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Late for School

Josh was late for school today.  This is only the second time this year, so that’s really good for us.  Usually he gets there with as many as one to three minutes to spare.  I hate being late.  And yet, I am often late.  Something always happens.  For one thing, the act of picking up my car keys seems to activate Josh’s colon, so there’s that.  “Why didn’t you go when I asked?”  “I didn’t have to go then!”  “You make me crazy.”  “I can’t when you already are.”  “Hurry up!”  “Start the car, I’ll be right there!”  Once there were cute, happy snails right behind the car and we had to move them.

But it’s usually okay, because I have the Mom Mobile, and I know how to use it.  It’s a 2004 Toyota Sienna.  I’ve put 200,000 miles on it.  If you are ever driving before 8 am and you see a woman in a minivan with hand prints and/or dog prints on the windows and a school sticker on the bumper, and that woman looks as grim and determined as John Wayne in “True Grit,” holding the reins in his teeth and firing a rifle with the other, here’s some advice:  Get out of the way.  Every morning in America, millions of minivans and SUVs rocket toward schools.  Maybe the kid, like Josh, is putting on his socks and shoes in there.  Maybe the mom, like me, is quizzing her kid on geography or spelling, eyes never leaving the road.  When Blair and Andy were in high school, many’s the time I would sign some form that needed a parent (forging Mark’s name if it needed both), or scrawl an excuse for the tardy slip while Blair held the wheel.  My kids have all come up through the ranks as co-pilots.  “Andy, I need my sunglasses.”  Andy whips out the case, holds it at just the perfect height, while I take off my glasses and make the switch.  “Shades deployed,” he will report.  Co-pilots know that when Mommy goes to the ATM, it’s their job to get the card out, be prepared to take the receipt and cash and put them in my wallet, and zip the purse.  When we’re at the drive-through, they have the correct change ready by the time we get to the window.

So, our ride to Mile High Middle School goes something like this:  Shades deployed.  Hold on tight as we go over the major potholes in our driveway (I have an estimate from a paving company ready to sign, but first we need to fix the roof).  Go as fast as reasonably possible on our dirt road, speed up when we hit the street, have our morning prayer for the family said by the time we get to the stop sign, so I can make that big left onto Williamson Valley Road, a four-lane feeder that will get me toward town.  Speed up around the curves where the traffic cops don’t hide, slow down where they have been known to lurk.  Thread the needle between someone in the turn lane and someone in the right lane.  I’m coming up on the elementary school, which has its own crazed moms and road-clogging minivans clogging the left lane.   Left on Iron Springs, where I can usually zip through traffic like Sandra Bullock driving the bus in “Speed.”  There are a lot of oldsters in Prescott, pleasant retirees — around 8 am is middle of the morning for many — heading to the grocery store, not a care in the world, moseying along and enjoying life.  Meanwhile, I’ve escalated to Steve McQueen in “Bullitt” status, my Defcon 3, except I’m not driving through San Francisco, and instead of the zippy jazz soundtrack, I’ve either got classical music, calming smooth jazz, or if it’s really stressful, the spa channel on satellite radio going.  Also, we’re buckled up.

“Josh, check the time.”  Josh, a good co-pilot, knows this does not mean the car’s clock, which I keep 14 minutes fast as a buffer from life, but the accurate one on my phone.   Molly the Lab, taking up the whole back seat, is oblivious.  She’s biding her time waiting for the much slower drive home, when I roll down the window and she gets to stick her head out.  (Stanley, our Cocker Spaniel rescue, doesn’t really like the car and stays at home.  His choice, he’s always welcome to go, and we always ask.)

Next week, major milestone,  I am getting a new car.  Well, new to me.  It’s a 2007 Honda Pilot, with only 75,000 miles on it.  It is very clean.  It does not smell like chicken nuggets, or fries, or spilled soda.  There is no dog hair.  No empty water bottles rattling around.  No hand sanitizer or Starbucks napkins in the glove compartment (fun fact: Starbucks napkins are really soft and great for nose-blowing if there’s no Kleenex).   It has never hauled members of Blair’s varsity girl’s soccer team or Andy’s cross-country team, never had Josh’s smelly hockey bag left there in the hot sun.  That’s okay.  We’ll break it in.   It’s going to be a great Mom Mobile II.

 

This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.

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Survival Mode

I just vacuumed my kitchen table.  Don’t judge me.  I was vacuuming the wooden floor, using the attachment, and I noticed some crumbs on the table.  Then I went ahead and vacuumed the countertops.  They look pretty good.  I’m tired, I’m in a hurry, I have more work to do this morning than I can possibly get done, so I’m doing what I can do.  I haven’t taken my shower yet but I’m wearing workout clothes, which I hope makes it somewhat more acceptable that I look like crap.  I’m in Survival Mode.

Survival Mode is when you just do what you have to do.  You wake up and hit the ground running.  I get up at my customary 6:30, awakened as always by Molly putting her big Lab head by my pillow.  Let out the dogs, feed the dogs, empty the dishwasher, load the dishwasher, give Josh a 30-minute snooze alarm, empty the dryer, load the dryer, load the washer, check on Andy, who is a freshman in college but living at home, to make sure he’s got his alarm set, exchange multiple texts with Blair, our daughter who is at college in Tucson.  7:00, start fixing Josh’s lunch for school, give him one last snooze, fix his breakfast, get Mark’s lunch ready and find a dishwasher-safe travel mug.  I hide the ones you have to hand-wash.

Josh and I were up late last night doing his homework.  He has just started middle school.  I know every grade, because I obsessively check the school’s website.  They had a video on insects in science, and Josh was supposed to take 25 notes.  He took 11, and got an F.  I just realized that he might be able to pull up the grade by fixing the paper and turning it in again.   The problem is, he didn’t remember the video anymore.

“What was on it?”  “Insects.”  I Googled and found numerous possible videos, hoping we could just watch it again, struck out totally.  So I started asking about bugs.  Were there ants?  Yes.  Can you remember anything they said about ants?  Leaf cutter ants can hurt a forest.  Okay, let’s make a sentence about that.  Moths?  No.  Butterflies?  No.  Termites?  Yes, the soldier ones have big heads.  Also, the queen lays thousands of eggs a day.  We couldn’t find out how many, but we found a sentence in a BBC story online that said the queen lays an egg every three seconds.  Somehow we figured out a daily number of eggs that this equals.  Cockroaches?  Yes, they can make your food bad.  So can weevils.  Locusts?  Yes.  Bees?  Check.

Butterflies?  You just asked me that.  I’m sorry, I’m tired.  By now we were at about 8:30, I had gone to the grocery store, taken Mark’s shirts to the cleaners, picked up Josh at school, picked up our farm share and made kohlrabi pickles, sautéed the kohlrabi leaves, candied some carrots, and then balanced all that healthiness out with sloppy Joes and Tater Tots.  Mailed the signed form required for the roof people to fix our chimney cap, which leaked in the big storm we had this week.  Wrote two stories for one of the five publications I’m simultaneously writing for.  Wasps?  No.  There was some bug that lives in the water.  Water strider?  No.  Get back on Google.  Water boatman.  Okay, what do they do?  I can’t remember.  Butterflies?  Yes.  Really?  Yes, the Monarch butterfly has a long tongue.  Thank God!

We finally got to 19 facts.  If the teacher accepts them all, that will be 76 percent, which is better than 44 percent.  Josh has A’s in everything else,  except for this one bad grade, so I hope we can get this resolved and get on with our lives.  Tonight we have choir at church at 6 and hockey across town at 7, so Mark will come and get Josh at choir at 6:30 and take him to hockey, then I will leave choir and spell Mark at hockey until it’s over at 8:30, hoping to God that Josh will already be done with his homework.  Also I signed up to bring a fruit plate to school tomorrow.  I have no fruit.

 

This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.

Fresh-Ground Pepper

“Would you like fresh-ground pepper?”  Why do waiters act like they’re bestowing God’s gift upon you when they ask that question?  “Oh, yes,” I always say with what I hope is the proper amount of appreciativeness.  Gosh, if only I had one of those thingamajigs at home – oh, wait, I do!  I think got it at Wal-Mart.  Then, if they do it for more than two seconds, I feel greedy and also guilty for making the waitstaff grind pepper when I’m perfectly capable of grinding my own pepper.  Also, don’t want to take more than my fair share of the fresh-ground pepper.  It’s the days of the Silk Road and some poor camel carried this, along with cardamom, maybe some ginger and turmeric, through the Indian subcontinent to get it here to this mid-priced restaurant.  Geez.

Also:  there’s salt and pepper already on the table, in plain old shakers.  Why is there pepper?  Does this mean that the pepper in the grinder is the good stuff, and if we don’t avail ourselves of it, our only recourse is to use the crap pepper on the table?  Is anyone else ever reminded of the old skit from Saturday Night Live, where Dana Carvey is the pepper-grinding waiter?  “Grinda-the pepper!”   I wonder if this personal, table-to-table pepper-grinding service phenomenon is universal, or just an American thing?   What if — hold on, here’s a radical idea — what if they put a pepper grinder on every table?  Would there be rampant theft?  “I’m takin’ this baby home!  Hoo-wee, one of them grinders like the genuine French people have!”  Would patrons feel aggrieved, like, “I’m paying six bucks for a glass of wine AND I have to grind my own pepper?”  With great power comes great responsibility.  Maybe we can’t be trusted with it.  We are still a young country.

In honor of pepper grinders and those who wield them, I’ve made a couple haikus.  You may feel moved to write one, also.  Please send it in and I’ll post it.

 

Freshly ground pepper

Not the crap in the shaker

Classes up my food.

 

 

Fresh pepper for you?

Only the best for you, ma’am.

Like our cloth napkins.

 

This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.

 

 

 

 

Wii (head) games

It’s Day 3 since we got Wii Fit.  If you’re not familiar with this phenomenon, there’s this annoying fake-friendly talking animated Wii board that appears on your TV screen, and you check in with him/her/it every day, and you get a “Wii age” based on how well you do.  I think the thing is a guy, I can’t tell.  He is one snarky bastard, let me tell you.  The Wii Fit games themselves are pretty fun.  Josh and I have been playing a lot, and laughing a lot as we stand on the actual Wii board and jump on a virtual trampoline or take off on ski jumps, so that part is worth it.

It’s the daily check-ins and body tests that have messed with my head.  It’s that little Wii dude.

Day One, I did the balance test.  My balance was ever so slightly on my right foot, and the Wii dude said, “It looks like balance games are not your forte.  Do you trip a lot?”  Actually, no, you little turd.  Then, at its recommendation, I played this game where you dodge soccer balls, and I kept getting hit in the head with soccer cleats as I was trying to dodge the balls.   What kind of sick crap is this?

Day Two, I put on the pedometer and ran a mile just to suck up to the Wii, so I could transfer all that data and get cheap praise.  I’m not proud, cheap praise works for me.  No praise, except for some calories burned in my Wii “piggy bank,” which I now realize is a subtle insult, i.e., I’m a piggy!  For my weigh-in, I was holding the Wii handheld device, which I hadn’t done the day before, so that added nearly a pound.  The Wii guy added 7 more years to my arbitrary “Wii age” as punishment.  For my new balance test, I had to anticipate obstacles and lean the other way.  I hit a wall and the game abruptly ended.  Only after the fact did it say that you can’t hit the wall.  Who knew?  I was trying to dodge the bricklike obstacles.  If I’d known about hitting the wall, I wouldn’t have hit it, duh.  More snark from the Wii dude, who talks in a high-pitched voice.  “It’s Japanese,” Mark said. “Humiliation is a big thing over there, I’m just saying.”

Today, Day Three, I got up early and did the body check-in, before food or drink ever crossed my lips.  For the balance test, I overcompensated and put more weight on my left foot.  “Do you trip a lot?”  Argh!  Then when I weighed in, it said that I had lost 2.2 pounds, and I’m well on my way to meeting my goal, which is to lose four pounds.  Just as I was feeling all happy about that, the Wii dude added, “Yesterday, you weighed yourself at 1 p.m.  Most people’s weight fluctuates around 2 pounds a day.  Just thought I’d mention it  You should weigh yourself at the same time every day.”  Argh!  “Just thought I’d mention it!”  Picture the catty stewardess played by David Spade on “Saturday Night Live,” saying, “buh-bye.”  Snarky Wii!  And yet, today my Wii age dropped 27 years, from a ridiculous and offensive 57 down to a more appropriate 30.

Mark said, “That thing owns you.”

“Yeah,” I said.

 

This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.

Annoying everything

Well, it’s Monday.  That’s about the only reason I can find for why annoying people, and even an annoying animal, seem to be coming out of the woodwork today — and it’s still morning!  There’s plenty of time for more of them to show up!  For example:  I went to Starbucks to get coffee for Mark, who was so tired when he left for work that he forgot to take his travel mug.  He needs his coffee.  He’s also allergic to milk, so I ordered a Pike’s Place with soy. “One Pike’s Place with cream, anything else?” said the girl. Yes, I said, it needs to be soy, not cream, and explained why. “And did you want another drink?” No, I said. “Well, when you kept talking, I thought you wanted another drink.” What the heck!  No, I just didn’t want to give my husband something that would make him sick…  To quote Bugs Bunny, “What a maroon!”  When I kept talking — who says stuff like that?

Then, I went to Fry’s, the West Coast version of Kroger.  I had just started to unload my cart, and the guy said, “Fry’s card?”  I was behind my cart, trying to get my groceries up on the conveyor belt as fast as I could, because there were people behind me.  I said, “Yes, just a minute.”  The man folded his hands.  Let’s just pause for a moment to reflect on how supremely annoying this was.  He refused to ring me up until I handed him my card.  He said it was store policy.  I know it’s not, because I shop there all the time, and they usually just start scanning away as soon as the groceries start rolling along toward the cash register.   And yet, there he was, with his hands primly folded in front of him like — I don’t know, a schoolmarm or something.  So I pushed my cart up a few feet, handed him my card, then went back to loading up.  What the heck!  

And then, the icing on the cake,  I pulled into my driveway, and just standing there, basically blocking the entrance, was a coyote.  He looked right at me, brazen as anything.  Such contempt!  Such sass!  If he’d had a middle finger, he would have flipped me off.  I moved my car closer, and he finally moved away and peeled off into the woods, but I’m even getting attitude from wildlife today…  What the heck!

Now, the refrigerator repairman is here.  So far, so good.  He seems to be pretty nice, and the only good thing about having so many failing appliances is that at least I know the guy, because he’s been here for the dishwasher and garbage disposal — both of which, like the refrigerator, turned out to be 13 years old, from when the previous owners rehabbed their kitchen.

Now, I realize that the actions of other people are their problem, not mine.  I know, I know … be the change you wish to see, I can’t change the world but I can change myself, poop happens, deal with it, turn the other cheek, look for the good.  But it’s hard to act like Jesus or Gandhi when I’m feeling more like Ralph Kramden on “The Honeymooners,” muttering, “One of these days, pow!  Right in the kisser!”  Or Moe Howard of “The Three Stooges” … “why, I oughta…”   I guess that’s the point.  It is hard, but I don’t want to sit around muttering all day.  So this is me, officially letting it go and moving on with what I hope will be a better day.
 

This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.

 

I remember sleep

Boy, am I cranky.  Oh, didn’t you sleep well?  No, as a matter of fact, I didn’t sleep at all.

The great physician, Sir William Osler, once said, “The man who is well wears a crown that only the sick can see.”  I have always been struck by that quote, because it just goes to show that whatever you don’t have, you can find somebody who has it and envy the heck out of him or her, because you have just identified the luckiest person in the world.

The man who sleeps in bed next to me looks like freaking royalty.  Every night, my husband rolls onto his right side and instantly it’s lights out for a good five hours, at which point — usually between 4 and 5 in the morning — he rolls over onto his left side and sleeps equally well.  I know this, because I have lost the ability to sleep.  I used to be one of the great sleepers.  Anytime was potentially nap time for me.  I could drop right off and be out like a light for hours — and still get a good night’s sleep that night.  I pitied the people in the Lunesta commercials.  Even now, I know people who can’t sleep without medication, and I have vowed I will never be one of them.  I don’t want to be addicted to anything.

And yet, not sleeping gets real old, real fast.  At 5:15 this morning, I officially thumbed my nose at the night and gave it up, figuring that sleep was not going to be happening for me.  The good news, by the time everybody else got up, I had washed a load of dishes and was on my second load of laundry, so as Bill Murray said in Caddyshack, “I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.”  A big thumbs up there.
What have I done to cause this?  Was it the glass of wine I had last night?  Was it the coffee I had in the afternoon?  Yeah, sure, maybe.  I am so tired — so to speak — of wondering what particular rigid rule of “sleep hygiene” I have broken.   What one single thing I have done or not done that is keeping me from sleeping on this particular night.  Even when I do everything right — none of which I used to need to do, by the way, to be able to sleep — I’m still quite capable of not sleeping.  I can go for a three-hour hike, or run a couple miles on the treadmill, and be unfazed by the fresh air and/or physical activity later.
Melatonin?  I’ve tried it, I had terrible dreams, so I stopped.  But I’ve had terrible dreams without it, so maybe I should revisit it.  Menopause?  Uh, no, thanks for asking.  If it is, I’m being doubly screwed, because I’m still treated to that delight once a month.  Is it hereditary?  Well, if that’s the case, I’m screwed, too.  My dad is a terrible sleeper, has been for as long as I can remember, so that’s great.
As I lay there last night, I remember thinking, “well, this is it, and it’s going to be this way for the rest of my life, and then I’ll die.”  I have positive thoughts like that because I’m a people person.
I even listened to a hypnosis tape last night and it didn’t help.  Au contraire, it revved me up!  Instead of letting go of all my worries, as the hypnotist softly and creepily urged me to do, I started listing them and thinking about them.  My brain was going a mile a minute.  So, I failed that.  I’m going to try it again tonight, though, just in case some subliminal thing is happening and deep down I am learning to retrain my brain.
I don’t want medicine.  I just want what every child and teenager has — the ability to sleep and sleep and sleep.  Is that too much to ask?  Apparently, it is.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GB2yiIoEtXw
This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.
 

I’ll get right to it

I have been meaning to write about procrastination for a while, but I kept putting it off. I’ve been procrastinating for years; one of these days I’m going to have to get some help for this problem. No, really, if it weren’t for the last minute, I wouldn’t get anything done. As Mark Twain said, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” Or, as somebody else said, I like my work. It fascinates me; I can sit and look at it for hours. And drumroll…the best part about procrastination: You’re never bored, because there are all kinds of things that you could be doing!

For years, my writing method has been to think of a bunch of other stuff — doing laundry is a fine example — that’s suddenly very important.  Then I waste copious amounts of time, hours, days, or weeks, doing that, until the torment of not doing the actual work is so great that I just have to do it.  My friend, Scott Price (http://www.gladtobeyourdad.com) recently wrote about this in a newsletter:  “Procrastination is wanting or even having a plan, but not working it.”  It’s amazing, to one interested in words, how often the rear end figures into discussions of procrastination:  I need a good kick in the pants; to poop, figuratively, or get off the pot.  As Eliza Doolittle shouted at Ascot:  “Come on, Dover!  Move yer bloomin’ arse!”  And yet, as countless bathroom graffiti wits have written, “here I sit, broken-hearted… ”  Got work to do, can’t get started.

I blame spiritual attack.  I do.  Laziness — guilty; fear of success or failure — definitely; resentment that I have to do something I don’t want to do — yeah, there’s that, too….  But call it gremlins or the devil — the bad spirits in this world want us not to succeed.  Therefore, in administering myself this butt-kickin’ I think I am moving in the right direction.  Forward, even if it’s just one small, reluctant step at a time.   New goal:  Actual momentum.

P.S.  About the picture of my To Do list:  I don’t know why it’s sideways.  I have spent 20 minutes — wasting time is my destiny — taking that stupid picture and every time I upload it to this website, it goes sideways.  This pretty much sums up how things are going around here.

P.S.S.  The picture seems to be fixed now.

 

This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.