Monday, April 27, 2009

I Am Not the World's Best Housekeeper


And it's not very often I'm glad of it, but today you can color me happy.
I have a very deep tub in my bathroom. It's basic - white, no jets, but very deep. I don't use it nearly often enough and most of the time when I do, it isn't long before the door is flung open and one of my daughters comes to investigate. They come under the pretense of needing something, and Eve tends to sit on the edge of the tub and drift her fingertips in, "Just to see how hot the water is, Mom."

Lola teases and threatens to turn the cold tap on full blast or she flings toys in with me, "to play with!"

This morning, home alone and unable to get warm all the way through, I decided to take a bath. Knowing that my two girls were the last two in the tub, I peered over the edge and was surprised at how clean it actually looked.

I ran the water as hot as I could stand it, threw in some lavender bath salts and submerged myself. Five minutes later I finally opened my eyes and began finding treasures.

A long blonde Lola hair floating atop the water, making that little puckery look along its edges as if it were about to sink. I put my fingertip to it and dragged it to the side of the tub.

Next was a bright red chip of nail polish from Eve's toes in the shape of Texas. It took its place alongside the hair.

A short black cat hair was the third item and as I put it with the other pieces I began to reconstruct the bath the girls took on Saturday night. They had brought in cups and pitchers and their super-squirters ("just at each other, Mom! We promise, not all over the bathroom."). The cat sat on the wide ledge and dangled the tip of her tail in, swishing it back and forth as the girls pretended to be baristas crafting new drinks. They added fantastic ingredients, swished, poured for each other and pretended to do taste tests. Each new creation was met with praise, "How did you get so many bubbles in that? You're amazing!" "Oh, no, it was nothing. Your drink knocked my socks off, little sister!"

Bubba and I hid outside the bathroom and stifled our giggles.

As I raised my knee up out of the hot water I noticed a small piece of paper stuck to me. A bit of the label that had soaked off of their water weapons. This was the final piece of the reconstruction. I won't say that they were able to keep their promise about not getting water on the floor, but they sure had a great time with all that came before.

Apparently I still can't take a bath alone, but this one proved to be pretty fun for me as I conjured up the images of my girls at play. Good thing I didn't clean the tub before I got in...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Now if This Isn't Eco-Friendly...


I don't know what is!

I love Spring. The blooming of the crocuses which leads to daffodils and then to tulips. The pink and white dogwood trees sprouting their delicate blossoms and the streets lined with pink cherry blossoms that create pink blizzards when the wind howls through.

But nothing ruins Spring more quickly for me than the sight of the first noxious yellow flowers of Scotch Broom. In the Pacific Northwest, Scotch Broom is that ubiquitous green shrub that grows in the median of I-5 for hundreds of miles through Washington and Oregon. It shows up on hillsides everywhere, pushed out only by the more-noxious blackberry bushes in every scrubby area. The pollen that comes from these neon-yellow pea relatives clogs my tear ducts and makes me sneeze incessantly. I can catch the scent of a Scotch Broom plant on the slightest breeze even if the plant itself is miles away. To the person responsible for bringing this horrid non-native plant to our area, I say, "NO THANK YOU!!"

So something like this does my heart good. Eradicating non-native species without toxic chemicals or heavy machinery seems too good to be true, doesn't it? Apparently all it takes is a herd of hungry goats. This guy is a genius. He rents his goats to municipalities and individual landowners alike. These sixty goats can eat all of the vegetation in a half acre plot in just three days, leaving only sticks, some roots and a some goat manure in their wake. If there is litter mixed in with the weeds, they'll eat that, too. The goat poo is great for the soil and all you have to do is cover the area with cardboard or old newspapers until the roots die and plant new native plants (or whatever else you want). No toxins. No chemicals. No exhaust released in to the air.

My joy at seeing Spring is restored simply by looking at the before and after photos of the Scotch Broom these guys laid waste to in the city of Seattle. I wonder if I can "adopt a highway" by renting some goats to mow the noxious weeks alongside for me....

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wake Up Call


I don't get sick. Not really. Not with fevers and swollen glands and stomach upsets. Daily, I take the temperatures of glassy-eyed preschoolers and call their parents to come pick them up. Weekly, I slip my arms beneath someone's armpits and hustle them to the bathroom, hoping to make it at least to the linoleum before their heaving stomachs erupt. I watch for green runny noses and listen for croupy coughs. It's not really in my job description, but I'm a mother and I work in a school with kids aged 3-9 and I see them every day.

I am not afraid of germs and don't squirt Purell into my hands nearly as often as most of my co-workers. I don't disinfect my phone or keyboard daily or even weekly. I wash my hands after going to the bathroom, before eating lunch and after wiping some kids boogery nose, but I don't have the cracked, dry skin of an obsessive clean-freak. And I don't get most of what the kids share with me every day.

I might get a dry patch in my throat from time to time. I get headaches from working on the keyboard too long, but I don't spend my winters sniffling and sneezing.

So when I went to bed Tuesday night with a scratchy throat and a tingling in my left ear I was surprised, but I figured it was time. I was due for a little cold, I suppose.

It wasn't until Deb checked in on me to say I'd been absent from my blog and hers for too long that I began to wonder.

It wasn't until I stepped on a small shard of broken glass in my own kitchen and walked around with it embedded in the bottom of my heel without noticing anything beyond a small, pesky niggling that I began to really wonder.

Two days ago I broke a mixing bowl in my sink. It was part of a set that I bought at Target when I got my very first apartment nearly 20 years ago. Three glass mixing bowls of graduated sizes, cheap and functional. By now, they're scratched up and well-worn, but perfectly usable. I set the largest one down in the sink to rinse it out and it shattered. I was surprised but not upset. I quietly cleaned it up, reaching my fingers gingerly down into the garbage disposal to get all of the pieces.

Yesterday morning I broke a glass coffee cup I've had for fifteen years as I set it on the counter to make Eve a cup of tea. It shattered into pieces just from the small impact of being set on the counter. Two in two days? And now a cold?

While I was walking around with the piece of glass in my heel I was packing Lola's lunch and making Eve some hot chocolate. I was quizzing Lola on her spelling words and planning my day of errands. When I stopped to take a breath before moving on to the next task, I realized every step I took was pushing the irritant farther into my foot. Despite that, it wasn't until the girls were safely in their carpool and the dog and cats were fed that I sat down to remove the piece of glass.

I'm thinking I need to start paying a little more attention to me. I've pushed the snooze button a few too many times and the alarm clock is getting annoyed.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Smarter Than Me

The scales, that is. You know the expression, "waiting for the scales to tip?" Well, I have been. Sitting with my butt fitted into the curved platform of the scale at the bottom end, planted on the ground, wishing for balance. Working too much, drinking too much wine, not sleeping enough, wishing for balance.

Every once in a while I manage to toss some small pebble into the other side - I work on my manuscript for a few hours or make a date for coffee with a girlfriend, but the scales don't budge. Not even a tremor. I keep hoping that with every small offering I make they will add up and miraculously I'll begin to rise and find my side of the scale floating up into the air. Unfortunately, my offerings have been so few and far between that by the time I add another one, the first one has disintegrated.

These scales are too smart for me. It's time I got up off my butt, stepped off of this side of the scale and headed over to the other. Strange how when life crowds in the first things I cut out are the things that make me most human and happiest about who I am. Writing. Connecting with friends. Walking with the dog in the rain.

I don't know how long it's gonna take to get to the other side, but I'm brushing off the seat of my pants tonight. See you on the other side!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Inquiring Minds Want to Know


Precocious children + spring at the zoo = interesting conversations

Took the girls to the zoo the other day and we practically had it to ourselves. It was a blustery day and the locals were not on Spring Break so we wandered around during feeding time and got to see all sorts of interesting animal behaviors. The baby elephant was frolicking in a mud puddle and struggling mightily to push an enormous tree over with his trunk while his mother stood by rolling her eyes at him. The orangutans were experimenting with their food, rolling it around on their tongues and pushing it out through their lips like five year old boys learning to dangle their spit down toward the ground and suck it up just at the last minute. The bats were swooping from side to side, pushing each other off of the pie tins to get the best morsels of mango. It was magical. Until we got to the baboons.

Four baboons, three female and one male. The male was easily twice the size of the females, his snout striped with electric blue and white and his eyes glowing with testosterone. He relentlessly followed one female around as she paced on all fours pretending to ignore him. Every few steps he reached out a front foot and smacked her on the haunches and she flipped her head back at him, annoyed. Lola watched this and giggled, assuming he was bugging her like she loves to bug her big sister - just pestering. After three or four smacks, the harried female looked at us with a sigh (I'm not kidding here - she really did look straight at us and give in) and stopped and offered her hindquarters to the male. Recognizing this for what it was, I managed to turn Lola away just as the male's huge erection made itself known and we went on to see other animals.

This is the conversation that ensued:

"Why are their bottoms all poofy?"

"You mean hairy? Monkeys are hairy everywhere."

"No, where they don't have hair. I mean, like swollen."

"Well, it's Spring. And that means it's time for the animals to think about making babies. The girls get swollen bottoms to show the boys where they need to go to make babies."

"EEWWWW! I hope my bottom never looks like that!"

Me, too.
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