He Sat

His back to the brick wall of the convenience store.  It was 8:00 a.m., and already the Texas sun promised more heat than anyone ought to have to endure.

He was impossibly thin, and perhaps younger than he looked.  It was hard to tell.  A life on the streets ages a person inside and out.

His right wrist still bore the unmistakable badge of one who’s recently been in close contact with people in lab coats, carrying charts, mumbling things about “medication” and “disorders”.

I’d seen that badge before, on my own father some five years earlier when he was convinced we were all on a ship bound for Germany to fight the Nazis with swords.

We were in an emergency room at the local veteran’s hospital, and Daddy was talking to the resident psychologist.

I stared at the mans’ wrist as he waved his arms about.  His words, nonsensical to most, floated across the heated air to me.

“..and then he says he’ll be right back..well, he never came back…”

Other commuters, hurrying along to work, to school, to their lives, got out of their cars and some stared at him. Some ignored him, and some walked around him, giving him a wide berth as they did so.

He is homeless, outcast, somehow frightening to them.

I was like them, until Daddy’s descent into Alzheimer’s taught me that minds are trapped in myriad ways for those who seem to live out of phase with the rest of the world, and we cannot know the why just by looking.

I smiled, not at him, but for him.  He grinned, toothless, in return.  His bright blue eyes so reminiscent of my Daddy’s.  I felt the tears and hurried along inside the store.

When I came back out, he was still there.  He was still carrying on a conversation with the invisible denizens of his little world.

As I passed, he called out to me..”Miss? Oh miss?”

I stopped, inadvertently stiffening for the moment, and turned to face him.

“You have yourself a blessed day now, you hear?” He said, as lucid in that moment as he was uncomprehending in the next when I said, “Thank you, sir, and you as well.” and he looked at me as if seeing me for the first time.

I got back to my car, and slid inside the cool air-conditioned space.

The tears flowed, hot and freely, down my cheeks again.

I miss you, Daddy.

This Isn’t A Real Post

It’s a post about why there isn’t a post.

Remember how I said I was working on a long and whiny post about my mother?

I did write that post.  It took days, and days, for me to write.  And, that’s not like me. I usually write a post in a matter of minutes and then share it with my devoted reader without even proofing it.

Not this post, though, this one was epic, for the ages, with things everyone can relate to.

Well, everyone with a dysfunctional parent anyway.

I wrote it, I read it, I laughed, I cried.

And, then, I deleted it.

It’s supposed to be cathartic to write stuff, like long letters, to and about people who’ve hurt you.  You’re never supposed to send (or publish) those letters, and still you’re supposed to feel better. Unburduned.  Like a beautiful butterfly, emerging from the cocoon of anger and hurt.  Like an addict, finally free of….well, you get the picture.

Except that didn’t happen.  I mean, the only thing I felt good about was not publishing a diatribe against someone who will never change, cannot understand her flaws, and ultimately someone who despite it all loves me unconditionally.

So, maybe the catharsis part will hit later.  Like the delayed reaction you get when you down the third shot of tequila (not that I’d know what that’s like, people).

A Cautionary Tail

Finally I am back in my office.  It’s a long story, but my office was without power for weeks.  Technically, it still is, but we’ve made a deal with Satan and he’s got us plugged right into the bowels of Hell and we’ve got electricity now.  And, trust me, you get used to the smell.

My crazy dog, whom I shall hereafter refer to as Darling Diva provided I can remember it, has this habit of absolutely, positively, without question, needing to pee at 2:00 a.m.  That’s an “a” people…as in in the middle of the freakin’ night. Every. Single. Night.

I don’t care if she peed at 1:59:59 a.m., at 2:00 a.m. she must go out to pee.

She also engages in strange behaviors while she’s out there.  These are things she doesn’t do at any other time.

I call it the “middle-of-the-fecking-night-crazies”.

Of course, hubby pretends to be asleep every night..conveniently..so I wind up taking her outside.

One night she bolted from the door to far end of the yard, ran around under some bushes, bolted halfway back across the yard, stopped to pee, and then ran full-tilt right back into the house.  Another time, she ran under the bushes and proceeded to twerk on the branches for a few seconds before peeing on them.

Recently, I opened the door to let her out and was hit with the unmistakable odor of  Eau de LePew, as in Pepe LePew.  If you have to ask who that is…you need to get yourself to YouTube immediately and watch some real cartoon characters.

Anyway, she hesitated to go out and I hesitated to let her.  We cautiously tiptoed out on the porch, looking around…did you know skunks are nearly blind, and if startled they will spray the startler without even asking who it is first.  This seems like a design flaw, to me. The worst smelling creature on the planet is virtually blind, and its only defense when surprised or threatened (and seriously, if its blind isn’t everything non-skunk a threat?) is to release a cloud of noxious gas so potent it’s used in chemical warfare? (No shit, I’m not making that up).

We didn’t see Monsieur LePew, but I didn’t let her dawdle either.  I told her to go pee and then we skedaddled back inside.

The next night, at you guessed it – 2:00 AM, Diva wanted out again.  I opened the door, and didn’t smell anything.  But, she bolted out to the porch, to the tree next to it and next thing I know,  she’s prancing around the yard with a ball of fur in her mouth.

She was quite pleased with herself, and I was praying she hadn’t just snatched Pepe up as a prize she was going to shake to death then eat.

Hey, people…she’s a dog, it’s what they do.

I didn’t know what to do.  On the one hand, if it was a skunk I just couldn’t see any possible scenario not involving hazmat suits, respirators, and quarantine..for both the dog and me.

On the other hand, if it wasn’t a skunk, then whatever she was about to chow down on would undoubtedly leave such a mess on her face, paws, and elsewhere that it would look like I’d stumbled into Zombieland. And, she’d be bringing that shit back into the house.

I don’t want these kinds of conundrums at 2:00 AM.

I briefly considered waking hubby, but in the time it  would take  him to get up and get outside one of these scenarios would be over and then I’d have a stinky/messy dog and a pissy spouse.

I sighed and decided I at least had to see what it was Diva was now standing a few feet in front of me, proudly showing off, still clenched lightly in her jaw.

Grumbling, I slowly inched over to her and quietly gave her the command to “drop it”. Now, that command works like a charm when it’s a ball, toy, my glasses, shoes, etc. I didn’t expect it to work when what I said was “drop it” and what she undoubtedly heard was “no, you cannot have your tasty morsel, and in fact, I want it so let go”.

But, she did as I asked.  And that’s when I saw the fluffy bunny tail.

I have never, in my whole life, been so happy to see the cottony puff of a little bunny’s tail.

The bunny lay there in the grass on its side and not moving.  Diva looked at me, crestfallen, then down at her prize.

I made her come to me, but she did so reluctantly, not once taking her eyes off “her” bunny.

We went inside, and I hoped Thumper was just stunned  and wouldn’t be lying there dead at sunrise (thankfully, he was gone).  Being a dog, Diva promptly forgot all about her late-night-almost-snack, and curled up to go back to sleep.

#ThingsWeTakeForGranted

Okay, I’m a nerd.

I’m a space nerd.

From the moment I laid eyes on Capt. Kirk, I’ve been hooked.

So, when  a friend sent me this video I squeed with delight, and then I realized what I was watching.

Outer space? No big deal.

And isn’t that wonderful?

Then, This Happened….

I’m working on a long, whiny, right-now-incomprehensible, post on my stepfather’s recent illness and death, and my mother’s insanity.

But, while I’m doing that I just wanted to take a moment and mention something awesome that happened at Pensacola Beach last week.

I was standing in barely-ankle deep water when one of these came swimming up to me…

shark

………only it was much smaller..I’d say 2-3 ft..a juvenile lemon shark.

Swimming in front of the shark, at a much faster and more frantic pace, was a smaller fish so I knew right away that the shark wasn’t interested in my toes.

At least I hoped he wasn’t.

I watched him swim right towards me, then move off to my left at the last second, missing his target as my wiggling toes distracted him.

Hubby came over by me and Bruce (that’s his name, now and really I think it’s fitting we’re on a first-name basis as he and I are practically BFFs even if I did interrupt his lunch) again swam towards me, this time he wasn’t chasing anything and as he broke off at the last moment we made eye contact.

It was weird, scary, fascinating, and I loved it.  Later, I realized that if he’d bitten me not only would Bruce be off the Christmas card list forever, but it would’ve hurt.  A. Lot.

But, he didn’t and we shared a moment and now I’m pretty much an expert on juvenile lemon sharks so ask me anything.

Just don’t ask me to go swimming at night off Pensacola Beach.  I think Bruce may hold a grudge.

I Need Bats

Every mosquito in the state of Texas has bitten me, at one time or another.  I’m certain of it.

Every. Single. One.

Bastards.

I cannot go outside, for even one second, during mosquito season (Jan-Dec here in these parts) without getting eaten up.

So, I have a Ritual of Preparation for doing things like taking the dog out or, you know, getting the paper.

The night/day before I eat garlic.  I don’t know why, but I think someone, somewhere one time (at band camp, probably) told me it was good for keeping mosquitos away.

Or was that vampires?

I get those two confused.  I mean, after all, they’re both blood-sucking fiends and never sparkle in the sunlight.  It’s an easy thing to mix up.

After I’m garlic-infused I then cover myself with this wonderful product called “Bite Free”.  It’s a citronella cream that smells like..well, citronella…going on and then in about 15 minutes’ time the scent goes away.  Every part of my body, not covered by clothing, gets the cream.

I’m not done yet.

THEN I spray “Deep Woods OFF” on my clothes, shoes, and as a second layer of protection I spritz some on the exposed skin.

THEN I clip on one of those battery-operated “OFF” thingys…can’t remember what they are called…that’s supposed to create a “mosquito-free zone” around me and anyone within a five foot radius.

After all this, I’m ready to go outside and be….alone.  NO ONE wants to get too close when you’re doused in “OFF”.  I don’t care what scent they add, or want to call it, you still smell like you bathed with a badger in kerosene.

So I sit a little ways removed and enjoy the outdoors…until I start to itch.

There, and there, and there..and dammit…there again!

Going inside I invariably find a cluster of mosquito bites, usually about the size of a quarter, on the ONE SPOT on my body I may, or may not, have missed in the creaming/spraying/zoning ritual.

I currently have just such a spot on the bottom of my left foot.

The bottom. Of. My. Foot.

I have no idea how that happened since I wear shoes outside…and if I wear sandals, the bottoms of my feet get the Ritual.

The only time I’ve not been bothered by mosquitos was when we visited Bull Shoals Lake in northern Arkansas.

When I first noticed, I asked if we could buy the lake and just live there forever.

Hubby thought that might be extreme, but clearly he doesn’t have to deal with what I deal with.

Then I asked a local where all the mosquitos were.

He told me it was because they have bats, lots and lots of bats, living around the lake.

Bats eat mosquitos.

Bats are my new favorite animal ever.

They gave us Batman (hubba, hubba) and dammit they are cute.

I told hubby we needed to get bats and turn them loose in the yard.  He says that won’t work because there are no caves in our backyard.

I told him I thought the bat cave was a made-up thing from television, but he insists it’s not and bats need caves to roost and since I can’t just make a bat cave (because I’m not a millionaire) I’ll have to give up on my dream of a mosquito-free life.

He sure knows how to crush a girl’s dreams.

As The Stomach Turns…

Previously on awesomesauciness….

My devoted reader was subjected to my whining over my mother’s verbal abuse.  Yay for mother-fecking-hood, amiright?

That’s where our story resumes…

The next day Mom called and after trying to claim she didn’t remember even talking to me the night before, and me calling shenanigans on her, she apologized.

So, we’re good there. For now.

My stepfather is now home from the hospital and on hospice care for dementia and congestive heart failure.  I tried to warn my mother that it would be near-impossible for her (no spring chicken herself) to attend to his physical needs at home and much as I detest nursing homes, well sometimes that’s what you have to do.

Less than 24 hours after he got home, Mom called 9-1-1 again.  This time it was because Dad had gotten out of bed in the middle of the night and proceeded to wander about the house before curling up on the floor in the fetal position refusing to move. Mom got the paramedics to get him up and into bed.

One day home, one night with little sleep for Mom.

Guess who she called the next evening?  Me.  To tell me how “hard this is”, and how “tiring it all is” even though she refuses to allow nurses or attendants at the house in the evening.

Guess why.  No, just guess.

Okay, you’ll never guess because you don’t know her.

But I do.

She starts hittin’ the bottle about 4:00 p.m., and no nurse, aide, or attendant will stand for that kind of behavior.

I just don’t have anything to offer her at this point.  He’s dying, but in the meantime he’s living and he needs way more care than she can provide.

And, my give-a-damn, while not busted, is seriously bent.

Well, That Was Interesting

No, no it wasn’t.

You know how sometimes you accidentally pause while channel-surfing on one of those “reality” shoes, based in the Deep South, where everyone is mad at everyone and the women get into shouting/shoving matches and they’re so angry you can’t make out the words even though you’re pretty sure “bitch” is used a lot?

Take that, and imagine it in your ear.

And imagine the person in your ear is your mother.

Further imagine this is a one-sided argument, and you spend most of your time trying to figure out what she’s talking about.

Add in the fact that your stepfather is currently in a locked psych unit, the real reason for your mother’s tirade is her fears and frustrations at what might happen to her husband of nearly fifty years.

And then remember that the screaming in your ear is still going on and you’re a fully-fecking-grown woman and dammit you will NOT be treated this way.

Then imagine the tirade abruptly ends before you get a chance to tell your mother that as she slams the phone down in your ear.

I didn’t get much sleep last night.

You Say Child, I See Science Experiment

I have an…shall we say ‘acquaintance’…who is a professional engineer.  His wife is a tutor and teacher.  They have one child, a son, on whom they can focus all of their energies.

Poor kid.

Since birth, I’ve gotten regular updates on the child (prodigy) with emphasis on milestones and achievements.

At 2, he was reading.  At 4, complex math. At 7, fluent in one foreign language and starting when he was 8 another language was added.

Every minute of this kid’s day is packed with precisely measured doses of education.

I honestly haven’t heard of a single incident involving bugs, mud, skinned knees, puppies, or a busted lip.

Recently, he was expected to be accepted into an accelerated program at one of the local magnet schools.  In order to properly prepare him, his parents altered his sleeping and eating schedule to “obtain optimum cognitive abilities” on testing day.

I’m worried about this kid.  I foresee a future with him snapping, and by ‘snapping’ I mean he’ll wear mis-matched argyle socks and his mother will faint.

I’ve met him several times, over the years, and he is poised, personable, handsome, and at 8 yrs. old he creeps me out.

He’s a Stepford child, I’m convinced.

Also, this cannot be common.  I refuse to believe this happens a lot to children who really should be spending at least some time every day getting dirty.

I’m really, reaaaaaaaaaaallly curious to see how puberty affects this child and wonder if he’ll just rebel and maybe ditch the khakis for some ripped jeans and a pair of Vans.

I don’t think his parents could survive that kind of shock to their systems, but me…I’ll be doing my inner “hells yeah” dance the day he does.

The Door is Squeaking

On Friday the weather here was…perfection…awesomesauce…amazing.

It was low-70’s, low humidity, light breezes and beautiful sunshine.

It was like someone ordered the perfect day from Amazon, and chose same-day delivery.

That Amazon can bring it.

Naturally, I had all the windows in the house open.  It smelled wonderful.

Hubby was relaxing, I was puttering about the house – I’m such a domestic, I actually like cleaning and laundry and stuff…I know, I’m weird.

“What’s that noise?” I heard hubby ask.

Above the din of birds (I swear there’s an Audubon ad somewhere that says, “Go to the Awesomesauciness House” and every bird within a hundred miles has read it.) and the gurgle of the fountain I couldn’t hear anything I didn’t recognize.

“What noise?” I asked.

There was a silence, and I walked into the den.  Hubby sat with head slightly cocked, listening.

‘SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAKK…AKK…AKK’

“THAT noise”, he said.

“That noise?” I asked, “that’s a bird.”

“Is it?”

“I think so.”

“I think it’s a squeaky door.”

And that’s why we spent the next few minutes test-open/closing the doors in the house, only to find out it was….a bird.

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