me. I gathered my belongings and dragging my stuffed to capacity luggage on wheels behind me walked all over the rental car lot looking for a tow truck.

Called my hero back. He had called the transmission shop and was told my car had not been picked. I almost started crying. It was 12:30 and if the dispatch time was estimated at two and a half hours, then I wouldn't be headed home until 3:00, meaning I wouldn't get home until 9:00 and would be driving in the dark.

Another call to the tow company owned by the not nice man was made and he was told that the driver had been looking for me at Enterprise and Hertz and could not find me. I was at Hertz, no one had seen anyone looking. Took another phone call to get the driver's cell number, which they seemed to be reluctant to divulge. Really, like I am a would be phone stalker in the future.

I found him. Not in a tow truck, but the same personal vehicle that had delivered me to the airport (for my comfort). Not the same driver, but the son of the not nice owner. It was 1:30. The child driver admitted that he had not been able to call me because his phone had spotty coverage. We proceeded to wind around to the interstate while he talked to his little brother on his phone.

He was making me nervous with that phone and his lack of attention to the road. He finally ended the call saying he had a passenger and was driving. My foot was planted on my imaginary brake all the while. He stayed in the fast lane, but we were moving at snails pace and the traffic was passing on my left. His phone rang periodically and he would slow down to about 45, still in the fast lane.

He told me that my car was actually 40 minutes north in Missouri. This lightened my mood a bit, until he took the Blytheville exit and said we had to make a stop at "the shop". My heart sank. He encouraged me to go into the office with him and I got the stink eye from the not nice owner and his witchy wife. They barely acknowledged my presence while they talked about a call the kid driver had to go on and what they were going to do with me. They decided to send the 18 year old daughter to deliver me to my car ........

The girl admitted that she wasn't sure where we were going, but she had her smart phone with Google map in her lap. Her witchy mother was shouting instructions to her while a toothless man in a greasy shirt that revealed the underside of his large belly was interjecting his own nuggets of directional wisdom.

She drove while looking at that phone and we occasionally swerved into other lanes of traffic. We were apparently taking the "back way" because the interstate made her nervous. She made me nervous as we limped along taking curves at 10 mph and still not staying in our lane. I had to use quite a bit of self control not to make her pull over and let me drive. She turned the wrong way at the intersection and decided to call Witch Mom for instructions. I could hear her shouting through the phone, berating the girl for know following her instructions.

This is when I asked Siri for help. The girl told Witch Mom that I had Siri and hung up. Witch Mom called back and told her to ignore me and my phone that I was going to "get her lost". We finally made it to Highway 84, a four lane divided highway. Siri told us to turn left and she did ..... on the wrong side of the divided highway into on-coming traffic. I grabbed the wheel and turned her back to the cross in the median. The child kept apologizing and admitted that she has not had her license for long.

I admit that I was worried about her making it back all by herself. I was dropped at the transmission shop where an old guy in over-alls and a long-sleeved white shirt sat atop a fender sipping from a thermal cup. He told me the "owner" was in the bathroom and would be right out. He asked which car I was there to pick up and I told him. He grinned and said, "I don't think it's ready." I knew he was messing with me, but I lowered my Dollar Tree sunglasses (mine had been languishing in my car all week) and let him see my eyes and said "I will cut you."

I didn't want to disavow my image that all the gossip had created. This all could have been avoided if the two truck had simply taken my car to a shop in Memphis from the get-go and not fed me all this bull about it being the best thing to leave it in their shop and leaving me to believe they were willing to pick me up. I feel quite certain that not nice owner of the tow shop is also not honest and charged AAA for a tow when they delivered me to Hertz in the Hybrid car that saved on fuel. They were reluctant to try that ploy on my return trip, so just left me stranded.

They were forced to go get me and I knew the not nice man would try to make it unpleasant. I was nice, even when I was terrified by the child driver. I tipped her and she seemed surprised and pleased. Her not nice father can go to not heaven, as my buddy, the valedictorian would say!