Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Road Trip, Part II

On my way to Michigan I stopped in Cleveland for a quick visit with my daughter Kate.  That girl can talk me into anything which is why my hair is now so short.  Does losing weight by getting a haircut count?

When the visit was over, Katie wrote out the directions to Detroit by hand.  She packed me little bags of sweets and treats to eat on the way and gave me a short pep talk.  Even though I had eaten the chocolate before the car rolled out of her parking lot, I still had carrots to munch on and felt pampered.

Much of the trip from Cleveland to Detroit is on the I-80 turnpike, a fast, stress-free drive.  As night fell though, I  realized two things.  First, I couldn't read the directions.  Second, Kate had sent me on I-696, the Michigan Autobahn -- zoom
zoom.  On both sides of me millions of vehicles with twinkling headlights were hurling through space at speeds that rocked the light fantastic.

My lane was different though.  We were traveling at a much more sensible speed -- at least those cars lucky enough to be in the lane behind me.  I know I was significantly improving their driving experience by allowing them that rare opportunity to relax and unwind because every time I looked in the rear view mirror, the line behind me was longer.  Clearly they were grateful. What a satisfying feeling!

Okay, right -- in my dreams.   Actually people were driving like there had been a nuclear explosion behind them and this was the sole route to safety.  Anyone behind me, the lone driver on the entire expressway driving the speed limit (a tooth rattling 70 mph), rapidly changed lanes and probably even flipped me the finger as they passed, but all I saw was a blur.   

So relieved was I to reach my exit alive that it didn't much matter to me that I tarnished my sterling driving reputation by calling my daughter Jessica six times for directions.  In the end, I only had to make one u-turn at one of those strange intersections with that peculiar sign that says, "drivers turning left stay right." That defies logic but somehow it all works out.  I eased my car into the driveway just in time to kiss my grandson goodnight.

So far, the worst thing that has happened to me on this trip is that I've been forced to pump my gas myself.  Most of it has even ended up in the tank.

It's all good.

What's in a Name?

Some neighbors objected to my categorizing the early morning animal I saw in our neighborhood as a rat. They said it was "an opossum." They also call cockroaches "palmetto bugs."

Friday, August 26, 2011

Road Trip, Part I

After mulling the idea over in my mind, I decided to embark on my very first cross-country road trip, driving from South Carolina to Michigan to attend my high school class reunion.   The unveiling of my plan was met with a dull thud.  Nobody except me was at all enchanted by it.  

Everyone in my family knows I don't like to drive and always avoid it whenever possible so, frankly, they all thought this idea was to ridiculous to even entertain.  At first, they tried to talk me out of it.  Then, Jerry actually offered to drive me up himself and just turn around and fly back.  That idea really added to my feelings of self-confidence and competence.

Their truly impressive lack of faith in my abilities fueled my desire to make the trip.  It was like the ultimate double dog dare! While it is true that during my first driver's ed class I drove on a sidewalk for about a third of a block, I did somehow pass the driver's test on my sixteenth birthday and I have held a valid license ever since.  The decision had been made and was is final.

Having thrown caution to the wind and abandoned all good sense and judgment,  I was so excited I couldn't sleep. Instead of leaving at 6:00 am like I'd planned, I left at 3:01, probably not my smartest move.  The first thing I saw as I turned my first corner was what some people might indelicately call a rat, but I prefer to think of as a bunny with a long, hairless tail. I've never seen a rat in the wild before (if you can call my neighborhood "the wild") and it seemed like a bad omen.

My first leg of the journey would be an easy eight hour trip from Charlotte to Cleveland, a straight shot up I-77.  I'm legendary for being a pokey driver, so I decided that this time would be different.  I would use cruise control and program it exactly for the speed limit.  The first hour flew by.  I checked the odometer.  51.6 miles.  I had expected it to be 60 miles so I was a little let down by that.  I rationalized that getting onto the highway was the slowdown.  I would make up for it the rest of the way.

An hour later I stopped at a rest stop.  It was still the dead of the night but the parking lot was full of cars. Nobody was walking around though.  That spooked me.  All the rest stop horror stories I've ever heard flooded into my mind.  I got nervous about getting out of the car.  As time ticked by, I became more nervous about not getting out of the car.  About the time I was getting desperate, another woman showed up, so I zoomed into the bathroom right behind her.  That rest stop break set me back about fifteen minutes. 

Forty-five minutes later, I was getting drowsy.  The more I thought about it, the sleepier I got so I stopped yet again at a rest stop and took a little cat nap that lasted a smidgen over three hours.  When I woke up, I decided that it was the same as if I'd have left at six am.  As an added plus, my snooze had served to break the trip up, so there wasn't so much ahead of me.  Since nobody really knew what time I had left,  I could still wow them by arriving early.  Then I hit Fancy Gap.  And fog.  Driving through the clouds is exciting!  (And slow.) 

After fog came rain, buckets and buckets of rain.  Other drivers stopped by the side of the road, but Mario Zimmerman pressed on and into sunny weather. 

The rest was an easy drive.  I rolled into my daughter's driveway just in time for supper.  Trip time: slightly under fourteen hours.

Take a bow, Chris.  You did it.  TA-DA!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Three kids, three preschool stories.

Three kids, three preschool stories.  Art Linkletter was right.  Kids say (and do) the darndest things.

                                * * *       * * *       * * *      * * *

Josh had just been in pre-school a few days when I received the kind of phone call no parent wants to get.  The gal at the other end of the phone was so frazzled she could barely speak.

     "Mrs. Zimmerman, I am so sorry!"

     "What's wrong?"

     "I'm just so, so sorry!"

     "Is Josh okay?"

     "This happened so fast, I couldn't stop it!"

     By now, I am a total, complete wreck.  "Is my son okay?" I yelled into the phone.

     "Yes, yes.  But when we sat down to have lunch, before I could get him his peanut butter sandwich, he grabbed the hot dog that belonged to the kid sitting next to him AND ATE THE WHOLE THING!"

Yes, I'm a vegetarian.  No, my son isn't - a choice he clearly made in preschool.

                                * * *     * * *     * * *     * * *

I went inside to drop Jessica off at preschool and she was invited to sit in the circle.  She sat down next to a boy with a horrible runny nose.  Green stuff was pouring down his face.  We've all seen it.  It's gross.

The next day, same exact scenario.

The third day, same.

That evening Jessica said to me, "I don't want to sit next to that germy kid tomorrow."

I lit up!  Clearly my little three-year-old was a genius! I had suspected as much, and now here was the confirmation I needed.  Face it, how many kids talk about germs when they're three?  I bragged that night, oh how I bragged!  Told the husband, called the grannies, casually mentioned it to friends and neighbors.  I was on cloud nine.  My daughter, a future Madame Curie!

Next morning as I drop my smart and lovely daughter off at preschool, the germy kid and his mom are behind us.  Mom kisses her son and says, "Have a great day, Jeremy!"

                                 * * *       * * *       * * *     * * *

Our house had a den off to the side of the dining room and tucked away on the inside wall of that room was a fish tank that contained Goldie, world's greatest goldfish.  You couldn't see the tank from the dining room, you actually had to step into the den to see it.  On this morning, I did just that and discovered my three-year-old Katie in her pink blanket sleepers, teetering on top of a box, placed upon a chair.  Her right hand was plunged up to her armpit in the water.

     "What are you doing?"  I asked.

     "Sshhh....I'm fishing and I almost got one!"  She replied.

                               * * *       * * *       * * *     * * *

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Doctor's Appointment

Monday I had a doctor's appointment in Rock Hill, an easy thirty minute drive from here.  I left the house with an hour to spare and drove in light traffic to the medical building next to the hospital without the aid of a GPS or Map Quest.  Normally this kind of wild spontaneous adventure is difficult for me but this time there was celestial intervention in the form of blue signs with large H's on them accompanied by arrows pointing the way for me.  I took the scenic route, but arrived with time to spare.  As a bonus, I found a spot to park that was in total shade - the only one in the entire lot. Clearly this was my lucky day!

The waiting room was not even half full when I got there and signed in. The receptionist was humming and smiling, obviously in a good mood.  Things were going better than usual for me, so well in fact that I was spooked.  I began to hear the theme from "The Twilight Zone" in my head.  Why were things going so well?  It was like I had stepped into someone else's life.  Perhaps the life of the woman who actually had the appointment this afternoon?  It was about this time that the receptionist broke the news to me that my appointment was scheduled for tomorrow. 

The question then became, do I calmly sit in the waiting room for 24 hours and 20 minutes or simply go home?  I chose option B, go home.

On the way home, I decided to treat myself to a cherry amaretto ice cream cone at Sayago's in Baxter Village.  When I got there I was able to pull directly into a parallel parking spot right in front of the store.  Maybe it really was my lucky day! ...Or not.  Because the doors were both locked when I tried them and then I noticed the "Closed Mondays" sign painted on their window.  I heaved a sigh of relief.  I was back living my own life again.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Teeth Revisited

A few weeks ago, I was horrified to realize that I am not supposed to swallow toothpaste.  Well, teeth are on my mind again today.

I am among the select few who really enjoy going to the dentist.  I love the feeling of having clean teeth, like stars are twinkling from my mouth.  (I remember when dental floss first became available my best friend's family bought it but we did not.  I hung around her house a lot and sometimes I would sneak into her mom's bathroom and use the floss!)  Occasionally I think about getting my teeth whitened, but some people who do that seem to have blue teeth and I don't want to be that old lady with blue hair AND blue teeth. 

Some kids I've known have been truly resistant to brushing their pearly whites.  One, in particular, springs to mind.  (She will remain nameless but she knows who she is.)  She hated brushing her teeth so much that she'd actually try to fake her mother out by squeezing a little toothpaste into her mouth so that if Mom smelled her breath, it would have that minty fresh odor.  She would always flunk the visual portion of the inspection though and get sent back to the bathroom for a second go-round.  Incredibly, occasionally she would still try to avoid the odious task and the entire scenario would unfold exactly like the first.  It was amusing to watch this battle of wills and the more often we witnessed it, the funner it got.  The time and effort it took to pretend to brush was well beyond what actually doing it would demand.  You have to admire that kind of dogged determination. (My own dear daughter was a member of the furry-tooth club well into her pre-teen years but I am happy to report that at this writing her oral hygiene is impeccible.)

This summer our community has had several boil-water advisories.  I've received multiple automated phone calls saying to "boil water five minutes before using it for drinking or cooking" until further notice.  A day or so later, I will receive an all clear phone call.  This morning I went to the website to pay my bill and found an "all clear" message on the home page.  The problem was, I had not received a "boil water" call so I didn't know the water was not potable. 

So now you see why I'm thinking about teeth.  Not only do I have to worry about swallowing the toothpaste, now I have to worry about swallowing the rinse water.  Maybe I owe an apology to those kids who stubbornly refused to brush their teeth.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Spiders, gnats and things

We like to think of our homes as secure, but they're not.  Every morning our window sills are covered with dead insects that were lured inside by the light of the previous evening.  They're little gnat-like things that seem to have an extremely short life cycle.

Last night I went into my bedroom to hang clean clothes in the closet and there on the door was a quarter sized spider.  How did he get in?  Who knows?  My disposition of most anything that creeps or crawls is the same.  I cover it with a glass, slide a thick piece of paper under it, take the intruder outside and let it go.  My karma ought to be pretty clear on the 'killing insects' front.  Not spotless, but pretty clear.

This particular spider was a jumper and was frantically jumping all around in the glass while I was carrying him to freedom.  It reminded me of a baby wolf spider which reminded me of my favorite spider story.

This story is a family classic.  It occurred roughly thirty years ago when my baby sister was paying us her annual summer visit.  At the time, my husband, son and I lived in a teeny tiny rustic cabin in the woods of Indiana.  There weren't any spare bedrooms but there was a loft with a large picture window and a beautiful view of the woods.  This is where my sister wanted to sleep.

The first night she was there we had a powerful thunderstorm, the kind where lightening strikes light up the room and before they fade there are loud bangs of thunder that put your nerves on edge.  A bolt of lightening hit nearby, followed by a bloodcurdling scream.  "Are you afraid to sleep up in the loft because of the storm?" I hollered up to my sis.

"No." she replied.  "I am afraid to sleep in the loft because there is a tarantula on the window."

I'm not sure but I think Jerry squished it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Spell check vs Chris

Last night my friend Lee was over and we got to talking about my blog when she mentioned that I spelled 'judgment' wrong.  Her husband was mortified that she mentioned it but I was on cloud nine because, of course, it meant she actually read my stories! 

After the initial glow wore off, I got a little upset with myself.  I fancy myself a good speller generally, but everybody has a word or two that trips them up.  Or seven, in my case.  Spell check is available to everyone with just the touch of a key.  Spelling bloopers are inexcusable.  Inexcusible?  I'd better check...

I'm a bit obsessive so when I went back to correct my initial error, I had to check all of my posts.  In addition to the aforementioned judgment, I'd also misspelled raucous, tutorial, accommodate and reticence.  I totally omitted the 'w' in which in one place and made massive compound words where, according to the electronic genius housed within my computer, there were none.  Gameplan, carseats, WalMart, cablebox, houseguest, stairtreads all are two words.  They don't even have hyphens.

There were also a couple of words where I'd added an extra letter.  Necesssary, Beginnnings, hmmmmm...  How many 'm's are in 'hmmmm?'

There were a few questionable corrections.  I think 'hottie' is right and who really knows how to spell 'doozy?'  I stick by my guns on those.

Spell check wasn't 100% accurate either.  Everyone knows what 'tv' means.  'Unbeknownst' may be antiquated, but it remains an entry in dictionary.com and I'm fairly certain my husband spells his nickname 'Jer.'  My favorite spell check error was 'colonoscopy.'  The suggested spelling was 'cloudscape.'  Pretty much everybody reading would prefer cloudscape to colonoscopy! Spell check also has a big problem with possessives.  'The patient's' gets changed to 'the patients' and it picks that type of construction as wrong every time.

I'll admit I've been arrogant in not checking my stories more thoroughly.  But spell check isn't perfect, either.  Spell check: 16  Chris:  7.

And, Lee, spell check didn't pick up 'judgement' as being misspelled either.  Guess you are gonna have to read all my future blogs for me -- just to be sure.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Near Death Experience

Near death experiences have always fascinated me and I have read pretty much every book I could find on the subject through the years.  My mother had such an occurrence during the birth of my younger brother.  She said she found herself walking up a staircase toward bright light and when she realized what was going on, she just sat down and wouldn’t move. Around her angry people were urging her forward.  She said, “Not without my baby!” and refused to budge.  In a flash, she was back in the delivery room and later found out that her heart had stopped during the birthing process.

On her deathbed years later, Mom told me that her parents – and angels – were in the room with her.  That knowledge gave me great comfort during the saddest time of my life. 

Jerry has always tolerated my interest in this subject but never participated in it.  That was about to change.  After years of fighting the idea, he finally succumbed to family pressure and scheduled himself for his first colonoscopy.  When the test was finished and he was in recovery, they called me back into the recovery area.  The nurse told me to try to wake him up and then she left the room.  Alone with my husband, I tried to rouse him.  His coloring was horrible.  He looked sort of ashen and he would not wake up.  It seemed a little nap could only improve his physical situation, so my attempts at waking him became more and more lackluster.

Suddenly he half-opened his eyes and said, “They were all around me in the operating room.”

“Who?”  Now I couldn’t wake him up fast enough!

 “There were thirteen of them…..”  He was still in a stupor.

“Did you know anybody?”

He was fading in and out of consciousness.  “No….don’t think so…..”

Long pause.

“There…..were women….thirteen….Brenda, Sheila…”  he trailed off.  “Jennifer and Marie….”

“Were they trying to tell you anything?”   By now, I’m so excited.  It’s driving me crazy that I can’t carry on my line of questioning because of his inability to focus.

“I…don’t ….no….no...Brenda, Sheila….”

“Were your parents there with you?”

“No…just Brenda, Sheila….”

Right then the discharge nurse walks in and says, “Oh, good.  You’re awake.”  Then she looks at me and says, “Yeah.  Your husband was captivated by how many people it took to perform this procedure today.  They were introducing themselves to him when he drifted off.  Altogether, there were thirteen of them.” 

“Brenda, Sheila, Jennifer, Marie…”

So much for my glimpse beyond the veil.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Win, win

After reading my last post, my daughters asked me to make a few clarifications.  Malibu Barbie wants you to know that she never dresses me.  Indian Princess Barbie says you will know if she's dressed me by whether I look good or not.  If I do, she did.  If not, then not.

Princess has a point.  Today, for example, I am wearing a (formerly) white tee shirt that my son-in-law intended for Goodwill and a pair of striped men's boxer shorts that at one time belonged to Malibu Barbie's boss.  I'm ashamed to admit that this is not even a low in wardrobe choices;  sometimes they are actually worse.  I know this because I have been looking at old photographs.  Talk about masochism!

I realized I've pretty much spent a lifetime looking frumpy, dowdy and generally wearing clothes that frankly weren't all that flattering.  Then I remembered:  I made a pact with myself when Princess was born that I wouldn't buy anything new until I got down to my pre-pregnancy weight.  My reasoning, I dimly recall, was along the lines of motivational. The thought was that I would inspire myself to lose those last few pounds faster. 

Well that was a dumb, dumb idea! Daughter is pushing twenty-three and I recently lost almost enough to get down to my highest weight during that pregnancy. About now would be a perfect time to admit defeat.  I could justify an entire new wardrobe with just that single sentence, one that will make me look like the hottie that is trapped inside me.  Except now I don't want anyone to see my wrinkly chest, my bat-wings or my chicken neck. 

So what I'm saying here is that I'm going to let vanity prohibit me from wearing more stylish clothes?  Isn't that the very same trap I set for myself originally?  Apparently these last few decades have taught me nothing. 
So, thank God Indian Princess got old enough to take charge of the situation!  Tomorrow she will be arriving for a week's visit.  She will probably take one look at me and drag me off shopping.  We will go directly from the airport to the mall.

She will get to do what she likes best (shopping) and I will get to do what I like best (spending time with her!)  So it's win, win. 

Ain't life grand?