Saturday, January 27, 2007


Thanks everyone for your warm wishes and good vibes sent our way. Out of 82 cages--6 were disqualified--my son placed 34 out of 82! That's extremely well considering it's his first time to show.

For the past couple of days, we've spent most of our time at the fairgrounds. The fair is over, and it feels good to relax. We had the livestock action this afternoon--it was an all day thing--and Seth's rabbits were auctioned at $450. Needless to say, he's excited and so am I.

Dragging my weary butt off to bed now. More later.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Excuse me, but your rabbits are showing

The 4H livestock is this week, and for the past several days, things around here have been running full throttle.

Seth is showing a cage of young rabbits, and we’ve been working with them constantly. When I was young, I had to groom my horses for public appearances, but I never knew you had to do the same for rabbits. Each bunny has to be spritzed lightly with water, and then brushed to ensure his or her coats are a sparkling snowy white. Rabbits that scramble all over the platform—looking for an escape route—during judging, will be disqualified.

And so, most of Sunday afternoon was spent watching NFL football, while a young Californian rabbit dozed in my lap.

It soon became obvious she was a Saints fan; she peed on my lap every time the team scored, which unfortunately wasn’t very often. Of course, she was a Saints fan. You wouldn’t expect a rabbit to root for a team called the Bears would you?

Tonight, the three best—physically sound—bunnies will be packed up and taken to the fairgrounds while the other two remain here with their mother. Wish us luck!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Someone please turn off the air conditioner

For the past few days we have been in a deep freeze, hit with freezing rain and snow, and the temp staying just below freezing.

I was once used to this kind of weather. Many years ago, the winters on the Texas plains were I grew up were "bone-chilling" cold, sometimes freezing newborn calves born in the pastures, and ignorant chickens who escaped the warm confines of their coop, and insisted on roosting in the trees.

I remember several occasions when I rode with my dad in the tattered old ranch truck, searching every nook and cranny of the pastures for newborn or sick calves. If some were found, they were carefully loaded into the back of the truck, wrapped in old horse blankets, and taken to the house, where the garage, more blankets, and an old propane heater awaited. Happy to say, we saved more than we lost.


It's been several years since we've had that kind of winter; my body has become accustomed to the balmy 60 degree F. winters we now have, so the freezing weather was a shock to these bones.

The rabbit hutch--where Seth's 4H bunnies live--had a heat lamp installed, and the outside of the hutch was wrapped in tarp. Every day, while we froze our behinds off feeding them, the darling "Bunny Foo-Foo" family basked in their warm home.

My family spent time on the couch, cuddled together, enjoying pots of coffee, bowls of soup, and old movies.
Now, the temp registers a whopping 43 degrees, and we're happy for the heat wave.

When I speak, a twangy, Texas accent--of course--comes out of my mouth. Through the years, it's gotten better; but when I'm tired, it's more pronounced, making it a nightmare for some people to understand some words.

Several years ago, I was a dispatcher for a local sheriff's department. One stormy, winter night, at 3am, I took a call from a distressed woman, who was worried about her new car parked in her drive, and the possibility of hail.
"I don't know that information, but if you'll hold, I'll find out," I promised. "Business" was at a standstill because of the weather, and we were happy to get any sort of call.

Turning to Lisa, my fellow dispatcher for the evening, I asked if she knew about the possibility of hail [ H-A-I-L].
Just having moved from Pennsylvania, she was fairly new to our department, but we had worked together quite often, and functioned well as a team.

"What?" she asked, wrinkling her brow in confusion.

"Is it going to hail?"

"What? I can't understand you."

"Is. . .it. . .going. . .to. . .hail?" I asked, losing patience by the second.

"Are we going to HELL? What kind of call are you taking?"

"No. H...A...I...L. HAIL!"

"Oh, it's your accent," Lisa giggled. "I thought you were saying HELL. No, according to the last teletype, we aren't."

Taking the phone off hold, I apologized to the lady for the wait, and assured her that there was no hail in the forecast. Lisa gave me heck over that incident for months.

Good thing I depend on writing rather than speaking; I'd be in trouble.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Things that lurk in the dark. . .

There aren’t many things that alarm me; after being shot at and later—in an entirely different matter--stalked by a mentally unstable person, my life now seems tame in comparison. The paranormal though, sends me scampering for safety of my bed, where I hid beneath the warm fortress of blankets, quivering like a pile of Jell-O.

And that being said . . .

A few nights ago, I went outside after eight, armed with the MP3 player given to me at Christmas by John. I hadn’t had a lot of time to peruse the Internet and look for songs, so I was content to use the radio function on the player. Big mistake.

There was a chill in the air; the moon had just peeped over the roof of my neighbor’s “Amityville Horror” style house, and was shining through the barren branches of the trees that lined my driveway, casting eerie shadows that stretched across my path.

As I exercised, enjoying my favorite radio station, the advertisement for the new horror flick, Prime Evil, played on the radio. The announcer, in an ominous voice, spoke of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and another Texas killer that was never caught. I quickened my pace, my hands sweating despite the cold, my heart hammering in my chest.

The shadows no longer belong to the tree limbs; they were the arms and hands of the undead, snatching and reaching at me, seeking to drag me down to their home in the festering bowels of Hell.

I almost said it and did it in my pants when something large raced by and hit my legs. Tripping over my own feet, I almost fell into the barbed wire fence in my haste to reach the safety of my house. I recovered, and imagined the newspaper headlines had I not regained my footing:

Woman Found Dead In Own Driveway. Deputies To Investigate Offensive Odor Resonating from Corpse.

The “thing” that brushed past me, stopped a few yards ahead. In the dim light, I saw the feathery, curled tale of my dog. I had to laugh at my crazy imagination.

A couple of days ago, I received a package in the mail from a close and dear writing friend. Among the goodies inside was one of my favorite movies, The Diary of Ellen Rimbaur, another Stephen King masterpiece.

Seth stayed up and watched it with me; afterwards, my teenager asked if he could sleep with a nightlight. I obliged, of course. After all the “chicken” blood that runs in his veins is hereditary.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Oh, by the way. . .I just learned it was "Delurking Week." Please drop me a line just to say "hi." I don't bite, except on Mondays, so you're safe.

Much More than a Mom's post on her blog inspired me to share this. This story was published in Sasee magazine in February 2006, and later on

Honey, Where’s the Instruction Booklet on this Kid?
by Debbie Roppolo ©2006

When I was a young adult, I thought I had the world by the coattails; there was no task too great, no obstacle I couldn’t overcome. I was also a self-proclaimed authority on childbirth. I had seen horses and cows give birth, and it all seemed very simple.

Reality hit when I became pregnant. Some women radiate beauty when they are expecting; I did not. Countless trips to the bathroom—because of morning sickness—left me with the feeling that I had no toenails remaining. The toilet and I began to know each other on a first name basis.

During a journey to the bathroom during my seventh month of pregnancy, my well-meaning husband, John, intercepted me in the hall. "You’re beautiful, Babe."

I stared stupidly at him through blood-shot eyes. Beautiful? Ha! I thought, glancing in the hallway mirror. My eyes looked like poached eggs, and my bloating midsection convinced me that I was beginning to look like a cow. Okay, either John has become blind, gone insane, or he is the worst liar I’ve ever known, I thought, shuffling down the hall to the bathroom.

After giving birth to my son, I thought parenthood would be a breeze. During my stay in the hospital, pediatric nurses took care my son; I was pampered and treated like a queen. Reality once again reared its ugly head the day we were to leave the hospital.

A smiling nurse brought our precious little bundle into the room as we were packing. "I’m really sorry madam, but I didn’t get a chance to change your son. You might want to change his diaper before you leave."

Change his what? Beads of perspiration formed on my forehead and my heart pounded frantically. I had no clue how to change a diaper. "John, I don’t know how to change a diaper."

"You mean you’ve NEVER changed a diaper?" John asked in disbelief.

"No." I whispered. I gazed at the pale green linoleum tiles on the floor and wished I could melt into its cracks. John held me in his arms while I wept, then patiently "walked" me through the process of changing a diaper.

That was the biggest crisis I experienced until Jonathan reached six months of age; then one day it was obvious that all was not well with Jonathan. My usually good-natured son was crabby and lethargic. John was at work, so I sought the advice of my mama. Between sobs, I described Jonathan’s symptoms to her over the phone.

"Oh honey, he’ll be okay. It sounds like he’s a little constipated."

Always on the verge of being a basket case, I began crying in relief. "Then he’ll be okay? What can I do to help him?" I crossed my fingers and hoped Mama did not suggest a soapy enema.

"Just give him a little prune juice in his bottle."

"That’s all? He…he’ll be fine then?"

"Yes honey. The prune juice is all he needs. That and a little time," she chuckled. Relieved, I slumped into a kitchen chair after I got off the phone with Mama. She was right, she was always right. Jonathan would be fine after he drank the prune juice. Mama forgot, however, to tell me to dilute the prune juice.

I gave my little fuss-box eight ounces of straight prune juice in his bottle, and checked his diaper every few minutes for the results. I thought Mama said this would work, I fumed. Oh well. He loves the stuff, so I’ll give him another bottle full. What could eight more ounces of prune juice hurt?

That same night, John took Jonathan and me out to supper at our favorite Mexican restaurant. On the way to the restaurant, I heard the baby grunting in his car seat. I glanced back at him and saw a tiny face, red with exertion. Hmm. Guess the prune juice worked after all, I thought.

Every female, at least once in her life, has the dream of everyone staring at her when she enters a room. This happened when we entered the restaurant; almost every head turned to look at me as we made our way to a table. I had dressed attractively; I assumed everyone was admiring my beauty.

I walked past a nearby table; a man seated there stared at me with a look of horror and revulsion in his eyes. His wife, calmly eating her food, patted his arm and said "Don’t worry about it dear. She probably doesn’t realize it yet."

Realize what? Horrified, I realized what everyone was staring at. There was a thick layer of disgusting smelling, salsa verde colored goop covering my arm and the front of my shirt. In disbelief, I saw a trail of goop on Jonathan’s back that went from his diaper to the top of his neck. It was Jonathan’s bowel movement.

John, who is well known and liked in our town, was making the rounds of the restaurant, shaking hands with people that he knew. When he arrived at our table, I leaned over and whispered, "John, we have to leave. We have to leave now!" I turned our son around and showed John the mess.

A tense smile plastered on his face, John hissed through clenched teeth, "Let’s get out of here!"

We leapt from the table and headed towards the door. My stomach churning, I held Jonathan at arm’s length as we raced through the restaurant. Everyone who did not see our entrance had the pleasure of seeing Jonathan’s back as we made our hasty retreat.

At the door, we bumped into a young couple that gazed dumbstruck at our son. Always the calm one under pressure, John flashed the couple a winning smile, and said," What ever you do, do not eat the chicken enchiladas!" With that, we fled out the door and into the night.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Any suggestions?

I desperately needed this today; it's pumpkin spice coffee topped off with a squirt of whipped cream and a sprinkling of nutmeg. Sorry about the crappy quality of the picture. I'm still learning this digital camera.

Around midnight this morning, I awakened to a heavy sensation on my right side; I began to panic as I struggled to raise my right arm and couldn't. My right arm was the one injured in the accident several years ago, and I was afraid the nerve damage had somehow returned. Just as I was wondering how I could, emotionally, cope with the loss of my arm, the pressure shifted forward, and I felt small, tender hands caressing my cheek.

"Wake up, I wanna go outside. You can drive me in the golf cart." There, perched on my side like a bird on a wire, was Robert. Yeah right, like I really wanted to parade outside in my pajamas, in 36 degree weather at midnight, and race up and down the drive in open-air vehicle with a squealing toddler.

I'm sure the neighbors would just love to be awakened at that hour, and looking out their window, see me, robe flapping in the breeze, zooming around in the golf cart and looking like Ichobod Crane escaping from the headless horseman. The way my luck runs, I'd hit a tree, the police would be called, and I'd be arrested for indecent exposure.

And so, going outside was not an option; I didn't want to be on the next episode of COPS, not to mention both Robert and I catching a cold.

As I explained the latter to him, Robert, screaming loud enough to wake the dead, hopped off me and raced into the living room, thus beginning the battle of wills. Finally, after singing, warm milk, and rocking, Robert fell asleep at 5 AM.

It was too late for me to go to bed then; breakfast had to be made and the rest of the family awakened, fed, and sent off to work and school.

Here's my question: This is the second night Robert has done this. What methods do you use to keep your children in bed and asleep?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Tastes like chicken?

Last night, after my shower, dressed in the new butterfly-print, blue pajamas my aunt had given me, I plopped myself on the couch between my two best boyfriends, Seth and Robert. Armed with cocoa-flavored Chex Mix (it's a limited edition), and diet root beer, we settled back to watch Animal Planet.

Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next. Wordlessly, Robert set down his drink, walked across the couch, and standing behind me, bit me on the head. I felt his tiny toddler teeth on my scalp as he attempted to graze on my hair like a cow. Recovering from the shock, I grabbed him, and placing him in "time-out," explained to him that people shouldn't bite each other.

I'm not clear on what influenced his behaviour; perhaps it was the commercial for zombie movies we had seen just a few minutes earlier. Who says television doesn't influence children's behavior? I've got some missing hair that proves differently.


Your Power Color Is Blue

Relationships and feelngs are the most important things to you.

You are empathetic and accepting - and good at avoiding conflict.

If someone close to you is in pain, it makes you hurt as well.

You try to heal the ones you love with your kind and open heart.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Pity Party

I forgot to share this picture of my third little boy.

Happy New Year!

This past week, armed with decongestants and tissues, I waged the war against my children's snots and won. Halfway through the battle, my youngest was sweet enough to share his misery with me by sneezing in my face. Lovely. Traitor.

A few days later, both boys were the picture of health and vitality, while I sat like a lump of forgotten chewing gum on the couch, my only companions a box of tissues and the TV remote control. I couldn't find the latter half the time, and was forced to beg my children to change the channel for me.

Judging from their reactions--especially my oldest--you would have thought I proposed visiting the local 7-11, "Bonnie and Clyde" style. "There," Seth announced firmly, switching the channel to an exercise channel. "You can watch this for a while."

Gee thanks, I thought sourly as I blew my nose for what seemed to be the thousandth time in an hour. I really want to watch people firm their butts while mine is getting mushier by the minute.

I felt like something the dog threw up, my body ached, and both my nostrils were congested. I could only breathe through my mouth, so I wasn't planning on making any phone calls; because of my breathing, I was sure to be mistaken for pervert.

I was a victim of the "poor me syndrome," but I really didn't give a rat's behind. I wanted to be babied, wanted to get back some of the 'TLC" I had given my family in the past. "Baby," I called to Seth, looking as pathetic as I could. "Would you please bring me some hot chocolate?"

"Nope," he replied coolly, glancing at grandfather clock, "I have things to do." With that, both he and Robert disappeared outside, leaving me to brood like a wet hen.

At this stage in his life, I was no longer "cool," not his hero. I felt ancient, my baby was growing up, and the younger one would soon follow. It was a bitter pill swallow, but life must progress. But what the heck is so important he couldn't bring me a cup of hot chocolate? I fumed. Walking to the window. I peeked through the blinds and got my answer. There in the drive, astride a purple mountain bike, was a young girl around Seth's age, her red hair gleaming like a copper penny in the morning sun.

A couple of minutes later, Seth appeared from the garage pushing his bike, Robert behind, as always, pushing his own bike. The girl's face lit up as the boys approached, a dimples appearing as she smiled. I watched as she flipped her hair, her laugh high and musical as she tittered over something Seth apparently said; he, in return, looking like he just won the lottery.

I turned from the window, feeling worse now since I saw that girl, that vixen, working her charms on my little boy. Didn't she realize he had only been out of diapers for twelve years? He was still a baby, my baby. Oh well, it wasn't anything I could stop.

I shuffled off the kitchen, in quest of that cup of cocoa. There, on the top pantry shelf, sat the box; at the moment looking like Incan treasure to my tired, bloodshot eyes. Reaching up I grabbed it and found--nothing. Every envelope was gone. Oh well, I'd have to use the chocolate syrup in the fridge; again nothing.

My remote was lost, there was no chocolate in the whole house, and a girl was flirting with my boy.

Ah well, as Scarlett O'Hara says ". . .tomorrow will be a better day," and it was.

Seth is so unintentionally funny. Here's a few things I found out about this holiday season.

1. He puts his hair in storage until Fall and doesn't eat until there's a holiday--We were playing the PC version of FAMILY FEUD. The question was, "What do you get out of storage in the Fall?"

"My hair!" he yelled out, eager to beat me to the "buzzer."

"And what do you do the rest of the year, go bald?" I giggled, wiping the tears from my eyes.

A few minutes later, the question was "What do you do on the holidays you don't do year around?"

"EAT!" Seth blared.

"So that's not you at the table?" I asked, laughing.

"Guess not," he replied, grinning sheepishly.

My sides were hurting me from laughing by the end of that game.

2. I have a hot dog for a nose.--A few days later, Seth was half asleep, and I was walking by his room, scratching my nose, he asked, "Why are you scratching your hot dog?"

My nose is long, but hot dog length?

3. He wants to know when I'm going to die and who will be on the guest list--He overheard John and I talking about renewing our vows. "What year will you die?" he asked.

"Let me check my calender. Maybe I can pencil in a date." I retorted.

Then he asked who I wanted on the guest list. "For a funeral?" I asked dumbfounded. Then it hit me. He was talking about the renewing of the vows.

Guess my "dingyness" is wearing off on him.