Thursday, May 14, 2009

a little snip here....

I want a nice lawn.

No, I want a fantabulous lawn! One that is green, lush, beckons you to place your tender bare foot on its soft, velvet grass... What I actually have is somewhat of a cross between a furrowed field and bombed out Beirut, currently being overrun by a creep named Charlie, but does show some promise in the front yard (if I could just get rid of the thousands of dandy-lions prancing about).

I've inherited from my father the Anal Lawn Gene, which requires that I know such things as:

(1) First take two laps around the outside of the lawn (this is where you turn around). These laps should be with the clippings being shot TOWARDS the center of the lawn. Not shooting out to the street, or along the sidewalks, or at the house.

(2) Mowing should be done SLOWLY. If you're traveling a bumpy trail at warp speed the mower will "jump" - so will the blades. This means you will miss cutting parts of the lawn leaving you with a choppy haircut.

(3) Grass should be clipped between two-and-a-half and three inches in height. Scalping the lawn is not pretty. Sure, if you hit dirt it'll probably be another six weeks before the grass grows to a height requiring a subsequent trim, but for those six weeks the lawn will be U-G-L-Y.

I have many other lawn-care requirements (when to sharpen blades, alternating cutting in columns, rows and diaganols, etc.) but I can save those for a rainy day. My point now is to say that the Big V has not, does not, and will not prescribe to the above Lawn Commandments. Much to my delight, this means lawn care is left in my hands.

Considering Cletus the Fetus has taken much of the space my lungs would normally enjoy, not to mention draining me from pretty much every ounce of energy I may have once drawn from, pushing a non-selfpropelled ancient lawn mower around for two hours is not quite the aphrodisiac it once was. The Big V performed the first cut of the season proving to me that the only choice I now had was to pay for the outside services of lawn care.

Enter my brother.

Ah, yes. What a choice that was. I don't want to get into too much detail, but to quickly bring you up to speed this is the brother who brags about all the work he does, but spends so much time bragging he doesn't actually have any time to commit to the work itself. He used to drive a semi truck, but hurt his back and now can't. So he decided to start a lawn mowing service. (Don't get me started on how much more comfortable a lawn mower is to the heavy duty air ride seats of a Mack Truck...) Considering all he had on his calendar was to sit at the local bar monitoring his hoochie-mama girlfriend while she was working her shift as the popular beer disperser to ensure she didn't forget she was in a committed relationship and accidently go home with one of the better tipping patrons, I figured he had enough time on his hands to cut one lousy lawn.

I called him on a Wednesday, grass up to my knees, to see if he'd be a good fit. Yep, he assured me, he's as anal about his lawn as it sounds I am about mine. Yep, he continued, the lawn would be cut once a week and all clipping removed from the site. Yep, he convinced me, he'd do it right away.

Three sunny days later I called him up. Well, it was Saturday and he was busy with the hoochie... so, maybe Sunday... which happened to actually be Tuesday. Forty minutes later the hay field was cut, but his weedeater stopped consuming the weeds. Big V loaned him ours (which he still has in his custody) to finish the job. But it needed string which my brother went to get but never came back. The weeds continued growing. So did the grass.

A week later I called again: "So... my lawn's getting pretty long...." But he was busy. Doing who knows what. Seriously. He isn't employed. He should have lots of time on his hands. Nine days from the last cut (did I not specify once a week? A week is seven days people, not nine!) the lawn sat untouched.

By now I was experiencing heart palpatations every time I turned the corner to our house. I drove in shame as I imagined my neighbors with their trim greenery shaking their heads. "I know I can have the best lawn on the block! Trust me!" I wanted to scream.

Last night was the ninth day. Lawn untouched. My unemployed brother was busy. Again. This time clothes shopping for his six day trip to Vegas. He was leaving in the morning. (Who goes to Vegas for six days?! It's not like you're going to be taking historic tours all week.) This news meant two things to me: (1) My unemployed brother has more money than I do. And (2) my lawn would not be cut for at least seven days. That's a total of 16 days between cuts, people! Unacceptable.

I gathered my baby bump, threw on my sneakers and ordered the Big V to start the push mower! (It's too hard for me to start. Believe me, I have tried.)

After ten minutes or so a neighbor came driving by on his used Murry rider, complete with sign "$250 or best offer" attached. Proving the thing can cut grass he hopped right up to our lawn and started cutting away - not in the nice, straight lines I was doing, but in these wavy, curly, swoop arounds that made me just about pick up a stick and hit him in the head. But it did cut.

"What do you think?" Big V asked.

"I think I'm hormonal and uncomfortable and I think I hate my brother."

"No, I meant about the rider for sale."

"I don't care. Look, it's obvious I can't count on my brother. It's obvious I can't cut it. And it's obvious you lack the appropriate skills to mow the lawn my way - so let's get the rider. BUT - tell him $200 cash now is the best offer. Not a penny more. Not a single cent. Tell him all we have budgeted is $200 and we can't eek out another penny. Got it? $200 MAX. If he doesn't want it - walk away. We don't need it."

I spied on them as they were man-talking in the back yard. The doofus neighbor pointing out this and that. The Big V, arms crossed, shaking his head, looking very authoratative. I was so proud of my crappy lawn mower fiance! So he can't cut a lawn worth a darn - look how he was taking control.

Eventually my seething anger over my can't-depend-on brother, the non-selfpropelled push mower, and the fact that I can barely bend down and tie my shoes anymore wore off. I decided to wander to the back yard to see what was going on (and to get my boyfriend to stop yapping and finish up this lawn).

I met the doofus neighbor who shook my hand with his puffy, sweatty, boneless hand... (you know the type of hand - it's squishy, with no internal form whatsoever. So icky.) He told me how his wife is expecting too... yay! (Please don't let this mean we're going to be friends squishy-hand man) So we chit-chat about how his daughter's name is Ireland and her initials are I.R.S. and when he brought his taxes in he said, "And I brought the IRS with me!" and they said, "What?" And he said, "The IRS - My daughter's initials are IRS!" And we all had a good laugh over that. Twice. Because I guess it was so funny he felt the need to repeat it ten minutes later just in case we didn't fully appreciate the humor the first time around.

Eventually I managed to locate a break in his non-stop banter to announce, "I better get going and finish this lawn if I ever want to feed my kids. Nice meeting you."

As I was walking away I heard Big V say he should probably help out... to which the doofus neighbor replied that no problem, whenever we can get the remainder of the money to him that was ok. He understood about having to budget money.


I waited until doofus left to attack, uh, I mean, approach Big V.... To summarize the negotiations:

Big V: We'll give you $200 cash. Not a penny more.

Doofus: But we're poor and my wife is going to have a baby.

V: I talked it over with the lady of the house and all we are able to spend is two hundred.

D: But my house is in foreclosure and I'm on disability and don't work.

V: oh... I feel bad for you. Ok. Full asking price it is.

I think I should just be glad that Big V didn't offer MORE than asking price. What a haggler. But at least I have a rider now and can mow the grass just the way I want to.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Just another random Tuesday evening....

I had just pulled out of the office parking lot when my cell rang....(isn't this how it always begins?)

Mom? Mom?

Bean? I can hardly hear you...


You want me to Shhhsh?

Mom! Please! Just be quiet.

Ok. Why are you calling me whispering?

Because Gram's in the other room....

Where are you?

In the bathroom - SHHHHH!!!!

Ok, Bean, look - I'm in the car surrounded entirely by myself. No one can hear me. Trust me. Now, what do you need? And why are you whispering in Grandma's bathroom?

Not GRANDMA'S bathroom - PAPA'S bathroom.

Ok. Why are you whispering in Papa's bathroom?

Because I just.... you know... went... you know... went a lot....

Are you looking for a congratulatory trophy?

Mom! Please! This is serious. I need your help.

Aren't you a little old for me to wipe?


Ok. Sorry. I'm sorry. How can I help you -- from my car?

It won't flush.


The toilet. It won't flush!

Well just go tell Gram - she'll fix it.


Because... it's the most logical thing to do in this situation..?

I can't go tell Gram because Aunt Neen is here. They're talking. I don't want to be embarrassed. Can you just help me please?

Ok. Fine. What is the toilet doing?

Nothing. It's just sitting there.

No, I mean, when you go to flush it - what does it do? Does it make a sound? Does the handle not work? Does it wiggle? Does it do anything?

No, it doesn't do anything. It doesn't do anything! Mom you have to help me! It really stinks in here....

Ok, Bean, look. This is what I want you to do. Close the toilet seat and then you're going to put your phone down. Then you're going to take BOTH HANDS and carefully take the top of the toilet tank off and place it CAREFULLY on the toilet seat. Okay?

Ok. .......... What part is the toilet tank?

(oh, jesus.) Do you see the part of the toilet that is right up against the wall?


It's shaped like a rectangle?


That's the toilet tank. The top cover lifts off - but it's heavy, so use both hands.

Oh, okay. Got it. Hold on. I'm going to put my phone down.




It's off. Please hurry.

Ok. Ok. Now, what I want you to do is put your hand in the water and all the way to the bottom and pull that little flap --

Gross! I'm not sticking my hand in there!

It's clean water, Bean. It's just the side of the tank that looks gross but the water is clean.

It's still gross.

Do you want to get Grandma?


Then stick your hand down there and pull that flap.

What flap.

At the bottom of the tank - in the middle...

There is no flap.

There's no flap?


What is there?




There is absolutely nothing in the tank?

Well, there's this black thing - here - let me take a picture of it with my cell phone and then I'll send it to you. Call me back when you get it - but HURRY!

(It was at this point I called my sister hoping she would also be at my mother's house. Of course she wasn't. But she did tell me that the toilet in my dad's bathroom has been turned off because it was leaking. A-ha!)


Hello? Mom?

There's no water in the tank, is there?


That means the toilet has been turned off and you'll have to turn it back on to fill it up with water. Look down towards the floor and there will be a silver knob -

I see it! I see it!

Just turn that until the water starts coming into the toilet tank - the thing by the wall.

Ok...... ok! The water is filling up.... there's this black bubble thing and it keeps getting higher and higher.... it's about halfway there.... now a quarter... well, no, I mean there's a quarter left to fill. The way I said it would mean that the water was getting lower and it's not, it's getting higher.... it's almost there.... ok. It shut off all by itself. Now what?

Flush it.

Flush it?

Yes. Flush the toilet.

Ok.... I did it... it's working... NO IT'S NOT! NOT EVERYTHING WENT DOWN! THERE'S STILL STUFF IN THERE! Oh my gawd! Mom! You have to help me! It's not working!

Calm down. Just let the tank fill up again and flush it a second time....

..... ok... ok.... wow. A double flusher. That's pretty bad considering I'm only thirteen....

Is it working?

Yep..... Ok! Everything's down!

Alright. Just make sure the water is turned back off and look around to see if any water leaked on the floor - wipe that up if it did.

I will. Thanks, Mom. You saved my life!

Well, I'm glad I could save you. Any time....

Monday, May 11, 2009

"The Mother's Day that wasn't worth a mother ----"

At this point in the game I have accepted the fact that I will never be referred to as the nurturing mother that all children long to have. Perhaps it's because I rarely bake homemade goodies and generally serve dinner a-la-frozen-food style. Or maybe it's because the first thing I say is, "what did they do NOW?" when the teacher calls from school. It could be because if someone comes crying that they hurt themselves, but there's no obvious trail of blood, I console in the form of "suck it up - it's not like the arm is completely off."

But I did think maybe, possibly, perhaps by the Will of God Himself, I would have been doted on and served by two of the best mannered children for Mother's Day.

They came close.... if you count being woken up at 7 o'clock in the morning by a sugar-manicked teen: "MOM! MOM! Get up! You HAVE to get up! There's something in the garage - Mom - Did you hear me? There's-something-in-the-garage-and-I-think-it's-a-cat-with-rabies - MOM! GET UP!"

Shuffling through the house I actually had the perverse thought that if it really WAS a rabid cat, and I got bit, surely the staff at the hospital would allow me to sleep while they administered the IV and the series of belly shots....

But, alas, when I opened the door, there was no rabid cat. Instead I was met with two children sitting on top of my car (my youngest Dotter and my niece, about two years older), holding a plate of cookies, yelling HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! The car had been decorated - complete with window paint declaring their undying love for me. (Let's be honest, what mom doesn't want to drive around town with 'MY MOM ROCKS' sketched in their window?)

The hoodlums, uh, children stayed up literally all night decorating the car, baking cookies (and covering them with all the cake frosting they could find), and coloring various posters with poems, sayings & pictures meant to say "Thanks, Mom, for pushing us out of your vagina and keeping us better fed and watered than all the houseplants that you've managed to kill over the years."

Once the yay-ness wore off (which tends to be quickly at only 7 o'clock in the morning) I managed to shuffle back to bed for a couple more hours of shut eye, only to be reawakened by the sibling rivalry that would define what would be known as "The Mother's Day that wasn't worth a mother ----"

We spent the day fighting over who wanted to watch "Suite Life of Zach & Cody" and who wanted to watch "Keeping up with the Kardashians."

We fought over who took the hairbrush. Not the blue one (because that was still in the bathroom). Not the black one (because that was also still in the bathroom). But the red one. Which is the best one.

We fought over who took up more room on the couch. (Ok. I get this argument - because as a kid my sister always took up more room and that just wasn't fair... but still - like I wanted to relive it.)

We fought over what was for lunch - because obviously as the mother I only made the beef stroganoff because I knew the Bean absolutely hated it. (Disregard the fact she had two helpings of it.)

When I asked if anyone would like to help me do the dishes I was met with whines and complaints that they always have to do chores and can't they just have one day where they can just relax for a change? (hmmm... what a concept....)

When I asked if anyone would like to help me do laundry I was met with disgusted looks I loosely translated to "seriously. you need psychological help, mother."

The Big V tried: practically skipping through the house while he swept or put something away. (It was a tad exaggerated next to the immobile children, but I gave him extra points for enthusiasm, faked as it was.)

I did manage to escape for an hour -- to the grocery store. Normally it wouldn't count, but the nice cashier asked me if I wanted a flower in honor of Mother's Day. I realize he was only doing his job, but tears welled up in my eyes as I said, "yes! yes! oh, I'd just LOVE a flower for Mother's Day! My kids have been horrible and this just really made my day!" I stopped short of hugging him and asking if I could adopt him and his bucket of carnations....

Late in the afternoon I announced I was going on a walk and if anyone wanted to join me they were welcome. The Big V was out since he had a softball game (which I vehemently refused to go to because I knew his mother would be there and I just wasn't up for another round of "If You Don't Get Married The Way I Say You Should Get Married Then That Means You Don't Really Love My Son.") The Bean asked what store we were going to, to which I explained I was going on a walk for the sake of walking, not for the sake of buying. To which she responded that if I wanted to I could go to an ice cream shop and buy her a smoothie if I wanted to. So, she was out. Dotter looked just like the good daughter who gets stuck doing things with Mom because no one else wants to - so I grabbed her hand and took her with me.

That was an enjoyable part of the day. We scoped out some trails next to the cemetary that had a bunch of wooden foot bridges. She liked those. And I liked seeing her smile and explore. Of course, the Bean sent me a gazillion texts telling me I should get home because she was scared being left all alone by herself... and did we stop at the ice cream shop or not?

I made tacos for dinner (but had forgotten the envelope of taco seasoning - and wouldn't you know it? Not one of my cookbooks had the recipe for taco seasoning) which actually turned out pretty good... if I just block out the part where the Bean had a complete hormonal breakdown and burst into tears convinced the Big V stuck his tongue out at her while eating.

I guess this is what Mother's Day is all about - at least in my world. A complete non-guaranteed day... but one that I'll look back on and laugh, or shake my head, when remembering... especially on those long, quiet days when the girls will be grown, expecting the best of the best days with their own children. I'll just fondly remember my time with them while waiting for their phone call: "these kids are SO selfish! I just wanted ONE DAY! However did you do it, mom?!"

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dinner & a Dress with the Bean

Bean: "My buns smell weird - here, you smell them."

Bean: "Oh my gawd... I totally have to - OOPS! Too late!"

Bean: "Do you think four inch heels are too much for a thirteen year old?"

Bean: "Only a hundred and fourteen dollars? That's not bad for a dress. I'll probably even wear it more than once."