January Thy Name is Vulture

My bones are picked clean. Stark white and absent of anything to give. I am as dry and hollow as a long forgotten well.

The past weeks gathered around me taunting like school yard bullies threatening my spirit and taking away my strength. Leaving me as empty as a pocket void of lunch money.

I am even short on words. Notice the lack of posts? I do. I want to write, truly I do. I just have nothing in me. And if something happens that even so much as flirts with post possibility, by the time I sit before my computer I am either too tired to type it out or cannot remember - for the life of me - what I was going to write. Evil brain.

January has been unkind and harsh. Like a bitter old woman, cold and soulless. And because she would not have your warmth, she spreads over you like a disease. Tainted, your thoughts begin to chill and your heart starts to harden. I hope January is in no way portent of the next 11 months. And just why do we think of January that way?

My best friend Sharon used to call this month Suckuary. I say 'used to' because this year she set her mind to not being contaminated by the witch's viral hand - she was successful. I've read several other friend's blog posts on the topic of disdain for January and although I understand their aversion, I would not (normally) agree.

I myself, love January. I delight in the docile grayness of the sky. I savor the rainy days, holding on to them like fresh cup of coffee. All year I wait to feel the cold wind, the kind that races past your face taking your breath with it. The darkness that lingers long in the morning and waits till the last moment to leave in the evening. How the trees disrobed of their leaves seem to search hauntingly for their identity, which has been strewn across yards like so much laundry waiting to be washed. The deep hibernation of nature - life on hold, waiting for a new start.

So you would think with all that to enjoy, for me any way, this month would not have taken its toll. But it did. The tax man has exacted his fees and then some. I do not mean to whine so. Sorry, perhaps you've stopped reading by now because of the dreariness of it all. But it must be said, it must come out.

And so, it is with impatience that I wait for February 1. Yes, only 2 days away but as a friend of mine says, come on ice cream. She uses it in an entirely different context, but I think it's fitting.

If A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Then these two pictures are worth about eight thousand dollars.

Death Becomes Her

Oh honey, it may become her, but it's so not a good look for me.

I no longer feel as if I've been completely covered in IcyHot and had my head stuffed by a taxidermist. I am no longer moving like I'm being tasered. I am beginning to dig myself out from under the piles of kleenex, bottles of diet ginger ale, bottles of antibiotics, blankets and ice packs.

Soon I will be able to push through to the surface, I can see light breaking through and it is beautiful.

However you define normal, that is what I long to be. Normal. Breathe normal. Talk normal. Think normal. Dream normal.

Dream normal would be a good place to start. I've had some VERY strange dreams of late.

Like having triplet newborn babies and I was never pregnant, nor did I adopt. I just had them.

Like ballerinas and sled dogs. Like teaching birds to fly.

My kids said they know I am feeling better because I yelled about my house being dirty. I want to see my friends and have a solid meal. And I actually want to go back to work.

Soon friends. Very soon.

The Circus Comes to Town

And in this ring...

Hi friends. I know it's been a day or two, but this week life has been a circus.

With Stephen King as the Ring Master.

It all started well enough. Back to work on Monday and so on.

But Tuesday I started to hear the little voice of death that says "I'm coming. And there is nothing you can do about it." Death's name is the flu. Death has no sense of humor. We only thought the nasty little guy was done with us. I thought I had escaped his grip the first time around. But alas, he realized his error.

Tuesday night my husband started to experience a lot of pain. Being the compassionate and merciful wife that I am, I rolled my eyes and thought to myself, "Can I never be the one who is sick?" Turns out I can, but not alone.

After a night of pain, a phone call to the doctor, a trip to the pharmacy and plenty of soup later, I thought we would be good to go. To sleep. So I could die in peace. Nope, folks - pop the popcorn, grab some cotton candy cause the circus just got started. Here come the clowns.

Around oh say, 10 Wednesday, hubby love starts to YELL in pain. Now I was worried before, but I am, at this point, more than very concerned. My husband is not a wimp. He does not make more of his illness than it is. No man-flu for him. (Thanks Ali for educating me on that term. Hope you are feeling a bit better!)

The doctor only confirmed my fears, "Get to the emergency room NOW." Great doc, got any double rooms at the inn? We get to the ER or ED or whatever you prefer to call it. And of course we rush in they take him right in and 10 minutes later they...yeah right. We did go right in and then right out into the waiting room. His pain worsens. I mean, at one point it got so bad he was on his hands and knees. That made me cry.

The Triage nurse sees my husband on the floor and talks to the ER doctor and they bring him back despite the fact that there are several ahead of him. The questions and the tests begin. He is in good hands. We wait several hours but they check on him regularly.

On top of all this, this very day both of my kids had a dentist appointment to have teeth pulled.

Now, normally I would have canceled the appointment and they gladly would have let me. But we have waited for a month for this day and the next step after is to have braces put on. So since the doctors assured me he was going to live, I figured I wouldn't wait another month to have this done.

So, once they took hubby to have a CAT Scan, I ran to take the kids. All went well, we return to the hospital only 1 1/2 hours later. He is still in CAT Scan.

People come and visit Jesse. We wait some more. Around nine that night they give him a diagnosis of diverticulitis. They let him go home with the understanding that if he does not keep his antibiotics or liquid diet down he must return to be hospitalized. At this point I think he would agree to just about anything to be at home.

The next morning I run to get his prescriptions filled, buy some more soup and some ginger ale. I play nurse to all three. Dish out pain meds, soup, ice water, ginger ale. More pain meds, antibiotics. Help up. Help back in bed. More pain meds. I didn't have time to deal with mr. death, but he is patient. He waited until I passed out that evening and gave me the full measure of his wrath. I guess I am the contortionist and the trapeze artist in the center ring.

So, today was spent dying. And coughing. And sleeping. I think there was a movie on about ballerinas, Mel Gibson and pork chops, but I don't remember if that was a feverish dream at this point. And I didn't even get to partake in the pain medicine.

Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes our show - Cirque du Moya. The clowns have left and the tents are empty. Nothing left of the fun but peanut shells, tummy aches and elephant poo.

Hope you enjoyed the show. I am returning to the tent to continue dying. Maybe watch the Mel Gibson ballerina & pork chop movie again. He did look pretty funny in a tutu.

Love & Laundry

A tree root has interrupted life as we once knew it.

It seems the inescapable eventuality of anything growing is growing pain. In our case the pain came in the form of a clogged pipe that drains from our washing machine into the great unknown. So rather than draining like a good pipe should when the rinse cycle comes to town, the stupid thing vomits it's sudsy bile all over the garage floor like a kid full of cotton candy on the tilt-a-whirl.

So we did what everyone in this situation does: we ignored it and hoped itwould fix itself. But just like a child, when a problem is ignored or left to its own devices you will eventually have more serious consequences to deal with in the end. Consequences such as 30 piles of laundry and nothing to wear or like a washing machine that has an eating disorder.

The next predictable course of action is to attempt to rectify the situation with the easiest - which in our household goes obligatorily hand in hand with cheapest - method available. Odds are usually against you in these type situations because cheap and easy is just a cheerleader you hated in high school and not pertaining to your circumstance in the least bit.

(No offense to any cheerleaders who may be reading this post. Go Spartans!)

And lo these many weeks and puddles of sudsy hurl later the situation remains the same. The laundry has multiplied like unpaid tax penalties, becoming a seemingly insurmountable well, mountain and we still have a tree root in our pipe.

The tree root will have to remain, for now. From everyone we've talked to, this rates right up there in cost with a home mortgage or a college tuition. And since we just traded in Jesse's leg and my arm for our kids braces, remedying the situation professionally is not an option.

So, this morning at the crack of dawn we loaded up the Trooper with our dirty laundry and we headed to the nearest laundromat. Yee haw. It may seem strange, but to me laundromats are dirty, creepy and really a challenge for a person who is borderline OCD to endure. They are a necessary evil to be sure. I just don't like the idea of washing or drying my clothes in the same machines that hundreds of other people have used. *shudder*

Of course if you think about it the only other alternative, if you want to have clean clothes, is to throw everything away and start over and as exciting as that sounds (especially after a 12 hour marathon of What Not to Wear) it would mean one would have to shop for hours on end, possibly even at the mall, to do so. I hate to shop and I hate the mall. Choice made.

3 1/2 hours and $30 in quarters later we have clean laundry. For a day or two.

I don't think I've been to a laundromat in 20 years and I've never been to this particular one, but walking in was like stepping in to a time warp or encountering a small ripple in the fabric of the space-time continuum. (Psst, I have no clue what that means, but it sounds really cool and scientific like.) The same well used machines & cavernous dryers. The same well worn and quite annoyed attendant, the same gathering of stock characters (pick a culture, any culture) as 20 years ago.

There was one difference...20 years ago I went with my children alone. This time I had my husband with me. The cool thing was most of the women there had their husband or boyfriend there with them. Jesse, the children and I worked together bringing down the mountain one pebble at a time. In between switching or folding loads we sat together talking, laughing, watching the spin cycle and trying to ignore the horrible tacky Spanish soap opera being shown on all 4 TVs.

My daughter tells her father a joke and he laughs, adoration lighting his eyes. My son is completely at peace reading a book and holding my hand. Children go running by and we watch them all commenting on this one's chubby cheeks or an other's familiar face. And I feel such contentment.

Because I think, this is where you feel love. Not the Spanish soap opera. No, love is seen in the simple tasks, and found in the daily routine. Love is getting into the trenches up to your neck in dirty laundry tackling it together. Love shines in the most mundane of chores and is the glue in the fragmented chaos and normalcy of life.

And odd as it sounds, I'm so grateful for the tree roots of life. Grateful for the growing pains and the inconveniences, because in these times I remember what is good and important in the scheme of things. The small wonderful moments are like a family, irrevocably tied to one another - woven together one fiber at a time and braided around one another.


So by now, each of you know that I have a daughter serving our country in the Middle East.

Hey Erienne! I love you!

She emailed to tell me that Robin Williams just did the USO Show overseas in the Middle East. She was there and something happened - unexpectedly (at least for him) during his show.

This something is called Flag Retreat. Reveille sounds and everything and everyone comes to a halt and salutes the flag as it comes down. And as she explains it is to honor all those who have served, fallen and to honor the flag and your country.

She told her brother (also in the Army) about it and they agreed it would probably end up in his act.

She sent this clip in her email and lo and behold here he was on David Letterman talking about it. You cannot see her, just know she is there in the crowd, and she makes her momma proud.

(I didn't mean to rhyme that. No, seriously.) ***EDIT-David Leetterman says Iraq, however this was filmed in Kuwait. Where she is....

Too Many Things...

"Girl, you are just too many things!"

A friend of mine used to say that to me all the time. I haven't seen him in forever and I think about him often. And trust me when I say, not in that way.

I knew him when I worked at the hospital in the pharmacy, he worked across the hall in respiratory therapy. We would see each other all over the hospital and often have lunch together. And he always, always made me laugh.

He reminded me of Geraldine. Sadly, some of you (probably most of you) are asking just who the heck is Geraldine? Below is a little educational video. Go ahead, learn something.

Oh Killah honey, you know "What you see is what you get!" Geraldine was the persona that embodied the comic genius that was Flip Wilson. For the younger crowd, he would be a forerunner to say, Wayne Brady.

But truly neither Geraldine, Flip nor my old friend at the hospital have anything to do with this post.

The Too Many Things? Well, that refers to too many things to blog about, too many things not important enough to garner one post and too many things going on in my life keeping me from blogging.

What in all of creation could possibly keep me from the blog world I so dearly love?

Oh dearies, things like hellish mutant bacteria on steroids violently invading our home. Arriving with their luggages full of all manor of vile symptoms. And like a relative during the holidays, they will not take a hint that it is time for them to leave.

Things like the dreaded phrase 'vacation is over' 3 words that strike fear in the hearts of men, women and children all over the world. The significance of those 3 expletives being the cause of tempers rising up from the very depths which you buried them under. Buried deep under things such as naps and sleeping in and long lunches with friends and naps. Rising up and attacking those around you who dare expect you to work your first days back and be happy about it. Sapping every precious ounce of stress free moments and relaxation you had wrung from your time away within minutes of your return.


And it's not like I've been without fodder. I just can't seem to make much out of what I've been given.

For instance...

I think my dog is a cross dresser.

Absurd you say? Well then, explain this - he regularly shops. Yes, shops. He goes to rooms looking for items and brings them to his crate or wherever he is adding to his collection at the moment.

And not just any items. Oh no. Almost always he shops for items that only a woman would want. Lacy or flowery bras for instance. Or fuzzy pink floppy top hats. Or dress shoes. And it's not just that he shops for them. He proceeds to...how shall I put this?...enjoy them, in a way that only a woman would.

It is really very hard to explain. But suffice it to say, these items of interest do not become chew toys, do not get buried, they do not in any way shape or form become his bedding. It is more like, he um, shows them off.

"Look what I have found! And it was on sale too!!"

Let me see, let me see, what else have I wanted to share with you.

Oh yeah, my kids are getting braces. First the dentist will pull teeth out of their tiny crowded mouths and then the braces go on. They need them badly too! That said, we will be having a steady diet of ramen noodles and beans. Not together.

The blessed relief that is ice cold winter is gone. Sniff. The first week of January ushered in typical Houston heat and mugginess. Being well insulated I am not a fan of anything over say 55 degrees. Alas, today should bring a little cooler weather and I am truly grateful for not having the havoc wreaked upon us that has been across much of the country by snow, tornados and rain.

I mentioned last year was the year the muffin stayed down, this year I have determined to 'Just keep swimming'. It is what I tell myself when the energy begins to wane in the battle that is sometimes life. That is why you see Dory next to my name. That, and I am extremely forgetful, dingy, and loyal.

On another blog I read that I just cannot get enough of, there was this post. As her posts often do, this one made me think. I wondered what word will be my word for this year. What recurring message will I give to myself? If "Just keep swimming" is my phrase, what is the word? I commented on the post that inspire is a word that comes to mind, but can be considered cheesy or perhaps is overused in the Christian realm. God breathed. I need more of His breath to be sure. So I think my word for the year is breathe. Breathe both in and out. Breathe Him in and let go of the breath I hold onto - my life. Stop holding my breath like a pouty toddler trying to get my way and breathe. Stop holding my breath in fear of what may come and breathe. Breathe in and out. I wrote about that on this post and I think it is a good daily reminder.

One last thing. And she wanted me to tell ya'll this:

My daughter was giving little kisses to the cross dressing dog the other day.

Right on the mouth. I know, ew. But I think she liked his strawberry glitter lip gloss...

I told her "Elena, you keep kissing that dog and you are going to get all kinds of germs. Not to mention boys won't...JUST keep kissing the dog. Just keep kissing the dog."

She laughed. She thinks I'm kidding.

And It Was Blueberry Too...

Not too long ago I flew for the first time in my almost 40 year old (at the time) life. It's not that I was too afraid of flying to try it, on the contrary, I was very much looking forward to having the chance one day. Which is odd, considering I am absolutely terrified of even the slightest measure of height to the point of needing a handful of strong tranquilizers washed down with a bottle of any hard liquor available in order to cope with the screaming. The problem was always that the opportunity to travel and the funds to do so never seemed to have time for one another.

And when I finally took my maiden air voyage, I took note of every detail of the momentous occasion. My trusty guide was next to me and not completely feeling the same level of excitement. Apparently this feeling was reserved for the far less experienced souls. He had too many flights under his belt to be moved. However, I knew he enjoyed the fact that I was very much in awe of the whole experience.

While we waited for our flight to be called I compared everyone waiting with us in the terminal to the characters of Lost. I wondered if we were to crash on an island who would be our Kate, our Jack and of course our Sawyer. Who would be the Sayid or the Charlie and my absolute favorite, Hurley. Looking around it seemed I would have to be Hurley. Dude.

Once we boarded I felt my happiness wane. Seems the air conditioning on the plane had not yet kicked in and the temperature inside had reached a balmy 87 degrees. That coupled with 50 people packed in the area the size of a doctor's waiting room with chairs just as small and no personal space to be found anywhere, it was just a tad stuffy. I began to feel nauseous.

I tried to keep my mind off the heat with some more people watching. The sound of the air conditioner vent overhead attempting to make life more bearable was laughable as it seemed to be motored by an engine from a remote control car.

Just then a group of 5 or 6 young men boarded the plane, they were laughing and teasing one another with amicable insults. I gathered that one of the guys was along for his first flight as well. And unlike me, he was scared. And as friends tend to do, they were taking the opportunity to milk it for all it was worth.

To the left of us across the aisle was an older gentleman in a suit. He was reading a book written in what looked to be Chinese. I am almost certain it was a bible. Perhaps that's just what I wanted it to be.

The guy in front of us made small talk with the young lady next to him. He was older and sleazy like a character you would see on CSI: Las Vegas. You know the suspect trying to play it cool all the while he has a fine sheen of sweat on his greasy brow which is a dead give away to the interrogator that this guy was his for the picking. The girl reminded me of a someone who had been far from home far too long. She was dressed goth but she didn't have the dark sullen attitude. Perhaps she had faced some demons that took the attitude down a notch or two. She was polite to him. He was way too close to her.

Finally and I mean finally, the Captain announced we were about to take off. At least I assumed that's what he said because I only heard something mumbled over the speaker which reminded me of a drive-thru order being repeated back to me. No fries for me thanks, I am kind of queasy.

We taxied. We took off. We flew. I looked out the peephole that served as my window as best I could without causing serious nerve damage to my neck. It was all so beautiful.

Until we got to Detroit. Apparently Detroit was experiencing the thunderstorm from hell. For reasons unbeknownst to me the pilot went straight through the storm. I had always thought they were supposed to go around the storm by changing their flight plan or maybe land in another city. Or perhaps I watch too much tv. I guess he had his Wheaties that morning and was feeling rather confident about his piloting skills. Not me. I began to feel the fear rise in my throat like one too many tacos.

I repeatedly and I mean numerously asked my trusty guide if this was normal, did this always happen? Are you always tossed about like delicates in a dryer? And each time he assured me that yes, at times it can be pretty bumpy, and yes this was pretty much normal. His confidence and assurances did nothing to loosen my pit bull grip around his hand or remove my nails from his flesh.

It wasn't until we drove away from the airport terminal in our nice little rental that he confessed that this flight was - in the history of his hundreds of air travel experiences - the worst turbulence ever.

Of course. Why wouldn't it be anything less than the makings of a cheesy disaster movie?

When our plane finally did touch the blessed earth every single passenger on the plane was completely and utterly silent. No one chatted, no one coughed, no one whispered. No babies cried. We simply stood and gathered our things.

Then out of the silence came a voice. One filled with a shaky courage. This voice spoke to each of our souls. The words he uttered were magical - in one instant melted the icy fear that had frozen our countenances. It was not our Captain. Oh no, this came from within the circle. It was none other than the fearful young man, who like me, had just endured his very first mid-air heart attack, er, flight.

He said,

"So uh, so uh, the muffin stayed down eh."

Laughter. Relief. Release. We had made it. Sure each of us had considered the very small paper bag that was tucked in the seat in front of us with all its implications. Each of us had eyed the tiny compartment from which our oxygen would drop, wondering if if would come to that. Each of us had faced our own mortality and lived to see another day. And the muffin stayed down.

Our business taken care of we returned home to our kids. And the first story I shared with them regarding my virgin flight was the muffin.

To this day it is a catchphrase used in our home to signify we had made it through whatever. Another trial faced and finished, the muffin stayed down. One more battle fought and won, no one tossed their muffins.

And why am I telling you this story? It is that very catchphrase that comes to mind when I think about trying to explain the year that was 2007.

It was, at times very rough seas and several times I nearly slipped off the boat into the treacherous waters. Once or twice we nearly capsized. There were days we had to bail water to stay afloat, but we made it.

Muffin intact.