Mid-Life Ramblings; Sanity Optional

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Happy Birthday K & K!

Today my brother and sister turn 38 years old.

Thirty-eight years and seven weeks ago, I was nearly 5 1/2 years old and an only child. My mom was expecting a new baby and I was in kindergarten. Just about two years before, Mom had miscarried a baby. All I remember was seeing her sad face through the hospital window and knowing that my baby brother or baby sister had gone to heaven. As soon as I found out she was pregnant again, I would pray each night that God send me either a baby brother or a baby sister or both. (The lesson here is be careful of what you pray for! :-D )

Now my mom was VERY pregnant, HUGELY pregnant but the doctor had only been hearing one heartbeat. There was worry that the baby may be a Down's Syndrome baby as she was so very large. Mom went into early labor and the doctors put her in the hospital. This was 1967 in the days before ultra-sound machines and before they could save babies that were nine or ten weeks early. All the doctors could do was x-ray Mom to try to figure out what was going on. Much to all our surprise, there were two babies in there. It seems my sister had been hanging out vertically under one set of Mom's ribs so they'd not been able to hear her heartbeat.

As I spent the seven weeks at my grandmother's house being spoiled rotten, Mom spent the time flat on her back in the hospital. These were also the days when children under the age of 12 weren't allowed in hospitals to visit. Dad would bring me to Mom's window so I could see her and say "hi". But on Sundays when the doctors weren't about, the nurses would open the back door and sneak me in so I could hug Mom and visit for a bit.

Finally on June 30th, Mom went into labor again and the doctors let her deliver. Dads weren't allowed in the delivery rooms then so Dad had to sit out and wait. My brother was born first and Dad heard him cry. Next came my sister and the little sneak cried twice. The nurses said that Dad nearly passed out because he thought it was triplets. [vbg]

I remember them both being so very tiny. My sister had the longest, skinniest legs I'd ever seen on a baby. I was one proud big sister. Twins were a phenomenon back then and friends and family came from all over to see our twins. I was old enough to be able to help a bit with the babies and I loved it.

There are so very many moments in the past 38 years that I remember and treasure.

Some of The Funny Moments:

* When (around age one) my brother stole the barrette out of my sister's hair and Mom and the maid both thought he'd swallowed it but it was just under his tongue.
* The cold day they went outside to play and my brother had on the jacket my sister wanted to wear. Mom and Dad, my grandparents, and I sat and watched out the window as my sister conned my brother into switching jackets with her within about five minutes after a free wagon ride around the yard).
* My brother breaking his arm on Easter Sunday while playing with one of my cousins and all the complications that followed. Ok, not funny but that fall was the reason we got our first dog Crunch. :-)
* The night my brother and I convinced our sister that because her bruise on her hip was green that she had gangrene and they'd have to cut off her leg so she cried and tried to get rid of the bruise by wiping 409 on it.
* Playing a nice quiet game of Barbies with my sister and having my brother burst into the room screaming "Tornado" and diving into the middle of everything and slinging Barbie stuff everywhere.
* Belly-crawling down the hall after we were put to bed and sneaking up to my brother's bed, grabbing him, and scaring the Bejeebers out of him.
* Watching Saturday afternoon horror movies like "Creature From The Black Lagoon" with my brother, who would run and hide during the scary parts. Of course, I'd tell him they were over before they truly were and he'd come out, scream, and hide behind the chair again.
* My sister calling Dad to tell on my brother who had decided to disect then try to revive a frog by using the frayed ends of an extension cord, thus blowing every breaker in the house.

And Some of the Poignant Moments:

* Watching them both graduate from high school with full tuition scholarships.
* Standing shoulder to shoulder with them at our grandmother's funeral.
* The night my brother came to tell me he was gay and the night two weeks later I was with him when he told our sister.
* My sister's wedding to a guy who has made a wonderful husband and father.
* Having my sister as my matron of honor and having my brother sing "Follow Me" at my wedding.
* When my sister, having just given birth to my niece El, knowing that neither our brother nor I would ever have children of our own, reached out for both our hands and said through tears, "I had her for all of us."
* Circling the wagons when my nephew Ty was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago.
* Being there for and with each other, each assuming his/her own role, when we nearly lost Mom last November.

The three of us have always been close. Sure we fought like normal siblings growing up but we've always been right there for each other. I have watched both of them graduate from college, something I always regret not doing. They have grown into amazing adults. I have watched my brother become an excellent journalist and have his work nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He has found a wonderful partner and they have made a fine home together. I have watched my sister become a mother to two of the best kids on the planet. She is a fantastic mother, a better one than I'm sure I'd have made. She has walked a very long road with Ty's illness but she has never lost faith or hope. In fact, she has come out of her somewhat shy shell to become an advocate for children's healthcare here in Louisiana.

There has not been a moment that I haven't been proud to be their sister.

I love you both, K and K. And on this birthday I wish you peace and joy and happiness.

From your big sister M.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Take the survey

I stole this from Dixie Peach:

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

I figured if she could make some science, I could too. ;-)

Monday, June 27, 2005

I've done it!

Last Sunday I visited The Quarter Stitch in New Orleans to re-learn how to knit. I'd been taught a pretty convoluted way before. The girl that taught me did her best. She was right-handed and I'm left-handed and she was trying to teach me as best she could. I've realized now that she taught me to make my stitches properly but she had me moving the yarn from right needle to left. That meant that I knitted everything from the back side. It also made it impossible for me to learn more complicated stitches and techniques. I never could understand a yarn over. Now I know why.

So, anyway, last Sunday one of the girls at the Quarter Stitch sat with me and showed me how to knit and purl in the proper English style. I came home and took out some scrap yarn and began practicing. For two days it was very discouraging. It seemed as if I just couldn't get into a rhythm. On the third day I decided to try knitting the way I used to and see just what the differences were. Once I realized that the only difference was what needle I was moving the yarn to, it all made so much sense. I switched back and found my rhythm. Not only that, but I was soon purling as well.

On Saturday I felt confident enough to put the practice yarn away and begin my first project. I'm knitting a new scarf for my niece El. I had her pick out the yarn a couple of months ago and she chose a lovely red chenille. Saturday afternoon I cast on 30 stitches on my US 13 needles and began to knit. Except I'd forgotten how much of a pain in the butt chenille can be as it's easy to split stitches. So I started and frogged twice. By the time I cast on the 30 stitches for the third time, I was too tired to continue.

But third time is definitely the charm because I picked it up during El's birthday swimming party yesterday and worked about 15 rows without any problems. I finally have new WIP. Yippee! I'll post a pic as soon as I have made some decent progress.

I had really missed knitting. Yesterday I read the directions for a YO in Stitch N' Bitch and I now actually understand it! I'm on my way to creating all the fun stuff I've been wanting to create. Ah! :-D

Sunday, June 26, 2005


The only sounds in this house at the moment are the clack of my keyboard, the jingling of doggie tags, and the occasional "Hello, Birdie Bird" from Oscar and he's out on the porch. :-D Even E is out of the house right now so it seems unusually quiet.

My dear sister-in-law and my great niece just left this morning. I took them to the airport in New Orleans and got home just in time to be here for the beginning of El's 11th birthday swimming party. There have been kids playing and splashing and adults sitting around visiting all afternoon. It was loads of fun. E just headed off to Wal Mart to pick up some parts for his lawnmower and a couple of other necessities. I suddenly find myself with a little quiet time.

Part of the reason for buying a house with a pool was so that we could entertain more. E and I are both social people and love having friends and relatives in our home. This past month has been pretty extrordinary. I just figured out that out of the past 30 days, we've had stay-over company for 20. We have enjoyed every second of it and wouldn't trade a moment. But I have to say that quiet time is greatly appreciated today. I don't even have enough energy to go out and swim. It's not quite 5 pm and I'm in my pajamas already. [vbg] I plan to be asleep by 8. :-D

Next weekend is the 4th of July and I'm sure we'll have friends here to swim during the weekend. By then I'll be rested up and ready to go. :-)

Friday, June 24, 2005

Ah! Cool Air and It's Official!

Thankfully the air conditioning issue was a minor one. The safety pan had filled up because the drain was clogged so it shut off the outside unit. The repairman had it going in record time. E and I were able to move back into our bedroom last night and there was no battle for prime bed real estate.

And, in all the air conditioning drama I forgot to post that it is official, Nate is our boy. His adoption was final on Wednesday. That will be the date we celebrate with him from now on. He continues to fit right into the household. He's beginning to get involved with playing when Sophie and Sneauball start. It's really cute to watch.

Sophie and Sneauball got groomed Wednesday so I'll take some pics and get them posted this weekend.

All I can say is Yippee! It's the Freakin' Weekend finally!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Hot Louisiana Weather Getting Hotter

Ok. Maybe it's because I angered the air conditioning gods by responding to Dixie Peach's post about not having air conditioning - you know, that karma thing. Whatever it is, our outside air conditioning unit went out at about 5 pm yesterday. Why do these things always happen at or after 5 pm when it's impossible to get anyone out to repair it?

We were able to borrow a small window unit from my brother-in-law. Since my SIL and her granddaughter are still there, we thought we'd put the window unit in a somewhat central location so we could all benefit. It's in the dining room window which is across the house from our bedroom. So E and I (at 10 pm last night!) moved our mattress into the dining room and slept under the air conditioning. We had a big industrial fan blowing down the hall to help circulation. It was hysterical - except at 10 pm stuff like that isn't hysterical. It's only the next day that you can actually look back and find something like that hysterical.

Picture E and I on the mattress on the floor while Sophie and Sneauball fight for spots on both our pillows so they can be closest to the cool. Thankfully they were groomed yesterday or Sophie would have suffocated. Add to that mental picture the cat scrambling to find a spot under the air. Nate is the only one that wasn't fighting for prime real estate. Imagine how well I slept. [vbg]

The repairman is on his way as I type. Hopefully it is something simple (and relatively cheap) like the safety pan being full thereby shutting off the outside unit to protect overflow and ceiling damage. In that case all that needs to be done is the pan emptied and the line blown out. I'm trying to keep a positive attitude about it.

Ah, the joys of homeownership! After renting for nearly seven years, I'd almost forgotten. :-D

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

It's because I'm inherently lazy

So I have finally done what all good bloggers should do. I have added links to the blogs I read daily and I've alphabetized them. I'd noticed they were getting a bit slapdash so I fixed it. It just took me a while, ok? :-D

Monday, June 20, 2005

Summer Visitors

I have been blessed with a wonderful sister-in-law (and, no, as far as I know she doesn't read this blog so I'm not just sucking up). E's older sister S is just the coolest. First of all, she was the only sibling of E's that could come to our wedding. Second, she's just cool.

She's 15 years E's senior so she was the one he always looked up to. I understand as she's the same age as my youngest aunt R who was much more like a big sister to me growing up.

S fell in love with Louisiana when she came to visit for the wedding. She has since divorced and can do some traveling. This is her third trip down since April of last year. Her plan is to come about every six months. This is the second time she's brought her granddaughter T with her. T is just thirteen and the greatest kid. She loves our dogs and they love her.

S and T arrived on Friday afternoon for a 10-day stay. We spent Saturday getting all girled up (well, not E). After Nate's vet visit, the girls headed off for haircuts and manicures and pedicures. Yesterday, we took them down to New Orleans to play tourist. T hadn't gotten to do much in New Orleans last time they were here so we took her to play. We had lunch with my brother K and his partner C at Fiorellos on Decatur. The food was good, very New Orleans-type fare of po-boys, jambalaya, fried seafood and such. From there we hit the French Market so T could buy her souveniers. I just HAD to buy a faux-Prada purse and a new toe ring. ;-)

Next I hit the Quarter Stitch, my favorite yarn store in New Orleans, to buy the Stitch-N-Bitch book and brush up on some knitting techniques. Then we did something I've never done - we took a carriage ride through the French Quarter. Now, I'm practically a local and some of those carriage drivers have a tendency to embellish a bit on places and history but our driver did a fantastic job. It was a great day for June as the humidity was low and it wasn't too hot. The Quarter wasn't very crowded so it was fun just to be out and about.

We finished our afternoon having ice cream at the Creole Creamery on Prytania St. as recommended by my dear brother. K is as big a chocoholic as I am and he recommended the dark chocolate flavors. I had a scoop of Dark Chocolate Praline Royale and I Scream For Fudge. I must say that those were both awesome, chocolate-that-makes-your-eyes-roll-back-in-your-head flavors. Those guys make all their ice cream in-house. While there I tasted Pear-Champagne sorbet and it was out of this world. If you have a chance while visiting the city, I highly recommend a visit there. It's in the old McKenzie's Bakery building 1/2 up from Upperline St.

I wish I could have the whole week off to play tourist with them but, alas, I must work. I think they stayed home to swim and relax today. S says this is the only place she can come where she doesn't have to think about work and can truly relax. She usually goes through three or four books while here.

I'm so glad she loves to visit us as we love having her here. Maybe we can talk her into moving down eventually. :-D

Monday, June 13, 2005

His name is Nate

And this is what he looked like when they picked him up at the shelter in Mesquite, TX, a couple of weeks ago:



But here's what he looks like now:




Nate is a very large Bichon Frise, approximately 2 years old, and just the sweetest, snuggly bear imaginable. He came to us on Saturday officially as a foster dog from Small Paws Rescue, a breed rescue organization that I volunteer for. But E and I have already fallen madly in love and figure we will flunk Fostering 101 and end up adopting Nate soon.

Nate was found wandering the streets as a stray and he is such a great dog that I find it very hard to think someone is not searching for their baby. He was brought into the Small Paws system in north Texas and they sent out an SOS for a foster home. E and I answered that SOS and Nate was transported, along with a bonded pair going to be fostered in Houma, LA, to Lafayette Saturday evening. It was love at first sight. [vbg]

He and Sophie and Sneauball are getting along with only a few pack order issues every now and then. I expect they'll work them out in due time. It is so very funny to see Nate and Sneauball together because they are truly the Mutt and Jeff of the Bichon world. Nate is so very tall and long and Sneauball is but a tiny boy. I'll get some pics downloaded this week and post them here (now that I have a Flickr account that makes life so very easy!).

Nate is a very social boy who wants to meet every person and animal he comes across. He's always ready to plant a few kisses on whomever he befriends and has that smile on his face all the time. He was matted so deeply when he was found that the groomer had to shave him down. I can't wait until his coat starts growing back in. Can you believe we've been lucky enough to get a Bichon that doesn't mind being brushed??? He has none of the neuroses that Sneauball has (bless my little boy's heart) so I can touch all his paws and his face and brush him without all that jumping around that I get from Sneauball. :-)

E and I have made room in the bed for our big new boy. His favorite thing is to stretch out alongside one of us and sleep on his back with paws in the air. At 19 lbs he's a bit on the skinny side for his frame so we're trying to put a couple of pounds on him. The Bichon standard for conformation calls for no taller than 12 inches at the withers and I know Nate is taller than that but I love those long legs!

Ok, that's enough new mom rambling for now. Y'all have to excuse me as I'll never have any human children so fluffy ones are it. And I can guarantee you that if anyone ever tries to tell our crew that they're actually dogs, they'll never get them to believe it. [vbg]

Thursday, June 09, 2005

A Google photo meme

Stolen from poppymom...

Directions: Go to Google and click on the “Images” link. Type in the following and post the first (or your favorite) picture the search engine finds.

- The name of the town where you grew up
- The name of the town where you live now
- Your name
- Your Grandmother’s name
- Your favorite food
- Your favorite drink
- Your favorite song
- Your favorite smell

Here's my stuff:

My hometown
Where I live now
My Name
My maternal grandmother's name
My paternal grandmother's name
My favorite food
My favorite drink
My favorite song
My favorite smell

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Waxing Philosophical

Today, during my morning commute, I began to think about kindness, which is pretty ironic since I was surrounded by crazy drivers. As my thoughts drifted, I began to realize how much easier it is for me now to let things roll off my back as compared to when I was younger. Now, I'll fully admit that some of it is thanks to Lexapro, but I think the bulk of it is due to age.

I thought about my grandmother, who was one of the kindest people I've ever known. I realize that her own children knew her as a different woman. I'm not saying that she was a shrew or anything when she was younger but I just think that with age comes a certain ability to let things go quicker. By the time I got here, she'd raised her children and had settled into her life.

I think we're meant to be full of piss and vinegar when we're young. Shoot, when I was in my 20's I was tough as nails. That made it much easier for me to be a Sheriff's deputy. It also sustained the love I had for that job. I'd go toe-to-toe with anyone, if necessary. I didn't take crap off of anyone back then.

When my 30's came along I began to feel the mellowing process. I started to see people and life in a different light. I learned to pick and choose my battles. My job became less fun and much more stressful. By the time I was 36, I was ready to leave and find something calmer. I quickly realized that I didn't miss the combativeness of the job.

Now at 40-something, life rolls along even easier than before. I swear if it keeps getting easier, I won't be able to stand it. [vbg] It's much simpler for me to be kind than to be argumentative. So much of that stuff is not worth it.

I ended up just remembering my grandmother and how very much I miss her in my life. She's been gone nearly 14 years now and for all these years I've been beating myself up for our last visit having been so short. The chief deputy had sent me on a run to pick up some equipment at the police supply house in Lafayette that afternoon and I decided to stop in Rayne to see her on the way. I couldn't stay long as the supply house was closing, but I stopped and chatted with her for a few minutes. I remember so vividly walking out of the side door of her house as I left. She'd followed me out the door and said she wished I could have stayed longer but was glad I had stopped. I told her I loved her then I drove off. She died suddenly in her backyard while picking pecans about a week later.

Today I finally stopped beating myself up for not staying longer. Today I realized that something made me stop that day, on a day when I normally wouldn't have. I realized that, although she said she wished I could have stayed longer, she was very happy that I'd stopped. I also realized that so many people lose loved ones without getting to tell them they love them. The last thing she ever heard me say was that I loved her. What more could I have said? Why has it taken my this long to realize that, I wonder.

Maybe it's because the older I get, the more like her I want to be. If I can grow to the ripe old age of 85 and be half as kind as she was, I will be blessed indeed.

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Disappointments in the Life of a 7-year-old

My youth contained days just like yesterday and watching my nephew Ty brought me right back.

Our phone started raining at about 3 pm yesterday afternoon. It was 11-year-old El wanting to know if we were ready for them to come swimming. Unfortunately, I'd heard thunder in the distance and knew we were in for some inclimate wrather. I told her I'd call her back when the thunder stopped. Fifteen minutes later, Ty called and wanted to know if he could come swimming yet. I was still hearing thunder so I told him we had to wait. I talked to my sister and she agreed about the thunder.

About 20 more minutes went by and I finally stopped hearing thunder. I phoned to let the kiddos know that they could come over. I'd no sooner hung up than I heard thunder again off in the distance. I thought maybe it was just left over from what had already passed.

I threw on my suit and headed out back. I got in the pool and started to swim and saw that it was getting greyer in the west. By the time my sister got there with the kids, it was pretty grey and I'd checked the weather radar. There was a pretty serious storm off to our west heading in our direction and there'd be no swimming after all.

As Ty rounded the corner in the backyard all decked out in his swim gear, I announced to them that the storm was too close for them to swim. His little heart was immediately broken and he burst in to tears.

My sister looked at me and asked if I remembered days exactly like that and I did. Our dad had been a member of the YMBC in Rayne when we were growing up. That meant that we got to swim in the pool there any time we wanted. Rayne was 30 miles from where we lived. Many a summertime day we'd put out swimming gear on, load up in the station wagon, get to Rayne, get in the pool, only to have to get out five minutes later because there was a storm coming. I remember all too well how those tears stung; how sad we were to have to head back home.

I wanted to cry with Ty yesterday. I'd only been in the pool once in the past week and was looking forward to a long swim and playing in the water with the kiddos. Instead, I got to watch it rain. But we adults don't express out disappointment in the same way that we did when we were seven.

The weather is calling for more afternoon rain over the next few days. I'm doubting I'll be in the water again until the weekend. But as soon as I can get in, I know a couple of kids I'm going to call up to come over and play in the water with me. :-)