Freeing the voices in my head

Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Vignettes

I love words and vignette is a favorite of mine.  “A short, graceful literary sketch.”  “A brief, appealing scene, as in a movie.”  I don’t know how graceful or appealing my blogs are; they usually aren’t short or brief, that’s for sure!  To me, a vignette is a glimpse or an anecdote of  mine or someone’s Life, a quick story told on the fly, usually at the dinner table, almost always resulting in laughter.

I’m outnumbered here, gender-wise, and men don’t tell stories the way women do.  A woman will go into great detail, she’ll add sub-plots and side-way tangents; she will regal you with rich observations that would fill a book.  A man will say three to five sentences and be done.

But, oh, my men have the most interesting stories, um, tidbit tales!  My brother hasn’t been able to write down his Woodstock adventures (he’s in a great deal of pain, barely managed by his pain meds).  We’re hoping he can get that Dragon program and just speak into his computer and have it type it for him!   The only parts of the Woodstock story I remember are that he smoked that funny stuff, camped out, played in the mud, and got the station wagon stuck in the mud.  Someday, I’ll get him to tell me the whole story again.

When they had the Woodstock reunion in the 90s, I was the manager of a Pizza Hut, just off the New York State Thruway.  We were mobbed and so not ready for it.  We had people five deep at the counter, starving, filthy campers, eagerly pressing forward, watching the ovens, hoping I was cutting their pizza to be boxed.  Amidst the chaos was one … woman.  Yes, I’m being polite.  She insisted that no meat, meat substance or meat oil touch her pizza.

We tried.  My main cook made her pizza on a clean board and used fresh gloves to place the garlic sauce (no tomato marinara sauce for her, no sirree, it might have meat products in it!  Gack!) and cheese on the dough.  She was right up front, and could see everything.  Before he placed her pizza in the oven, she saw the other cook grabbing cheese from the bin…”Wait!  That’s the cheese you ALL use?  It’s tainted with meat substance!”  Oh, god…

We apologized and Ted trotted to the walk-in, pulled out a new bag of cheese, and used it for her new pizza.  Good, pizza now in oven.  I was lifting pizzas out as fast as I could to keep the ovens from backing up and burning them.  The slightest pause meant disaster.  I grabbed her pizza, slid it out of the pan onto the cutting board… “Wait!  That board just had a sausage pizza on it!”  Oh, god (and the twenty people behind her groaned, too)…

I apologized and Ted made her another new pizza.  I swiftly dealt with a few more pizzas, making sure a clean cutting board was at hand for the vegan lady.  Her pizza rolled to the front, I expertly slipped it onto the clean board and sliced down… “Wait!  That’s MY pizza and you just used THAT slicer on a pepperoni pizza!”   Oh, god (and the thirty people behind her didn’t just groan.  They bitched, they told her to give up, they looked at her with murder in their eyes…but, wonder of wonders, they did NOT blame me and my crew!)…

We apologized, again, and started over.  Now, we had a backed up oven, pizzas burning, rhythm disrupted.  Hurry to box her pizza and cash her out, whirl back around and zip, zip, slice and box three more pizzas.  I turned to cash those people out and noticed the crowd was watching the front door.  When it shut on vegan lady’s exiting behind, the mob cheered, applauded, and thanked me and my crew for our patience!

We had a bunch of extra mistake pizzas and breadsticks.  I had my waitresses pass out slices to everyone and comped all sodas as my thank you to the crowd.  Ah, the Woodstock legacy of “Peace and Brotherly Love” blossomed again for the rest of the night!

Heh, see what I mean?  I’m sure my brother’s story is longer than the tiny bit I recall, but it took a whole page for me to tell my Woodstock reunion story!  🙂

Some of the funniest, oddest, best stories I’ve heard from my menfolk aren’t stories at all.  They are mere vignettes, a few sentences at most.  I have to pull more details out like a cat giving birth to an elephant…yeah, improbable at best, impossible most of the time!

For example:  Hubby’s ship went through a corner of the Bermuda Triangle.  I was fascinated and wanted to hear if anything weird happened.  His response?  “Well, it got foggy and the radio wouldn’t work for a few minutes, but everything cleared up on the other side.”

That’s IT?!  Really?!  Can you elaborate at all?  Nope, that really was it, delivered in a bored nothing-unusual-today tone of voice.  GACKKK!!!

Or this one, from my oldest son:  Walks in the house all sweaty, without his car (a 1967 Mustang, runs good, maybe, sorta, kinda…)…  I asked, “Where’s your car?”  Brian said, “Oh, the drive shaft for the tranny fell out.  I had to push it over to Midas.  I got a ride home with Matt.”  And heads for the shower.  “Wait!  What?” I frantically call out, instantly on the alert, knowing that the Midas shop he uses is at one of the busiest intersections in our part of Tucson, AZ.

He paused, returned to the kitchen and got a soda.  “I’m really hot, tired, and sweaty, Mom.”

“Please?”

So, here’s the REST of the story…  He was at the intersection of Ina and Thornydale, in the far left lane, got to the light and started through.  In the MIDDLE of the intersection, in the middle of his turn, in the middle of rush hour traffic, the Mustang drops her tranny (transmission), and comes to a dead stop.  With cars whizzing by in all directions, my son got out and single-handedly pushed that ton or so of car across a gazillion lanes of traffic, up a slight hill and into the parking lot of Midas.  He received assistance only at the end, when a mechanic saw him and came over.

Think on it:  a 1967 Mustang, weighs a lot, probably almost a thousand pounds because it’s made of METAL not fiberglass, no power anything — brakes or STEERING.  One guy pushing AND steering it…oh, good lord, my mind seized up.  Eh, Brian assured me, once he got her moving, it wasn’t so hard…and off he goes to the shower.  GACKK!!!

Then there’s the tale of the pallet of ammo that didn’t exist and the one bullet, “What bullet?”…but that’s a real tale to tell and not a vignette, so…

Later, my lovies!  heh heh… 😀

 

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Loving A Man In Uniform

I married a Merchant Marine.  They are the sailors on merchant vessels  – tankers, freighters, dredges, cruise ships (not the “public crew,” the real crew; yeah, cruise ships have two crews – they’re nothing like the “Love Boat” TV show.), fishing vessels – they aren’t military, but they do go through basic training and such.  They are also the unsung heroes in wartime.  A lot of merchant marines died in WWII, but not many people know that.

And, yes, some of them wear uniforms, not too fancy or distinguished, just enough to help the public understand these men (and some women) have a specific job or career.  Hubby had to wear uniforms at SUNY Maritime College and for some of the shipping companies he worked for.  Mmm, dress whites – definitely sexy, so fitted, so neat, so authoritative (is that even a word?).  In the early years, he wore khakis (blah) or blacks (yum).  No insignia or badges, but just enough of a “look” to give people pause.

When he’d step off a plane, heading for baggage claim, and walk toward me, I could see people moving aside for him.  Of course, part of that is his walk; he walks with presence, like a leader.  He’s an officer, worked his way up from Third Mate to Master (Captain for landlubbers).  Many merchant sailors have that presence; one of my favorite memories is going to a game at Shea Stadium surrounded by six buff cadets, all on the soccer team, solid, strong, handsome, dressed in everyday clothing, but no one – and this is the heart of New York City (ok, sorta south of it, but still…), no one messed with us.

Hubby’s graduating class got to have their Winter Ball on the top floor of the World Trade Center.  The restaurant would be opening soon (this was 1978) and the guys from Maritime were a dry run for the staff.  It was gorgeous, fun, amazing – we could look out over the whole city…We had a blast.

When the planes hit those Towers, we were heartbroken and so furious.  Not only for all those murdered people, but for the destruction of a place that had given us a beautiful memory.  In the days that followed 9/11, we felt helpless, too.  Our oldest son was in Army boot camp at Fort Knox, under lockdown, possibly being primed to finish his tank training and go to war or strike back or whatever the President decided to do.  We didn’t know, parents received no info.  God, that was frightening, not knowing what was going to happen to our son.

My husband was on his three months off.  Merchant schedules can be weird.  His was three months on ship, one to three months home (the home part changed on the whim of the shipping industry).  He got on the phone to his company, requesting to be sent on whatever mission the tankers were doing regarding the disaster.  Understand this: merchant vessels, for the most part, are unarmed.  If there’s a weapon onboard, it is locked in the Captain’s safe and only the Captain has access or training to use it.

His company ran tankers: oil, crude, and dry cargo, too, of grain, wheat, etc.  The Middle East was and is NOT a safe place to visit for any reason, and hubby’s company was having trouble finding volunteers to crew the ships heading into that region.  They were part of the President’s Humanitarian mission: sending grain tankers to Afghanistan, Pakistan, those areas.  (We later found out that air-dropped food from the USA was left to rot because it was from us infidels.  sigh…but they apparently didn’t turn up their noses at grain brought by sea.)

So, off hubby goes to take a grain tanker to Afghanistan.  I got to stay home and worry about TWO of my menfolk.  Oh, joy…NOT!  But you man up and smile through the tears and insist you are proud of them and, and well, yeah, out in public, I was fine.  In the dark, alone, ah, well, they finally came home safe, thank god.

It’s what you do when you love a person in the military or the merchant marines.  You buck up, you present calm and hope and love, and you rarely ever indulge in any negative emotion, because what your loved one is going through is worse.  You quietly ignore rages and silences, offer hugs or private space, you dance around certain topics, and never ask “How was your day at the office, dear?” because that’s such a ridiculous question for these particular people.

They are different, changed.  Our normal everyday woes and lives are so meaningless compared to what they are doing.  Come on, really, is your day at an office so bad compared to someone who is facing Death every minute?  In our marriage, the main problem for me is that hubby IS a Master, a Captain, has been since he was thirty.  And he forgets that I am NOT a deckie or swabbie.  He’s used to giving orders without explanation and expects to be obeyed without question.  There’s a rough edge to him, and I have to grit my teeth and try to remember for both of us that I’m his wife, not his crew.  Chin up, mouth shut, smile, woman, smile!

This is long (for a blog, I guess), but I want to leave you with a funny story.  When Hubby took that tanker to Afghanistan, he was told (and told me to reassure me) that he would have a military escort of two or three destroyers.  What he didn’t tell me, until after he was home, was that the destroyers were needed elsewhere.  That’s right, dangerous waters, dangerous political climate, danger all around, and no escort.

Tankers are way too big to go into port or dock.  They sit at anchor a few miles out and other boats come to them to offload cargo.  Want a point of reference?  Rent the movie “Periscope Down” (I think that’s the title) with Kelsey Grammar as a submarine captain.  At one point in the movie, they hide the sub under a super-tanker.  The tanker in the movie was the sister ship of my hubby’s tanker.  Yep, big, REALLY BIG!  I think the call sign was BFV Alaska.  I don’t know what the letters really stand for; the guys translate the letters as “Big Fucking Vessel.”

So, no escort, but the Afghanis did send hubby some soldiers to guard his ship.  Six big brawny soldiers in uniform with rifles to guard the hatches because the crews on the small boats that were offloading the grain were not to enter the tanker for any reason, not even to use the head.  They could sit on deck for breaks and meals, but not enter the interior of the tanker.  Capt’n Eldred greeted them, but wasn’t very reassured when he discovered that, yes, the soldiers had rifles, however, they only had ONE BULLET.  Oy.

The laborers from the small boats did, indeed, have lunch on the deck of the tanker.  They built a bonfire, hauled some goats up, and proceeded to butcher and cook their lunch.  (Eww!)  Now, oops, they needed salt.  Capt’n Eldred said nope, none to spare, but, ah, maybe one of the other ships had some.  You see, we Americans weren’t the only ones trying to help.  Other countries were in on the Humanitarian effort.  The laborers putted over to a Greek vessel to ask for salt.  Unfortunately, no on spoke Greek and the Greeks didn’t speak, um, whatever.  And none of the Afghani laborers spoke English.

Via hand signals and nods, they finally received a bag of white grainy stuff from the Greeks.  They ate.  Shortly after that, they groaned and moaned, and since they couldn’t use the heads (bathrooms) on the tanker, they pooped on the deck or over the side (dangerous, easier to just poop on the deck.).

During the messy chaos, Capt’n Eldred finally got them off his ship, job finished, cargo gone, and his unhappy crew scrubbed the deck.  Hubby radioed the Greek ship.  He asked the Captain what happened.  Turns out, the Greek cook thought the laborers wanted laundry detergent and gave them a sack of powdered detergent.  Not salt, and no one thought to check if it was salt.

Yes, it’s funny, it’s also sad.  The language barrier made things crazy.  We think we’ve advanced so far, but we haven’t.  We’re still killing each other for stupid reasons.  We’re still putting our loved ones in danger.  Hug each other now, because the world is not a safe place.  Never has been, never will be, and if you believe differently, I hope you’re right and weird shit never happens to you and yours.

Ah, but we work through it, right?  Chin up, friends, and SMILE!  Because, hell, if we can’t laugh, then we really ARE in trouble!  🙂

Aww…Poop!

There are some days when I just know I am not going to get any proper writing done.  Life is full of distractions and today’s distraction is…poop!

I wonder what started it?  Was it yesterday’s ongoing cleaning of the fridge by eating all the leftovers?  Was it a few too many (okay, possibly ten) cups of coffee?  Maybe it was cookies, fried mushrooms, and crunchy cheetos…yeah, 3 am snack after karaoke.  Oh, it isn’t just me.  Son is having a poopy day, too.  That wouldn’t be a problem – this house does have two bathrooms.  But no, we made the mistake of letting the dogs help us rid the house of leftovers.  (Yeah, yeah, I know, the so-called experts are freaking: “Ooo, never feed your pets People food!”  Eh, frack off, ya idjits.  Been doing it for years; our pets are healthier than we are and live longer than most people do!)

So, we are all in the bathrooms/out in the yard every fifteen minutes.  Even this would be all right, if, if, we were all pooping at the same time.  But no, as soon as I’m done and sit at the computer, a dog absolutely MUST go out!  Or the son needs more toilet paper, and then, the other dog absolutely MUST go out!  And by then, of course, I MUST dash to the other bathroom.

Constant interruptions kill the creative drive.  When my characters start hanging out in the bathroom discussing their poop, I know I’m not going to get any useful writing done.  When I’m frantically trying to complete one paragraph and it’s taken me an hour, it’s time to admit my brain can’t handle the ongoing type two words-dash to bathroom-type a sentence-dash to door for dog-type, wait, what?  Where was I?!  Um, hmm, not happening.

And ya know what’s really frustrating?  While on the white throne, staring into space, obeying the needs of my poor body, my mind scrolls through whole pages of wonderful plot-progressing words…which promptly go bye-bye the second I dash back to the computer.

That’s it.  Who needs an office?  I’m setting up the laptop in the bathroom.  It’s quiet, I won’t be disturbed, I can attend to my needs and write at the same time!

Wait, what’s that god-awful, eyes watering, can’t breathe, smell?  Aww…poop!

 

Machine Wars

My husband is so sweet.  He bought a bunch of golf gear, so he felt it was only fair to get me a new laptop.  Top of the line, powerful, has all the bells and whistles…and it hates me.

It boots up fast, it loads with impressive speed, it browses and plays games nicely…for about ten minutes.  Then, it decides to go offline.  I reboot, it refuses to connect.  I shut it down, unplug it, let it rest…it still won’t do a damn thing!  I check every other device and machine in the house that needs online connections, I unplug the router and plug it back in.  Comcast is notorious for just glitching out whenever it wants, but, nope, everything else is working.

How do I tell my sweet hubby the new laptop refuses to do anything?  I tried, but, you see, as with any machine that goes hinky on me, it works beautifully for HIM!

“What’s the problem?  What’d you do to it?  Ah, there you go; it’s working fine.”  We switch positions, I place my fingers on the keyboard and ten minutes later, give up as the laptop dies.

So, I have a new secret life:  Moments after he leaves for work, I play on the desktop.  Today, I decided to try my older laptop.  All my writing is on the old laptop; that’s right, the new laptop doesn’t have a Word Processor.  Or, I can’t find it and believe me, for the ten minutes I had before the damn thing died, I searched everywhere.  It has Microsoft Office but wants me register and pay and god knows what else to access it.  The thin booklet of instructions had nothing regarding Creating Documents or Writing.  Great, that’s not useful at all!

But, in an odd twist, the old laptop is being a happy trooper (knock wood).  It’s humming along, updated what was needed with swift efficiency, and is tempting me to spend the next few hours writing or commenting on blogs or finally enjoying my computer life without frustration and stress.

Now, if we could just figure out why the printer refuses to work, we’d be golden.  Then again, it might be best if I dig through the boxes in the garage and dust off my old electric typewriter…hmmm, given my losing battles with anything electronic (the big TV doesn’t like me much either) maybe I’d better go to an antique store and look for a manual typewriter…  😀

The Toilet Paper Toss

At some point today, I bounced out of my funk, determined to be more cheerful.  I was sitting in the bathroom and realized someone-who-shall-not-be-named had used up the last of the toilet paper and left the empty roll sitting in the holder.  Unfortunately, I didn’t go shopping today, even though I knew that was the last roll of toilet paper.  I’d been hoping it would last until tomorrow.  Oops…

Swiveling into a contortion to reach the tissue box on the back of the toilet, I knocked some things onto the floor.  The tissues landed in the bathtub, just…out…of…reach.  Well, damn…

Our one cat, Trixie, is fascinated by the bathroom and will play in there.  She grabs hair scrunchies and jumps in the tub, batting them around.  Toss something in the toilet and she jumps on the rim to watch it magically swirl away when flushed.  I decided to use her to help me.  I grabbed the empty toilet paper roll and got her to play with it in the tub, trying to swat it out of my hand.  Closer, a bit closer, and, ah-ha!  She found the tissue box!  Startled, she jumped away from it, knocking it just close enough for me to grab.  Ah, I love it when a plan comes together!  Okay, no, I didn’t completely plan it, just kinda, sorta hoped…

The playtime in the bathroom awoke a pleasant memory…

My little sister and I used to play a game when we were stuck in a restaurant with the parents.  We’d eat as fast as we could, desperately trying to time our escape.  When the third or fourth drink was swallowed, the glasses slammed down, the hissing insults curdling the waitress’ ears, we’d say, “Excuse me,” and dash off to the ladies room.

We didn’t need to “go.”  We just wanted to be away from the embarrassing drunken scene in the restaurant.  Being kids who needed to stay in that rest room for awhile, we looked for a way to pass the time.  Back then, some restaurants kept their extra toilet paper rolls in plain sight – on the counter, the backs of the toilets, or in a cabinet under the sink.  This was back when rest rooms used normal household toilet paper rolls.

I don’t know which of us came up with the idea…  We’d each go in a stall, next to each other, with the extra toilet paper rolls evenly divvied up between us.  Then, we’d toss the rolls over the stall wall, attempting to land one in the other sister’s toilet bowl.

There were a couple of Rules to the game of Toilet Paper Toss:  You had to stand on the other side of the toilet bowl (we were only 9 and 10, short – thanks a lot, Mom and Dad – so we needed the room to throw the roll high over the wall, anyway.).  You could not block the toilet bowl and you could not stand on it to block it (Eewwacchhh!).  There were two ways to Score:  One point if you heard a “Woof!” or “Ow!”  That meant the other sister had been hit by your toilet paper roll.  Five points for actually getting a roll to land in the toilet bowl.  And the one with the most rolls in there was the winner.  You lost a point if your roll came apart and opened and unrolled during your toss, making more of a mess we’d have to clean up.

Yep, we did try to clean up.  We’d use paper towels to fish the rolls out, tuck them back in the cabinet, way back in the cabinet, wash our hands with lots of soap, and saunter on out of there, usually before Female Drunken Parent came hunting for us.  Male Drunken Parent would already be in the car, threatening to drive off without us.  We could ignore them by then, giggling softly to each other, buoyed by another fab round of Toilet Paper Toss.

Hey, you mix the good times with the bad.  Our game came to an end about a year later.  Clifton Knolls Country Club.  So many disastrous, drunken dinner fights there, don’t know why the staff didn’t throw our family out.  We only lived about a half mile away; we kids used to ride our bikes around the golf course at night and swim in the water hazards, then peddle madly home before someone saw us.  Little sis and I were playing TPT in the ladies room when, horror, an actual lady walked in!

It had been a messy round.  We’d both had rolls unravel over the stall walls, laughing too hard to hear the main door unlock and open (Club members had rest room keys.  We thought we were safely locked in, forgetting there were other people in the clubhouse.).  The lady shrieked and ordered us to clean up, where were our parents, what the hell…blah, blah, blah….

From that moment on, our older sister had the chore of escorting us – separately – to the rest room whenever we went anywhere.

A few years ago, my little sister and I visited Tucson, AZ,  meeting up together and sharing a hotel room, going to the casino, having a ball…Imagine my delighted laughter when one night, in the ladies room together, in separate stalls next to each other, a toilet paper roll came flying over the wall…Oh, yeah, baby, it is sooo ON!  😀

Knee-Deep In Ectoplasm

Not exactly ectoplasm, a substance alleged to emanate from a medium and produce living forms.  (I read the dictionary for fun.  Where did Webster’s get this definition from?)  I’ve sensed plenty of spirits and energy entities, even seen a few ghosts, ahem, apparitions, and not one of them ever produced a substance or manifested a living form from pink goo (Ghostbusters, baby!).  They can appear solid and do have visible shapes, but they can’t emanate anything but their presence, soul, energy, whatever.  But it sounds cool as a title, so…there ya go.

Mostly I sense energy forms.  My karaoke friends and spirit circle used to like to play a game with me.  We’d be in the bar and one of them would say, “Close your eyes, Eileen.”  Or one of them would clap their hands over my eyes.  “Okay, now point us all out.”  I could sense them, “see” their energy forms, pulsing at different rates, strengths, sometimes with colors.  So I’d identify each friend.  Then, the fun part – they’d shift positions, scurrying across the bar to the crowded dance floor, hiding in the rest room, ducking down behind the pool players.  I would scan the area (eyes still closed or shielded by the non-participant), pinpointing each one, and wait for them to return to me.  As they sat down again, often giggling, I’d tell them where each had tried to hide.  I would almost always be right.  They thought it was cool, I thought it was normal.

A few years before I met those friends, I was working as a waitress.  I came back from serving a customer and remarked, “Oh, he is so nice.  And he shines!”  I hadn’t quite learned to keep my mouth shut around people who didn’t know me very well.  My snippy and somewhat prejudiced co-worker whispered, “What?  People don’t shine.  And, and, he’s…black!”  She sounded so angry.  I turned around and looked at my customer again.  “Oh, so he is.  He’s still nice and has a shining soul.”  Apparently, I don’t notice things like skin color, race, so-called handicaps, even gender or sexual orientation.  I see energy first, then the normal human stuff.

In grade school and high school, I had a friend named Peter.  He taught me how to leave my body and hang out near the ceiling, usually during lunch, so we could watch everybody below us.  I worried about getting food stuck in my hair or being poked by a fork (do kids still throw stuff up into the ceilings of cafeterias?).  Peter laughed and said I’d be fine.  No one noticed us up there, and since I had a tendency to sleep during lunch (eat that food?  No way!), no one noticed me slumped in my chair.  ‘Course, no one noticed Peter – I was the only one who could see and hear him.  He was such a sweet spirit.  He stopped hanging around when I started tenth grade and was suicidal.  I think that drove him away and I’m sorry about it.  I missed him.  But I did make new (flesh) friends and school was a wonderful place; I made sure I signed up for things that let me stay until long after dinnertime over at the house of Hell….I so wanted to live at school full-time…

Anyway, sometimes, it was hard to differentiate between my energy friends and my flesh friends – to me, they all looked like they belonged in this world.  I never talked about my spirit friends, though; I must have mentioned it when I was little and got beaten for “lying.”  That’s a “black hole” memory – one of many black chunks in my memory and if my siblings’ stories are true, then I really don’t want to open those black holes, thank you very much.

It was nice to meet like-minded people, form our circle, practice with our meta abilities.  I’d been a solitary for too long.  It was great to discover I wasn’t completely crazy!

Then, things happened when we lived in Arizona that really made me feel good.  They didn’t start happening until the boys were in their teens.  Our oldest son came bounding in from school one day and said, “Hey, Mom!  My favorite teacher is surrounded by blue light!  Is that her aura?  What is an aura?  Does that mean I can see auras?”

They wanted me to give them Tarot Card readings.  Then, they wanted their own Tarot decks.  We started basic energy lessons and discovered the younger son had an affinity with EVERY element.  My strongest affinity is with Air.  Sister Air and I have a playful and refreshing relationship.  When I’m sad, when I feel blocked, when I need Her, I can step outside and She’ll blow through me, a gentle greeting, a breezy tug, a cleansing that soothes and invigorates me.  Because of years of training, I can get every element to respond to me, but no newbie just steps up and gets Them ALL to respond in the first lesson.  My youngest boy did.

Brother Fire is the most willing to respond, and also the most unpredictable.  You can’t, and don’t, want to control the elements; just get them to play a bit, respond, and help you if needed, when asked.  That’s Rule Number One:  Always ASK, Never Command.  So, there we were, trying to make a candle flame respond to our wills.  And JR’s danced beautifully for him.  “Oh, cool, you have a Fire affinity,” I said.

Then, it was Water.  Ask the water in the glass to go from cold to warm to cold again, then ask Sister Water to bubble for you.  Sure enough, Water played with JR almost immediately.  Okay, people can have a strong affinity to more than one element…

I had to go stand across the room, nearly out of sight for Sister Air to respond to him; we had to make sure She wasn’t coming to my call.  Goosebumps rose on his skin and his older brother watched the fan start slowly spinning (windows and doors closed, no one moving; we were barely breathing!).  JR said he could feel his hair moving and smelled fresh rain. (Note here: It was clear and hot that night with no wind, and while it DOES rain in Tucson, it has to be a long rainstorm going for almost a full day before it smells like rain or smells fresh.  When it rains in Tucson, it smells like dust or mud.)

By now, older son had given up and was perfectly happy to watch his brother.  I sat back down and didn’t have to hand JR the stones representing Earth.  He picked them up and described the sensations, let us feel them warming to his slightest touch…

I grinned.  “Well now, I’ve never heard of this.  I’ll ask around if you want more training or a different mentor.”  A few days later, we discovered I was probably the best teacher for him at that time.  We were doing something at the kitchen table (I think reading the Tarot), and hubby walked by.  One glance and he grumped, “Great, you turned my son into a witch.”  Then he smiled to let us know he was joking and it was okay.  He’s good like that, even though he doesn’t want to know anything more about our “woo-woo” stuff!  🙂

My two favorite stories…I was in drum journey one day, having a lovely time with very interesting visions, when a door slammed downstairs.  A second later, Brian shouted, “Mom!”  Now, it doesn’t matter how deep a trance I’m in or how far of a journey I’m on, my child’s call will snap me back instantly. I sat up and said, “Up here!”

Feet pounded upstairs and both boys were staring at me.  “What were you doing?  A tornado just touched down on Ina!”  Tornadoes are VERY rare in Tucson and they just do NOT touch down on a busy road in the middle of a clear day.  Dust devils might swirl through, but a real tornado, nope, not the climate for it.  I was flattered that they thought I, or rather, the Energy that works through me, could be so powerful, but had to correct them.  “No, no, I don’t play with, manipulate or control the weather.  In fact, any human who thinks they have such power over Mother Nature is an arrogant idiot.”  And we went on another lesson regarding the elements.

But, they would give me a look, sometimes, when they knew I was wishing for rain when there was absolutely no chance of rain…and it would rain.  Hey, it wasn’t me!  But, yeah, Sister Air likes to make me happy…

The other story…I was sitting in the office one day, playing on the computer.  The office shared a wall with the garage.  Brian was out there, working on his Mustang.  I noticed a ripple in the air to the side of the desk and our black cat, our DEAD black cat, Sunshine, sauntered through the wall and walked past me into the living room.  He twitched his tail at me and disappeared when he reached the couch.  Barely a breath later, Brian slammed into the house from the garage (yes, he likes to slam doors).

“Mom!  Sunshine just walked across the garage and disappeared through the wall!”

“I know, honey, he’s hiding IN the couch.”

“Holy shit! I guess this means I really can see ghosts!  Cool!”

“Wait, what?  When have you seen ghosts before?”

“In New York, in the Fort Plain house.  There was an old guy who would stand at the top of the stairs and yell silently at us.  Oh, and the dark Thing in the cellar behind the old cistern.”  He glanced around.  “But they aren’t here.  Did you know this house is alive, too?”

“Yes, sweetie, the House’s Heart is in your sister’s room.  That’s why it’s always so comforting in there.”

At that point, his sister (who, like her father, wants nothing to do with our “woo-woo” stuff, but I know is a strong psychic who has blocked her gift) was coming down the stairs and calmly said, “No, Mom, it moved.  It’s in your bathtub now, where you do your meditations.”  She promptly left the house to meet her boyfriend, leaving us wondering how much of our conversation she had heard with her physical ears and how much she had just “picked up on.”

I love my kids.  They are just THE coolest people!  Why were they so accepting, calm, curious, about all this beyond-real-world stuff?  Maybe because, to their mother, it was normal to see ghosts, talk to energy beings, play with the elemental entities, sense the Presence of a loving Divine…I treated everything like it was normal because, to me, it IS normal, just part of Life.  They never got yelled at or slapped for sensing otherworldly things or talking about them.  No one freaked out, it was all fine.  Even their non-believing father accepted that his wife was a bit weird, so it was all good.  And yep, while hubby jokes we are knee-deep in shit, I prefer to call it ectoplasm; it’s easier to clean up and doesn’t smell.  Hey, it’s three (possibly four) ectoplasm believers against Capt’n Poopy-head!  We win!   😀

 

It’s A Doggie-do Life

I’ve been trying to write, but the weather keeps changing.  Every time the weather changes, the dogs go hyper.  They become the ultimate distraction.  I know, I know, I’m not supposed to liken them to human, not supposed to give them human attributes, but, come on, admit it, we all do it.  I do love our dogs, I also hate them.  Whoever said that a dog’s intelligence is almost equal to that of a three-year-old human was pretty close.  Except for the not speaking English part, dogs do remind me of human toddlers.

Our boxer is the one with ADD.  He can sleep for 18 hours and then bounce off the walls for 18.  It’s annoying.  It’s also funny because, yes, he literally bounces.  All four legs ramrod straight, bounce up and down like a child on a pogo stick.  Since he also thinks he should continue to grow and become a Great Dane – his head comes to my waist when he stands on four legs, he’s as tall as me (5’3″) when he stands on two legs – Mr. Pogo Stick can bounce to amazing heights.  This is fine and cute when he’s in our fenced in backyard and bounces up above our four foot high bushes to startle the golfers walking past our fence line (The 16th hole is directly behind us.).  It is not fine or cute when he does this on our walks, wrenching my fingers in the leash, crashing down into me, stomping on my feet.  I really need reinforced steel-toed combat boots…and, possibly, body armor…

I’ve tried to get hubby to come on our walks, help control the 90 pound toddler who has to investigate every movement and sound and fire ant hill, perhaps help protect me from the sometimes odd folk I pass while walking down the road to the pretty little park, spend some time with the wife, ya know?   Instead, he bought me a clip on your belt can of pepper spray…um, okaayyy…aw, hell, it’s kinda sweet, in a weird way….after all, he does know he married a woman who collects blades and keeps her double-headed battleaxe under her side of the bed…

Hubby often lets me fend for myself; I basically grew up in bars and have been a bar waitress most of my life.  Nothing too awful ever happened; and I was off the night one drunk shot up the bar.  Hubby was glad for that.  He could totally see me going for the gun and then pistol-whipping the guy for shooting at MY “girls” if I had been there that night.  He has yet to bail me out of jail and would like to keep it that way.  He did stop me from beating up one drunk bitch who kicked me in the ass when we were playing pool one night.  He said he saw me whip around, pool stick in hand, and the look on my face…well, he grabbed me and “escorted” me out of the bar.  He says I get “crazy angry” and he figures it’s safer to just whisk me away from situations.  And I don’t even drink!  Sheesh!

Our other dog is a mutt, part beagle, collie, terrier; she’s cute in a homely kind of way.  She’s 45 pounds lighter and much smaller than Ranger the boxer and she completely dominates him.  I walk them on a doubled leash, connected together.  They trot slightly ahead of me; the best way to describe it is that it’s like holding the reins to a two-in-hand buggy and I actually have better control with them connected.  Yo-yo is quite well-trained, Ranger, not so much.  If he gets loose, he runs and will not come back when called or whistled for.  Yo-yo will fetch him and try to herd him back, which doesn’t work very well; he’s too fast.  So, with her on the other end of the leash, if I trip and drop it, she will plant herself, all 45 pounds of muscle and barrel chest digging in while Ranger tries to take off for the wonderful busy road with all those pretty fast-moving cars dashing along it.  Yo-yo will lower her head, choking while Ranger pulls for freedom, and glare at me until I pick myself up and grab the leash again.

I am so glad we no longer live in the desert where a clumsy woman walking a dog like Ranger would be a death sentence, or, at the very least, a cactus encounter.  And don’t get me started on what Ranger might have done if he spotted a rattlesnake, scorpion or coyote!  It’s bad enough being yanked into trees or pulled off my feet to be dragged through a fire ant hill…oh, it’s okay, we’re doing much better now.  He’s still distracted by anything, but I’ve learned to stay alert!  Fewer bruises that way.

Growing up, I didn’t like dogs.  Granted, there was only one nice dog in our neighborhood – a big loving black New  Foundland.  He was a sweetie.  And Melissa’s dog was okay; he pretty much ignored me and I was cool with that.  But all the other dogs I knew when I was a kid were horrible beasts.  As an adult, I now understand it was their humans who were at fault for not training them properly.  I’m proud to say all our dogs that hubby and I have adopted were all sweet and well-behaved to humans and other animals.  They were not Hurricane Maryann or any type of Poodlepuff for that matter, or Chiayowyowchompers or yappyYorkies or ankle-biting bits of fluff.  We owned DOGS – as in medium to big and we were responsible pet owners who trained such dogs to behave.

Hurricane Maryann was my best friend Nancy’s mother’s dog.  In her defense, Maryann was locked in the basement all day while Gwen was at work and Nancy was at school.  She was a gray poodle who never got any grooming and only wanted attention from Gwen.  Gwen would get home, say hi to us, then close the kitchen door and then open the basement door.  Nancy and I would stay out in the living room.  We could hear Maryann racing up the stairs, barking louder than a locomotive, and then the crazed animal would hit the kitchen door, growling insanely and actually rattling the thick hardwood in its hinges.  She would repeat her attack on the door until something Gwen did stopped her.  I never knew what it was – maybe Gwen would feed her or pet her?  Through it all, we could hear Gwen chattering away or singing while her demented poodle barked and growled and gnawed on the kitchen door.  I rarely saw Maryann, just a glimpse as she charged at my throat before Gwen slammed the kitchen door shut and told her, “Oh, sweetie, that’s Eileen, you know her, now stop that.  Here, have a cookie.”  Yep, not sure who was the truly fruit loop there, but I loved Gwen, she was more a mother to me than my own mom most of the time.  Just had to be careful if Maryann was loose…

Another neighbor had a Standard white Poodle, and white carpets.  Same situation except the guy never locked the dog away when we visited and this dog was silent and deadly.  He could fly across that white carpet unseen and be snapping at your legs, waist or hands before you knew he was on you.  And the owner would say, “Oh, he’s just saying hello.”  Then the dog would happily pee all over us while we dripped blood onto that somewhat white carpet…

One friend owned a Chiayowrat.  Ugly, nasty, noisy rat-dogs.  It never shut up and it loved to bite.  And, again, the stupid owner would just wave off the behavior.  Pardon me while I drop-kick your pet monster into next Tuesday on my way to the Emergency Room…

I was walking to the park with my three year old son one day and a cocker spaniel came charging across the road.  He went straight for my baby.  I scooped up Brian and the dog actually started climbing me to get to my boy.  With Brian on my shoulders, clutching my hair, head, throat, I kicked and screamed at that dog.  Luckily, I was wearing jeans – lots of bruises on my legs, but his teeth didn’t break my skin.  A lady in a bathrobe wandered across a yard and shouted for her poochie to come home.  She didn’t come get him, she didn’t obey my screams to come get him, she just stood there, watching her dog try to rip my jeans off in his attempt to rip open my son’s throat.  Stupid f@cking human…

We were a cat family.  My parents, crazy as they were, loved animals, but especially cats.  So it was a real surprise when they let my little sister adopt a beagle puppy.  We must have been around ten and eleven at the time.  Christine promised all the usual things a kid promises, and, of course, never followed through. And none of us had ever owned a dog, so we didn’t know how to train her.  Heidi was cute as a puppy but a terror.  She chewed up everything.  Our older sister almost killed her by kicking her downstairs after finding the puppy had chewed up all Mary Lou’s fancy high heeled shoes.  She was almost impossible to house-train.  I’d cover the kitchen floor with newspapers and she would still do her doggie-dos in the living room.  Yeah, me.  It fell to me to potty-train the puppy, feed the puppy, get beaten on when the puppy misbehaved…Our parents and Christine loved that dog, me?  Nope, not a lick.

So, yeah, I pretty much hated dogs.

Then, early in our marriage, hubby decided we needed a dog.  He had grown up with dogs and liked them.  He didn’t think he liked cats, but our Missy changed that.  At fifteen, Missy was a furry fluffy tabby grande dame.  Her favorite spot to lounge was around a man’s shoulders, purring softly in his ear.  What man, or sixteen year old boy in hubby’s case, could resist such feminine wiles?  Hubby married me, knowing my cats were part of the deal, but he wanted a dog.

I said okay reluctantly, wishing there was a dog breed that was more like a cat.  And, dear Randy went and found one.  We got a cream-colored Chow Chow puppy.  His official name was Tub’a Cream, but we called him Tubba.  He was adorable, soft, loving, loyal, and he’d groom himself like a cat.  Properly groomed Chows don’t even smell like dogs!  He loved kids, the cats, women, Randy and me.  But woe onto any adult male who came onto our property.  Tubba would lunge to the end of his chain, rarely barking, just softly growling if a strange man approached.  If it was someone I knew and I called to the dog while shaking the man’s hand, Tubba would stand down.  He also knew who exactly could enter the house and the route they would take.

He never lunged or growled at kids, any kid, known and unknown.  Only once: The kids were playing hide-and-seek and the one little girl hid in the garage, or tried to.  She startled Tubba and he snapped at her.  She jumped up on the car to escape him and the bite was actually just a scrape (fast little girl, thank god!), but it scared me.  I kept a closer watch after that, warning the kids away from the dark garage – Tubba was old by then and most likely losing his sharp senses.

He proved his loyalty a number of times.  Once in the summer, when we were out on the lawn, kids playing in the little kiddie pool, me lounging nearby with Tubba on his leash under my chair…the mailman pulled up.  Tubba knew him, knew he walked to the mailbox every day, but this time the mailman decided to leave his usual route of going to the mailbox and came over to give me the mail.  One tiny alteration to his usual route…He stepped onto the grass and Tubba exploded out from under my chair to defend his family from the intruder.

One day, I was changing the baby’s diapers and our toddler daughter managed to open the back door.  I came into the kitchen and found her diaper, an open door, no daughter and no dog.  A big gold Cadillac with an elderly couple inside pulled into my driveway as I hurried outside to search.  The man rolled down his window and asked, “Do you own a big blond dog and a little blonde girl?”

“Yes!”

“They’re walking down the middle of the road.  The dog won’t let us near her.  Get in; we’ll take you to them.”

It had only been a couple of minutes and they hadn’t gotten far (we lived in a small town then).  And they were actually on their way back home.  Tubba had turned Jessie around and was herding her back to the house.  There was my two-and-a-half year old daughter, babbling happily to her dog, sauntering along the middle of the road, naked as the day she was born…in tears, I picked her up and got back in the car with both babies, but Tubba wouldn’t get in.  He trotted merrily alongside as that sweet older man took us home.

Tubba died happy, doing what he loved – playing with his kids.  They had hitched him up to the toboggan one New Year’s and he towed them around the yard, down the snow-covered street.  Then they left him sleeping in the snow (which he preferred to his dog house, strangely, he was always quite warm and snug in his snowdrift, I know, cause I checked!) and went in to warm up with cocoa.  The next morning, he was dead.  We think he died of a heart attack; he was pretty old for a big dog by then, over ten years.

But the dog I really fell in love with was Dizzi.  Our daughter was in high school and brought home a pit bull puppy.  I so did NOT want another dog at that point in our lives; things were pretty troubled back then.  But Dizzi was delightful and Jess trained her beautifully.  So did Dodger, my 15 pound silver-tipped tabby cat.  Dodger thought he was a dog – he would play Fetch, he would run to the door when someone came over, and he taught Dizzi all his tricks.  They would chase each other across the house, across the top of the sofa, coffee table, dining room table – which was the funniest and I think Dodger planned it.  He would jump up and race across that long table and Dizzi would be right behind him.  Her nails didn’t have the traction the cat’s did.  She’d hit the table and skitter across it to fall off the end in a clumsy roll.  You could see Dodger laughing his ass off.  Good thing pit bulls are nearly indestructible and impervious to pain.  Dizzi would bounce up and want to do it all over again.

She’s the most intelligent dog I’ve ever met, loyal, sweet, loving…she thinks she’s a tiny lap dog and always wants to cuddle.

Ah, yes, welcome to some of my Doggie-do Life…train them well, love them and, yes, indeed, remember:  They are as human as you, and in many ways, far better people than any human could ever hope to be.