Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Starting Early

At the end of each work day I hang out at The Mayor and Rooster's daycare for a little while.

Sudden transitions are not popular with The Mayor.

We take our time.

The other day I waited for him as he wrapped up the "Mr. Potato head has 4,000 sets of teeth" activity he invented.

I absent-mindedly watched The Rooster smash graham crackers on the play table. (Is that wrong of me?)

Other mom's were arriving to pick up their kids.

Jack's blonde and athletic mom arrived fresh from a jog wearing lycra running tights.

The Mayor dropped Mr. Potato Head (and all his teeth) on the floor, ran to her, smacked her on the ass and yelled,

"Nice legs!!"

Early womanizing. The joys.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

On The Table

"Please don't let me poop on the table!!"

This was the mantra of my "pregnancy group", which later became my "new mom's group" and is now my "weary, run-down mom's group."

When we began meeting, we were five women, all pregnant for the first time, all scheduled to give birth within four months of each other.

In the months leading up to our due dates, we shared the good, the bad and the ugly about our pregnancies with one another.

We heard rumors, hushed whispers and murmurings of women pooping on the delivery table during child birth.

Pooping on the table was not included in any of our carefully written birth plans.

We were terrified.

We wrung our hands.

We each prayed desperately in private, "Please God, don't let ME be the one that poops on the delivery table."

In April of 2004, the first baby from our group was born -- a baby girl!

Her mom was the last one to arrive at our next gathering with the powder fresh baby in tow snuggled into her brand new infant car seat.

To the remaining four of us, all in our third trimester, our no-longer-pregnant friend looked runway thin.

She stood before us as we ogled her infant.

"Ladies," she said with the confidence of a queen, "I pooped on the table... and I guarantee you that when your time comes, you will not give a flying f*ck about it one way or another."

And with that, she set us free.

Free

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Cary and Isaac through Time and Space

My Granny grew up on a dairy farm in a very rural part of southern Virginia, so rural that even now you have to drive twenty miles to buy a can of coca-cola.

When I was growing up my Granny's brothers ran the farm and my cousin Cary grew up there.

My brother and I worshiped Cary. He was our hero.

When my brother and I would visit the farm Cary would fill our days with country adventures.

From an impossibly early age Cary drove us through corn fields on his dirt bike (we always got in trouble for that) and led us through ankle deep cow manure to see newborn calves.

Following his lead we climbed the cherry tree in my great grandmother's yard and ate cherries until we were sick; scrambled up onto the feed tractor and flung corn cobs into the pig pen; searched the barn until we found the place the mama cat delivered her litter of kittens and chased the horses to mount them bareback.

Cary taught us to pull the stamen out of a honeysuckle flower and lick the sweet nectar.

He made fun of our city ways and initiated a lifelong pattern where we played city mice to his country mouse.

Isaac was the hired hand on the farm.

I don't know when he started working there but my earliest memories of the farm include him.

He had (and still has) the biggest smile I've ever seen.

Cary was often in Isaac's care while his father, Cary Sr. (my great uncle) was off doing farm chores.

Cary will tell you that Isaac "practically raised him." When my brother and I visited the farm, Isaac often watched us too. Isaac took us fishing in Uncle Cary's beat up, powder blue pick up truck and invented elaborate ways to entertain us.

He took really good care of us… and especially good care of Cary.

Cary will tell you that he loves Isaac like family to this day.

But in the early 1970's when I was a young girl, Isaac wasn't allowed in Cary's house.

He'd arrive at the door with us and stop there.

If a meal was prepared for him, it was handed out for him to eat outside.

I don't remember being told that it was because Isaac is black, but that was the reason.

I remember finding it confusing. I didn't understand.

I grew up in Columbia, Maryland which was an early "planned" community. There were children of all faiths and races in my elementary school, my campfire girl troop and in my neighborhood.

They were allowed in my house. I didn't understand why things were different at the farm.

Eventually, Isaac left to work elsewhere, marry and raise two children of his own.

Economic realities of the 1990's left my uncles no real option other than to sell most of the farm.

I was saddened by that.

The farm had been in our family for generations and though I never lived there I am rooted to the place. When I go to visit unannounced, my cousins and uncles say things like, "I didn't know you were coming home."

Home.

I went to the farm a few weeks ago for my grandfather's funeral. The evening after the burial, Isaac came to my Granny's house to offer his condolences. My granny gave him a long hug and he hugged her back. She invited him to the table and asked him to join us for our meal.

He agreed and approached the table.

He stood for a long while examining the overwhelming number of dishes brought by neighbors and relatives. My grandmother asked Cary's wife to fix Isaac a plate, which she did, and Isaac sat down to eat. As is usual with Isaac, he didn't say much.

But good ol' Cary is always willing to fill any conversational gaps.

In some ways Cary will always be the barefoot, country hero of my youth even though I would characterize him now as a staunch conservative and myself as the exact opposite.

Over the years Cary and I have argued fervently about our differing political viewpoints, though we have never let our differences separate us.

It wasn't until I was in my early thirties that I realized Cary was often baiting me for his own entertainment. So, true to form, Cary looked up and asked me what I thought of the slate of Presidential candidates.

"I'm excited about Barack Obama," I told him.

Cary dropped his fork and rolled his eyes.

"Yeah," I said. "I think I'm going to give up my consulting practice and go work on his campaign. Go Barack, Go!!!!"

Cary stared at me. A slow smile spread across his face.

"You know," he said, "I swore I'd never vote for a woman or a black, but I'd give that all up for Condoleezza Rice. Now she would make a GREAT president."

And so we danced the old dance.

I could see Isaac grinning while listening to our exchange but he never said a word.

I wondered what he thought but knew he wouldn't say.



Special thanks to Little Monkies and Chicken and Cheese.

Just Post Feb


Childhood Memory entry in Scribbit's March Write Away




Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Nurture, Nature, Schmurture, Schmature

I was on the floor engaging in some of my signature horizontal parenting when suddenly I was beseiged by children giving me rasberries on the stomach.

Then The Mayor moved up to look me in the eye and said,

"I'm gonna lick yer face!" and proceeded to give me a giant slobbery lick up the whole left side of my face.

He's just like his father.

Though, I guess there is some of me in him as well.

When K was changing him into his pajamas, The Mayor, upon having his sneakers and smelly, smelly socks removed, waved his foot in the air at his father and yelled,

"Hey Dad, SMELL MY FEET!"

Friday, February 16, 2007

Shut Up About Park Rangers Already You Freak

Alas, another Valentine's Day passed without any Park Ranger action.

No one can accuse me of not giving it my best effort - even in the eleventh hour...


-----Original Message-----
From: Oh, The Joys [mailto:ohthejoys(at)gmail.com]
Sent:
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
9:02 AM
To:
Mike (K's former boss and former chief ranger in charge of large U.S. National Park)
Subject: Happy Valentine's Day - could be happier...

Dear Mike:

I hope all is well with you and that you are properly adored today being that it is Valentine’s Day.

I’m sending you a photo to NOT SO SUBTLEY remind you of how you said you’d hook me up.

K would make a mighty FINE lookin’ Park Ranger don’t you think?

It IS Valentine’s Day after all (and I have no shame.)

Mike, really. I need your help!!

Best,
Jessica


-----Original Message-----
From: Mike [mailto:formerchiefranger(at)tease.com]
Sent: Wednesday, February 14, 2007
4:22 PM
To: Oh, The Joys
Subject: RE: Happy Valentine's Day - could be happier...

I think that K should wear a ranger uniform and take you for a role in a meadow since its Valentine's day.


-----Original Message-----

From: Oh, The Joys
Sent: Wednesday, February 14, 2007
4:29 PM
To: Mike
Subject: RE: Happy Valentine's Day - could be happier...

My thought exactly, but see you have a role to play in that coming true… Which is why I come to you BEGGING.

I need the uniform, Mike. I neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed it.

Can you help a desperate girl out? I can get you his sizes…


-----Original Message-----
From: Mike
Sent: Wednesday, February 14, 2007
4:41 PM
To: Oh, The Joys
Subject: RE: Happy Valentine's Day - could be happier...

Take a cold!!!!!! bath. I don't have access to any stock of any sizes. I have a ranger hat or two at home but it is too late for today. Lets plan to work on your fantasy for next year. Alternately we could put him in a ranger hat nude for your birthday!


-----Original Message-----
From: Oh, The Joys
Sent: Wednesday, February 14, 2007
4:41 PM
To: 'Mike'
Subject: RE: Happy Valentine's Day - could be happier...

Okay. If you can get me a ranger hat – and let me just remind you that at the fancy nonprofit event dinner LAST YEAR it was you who suggested Valentine’s Day “next year” – which would be today – ahem.

It is too late for today, but Mike, I would totally rather – you know – “roll in the meadow” in a month other than February.

Spring is coming.

I’m just sayin’…


To this, my man Mike sent no reply.

-SIGH-

I did get flowers... and this card expertly "enhanced" for reality:

Front of Card

2007 Valentine Card Cover

Pop Up Interior
(complete with screaming Mayor and food covered Rooster)

2007 Valentine Card

I guess I need to put the Park Ranger dream away for awhile, but the Valentine Week did end on a high note last night.

After six hours spent on the phone with tech support (someone stick a needle in my eyeball) I went to the market and who should be standing in line in front of me?

A National Park Ranger in full dress.

Oh, the ... anticipation.

I was grinning like a fool at the man and making him a bit uncomfortable... so being the complete dork that I am, I said,

"Excuse me sir, I really have to tell you something."

I confessed my Park Ranger Fetish to this 79 year old African American man and gave him a chuckle.

He did confirm that it is illegal to impersonate a Federal Officer, but "only if you get caught," he said.

He did not, however, offer me a uniform.

I will continue to dream...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Chillin' with Dana

This morning The Mayor asked K to get him one of the blue cold packs from the freezer.

"What do you need it for, Mayor?" K asked.

"I want to rub it on Mommy's boobies."

[Ho no you ain't neither!]

"I don't think Mommy would like that Mayor."

"Okay, then can we put it on my butt?"

...and the next thing you know The Mayor was strapped into an ace bandage holding an ice pack on his rear.

Dana likes to chill.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

More Evidence of True Dorkhood

Last night after we got under the covers...

[way too late for people with children who rise at 6:00 a.m.]

K and I were talking about concerts we had seen way back when we were young, wild and free.

"My first concert was the best," K said. "I saw The Who and The Clash at Shea Stadium in 1983.

"I am, fer shure, like, so totally much cooler than you," I told him.

My first concert was Sha Na Na at the Ohio State Fair in 1978.

I so ROCK!

Do doo doo do do...

bowser
Shockingly frightening Sha Na Na Video

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Evening Slide Presentation In the Campground Amphitheater

heart

and

heart5

So... can't ANYONE

heart4

Because y'all KNOW I want to be

heart3

Give me a

heart2

Okay, okay.

I realize that impersonating a federal officer is illegal.

But I SWEAR PROMISE,

We will never use the Park Ranger uniform for evil...

(Hee hee hee ha ha ha, ree ree ree!!!)

We will only use it for good.

Mmmmmmmm, BABY, YES!

(Bow chicka bow bow!)

Seriously, who can hook a dork up?

There is only ONE day left until Valentine's Day.

heart8

k as a ranger

Monday, February 12, 2007

Love Token #9

The Mayor isn't a snuggler.

Only after a huge meltdown does he want to be held, hugged and rocked...

Which is exactly the time I'm usually contemplating an ice pick to the forehead.


The Rooster gives up more love.

When I put her to sleep at night she curls into my body for a last hug and snuggle before she goes to sleep.

K and I alternate nights putting The Mayor and Rooster down so I only get to have her last moments of baby girl love every other night.

Last night was K's turn with her.

Fifteen minutes after they were both in bed Rooster started crying.

I gladly went to her, figuring I could get a little of her sweetness.

I picked her up and she snuggled into my face and neck.

I sang a soft lullaby and swayed back and forth in the darkness.

Finally, I put her back in the crib with her blankie, her bear and her baby doll.

She rolled over, settled.

As I walked out of the room I felt something vaguely sticky on my cheek.

I reached up and wiped at it.

As I reached the light of the kitchen, I realized I was holding the Georgia State Fair, Blue Ribbon Winning, Biggest Booger of all time.

The hugest booger ever, a MAN sized booger, a booger that could have only originated from The Brawny Man or Sasquatch was stuck on my face.

Stuck. on. my face.

What's the name of this family record?

Oh, the joys.

Ew.

Friday, February 09, 2007

When Desperate Men Read the Classics

Seven hours in the car with two short people under the age of three…

Say it with me now,

Oh. The. Joys.
Thankfully, I was driving, which left K in charge of toddler entertainment.

We hoped for synchronized toddler car naps.

Our odds were looking good just before we left when The Rooster folder her harms on her lunch plate, lay her head down and went to sleep with her face in her food.

But no.

The Mayor’s high pitched shrieking cut her nap short.

Because we are anti-TV vigilantes there is no portable DVD option for us and so K was forced to transform himself into a one man show.

He performed finger puppet shows over the headrest of the passenger seat and staged elaborate plays with stuffed animals that leapt repeatedly from the dashboard into the car seats.

He sniffed baby toes and pretended to pass out, played peek-a-boo for miles and miles and read a lot of books.

The Mayor wanted to hear Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel over and over again.

In the story, Mike Mulligan convinces Selectman Henry B. Swap of Popperville to let him dig the foundation for the new town hall with his antiquated steam shovel named Mary Anne by promising that they’ll do it all in a day or it will be fee of charge.

I think K must have become a little bored by the book after the seventh or eighth reading because the story took a few interesting new twists.

Mike Mulligan had a number of new persuasive arguments to offer Henry B. Swap.

The story, taking on new life, went something like this:

“Why should I let YOU dig the foundation with your outdated steam shovel?” asked Selectman Swap.

“Because my steam shovel Mary Anne can dance a Hootchie Cootchie Dance!” exclaimed Mike Mulligan.

[Kneeling backwards in the passenger seat with his ass facing on coming traffic, K shook his thang for all it was worth while singing “HOO-CHEE COO-CHEE, HOO-CHEE COO-CHEE” at top volume.]

“And that’s not all she can do,” bragged Mike Mulligan.

“Bark like a dog, Mary Anne!”


“Ruff ruff! Ruff ruff!”

I thought I might have to pull over when Mary Anne farted the national anthem.



mike mulligan

I'll Fly Away

I am home now and by myself.

Both children are at daycare and K is at work.

During our morning hugs and kisses goodbye, The Mayor pulled away from me and said,

“I’m sad that Ady is gone.”
I told him I was sad too and that I was going to miss him.

The last few days have been a whirlwind.

It is easier to feel buoyed up when you are surrounded by family and so much easier to feel sad when you are alone.

Still…

At the grave side when the pastor was saying his final words, there was a hawk flying in circles overhead.

I am comforted by the thought of the bird.

Slowly over time, my grandfather became too weak to do the things he loved.

One by one, his hobbies and interests had to be given up – wood working, golf, gardening, travel.

When I saw the hawk, all I could think about was the life force of my grandfather riding the same wind, rifling through the bird's wings and soaring, soaring up.

hawk_in_flight

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

soon

My grandfather's funeral starts at 2:00 today.

I called him "Ady" when I was a toddler.

Because I was the first of his grandchildren, all of us called him that.

I was a violent toddler.

I walked around hitting everything - including my grandfather and his cat.

He taught me to be gentle, taught me to pet the cat and say,

"Ahhhh, the kitty,"
the arm of the chair...
"Ahhh, the chair,"

...and most importantly he taught me to stop hitting HIM.
He took my toddler hand and gently patted it against his forearm and taught me to say,
Ah, the Daddy."
In baby language it came out "Ady" and I called him that always.

His actual name was Jesse.

I am named for him and I am glad for that, honored by it.

My granny has asked me to speak at his funeral today.

More specifically, she asked me to read a birthday letter that I wrote to him in 1997.

I remember writing it but I didn't know he saved it.

I hope I can get through it.

I don't have a copy of this letter so I'm going to type it here both to have a copy for myself and with the hope that I can get used these ten year old words of mine so that they won't make me cry in front of my whole family and all the bridge players in Halifax County Virginia.

Here's goes...

October 15, 1997

Dear Ady,

I regret that I missed calling you on your recent birthday. I hope that it was a happy one. Mom says that you've also been through a surgical procedure this past week. I trust that all went well and you are in good spirits.

Because it's your birthday, I wanted to send you a letter about the things I remember and cherish about growing up with you in my life.

One of my ealriest memories of you is from when you lived in New Jersey. You and Granny had the two orange chairs from your current living room in the nook of the New Jersey living room. They flanked a table that held your pipes, a lamp, ashtrays and maybe sometimes Katie the cat. Your chair was the one closest to the doorway and I remember climbing on you while you smoked your pipe. When you weren't in your chair, I played ith your pipes. I read a book called "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" in your chair.

I remember one Chirstmas, after all the gifts had been opened, you told me that there might be one more in the basement. You and Uncle Allen led me down and I saw the amazing doll house that the two of you built for the first time. Even then, I was so impressed that you had built not only the house, but all the furniture in it. The house was painted and roofed like your house in New Jersey. I loved that because I loved coming to that house. It was such a comfort to me to lay with Katie in the stripes of sun that lit up the carpet in the foyer.

I remember LOVING to take walks around the block with you. It was such a big honor to be invited to walk that far with you, listen to your conversation and look at all the big trees.

I spent many hours at your desk over the years, breaking the points on your mechanical pencils, drawing on your desk blotters and investgating the contents of all of your drawers as if to uncover everything there was to know about Ady.

For as long as I can remember I have loved your world famous slide shows. They have always given me a sense of connection to myself and my family that has been very important to me. Thank you for being an historian that I have trusted and relied on most of my life.

I remember many family reunions at Granny M's house. I liked to run all around the porch and play with the millions of "M" cousins that seemed to go on forever. Granny M cooked so much delicious food and Uncle Mac makes the best Brunswick stew in the world. I remember that there was a hammock in the back yard and I loved to lie in it with cousins. I liked being at Granny M's house with the whole family. It gave me a sense of place and meaning in my life.

I remember the hours of fun I had playing the "I'll bite your finger off" game where I would cautiously put my finger in the corner of your mouth and laugh with delight when you would pretend to try to bite it off.

I remember you taking us to Otis Elevator and we got to wear hard hats and see your office.

When you moved to Ohio, you let me play with the creche at Christmas and you made me a Mankala game board. I remember that you and Granny took us to the Indian Mounds near Ohio State. Was it in Ohio that you took us to your office? I think maybe it was.

When you first moved home to Virginia, you drove me all around the "M" side of Route 58 and showed me many sites from your youth. I really enjoyed that. I'd like to do that with you again sometime.

I have always loved the wave in your hair. I don't know if I've ever told you that before, but it's been kind of amazing to me that throughout my life that wave has always been there.

I still have the handkerchiefs that you had embroidered in the South Pacific.

I guess I"m recalling all of these memories as a way of telling you that I have always loved you very much and I still do. I am very lucky to have you for a Grandfather (or are you and Ady? - ha ha) You have been an incredible mentor, teacher, historian, parent, guide and friend. You have taught me about my histroy and my family and helped to make this such an important part of how I view myself and understand my place in the world. You have helped me appreciate the simpler, guiet things life offers - like streams, woods, trees, wind and the night sky. I love you very much.

Big hugs and kisses to you Ady!

Jessica


Sunday, February 04, 2007

To Light You On Your Way

My Ady & Granny

Ady is my Grandfather.

He is in the hospital.

My mom and her sister are there with my Granny at Ady's side.

He is sedated, comfortable they tell me.

He is waiting, they are waiting, everyone is waiting for nature to take its course.


I wish I was there.

Stand still, O Beautiful End, for a moment,
and say your last words in silence.
I bow to you and hold up my lamp
to light you on your way.

~Rabindranath Tagore


Updated:

Monday morning.

My Ady passed away last night.

I will be away for awhile saying goodbye.



Friday, February 02, 2007

Hot Fashion Tip

This morning I had to dress for a meeting.

A bizzzzness meeting.

I asked K if I looked presentable.


He said, "You look good to me."

"But do these pants show my panty lines?" I persisted.

"I can't see a panty line," he said and then mumbled something else.

"What did you say?" I asked.

He looked sheepish.

"WHAT!" I demanded.

"I just said that a panty line wouldn't be the WORST thing."

I grinned.

"What are you trying to say?" I pressed.

He looked totally busted.

"You LIKE panty lines? Panty lines DO IT for you?"

He shrugged.

Panty lines.

Who knew?

I'll tell you what, my love...

I'll work on the panty lines if you SHOW ME THE PARK RANGER UNIFORM!!!


Fashion Don't