Sunday, December 23, 2007

How Many Ways Do I Need to Say It?











Feel free to snag one of these if you'd like, and do whatever you want with it.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Also Not About Flooding

When I was a kid, I had some pet mice. (We also had a tortoise, a rabbit, one cat, four dogs, a couple of parakeets, a boa constrictor named Daisy, a flock of chickens, and a wild iguana living in the bushes. That’s right, I grew up in a frickin’ menagerie. Back to the mice.)

At first, there were only two mice. Snowflake and Licorice.

Then we got a few more, like Raccoon, VW, Cinnamon, Pipsqueak, and about twenty more.

But this is about Snowflake and Raccoon.



Snowflake had babies. She didn’t much care for them, and didn’t really want to sit and nurse them. Raccoon, who had no babies, seemed as if she was constantly trying to convince Snowflake to feed her children. When Snowflake was absent, Raccoon would be in the nest cleaning the babies and taking care of them. Except feeding them. She tried, but she had no milk.

One day, Snowflake ate her babies. We were disgusted, and fed her to Daisy.


Raccoon later had a litter of her own and was an excellent mother. She cleaned them, she fed them, she cuddled them, she did not eat them, and they all grew to adulthood. She had more children, too. Her progeny were given to each classroom in my elementary school so each classroom could have a class pet (until a few broke out of their cages, escaped into the heating ducts which connected all classrooms, infested the school with mice, and occasionally would get cooked in the heaters so there was a very nasty smell when the heat came on in winter and then the principal outlawed mice as classroom pets—but that’s another post).

What was the difference between the two mice? Temperament? Insanity? A craving for tender baby flesh?

It’s a question that has troubled me, especially since the birth of my own son. Not that I ever had the desire to eat him, exactly, but I did have a nastily severe case of postpartum depression after he was born. And I thought about those two dumb mice, and I couldn't help wondering if I were a Snowflake: either genetically programmed to be a mess of a mother, or something in me saw my offspring and craved him dripping in barbecue sauce...

However, I do feed him, cuddle him, and clean him, and so far I haven't marinated him and popped him in the oven, so I figure I must be doing okay. But the thought of having more children...it seems like a really bad idea. Really. Experience number 1 was so intense and miserable and terrifying that I think it would be stupidity (and hazardous to the health of our family) to go through it again.

And yet, it’s hard to let go of that possibility of more kids, even though common sense, personal revelation, and reality have proved the necessity of not having any more... Is my biological clock really so strong and stupid as that? Isn't there supposed to be an emergency self-preservation button on the dumb thing somewhere? To turn it off?

It's also very hard to explain the situation to people around me (who will, of course, ask when the next child will be coming along). Especially you mormon freaks—"oh, don't worry, you’ll have another! Sure you will! You know, multiply and replenish the earth! Mate on! More Mormons, more mormons!"

No. Probably not. It is unwise.

I keep thinking something will change—Jake will go off to school, I'll suddenly find myself in a permanent emotional state so stable you could build a house on it, and magically, I’ll be able to manange another child. Not gonna happen.

So what is a woman to do? Denial? Delusion? A combination of both culminating in herding your husband to the local animal shelter to adopt a new child pet?

Apparently, the latter. Proudly announcing the new member of our family:

Clicky-click if you want to see it in its full glory.

And before you leave a comment, please remember to take this posting with this. Or, perhaps, with this. Oh, heck, you may as well take this, too.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I'm Not Gonna

I suppose I could write about the flood aftermath today. Heaven knows I have enough material for 15 posts. I could.

But I will not.

Because I don’t want to. There is so much seriousness in it, and I am so tired of the seriousness and the overwhelming and depressing magnitude of it all. We need more levity. (Did you know that I keep a blog primarily to have a place for my Sense of the Silly to range free? To give it a place where it is at liberty to frolic and play in any way it so desires? Look at it now: it has donned a glittery tutu, vampire fangs, and has a creamsicle stuck to its head. Look at it pirouette, leap, and guzzle bacon fat! Oh, the joy! Oh the warm fuzzies!)

Free, free at last!

See, seriousness can wear you out if you have to do it too much. My alter-ego, Woman-Who- Induces-Coma- in-Random-Passerby-with-Her-Super- Seriousness-and-Monosyllabicity, has had the reins the past week or so, and I'm worn out. She has served her purpose, and is absolutely necessary as I've been out trying to serve the community, but it is time to draw her in, lock her up for the night*, and let the muskadillo roam.

Commentator: There: look! The muskadillo has tied up Super-serious woman with her own tongue and is spraying her with its noxious scent! What a bold move for the muskadillo! What's this? What's this? Super-serious woman is trying to lecture the muskadillo, but is prevented because of her own tongue being wrapped around her body! The muskadillo knows it and dancing a jig on her head. I do believe this is a clear victory for the muskadillo. Yesyeslook! He is beginning to sing his wild musky song!

Muskadillo:
Oh, say have you heard
Where the muskrat leaves turds
There roams the wild muskadillo

It may sound absurd
But the lines are all blurred
Between it and a pad of brillo

Oh, dillo, dillo, oh-dey, dillo-dillo!
The call of the wild muskadillo!
It cries
La-di-freakin'-da!
And
Just five more minutes, ma!
And
Get your arse away from my pillow!

Craaaaaazy cow


More non-flood-related posting to immediately follow this bit of randomness. Read on.

*Super-serious woman will be back to write more about the flood and the wonderful positive experiences that have come from it, blah blah blah, but not today. She’ll probably come back when everyone has stopped caring about the flood. But, after all, that is why she is who she is.

A Deep and Troubling Question

Today I would like to pose a deep and troubling question:


As is typical for this time of year, we've been sick.

Jake, the lucky duck, got conjunctivitis in both eyes along with his cold.

Ever given eye drops to a toddler? Boy, is it fun! It took a little practice, but I can proudly say that I am an expert at the strategy know as the “toddler straddle.”

Instructions for toddler straddle:
  1. Catch child.
  2. Put him on his back on the floor. Avoid teeth and flailing limbs.
  3. Straddle child by sitting on your heels (so as not to crush the child), and pin his arms under your legs. Pin his head between knees, so he can’t move his head.
  4. Pry open one eye with one hand and administer the eye drop with the other. Ignore all screaming, and quell all bucking of legs and lower body with bum.
  5. Repeat 3-4 times daily.
Fortunately, a few episodes of this, and he was willing to try and hold still all on his own. To his credit, he did very well. Eyes are now healthy, though he still has a sniffle and a cough.

Jasper, now…he’s got leprosy. Well, okay, maybe he doesn’t have leprosy, exactly, but the word fits the bill: open sores, anyone? Apparently he has a common condition amongst cats: an abscess at the base of his tail caused by another cat biting and/or scratching him, the scratch getting infected, the skin healing over the infection, sealing a world of nastiness inside which…well, swelled and filled with fluid and…er…ruptured (gag) right in the vet’s office.

I will not attempt to describe the disgusting nature of the sore any longer: Jeff was obsessed with it for some time, and kept saying: “it reminds me of peeling a blood orange, when you start to peel the skin back. It seems like you could just grab the edge of the wound and pull back his skin…” at which point I start screaming, “No! Stop! Disgusting!” and then I vomit on him.


The vet cleaned him up and gave him some medicine to take (a wash for the open sore and an antibiotic taken orally), so now he is feeling much better, but he’s walking around the house with an unsightly shaved rump with an open sore on it, he’s been oozing all over everything, and he hates to take his medicine.

Unfortunately for him, I’ve had plenty of practice administering medicine to unwilling patients; unfortunately for me, Jasper’s teeth are much sharper than Jake’s, and Jake doesn’t have claws.

So what do you think? Who would you rather medicate?

ANOTHER NEW POST BELOW (after all, who knows when I'll have the time to come back again? I know I'm killing the posts, but oh well. I must write when I CAN!)

A Novel Concept

I intended to post this as the first post of December. But, you know, that was before I saw Noah and his floating zoo taking a spin down main street...

Some friends have been asking me how the pipe dream of writing a novel went. Well:

I did it. I wrote my obligatory 50,000 words, and look! I have a nifty lil' badge to show for it! Wahoo! Now for a Q&A session:

Q: So, you wrote a book in one month?
A: No. The novel is not finished. 50,000 words really isn't very much, but it's plenty for 30 days and for a lazy person like yours truly. Wish you could see me right now. I'm still glowing with pride! I mean, I MADE it! I'm really proud of myself!

Q: Can I read it?
A: Whoa. Hold on there. Are you nuts? You have no idea what it's about. It may bore you to tears. You may no longer want to be my friend. Friends don't ask friends to read rough-draft manuscripts. It's unkind. Besides, it's not finished. Perhaps if you promise to be brutally honest, and want to help edit it, well...perhaps. And then only when it's ready for editing.

Q: What is it about?
A: I won't say. I'm not done writing it, you see, and I honestly believe the more you tell about your book instead of writing it down, you are killing your story. And, if you are a low-energy person like myself, all possible energy needs to be corralled into writing the book. All I will say about it is that your head sure can produce some surprising stuff after you have lowered your standards and have flushed all expectations down the toilet. Whatever you think it is about, I promise, that won't be it.

Q: So, are you going to finish it, or what?
A: Oh, yes! I haven't come this far for nothing! And I discovered that I really, really like writing fiction. I can't stop now. Butwhere am I going to find the time? I have a slice of two hours I can use in the evenings to write, and I want to blog as well. And there is the family, the church-stuff, the cat...something is going to have to give. This is a common theme out there in blogland, isn't it? But I have come up with a brilliant planI'm going to turn off my comments!

Q: What? Why?
A: I have a theory that the most time-consuming part and addicting bit of blogging is the comments. I care about getting them too much. Way too much. I fuss over them, I count them, I go out and leave comments all over the blogosphere like mouse droppings hoping that people will then feel obligated to leave me more comments, also like mouse droppings, on my own blog. It must stop. Especially since mouse droppings are gross. And unsanitary. Don't mice have toilets?

So, if I turn mine off, at least for a little while, it will do several things: Free up some time; tone down (cure me of?) my obsession; and leave you comment-addicted folk like myself one blog less where you feel obligated to leave a comment.

At least, that was the plan. But people complained. I was shocked. (Why can't you just lurk quietly and be satisfied, like the majority of people who come here?) So if anyone has a brilliant idea to get more time in my life, let me know.

Q: What is the meaning of life?
A: Well, Douglas Adams postulated in one of his writings that it was "42." Works for me.

ONE MORE NEW POST BELOW (if I haven't already lost you, that is)

Something I'm Happy About

For those of you who have reading about my house-sprucing adventures (i.e., Me vs. The Rental From HELL), I would like to show you evidence of a brilliant stoke on my part to beat at least a portion of this house into submission. I present to you a before-and-after picture set:

BEFORE


This isn't a true before picture: after all, the walls are already painted and the carpet was replaced. You should have SEEN the walls. Yellowish-brown with smoke. And you could see exactly where pictures had been hanging.


AFTER



And now I'm going to bed. Write in another...who knows? two weeks? (sniff)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

She Beat Me to It!

Hey bloggersI need your help. I've been trying to set up a fund for donations to help relieve the need of people around here, just to find, today, that someone else has already done it!

So, click on the picture to go to her site to donate. And if you haven't created your own post to spread the word, please do it now!

Thanks so much!

Click here to help!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Overwhelmed

It rained last night.

Which is completely normal for this time of year.

What is not normalfor this time of year or for any other time of yearare the dead cows in the trees.*

Yesterday Jake and I spent some time at the local LDS chapel, which is serving as a shelter for people who have been flooded out of their homes. We were there to make sandwiches and serve them to the hungry people. (Jeff wasn't with us because he managed to get to work by trading his usual 10-minute commute via the I-5 for an hour-and-a-half meandering drive through the foothills.)

After that, we came home and I spent (*sigh*) about two more hours on the !@#$% telephone trying to check on people and trying to get more help for the church/shelter kitchen. (Aside: Hmm... "church/shelter" is not going to work. Too bulky. How 'bout..."churlter," or "shelch"?)

Like I was saying, I've been talking to a lot of people in the past few days, and have heard a lot of their stories, and have even seen a thing or two myself.

For example, while I was at the shelch, somehow I ended up babysitting the Bishop's cell phone.** While I was performing this sad and regrettable service, I intercepted a phone call from the Red Cross.

"Oh, hey. We wanted to let you know we have received a report of a man armed with a rifle in an LDS building, but we don't know which one. Is he in yours?"

Yikes.

Bishop went around and, thankfully, he didn't find anyone with a rifle. What I want to know is what the guy needed a rifle indoors for? Hunting dust bunnies? Didn't he know they aren't actual bunnies?

Another story: We have here in Centralia a pleasant couple who hang out near exit 82, frequently bearing signs that say things like, "Everyone needs help at some time in their lives." Very eloquent, don't you think? Anyway, they've been at that exit since I've moved here, and I've often seen them chasing away other mendicants from their corner. For convenience's sake, I shall call the one "Beauregard," and his lovely female consort, "Barfy."

Anyway, Beau and Barfy showed up at the door of the shelch claiming to have been flooded out of their home. Bishop, who was not born yesterday (or even within fifty years of it), recognized darling Beau and Barfy and asked them, "What's your address?"
Whereupon Beau sweetly replied, "F*** off!"
Beau and Barfy were escorted out of the building, no matter how many compliments they let fly, and were told that the shelch was for flood victims, not for folk looking for free food.

Story Three: There are about 10 (or 15? somewhere around there...) residents of the shelch that were brought from a flooded convalescent home. These folks are scootin' around in wheelchairs, not really noticing much of what's going on around them, probably not being able to tell the difference between the shelch and the convalescent home. But they do know when it's time to eat.

One of the older gentlemen who was not in a wheelchairwe'll call him Timwas wandering around trying to use a stick of gum as a key to get into his house (which was a utility closet) and he broke a fire alarm trying to use it as a telephone. He also had a very aged and sick dog who was throwing up...and doing other, nastier things...all over the floor. Before too long, Tim got shipped off to the hospital, and his dog to the vet, but not before he made an impression on a lot of people, and his dog made a several impressions on the carpet.

Tim-ness that my husband witnessed: Tim is tucked away on a cot under the jackets in the hall, and he is still sleeping (it's 5am). Another fellow opens the door and comes out of a classroom (his temporary suite) and passes Tim with the amount of noise a mouse would make.
Tim sits up in his cot and yells, "G** d*** it all to hell! What is going ON?!"
Poor guy just whispers back to him, "I'm just walking to the bathroom. Sheesh."

Short cow story: One woman told me that although she was okay, since her house was on a hill, all the property around her was under water. This included a large pasture where a neighbor had his cattle graze. She spent part of her day tearing down part of the fence and herding the cattle up on her land because they were starting to drown.

Sad cow story: It was a woman at the veterinarian's who told me about the drowned cows that were left stranded in trees when the river started to recede. (I am grateful I did not see these.)

General note: There are 14 families (at least, by my count so far) in our ward whose homes are uninhabitable at this point. Many, many more have sustained minor water damage. And somehow, my family came through unscathed. The stupid, broken rental from hell has survived untouched. Ironic, that.

Plans: Today was more phone calls and babysitting another woman's children so she could help out at the shelch. Tomorrow, I'm going out with Jake to distribute...er, disaster clean-up kits? Don't know exactly what is in them, but supposedly, it's everything you would need to clean up your home from a diaster such as this, neatly sardined into a 25-lb plastic barrel. And Saturday will be marathon-cleaning day where the ward splits up and tackles clean-up jobs. So I'm going to bed. (I'm so, so thankful I have one, and that it is warm and dry.)

Signing off,
One Soggy Muskadillo

*Aren't you grateful that I don't have pictures of them? I am. I'd feel obligated to...ewww...post them.
**This is something you NEVER want to do, but especially in the face of a disaster, because the dumb thing never stops going off.

In the News

Would you believe it? Our soggy little town made it onto CNN News. The first four photos are our town, and starting from about frame 1:02 in the video "Washington State Storm"well, that's our town they're talking about! And that stretch of I-5 that's under 10 feet of water? That's Centralia! The second video that plays, "Floods Swamp Washington"that's ALL Centralia, and that's the Wal-Mart I...uh, used to shop at. I don't think it will be open anytime soon.

What is wrong with me that I'm excited to find this on national news?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Did You Hear about It on the News?

We've been wet. Just a little bit.

A little bit of winter rain, and the silly Chehalis River overflowed all over the I-5. Looks like it will be closed a few days, huh?

So Jeff is at home, not being able to drive to work, and I have spent a good portion of my morning on the telephone going down the ward list, calling people to see who is flooded and in need of assistance, and who is okay. Most of the names I am unfamiliar with, because most of the people on the list don't come to church at all.

Me: Hello, is this Ms. Jones?
M. Jones: Yeah. Who is this?
Me: This is Sister Urien from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I'm just calling to see if you are flooded.
M. Jones: Damn right we're flooded. What church did you say you're from?
Me: (Repeat church name, then:) If you need a place to stay, the church building on Mt. Vista has been set up as an evacuation site, and you can get a warm meal there...
M. Jones: Where is the church?
Me: (give directions)
M. Jones: (laughs) Sure, we'll be there! That is, if you have a boat to come pick us up in! How do you spell your name?

(Who cares? Your house is flooded and you're asking me how to spell my name? People sure are odd.)

At any rate, it's been an interesting day.

Us? Oh, we're fine. In a way, it's weird: look outside the window of our dear home crap home, and things look normal: wet, many puddles, but no big deal. Most of the people I've talked to are just fine. Some people I've talked to today have described told me about mild water invasion in their homes. And, of course, the people with serious water issues I haven't even talked to, because the phone lines are down and/or the electricity is shut off.

So. It looks as though we're going to be plenty busy for the next few months digging mud out of people's homes and working on general clean-up. Wish us luck.

And if you say prayers, shoot a few off in this direction tonight, would ya?