When your dreams get your attention

Normally I don’t remember my dreams, but the one I was having just before my alarm woke me up stuck with me.

I was dreaming that our local Air Force base got nuked, and I was trapped and unprepared in my own home. Getting caught short unprepared for any situation is never good, nuclear explosion notwithstanding.

Generally I find that my brain will take smalls bit of information and roll it up into a nightmarish story designed to get my attention. I have very few of these sorts of dreams, but they always stick with me. I can count a good handful of dreams I can remember, and none of them are good.

The last one I remember like this, someone came to me in the guise of Mad Eye Moody, and he looked me right in the eye and let me know bad things were coming. The time to do something is now. It wasn’t Mad Eye Moody, though. I have suspicions on who I think it was, but I’ll keep that to myself for now.

Needless to say, I didn’t heed the warning and I was caught very unprepared with a surprise divorce a few months later.

I’ve had this really weird feeling that something is coming. Time to get off my ass and get prepared for whatever.

For now, I will quietly re-stock my naked pantry with as much non-perishables I can, and this winter will be spent getting my basement workshop back into shape. I have a plan, and that is half the battle.

Here’s hoping you have a plan, for whatever needs it. Baby steps are good, and you have to start somewhere. Blessings all.

Live and let live – I challenge you to tell me why we can’t.

Fair warning…a rant is about to ensue.

I read an article today about the same-sex marriage debate that is going on in California right now, regarding the judge who ruled that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional, and I was shocked to discover that Gov. Schwarzenegger has requested that the stay against same gender couples getting married be lifted. Wow…a Republican is asking that same gendered couples be allowed to marry. It’s about damned time.

In another article published by The Christian Science Monitor (which was a very fair article), one of the reasons given that Proposition 8 should stand is:

“…that the government has a rational reason to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples. They said because marriage is likely to result in children, the state wants to encourage both birth parents to raise their children within a stable household.”

Ok…I’ll be the first one to agree that kids need a stable home life, but the implication that opposite gendered couples are the only ones that can give a child a stable home is complete horse pucky. Opposite gendered parents can be abusers, addicts, dead beats and a whole host of other negative descriptors. The notion that two committed people can’t be together and raise children because of someone else’s so-called “moral” imperatives is just beyond me. If I had two neighbors, each a couple but one opposite gendered, and one same gendered, who do you think I’d pick to look after my own children, or my home when I’m away? I’m going to choose the more honest, stable and common-sense neighbor regardless of who’s married to whom. You are either a good person or not.  You either have common sense, or not. You are either honest or you are not. Your brain being hard-wired to have interest in one gender or another doesn’t enter into it.

It really annoys me that this is even an issue. As far as I can tell, from all that I’ve read, heard and seen, the only reason anyone is fighting to ban same gendered marriage is because it’s a religious issue. If it’s a religious issue, then that needs to be administrated by individual churches and their flocks, which would then have no impact on anyone outside those individual circles. The government has no business telling people who can and can’t marry. Some will say that it is an issue that impacts the insurance industry. I have to call Baloney Sandwiches on that, as I work for a Fortune 500 company that is based out of Europe, and domestic partners of either gender are allowed to be included on our health insurance, which is administrated by an American company.

The bottom line argument has to do with human rights. If two people want to make a life time commitment to each other, what difference does it make if they are same or different genders? The problem is that people are full of ignorance and fear about things that make no matter in their own lives.  If you don’t believe in same gendered marriage then don’t have one, but for crying out loud, let other people run their own lives. See this picture of people holding hands? This is what life should be about…forming positive relationships with people, not finding ways to tear them apart. Really, people… aren’t there more important things to worry about than this?!

If anyone can find a valid reason (not involving religious choices, because that IS a choice) that we shouldn’t allow same gendered people to marry…. bring it. I say live and let live, and I challenge you to tell me why we can’t.

My kids are my parents’ best revenge

I had to get after Younger Son today, and now I feel like crap. I have told him time and time again how to do this particular chore, and he refuses to do it unless pushed

Facsimile of me pulling my hair out, curtesy of Google Images

and prodded, let alone do it right. Once he finally got going on said chore, I heard slamming of things, stomping around and nasty muttering. I’d had it…that was just the last straw, and I let him have it. I told him in no uncertain terms that this behavior was unacceptable and if he didn’t turn his ship around and sail straight, there would be consequences. He finally gave in, just did his job and got it done. Had he just done it to begin with, he’d have been finished a lot sooner.

Parenting is messy. It’s hard and mostly thankless, not that I think I need any thanks…I chose this. It was my decision to bring children into the world and part of that is following through to make sure they have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful once they get on their own. Teenagers being teenagers, aren’t going to blindly follow directions. They have their own thoughts about how things ought to work, and tend to be very black and white in their views. Things are either wrong or they aren’t…not much gray area. I remember being that way, and I am sure that my Mother has most likey just now fallen down in a giggling heap on the floor. I’ve no doubt that she has a detector that picks up on when my kids aren’t at their best, which triggers a manic laughter reaction. She did tell me once that my kids would be her best revenge on me. Now I find myself telling my kids the very same thing. While I can certainly wait to become a grandparent, I’m sure going to enjoy their kids exacting my revenge on my children for me (Muhuwhahahaha!).

What really chaps my cookies is that I had to be the heavy even when their father lived here. He rarely ever disciplined them, unless it was an extreme circumstance. Otherwise he was just the “good time” parent, and he had a tendency to do their chores for them, rather than make them do it themselves. Less confrontation and responsibility that way, you know.

The good news is that I have really good kids. They don’t get into trouble, they get good grades, and generally do what they are told. As things go, I could have it a lot harder.

Now the storm has cleared off and everything is back to normal. Hopefully things will stay that way for a while. I might take on the responsibility of having to be the heavy, but I sure hate doing it.

Oh, I want to believe! But…why?!

So, a funny thing happened to me on the 4th of July. I had just come back from seeing a late movie (Twilight: Eclipse…more about that in another post). I had to go back out to the van to get something and I saw these lights floating down the street towards my house. I watched two of them go by as I stood there trying to figure out what they were, and then noticed that several more were coming down the street. They seemed to hang a sharp right and go north, just as they reached the building across the road from my house. Ok…so they didn’t make any noise, and there’s a series of lights moving down the street and all of them are following a very strange flight path, each hanging a sharp right turn, one after another.

OK. This is high strangeness, so I must get it on video! There have been UFO reports in my area before, and I know people who’ve seen strange things around here, so I’m thinking that finally I’m getting to see the strange flying things too!! I got the camera and took a quick video of what I was seeing. As I was taking the video, the boys came home from watching the fireworks with their dad and his hussy, er, girlfriend, and they promptly burst my bubble. Apparently, what I was seeing were giant candle balloons that someone was lighting and letting go down the street, and they would hang a sharp right when the current they were riding was disrupted by the air vents on the building across the intersection from my house.   I would love to post the video here for you, but it’s saved in an .MOV extension that isn’t compatible with WordPress, darn it all. I have heard reports of odd things flying about here (Brea, you and I are going to have to go hang out and sky watch before the summer is over…you have way better luck than I do!), and North Dakota has its share of UFO sightings and all manner of other strange occurences.

This is a close up of what I was seeing from a distance. They flew pretty fast and far before I lost sight of them.

Anyway, long story short, the whole point of this story is that I was so ready and willing to believe that something strange could be floating past my house that my ability to think clearly and really analyze what I was seeing was completely suspended. I was so eager to get some proof that there was something otherworldly and unusual hanging about, and then when I found out it was just a whole bunch of flying luminaries people were letting go as an act of remembrance on the 4th of July, I felt completely let down…it was as though the Universe had pranked me. As I posted in my friend’s blog, Brea’s Aire, it was enough to make me crumple up my tin foil hat and chuck it behind the couch.

So, enough pouting. The question to ask is why are people so fascinated with the unknown? So many of us would like to find proof of something fantastic and spectacular like visitors from somewhere else, but it doesn’t end there. We also want to know about Bigfoot, ghosts, secret government experimental aircraft reverse-engineered from crashed flying saucers, ruins on Mars, etc. We want to know more…some of us want to believe. I think  to know that there is more to the Universe than just our day-to-day lives on our beautiful little blue planet would be an amazing thing.

We are a planet of information junkies. Science has taken us so far, and so much is known, but we always have to know more. Think about the days when news only came to your village once in a while, only because someone traveled though and passed the news on. Now, we have information at our fingertips from all over the globe, on demand. There is literally nothing out of our reach.  My goodness, how strange it would be to find out we are the only ones here. How terrible it would be to find out that we are alone in this vast Universe.  I don’t believe that’s the case, but it’s certainly debatable as to whether we’ve been visited or not. I do choose to keep my mind open about it, but I want proof. How about now?!

For just a few minutes that evening reality was suspended just long enough for my mind to be open to the possibility that, perhaps, I was seeing something strange and wondrous. It was a nice few minutes. I only hope that someday I get to really actually see something strange and wondrous!

Kids are smarter than we give them credit for

I am a mother of two boys, ages 17 and 15. If I’ve learned anything in the last 17 years, it’s that kids are smart and they will flog you with their unwavering curiosity and intelligence at every opportunity.

What prompts me to write about this today are two blog postings I read concerning people saying things deemed inappropriate for polite consumption. The first, called A One Armed Stripper Ruined my Lunch, talks about a woman who was trying to have a nice lunch with her kids, when the people sitting next to them began to talk about strippers and all manner of topics related, and her reaction to it.  The second one entitled Feel Free To Swear Around My Children, is a differing view on how to react when situations like the one-armed stripper conversation occur.  I encourage you to read them both, as both have valid points. Not that I want to take sides, as I’ve certainly found myself in similar situations as described in both of these blog posts, but I think I have to say that I agree with the 2nd one more.

Several years ago I won tickets to a Vikings game and so the four of us (before I divorced) went to Minneapolis for a night and to watch the game. Of course, the seats were three rows from the top, and so I found it more entertaining to watch the people around me and visit with my family. After half time, two drunk guys came in and sat down directly behind us… and then the F-Bomb-a-polooza began in earnest.  Generally speaking, I try not to eaves drop on other people’s conversations, and if others want to swear that’s their business. However, when you are packed in together like sardines and the F-Bombs are flying free and fiercely into my ears and the ears of my (at the time) young kids from directly behind our heads, I just couldn’t keep it to myself. The conversation with the guy behind me went something like this:

Drunken Idiot: “Blah, blah, f**ker, blah, blahbity blah. F**k that, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, can you f**king believe that?  You’re f**king right, blah, blah, blah… “ (you get the picture)

Me: (I turned around and looked him in the eye) “Sir, I hate to bother you, but could you please tone down the F-bombs? My kids are sitting right in front of you, and hearing everything you’re saying.”

Drunken Idiot: (His eyes got big and round) “Oh my god, ma’am. I’m so sorry. I was so totally not paying attention. Yes, I will stop that right now.”

Me: (Smiling…his embarrassment was gratifying) “Thanks a bunch, we appreciate it!”

So, we continued to watch the ants, er, players run around on the field and the conversation behind us became less of a distraction. Until he slipped, and then things got funny. His getting the hiccups made it even funnier. It went something like this:

Drunken Idiot: Blah, blah, (hiccup) f**king bastard. (he leans closer, addressing me) OOPS! Sorry about that (hiccup)!  Blah, blah, blah…(hiccup) yadda, yadda, yadda. Yackity, yack. Blah, blah blabbity blah, you’re f**king right! OOPS! (hiccup. He leans into my ear again) Oh crap, Ma’am…sorry about that…my bad!”

Needless to say the kids and I just about wet our pants trying not to laugh at the guy. I have to give him credit for at least trying! The point here is that if someone is being offensive, it’s OK  to politely ask them to stop. If they don’t, at least your kids will know that you tried to do something about an offensive situation. At the very least they are watching to see how we adults react to things, whether we speak up about them or not, and they are soaking it all up like little sponges.

Another thing to consider are the questions children ask because they are naturally curious beings. If they weren’t curious enough to ask what most adults deem as embarrassing questions, they wouldn’t be normal.

A very important thing to know about children is that they know bullshit when they hear bullshit, and they will keep asking questions until they feel they have them all answered. If they ask you a direct question, it’s better to just give them a direct answer without any prevarication or squirming. It doesn’t mean you have to tell them everything, but at least a basic and direct response is due. Otherwise you run the risk of being interrogated, and the interrogation will most likely come loudly and in the presence of your grandmother, minister or boss. With your luck, probably all three at the same time.  All kids have an inboard BS-O-Meter, and when you start squirming, try to put them off or tell half-truths when they ask embarrassing questions, it starts pinging in the red zone. This will prompt more questions, each one more embarrassing than the last. Save yourself…just be honest the first time around.

You can fake out the BS-O-Meter sometimes, but the next person who has to answer that question you so successfully avoided will not appreciate it. One example of this is when my kids picked my mom to ask where babies come from. She promptly told them that babies are hatched under cabbage leaves in the garden. She successfully avoided an interrogation by looking them directly in the hairy eyeball and giving them her answer straight from the hip. Being as they were still so young (ages 4 & 6), they took it hook, line and sinker. Later that week when the boys notified me that babies are, in fact,  hatched under cabbage leaves which, of course, is the gospel “because Nana said so”, it was left to me to tell them where babies actually come from.  No explanation from me would break them from their misinformation. Luckily enough, at the time, there were a couple of different networks who constantly showed real birthing stories. So, I made it my business to keep the channel dialed to these kinds of shows and the boys then got an education about how babies are born.  I remember very clearly that Older Son was particularly disgusted with seeing the birthing process, and proclaimed loudly that was gross and he was NOT born like that.

Silly me. I should know that when kids have time to digest information other more insidious questions are then launched…very much like when you cut the head off of a Hydra, two more pop out to take its place. Next questions were, of course, “Why do babies come out of THERE instead of the belly button?” and “How did the baby get in there to begin with?!”

Oh well. Parenting is messy, and if we didn’t want to answer the hard questions we shouldn’t have signed up for the job. That’s what we get paid the big bucks for.

Uhm…yeah…big bucks. I guess I’ll have to quantify my rewards in something other than hard, cold cash! 😉

Fear and loathing of storms on the High Plains

I live on the High Plains. Yes, I capitalized that on purpose.

Let me make something clear to begin with. I LOVE living on the High Plains. The rolling prairie is where I want to be. I love the ability to see for miles. I adore the sun rises and sun sets. I aspire to own acreage one day and grow wildflowers in stead of a front lawn, keep bees and plant orchards.  I love to watch storms roll in across the prairie in all their furious glory.

I have always been an avid storm watcher. The louder the thunder, and brighter the lightning, the better I like it. Torrential rain and hail is to be marveled at, and compared to previous downpours. The rainbows that precede and follow storms here in North Dakota are the best in the whole world. Montana thinks it has a big sky, but I beg to differ (North Dakota’s Mountain Removal Plan was effective, and now we don’t have anything blocking our view – LOL). The process of seeing a storm coming on, experiencing it, and watching it leave again is something I’ve always loved…that is until last week.

Last week a very severe storm came through, and dumped a good two inches in less than an hour. I learned very quickly that I had leaks in my basement that I never knew existed for the 10 years I’ve lived in this house. I learned the hard way that it’s a good idea to check for the small cracks, and not just big ones…the small ones let in lots of water too. Our basement didn’t altogether flood, but we had rivulets of water running down where the water collected in a low spot next to the house, and rose high enough to seep in between the foundation and the house. I also discovered a previously unknown crack in my foundation that sits right on an interior wall.  The good news is that all of this is easily fixed with caulking and some creative landscaping, at least for now. When I see storms barreling across the TV weather map, headed straight for us, I am no longer eager for it to come… I fear it and hope to heck it goes around us.

This picture of a "highly organized super cell" was taken by one of the local weather guys as the storm was rolling towards Minot last night

We had another severe storm last night, complete with tornado warning, and we all sat around Mom and Dad’s TV watching the weather reports break in every 10 minutes or so. We were warm, comfortable, dry and safe, but all I could think about was how things were going at my house. We can’t live there while the only bathroom is being remodeled, so we’re staying with Mom and Dad at least until next Thursday.

The funny thing was I dreamed last night of having exploding man-hole covers in my basement floor, with water gushing out of them. I know it was just my own paranoia playing out while I sleep, and there is no water damage today. I will be going out to get some water proof barrier for my foundation and will be caulking cracks through the weekend.  I will also be fixing my eaves troughs to plug up the holes. Every little thing I do will help.

So, after all is said and done, perhaps I can go back to enjoying a good storm? I hope so!

A long, painful, wet day

Ugh… I’ll be glad when today is done and I can start fresh tomorrow.

Younger Son made it through getting his wisdom teeth out this morning. As soon as they wheeled him out I could see the Novocaine was wearing off and I cursed myself for not having asked for his prescriptions when he went into surgery, so I could have taken him right home afterward. Nope…had to stand in line at the pharmacy for way too long. I left him resting in the van while I ran in, and when I got back out he was rolling around in his seat with agony. By the time I got him home and got the pain killers down him he was almost out of  his mind with the pain, and freaking out because he couldn’t feel his face. Ah, but the pain killers kicked in and he slept all afternoon. Now he’s up and has had something to eat, and more pain killers, and is now playing a video game.

Then the rain came. And the basement got wet. We’ve had hard rains here before, but nothing like this. We had water leaking into the basement where it we never had leaks before. Luckily the rain has stopped and I’m hopeful that there won’t be any more heavy rain like that again today. Better to know about leaks like that when we’re home than when we’re not.

So, after all that, I’m sitting in the living room and I’ve fallen asleep. The phone rings, and it’s the guy who’s supposed to be gutting and remodeling my bathroom called to let me know that he won’t be starting the job on Monday. He is going to Rochester to be with his sister while she has surgery. He’s a good brother, but I’m bummed. I really, really wanted to get that started and finished. He indicated to me that he would start on Wednesday… as long as everything went well with his sister’s surgery. Uff-da.

Here’s the good news:  Younger son is doing well despite the fact that he thought he was dying earlier. My basement will dry out, and the bathroom will get done.   The Sun isn’t going to shine for a couple of days, but I can still try to fix the leaky basement. There was no tornado or lightning strike. I still have my sanity.   My Dad’s sister is coming to visit from Illinois next Wednesday. Ian’s doctor just called to check up on him…what a rarity these days.

I’m very sure there are more blessings stashed around here if I just look hard enough…

The wisdom teeth and the worry wort

It’s a little after 6am, and I’m already showered and dressed for the day. I’m letting Younger Son sleep in until 6:30. Today’s the day his wisdom

teeth come out, and we’ll be there by 7:30 for his 8am surgery.  I keep telling him that he’s lucky. When I had my wisdom teeth out, I was awake and it took over two hours. He’ll get to nap through it and it will take about an hour for him. Piece of cake!

This is pretty much what Younger's X-ray looked like - wisdom teeth impacted!

I feel like a big fat liar, even though I know he’ll come through it just fine… he’s a strong kid and he’ll come through this simple out-patient surgery with flying colors.  The thing that goes through my head like a terrible feedback loop, is that I keep remembering what it was like to have the dentistry equivalent of a hammer and chisel banging away in my head, as the dentist quartered my teeth so he could get them out.  I need to quit winding myself up like that, but it’s so nerve-wracking to hand over my child and know that he’s going to hurt when it’s all done. I know that it is probably typical for a parent to feel that way, and yet I feel like the biggest wuss in the world. Time to suck it up.

6:33…time to put on my brave face and roust him of bed so he can get showered and dressed. It’s show time…

Some want to be born with a silver spoon…I needed a cherry picker!

Yesterday was an interesting day. You’ve read the ongoing saga of how I’ve been getting help from my Dad to get rid of the dying tree in my back yard? Well, Yesterday the top finally came down. The boys went to visit their dad for the afternoon, so it was just me, my Dad and the tree.  No sweat, I said. I spent lots of time with my Dad cutting down trees and hauling wood as a kid…famous last words!

It never ceases to amaze me what my father does at the age of 64. In this case he climbed up that tree like a monkey, 25 ft in the air, and finished cutting the top of that tree down. He’s very careful, and very conscious about safety issues, but it’s still nerve-wracking to see him standing in the crotch of a tree that he’s busily hacking away on with a chainsaw. I seriously thought I was going to lose my lunch…I haven’t found myself physically ill like that in a very long time, just for experiencing sheer fright. My fondest wish at that point was that I had a good friend with a cherry picker, so Dad wouldn’t be standing up high in that tree. Alas, none was to be found.

It’s no wonder my mother always told my brother and I to, “Go keep an eye on your Dad…I can’t look.” Now I get it! I don’t know why it doesn’t bother kids to watch someone climb up high and use dangerous tools, but I can tell you I weathered it with much less fear then than I could ever do now. I think it has to be because most kids have a measure of fearlessness, which seems to help cover situations like that. They also don’t believe anything bad will ever happen to them or others they know. I guess the fear creeps in with time, as innocence gets worn away with experience.  And, of course, my fearless boys were not here so I could say to them, “Go keep an eye on Grandpa…I can’t look!”

The long and the short of it is that the top of the tree came down, and now it’s all about the clean up. Hopefully my friend who’s going to be taking the wood for his stove will come this week and get the rest of it taken care of.  Here’s where it’s at now:

Hopefully by the end of the week I’ll have a nice clear yard!

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