Monday, May 29, 2006


I'm a runner; not in the physical sense, but the emotional one. It started with the death of my father. A few months before Daddy was killed, we received the news early one Sunday morning my cousin, Alfredo, had been killed. "Fredo" was loved by everyone, especially me. He treated me like a kid sister, and let me tag along where ever he went. I was an emotional wreck. I cried all the way to church, through Sunday School, and the beginning of noon services. I was alarmed when Daddy grabbed me by the arm, whispered 'Let's go," and led me out of the church. I cringed in embarressment as everyone turned and stared as we made our exit. Three year-olds were escorted out of church, not fifteen year-olds.

Daddy sat on a bench on the front porch, crossed his arms and eyed me sternly. "Mind telling me what this is all about?"

"All what?"

'The boo-hooing."

I jerked my chin in the air and haughtingly stared down my nose. "Isn't it obvious?" I snapped. "I'm mourning for my cousin."

"No you're not. You're being selfish."

I reeled backwards from the sting of my dad's words. I bowed my head and mumbled, "How can you say that? I miss him. I--"

"Do you hear yourself? You keep saying 'I'. You're feeling sorry for yourself because "Fredo" isn't here; Fredo is in a much better place though, and you should try and be happy for him." Daddy rose from the bench, walked over and lifted my chin with his forefinger. I swallowed the large toad-sized lump in my throat and forced myself to look at him. Love and understanding radiated from his sapphire-colored eyes.

"Do me a favor. When my turn comes to leave this old world, don't make a fuss over me. Promise me. You see, I'll never be too far away from you, just as far away as your heart."

I remember how the sun shone off his raven black hair, how there was more gray hairs than I remembered, and there were more wrinkles in his dark skin. He didn't look old to me though; he looked like a Roman prince. Impulsively, I threw my arms around him and hugged him tightly. "Oh Daddy, you'll be around forever."

"I certainly hope so," he said, kissing me gently on top of the head. It wasn't to be; in a few precious months, Daddy was gone, leaving behind a scared little girl in a teenager's body.

I don't remember crying the night of the accident. Instead I was like a cat in a cage; the very air I breathed seemed to strangle me, and my best friend at the time, Kay, sensed that. "Come on," she said, taking me by the arm, "let's get the hell out of here." We walked to the corral and saddled two horses; a flashy paint for Kay, and my trusty palomino, Dewdrop. I swear the horse sensed something was wrong; she stood patiently as I swung into the saddle, so unlike her "fire and brimstone" personality.

We had ridden for several miles across my daddy's land when we reached a lone hill overlooking my house. "You know, you gotta cry sometime. Might as well do it here where no one but I can see." I stared down at the house, people scurrying about outside like a mound of disrupted fire ants.

"No, not now," I said stoically, turning my horse around. "Let's ride away even farther." That began my pattern of dodging reality and building an emotional wall around me. For a long time I didn't want anyone new in my life. I was scared of emotional attachments and the repercussions I would face if new friends or loved ones passed away.

I ran away from death; I thought if I didn't acknowledge it, then somehow it wouldn't be true, my loved one would still be alive. Looking back on it now, I see how wrong I was.

You can't make someone alive by wishing it. No matter how your heart breaks, it's not fair to wish them back into the day to day torment they faced while they were earthbound; they're happy now, and they're there in Heaven, waiting for you when your time comes, and what a joyous reunion that will be. Until then, they remain only as far away as your heart. For me, I hear my father's laughter in the voice of my children, see his love of life shining in their eyes.

It's okay to cry. It's a normal healthy way to release emotional tension. As you know, repressed emotions lead to physical problems such as ulcers, strokes, heart attacks. ect. You should face your grief head on and try and work past it, I learned that the hard way. Sonetimes life gives you a one-two punch, it's your decision if you rock back on your heels, recover and punch back, or you allow yourseld to get knocked out. Punch back.

What's your opinion?


There is a conspiracy against me, I know there is. My oldest and the toddler has joined forces to drive me insane. Today, as I walked down the hall with the laundry, I heard the unmistakable sounds of childish whispering and giggling coming from their room. I glanced in and saw them seated on Seth's bed, their heads together in what appeared to be a very entertaining conversation. "Now this is what I like to see. No bickering, just two brothers enjoying each other." Like puppets on a string, their heads snapped up, and they turned to face me; the oldest looking like a "cat that swallowed the canary," the toddler sporting a look of comic indignation.

"Nothing to see. Move along," Seth said flippantly. I should have known something was going on. Though my boys love each other, they frequently fight like cats and dogs. Their first strike was this afternoon. Robert initiated the attack by spilling an entire bottle of soda on the floor, then doing his version of River Dance in it.

"So tell me, Mommy. What would you do if Robert was triplets?" Judging from the sneer on his face, it soon became clear he had made it his quest to see how far he could push me.

Probably hide on the roof or run away from home, I thought. Instead I smiled and said, "Deal with it one day at a time." Seth was disappointed in my answer, and poutingly turned back to his movie.

As I scrubbed the soda off the china cabinet, I had a vision of me perched on the roof, a fireman in a cherry-picker trying to convince me "everything would be okay.' After I inched my way down, they would wisk me off in a white jacket for a few sessions of elctro-shock therapy. "Yes," the neighbors would tell the media, shaking their head. "We always knew that biscuit wasn't completely baked."

We had a quiet Memorial Day. John bar-b-qued a brisket, and I for once, managed not to fall, trip or otherwise injure myself. How was yours?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

What you may or may not want to know

I got this from Nicole's blog. Happy Memorial Day!

1. What’s in the glove box of your car? Everything but the kitchen sink, and sometimes I wouldn't be surprised to see that in there. Registration, owner’s manual, insurance, a toy car, and peppermints

2. Favorite classes in university/high school? High school: Band, Jazz Band, Drama, Athletics
University: Anthropology—Other cultures facinate me. Athletics—that was my primary focus

3. Shampoo brand? Pantene or Thermasilk

4. Favorite piece of furniture you own?my bed—it has a built-in bookcase and lamp

5. Idea of a really good first date? Dinner at a dimly lit restaurant, seated at a corner table in the back of the building. Seated face to face and staring soulfullyinto each others eyes while saying nothing. Slow-dancing barefooted on the beach followed by a stroll in the moonlight.

6. Favorite fruit? grapes

7. Pick a passage from a favorite book: Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

"I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
as long as I'm living
my baby you'll be."

8. What would you eat for dinner if it were your last night on earth? W-What? (glancing around nervously) do you know something I don’t? Last meal, huh? Fajitas with all the sides, nopalitos, sweet tea (gallons) my own homemade pasta, rolls, and my homemade fig cookies

9. Free Will or Destiny? I believe everything happens for a reason, but we have control, to some extent, in where and when it happens.

10. What would you sing at karaoke? Rock House (Paula Abdul) Hey, I have my wild side!

11. Sweater or Sweatshirt? sweatshirt

12. Paris, NYC, Tokyo, or Rio de Janeiro? None of them. I’d rather find myself on a sparkling white beach in the Carribean sipping on a margarita

13. What do you wear to bed usually? Why? Are people peeping in my window?. Women’s sleeping shorts (satin-type material)and a long over-sized softball shirt

14. If you dyed your hair, what colour would you dye it? My own hair color. . .dark brown

15. If you went back to school, what would you study? English—as in writing. I’d get my Masters.

16. Gum or mints? Mints. I pop my gum when I’m nervous, and it annoys the crap out of my friends.

17. Recurring nightmares? I keep dreaming I’m surrounded by rattlesnakes.

18. Age & location of first kiss? Six years old under the shrubs by the school. I was a real pistol back then.

19. Describe your favourite pair of shoes: My Nikes

20. What movie/tv character do you feel like you relate to most? Ellie Mae Clampett

21. First CD purchase? George Strait—I liked country then

22. First concert? Garth Brooks—I like all music really, but I’ve lost interest in country

23. Do you like camping? Definitely! Any chance I can.

24. If you were doomed to be mauled to death by an animal, what animal would you prefer that to be? My husband. That doesn't count? Okay. . .a cougar.

25. Do you/would you own a gun? I used to wear one on my hip for my job. Still own one.

26. What religion would you like to know more about? any and all

27. Favourite food as a kid? My grandmother’s potato salad

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Can you tell my real age?

I want to wish an early HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Dave, who sparked a memory for this post.

I never worried about the signs of aging until recently when my hubby informed me I was getting gray hair in the front of my head and laugh lines at the corner of my eyes. Dark hair shows gray so well, and I’m beginning to look like either “Storm” from the X-Men, or Peppy Le Peu from the Bugs Bunny Show.

I did try to color my hair with coffee several moths ago, but other than that, I’ve never drenched my face with high-dollar moisturizers and masks. The facial masks would only scare the children and my face is naturally oily; sometimes it’s so oily, I swear if I wrung it out like a dishrag, I could get enough oil to fry tater tots.

I do take care of myself by drinking enough water, exercising, and going naked in public. By saying I go “naked”, I mean I don’t wear makeup, my face is naked but the rest of me is fully clothed. Bet I made you do a double take though, huh?

When I go without makeup, I look years younger than what I really am. A few years ago, when I was twenty-nine, I worked my way through college as a substitute teacher for my local school district. I was always overjoyed when I got a call to be a substitute coach. PE was in my field of expertise, and I felt alive when I stepped foot onto the gym floor. Let’s be honest too; I could wear shorts and Nikes all day, and no makeup, which was an added bonus for my free-spirited heart.

On one occasion, I was to substitute as a coach at the high school for half a day in the afternoon. I was ecstatic. I had the whole morning to run errands and the rest of the day would be spent doing what I loved.

I showed up a couple of hours early, and headed to my favorite sanctuary, the library. The dismissal bell ending the subject period had just rung when I walked through the massive steel doors of the high school, and the cool dimly lit hallways was a beehive of activity as students bustled from their lockers to their next class. I paused to look at the collogue of colorful photos adorning the pale white walls, and startled slightly when the tardy bell rang. The now silent halls were a startling contrast to the bedlam occurring just a couple of minutes earlier. The only people left was I and a tall, rather distinguished gentleman standing nearby. That must by either the principal or vice principal. I’ll introduce myself in a minute, I thought before turning my attention back to the wall.

“Get to class!” a deep baritone voice said behind me. Startled, I turned and came face to face with the distinguished gentleman.

“Are you talking to me?” I asked.

“Whom else would I be talking too?” he barked. “Now get to class.”

They don’t pay me enough to take this type of abuse, I thought hotly. I lifted my chin and took a don’t-mess-with-me stance. “No, I don’t think so.” I said, tapping at my Mickey Mouse watch. ”Mickey says I have a couple of hours yet.”

“I don’t care what Mickey says; I’M tell you either get to class or get detention.”

It all hit me like a ton of bricks. “Y-You, think I’m a student?” I asked, snickering.

The gentleman looked confused. “Aren’t you?”

I laughed harder. “No sir. I’m the substitute coach for PE this afternoon.”

He stared at me blankly before bursting out laughing himself. “That would explain you’re attire,” he gasped, pointing at my shorts and sweatshirt. He was the principal, and after we composed ourselves, I apologized for my attitude.

“No, my mistake,” he said. “You had every right to be insulted.”

Insulted? Never! In fact, he made my day.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

First job

When I was younger and in high school, I had it made. I lived rent-free at home, and my meals were taken care of. Only thing required of me was I get a job.

Ugh, I remember the first job all too well. My senior year in high school, I was a waitress at a local pizza joint and hated every minute of it. To begin with, my uniform shirt was an ugly, motley-colored number that stretched too tightly over my chest. The uniform pants were black, made of the same material as the shirt, and fit me like a second skin. I had an athletic build in those days, but was self conscious about my body, and extremely unhappy about the way the uniform fit. I should have known I was in for trouble the first day of work.

I was met at the door by the assistant manager, a weasely-looking character with slicked-back hair and glittering beady eyes. He took me by the arm and turned me around. "Oh yeah, you'll do fine," he said licking his lips. I remember a feeling of revulsion go through me as he looked me up and down. It was like I was a pork chop and he was a half-starved dog. I couldn't wait to break away and wash my arm with hot water.

When Weasely--I'm going to refer to the assistant manager as this--and I worked together, I was miserable. I spent half the time ignoring lewd remarks by half-drunken male customers, and the other half keeping my backside away from weasely's groping hands. I was too young to know any better, and allowed myself to be convinced it was my personality that warranted these actions. I never told Mama. I thought it was my own problem and I could handle it.

I loved working with the manager. He was a no-nonsense family man, and stood up for me against the obnoxious drunks. One Saturday night, while Manager and I were working together, things got ugly. A party of four rough-looking, muscular guys walked in, already smelling like a brewery. I seated them and asked them what they wanted. I shivered as one of them, obviously the leader, boldly looked me up and down.

"How about you on a plate?" he sneered as his buddies laughed loudly. I'd heard comments similar to that the three months I'd worked there, but I was able to ignore those; this one was different, the look in the creep's eyes told me he was serious, and that scared the crap out of me. I was able to ignore the group until their pizza was ready. I was setting the hot pizza on their table when the leader took full advantage of the situation by grabbing my rear. Something in me snapped; that creep had crossed the line by touching me. Unthinking, I grabbed his wrist and said, "Do that again and I'll snap your hand off and feed it to you." I yelled.

"Oh, I like 'em feisty," the leader chortled, grabbing at me again. The manager came to the table, told me he'd handle the situation, and for me to work the cash register. A few seconds later, the unruly bunch left, but not before the leader sneered and told me he'd be back at closing. The manager, without a word to me, walked to the back, and reappeared a few minutes later, telling me he'd called the police dispatcher and asked for an officer to escort me to my car after closing.

Still shaken, I went home and told my mama everything that had happened that night and in the past three months. Understandably, she was upset, and told me to quit my job the next day, which I happily did.

Sometimes we bury unpleasant occurrences deep within the recesses of our mind, which is what I did with this one until I dined at a restaurant with a friend a couple of days ago. __________ went outside to take a cell phone call, leaving me to sip my tea and "people watch". A young attractive waitress was standing nearby, trying to deal with a table of young unruly men. I could tell by their raucous laughter and her body language as she walked away what was happening.

Nothing ever changes, I thought, shaking my head in disgust.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Something was amiss

Thanks to everyone for all the great advice! Here's a great link I wanted to share with you.

I knew something was wrong the minute I woke up. Coffee was brewing in the kitchen, and it was the most vile offensive odor I had ever smelled. The mere thought of drinking some sent my stomach into a tailspin, as if I had been on one too many carnival rides.

Robert had thrown up a couple of days earlier, but I chalked it up as being part of the ear infection. Now, one by one, my family and I dropped like flies, victim to a stomach virus. As I waved good-bye to my upchucked toenails in the toilet, I heard Seth screaming from his bedroom, "Oh my gosh, I'm dying!" He gets his dramatic flair from me. When I have the stomach bug, I'm reduced to a quivering eight year-old wanting her mommy.
Anything else, my anemia, flu, cold, broken bones, I'm fine with; but hit me with a virus, and I'm reduced to rubble.

All day yesterday, I racked my brains, trying to figure out where we got this bug. No one at work or school had been ill, and I hadn't gone anywhere; all arrows pointed to the ER. The emergency room, a hotbed of transferable illness and discomfort; but as my records shows, clearly a "must visit" for my family and I.

When Robert and I were there a few days ago, a triage nurse, who looked as if she'd been sucking lemons, gave us a pager. "They'll page you when it's your turn to go back." she said. I hesitantly took the pager from her. Wonder who's had their mitts on this? I had thought.

My family used to poke fun at me because I took a small can of lysol with me where ever I went. I wish I would have had it that day. The pager would have gotten such a spritzing.

Today the count stands 2 and 2. Robert and I recovered, but very genorously passed the bug on to John and Seth. Robert is watching Indy car racing in the living room, while I'm tuning into Carrie. Lots of blood and gore and a recovering stomach; what a combo, huh?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Too tired to think

My behind is dragging lower than a car load of hippos coming back from an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast. The past couple of days have been a blur; it all started Tuesday night when Robert (toddler) awakened in the middle of the night screaming. A mother knows when something isn't quite right with her children, and as I rocked the night away with Robert in my arms, I prayed it was just gas; but I had gut feeling it was something worse, much worse. It was.

His pediatrician was out, so a quick trip to the ER was in order. We've been there so much with broken wrists, kidney stones, ear infections, and bee strings, I really surprised the ER doesn't have a parking spot reserved for us. You know you've been there a lot when a physician's assistant knows you and the family on a first name basis.

The nurse, "C", met us in the exam room. "Well kid," he said, as he flashed me a smile, "what have you broken THIS time?"

"It's not me, it's Robert. I think he has an ear infection."

"Let's take a look." We wrestled Robert to the bed like a struggling young bull calf, and "C" looked into his ears. "Yep, right again Mom. Here's the kicker though, he has an infection in both ears." Just great.

"C" left and returned later with prescriptions, discharge papers, and two cans. He handed Robert a can of Gatorade. "For you, sir. And for you, madam," bowing low and handing me a can of Diet Coke.

"What's this for?"

"For you. You're going to need all the caffeine you can get. That is what you mom-type gals like isn't it? My wife does." I was exhausted, and moved to tears by his genorosity.

"Thank you," I sniffed.

"No need to get weepy over a Coke. Sign the papers and you're off."

Wednsday and Thursday were the easy days. Robert still wasn't sleeping at night, but he was somewhat calm during the day. Early this morning, the dam burst. Robert, as a result of the ear infection, began throwing up. John and I both were up with him, and neither one of us got much rest.

We don't argue much, but when we're sleep deprived, we get into some weird heated discussions; this morning it was over a ham I had purchased a couple of days ago. It was tough and grainy, and I was complaining about it.

"Why did you buy it anyway? You know we don't eat much meat, especially ham." John asked grouchily.

"Because it was cheap, and you can make the meat go fur."

John and I both giggled over my saying "fur" instead of "far." I was so amused with myself. "Oh great, I'm going senile before your eyes," I gasped. I tottered of to the kitchen and poured myself a cup of coffee. "I need this to smarten me up," I told John.

Later I sat and typed on the computer in the bedroom as John dressed for work. "You think you need coffee?" he asked. "I was just looking in the mirror thinking I need to put on my socks, but guess what? My socks are already on!" It's rare John goofs like that, so I thoroughly enjoyed having a giggle at his expense.

Here's a question though. How do you all cope with ear infections in children? Any and all advice would be appreciated.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Did you hear?

Inspired by Ms. Vicki's blog.

The following is just my rambling opinion.

Have you ever played the game "Gossip"? You begin by whispering a simple phase, like Jim has a red truck" in your neighbor's ear, and by the time it reaches the end of the line it's "Jim was driving drunk because his wife cheated on him and he crashed his red truck which was fixing to get repossessed."

Gossip starts out innocent, maybe something speculative containing a grain of truth, but as it progresses, it evolves into an ugly, putrid smelling, tangled ball of lies, affecting everyone it touches. In my opinion, gossip starts for two reasons, the first being boredom and self-gratification. The statement, "Jim has a red truck" in direct and to the point; it's also lacking excitement. Inevitably, someone, bored with just the facts, takes the statement and embellishes it. Not only are they adding "zing" to to the story, they're making themselves look important, they know more to the story than every one else did. The listener takes the new story, adds their own spin to it, and as you know, everything snowballs out of control.

For example, after my dad died, I heard a friend of my mother's asking her if Daddy had insurance. I remember thinking how nosy it was of the person to ask such a question. My mother, in her grief-striken state, mistook the nosiness for concern, and confided my dad did have insurance. Several months later, another old family friend paid us a visit, obviously distraught. "I thought I should let you both know about the rumor circulating about you," she said. She went on to say the rumor was Daddy left us 3 million dollars in life insurance. It explained why, over the past several months, people we hadn't heard from was offering to help us with anything we needed; they were using us for our reported 3 million.

We laid the gossip to rest by saying "If there's 3 million, where did we hide it? We can't remember."

Another reason is malice and jealosy. It's becoming more common for some people to want to see others fail or hit "rock bottom", especially celebrities; ergo the thriving business of gossip rag publications. But is it our right to have to know their dirty little secrets? Oh, I know some say it's the price you pay for fame; but, aren't they human too? Don't they have rights?

Malicous gossip in politics, aka "mud-slinging", to me is the most hurtful. The canidates go to any lengths to get "dirt," even involving the opposing party's family members. I learned this the hard way when John was running for political office. There were people literally following me around town, and spying on my house trying to dish the dirt on John and our family. On one particular occasion, I was asleep on the front porch. I was awakened by the sound of vehicle tires crunching on the gravel in my drive. The rosebushes in front of the porch kept me hidden from view. Carefully, I peeped over the top and saw a maroon car I had seen follow me several times in town come up my drive. (Yes I know it was the same car. After the third time I saw it behind me I had taken down the plate number.)

I jumped up from my spot, the rage welling up in me exploding as I uttered a hoarse cry and headed for my car. How dare they continue to harass us! The maroon car whipped around and took off back up the drive. I was in hot pursuit in my Dodge Ram. Anger was fueling me, and I didn't stop to think of the possible repercussions.

At the end of the drive, the maroon car was forced to wait while a stream of cars crept passed on the highway. I got out of my car, and banged on the driver's window of the maroon car. The window rolled down, and I was face-to-face with the driver. "What do you want?" she spat. It took every ounce of self control I had to keep from dragging her out the window by her hair.

'This is going to stop. . .now!" I said through clenched teeth.

"This is politics, honey," she sneered. "But what will you do if I don't?" I knew better than to threaten her with violence, that's just what she wanted.

"If you don't stay away from me and my family, I'm going to file a police report against you for stalking. Then I'll call the paper and tell them what happened. Wouldn't look good for your canidate. But after all, that's politics. I'm not running though, John is." She hurled a cultural slur at me before zipping away. It worked, she left me alone.

I'm not perfect, I do gossip; but I do try and "keep a lid on it ." The key to controlling gossip is to stop it before it starts. We may think gossip is harmless, but it has the power to ruin lives.

What's your opinion? If you'd rather your comment be private, feel free to email me.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Spoiled and Aging

Wait. . .sniff-sniff. . .do you smell that? Don’t bother checking the garbage, it’s me; yesterday I was spoiled rotten. Hubby started the morning off on the right foot by awakening me with a colorful bouquet of tea roses. When I shuffled into the kitchen, there on the table, was a large bath and body gift set, from my boys and my hubby. It had everything but the kitchen sink: a foot massager, slippers, shower gel, body massager, bath salts, body spray. Everything was arranged skillfully in an old fashioned, oblong tub. John either finally understands what I like, or he’s kissing up. Based upon the comments he made yesterday to me, I’d say he was kissing up.

Yesterday morning I was sitting at the computer while he was seated in an overstuffed comfy chair near me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him staring at me. I smiled , and without taking my eyes off the screen said “Can I help you?”

“Nope. Just looking at you.”

What a sweetheart! We’ve been married almost fourteen years, and he still likes to stare at me. I basked in the glow of love, I wanted to remember that moment for the rest of my life. The warm fuzzy feeling was short lived when John leaned closer and stared at me even more intently.

I don’t mind people staring at me, sometimes I find it flattering; but when people lean in and stare, invading my personal space, it unsettles me a little. “What? I got a booger on my nose or something?”

“No,” he mused, “it’s worse than that.”

“What is it?”

“It’s gray hair. Right in the front of your head. You have tiny laugh lines at the corners of your eyes too.”

“Anything else?” I asked, raising my left eyebrow. If he knows what’s good for him, he’ll stop.

“Did anyone ever tell you you had a big nose? Has a hump on it too. A pimple—“

“I know. Why don’t we just write ‘too ugly to be seen in public' in permanent marker on my forehead?” I quipped.

“Aww. You know I’m joking.” Of course I knew. We had been best friends long before we dated. Pointing out the fact I’m aging was a blow to my ego though. I pounced on him and ran my hands through his thick jet-black hair. “My daahhhhhling,” I said in my best gypsy voice. “I see Grecian Formula in your future.”

Anyway, back to Sunday. John dazzled me with his culinary skills, and fed me until I was as plump as a tick We spent the day enjoying family, and taking it easy. How was your weekend?


I got this from GoofyJ's blog. They "pegged" me again.

You Are a Root Beer Jelly Bean

You are truly All American and down to earth. You don't have fancy tastes, and you don't apologize for who you are. You enjoy tradition and proven quality.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

A tribute

Happy Mother's Day! I wanted to share a tribute to my mom.

The Amazing Norma
By Debbie Roppolo

My mother is the epitome of strength and perseverance. Though she grew up several years after the Depression, times were hard for Mama and her family. She was a simple country girl, and during those times, country people had less then everyone else. Her school and Sunday dresses were handmade of the colorful cotton material from flour or animal feed sacks. In high school, girls wearing freshly pressed poodle skirts surrounded Mama in the hallway. “Tell me, Norma,“ one would sneer, “who is the designer of the dress you’re wearing, Purina or Gold Medal?” Tears stinging her eyes, and with posture a finishing school marm would be envious of, she walked away from the group of tittering girls. Their cutting remarks only strengthen my mama’s resolve to succeed.

She was a model student, making all A’s and B’s in every class, but it was her songbird-like voice that broke her free of the “country bumpkin” stereotype.

As a teenager, she won several singing contests, earned the right to sing on the radio, and occasionally perform with country music greats such Johnny Gimble. It appeared Mama was on her way to stardom. She received an invitation to audition in Nashville for the GRAND Old Opery, but alas, it was never to be. Her career hit a roadblock in the form of a dark complected, blue-eyed soldier by the name of Roberto _________. She took one look into those sapphire-colored eyes dancing with mischief, offering unspoken promises of adventure, and knew she had found the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.

After several years of long distance dating filled with passionate, heart felt letters, they were wed. Mama happily walked away from her singing career, and never looked back. Most newly wedded women happily adapt to the traditional role as the homemaker, but not my mom. She stepped into the roll of cowgirl.

Working cattle was always a hectic time. Money was short, so was there was no one, except Mama and my grandfather, that helped Daddy work the several hundred head of angry cattle. On more than one occasion, Mama grimly entered the swirling dust of the corral and manipulated a thousand pound cow into an awaiting chute.

Mama was not only my father’s best “right-hand man,” she was also his best friend. They had a beautiful relationship, and there was no doubt in my mind that they loved each other deeply. Yes, my mother was a strong person, physically and spiritually, but the event that occurred on July 9, 1986, caused her world to come crashing down around her.

Daddy was an engineer for the state highway department. On the morning of July 9th, he kissed my mother goodbye, and left the house, never to be seen alive again. Later that afternoon, we received word that Daddy had been fatally injured on the job. In one brief instant, my mother has lost her best friend and the love of her life. Grief racked my mother’s body, and she resembled a broken china doll as she lay huddled on the floor. “My God! Why did you take him from me?” she wailed. Quietly, I slipped from her bedroom. I couldn’t stand to see her like that, and I didn’t want her to know I had been eavesdropping. That was the last time I saw Mama breakdown.

From that moment on, she was a force to be reckoned with. She was determined that life was not going to keep her down. She attacked every obstacle that she met with as much gusto as she had with the last. In a short time period, she became a skilled electrician, plumber, carpenter, and horse wrangler. Countless times, well-meaning friends told her, “Norma take it easy. Why don’t you find another man to take care of everything?”

Mama always shook her head in disbelief. “I don’ t want anyone else; no one can replace Roberto. I can do everything needing to be done. I have a teen daughter as wild as “Ellie Mae Clampett” that needs my attention, not another man.” Though I was in awe of her accomplishments, there have been other instances, however, that her grit could be construed as odd.

For example, Mama once had a problem with a skunk trying to burrow under her house. Several unsuccessful attempts were made to catch the skunk in a humane trap. One night, she heard the skunk digging at the side of the house. Frustrated, with flashlight in hand, she marched outside into the night. Mama pulled a skunk out from under her house by its tail, tossed it through the air and ran, while a dazed “Skunkie” landed on his feet and waddled into the dark night.

Mama taught me how to have faith in myself, and to “dream big.” She also constantly drilled into me I could do anything that I put my mind to. However, it was from observing my mother’s grit and determination that got me through tough times in my life. For that, I will always be grateful.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The day Blue's bones saved me

It's the dawn of a new day, and my Husky, Blue, is dragging another bone into the yard, but I’m not too concerned. There's an assortment of jawbones, thighbones, and an occasional femur bone scattered haphazardly beside my English Ivy. I liked my lawn looking “just so,” (still do) and every morning Blue watched broken hearted as I threw his treasure trove back over the fence into the pasture.

Before I could even get back into the house, my tenacious dog, with a “try and stop me” look in his eyes, would drag the discarded bones back into the yard. It’s these same bones that hot me out of a sticky situation.

This past Saturday morning I looked groggily out my bedroom window. Oh crap! Where is he finding them all? I groaned inwardly. It looked like a cow cemetery had thrown up in my yard. I definitely had my work cut out for me today. Coffee, I need coffee first, I thought, shuffling down the hall. Most of the time John and I work in the yard together on the weekends, but John had gone to his office early that morning, leaving the boys and I slumbering peacefully.

Chump. He probably helped the dog drag bones into the yard, I thought sourly, sipping on the coffee my spouse had so lovingly left for me. (Like I said, I’m not pleasant in the morning until coffee kicks in). After draining my cup of its precious contents, I changed my clothes and trudged outside. The dew clung to my bare feet as I picked up bones. I squatted down to retrieve a small jaw bone under the rosebush near the porch. Lovely, just lovely. I--- my thoughts were interrupted when a large brown and white torpedo in the form of a Husky barreled down the driveway and into my chest, knocking me onto my back. Blue’s sky-blue eyes stared lovingly into mine as he bathed my face with doggie kisses. “Eew! What have you gotten into?” I asked, wrinkling my nose in disgust. The dog’s breathe and coat smelled of death; dead cow to be more exact.

Blue jumped off me abruptly, and stared down the drive, his plume of a tail curled over his back. A new –looking white Mazda approached slowly and stopped directly in front of us. The driver’s door opened, and a well-groomed man, 40ish, stepped out, clad in a wrinkle-free polo shirt __________Cable stitched on the pocket, and tan slacks.

“Hello young lady. Be a gem and run along and get your mommy please,” he said, flashing me a game show host smile.

Who does this creep think he’s talking to? Without makeup, I’ve been mistaken for a teen, but this was ridiculous. Blue pressed his large body against me, and studied the stranger intently. A low growl rumbled in his throat, his hackles rising slightly. Yeah boy, I don’t like him either.

“I’m the lady of the house,” I replied coolly.

“So you are. Is your husband available?”

Why doesn’t this creep want to talk to me? “He’s occupied.” It wasn’t really a lie; John was busy, but I wasn’t about to let this stranger know he wasn’t at home.

“Do you make any of the household decisions?”

“Most of them,” I replied, narrowing my eyes until they were hazel-colored slits.

“Well, looks like I’m talking to the right person. I’d like to talk to you about changing your satellite provider. Now we—“

“Not interested.”

“You’re not letting me finish.”

“Sir, your wasting your time and mine,” I said tensely. I might have been more receptive if he had been more courteous to begin with. Blue walked over to the unwelcome stranger, sniffed his hand and gave it a small lick before walking off.

“Does your dog bite?” the salesman asked nervously.

“No, he’s just tasting you like he does everyone else,” I said. I allowed my gaze to wander purposefully over to the few bones remaining in the yard; most of them were femur bones.

The salesman too gazed at the bones. I smirked to myself when I saw him gulp nervously.

“Perhaps I should come back at a more convient time,” he said hastily as Blue sniffed his leg. He got in the car and drove off, leaving a trail of dust in his wake.

I decided to allow three of the leg bones to remain in the yard. After all, they did serve a purpose.

Friday, May 05, 2006

I'm a thief

I saw this on Melissa's blog, thought it looked like fun, and stole. . .er. . .I mean. . .borrowed the idea.

Accent – I grew up on the Blackland Prairie of Texas and have that twangy, nasal Texas drawl. Gets worse when I'm exhausted.

Booze of choice – Wine, and "Peach Russians" I drink only occasionally

Chore I hate – Laundry. What girl doesn't? I swear my washing machine holds socks hostage just to drive me nuts.
Dog or Cat –Dog. I love their loyalty

Essential electronics – computer, cell phone, DVD, CD player

Favorite perfume - Obsession by Calvan Klein. My mom gives me a huge bottle for Christmas every year.

Gold or Silver? Silver. I like the way it looks agains my skin

Hometown – a small town near WaCo is where I was born. I now reside in a town in the Texas Hill Country.

Insomnia? – Are you kidding? I'm usually out by midnight and up at five AM the next day.

Job Title – writer/sports writer

Kids? – One 13 year old and a 3 year-old. And people wonder why I'm so goofy!

Living Arrangement – on a hill in a 100+ year-old farm house. I live a mile from a crystal-clear spring fed river. Every summer at least a dozen or so tourists think my drive is the way to the river.

Most-admired trait – My slightly warped, sarcastic sense of humor

Number Of Penguins In Your Bathtub – I've had everything else in there, including a ferret.

Overnight Hospital Stays – Two c-sections

Phobia – snakes
Quote – "Cause anything is possible, when you believe." When you Believe performed by Fantasia
Religion – I am a Christian, and will leave it at that. Member of one of the oldest religions

Siblings – an older brother, deceased

Time I wake up – 5 AM

Unusual talent/skill – I'm the only person who can make my dog howl with my singing..
Vegetable I refuse to eat – BRUSSEL SROUTS

Worst habit – Too hard on myself

X-rays – a lot (wrist, knees, ect. . .)

Yummy foods I make – Italian food, different kinds of breads and pasteries

Zodiac sign – Virgo

But hey. . .what about you?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The lengths we go to. . .

I have procrastination skills that would make Scarlett O’Hara envious, and, “monkey-see-monkey-do,” Seth is rapidly following my example. Last week, he, along with the other winners, were invited to read their winning essays at a luncheon hosted by the organization sponsoring the contest.

“You really need to start reading it aloud now so you’ll be comfortable with it at the luncheon.” I told him.

Seth yawned and threw himself onto my bed. “Oh, I’ll be okay,” he replied lazily. “I work better under a tight deadline.”

Oh crap, my words have come back to bite me, I cringed, thinking of all the times I had let an article slide until the last minute. “But you really shouldn’t put things off until the last minute.” I’m such a hypocrite.

“Why not? You do it all the time.”

Ouch, that hurt, I thought. I kept pestering, and finally he grudgingly read the essay once; the keyword here is once. He didn’t look at it again until the night before the luncheon.

With the fierceness of a small tornado, Seth blew into the house on Tuesday afternoon, throwing books haphazardly onto the living room couch, and demanded I make my whereabouts known.

“I’m in the bedroom,” I called, typing happily on the keyboard. He thundered down the hall and barged in, a crazed look in his eyes. I knew it well; it was the nail-biting, oh-my-gosh-what-am-I-going-to-do look; the look of extreme desperation. I had worn the same look in the past.

“You’ve gotta help me,” he pleaded.

“Read it out loud while I work.”

Seth mumbled through it, barging through the periods like a semi-tractor trailer running a stop sign. I spun around in the chair and faced him.

“Umm. First, enunciate your words, look up every once in a while, and stop at the periods. Try it again.” Seth read again, this time speaking louder and enunciating, but still barreling through the periods.

“Let’s try this,” I sighed. “Every time you need to end a sentence, I’ll hold up my hand. Keep in mind this is just for practice.” Seth giggled and read again. I held up my hand for every period and it worked like a charm.

“Hey, that works great,” Seth rejoiced. “Do that at the luncheon tomorrow.”

“I can’t hold up my hand for every period tomorrow. People will think I’m crazy.”

“Then scratch your head.”

“No! Then every one will think I have lice or something.”

“How about winking or raising your left eyebrow?”

“They’ll think I have a nervous tic.”

“What will I do?” he whined.

“Try practicing,” I said calmly. The rest of the evening, the house was filled with the sound of Seth’s practicing. By bedtime, all of us could have recited the essay by memory.

Yesterday afternoon, we journeyed to Logan’s Steakhouse for the luncheon. “I feel like I’m gonna barf,” Seth mumbled.

“I always felt like that before every band concert, volleyball game, or play I was in; it’s normal,” I said.

“Where you scared when you had your book signing?” he asked.

“Out of my mind,” I smiled, putting my arm around his shoulders. The luncheon was in the rear of the restaurant in a rustic looking room. We sat at a table in front of a large picture window.

“You sit in front of the window,” John told me. Is he out of his mind, putting an accident-prone person in front of a window? I wondered. The lunch was great, and soon it was time for the essays. My heart went out to Seth as he stood to read. He hands trembled as he held the paper. His speech was good, but he began running through the periods like Carl Lewis running the 100-yard dash.

I have to help him somehow. I coughed, and threw my arms back as if stretching. My ring, too large for my finger, flew off and hit the window behind me with a loud plink.
Everyone stared as I smiled sheepishly and sipped on my sweet tea. At the moment, I wished I could plunge into the tea glass and disappear. John shook his head and gave me the I-can’t-take-you-anywhere look.

My move had the desired affect. Seth stopped at the end of every sentence after my embarrassing moment. Oh, what we don’t mind going through for our kids. Would I do it again? Certainly!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Memory Lane

Sometimes you need to revist the past; like Martha Stewart says, "It's a good thing." Many months ago I shared this, but I want to post about it again. It's my way of dealing with the past and letting the scab on the emotional wound thicken.

Tomorrow I'll be back to my old goofy self, but for now I need to take this trip down memory lane.

May 1, 1998, was the night my world changed forever. I was scheduled to work the midnight security shift and to my dismay, I overslept. I put on my uniform, kissed my slumbering family goodnight, and rushed out into the rain to my car. I glanced at the clock on the dash before backing out the driveway. Darn it. It’s already 11:45, I thought. I’ll have to hurry. My rear tires squealed in protest on the slippery street as I sped away.

One of the last things I remember as I sped down the interstate was looking into the rearview mirror and seeing a vehicle approaching me from the rear, blinking its headlights rapidly. The speeding vehicle drove in the median to pass traffic. To my horror, the reckless driver got back on the road and swerved at a white car, then me.

With a screeching of tires, the faceless driver whipped his car into my lane, and then slammed on the brakes. Unthinking, I slammed on my brakes, but to no avail. My tires couldn’t get traction on pavement slick as ice. “Oh my god, no!” I screamed as my tiny car veered out of control. The high grasses in the median were a blur in my headlights as I plunged through it and into oncoming traffic. I head the frantic honking of a horn, which was followed by a sickening crunch of metal on metal. I’ve been hit! I thought as a welcoming blackness enveloped me.

The murmuring of voices and a woman sobbing penetrated the thick veil of my unconsciousness. Groaning, I wiped my face with my hand and felt a sticky wetness on it. Blood! Groaning, I opened my eyes and saw the spider web shaped cracks in my windshield. Every part of me hurt, and I offered no resistance as the welcoming black fog once again engulfed me, protecting me from my pain and fear.

I felt like I was in a dark well, and I was floundering, struggling to keep my head above the brackish water. In the distance, I heard a male voice calling, “Debbie, can you hear me? If you can, I want you to respond.” The voice was a lifeline, pulling me back to the land of the living. I opened my eyes and saw. . .nothing.

“I can’t see! Something is wrong with my eyes!” I screamed. I tried to wipe my eyes, but found my arms bound tightly to my sides. What sick game are these people playing with me, I thought, struggling frantically.

“Deb, calm down,” the unknown voice crooned, “you have some blood clotted in your eyes. The paramedics will get it out.” Saline solution was flushed into my eyes and my vision cleared. I saw the faces of paramedics and a highway patrolman smiling gently at me. “Welcome back,” the patrolman said. His was the voice that had brought me back to consciousness. “Can you feel me holding your hand?” he asked. I nodded.

A stiff wind began to blow, and the sound of thousands of birds’ wings flapping filled the air. “You’re badly hurt, and they’re going to take you by helicopter to the emergency room.”

A chopper, how neat, I thought, drifting off to unconsciousness.

When I awakened, I was in the emergency room. The entire room was white, and had a cold, sterile, emotionless feel. This must be a nightmare. That’s it; it’s a nightmare. If I close my eyes and re-open them, I’ll be in my own bed. I tried, but I couldn’t wish myself back to the comforts of my home. I choked back a sob. Dear God! This can’t be happening to me!

The door flung open, three doctors entered the room and walked over to my bed. I shut my eyes; I wasn’t in the mood to answer questions, even if they were trying to help me. I just wanted to be left alone. “The accident victim is a young female in her late 20’s,” one doctor said. “My concern is her right arm. I suggest we call in a specialist.”

“What about her teeth?” a second doctor asked. “Open her mouth and check her teeth.” Check my teeth? I’m not a horse! I fumed. I wanted to scream, to tell those uppity doctors in their fresh starched shirts I was a human being, and had a name; instead, I remained silent. I waited until the left the room before I opened my eyes. Giant tears rolled down my face unchecked. I was tired of being brave. I longed to be a little girl again, to have my mama hold me in her arms and whisper in my ear everything would be okay. Instead, the door flung open and a nurse dressed in colorful scrubs walked in.

“Oh sweetheart, is your pain unbearable?” she asked, seeing my tears. Her compassion caused the dam holding my tears back to break, and I was engulfed in heart-wrenching sobs. I was indeed in pain, but my emotional pain was worse. “I’ll be right back,” she promised. She returned a couple of minutes later with a syringe.

“I’m going to put this pain medication in your I.V. bag. You should feel better shortly.” After she was done, she smiled gently and patted my hand. “You’ll be okay, hon.,” she said, before leaving. I don’t think I‘ll be completely “okay” ever again, I thought bitterly. Within minutes, the pain medication took effect, and I drifted off into a peaceful slumber.

I spent the next few days in a medicated haze as a stream of well-wishers entered my hospital room. On the third day, even though I felt I had been through a meat grinder, I felt well enough to sit up in the lumpy hospital bed; but my emotions took another beating. I learned the person causing the accident had gotten away, and my car was destroyed. My left hand shook as I held a picture my husband, John, had taken of my car after the wreck. The mangled wreckage of my Nissan Sentra resembled a red ball of tin foil.

If my car looks that bad, I must look like something from a horror movie. I noticed visitors never made direct eye contact with me, never looked me in the face. It bothered me. I turned to the one person I could trust, my husband. “Hey John. Do I look as bad as I feel?” There were no need for words; the heartbroken look in John’s eyes said it all. Swallowing hard, I asked him to give me the small hand mirror in my purse.

I gasped at my reflection. I looked like a poorly sewn patchwork quilt. I had smashed into the windshield upon impact, and there were over 200 stitches and staples in my face and in my scalp. My physical appearance, for the moment, was the least of my worries.

The doctors found I had massive head trauma and whiplash. On the evening of the fourth day, an emotionless doctor entered my stuffy hospital room. “Mrs. Roppolo, you have inoperable nerve damage in your right arm.”

“W-What does that mean?” I asked. In my heart, I knew what he meant, but I wanted to find a grain of hope in the layman’s translation.

“It means you’ll never use the arm again,” he said flatly. He turned and left, offering no empathy, not one bit of compassion. I’m just a number to him, he could care less, I thought bitterly. From that moment on, I began building a shell of self-pity around me; like a turtle, I retreated into it. I thought of the last class that I had taken on the day of the accident, and remembered how I effortlessly threw a baseball to a friend across the gym, and heard the smack of the ball as it hit her bare hand. Well, those days are over. So much for being a coach, I thought bitterly.

I wanted to give up, for everyone just to go away and leave me the h*ll alone. That wasn't going to happen. Seth, then five, made sure I did my physical therapy; when I balked, John used reverse psychology. "I thought you were tougher than this," he said. "If you won't do it for yourself, do it for your child."

As time passed, my face healed without a single scar; I wish I could say the same thing for my soul. For five long years, I was an angry, bitter, person who withdrew from everything and everybody. I still can't remember why, but I began walking at night. I felt a little more relaxed after every walk, a little more at peace. On night it hit me like a ton of bricks. The little inner voice I had buried deep inside of me pushed its way to the surface.

You're still a young person. Are you going to be bitter for the rest of your life, or are going to start living again? I thought about all the time I had wasted, all the time I had spent feeling sorry for myself. "I want to live again!" I yelled, tears coarsing down my cheeks. From that moment on, I lived my life, I find joy in almost everything I do. I try and live every moment as if it were my last.

Sometimes life gives you the "old one-two". It's your choice whether you get knocked out, or fight back.

I have the use of my arm back, and no scars are visible.