Blog Archive

Monday, December 5, 2011

Santa Strikes Again.

Remember - from last post, she pretty much sneered at me and said that I was lying. Since then she has held fast to this belief, taking every opportunity possible to prove me wrong.
We went to the Santa Sailboat parade thingy on the bayou where Santa arrived by some manner of redneck boat and then drunkenly threw candy canes from the boat to the kids on the dock.

Ease up on the egg nog!

Most of the candy canes went on to the fish in the bayou. I said, "See? Real Santa wouldn't pollute the water with plastic wrappers! Plus there are no reindeer!" She said, "Of course not, Dummy! Reindeer FLY, they don't SWIM." Duh.
Wait til she sees this!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Warming Up to Christmas, Scrinch -Style

I am just warming up to Christmas-Holiday-ish stuff.
It's not that I'm exactly a Scrooge, per se, but I haven't caught up with all the festivities because I like to bathe in my sense of smug, condescending pah-tooey at all the consumerism and what-not. Oh, that's pretty much the complete description of Scroogery, isn't it?
Sorry. Female Grinch was the closest pic I could find to the me-Scrooge reference. Work with me, huh?

I had some identity crisis in my youth. Conflict of beliefs: Christian vs. Non-Christian, and then I was seriously traumatized to wait up all night for Santa and not discover that he was not real, but that he had skipped us. With all the carols claiming he wouldn't bring presents if you were bad, and then waiting up all night for him to appear and him being a no-show, I naturally assumed I had been very, very bad. So on Christmas Eve 1979, my Christmas Spirt meter took a nose dive, and never quite recovered, especially since Hannukah Harry left no gifts, either.
The next morning, there were pajamas. Socks. Underwear. Oranges and walnuts in stockings. No Princess Leia double bun-wig. No Strawberry Shortcake lipgloss. It was all very anticlimactic and the bitter seed was planted. I joined the forces of the Grinch [except I hated him for yanking poor Max around].

Now that I have a Wee One, I decided to break all the rules. I let her plunge into Christmas as far as she wants while I buck The System. Determined that she should not suffer the cruelty of dependence on self esteem from Santa, I told her early on that there wasn't any Santa. That people pretend-believed for fun. 
Her response was that I was completely out of the loop, she had someone on the inside, who had phoned Santa directly. We've argued about this numerous times, I've pleaded with her, even told her that I am Santa. All to no avail.

So my other semi-stick-it-to-da-man Christmas thing is that I buy presents from Thanksgiving through December 17th and put on my Santa hat and give them to her along the way. She's usually right there when I buy them, too. This makes it fun because I am the kind of person who can't WAIT to give presents, plus I hate wrapping! On her end, she gets the cool stuff that the other kids all have to wait for, which makes her kinda zoomin'. Zoomin' in grade school is very important, if you don't remember. I made that expression up just now, but I think it works. [Dec 17th because she always flies out of state for Christmas. That's custody stuff].

Anyhow, here's a review I wrote of one of the toys she just got. If you're thinking of buying the Barbie Secret Password Journal, consider this:

Good luck getting your child back into the diary once she closes it. Despite saying the correct password roughly eleventy jillion times in different voices, at different distances, at different pitches, the snooty British double oh seven voice repeats "Password does not match. Please enter your password." The second time you fail, annoying sirens blast and something to the effect of "New intruder!" narcs on you, even though you're just trying to help a seven year old open her journal full of super secret heart doodles.
Whatever technology they have employed here to protect such secrets as "Bubble gum is my favrit lollipop," rest assured that it is safe. Hackers beware, Barbie is no dumb blonde when it comes to security.
Protectors of liberty and leaders of the western world, Barbie is on to something here. Perhaps a meeting of the minds is in order. A lunch at the Pentagon? Our freedom may very well depend on the superior cyber-steel password technology known to Barbie.
In the meantime, we'll be sitting here, resisting the urge to throw the journal against the wall to break it open and shut up The Voice.
P.S. It wouldn't hurt to take a look at Ken, too.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving - Let The Games Begin!

It’s just not Thanksgiving til you realize that peculiar scent accompanying your turkey plate is…

Well, let me give you the set up first: I was at what would effectively be the “kiddie table”. A coffee table used to conserve space for the buffet-style Thanksgiving. And to be sure, everything was lovely. Traditional fare: buttery potatoes, corn, stuffing [unstuffed, of course because it’s apparently unsafe these days, despite years of stuffing in turkeys which we all survived], pumpkin custard.

The different aromas enjoin in a briney, herbed scent that tempts everyone for hours until dinner is finally ready.

So we kneeled around the coffee table and I noticed just a slightly –different- scent mingling among the steaming plates.  A little off.  But perhaps I was being ungrateful on this holiday of gratefulness and thanks. Was it a secret family recipe?

My nose scanned the air again to detect the origin. It may be said that I have a well tuned palate and detect the pure chocolate created from the bean plucked from an Ecuadorian rainforest compared to the inferior bean adulterated with *gulp* vanillin.

 This scent was a bit sour.  Sour cream in the mashed potatoes? I leaned over to Little Daughter’s plate to discreetly sniff since I don’t eat mashed potatoes.

No. The scent trail stopped. Not from the potatoes.
Was it perhaps...of human origin?

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Good God. We haven't even had the lima beans yet.
No.  It lingered and wasn't -you know- of the inner workings.

A little acidic. Maybe a sweet and sour preparation with delicate rice vinegar?

Absolutely not. There was beginning to be nothing delicate about this…smell.

I panned the table and peered into the kitchen again on the pretense of fixing a drink. Was there a foreign dish that made its way into the celebration? A donation, perhaps?

Curiously, the sour aroma faded as a approached the kitchen instead of getting stronger! The culprit was not there!

We ate. Tentatively. Nothing at the table could be assigned to the scent. But they say that 70% of your sense of taste is through your sense of smell. And it just was making me feel a little ill, to be absolutely honest. Where had I smelled this before?

It followed me. Was *I* perhaps guilty of contributing the offense? Were those around me too polite to say so?!
The horror of that thought made my face hot. I turned my head to disguise what surely was my skin blushing in my own disgust. When I did, sure enough the whiff emanated from my very own butt.
It couldn't be! I'm fully in control of my faculties, and besides, it's understood that in my delicacy, I do not perform certain functions. Ever. Never ever.
My butt was a victim! Framed! In the cruelest of ways, it was a set-up.
I had sat in something foul.

On my last bite of turkey, sitting across from me on the floor at the coffee table, my host’s son crinkled up his nose and said, “Mom, did you clean up all the dog vomit that was right here?”
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He even looks a little queasy, doesn't he?

Mystery solved. But apparently he's not the kind of dog who vomits and then is thoughtful enough to eat it back up again.

Now that the ice was broken so to speak - I felt I could approach the subject freely.

"It's a little vomit-y over here," I said. But I was smiling. Kinda. We're friends, after all, and nurses. However, despite the conception that nurses have heard it all and don't blink at any foul topic, I draw the line at fresh vomit-y stains wafting sour bile two feet from Thanksgiving dinner. And my friend had just gone to all the trouble to prepare this lovely feast, so I naturally couldn't lodge a complaint without offering to clean it up myself.
She directed me to the baby wipes (??) and febreze Hawaiian Breeze.
For future reference? Baby wipes are not effective against vomit-y stains.
So the smell sort of went from ghastly sickening to sour-nursery with a touch of coconut.

And we liked our Thanksgiving and had fun. Maybe not the dog, who is outside trying to poo. No photo for that.
My friend just said she smelled something stinky inside, so it's time to investigate.
There are two other dogs that live here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Packing Some Bird.

At what length will you go to get your pet out into nature? To have him make big potty, get exercise, see the world as it would be for him had he been...a-hem...stray?
We leash and walk. They poop and we scoop. Some even have big handbags in which small dogs who have lost every measure of canine dignity are toted and glitzed with bows in their ears and diamond-ish collars.
We baby-talk them. Examine the food-bags to make sure they are getting the right amount of "crude fat" and "ash" and "protein" per serving, even though we don't have any earthly idea what that means.
In short, we baby these pets.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
I've been know to take a stick and poke at the left behinds of my dog's poo, just to make sure it was of normal consistency and without foreign inhabitants. I can only imagine what it looks like to passers-by to see a hottie [that's me] hunched over a steaming pile o' poo with a stick, concentrating, looking for a sign of irregularity, but I contend that since my dog could not speak, I had to inspect.

Fetching the poop is not necessary. I can get to it myself. Thankyouverymuch.

It's a labor of love.
Anyhow, today I found something extraordinary: a bird being granted the great outdoors by her guardian. Were her wings clipped? No. Was she on a leash? No. Did she fly away? No.
The little green parrot was contained in her own backpack. That right, on the back on a UWF student walking the natrue trail of the Edward Ball nature trail thingy. The back pack was ventilated and the parrot had a little log perch porch in there so she was swinging around in her own private jail cell while she admire the great outdoors and the free birds around her:

Now, I know I didn't get a very good photo, but it's very hard to sneak up on someone while they are backbacking and try to snap their bird.
 Hopefully you can see the backpack and the parrot inside it, who was looking all "WTH am I doing in someone's backpack?"
You know that look people get when they are forced to ride in the back of a pick up truck and get that bitter look? You're the driver behind them and you enter into this unwilling relationship because there you are - eye to eye - just on account of the fact that you are next in line after these unfortunate [probable] teens who sit facing towards you. Just be glad we're not in a second world country or they would be rounding corners at breakneck speed and firing AK-47s into the air shouting [ enter your favourite coup d'etat slogan here]. That's kinda how this parrot looked. Like he wanted a revolution.
If it's possible for a bird to look embarrassed, this one achieved it.

Where's the most interesting place you've taken your pet?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

School Nurse is BACK! Fun With Beeps: The Hearing Test

Yes, it's another Note from the Frontline of Nursing.
You remember those days when you'd be sitting in Math class and Mrs. Peterson had that sullen look on her face because class was being disrupted. It was, and there wasn't a thing she could do about it. One by one children came in and out swapping for the next alphabetical last name to get a ten minute vacation from those agonizing decimal points.
It was time for the school nurse to check your hearing.
Admit it, you got a non-innocent FAIL look on your face and said, "I thought I heard a beep in my right ear that time, but I'm not sure." All in the name of killing a few more moments of Math.
I did it, too.
Until I was the one on the other side of the machine.
Enter the 1963 Hear-o-Matic Deluxe. I'm fairly certain that our department hadn't upgraded the things since Pete Best was still with the Beatles.

The golden days of hearing tests. This is a typewriter. The little boy raises his hand when Nursey gets to the end of a sentence and the typewriter goes "ding!"
I took a cleaning wipe to the machine and wiped the grime of a million kids from it. Eww.

I calibrated the bulky Hear-o-Matic. We measured children at 250 to 5000 Hertz. Not the rental cars, but a highly technical audio thingy that has to do with measuring the conduction of sound wave thingies your hearing thingy. Trust me on this.
The problem was, when I set it at the standard guidelines, the wires to the headphones (can I just remind you that the headphones are eeewwww after they clamp onto a thousand heads?) got kind of worn and wouldn't transmit the beeps at the right pitch (which is the Hertz thingy.)

What's this mean for you, little student?  Well, it means you will fail your hearing test, and I will have to send your mother a letter saying you can't hear shit, and she will freak out and the next day my phone will ring from 800 mothers and a few angry fathers who will demand to know which McNursing School I went to.
And this is how he's going to look again in a month when he gets the next letter that Norbert's BMI is 26 and he's clinically obese. Parents *love* that letter!

We don't want that.
So I called my boss and told her that the machine really wasn't working well and I couldn't hear the beep at 250 and 500 Hertz thingies.
"Easy fix!" she said. "Just turn the volume all the way up!"
Well. OK. But as far as I can tell, that kinda defeats the purpose of standardizing the Hertz and decibal levels for all the children.  
Not that it mattered.
Not at all.

As you well remember, these tests included a little jaunt to somewhere quiet - usually the library. Well, I packed up my Samsonite looking case and trekked off to the library, which was the quietest area, but still not so quiet.
You see, it was a lovely Spring day, and to get some fresh air, windows and doors were propped open.
But I gave it my all.
By the 3rd student I saw the massive failure.
"You know how it works? You raise your hand each time you hear the beep. Right hand for right ear, left for left."
She raised her right hand. I lifted the headphone from her ear.
I said, "But I haven't even sent a signal. You at least have to wait for me to start the test before you start faking it."
Then I heard a beep. She said, "That was the beep. Don't you hear that?" She took the headphones out of my hand and clamped them to her skull again, listening for the beep.
And another, and another.
And she kept raising her damn hand.
A truck was backing up outside, beeping.

Oh, Mr. Trucker, How many children have you helped pass their hearing screenings?

And I packed my things up and went back to the clinic where there were much easier issues to deal with. Like a sudden outbreak of fevers in Mrs. Johnson's English Class That Is Having An Exam.

Monday, November 14, 2011

When Classifieds Go Wrong

Here's a classified ad in our local paper. They left out some important information, so we can only hope that it's not some secret futuristic ad for something a little surreptitious. Our writing group used classified ads as a prompt and here is my story to go with the ad:

SMALL BLK/WHT GIRL MIX SHOTS $75 (850)xxx-xxxx

Lily and George looked at the ads for the seventeenth Sunday in a row, hoping to find the right addition to their second floor stucco apartment.
"Double check the directions, ok George?" Lily asked. They had looked up driving directions to meet breeders before, only to find themselves pointed the wrong way along one-way streets.
Earlier, the search for the perfect match brought anticipation and excitement each time they backed out of the driveway, but as they returned home empty-handed, it was becoming a source of disappointment. Still, they would look.
They never cared to find a pure bred. Lily preferred a light haired female because they weren't as surly as males, and at least if they shed the hair wouldn't be as noticable. Color and gender never mattered much to George, so long as they found the right temperment.
"This is it I guess," said George when they pulled through the gravel driveway, the stones crunching under the tires. "Cross your fingers that she's the one!" They linked pinkies.
The breeders stood in the threshold, welcoming George and Lily.
"There's just one left, but she's got really nice coloring. She's a little smaller than the others, but gentle and sweet," offered the woman, who was white. The man held the girl's hand, smiling.
It was clear to see that the girl's caramel complexion was a perfect blend of the two.
"Take your time," said the man, "Get to know her. It's a big decision."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hello New Friends in Canada!

I just noticed some new readers in Canada, one of my favorite countries. Are there friendlier people?
Welcome to my blog. Thanks for reading, and please let me know where in beautiful Canada you are!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

When is it Time to Disown Your Uncle?

Sometimes it has to be done. Tonight the decision was clear for me. I will never see that uncle again.

I could forgive the annoying trangressions that built up over time, things that seemed to heal with a little distance. But it just never got better. I heard it put something like this: Anyone can get survive a crisis; it’s the tiny, everyday ankle biting that will get you in the end.

So while there was nothing fatal with this uncle, tonight was enough, because he tampered with my food.

In the past, it was irritations like when I went hungry because he locked me out of the kitchen after ten p.m. It was “too late” to eat.

I forgave him when he ran up my credit card over what we agreed on, chalking it up to an innocent mistake.

It made me nervous, but I let it pass when his gang barked at me in whatever code they had, mocking me, I’m sure. They would pretend they couldn’t understand me, and stole my money when I tried to pay for food.

All under Uncle Jiang's direction.

On to tonight: Dinner.
Chicken Chow Mein. Exhibit A:

Uncle Jiang's Chinese Take Out

Chicken Chow Mein does not consist of a few spindly shreds from an anemic chicken (? somewhat suspect) smothered in onions. See the two bright orange threads there? Those are purely for medical reasons. They exist only so that the diner can rest assured that she has not suddenly gone color blind from the lack of real green chow mein vegetables.
On the other hand, Uncle Jiang may have been looking out for my best interests, knowing the wicked ways of men, perhaps he filled the chicken chow mein exclusively with onions to keep single men at a kilometer's distance. Oh Uncle Jiang! Have I completely misread you?

Exhibit B:

Egg Foo Young

Yes, that dark brown ca-ca on the upper left is the egg. Yes, I was so hungry that I hurried and ate some, lest Uncle Jiang chase me out of the kitchen at ten o'clock. Yes, my stomach is doing some Chinese martial art on itself.
See the brown "gravy" stuff? Egg Foo Young traditionally comes with a light brown gravy, thickened with a bit of cornstarch, and the barest hint of black pepper. Good gravy gives American style gravy a run for its money. This? Is sloppy, lazy bottled hoisin sauce poured into a styrofoam cup. You think I don't know, Uncle Jiang? You think you can pull the wool over my eyes and finely tuned palate? I have the taste buds of a thousand generations of picky eaters.

I think we're done here. 

The Second Worst Costume Ever?

OK, so most little girls were princesses and angels. It's not the worst costume, after all.  Paging through the photo album in twenty years shouldn't be too traumatizing.
she originally wanted to be an Orca. After the Free Willy Movie, you know.
I hestitated, picturing what a killer whale costume might look like. But it was Halloween, so what the heck, right?
"Enjoy it while you can," I said, "because I promise - this will be the first and last time in your life you'll ever want people to point you out as a whale."
But there were no Free Willy costumes to be had.
So we went with a penguin.
"Look, it's Happy Feet!" people said, which I guess is a movie. And perhaps this is the last time she'll want to be known for her feet.