and then 2020 tried to kill me

This year will go down in history as a complete disaster. A world wide shit show.

I’ve been floating along this first half of the year like most of you. Just going with the flow. Dealing with pandemic stuff same as you. The great toilet paper shortage, wearing a mask to appear in public, grabbing any essentials you could find from the grocery shelf.

No dining out, no shopping in stores. No movie theaters, no bars, no parks. No being in public if you don’t need to be. You know normal American of ’20 stuff.

Some of us being off work and some of us being essential and subject to virus. It is pure crazy, Covid rates are up and down and none of it makes any sense but we are all terrified. I didn’t think it could get worse but then it did.

Monday was like any day. I went to work, I did the payroll and made the calls and sent the emails. I gossiped with my office mate and begged for 5pm to roll around on the time clock. I came home and had a normal dinner, cleaned up and packed a box for our upcoming move. I went to bed with the trusty alarm set for the next day. I cussed the need to work at all and fell asleep with the assumption I would be back at it Tuesday. Little did I know.

Sometime in the middle of the night I started to feel that nagging feeling in my gut like I had eaten something bad. Like week old sushi I bought at a gas station and left in my car on a hot summer night then chowed down on for breakfast after a night of mid week drinking. You know the feeling. Like something is very wrong.

It started as nausea. Then progressed to pain so bad I called out hours before the office would need opened. I thought a good day of rest and some OTC meds would do it. Not a chance. This is 2020 after all and there are no logical sequences to life.

At about 9am I gave up trying to rest and drove myself to the ER to see about what demon had crawled into my belly. By 11am I was in a whirlwind of needle sticks and hospital gowns about to be admitted. They said something about my liver and my gallbladder. As if I couldn’t tell by the searing pain something was wrong here.

The ER doc came into my dimly lit room sectioned off by a curtain and a glass door to throw the lights on like we were heading onstage to do a bit on a Broadway show.  She announced with a bit too much excitement that I had a gall stone. I was clearly taken back as I had been napping and must have looked at her oddly with my eyes closed into slivers trying to adjust. She said the stone was nearly as big as my gallbladder and did so with wide eyes as she peered at me over her face mask. It would have to come out ASAP, she said. It was the biggest she had ever seen. I would have laughed if I wasn’t still trying to figure out what the flip she just said and who she was.

Late Tuesday morning I was moved to my own room and the surgeon came in shortly after to see me. He said “whoa, that gallbladder is nasty! Girl, what you eat?” Fine, he didn’t say it like that but he did say there was a big problem in getting that sucker out. Apparently my body was near the stage of giving up, the stone had caused a blockage and infection and thus created a swollen giant. One very angry gallbladder was coming out one way or another. He ordered an antibiotic drip, pain killers and an ice chip diet. He promised to be back the next day to see if we had any improvement before surgery.

I ate my ice chips and sulked all day on Tuesday. I was in alot of pain so sleep was a blessing. Wednesday morning the surgeon comes in and checks things out. Still not happy with the progress he orders a day of clear liquid and more antibiotics. “The swelling must come down, maybe tomorrow” he gave me hope for the next day and left. I sipped my veggie broth and ate more ice chips. I don’t remember much else. The pain was getting unbearable. Another ice chip diet started at midnight. The demon was getting cranky without chicken tenders, I guess, and my pain was unreal.

Thursday morning rolls around. Success! The swelling is down and the surgery is scheduled for noon. I let everyone know via text.

11:15 AM Thursday morning and I am rolled to surgery. Getting closer! I am shaking and nervous and very tired but I am trying to be a trooper. My IV clogs or stops working or like 2020 just gives in entirely to chaos. They need to start a new line.

Panic is setting in now because for each  time I have needed labs the poor techs have had to poke me 4 or 5 times. Rubbing and patting and sighing at each failed attempt and my hateful stare. This new IV insertion was going to be painful. I tried to be calm. I tried to be understanding. I tried not to have a full on panic attack.

At one point the nurse went to get an ultrasound machine for veins. (I didn’t know they existed either!) While she was gone I sat up straight like out of one of those horror movies where the chick is possessed and I start panting and shaking. I’m dizzy and freaking out and I can’t do anything to stop this crazy train from plowing straight into the station. The nurse comes back and calls for help. They placed a cold wet cloth on the back of my neck and requested that I lay flat. No can do I whisper, still panting and ready to spew green slime at the crowd of scrubs around me.

I ask if I may go to the restroom. I’m sure they had sent someone to get some night night meds for me by then but I needed some air and I wanted to hyperventilate in private. One nurse eagerly agreed and off I went. It did the trick because when I came back a new guy who sounded like he does puppet shows was ready to get this IV show on the road. He was successful in one pinch. I wanted to praise the almighty but was afraid they would really strap me down this time.

The next thing I remember was an oxygen mask going on and then waking up to someone standing beside me. I was still in the same place. What the heck. I wasn’t sure if the surgery was over or if they didn’t do it or what. I fell back asleep.

When I woke in my room Thursday late afternoon the nurse was asking me about my pain. It took me a minute to realize it was all over. Then someone knocked on the door, it was dietary and they had some beef broth or something for me. A few seconds later they came and took it away realizing the surgeon had not changed my diet. Still ice chips and IV pain meds. I was literally so hungry I started wondering if I could find some old stale candy in my purse. Unfortunately for my empty stomach I had sent my Dooney home. No bottom of the purse, unwrapped, lint covered who knows how old candy for me.

Finally late Friday morning my nurse is able to catch the surgeon about getting me some food. She rushes to my room with a paper to go box complete with scrambled eggs, a biscuit, sausage, and oatmeal. I barely ate 3 bites but those were the best eggs I have ever tasted. I owe that nurse a huge, huge thank you. Actually if you know a nurse just hug them for me. Nurses are the most amazing, selfless people in all the world.

I went home Friday afternoon and cried quietly clutching pillows to my belly and getting doggie kisses. Little did I know how much that stinky dog breath could be missed.

Today is day 3 of recovery. I am grateful for scars and life but 2020 has been one hell of a hateful bitch.

Can we just throw some candy at some kids, cook a turkey, decorate a tree and blow on some noise makers and call 2020 over? Please? I don’t want to know what the rest of this year has waiting for us.

Stay at home order. Quarantine week 1

We are nearing the end of week #1 of the state stay at home order here in North Carolina. I am one of the lucky few in my family that must go to the office regardless, essential business and that. I get lots of texts checking in every day, I’m lucky like that. Sometimes I get sweet notes of encouragement and other times I get photos of my doggos or funny memes. Today was … different.

This afternoon as I sat in my eerily quiet office I felt my phone vibrate and quickly checked my messages. The need to alleviate the boredom was overwhelming and honestly I would have gladly been the recipient of a spam letter for something to do. Instead I received a couple of photos from the fam near and far to keep me company.

The following is a true and accurate description of what happened next. This is real life. This is my family.

My darling wife is pictured in #1 sporting her newly designed “Corona virus helmet”. Can she breathe? It appears so. Can she see? Not absolutely sure. Has she been drinking? Probably.

She shared her big idea with my parents in Ohio.

My mom responded with her own version of the “Coronoa virus protection suit” who she models here in picture #2. Very nice, ehh? I was impressed with those knuckle shields. This lady bakes bread and fights viruses in her spare time. She looks remarkably like a transformer and I don’t know if she can even move her tiny legs but I dig her style.

My dad decided to go all out. He is the patriarch of the bunch. He is the brave one who goes to the grocery store and hunts down the items on the list for my elderly grandmother and such.

A true modern day hero. Risking his life to brave the public.

Here he is in picture 3. This photo was taken outside of their home on a quiet mid-Ohio street.

Notice how he holds that sword high. See the extra large sneeze shield at the ready? That cough blocking helmet we have seen before but this looks like its secured. He might be able to actually see. Who would dare challenge this man for the last package of TP at the Walmart? Nobody in their right mind is going to approach this knight in Natty Armor.

I can only imagine what the neighbors were thinking. Actually I can.

Probably jealous of all that Natty Light.

Probably also day drinking and watching these people in the backyard getting suited up in Natty light cases for a photo shoot.

Who needs Tiger King when this stuff is happening on your block.

States apart but this family is making the best of it.

Shortage of PPE? Not when you have creativity and nothing to do but day drink and text each other.

Please tell me how y’all are staying safe.
Show me what you’re doing with your quarantine time in the messages. We all need the laughs.

*no beer was harmed in the making of this “protection gear”

Saying Goodbye to Maggie

The most real goodbye is never easy.
It is never quick.
It is never really complete.

We said our mortal goodbyes to Maggie Monday October the 2nd. It was painful but it was due and it was time.

It has been several weeks and I am still saying my own quiet goodbyes.

She went by many names.
Maggie, Magret, Mags, Magna-Doodle. She came to any name I called her if there were bites to be had or ear scratches to be received.

She was a unique sort of companion. When I met her for the first time she insisted we be friends but made clear the boundries.
She cocked her head to side and studied me intently when I spoke to her. Little did I know we would become family and she would become the matriarch of our combined household.

I suspect she knew.
I should have known by the twinkle in her eye.

Her favorite human trick was to “boof” and point with her nose. We were to provide her with whatever she wanted,  be it something or someone. Beer was her favorite but wine from your glass would do.

Until old age set in.

Her desire for the taste of spirits disappeared with her youth and vigor.


Despite being unseated by wrapped boxes with bows she would still be magnetically attracted to the tree and wanted to be as near as possible.

Our first Christmas without her has been most difficult. All the festive paper and all the delighted giggles were unable to drown out the loss.

The tears flowed forcefully and unforgiving this morning as I remembered her. I caught a quick glimpse of the memorial ornament on our beautiful tree and instantly recalled our unique relationship.

She refused my Christmas gift last year and I was so incredibly offended at the time. I recall clearly that she turned her little black nose straight away when I presented her the bakery fresh bone shaped cookie.

She rejected my last gift but she never rejected my affections.

The most important things she gave our family will live on long past her last days.

We have said our goodbye but our Maggie will never be forgotten.

Inspiration where are you?

I often think of writing. I day dream of how therapeutic it is to run my fingers over the keys and have something pour on the screen that is not foreign to my soul. It is not work.  It is not a copy of someone or something else. The words belong to me and me alone. It is my perception of art and mine alone. It is snarky comments and love letters and tales of comic mischief. It is a work of love and passion and inspiration.

So why is it so very hard to connect to the inspiration? My life is certainly not dull. I am part of my very own love story, my offspring challenge my every breath and our travels are nothing if not worthy of a wordy tribute. Yet my collection sits stagnant.

I may seek the answer for as long as the heart seeks the definition of perfection. That ever evasive, constantly changing kaleidoscope of beauty and mercy.

I crave inspiration.

I want to hear the click clack of the keys and see the stark white screen disappear.

So where is it? Where is my muse? Why can’t I just find the magic that makes me move to the nearest electronic and tell my tales? If you’ve found the secret I beg you to share.

I promise not to tell.

Oh hey, hi. I got a new tattoo.

It’s been a minute since I’ve checked in. Such is life. It’s probably about time for a life update.

So last I left you I had visited the fam up north where I was tortured, branded and sent home crying. That sounds about right, yes.

Fast forward, there was a cool new job with more money and a bigger desk, (woo hoo) then the holidays where I got a little fatter and then it snowed alot and and blah, blah, blah.

Let’s talk about what happened when I decided to get brave and finish my big dramatic divorce cover up tattoo.

Yes. Divorce tattoo.

No. I’m still married. I meant the big D from 2013. Yeah. That one. The last remnant of a marriage I wanted to blur from memory.

I started it a couple years back. Taking what was probably 6 inches wide by 4 inches deep and covering that sucker with a 1/2 back and down the crack dragon. Yeah buddy. It was an epic plan. It was going to be glorious. I got the outline done. I got a wing done. I got the face started.

Then I quit like a loser.

Do you have any idea how much that hurts? I’m having flash backs thinking about it.

So I went on, unfinished tattoo like an abandoned coloring book page.

Season after season.

Swimsuits be damned, I didn’t finish it. Until now.

Yeah. It’s done. It’s all finished in all it’s dragon glory. I am proud of it too. Hours of sitting, some smudged mascara and many dollars later, it is done. No sign of the original tattoo.

The first “back to it” sitting was 3 hours long. I was terrified. I dont know if the artist could tell but I wanted to have an outer body experience right then and there. First touch of the needle and I almost went over the seat.

I nearly fainted. Nearly. I was only stopped by the real fear that if I did indeed lose conciousness that I would also likely lose my bladder. Nobody wants to pee themselves after passing out from pain inflicted by someone you requested to hurt you in exchange for money.

The second sitting was another 3 hours. The last of it would be finished. I chanted in my head that I was brave and strong. I was like the dragon. Also that I was going to look awfully stupid going another few years with a half finished tattoo. Mostly that.

Vanity is basically bravery.

I straddled the chair and gripped the back. Eyes closed, teeth clenched. I heard the machine come on and there it went. It being my bravery. Each scratch feeling more and more like demons trying to claw their way to my front belly via my spine.

Ever had a single tiny cat scratch? It effing hurts, right? This felt like a cat on crack brought it’s entire family tree to lay into my skin.

As we neared the “end” the artist had to throw on some finishing touches, little wispy swirls that look awesome but felt like a near death experience.

I’ve never been so happy as when those last 3 hours came to an end. I stood carefully, not knowing if my shaking legs would hold me. I slipped off the chair and took a deep breath. I stretched my arms and fingers to let the blood back into my limbs.

Relief washed over me.

Then I looked down at the chair.

I had sweated pure desperate fear and anquish all over the seat. 3 long hours of torture in a pool shaped like butt cheeks. There was a literal ass print of perspiration.

To be honest it really was a good representation of the original tattoo and memory I had intended to cover. But still. Ass shaped pool of my sweat.

I apologized, smeared it around with my hand and went quickly for my wallet. It was time to pay, tip handsomely and never, ever look back.

The Family Tree of Life … wait, what?

The Family Tree or The Tree of Life … whatever you call it the symbol is deeply embedded in religious and spiritual beliefs. You will find it popular for genealogy and history buffs, elementary school home projects and with artists of all kinds.

The definition is as wildly varied as is each tree. Rarely depicted in exact form or feature. A basic Google search brought me the following definition:

“In this way, the tree of life is a symbol of a fresh start on life, positive energy, good health and a bright future. As a symbol of immortality. A tree grows old, yet it bears seeds that contain its very essence and in this way, the tree becomes immortal. As a symbol of growth and strength.” unknown

I’m sure you have heard the joke about the family tree being full of nuts. It’s generally the absolute truth and is especially for my own. A few weeks before my epic trip up north my mom sent me photo which would make a permanent mark on us all, literally.

My phone was blinking with a message waiting as it often does, only this time it was my mother. Some people might roll their eyes or sigh seeing another text from mom but not me. I love them. I guess after years of not speaking little blinking lights seem to have the positive power to keep all the old darkness away.

This time she sent a photo.

She had found a piece of jewelry online, or I think that was what it was. I have since lost the texts, little did I know such a simple thing would turn into a worthy story. I don’t remember the words but I complimented the piece. I had just purchased something similar while on vacation. I had hung it in my kitchen window days before our conversation. An interesting coincidence. The symbol she shared was a Triple Tree of Life design.

Whether it was she or I who decided it would look amazing as a tattoo I do not recall. I will give her credit as she is the visionary among us.

She decided we should all get this tattoo of 3 trees and set about to sketch it. She proclaimed her tree to be the middle and my sister and I would be to the left and to the right. Her image came to live in a circle and she began to add leaves separating each mature trunk and expansive branches. She asked what leaf shape I preferred and I chose the hearts. My sister would be assigned the scroll shape leaves.

And so it was shared and agreed, we would get these trees symbolically tattooed to our individual bodies to represent the true roots and togetherness despite growing into separate entities.

That would be that except for the fact that now we needed an artist willing to do the same design on separate occasions and for a reasonable price. Oh, and a tiny detail, I happen to live in another state, they each in separate cities. I was going to be in town for a short window so my appointment had to be scheduled in advance.

Like a true champ mom had her appointment first. I wish I could have been there but alas the miles add up and I wouldn’t be there for weeks.

Second my sister got hers, a little larger than ours, much as she does everything. She laughs louder, is a little taller, and has bigger chickens. (It’s not a competition, sis.)

When it was finally my turn I hobbled in, limping on a broken foot with the fam. Mom, Dad and my sweetheart in tow. For the record I didn’t know the foot was broken at the time, not that it would have slowed me down any more than it did. I didn’t need the entire clan for support either but I won’t lie … I did enjoy the entourage.

Mom introduced me to the artist as the daughter from out-of-state and reminded him she promised to bring me in. Now here I was. She was so excited, proud even to be presenting her family to the man with the needle gun.

It’s a special gift she has, to walk into an establishment and become the official honorary host. She takes charge in the mom-est way ever and she does it so well. She shows us off and takes ownership even though we are moms ourselves and tower over her in height.

It might also be a red-head thing. It’s sort of endearing.

I was invited into the artists chair and I happily plopped down, arm up on the rest and head back taking it all in. There was a glass case to the left against the wall with piercing jewelry in it. On top of the case was an entire brown bear skin with yellowed teeth and claws. The bear skin seemed shockingly out-of-place yet so at home there perched menacingly about 8 feet in the air. I didn’t ask about the bear but may next time.

My eyes shifted to a back room which I suspect was the piercing room. I suggested mom get her nose pierced. She didn’t miss a beat and declined. It was hard to rattle her.

We continued to chit-chat with the artist about my current ink, where I got it and that it was unique. My mom, from her seat in the corner, pipes up with a question. Asks what the oldest person the artist had ever tattooed.

Good question.

Guy covered in ink and wearing purple gloves continues to gently press into the skin on my arm and pauses before he shares his reply.

He begins the story with how he had to help an elderly lady into the tattoo chair. A frail, tiny old woman. He might have said she had an oxygen tank or a walker or something, painted the picture of tiny sweet grey hair granny type. He got her into the chair and she advised she wanted a touch up tattoo. Not kidding. She wanted to touch up the roses on her earlobe. He described being scared to break her, being so gentle as to not hurt her.

She was a champ.

I can only hope to be that bad-ass someday.

Mom was intrigued. She asks if it is harder to tattoo old people skin (yep, said that) and she mentions something about being worried she might be too old for tattoos. It is possible I guess she was fishing for a compliment. I don’t know. Forgive me, Ma, if the words are wrong there but this story is as I recall it. Also it happened.

She got good news however you look at it, she wasn’t the oldest he had ever tattooed (he laughed at her for that) and she was in the fairly young range of people who come in for ink. I think she blushed but it was hard to tell from the reflection in the glass case. I was still concentrating on the insanely large teeth on that bear skin.

He went on to say with plenty of moisture skin will be good for tattooing for a long time to come. She is probably sitting somewhere with some Skin So Soft right now. I know I have upped my moisture game. Old lady skin be damned.

It was over quickly and I marveled at how beautiful my new tattoo was. We paid and tipped well and made our way back for the party that afternoon.

We ate and drank and took pictures and ate some more. We showed off our new ink in singles and in triple to anyone willing to smile and nod.

Our tattoos are a symbol of who we are. Joined at the root but each branched to our own. My mother with her leaves, which symbolize for me life and change. My sisters scrolls symbolizing what I see in her as great wisdom, boundless intelligence and strength. Lastly my hearts, which for me represent love unconditional with a notation on some limbs a barren place for broken hearts for which I am grateful to never forget.

*Thank you to my mother for designing such a beautiful tribute to family, forgiveness and bond. Also for feeding us constantly when we visit. Those baked beans though … yum.

*Thank you to my dad who has kept us safe since we were wee girls. That’s what dads do. They also make safety videos so you don’t hurt yourself playing in the yard.

*Thank you to my sister for being ever-present in my life even when we don’t speak. Also for the moonshine that tasted like paint thinner. You’re the best sister I’ve ever had.

Big Balls and a Broken 4th Metatarsal

Knocker ball, bubble ball, human hamster ball … whatever you call them they look so fun.

Fun. Fun indeed. Also dangerous, in a hilarious way.

This past weekend we took a road trip from North Carolina to Ohio. A quick but jam packed trip from Friday to Sunday. It was a long drive and I was feeling restless when we arrived. We hugged, chatted a bit and then suited up for a game of back yard ball.

By suited up I mean we climbed into giant blown up clear balls that were outfitted with shoulder straps and handles. The ball top sat above my head and well above my knees so I looked like a giant clear soccer ball with legs.

I squared off with my teenage son. We pranced around the beautifully landscaped lawn totally out of place and sweating like wieners on a campfire. Each of us taking a slow step forward and back getting the feel of these giant bubbles and sizing the other up.

Then someone screamed “GO” from the sidelines and I got in a few strides before I felt the force. All 138 lbs of boy muscle wrapped in a vinyl bubble coming at me like an deranged rhino.

For a split second I second guessed how fun this really was and I feared for my safety.

I felt my feet come out from under me and I bounced onto my back. All was fine, I could see the green of the tree leaves and a bit of blue sky with puffy white cloud. I didn’t die.

I tried to hoist myself up with no success. The only free moving parts were mid thigh down and my log legs wouldn’t respond like brain was desperately signaling.

I was thinking I would just stand up. Just pop right up. You know, like a gymnast after a flip. My brain pictured it but my body simply did not compute that kind of movement.

Have you ever seen a bug knocked on its back and watched it struggle to get flipped back?

That was me.

I was laughing too hard to ask for help and I’m not sure anyone knew how to get me upright. I had to roll to my belly, slide out of the harness, stand up and put it back on for round two. Thankfully no cameras were catching any of this nonsense.

I strapped in, took off my yoga sandals and faced the other bubble direction. The boy was gonna get it this time.

We charged again and this time I decided I wasn’t going down. I dug in my heels and shifted my weight to pummel him but it was too late.

He got me.

I felt the ball around me take flight and then hit the ground. I felt the heat of a thousand fire ants at my ankle. I would have grabbed at it but I was stuck in the chamber, strapped in and crying for some kind of merciful, quick death.

I was laying in the grass, as flat out as one can being that they are shoved mid thigh in a big ass ball. I heard a gasp, maybe it was my own. I heard my mom’s voice I think, asking if I was alright. No idea because I couldn’t see anything but trees and blue sky. The voices were a little muffled but I knew this was probably bad. Real bad.

I don’t recall getting out of the bubble but once my hands were free I reaching for the ankle. Sprain? Broken? Faking injury to take down the unsuspecting kid? Nobody knew.

I got help to stand up and the pain spread. I was sorta laugh hobbling to the nearest seat. The ankle was swelling. This was extra bad.

We went about the weekend, I ignored the pain and limped from the chairs to the food table and back numerous times.

No ace wrap. No doctor. Nothing to see here, just a sprain soaked in a bucket of ice. Dipped in off and on, keeping the swelling down. There was plenty of ice. Lots of good food and family and alcoholic beverage. I was going to be fine.

On Sunday (now 2 days from “the incident” and still no medical attention) we stopped halfway to do a little shopping.

The pain. Oh my goodness the pain.

I cried. Real, hot, terrifyingly uncontrollable tears rolled down my face as I watched my foot swell like a giant sausage in my shoe. I yelled at my indecisive family in the drive thru. I got frustrated with our geriatric dog for not being still in her bed. I was in so much pain the thought of chewing off my own leg crossed my mind.

Just after the tears incident I found myself apologizing to the family for snapping like a lunatic. We decided I would be dropped at the ER once we reached our home town. no more questioning whether this needed medical attention.

Fast forward to Xray viewing. I wish they had provided popcorn at least. The suspense was killer. I didn’t hear her clearly when she said it was broken. She had to repeat it to the blank faces staring at her. Broken? She pointed out the break in the screen. It started to make sense.

I repeated again how it happened. We joked the doc sees the danger in everything and never the fun. I see her point as I sit here in the splint. Soon I hope to be able to be weight bearing. Those balls will never look the same to me.

Some how, some way I didn’t completely realign the broken bone while limping about all weekend. It should fuse without surgery. I’m feeling lucky in a way but equally wondering if I would have less pain had I just chewed it off in the car.

For your viewing pleasure I’ve attached some photos of others playing over the long weekend.

For your own safety please don’t try this at home. If you don’t die laughing you could get hurt otherwise.

If you must try them for yourself you can find your own set on Amazon.

Follow-Up Safety Video. Thanks, dad!

Weekend Road Trip

The time had come. After a few years of awkward isolation I took the family to Ohio for a visit with “my side” … the mom and dad, the sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles and family friends. It was a wild ride.

Here’s how it started …

Thursday came quickly and without warning I was slammed with a migraine of epic proportions. I left work early, tried all the magical fixers to little help. I dread the 8 hour drive on a good day. This day it seemed like an extra dose of torture. We had planned for this trip weeks in advance. I was about to scrap it and make a new plan.

I booked a room for half way, I figured if I could break up the ride and sleep it would be better than 8 full hours of migraine misery. It worked out pretty well, she drove the first half way and we slept a few hours. In the morning I felt like a new woman.

I was ready.

I was pumped.

I was driving the rest of the way.

It started off great, we left in time to beat big city morning traffic jams and we were on our way.

I was flying.

We crossed the destination state line and traffic seemed to cone into a 2 lane slow down. I noticed the state trooper facing the south bound lane and carefully watched my speed as we passed. When we were clear I tore out of my choked lane and took that open 3rd. After all we had passed the trooper car, we were in the clear.

Except that, no, we were not.

It took maybe 10 seconds before I realized the gray sedan coming up quick in my rear view had a light bar. Damn. I got out of his way to the middle lane. He followed. The lights came on. My stomach sank. Damn.

I said “he got me” out loud. Like in an old western where somebody gets shots and falls dramatically to the ground. Except the only thing falling was my hope to get to the destination anytime soon. I pulled over and waited. Embarrassed yes but mostly curious to know what he clocked me at. We just bought this car in May and I have yet to stick the gauge to the point it bounces. Not that I would do that. (I would totally do that)

The nice man in uniform and spiffy matching hat with dark shades greets my open window with a “good morning.” It really was a beautiful day till he showed like a ninja behind me. He says the reason he pulled me over was for speed. He asks me if I even saw him. I reply I did not.

Let’s be honest, if I had we wouldn’t have been having that conversation on the side of the interstate.

He asks for the required documentation and it takes an alarmingly long time for my partner in crime to locate it. The dog is barking, the teenagers in the back seat are being awfully judgemental and nobody is pleased with my antics. The officer fills the time with unecessaty chitchat. He tells me he clocked me after I passed him at 90 and the speed limit is 70. He asks me if I knew that. I say yes. Then corrected myself that I knew the speed limit but didn’t know how fast I was going. I really didn’t but I knew I wasn’t doing 70. This was a bad time to admit it so I kept it to myself. He tells me I am definetly getting a citation and it should just take a few minutes before I can be on my way again.

We sat waiting. I took the opportunity to tell the kids speeding was bad. All the while I couldn’t look at the passenger seat. She was gonna burn me down with the fire coming out of her eyes. She was wearing sunglasses but I knew she wanted to burn me to ash because there was steam coming out her ears. She was not pleased we were going to be paying for my poor vision and lead foot. My bad.

I got my paperwork. Man in the uniform and spiffy hat tells me I can come back for court (not a chance in hell) or pay the fine (it’s how much?!) and it had to be done by such date and can be sent to said address. Alrighty. Fine. Got it.

Lesson learned? Don’t get caught speeding. Don’t trust there is only one cruiser. Break your long trips up but still expect delays. Finally … you will not be allowed to drive the rest of the weekend if you get a $200 citation on the way there.

So here’s the scoop on the new coop …

I once shared a story about a wicked little rooster outside a hotel room singing the song of his people in our direction all night. You would think such a horrific event would stop my pursuit of having a wee flock of chickens but no.

Back in the spring when we stopped by the TSC (Tractor Supply Co) for dog food we stumbled upon a “surprise” mess of fluffy little chicks in the middle of the store. I say surprise but let’s be honest, there was a big ole sign outside that screamed chicks were there and we probably didn’t even need dog food. It was an excuse for city folk to see the chicken babies. They were all huddled under warming lights and peeping their little hearts out. All yellow and brown with beady little eyes and funny little feet.

Needless to say we tossed a bag of starter check feed, a heat lamp and some bedding in the cart on top of the grain free kibble we didn’t need. The nice folks in red vests went to work trying to rustle up 4 of the smallest breed chicks they had available. It was so very exciting.

We took them home and put them in a box and cuddled them every day. The one tiny brown one came to be my favorite and the only rooster of the group. He would sit on his new friends and herd them about the box like a true leader. When everyone had fully grown real feathers and our little roo started to crow, we put them in the newly built coop. It was a proud moment.

A few days had past and our little flock of four seemed to love being outside. They slept on the roost and cuddled in all cute at night. Then one warm spring night the unthinkable happened. Something got into the coop by digging under and went to work murdering all but a single lone chicken. My favorite chick was spared but clearly traumatized. The unspeakable horrors of the nights events flashed in his little chicken eyes while he hopped carefully over the discarded parts of friends. It was awful. He suffered some lost tail feathers and had some damage to his newly budded comb but mostly he was just terrified.

We brought him inside again, cuddled and cooed at him. He soon forgot his woes and I am convinced he also forgot he was a chicken. As much as I would have loved to keep him inside and treat him as a dog there was just one little thing.

I have an aversion to animal poop.

I hate it.

He didn’t seem to mind.

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We had come to an agreement that he would need to return to the coop, newly lined for his safety and I would add in a few chicks to seal the deal. Yes, you are reading correctly, I made a deal with rooster weighing in at about a full can of beer.

I picked up 5 more chicks and set about life with fowl running carefree in the backyard. This time I was extra careful to secure the coop by night. All was well for a little while.

Fast forward … 3 of the little chickens we welcomed are actually roos. So for numbers sake we now have 4 roosters and 2 hens. This is not a welcome balance. Every morning they are all making various crowing sounds. They strain their little necks and stare longingly toward the back door for someone to come let them out for the day. As if we could ignore the ruckus.

If it were a single crowing bird I could almost forget them for a bit but 4? No.

Let them be free … to shut the hell up.

Today was my morning to spare them the day in the coop. I had an extra couple minutes before leaving for work and I decided to run down to let them out in my bare feet. Who needs shoes anyway. This is standard for me at home or basically anywhere it may be remotely socially acceptable to not wear shoes. Today the bare foot would be a bad choice, I just didn’t know it yet.

Picture it; early morning, dew on the grass, the sun barely up. The roos are crowing, they see me and they are dancing and fussing in clicks and chirps and song, urging me to move faster to unlock the doors. I was concerned about slipping in the wet grass but also about getting to them quickly. What I wasn’t thinking is that being near the coop means being near the poop. Chicken poop. That black mushy stuff that you don’t see in the grass. But you can feel it. You can feel it on your bare feet.

I opened the coop door, locked it up in the upright position and urged the dogs to follow me back to the house. We needed to hurry now so I could wipe my feet of the dew and poo mix. This ordeal had taken more time than I intended. I quickly grabbed some cleaning wipes and slipped on my flip flops.

Crisis averted.

I am basically feeling like Super Mom or a Goddess of chickens and children or something equally amazing. My morning routine is basically slayed and I am a rock star. I go to work with all the confidence in the world.

Then on my first break I look down to see there was a bit of poo dew I missed between my pinky and the neighboring toe. Like the tow jam you find mysteriously lodged in toddler toes at bath time. I was mortified, even though thankfully nobody else noticed. I have never been more thankful for a desk job in my entire life. I quickly cleaned up the mess and pretended like nothing happened.

Little did I know what the future held when I pointed out which little feather balls I wanted. What it really meant when I asked the staff to put my birds in the box that fateful day at the TSC. Who knew life would be such an adventure. I fear that I will have flashbacks of toe goo and both my roo and I will need to be put in a padded room for our mental health.

It’s been an adventure and we have only just begun.

All take and no give, a relatively dramatic take on life

I am bathing in negativity. I liken my current state to one of those Ancient Roman bath-houses where everyone you know went, literally every body in the same place, all bathing at the same time. Everyone washing their dirt and their troubles into the same water you have your toes dipped into.

Or in more modern day dilemma, I am surrounded by others peoples dirty laundry. It begins to weigh on a person like a cotton clothes line full of wet jeans in the summer. If only I had a tall stick to prop myself up like we did the line when I was a kid. Whatever to keep the freshly laundered wares from touching the dirt below.

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So here is the story. I have excluded names and specifics to protect the innocent, including myself from even more drama.

 There are some people in our life, distanced by geography but not by the heart. Some of those people are also distanced by societal standards, measurable success,  and obvious happiness. I feel it necessary here to add that I fully believe in the power of self worth. I have truly believed my entire adult life that if you raise your children to believe in themselves, to be independent and if you teach them to not take advantage of others they will grow into responsible adults.

I understood that responsible parents would have responsible children.   Those who were not so much would be dealing with adults who were co-dependent leeches on society.

I was so wrong.  Amazing people can and do produce offspring which turn out to be unproductive, unwilling and general drains to those around them. These are the people in ancient times which would have floated their misery in the bath-houses to infect everyone else. Those who by simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time would come out more filthy than when they entered.

It appears that indeed a family can raise children which become so entirely different from one another that the drama and discord turn everything to black. The envy and cruelty become abundant as the differences become more apparent. It seems not that we can be happy for another but we should rather destroy what we can not / do not have. I stand utterly corrected and equally confused.

The more success and happiness one has the more separate and desperate the attempts become from others to destroy it. I loathe the phrase “he/ she thinks they are better than me/us” … if someone makes you feel this way without an outright just cause it is very likely your own insecurities. 

How can it be that we will hurt someone with the same blood in their veins simply for their willingness to put in the hard work to succeed on their own merit?

I do not understand how a family raised in the same place, by the same people could grow to adulthood as such different members of society. What I do have an understanding of is those who bully are generally those who feel their own self worth to be less. The fact still amazes me that those who feel less than worthy in their own right would not stand up to achieve what others have for themselves.

Why would someone actively make a choice not to work hard, in their education or career or even in their relationships? Why not put that negative ENERGY into following the path or patterns proven and demonstrated possible? What stops you from forging your own success story? Is it just easier to lean onto others and throw rocks at those busy building, exploring and developing a life well lived while you sit behind by your own choice?

All these options and still some have chosen instead to shade those who earned their happy place. 

While it would seem the logical thing to do is to ignore the drama filled water I am afraid someday we will be swallowed by the waves of cruelty and drowned by it. What I would much prefer is a harmonious existence. I will not dare ask for relative peace but if we could just all learn to get along, for ourselves and for the sake of others, everyone would be in a much better place.