Friday, June 19, 2009

Where, oh Where, has my Little Girl Gone?

Watching my little girl change every day since the day she was born has been beautiful, exciting, and challenging. She has been changing in what seems a blink of the eye and continues to change right before my eyes, and all for the better. She is turning into a brighter and better version of her younger self. It is happening and has happened that quick.

It seems it was only yesterday that my daughter loved everything pink and princessey. Then she loved everything blue and Barbie. That transition seemed a natural progression and wasn't so rough, or at least I didn't think so at the time when, three years ago, we gave her permission to pick the paint color she wanted for her room - a bright turquoise blue. It went well with the Barbie theme that we bought in the form of curtains, wall border, and bedding.

The next thing you know, she started giving some of her toys away to other, littler girls who would appreciate them. She's always been generous like that, and it was okay with us - change is normal. The next to follow were the curtains - bye, bye pink flowers - and the wallpaper border and decals were decidedly too princessey and too Barbiey. Soon her room was sporting just the bright blue walls and white trims adorned with blue sparkly curtains. It all had seemed harmless at the time.

She, like so many other young girls, was into the Camp Rock craze, and that's when she first found out about the Jonas Brothers. We bought her a cool and pricey comforter set. No problem, it went with the blue. Then over the months, she began boxing her "little girl" toys and things up "to sell in the garage sale." Again, I said, "No problem, she's simply growing out of them." And it was a good way for her to declutter, organize, and make a little pocket change.

And also during that time, she had been into the High School Musical craze. I remember when she just had to have a cool embroidered hat, the one she had to wear all the time and could barely get off her head. The day I took her and one of her best friends to see the third movie, she gave that same hat away. And while I should have known what was coming with her waning interest, I didn't, and continued to think of her in the same way - my little girl.

Because somewhere floating in my mind and lurking like shadows were the memories of the girl who loved Blue's Clues, My Little Ponies, and the Disney Princesses; the girl who loved to wear pigtails, pink dresses, and high-heeled shoes.

Something was happening that I couldn't see, or perhaps didn't want to see. Right before my eyes and without me noting it, the little girl had begun growing up.

Then she started begging to check for the latest issue of Tiger Beat every time we went to the grocery store. Soon her once bare bedroom walls were becoming papered with posters of the adorable-moody pouts of the Jonas Brothers - Nick Jonas in particular. Now multiple sets of eyes are watching me whenever I enter her room.

As her fifth-grade year progressed, wound down, and ticked away, she became the owner of an iPod and several CDs that she plays loudly on her CD player/radio, she watches music videos online and follows Fred, and she has her own website with her friends.

This summer she's busy, busy with classes and camps. For the first time, she's going to overnight camp just like the big girls and will be doing something she loves - riding horses.

As for me and my feelings about my little girl growing up... I can't say I mind. I think I've accepted it because there is nothing else I can do. I will admit that her growing up has felt as though it has snuck up on me even though in reality it hasn't. I think I have known what has been coming all along...or at least I think I have.

Monday, May 11, 2009

For My Mom

On Saturday, my daughter and I went to the Mother/Daughter Tea at my Mom's church. Parishioners were asked to submit memories of their mothers. My Mom wrote one and it was included in the program for the tea. I told her that because it was so good and her writing was so good that she should start up a blog and post it. Since my Mom doesn't have a blog and isn't thinking of starting one up, I decided that I would post it on mine and, of course, give her all the credit. So here's to you, Mom, and to your wonderful memory of your mother!

A Few Ruffled Feathers
by Yvonne Walsh

Back in the 40's, when we had moved from the city to the farm, my mother, who was just a tiny bit of a woman, always kept a flock of chickens, mostly for fresh eggs, but any pikers in the egg laying production were most likely to wind up in the pot for Sunday dinner. Her chickens "free ranged," that is they were allowed to run completely free all over the farm, so it was easy for a predator, either a fox or hawk or raccoon, to eye them up for the menu of the day, always on the lookout to waylay an unsuspecting hen before she made it safely to the coop or the pot, whichever came first.

One day, when Mom stood at the kitchen sink doing dishes, she glanced out the window and saw what she presumed to be a large hawk in the process of air lifting a plump hen. The hen was squawking her head off and running around the yard as fast as her two legs could carry her, with the hawk swooping down in hot pursuit. It had just latched its talons onto the hen when a small tornado wielding a broom burst out of the back door of the house.


"Let go of that chicken, you buzzard!"


The startled white feathered creature flew up into the air with the hapless hen still in its clutches and came right at mom, its wing span all of six feet wide. This definitely was not a hawk! But was mom daunted -- ! No, she drew back with the broom and got in a few more lobs, for all like a Wimbledon champ, and the would be chicken snatcher decided to cease and desist. He knew when he was on the losing end of the stick. He dropped his would be lunch and reeled across the field to a fence post where he lighted and sat for several hours, trying to get his aching cranium and addled thoughts in order. Perhaps the greatest injury was to his pride.

The poor dazed and bedraggled hen was restored safely to the coop but a defiant mom still stood guard with her trusty broom in hand, just in case of a counter attack. It wasn't until she went back into the house and her adrenalin had returned to normal that she thought about the size of the feathered predator and of the harm that he could have done to her with its huge claws. And, being our mom, later on she made a trip to the library -- this was WAY before computers! -- and found out that what she had assumed to be a hawk was actually and Alaskan Snowy White Owl that definitely decided that it was not advisable when traveling to stop off in Michigan at a bed-and-breakfast, especially when it was managed by a feisty little lady with her trusty broom in hand.

For some reason we never saw Mr. Owl again.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Case of the Missing Buttons

About a month and a half ago, I was helping Hubby pack for a trip to a warmer weathered clime and as we took out the appropriate clothing, we inadvertently began cleaning his side of the bedroom closet.

I would have to say that I can't remember the last time his side of the closet was cleaned, or my side for that matter, because if I'm the Princess of Procrastination and the Queen of Clutter then he's the King of Kan't Throw Anything Away Because His Highness Might Need it His Next Reign. We are a pair.

But as there is so much stuff in the closet, we barely made a dent in the mess as it was as we went along, tossing through the clothes, separating the short sleeved from the long and summer from winter.

In our excitement, and going off on a tangent, Hubby began looking at his sport coats as well, trying them on and asking my opinion on their conditions. One sport coat in particular was a tan corduroy coat that he's had for several years and also one of his most favorite, but, being a bit worse for wear, he was finally convinced that it had seen better days and that it was time for it to go into the rag bag along with several other items.

He handed things to me - old shoes, a stained shirt, broken shoelaces - and I plunked them into the trash with determined finality. (I had impressed myself for my strength of will.) Distracted, I wasn't paying much attention to what he was doing, just took things as he handed them to me for disposal. I seem to remember he also offered me a handful of leather buttons.

"What are these for?" I asked, puzzled.

"I was thinking that we could save these," he said, "as they might come in handy later."

Disgusted, I replied, "Oh, what do I need a bunch of buttons for? I have loads of buttons downstairs and I've never used one of them!"

That said, the buttons went into the trash. I gathered up the discarded items and took them downstairs to add to the garbage.

When he had returned from his trip, Hubby was grumbling at me because he had set aside a couple of coats from his closet for dry cleaning and I hadn't found the time to take them to the cleaners while he was away. That week I got them dropped off and had him pick them up on his way back from work on Friday night.

The following Monday, he had been running late in the morning and so I had left before he did to take the kiddies to school. When he came home that evening, I noticed that he had on one of the sport coats I had had dry cleaned.

"Wow, that coat looks pretty good," I commented.

"Yeah, it does," he said, "but do you notice anything unusual about it?"

"No," I replied, checking from top to bottom, "I think it looks nice." And it did look good, and here we were going to throw it away. It's amazing what a little soap and water can do.

"I had to run out for a meeting today but had forgot my coat," he said. "Being cold, I tried to button my jacket but couldn't because there were no buttons on it."

"What?" I exclaimed, and, sure enough, there was not one button on the front of the sport coat, and not even one on the sleeves.

"I had to go to the meeting like this, but I made do," he said. "I don't think anyone noticed."

My mind reeled. I couldn't fathom where the buttons had gone.

"What kind of maniacal dry cleaner would remove all the buttons from a coat and not put them back on!"

I continued my rant and rave, but that wasn't all I did. I retrieved the phone book, looked up the cleaner's number and gave them a call. A distracted sounding young man answered.

"Speedy Cleaners, Chet speaking, can you hold for a moment?"

"No!" I snapped. "I will not hold. Now listen here," I fumed, "I brought in my husband's coat for cleaning and now all the buttons are missing. What kind of a cleaners are you taking all the buttons off a coat?!"

"Uh..." There was a long pause.

"Well? What are you going to do about it?" I was really steamed and could feel my red hair glowing redder.

"Um, bring in the coat, ma'am, and some buttons and we'll sew them on for free."

"Buttons!" I really couldn't believe the audacity of this guy. "The coat had buttons and you were the ones who took them off. I'm not going to buy anything!"

"Uh..." Chet was at a loss for words. He didn't know what to say except for, "Just bring in the coat, ma'am, and we'll try to take care of it for you."

I snapped out a hostile, "Thanks," and ended the call. Who could believe those people?

"You need to take the coat in," I informed Hubby. "If you go right now you can drop the coat off before they close."

Now my Hubby was repeating what poor Chet had been, "Uh...Um..."

"Well, what's the matter?" I said. "Get going!"

"I'm too embarrassed," he said. "Why don't you take the coat?"

At this point, I too began to feel embarrassed as I hadn't been very nice on the phone.

"Oh, alright," I relented, "I'll take it tomorrow."

Well "tomorrow" came and went and the next business day and the next one. All that time, I couldn't forget about the coat and tried to piece together what could have happened. As I examined the coat more closely I noted that all of the button threads had been cut. And then the horrible truth came crashing down as I remembered back to the closet cleaning day and Hubby offering me a handful of leather buttons which had ended up being tossed into the trash.

To this day I still haven't gone back to Speedy Cleaners, and, though I have tried in vain, I still have not been able to find any look alike leather buttons at the store. Hubby still has the sport coat, too. Though no longer useful, the favorite is hanging there in the time capsule of a closet that will doubtfully get cleaned again for fear of what could happen...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Beware What You Load Into the Dishwasher

Hindsight is 20/20 - people wouldn't use this expression if it wasn't true, and I find that the more years I have behind me the more I use it. If the reader can remember, back in one of my older posts I mentioned that we had our house on the market and that, in preparation for an open house, we had stuffed all the painting tools, etc., into the dishwasher while we were frantically getting ready and for lack of another, smarter place to put them.

We had bought the dishwasher used, last year. It did work about three times, if that many, and then stopped. It ran, but didn't wash properly, leaving all the dishes wet and dirty. We were planning on having it serviced or replaced if we sold the house, but since our contract had expired before any sale was made and for lack of extra funds, we just left it and I continued washing dishes by hand. In the meantime, I forgot all about the tools and paint inside.

Last month, as I launched into another tirade about the defunct dishwasher, showing hubby my dishpan hands, he opened up the machine to find all the painting junk right where we had shoved it. He started taking all the junk out, grumbling that it was high time to put it where it belongs when, what to our wondering eyes did appear? Not a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer, but something much worse...

The back story to this critical part of my post is this: In preparation for listing the house for sale, our Realtors asked us to spruce up the front porch and door. Back in 1998, when we had painted our house, we had also freshened up the front door with a rich cranberry red paint. I still had this old gallon of paint stored in the basement, so when I needed to touch up the door in 2008 (This is so ridiculous I can barely type the words...) I went to the basement and retrieved the old gallon. Of course, ten years later, the lid had rusted closed to the can! Using a screw driver and loads of stubborn determination, I managed to open the can - ripped it open, actually - and, for lack of another container, had used an empty plastic ice cream pail as it had a handle and a lid. Marvelling at my own cleverness, I carefully emptied the contents from the rusted can into the new, clean bucket and touched up the door. some point, when the painting tools and stuff got crammed into the dishwasher, the bottom of the plastic ice cream container became punctured by one of the tines of the rack and, you guessed it, the paint had oozed out and into the machine. As we had no clue when this may have happened, the paint had now dried into a rock hard, latex puddle around the base of the drain and washer arms! (Grrrr! Stupid, that's my middle name!)

That was a bummer of a discovery for us. We knew it was all our fault and that we couldn't do anything about it. There would be no way to save this machine and we'd have no other option but to purchase a new one. Once again, we put all the painting tools back where they had been and shut the door.

A few weeks later (yes, there's more), it was a Sunday afternoon and we decided to go to an open house and then to a store. We were gone about two hours and upon opening the back door we found the kitchen filled with a strangely perfumed steam. Somebody had turned on the dishwasher! Well that "somebody" had apparently been our daughter. She had pushed one of the buttons on the front of the machine before we had left, turning it on. The dishwasher had began filling with water in the bottom and the element had began heating up and was therefore "cooking" the latex paint. We got the machine turned off, took out the junk once and for all, and aired out the kitchen accordingly.

Sometimes I think if this hadn't been such a stupid situation to begin with that I might laugh, but, to this day, all I want to do is kick myself in the pants. Like I said, hindsight is 20/20, but in my case I think it's 10/10.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Freelance Contributor, Extraordinaire

I can now add Freelance Contributor to my curricula vitae, albeit short lived!

Yes, it's true. I received a call from an acquaintance who is working as the editor for a small weekly paper about needing a Freelance Contributor to cover two local school districts. This happened about three months ago and I have published four articles since.

The nicer thing about writing for newspaper versus magazine is that the editor doesn't change as much, just edits for style and content. Now I have more "real" clips to add to my credits and more entries for my writer's resume. May it never end!

I'm still looking and hoping to find a part- or full-time steady paying writer's job, but, in the meantime, I'm going to continue working as a freelance writer and am that much closer to becoming the Real Writer I've longed to be.

Mom's Sordid Past

Living with growing kids has its challenges - seems like they're always hungry, fighting, or wanting every minute of every day, and just when I think this is a new phase they're bound to grow out of, it stays put until I'm near crazy. And as they have been growing up, they don't act or say those cute things like they used to when they were small. It's tough, but I can accept it, even though I think about how things used to be not so long ago.

What they're doing is asking questions about when I was their age. I answer to the best my memory will allow. It still amazes my daughter that when Mommy was a child there were no cable or satellite dishes, no videos or DVDs, no Internet or MP3s, and, especially, no cell phones.

"What did you do for fun?" she asked while we were eating dinner, "play with your pet rock?"

"Well, yes," I replied. "There used to be Pet Rocks for sale when I was a kid, but we were so poor," I said, using The Old Prospector voice, "I jes had ter go outside and catch me a wild one to play wit."

(Yes, I'm that funny.)

"Yeah, sure, Mom," she said. "Do you think I was born yesterday?"

"Kind of," I replied. She didn't appreciate that comment and went back to her plate.

Actually my sister BB and I did have pet rocks. We went outside, found some rocks, and named them. Voila! Pet Rocks. We even made beds for them to sleep in and had lots of adventures, but that is the subject of another posting.

My son wasn't as preoccupied with what I had to play with, instead he jumped right into my immediate past and began questioning me like an experienced interrogationist.

"So," he said slowly, sizing me up out of the corner of his eye, "just how many times have you been in jail exactly?"

"What!" I exclaimed. I couldn't decide if I should ground him for a week or laugh. I chose to laugh because if you don't find a way to laugh, you're gonna cry, and who wants to go through life crying? "Why would you ask me a question like that?" I asked.

"I just wanted to know, that's all."

"For your information, mister," I said, "I have never been in jail!" Jeez, what kind of mother does he think he has anyway? "Eat your dinner!" I grumped.

Meanwhile, daughter was choking on her meatloaf and not because I'm a bad chef. Her face started turning red until she couldn't help it and laughed outright. I tried to resist, but couldn't help myself either. Pretty soon we were all laughing, especially when my daughter began ad-libbing.

"Yeah!" she exclaimed, "Mom went to jail for ten years for stealing grapefruits from the store! No! It was a stick of gum! Yeah! And when she tried to get away she peed her pants and fell down in the mud and the police chased her and she fell down again and then...then she ran into the street and got hit by a garbage truck and died!"

Brother's milk went shooting out of his nose. Sister nearly fell out of her chair. Mom was getting perturbed at all the tomfoolery. The dinner table was breaking into complete and utter comic chaos.

It could have gone on and on, ad nauseum, but I broke it up.

"Actually, it was for robbing the bank," I added dryly. Their eyes got really big then. When I knew I had them I added, "Haven't you noticed why I never want to go into the post office?"

"No!" they said, "Why?"

"It's 'cause my picture's up on the wall."

"Huh? The wall?" son asked.

"Yeah, what does that have to do with robbing a bank?" daughter said.

"Never mind."

A joke loses its funny when you have to get into lengthy explanations and my dinner was getting cold.

Just like Front Porch Dude said in It's a Wonderful Life, "Youth is wasted on the young!" Ain't that the truth?