30 April 2012

Over the Hill

Time has a way of sneaking up on people, whether they like it or not.  This was proved over the weekend when the hubs turned the big "5-0" on Saturday, much against his will--even though I've spent months reminding him that he was going to be officially old this year.  (I figured it would lessen the blow on his actual birthday by giving him a chance to get used to the idea.  Repeatedly.  I'm just helpful that way.)  I'm sure he thought I was being mean, but he needs to realize it could have been much worse; he may have negated my original suggestion to flamingo the yard, but I was completely prepared to throw 50 of his computers (and yes, he almost certainly has that many and more if you include all the parts and not just the terminals) into the front yard and put up a great big sign that read "Another One Bytes The Dust."  For some reason, he didn't find this idea as amusing as I did; I don't know why.  He should just be grateful we moved because if we were still in Memphis I'd have thrown him a big Over-the-Hill party that would make a few of his precious computers in the yard seem positively idyllic.  Lucky for him I'm inherently lazy, so I didn't throw any computers in the yard either.

And you thought I was kidding.  This is only one side of the basement storage.

No one wants to get flocked on their 50th.
Mischief aside, after pondering what to get him for this auspicious occasion for at least a month or two, I finally decided that I wanted to get him one of those great big tool cabinet/chest things that all the serious mechanics and builders on TV have in their workspaces.  The benefit of this is that he'd finally have an easily accessible place for all of his tools and, more to the point perhaps, stop complaining to me about not being able to clean up because he didn't have a place for his tools and he couldn't find what he needed, and so on and so forth.  Getting him a big tool chest was a win-win as far as I was concerned.  Still, like so many other things within my sphere of influence, things did not go quite  according to plan.

First, I started my research.  I figured if I was gonna spend significant money on one of those things, most of which are ridiculously over-priced, I wanted a decent one--no flimsy metal drawers that won't open or get off-kilter easily, no easily scratched paint, etc.  Plus if he griped about the money, I could always tell him I'd only spent $10 for each year of his life.  I eventually found a unit made by Homak that I really liked and in the price range I wanted to pay, but no one here in town carried it in stock.  Shipping one directly to my house cost a minimum of $100, just for regular shipping.  Expedited shipping was three times that.  Naturally.  I was willing to drive to Atlanta to pick up one of the chests, but no one there had it in stock either and ordering it would take 1-2 weeks I didn't have.  I know I should have ordered sooner, but got distracted by my mom's funeral and waited to long to take care of it.

Since I wasn't going to be able to order it in time, I started looking at other brands and ultimately found something similar here in town at Harbor Freight Tools, though it was bright red instead of the pretty blue of the other unit I'd found.  Still, I didn't figure the hubs would care; he is a guy, after all.  Best of all, the unit I liked best was $200 off!  Yay for me!!  It was enough cheaper that I was even able to get another add-on drawer unit and pay for both for less than the one would have been originally with tax.  Needless to say, I was rather pleased with myself--till we tried to load the mother into my van.

Big-boy Toy Chest
 In order for you to truly appreciate this, you need to understand my vision.  Wednesday night the hubs and I went to see Les Mis in Atlanta.  I didn't want to buy anything before that because he would see it in my car.  So I figured I would go and purchase the item on Thursday, after which I could just throw a blanket over the top of it so he wouldn't notice it when he came back from work that evening.  On Friday the plan was to sort through and clear out all the rubbish in the garage, tidy everything up, then unload the tool chest and park it by the wall in front of his side of the garage.  I was going to put 50 of something in each drawer--50 screws in one drawer, 50 Tootsie Rolls in one, 50 washers, 50 nails, 50 Milky Way fun bars, 50 pieces of gum...you get the idea.  Then I'd have a giant bow on the front.  When he'd get home from work that night, he'd pull in, flip out over the new and exciting tool chest, and reel with every drawer he opened at my cleverness in reminding him that he's freakin' FIFTY YEARS OLD.  No one can ever say I lack a flair for the dramatic, however improbable or unrealistic it might be.

In real life, what happened is this:  I pulled my van around back of the tool shop and opened the hatch.  It occurred to me that I should probably have taken out one or two of my seats before going shopping (which of course I didn't), so I released one of the back seats and piled it on top of its neighboring seat.  Piece of cake.  The tool chest should slide right on in.  Have I mentioned I lack spatial skills??  One guy comes out with the thing in a CRATE on a forklift.  I took one look at it and thought to myself:  "This does not bode well."  The guy lowered it to the ground and proceeded to dismantle the crate.  He then had to remove the unit from its box because there was no way it was going to get in the back of my van with all the cardboard and stryrofoam surrounding it.  Next, Dude #1 calls to Dude #2 to help him lift the thing into the back of my van.  Dude #1 gets back onto the forklift and hoists the chest (which weighs close to 300 lbs) up into the air, the idea being to try to get it as close to my car as possible.  After some tricky maneuvering to get it close without ripping my back door off, the two dudes push and pull and grunt till the front end is in my van.  Dude #2 then climbs over one of the middle seats (which I have folded down for him--where's a freaking Stow n Go when you need one?) so that he can pull the unit from the front while Dude #1 pushes from the back.  This proved to be an even bigger challenge than first anticipated because the attached casters kept getting hung on one tine of the forklift.

Eventually the guys managed to clear the forklift, only to discover that they couldn't shove the chest up and over the last few inches of my car because the bumper angled the chest up enough that it got stuck on the ceiling.  Lovely.  I offered to shut the door with bungee cords since I didn't have far to go, till Dude #2 pointed out that if I hit any bumps the corner of the chest might shatter my back window.  This was not helpful news.  So the guys climbed out of my car and pulled the chest back out.  I told them I could go home, deposit my seats, and come back, but by this point I think they were just determined to get me loaded up and out of their hair, or at least Dude #1 was.  Dude #2 was much friendlier; he even told me he "wanted to come home with me" when he saw the lovely gift I was bringing home to someone.  Shoulda told him it was for me...wouldn't that have dropped his jaw??  Instead I told him that if he came home to help me unload this beast, I'd make him any dinner he wanted.  He liked the idea of a home-cooked meal (students are all the same), and we jokingly discussed menus.

That forklift driver was the BOMB.
We folded up the other middle seat, released the other back seat, and piled them all on top of each other.  The guys then flipped the tool chest on its back on the forklift, again drove it towards the back of my van, and managed to manhandle the thing into the rear of my van, flat instead of upright.  Dude #1 then shoved in the boxed extra drawer unit, made me sign a paper, and took off.  Dude #2 let me have some of the styrofoam from the original box so that I could put it between the seat latches and the tool chest to keep it from getting scratched.  I drove the load home, with the rear of my van noticeably riding lower than usual.  Once home I looked at the load.  Even with the main chest on its back, the boxed unit still filled my whole window and there was no way to disguise it from the hubs, much less unload the monster by myself.

Just minutes after I got home the hubs pulled up.  I acquainted him with my glorious vision of how this was all supposed to go, then informed him that he had to help get the chest out of my car.  I went next door to try to borrow my neighbor's muscles, but he wasn't home yet, so the hubs and I tried to unload the units ourselves.  He managed to remove the box single-handedly, then got in the van to shift the main unit out while I braced it from behind.  All in all, things went much more smoothly than I might have expected, and we were able to tip out the chest and slide it to the ground, after which I braced the wheels so we could flip it upright.  A few minor scratches from the driveway and dings to the back courtesy of the Dudes later, and the hubs had his birthday present.  A man of few words, still he salivated with glee at the thought of filling all the little drawers with his tools.  Nerd.  I told him we had to clean out the garage first, though, so there would be a place to put it, to which he happily agreed.  I planned to spend Friday cleaning the garage, with which he could help when he got home, so he could spend all of his birthday playing with his new toy.

Instead, I woke Friday with cramping pain in my lower right abdomen.  After spending some quality time with the bathroom, I assumed the pain would recede--but it didn't.  I started to wonder if I'd regrown my appendix.  I spent the entire day walking hunched over just like I did after my surgery and googling things like "What does a hernia feel like" and "gall bladder attacks" and "kidney stones."  As if that weren't enough, my sinuses started kicking into gear, finally deciding that two weeks in a holding pattern was boring and they need to get on with torturing me.  Not surprisingly, I didn't do squat in the garage.

When the hubs got home we did go out and work on cleaning it out, and by "we" I mean that "I" opened my van's sliding door and sat on the floor cleaning dust and scum off of stuff that's been sitting in the garage for 2 years while the hubs moved stuff around.  Moving, albeit slowly, seemed to help a little, but it was still a rather uncomfortable few hours out in the hot garage.

Saturday morning, I showed the hubs this video to brighten his birthday morning:

Then I wished him a "Happy Uterus Liberation Day."

After lunch, the hubs went off to his nerd show antique computer group meeting and I hobbled through Lowe's to get a few more organizational devices for the garage.  Afterwards I went to the local minor med and demanded to see my bestest bud, the FMD.  I know you aren't supposed to ask for specific people at the minor med, but considering the entire waiting room was empty, I didn't figure they'd care all that much.  Even so, they tried to palm me off on a nurse practitioner.  I politely told her "no offense" (which I'm sure there was), but that I would really prefer to see FMD.  Him I know, him I trust.  Plus, he has a little more understanding of my recent ailments than the NP.

FMD came in and examined my abdomen, asking all the sorts of questions one might ask if they thought you were having kidney issues, all of which I was able to answer in the negative.  After digging around and palpitating the tissue, he decided that if I did indeed have a hernia like the surgeon said after my appendectomy, it was still very small and more importantly wasn't strangulated.  I was relieved to know I hadn't blown it out shifting the hub's birthday present.  He told me he thought I'd probably just torn a few muscle fibers around the baby hernia, and they just stiffened overnight which is why they didn't hurt or feel pulled when we were unloading the tool chest, then he told me not to lift anything for a few days.  FMD then had a look at my ears and throat, and while my sinusitis was not yet very advanced, he did say that I had fluid in one hear and my throat was starting to look funny, so I "definitely have something brewing."  Then he gave me a prescription for some antibiotics to knock it out before I even have a chance to lose my voice.  I love this man.  He gave me something I've never used before, called "Omniflex," which just sounds like it ought to be a brand of workout machine at the local gym.  I like it, though.  My nose was running like a faucet all day Saturday, and after only one pill, the drainage stopped dead in its tracks.  Can't beat that!

"Omniflex--Give Your Germs a Work-Out!"
Later after the hubs returned from his geekfest computer meeting, we finished cleaning out the garage (with me continuing to move slowly) and organizing what was left, then I swept the floor thoroughly.

The ladders are well-hung.

Acting sweepishly.

Telescopes and extension cords always go together, no?

The birthday present in its new home.
Afterwards we were both pretty tired and sweaty, so rather than go out for a birthday meal like usual, we ordered in pizza ("Well, it is my birthday...") and vegged out.  I made a chocolate birthday cake with mint icing, which I decorated with a lame scythe out of green sugar because I was too tired and lazy to mix up decorator's icing and draw a grim reaper on the cake.

Yeah, I know...cake decorating fail.
Sunday afternoon the hubs finally got to go out and play with his new toy, loading all the filthy and disgusting tools from his boxes in the basement into his new tool chest.  So much for making him clean everything in the garage before putting it away; I guess he didn't think his tools were included in the cleanliness edict.  The drawers still need to be labeled, and he could do a better job consolidating some of the drawers so they aren't all either stuffed to the gills or half empty, but it's a start.  I suppose not everyone can be gifted with organizational OCD like me.  More's the pity.

Playing in his drawers
And that is the story of the epic birthday present that was epic for entirely unexpected reasons.  I just hope the hubs enjoys using his present after all that.  He'd better...if not, I can still pitch his computers in the front yard--at least once my groin pull heals.

Happy Half-Century, Honey.

25 April 2012

Everyone Needs A Good RASH

One of the many things that had to be rescheduled from last week was my monthly haircut, so yesterday I went in for my updated appointment.  I'm still not completely pleased about the guy cutting my hair (we'll call him "Jimmy"), however.  He's the same guy who gave me the mini-mullet originally, and still sort of does, though he's getting slightly (marginally) better about it.  And he does do a good job with my color--he keeps the grey covered while making it still look mostly like my natural color.  The sad part is that good ole' Jimmy is still a significant improvement over anyone else who has done my hair here in Georgia.  Besides, I really like the guy.  We have a good time chatting. I just want him to start listening to what I actually tell him about my hair.  Every month it seems like it's something.  The first couple of months I ended up coming back and making him trim my bangs shorter.  Last time he remembered I liked them "shorter" and so whacked the crap out of them, then asked "Is that better?"  Like I'm gonna say "No, you idiot, now glue my hair back on!"

This time I was a little better prepared in advance, and didn't immediately ("immediately" being the operative word) get caught up in being silly with him.  I asked Jimmy about the shampoos the salon used because I prefer not to come home and spend the next three days sneezing at my own hair.  That part he got, and found a shampoo with less fragrance or cologne or whatever gets put in and used it on me; this happy product allowed me the continued ability to breath, of which I am a big fan.  Next I told Jimmy that while I liked my bangs shorter than average (read "not in my eyes"), I still preferred them not to touch my hairline and asked if we could please split the difference between the bangs of Justin Bieber and those of a Roman senator.  After Jimmy finished snorting and giggling (hey--at least he doesn't get offended like most people would--he's starting to "get" me), he agreed to try to do better, which he did.  Lastly, I told him that I would like him to keep the hair over my ears a little longer so it was less mullet-y and could blend in more to the rest (also so I could subversively have my old stylist cut it more easily next month while I'm in town for a graduation).  I'm not sure what exactly Jimmy did, but it wasn't that.  Maybe it was the way he combed it, but afterwards, I almost looked like I had Vulcan hair, with the layers splitting front and back around my ears.  Whatever, dude.  Why is this one request so difficult to fathom??  Maybe I should just tell him to stop making me look like freakin' Carol Brady, circa the later years.

Anyway, details aside, we started chatting as we always do, covering any number of interesting and/or disturbing topics.  I figure it's his own fault for asking me what's new or what's interesting.  That should teach him.  And yet, it never does.  You'd think he'd have learned better by now.  Yesterday we somehow got onto the topic of cancer, which led specifically to skin cancer from overexposure to the sun and my tendency to sunburn just by looking at microwaves, much less from being outside.  This then led to a discussion of my freckles and ultimately Rule 34, which I had to explain to Jimmy because he'd never heard of it.   Next thing I know, we're discussing freckle fetishes and what other sorts of bizarre things might be contained on the internet, which was of course my point entirely when mentioning Rule 34 in the first place.  And I just know beyond the shadow of a doubt that he ran straight to his smart phone at the first available opportunity to Google both "rule 34" and "freckle fetishes."

While talking about this and sun exposure I told Jimmy how I could always tell when it was spring because my faded freckles would instantly darken with the first kiss of the sun's warm rays as though they had magically appeared out of nowhere.  During this discussion, I happened to tell Jimmy that "at least they aren't everywhere; if I ever went topless in the Mediterranean, I'd be screwed."  Poor Jimmy nearly wet himself.  He went into paroxysms of laughter so debilitating that he had to stop cutting my hair and go hide around the corner in an employees-only area because of the tears streaming down his face.  Obviously I realized that he'd taken something I said as funny, but it took me a second to register exactly what that something was.  In my head, I was thinking that if my freckles started popping up the second they were exposed to sun, my going topless would no doubt cause millions of little brown dots to suddenly spring up in awkward places all over my pasty white torso.  But that's not what Jimmy heard.  What Jimmy heard was "If I go topless, I'll get screwed."  Needless to say, his first reaction was more along the lines of "Well, I'd imagine you would..."   Alrighty, then.

Once Jimmy'd gotten himself back under control, he came back to finish my hair cut/Carol Brady extravaganza, during which I continued to rag him about wanting to look at internet porn all afternoon after our unfortunate misunderstanding and Rule 34.  It's starting to seem like every time I have an appointment with Jimmy, half of it is spent with him doubled over snorting laughter or saying "Wowzers" (which just gives me an overwhelming desire to start looking behind him for Shaggy or Velma).  I don't know if Jimmy looks forward to my little visits or if he fears them; either way, clearly he never knows what's gonna come out of my mouth next.  Some people might call that not having a filter; in fact one acquaintance did exactly that.  I disagree, however, considering I nobly refrained from calling said acquaintance a jumped-up arrogant little jerkwad.  Just because I don't always choose to use a filter doesn't mean I don't have one.  Besides, I prefer to think of my comments as "inventive" rather than "unfiltered."  I just hope that Jimmy starts packing Poise pads before I come if he's going to be this susceptible to my weirdness.

Really, though, I suppose I should thank him, because he has helped me to understand why everyone seems to think I'm so much funnier than I think I am.  Sure, I can be witty on occasion, but the reality is not so much that I'm funny as that I apparently have an enormous tendency to utter the most disconnected or unexpected of observations (just call me Lieutenant Left Field), thereby catching people completely off-guard whether via my complete and utter randomosity or because of statements that can be unintentionally interpreted in multiple ways.  You know, like how going topless might get me screwed.  Well, I suppose it might.  More likely it would get me arrested or rolled back into the nearest body of water.

So, in honor of Jimmy's extreme reaction yesterday, I have decided to christen my frequently weird colorful, creative, unique, and visionary observations as Random Acts of Senseless Humor, or RASH for short.  Everyone should experience a RASH at some point in life.  They'll be contagious, like Pringles--once you have one RASH, you'll want other RASHes as well.  Before you know it, you'll be covered in RASHes.  People will treat them cautiously at first, but eventually they'll give up and want to expose everyone else to RASHes, too.  It will be an epidemic of RASHes!  They'll be my legacy, perhaps even my epitaph:  "Ginger LaRue--Leaving RASHes Behind Since 1965."

It could happen.

16 April 2012

Limbo, Laughter and Loss

It's been a weird weekend.  I know, I know--things involving me are usually weird.  This is different.  This is the kind of weird when time sort of stops, hanging in limbo for a few hours, a few days.  This kind started Saturday morning, when my brother called to tell me that our mother had passed away at 5 am that morning.  As I mentioned a couple of days ago, she had Parkinson's with dementia, and had recently stopped eating.  So it wasn't a complete surprise.  Still, that's always hard news to hear.

And so began the many hours of arrangements across several states.  My brother took care of the funeral arrangements where he lives, since my mom's nursing home was near him, and we chatted on the phone several times to work out scheduling and so forth.  Once I heard back from him later in the afternoon about service times, I spent most of the evening working out travel for myself and for the girlie.  I used to think that the "bereavement fares" offered by airlines were basically a 50% discount off of the ticket, provided you could prove an immediate family member had died.  Perhaps it was that large a discount at one point, but if it was, it is no longer.  Delta didn't do too badly by me, considering I was only getting a one-way fare to Indy for the service because I'll be driving to the interment with my brother.  So Wednesday I'll spend 8 hours in a car, go to the interment, then spend another 8 or so hours in the car driving back home with the hubs, who will meet us at the cemetery.  Funereal road-tripping at its best, right?

The girlie's ticket was a bit more challenging since there are NO airlines which fly directly from her college to Indianapolis.  Many, many hours later, after I'd finally sorted her ticket and schedule out, I discovered that I would quite possibly have gotten her ticket cheaper had I just purchased it online at regular prices.  Because of timing, she ended up on United, which offers only a whopping 5% discount for "compassion fares."  It almost covered the taxes on the flight, which doesn't strike me as particularly "compassionate."

Meanwhile, during the course of the day, I managed to consume only the following:

a cup of tea
2 slices of toast, buttered 
2-3 slices of American cheese
1 bag of Doritos, snack size
2 pouches of gummy Alvin and the Chipmunk snacks
1-2 bottles of water, enhanced by Crystal Light packets

My healthy diet Saturday was staggering, right?  Needless to say, by the time I'd fielded multiple phone calls and Facebook condolences and spent hours making travel arrangements, I was famished and starting to get more than a little cranky.  When the last "i" was dotted and the last "t" crossed, I demanded that the hubs take me out for dinner, because it was already 9 pm or later and I wasn't about to make anything.  I wanted a big, freakin' slab of meat, and I wanted it NOW.

We drove to Outback, where we were waited on by a young man clearly trying to be extra-friendly-for-future-tipping purposes.  When a Beatles' tune came over the sound system, he made a point of sucking up by commenting on how popular the Beatles were, for like "four whole generations!"  He then suggested that we "looked like" we would be Beatles' fans.  I'm sure he intended it as a compliment, but we both sat there thinking "Dude...exactly how old do you think we are???  Do we look like we're refugees from that fourth generation?  Were you really wanting that tip, dude?  Stop.talking.NOW.  But of course he didn't.  He made a couple of other awkward overtures, using his patented announcer voice the entire time.  Seriously--I have no idea what the kid is studying or just finished studying, but if it's not Radio/TV/Film, he's wasting his life.  He totally sounded like a game show announcer.

Still, Outback ponied up the goods; my steak was perfectly cooked and super-succulent, and at a time when I really needed it to be correct.  We stuffed our faces, administered some chocolate medication, then headed home, my anemia and attitude problem suitably assuaged.

This morning I felt a little less raggedy about everything, though ultimately I chose to play hookey from church.  I just didn't feel much in the mood to watch people be sympathetic, if that makes any sense.  I actually preferred the Facebook method--multiple people have very kindly offered condolences and assistance, but Facebook gives me the luxury of reading them, accepting them, appreciating them gratefully, and moving on.  On Facebook, you don't have to see all the well-meaning but pitying faces that go with the condolences.  Don't get me wrong; I really AM grateful for everyone's love and concern, and it DOES helps significantly. Still, there's really only so much anyone can do, particularly with services that are out of state, so sometimes all the pity and knowing looks get a bit overwhelming.

So instead I chose to spend my morning in the relative anonymity of Panera's, having my favorite breakfast sandwich and appreciating everyone's love and concern from a safe distance.  Afterwards, I went to run a couple errands before returning home to complete the new day's slew of calls to make and appointments to schedule or reschedule.  After attempting to return something to a store which inconveniently chose to be closed till 1 pm, I returned to my car and started to back out.  Normally, I'm a bit paranoid about backing and so double-check repeatedly that the way is clear.  As I was pulling out, I noticed that the van behind me looked like it might be moving, so I hesitated.  Sure enough, backup lights flew on and the person hit the gas.  I started honking my horn wildly while trying to shift back into forward and pull up enough to avoid collision.  Sadly, I didn't move far enough fast enough and the other driver smacked my back end (that's for you, Dr. Dave).  We got out, asked if everyone was okay, and I went to assess the damage.  I commented that I guess the other driver, a woman, hadn't heard my horn.  She immediately informed me that she hadn't because her radio was on.  Riiiiight.  Even if her radio were on, it would have had to have been cranked enough to make the entire vehicle vibrate, which it clearly wasn't.  Whatever.  She also informed me emphatically that she had insurance, as though having insurance were somehow optional.

Fortunately for the lady (and me), the bumper did not appear to be damaged beyond some dirt and a little scuffing.  Given that I have far more important things this week about which to worry, I was inclined to blow the whole thing off (I'm generous like that), because I just wasn't in the mood to deal with it for something as minor as a few more scuffs on an already-scuffed bumper.  Once the lady realized she was going to be let off the hook, she started talking about how she was looking in front of her for the horn that she heard.  Mmmmmhmmmm.  As one friend put it, "Liar, liar, pants on fire!"  Whatever, lady.  And I'm standing there thinking, "Really?  REALLY???  Do I look that stupid?"  Obviously you are getting off the hook, so why bother to lie?  And if you're gonna lie, at least have the decency to be consistent about it.  I mean seriously--have a little pride.  If you're gonna pretend to get one over on me, at least have the courtesy to tell plausible whoppers, Lady.  I could use the entertainment value.  But this?  This is just plain embarrassing--my dog lies better than you.

Anyway, after all that I went and got groceries, drove home, then waited till the hubs had unloaded the bags before telling him blandly that I got rear-ended.  "WHAT?!??!?"  He was trying to figure out how that could have possibly happened when he didn't see any damage on the car.  To be fair, he's not the most observant of people, but still--totally worth milking it to see his over-reaction.

I spent the rest of my afternoon finding pictures of Mom to send my brother for the obituary, printing off my boarding pass, packing, and trying to remember all those last-minute people I needed to contact.  I told people about service arrangements, only to have to correct said arrangements when my brother accidentally suffered a time zone fail.  Hardly surprising, given everything going on at the moment.

Now it's 2:30 in the morning, and I have a friend coming in 6 1/2 hours to give me a ride to the airport.  I've finally decompressed enough that I'm ready for bed.  I'm perhaps less ready for the upcoming long three days, but that's how it goes.  Who really enjoys these things, after all?

Meanwhile, I had a friend earlier comment that I was "amazing" because I was still able to laugh during it all.  How can you not, really?  Even at times like these, humor keeps us sane.  Humor is a balm to our spirits and helps us to focus on the happy moments instead of the sad.  Humor doesn't pretend that bad never happens, it merely enjoys the odd or silly moments during the bad that help us to remember that we ourselves are still alive.  Besides, while ironic, I'm sure it can be no coincidence that I wrote and posted my last silly entry just 9 hours before my mother died.  Even from beyond the grave, she's still taking the opportunity to smack me upside the head for being a smart-ass.  Not that I probably didn't have it coming, mind you, but still.  What can I say?  Humor has always been my stalwart support and defense through all things.  And I'm not the only one:

“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” ~Victor Hugo

“The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.” ~Mark Twain

“Laughter is higher than all pain.” ~Elbert Hubbard

"God gives me laughter so that I can rise above pain to remember my mother in joy." ~Ginger LaRue

While this post itself may not be particularly humorous, but I still have humor in my heart and the love and support of many, many friends who have taken the time to check on me and to offer their sympathy.  I am grateful for them and for their concern, I am grateful for humor and laughter, and I am grateful to have had my mother in my life.

Lorraine LaRue, 1932-2012

Rest in peace, Mom.  I love you.  And remember to tell Dad I said hi.

13 April 2012

The "Bury Mommy" Scavenger Hunt

I've never really thought very hard about what I wanted to happen to my remains after I died; I always figured I'd be dead and therefore wouldn't really give a rat's patootie about it one way or the other.  I don't really think about my death at all; I generally prefer to focus on living instead, particularly after having seen three of our four parents pass away in recent years.

But because life is rarely so kind as to let you stick your fingers in your ears and run around the house screaming "Lalalalala," I got a call from my brother Wednesday night about our mom.  Last month my 80-year-old mother , who has Parkinson's with Dementia, was taken from her nursing home to the hospital with suspected pneumonia.  At the time, she was unresponsive and experiencing some renal failure. With a DNR and a "no forced feeding" dictate in her living will and her refusal to eat, the doctor gave her a 50/50 chance of survival.  Miraculously, however, she responded well to the antibiotics and started eating pureed foods until she was well enough to be transferred back to the nursing home.  Unfortunately, however, my brother's call was to tell me that Mom was once again not eating but rather "pocketing" food, which is apparently when patients don't actually swallow but instead sort of store food back in the backs of their cheeks.  This food then gets "aspirated," after sitting around for who knows how long collecting bacteria, and often causes pneumonia or bronchitis.  Mom's caseworker was talking about the possibility of bringing in hospice for her, so my brother called to discuss that with me, after which we had the necessary chat about things like memorials and funerals and her eventual interment in Tennessee next to my father.  If she doesn't bounce back this time and things do indeed go downhill, at least I will know she's happy because she's finally made it back to my father--she hasn't stopped dreaming about him since he died 6 1/2 years ago.

Anyway, the hubs came upstairs to chat with me after overhearing parts of that obviously unpleasant conversation.  And because I am me, this is what happened afterwards:

Hubs:    I thought your mom wanted to be cremated?

Me:       She did at first, but mostly because she was being cheap; also I think she
              was afraid of being buried alive.

Hubs:    Seriously?

Me:       Yeah--well, that and I think she secretly hoped one of us would keep her
              ashes around to moon over on a daily basis.  I told her that if she wanted
              to be cremated that was fine, but that she shouldn't expect me to keep her
              in an urn on my mantel.  So she pouted and decided burial would be okay,
              as long as I promised to double-check that she was dead first.

Hubs:    You know we have plots in that cemetery too, right?

Me:       Yeaaaaaaaaaaah.

Hubs:    What--you don't want to be buried there?

Me:       (gives long, slow burn look over my shoulder at him)

Hubs:    (sniggers)

Me:       Don't get me wrong--I love your family.  But do YOU know anyone who
              would relish the thought of spending eternity with all their in-laws?  Just
              on general principles?  It would be like the family get-together that NEVER
              ENDS.  Drama till you die.  Except you're already dead.

Hubs:    (more sniggering)

Me:       I mean, it's not like I want to spend eternity with my parents, either.
              I can see it now--Mom will follow me around heaven (I'm totally using my 'Get
              Out of Hell Free' card) trying to pick lint off my feathers, telling me my halo
              is crooked, and pointing out that my lyre is out of tune again.

Hubs:    I don't really think that's how it will be.

Me:       Not the point.  You know her.  She'd totally pull junk like that if she thought she
              could get away with it.  Then she'd tell me my robe makes my ass look fat.
              No--forget it.  I don't wanna be buried in some graveyard in the middle of the
              boondocks of Tennessee with all my in-laws.  That's boring.  Even if I'm dead I
              wanna go out and have some fun.

Hubs:    How can you have fun when you're dead?

Me:       Easy.  Screw burial.  I wanna be cremated.  Only instead of sitting in an urn
              somewhere collecting dust indistinguishable from my ashes, I wanna be
              dumped somewhere interesting...somewhere I'd like.  In Europe.  Like at
              Stonehenge.  Or Glastonbury Tor.  Then I can cavort with druids or hook up
              with King Arthur.  Or even Loch Ness.  Me and the monster can go fishing.

Hubs:    That's a little irreverant, you know.

Me:       Hellooooooooo--are you new here??

Hubs:    Well, you do have a point there.

Me:       It will be my last bequest to the girlie.  "Here, go to Europe and sprinkle me
              all over something interesting.  Poor you...forced to go to Europe by your
              mom."  It'll be a win-win for us both!

Hubs:    Hey, we could sprinkle your ashes on Shakespeare's grave!

Me:       No, they'll get too pissy at Westminster.  She could sprinkle me on Shakespeare's
              birthplace or at the Globe Theater.  Heck, the floor's already dirty--no one will
              even notice my ashes on the ground.  Plus I'll get to be walked on by theater-

Hubs:    You won't miss a performance.

Me:       You know, this is getting more attractive all the time.  And why stop there?
              The girlie could sprinkle me all over Europe.  It would be like a "Bury Mom
              Scavenger Hunt."

Hubs:    We could sprinkle you on Mary, Queen of Scot's tomb.

Me:       Yeah!  The girlie can sneak a tablespoon of me onto Mary, Queen of Scot's tomb,
              a pinch at Stonehenge, a smattering at Glastonbury, a dash in Scotland, some
              in Paris, some in Italy, some in Ireland...she can spoon bits of me all over Europe!

Hubs:    Some in Prague.  Or Austria.

Me:       Pffft.  I've already been to those places.  I need to go hang out in places I haven't
              been yet.

Hubs:    Vienna, then.

Me:       I've been there too.  But yeah, Vienna would be cool.  The girlie could even
              pre-package me in little Ziploc baggies and hide me in the suitcase for
              dispersal ALL OVER EUROPE.  She can pick up souvenirs along the way.
              I'll leave a list of instructions, just like in a real scavenger hunt. It might be
              hard to get the ash baggies past TSA, though.  Tell them you're smokers.
              But not pot smokers--unless you go to Europe via Amsterdam, in which
              case they won't give a crap.

Hubs:    Now you sound like my mom and her baggies.

Me:       (makes sour face.)  My baggies are cooler.  My baggies are going out and
              DOING stuff.  Your mom's baggies just sat around in closets collecting dust.

Hubs:    True.

Me:       And tell the girlie to use all my insurance money for the trip.  This way no one
              will have to pay for a funeral and since you already have your own money,
              yeah--the party is on me.

Hubs:    That assumes I don't go first.

Me:       So you we'll plant in the ground.  But the girlie and I will go and party in

Hubs:    Hey, what about me??

Me:       What, you wanna go dump me everywhere?

Hubs:    Well, I was thinking about it...

Me:       Fine.  Just know that dead mommy's insurance money does NOT cover nerdy
              side trips.  No "Oh, Mommy would love to be sprinkled in this car museum" or
              "Oh, Mommy would love to be sprinkled on the cryptography museum..."

Hubs:    (looks sheepish)

Me:       No "Oh, hey...Mommy always wanted to go see the Large Hadron Collider!"

Hubs:    Hey--the girlie would like that...

Me:       True, but this is my death.  See the Hadron Collider on your own time.

Hubs:    Anyplace else?

Me:       Well, I could always stand to see another show in the West End, and I've never
               been to the Sydney Opera House...

Hubs:    You know, the more I think about this, it really does sound like you...

Me:       THIS IS WHAT I'M SAYING.  Now remind me to put Ziploc snack-size
               bags on the grocery list.

Cool.  That's one less thing I have to plan now.  I wonder if Ziploc will ever make bags
with opaque patterns.  My death may be a pain in the ash, but I still wanna look decent.

Prodigal Ginger

I admit it; I abandoned my post(ing).  I have neglected my blog for three months now, during which amazing bloggy things happened, like my receiving two blog awards about which I still need to post, like my 1 year blogiversary and like rolling over past 10,000 pageviews.  I'd even planned a nice post on my blogiversary, which involved significant rumination over what I'd learned in the past 12 months (which wasn't much) about blogging.  Unfortunately, however, as I'm fond of telling the girlie, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."

The grand irony of course is that most of the "life" that occurred in the last calendar year did not actually transpire in the last three months.  Instead, I just let things careen away from me, and once they did, it was hard to reel them back.  This is why I try hard not to break $20s or why I used to try hard not to miss a class in college--once that pristine seal is broken, it's difficult to stop the money flying away or the justifying of why missing another class just won't matter...or why not blogging for three days somehow makes not blogging for three months acceptable.  I'd like to say that I was off somewhere blowing my inheritance in debauchery like the real prodigal son, but I wasn't.  Instead, I started out feeling sorry for myself in January and simply lost the habit.  I blame my daughter.

Last November, as most of you know, I accepted a friend's challenge to blog every day for BlogHer's National Blog Posting Month, something I'm proud to have accomplished.  It wasn't always easy; sometimes I posted random crap at 11:58 pm just to say I hadn't broken the streak.  At the end of November, the hubs asked if I was going to continue through December.  I responded with a very succinct "HELL no!"  Fifteen hours later, I had re-upped for December, with the "brilliant" plan of posting a music video each day.  The videos were fun, but provided such a cop-out that I often didn't get around to writing actual posts.  Still, I made it all the way through November and December successfully and in good shape to continue on through January.  I blogged daily through an appendectomy and recovery, through an infected toe blown up to the size of a hot air balloon, and through minor toe surgery, which amounted to a hangnail-ectomy and massive quantities of antibiotics, and even through the holidays, only to crash and burn when my daughter went back to college after break.

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, which is apparently true given my unexpected continuation of daily blogging into December.  I've decided, however, that if it takes 21 days to form a new habit, it appears to take only 21 hours to obliterate that habit.  Blog through infection?  Sure.  Blog through surgery?  Easy-peasy.  Blog after saying goodbye yet again to your only child?  Sorry, no, I'll be over here in the corner sobbing, thank you very much.  See, what they don't tell you in the hospital or in any of the parenting books is just how very difficult those separations can be.  You just can't be prepared for them, no matter how long you've been looking forward to unloading your snarky and sullen teenager onto someone else before getting arrested for gross bodily harm.  Doesn't matter.  When the moment comes and you suddenly realize that the kid is not heading off to camp or something, you won't see her in a week or two, that this is the first in a long line of goodbyes to come, it hits you like a ton of bricks because you are torn between the love and excitement of seeing your child off on her journey, of seeing who she will be come, and the deep, excruciating grief of knowing she won't be walking in the door again at any second.

Shorter breaks are easier, because you get too busy trying to cram everything that has to be done before they go, so your focus shifts.  But summers and Christmas break are harder because they are home longer and it starts to feel like it did before they left for college.  It starts to feel again like they will always be there.  And then they aren't, and it feels less like a separation than an excision of your soul from your body.  People say it gets easier.  I'm still waiting for the "easier" part, though to be fair it isn't as hard to leave after visiting my girlie as to have her leave from home.

Anyway, I didn't mean to become quite so maudlin in this post.  Let's just say that I spent a few days throwing a wildly successful pity party after which I returned to life as normal, or as "normal" as it gets here in the Land that Time Forgot.  I cooked, I pretended to clean house, I wasted entirely too much time online.  I finally finished my sewing room, which the girlie then ecstatically played in over Spring Break.  After her break, I traveled to New York to go to a big SCA event with her and got to meet a bunch of her local Thescorre peeps.  Other stuff happened, about which I will no doubt retroactively blog later.  While I can't promise that I will still manage to blog daily, I am at least going to try a few times a week.  I've decided that since Easter is traditionally a time of renewal and rebirth, regardless of whether or not one is religious, now is as good a time as any to get my rear in gear, so to  speak, and to work on some of those New Year's Resolutions that also conveniently fell by the wayside along with my blog.  I read not too long ago that a person has two choices in life--you can make excuses or you can make progress.

Today I choose progress.