Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ya think??

All together now boys and girls.... Well DUH!!

Lead paint is toxic when ingested by children and can cause brain damage or death. It's been mostly banned in the United States since the late 1970s, but is permitted in the coating of toys, providing it amounts to less than six parts per million.

Consumer advocates say the Bush administration has hindered regulation on two fronts. It stalled efforts to press for greater inspections of imported children's products, and it altered the focus of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), moving it from aggressive protection of consumers to a more manufacturer-friendly approach.

"The overall philosophy is regulations are bad and they are too large a cost for industry, and the market will take care of it," said Rick Melberth, director of regulatory policy at OMBWatch, a government watchdog group formed in 1983. "That's been the philosophy of the Bush administration."

Really now, not killing children could be bad for business folks!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Where everybody knows your name-

And they’re usually glad you came…

There are some good points and some bad ones about living in a fairly small place. No one ever asks for ID when you write a check. Car breaks down on the side of the road, someone you know will be along shortly. If you’re in the last gas pump next to the road that’s pre-pay only, yours will get authorized and can still write a check as soon as the clerk looks up and sees it’s you.. Your kids do something dumb, you’ll find out real quick..

There are some bad things as well. For one, running errands can take forever. The Beast doesn’t understand the length of time it takes to get things done. Years of telecommuting or commuting or a combination thereof has left him not so entrenched in the daily routine. Not that he’s anti social, he’s actually quite charming as a rule, he just doesn’t get out there as much as I do. Spending 15 years in the same place and 7 of those working for a popular doctor- you know a LOT of people.

It takes a little while to get shit dealt with when you have to speak to people. And for G.R.I.T.S. it's totally rude not to speak to people.. It's like white shoes after labor day, it's just not done. Again, the Beast doesn’t get it.. case in point, had some stuff to deal with today. Leave the house and head down the mountain, run into the Lord of the Lawn on his way up, stopped to chat for a moment about some plans we’re working on for the front of the house. Get another quarter of a mile and run into a neighbor that wants to chat. On we go..

Hit the gas station and fill up, cashier chats a moment or two and then asks if I can help a very lost couple from Jersey, fine. Get the very lost old folk pointed in the right direction. *Want the scenic route or want to drive back 20 miles or so and then turn left??* On to the dump (oh, the non-stop glamour) say hey to Keith, chat about the weather for a moment and unload the trash. Alrighty then, on to town proper.. Stop at the hardware store- say hey to Charlie chat for a few about his general health and his wife’s- hand over the lumber list and realize I totally forgot to take a piece of baseboard with me to match up. Starting to curse myself when he asks if it’s to finish the Beast’s office, no problem he knows what I need. Run back to pick up a few things and run into a former patient and have to do the twenty questions thing. Finally out of there.

Dry cleaners- you know the story by now. Bank and Post office- ditto.. And the man wonders why this takes time?? Not to mention the whole being about 12 miles from “town” thing, Don’t get me started on how long getting through the grocery store takes..

Funny, three decades ago this would be the last life I’d have ever seen myself in. Living in NYC with a couple of anorexic models and a Drag Queen, this would have been the very last damn life I’d have seen coming. The universe is indeed strange, but it really does have it’s own self leveling mechanisms. I want a dose of city, I’m close enough to get there for a day trip, I don’t want to screw with humanity I can hole up at home and not be bothered with it too much.

The Beast and I, the kids, the dogs and the bears and other assorted critters wandering about the back forty will stay put a while yet I expect. The world is totally strange sometimes.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Some Random Space-

Welcome to the back yard. In keeping with the no bummer theme..
This would be what I see from the kitchen window. Doesn't suck.

North-east side of the back yard.. No critters- amazing! Usually some sort of creature trotting through.

It's really good to be home..

Silly Boys..

To take a break from all the bummer posts of the last week or so- welcome to my back yard. These would be pictures of last night's fun and games at the back end of Casa de Locos.
Say hello to Ed and Mike folks..
Ed, Mike- say hello to the nice people.
What goobers.. watched these two guys all last summer and fall as cubs, trailing along after their mamma bear. It's nice to see them as healthy teenagers. Next time I'll try and get some pictures of old Uncle Bob. He's been roaming through here for about 15 years, biggest black bear I've ever seen. Kinda cute the way he more or less tolerates the boys, but tries to ignore them at the same time.

I'll try and get some foxes and deer and other assorted critters soon. And apologies to the nice virtual friends that have actual talent when it comes to taking a picture. But then again, my ass wasn't getting down off the deck and into the yard for a closer shot either.. I may be dumb, but I'm not stupid people.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Somewhere around 3AM on Tuesday I remembered something my Grandmother used to say, “Scars are proof of two things- either your own stupidity or good fortune.”

Got the big guy up and out of bed because he was having horrible hot flashes and sweating bullets, and man can I sympathize with that! Anyway, getting him wiped down and into a clean gown I thought about the roadmap of his life that brother dear’s scars represent.

There’s that big one that extends from well above his right ear and snakes down into his neck. I remember the first time I saw it after he came home from having a total neck dissection, an angry ugly thing at the time, that has mellowed through the years. I remember how self conscious he was, being a teenager at the time. Good fortune indeed, that tumor would have killed most people, he was actually in a medical paper somewhere in academia way back then because it was a radical surgery for his type of cancer at the time. Lucky scar indeed.

I see the one at the base of his neck from his disc surgery a few years back. Stupidity for constant abuse of his body and refusing to admit it and slow down.

The large one to the right of his new accessory, that’s where they removed another tumor a decade or so ago that proved to be benign. Good fortune.

The one on the left side of his thick skull? Slipped on a rock fly fishing alone somewhere in BFE and managed to hike his bleeding, dazed ass back to the road and flag down help. Well, we’ll call that a win for both sides I suppose.

His hands and arms, faint scars too numerous to count. Years spent at the forge with an anvil and hammer will give you a lot of burn marks. I see those hands and realize those huge, strong scarred appendages can take a piece of iron and fashion it into something beautiful- a perfect dogwood blossom, a rose, a bouquet of calla lilies. It has always rather amazed me the artistic talent that can take a raw block of iron and make something of such beauty out of it. Or do something more practical and make a pair of corrective shoes for a horse that’s hurting.. “No hoof, no horse” after all. Good fortune.

Thought about my own a bit. The big one on the heel of my right hand where I sliced myself royally one year after Christmas, de-boning a leftover ham for bean soup . Chalk one up for stupidity. Wash the knife stupid!!!

The good sized burn mark on my right forearm- acquired while checking a standing rib roast at the precise moment the Hurricane was playing lets chase the dogs through the kitchen and the big dog collided with me and knocked me forward into the oven rack. Good fortune, a second or two later and I’d have been totally bent over and it would have been my face.

The little half moon scar under my left shoulder blade- yeah chalk that one up to stupid and 20.. Haven’t touched tequila since that night , and we’ll leave it at that.

Those few random stretch marks.. In moments of vanity I consider them bad luck. But they are the best of good fortune. Two very difficult pregnancies, two babies with different, but equally dire issues in infancy that are now healthy people. With any luck they’ll be viable humans with a sense of responsibility and a purpose in life.

Grandma was right.. look at your scars and remember how lucky you really are folks, or how fortunate you were to have survived your own stupidity.

There's no place like home.

It is so, so good to be back in the normal chaos of Casa de Locos! Kids didn’t kill each other, the house didn’t burn down, and every one has all the body parts that were attached when I left still intact.. Props to Miss Thing for keeping the house together for me for a whole week! well the Beast did end up making a trip to the ER, but that's a whole 'nuther story.

What a trip! On every level you care to use the term for.. Brother #2 is a mess, but alive and hopefully will be just as good, or better- provided he behaves himself. Quadruple bypass, he picks now to be an over achiever- OY!

Spent 2 nights taking the overnight shift at the hospital. Yeah, I vowed to wait till he got home.. but became convinced I could be of use the last few days after getting updated on things… Anyhoo- he needed an overnight sitter as he tended to want to do stupid shit like get up in the middle of the night and attempt to go on walkabout- ended up trying to get out of bed and nearly cracked his skull open on night number three of his stay because he went to look for our dead Mamma.. Big fella doesn’t react well to either general anesthesia or painkillers.. No sleep at all, they gave him everything they could think of and he just couldn’t get settled down. I do however now hold the babysitting record of getting him to sleep for 4 hours straight.

So I get there and he’s fairly looped on painkillers and thinks I’m Mamma.. heart wrenching doesn’t even begin to describe it. He was Mamma’s boy, and to have him ask me why it took so long to get there just tore me into more pieces than I imagined possible.. So I petted him and sang to him and settled him down until he came back to the real world, and he looked at me and said “Hey kid, when did you get here?” I had to step outside.

To see the strongest man I know reduced to this mess- I had to take a moment. This huge man, who has spent 30 some odd years as a Blacksmith and a Farrier, a man who spends his life outdoors and is the most physical creature I know now can’t sit up without help. A large piece of my heart broke. And the moment it fell to the floor, I really did hear it shatter, and I’m still not sure how to pick it up and put it back together.

So we spent two very, very long nights getting up and down. Vacillating between reason and insanity, in some strange twilight place that neither of us wanted to be in. Being a gentleman who was raised to be as polite as a person can be, while lucid he’d apologize for wanting to get up or having to move, or go to the bathroom.. and when out of it he was an ornery cuss. He had to try and walk to keep the fluid from settling on his lungs, and he’d still try and hold the door for the nurses and let the little old ladies pass..

My lord, how hard could it be for him to have his little sister have to stand in the bathroom with him so he didn’t fall? We managed to find a relatively dignified way to get around it so he wasn’t mortified- and I wasn’t terrified he was going to get hurt. But those weird twilight times when he’d wake after managing to doze for a few moments were the worst.. he’d wake up in a start and get panicked if he couldn’t see me.

As predicted, he wasn’t home an hour before he had to try and walk out to his shop.. Yeah, that went real well. Part of the reason I got called in for the sitting was just general relief, the other part being I appear to be the only person that tells him when he’s being an asshole. Yep- called him on that one, big time. Had to pull out the “I’m launching your ass back into another time zone” threat All the other concerned parties are treating him like an infant and hovering, which was (is) driving him nuts- I pretty much sat back until he either needed me or was getting ready to do something stupid, talked when he wanted to talk, and shut up otherwise and let him be. Another little chunk of the heart broke off when he asked me when I was leaving if I couldn’t just stay a little longer, because I was the only person not treating him like “someone else”, as he put it. Now I’m not being mean, but taking care of someone and smothering are two different things- and everyone else is smothering big time at the moment, and I just happen to think a stubborn and independent person like him needs a little latitude. I’m in the minority of one it appears..

I did however learn an interesting lesson- siblings often don’t really know one another as actual adult humans. Sure, we love each other and keep up with the general goings on in respect to our lives and such.. But the flood of calls and people dropping by with casseroles and offers to tend the horses and such gave me a view of my brother I expect I may never have had. A good friend of mine once told me that the measure of a life well spent was the love you received, there’s a lot of truth in that. My brilliant brother, a man that had the smarts to do anything he wanted to do chose to follow his heart and his natural inclinations. Given the avalanche of love and concern, it’s a life very well spent. We’ve decided we actually like each other as grown up people and have made a date for a weekend just for the two of us- as soon as he’s allowed to drive.

Wow, that went on forever didn’t it? Processing the experience y’all- just processing it, and I expect I will for quite some time to come...Blame it on acute sleep deprivation- 8 hours of sleep in 5 days makes a person a little crazy. Or in my case crazier than usual.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Thanks y'all!

The support has been very helpful as I wrangled with that particular decision, and the repercussions. Brother #2 is sort of like John Wayne in "The Quiet Man"- not one to tell me he wanted me there right then, or say he'd rather I came later.. Still waters do run real deep- but once in a while it would be nice to get some constructive verbalization for crying out loud!

Brother dear spent about five hours on the table, but is out and all went well thankfully! In order not to obsess I spent the day painting the Beast's office so I can lay the new floor before I head south..

So, now all I need to do is sock back enough easy to reheat eats so the kids can watch the Beast for me while I'm gone. For real, the man has actually burned water before. Luckily Miss Thing is a generally responsible person.

Off to make some lasagna to park in the freezer..

Bet you money he's going to try and wander his ass out to his shop and start piddling around with something within 24 hours.. I will have to practice the really stern Mom voice- "Step away from the anvil young man!" or "Get your stupid ass in that house right now before I launch you back into last year!"

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

My peculiar logic-

So I've decided to wait till Brother #2 is released to head south.. Bear with me. The rest of the family unit is descending to hover over him- which will drive him totally nuts by the way. I figure it makes a lot more sense for me to get there when he's released so I can give his wife a break, let her get her shit together at work and so forth.

I'm a pretty good substitute for a nurse and a pretty fair cook- this seems to me to be more productive than standing over him, staring at the monitors and trying to make small talk about bullshit while he's on massive painkillers.. I don't sit still well, period. I'd rather be doing something helpful, or at least productive.

So am I completely wrong? I got the 411 on his surgeon- the guy knows his shit. He's a strong fella, if I had any concerns regarding the actual procedure I'd have gotten my ass in the car last night.

So am I being rational or being a bitch? Guess it depends on which family member you ask.. and for the records Brother #2 and the Sister in law are cool with it. Do I allow useless guilt to rule, or practicality?

Aw screw the guilt, I'm going for practical. If the rest of them can't see the logic in it, so be it.

Strange fortune

Baby Sister thinks I'm crazy.... Brother #2 was hospitalized yesterday with chest pain. Guess who's getting a triple bypass tomorrow morning? I say this was most fortunate. I figure better a bypass WITHOUT a heart attack than a heart attack precipitating the need for a cardiac cath to find the blockage.. I'm weird like that. Frankly I think he's awfully lucky.

Brother #2 and I have had a rather complicated relationship the past few years, to put it mildly. No open hostility or anything really, we just ignored one another instead of having a knock down drag out. Personally I think that would have been healthier, but he's too passive (and occasionally passive-aggressive) for that. But he was man enough to make the first move to try and mend that fence, so we have tried to get past it and move on.

So I have to head to Carolina and see my strapping big brother weak as a kitten. Selfishly I really don't think I can handle that on some level. And when I say strapping, I mean big fella, strong as an ox from many years as a farrier. My truck driving, fly fishing, tough good old boy (who reads Kafka) brother, with his chest cracked open and helpless. Having trouble picturing with that.

Wish I could say I was surprised, but I'm not. Been nagging him for years that the train wreck was going to come. Somehow saying "I told you so" isn't going to give me any satisfaction this time. Guess I'll keep my mouth shut for once in my life.