A prank, a rat and the smell of burnt rubber

In our house you would be wise to always be wary of the next scare or prank. We keep things lively around here.

This last April 1st I had the ultimate excuse to pull off a good one. It was a heart stopper. Maybe when my poor mom forgives me I will share. Until then you have to wait.

Today’s latest episode was maybe the best of recent. I pranked myself.

Yes, you read that correctly. I pranked myself.

Let me start from the beginning.

It’s spooky season. Well maybe not actually yet on the calendar but the retail season is creeping in. I’m thrilled. I’ve already started my collection.  It’s going to be my pleasure to scare the diapers off some trick or treaters this Halloween.

I found some yard stuff, a few pumpkins, witches, bats, skeletons and spiders.

I even found a little rat skeleton for under $5. That one arrived quickly and screamed for a good prank. It seemed unreasonable to put him in a tote for 2 months before he could live his best after life.

I quickly removed his tags and looked around. Where could he hide to get the best scream? The oven? Nope, preheating a fake rat seems like a bad idea. Fridge? Too quickly found. These people are always in there for something. The microwave! Yes! I would be making dinner that evening and going to work the next day. It was going to be a good one. I wouldn’t be there to see it but I would leave the security camera on and I would get a text cussing me.

I just had to wait.

Fast forward to the weekend. I had not received a text all week. Nobody had found him. I had actually forgotten my little friend was lurking behind a microwave door.

I made a cup of coffee and went about my Saturday morning routine. I drank that mug and made a second. As per usual I was distracted by my to do list and my 2nd batch of magic bean juice got cold.

You know where this is going.

I went to the microwave above the stove and opened the door. Half drank mug in one hand and the other on the door handle.

The light illuminated and there it was, my forgotten rodent, now at face level.

My eyes got big, I gasped and took an Olympic dream style jump backwards. My hand that had previously been holding the door handle moved to my chest and the hand holding the mug went flying outward, still clutching for dear life. The coffee freely splashed out like a paper towel commercial in slow motion. There was nobody around to see it. The security cameras had been disabled when I woke up.

This prank had just gone unnoticed. Something had to be done about this.

I gathered myself. I closed the microwave door. I straighted my hair and gently placed my now mostly empty mug on the counter.

I called for my wife to come and help, something was wrong.

It wasn’t working.

Little did she know the microwave was fine, my prank was actually the thing that needed her attention.

She sighed from the den out of sight. Asked if I was serious. I am always serious about my coffee … and my pranks. I answered yes.

She walked to the kitchen, looked at the microwave. Time clearly visible, it has power.

She started to push buttons.

I started to panic.

Who doesn’t open the damn door? To see what the problem is?

The light came on and the faint whirl of the fan started and the turntable started. My rat was going for a whirl! I stared wide eyed toward the microwave again. Her back was turned to the horror happening behind her and she was looking at me like I was an idiot. She didn’t turn around until 3 seconds later when a distinct “metal in the microwave” sound shot out. Sparks were flying. I thought about dropping for cover behind the kitchen island.

She opened the microwave door and grabbed the scorched skeleton by the tail. I had failed.

I couldn’t look.

She was not amused. “Why is there a rat skeleton in the microwave?”

Just like this but with a burnt mark on the tail. 🔥 Oops.

I had lost this round and confessed. The rat had been in the microwave for days and I had forgotten. I had placed it there to scare one of them and managed only to scare myself.

I have learned a few things from this and I wanted to share.

1. A good prank is a quick one.

2. An elephant never forgets but a 40 something over worked mom will..

3. Rubber rats with wire inside will catch fire in the microwave.

This mishap will not stop me. Even if my kitchen really stinks now. I vow to keep pranking my family (or myself) and to live my best life.

I also plan to continue to share my adventures for your entertainment. You’re welcome.

Vaccinated

I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to think about the Covid vaccine let alone actually get it for myself. I have access to the internet and therefore I know things.

I have no idea actually what I thought I knew. I was scared though.

Had it been tested? Was it safe? Was it a conspiracy? Would I come with horrific side effects? My questions had a million answers but what was true and what was fiction?

I put my head in the sand and dug in my heels. There was no way I was going to be first in line for this thing. That’s what I told self. That’s what I told my boss, my wife, the dogs. I said it to anyone who brought it up and then I would repeat it under my breath for awhile afterwards.

People around me started to get their vaccines. I kept waiting for the extra eye or the arm to fall off or some catastrophic event. Surely something was going to happen. There was a reason for my fear and I was actively seeking that reason.

Then one fateful day I referred my darling spouse to a local job. A good admin position with the state. She was happy. I was happy. We were all happy she found something that would give her related experience to her education.

Little did I know what I had actually done is get her into a role for vaccination clinics. You know where I’m going with this. It’s basically the premise to a horror movie where the dumb one invites the monster into the house.

I had just invited the monster in. Suddenly the pressure was on. She got her vaccine right away. Protocol and all for the job. I watched closely. Was she going to get super sick? Pain? Would she grow a tail?

When a week passed and all was normal after her 1st dose I let my guard down. I know, that was a stupid move on my part. It had only been a week. But I was worn down, worn out, and it was the end of the day. I was practically delirious.

I got the call that there were extra doses. That they would have to toss them if there were no volunteers to accept the vaccine.

My weakness. I hate waste.

I drove the 30 minutes with every cell in my body freaking out. While I navigated the drive willingly, I was still terrified.

I considered my options, I could keep driving on past and go straight home.

I could pull in to the parking lot and fake an illness. I could walk in and then bolt when they came at me.

Worst case scenario, I see the needle and pass out unexpectedly.

I’m pretty sure the scary movie sound track followed me to the clinic site. My heart was pounding. I had almost convinced myself that I could just pretend to be lost and go back to my car.

Before I knew it I was at the doors. No turning back now.

I walked in, wide eyed and nervous.

I sat as instructed and uncovered my upper arm. I didn’t say much, I really wasn’t warm to the idea of chit chat. Everyone was wearing a mask so the unknown fear was even worse. Cue the louder background noises and dim the lights. This is the part of the show where the woman gets probed by aliens. Or stabbed in the shower.

I felt the cool alcohol wipe swipe the selected area of my arm and I think I heard someone mumble about possibly feeling a pinch. Honestly they could have done anything to me, I was frozen solid in the chair. I didn’t dare so much as shift my weight or my legs were going to carry me right out of there.

They say white men can’t jump but I guarantee this white woman can hop a table and bolt if she sees a needle coming at her.

Or she can make a mockery trying.

Instead, I just stared straight ahead. Stayed still and silent.

It was done. Bandage slapped on the little red dot and off I went to wait my 15 minutes in vaccine jail.

I didn’t know what to expect but I didn’t feel much right away. I drove home and an hour later started to feel a dull ache and stiffness starting under the bandaged area.

It didn’t take long before the body aches and pains took over. Then the exhaustion.

If only that were all.

I was cold, but not feverish. I was running to the bathroom but more like Frankenstein running.

Imagine it. Stiff from scap to toenail. Holding the one arm and dragging a leg while wrapped in a blanket and moaning loudly. It was not pretty.

I thought long and hard about getting that 2nd dose. Should I or shouldn’t I? I was informally polling every single person I came I to contact with.

Have you had your Covid shot?

1 or 2?

Did you almost die?

How bad? How long?

I’m pretty sure people lie. There is no way you only had a rash on your arm, Karen. I nearly shit myself unable to get out from under my blankets due to the pain and you simply had a rash?

Regardless of the fear I strolled in like a viking for round 2. The final show down between me and this vaccine. This time I was going to win. Well, I crossed my fingers and hoped I would win.

Either way.

It didn’t start off well. Maybe because this time it felt like the person giving the vaccine used a hammer to get it into my arm. That was awkward.

I got my trusty bandage and made my way to the 15 minute holding area. This time one of the clinic workers was exceptionally chatty. She made the mistake of asking me how it went.

I stared at her with wide eyes over my mask and told her it hurt. Really bad.

She wasn’t swayed a but from the chirpy, one sided conversation. I was counting down the time before side effects would kick in and I wasn’t in the mood for any nonsense. Unless she could tell me if I was going to feel the need to write out my final wishes there was nothing I cared to hear.

Once I was home I swallowed some Advil and hoped for the best.

Before the night was over I was wrapped burrito style in a blanket and passed out like a drunken college kid on the sofa.

I woke up in exceptional pain.

My head, my body, my arm especially. I could barely get up. I had been asleep for 13 hours and my bladder was very, very full. It was imperative that I did move but it wasn’t easy.

Turns out I was running a low grade fever. I did some work from home and kept the day low key. No other symptoms presented except being overall sore and exhausted. I slept another 13 hours that night.

Day 2 post final vaccine and I was feeling much better, a little tenderness at the injection site but way more human. Maybe even super human.

If you are wondering if you should get your vaccine, do it. The minor irritation for a couple days is far less terrifying than contracting actual Covid.

Do it for your parents, your grandparents, the elderly greeter at the grocery store. Mostly, do it for the sake of not having to wear a damn mask everywhere.

Adventures in home selling

We did it. Well, I did, I guess, with loads of help.

I finally pulled the trigger and hired a realtor to sell my mountain home. Here is the story of what happened, and in true idiotic bliss fashion, it was a wild ride.

Buckle up, buttercup. Here we go.

August 2020’ish – I received an email from the realtor who sold me the house years ago. She was telling me in the current market the house was worth way more than I had originally paid.

Intriguing? Very.

So I thought about it. I looked around at the things I love and the things that annoyed me. I polled the family for their opinions. In the end, although I was terrified, I just went with it.

I imagined the process would be quick, we would ride off in a U-Haul truck caravan with my profits in hand to purchase another home up north near my parents.

I imagined the wind in my hair, fat stacks of cash and the engine sounds of a big old truck rumbling down the mountain hauling my furniture while I flipped the bird to neighbors I didn’t like.

The process was not swift.

It was not easy. I was so exhausted in the end I didn’t even remember to flip anyone the bird on our way out.

The process was costly, discouraging, and at some points absolutely infuriating.

My first mistake of many obvious was to choose a fairly fresh realtor. You know the type. Pretty, a few houses under her belt, still so young and energetic and eager. I thought that was perfect in a realtor. I was wrong. My situation was too complex and would require a specialized touch and in the end would drive her to the brink of tears, maybe even murder.

September 2020 – Picture day! I was not able to do a walk thru to verify that everything was in order but I left my darling wife and capable teenage son to make the beds, hide the dog toys and wipe down the kitchen. I guess I didn’t specify clearly enough not to leave anything which might be embarrassing for photos. They didn’t think of that possibility either I would soon come to realize.

Oh yes. The humiliation.

I remember it clearly.

I got a text from the realtor that the photos were taken and she was finished. She wanted to give me a heads up though that she hid one of the signs and the other would need to be taken down because people may be offended.

Uhhh … offended?

I had no clue what she was talking about.

No worries, she told me. That was a lie. I should have been worried.

The realtor advised she moved the neon sticky note from the bedpost which simply said “asshole” to the other side so it wouldn’t be seen. I had placed that same note on a “I’m sorry I was mean to you but you deserved it” gift a few nights before. Apparently the recipient appreciated the note enough to lovingly stick it to her side of the bed and forget about it.

I’ll never forget about it. It will forever creep into my anxiety that a complete stranger saw it, read it and moved it out of the way to take pictures of my bedroom.

The realtor also advised that I take down the sign that says “close the f*cking door!” from the backside of the lower level door in the house.

It wasn’t bad advice but seriously how did we not think to take that down before a stranger saw it and possibly presumed I meant it for them.

Let me just say that these little love notes were not meant for strangers (or realtors) to see and were posted in good fun to remind each other how much we care. No really. For all you uptight folks worried about the precious children, we don’t have little kids. The dogs can’t read and our friends don’t care.

It’s all PG-13 up in here, mostly. We generally speak to each other with love and kindness but sometimes we talk to each other in ways that make it very clear we mean it; like notes on the bed post. Or perhaps a note on the inside of a door reminding each other to keep it closed. You know, like fun families do.

October 2020 – The house still had not freaking sold. No, not because we left the notes up.

A couple of offers but not in the ballpark I was looking for. Buyers suggested the house was too far out or too far up the mountain. Some suggested it was too big, too cold, too warm, too dusty, the list went on. It was a little like Alice in Wonderland. I had no idea where the damn white rabbit was but I knew we were late to something.

I was getting frustrated and made the decision to throw money at the house to speed things along. I painted, I wiped down and I spruced up, I put things away and brought things out. I bought a portable hot tub so people could realize the potentials from the back porch. I might have also enjoyed the hell out of said hot tub while we waited for a buyer.

We bought rugs and we filled a storage unit with random crap. All of the efforts were getting to be exhausting to only have low offers. I was about to start pleading with anyone in the market with a decent credit score and a job to take the house off my hands.

It was about this time that the realtor asked me to please take the dogs out of the house for showings. I obliged.

It was also at this time that I learned my pet turkey was also barking at people from her coop enclosure.

She didn’t seem to be enjoying all the foot traffic either. Or maybe she was trying to get people to get the hell out so she could roam the yard again. Who knows. I didn’t even know a turkey could bark.

I lowered the price of the house.

I lowered the price again.

At this point I am practically begging. Each showing made me more and more depressed. I thought about leaving secret notes making crap up that buyers would see when theh opened closets, drawers, and looked under the beds. People are nosey. They will leave no personal stone unturned. I’m pretty sure the people looking at my house saw my underwear more than my spouse did.

I wondered with all the peeping into my personal stuff if people were just looking at occupied houses to do a psychological study. No intent to buy, just wanna peep your pantry.

If there was some test I surely failed. At this point I was losing my mind. I didn’t know what was right and was wrong for selling a home.

In the meantime I am looking for career moves up north. I have my mom working her fingers to nubs searching online for a house that met all my requirements. (Thanks, Ma)

We are arguing at home about how much I was worrying about finding a house when the one we were living in had not even sold. I didn’t have a clue what I should be doing but I was damn sure making a plan B (and C,D,E) in case the house didn’t sell soon.

November 2020 – I accepted an offer that was way too low but in the spirit of family I folded like a deck of cards at Thanksgiving. I heard this sad story about a Grandmother buying a house up the mountain from where her kids live. How sweet I thought. I accepted my due diligence check and realized nearly immediately that I had been bamboozled over by greedy Grannie. This woman owned a developing company and used a pitiful story to get me to come off the price. The deal fell apart when the developer asked for even more money off. I was crushed. I was also relieved to be able to put the house back on the market.

Still no buyer. I was supposed to be celebrating in my new house near my parents by now. I was going to host the holidays. I had big plans. I also still had a for sale sign in the yard. Things were not going as planned.

I didn’t think it could get worse, I was wrong.

December 2020 – I was enjoying a brew and waiting on the scheduled showing to be over so I could return home. My phone rang, I looked down to see it was my realtor. She never calls. This was either good news or bad news. I almost didn’t answer.

“Does your cat have a current rabies shot?” … huh? Apparently my very large, very angry cat bit and scratched a child who picked him up while on the property.

My giant orange cat had me seeing red and I froze in fear. I envisioned the worst case scenarios possible. It was time to go home and survey the damage.

We arrived at the house followed by the county sheriff. He asked me about the cat. For a minute I thought I could play it cool when the stupid feline comes strutting up behind me. Yeah, that’s my cat. I picked him up and the jerk bit me right in front of the officer.

At this point I couldn’t even deny it was my cat that bit the kid. He may as well have had blood dripping and an arm hanging out of his mouth. Kinda hard to hide the fact he is a monster.

Poor kitty was taken to animal jail for quarantine until the kid got the all clear. I got the bill to have the cat released. Should have left him there.

I started to wonder why the house refused to be sold.

I started to wonder if I would ever be able to leave or if indeed I was destined to live atop the mountain with my ferocious cat and barking turkey for all eternity.

My mom encouraged me to bury a statue of St Joseph to aide in my selling. I am not Catholic or religious at all but at this point I am willing to try anything.

If someone would have told me I needed to dance at 3am around a small fire while, chanting an old song from the ancestors in the nude, I would have done it and done it with great haste. I felt as if there would never be an end to the madness no matter what I tried.

January 2021 – FINALLY a close date. Except the water went out while the buyers inspector was there.

Have mercy. One thing after another.

The water came back on with some tricks and kicks just as we expected. I let the realtor know there was no real problem (fingers crossed) and the buyer came back to check it out. He seemed pleased with the bathtub full of water he ran out the well and down the drain to “make sure there was water”

I didn’t say a word. He will need to figure out how to live with a well on his own when I am long gone down the road, dust flying and tire tracks behind me.

The day came that it was finally freaking truck loading time. Except for one snag, the moving truck got stuck in the driveway. Not a little stuck, like probably needed undercarriage work because it was resting on boulders stuck. Made a huge mess of the landscaping but I didn’t care. I could see freedom and I was running to it.

We hired a couple of guys to load up all my crap, packed all the cars to the brim and loaded the pickup truck bed Beverly Hillbilly style. Nothing was stopping us.

Oh, except one small detail definitely slowing us down. The house we were buying couldn’t close on the same day so we spent a day homeless.

If you are thinking of selling your home I would highly suggest you have someone hit you in the face with a shovel first. Still want to do it? Well, alright. Good luck. I hope your story goes better than mine.

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!