Friday, June 29, 2012

Sam is a Driver

Today was Sam's last day of driver's ed.  He has gone through 30 hours of classroom training.  For every hour he has had, he has also had a lesson for me about what I am doing wrong while driving.  Yesterday he told me, "Mom, you're in that semi's 'no zone'." The day before he told me how mangled my arms could get if I insist on keeping my hands at 10 and 2 like I was taught.  He said, "Back when you learned to drive, air bags weren't invented.  If you keep your hands there the airbag will break both your arms." Also, apparently you shouldn't ever have your thumbs on the inside of the wheel because they could get snapped off in an accident.   According to Sam's stories, driver's ed was mostly a series of car commercials and gory movies about teenagers and car wrecks.  The climax of which was watching Red Asphalt III earlier this week and Sam said it should have been called brain-covered asphalt.  Gross.

I think Sam's driver's ed teacher must be the world's worst driver based on all of her personal anecdotes about the horrific accidents she's been in.  Sam told me one day that if I get too close to big trucks on a motorcycle, I could get sucked under it.  Like the good mother I am I said, "Shut up! You can not!" and he said, "Yes.  It happened to my teacher." Another time he told me that you can't open the doors in a vehicle sinking in the water until it is completely filled with water.  I said, "I don't know if I believe that," and he said, "Yes. It happened to my teacher."  Sam also said that his teacher killed someone before.  I said, "Oh my god, what happened?"  He said, "Road rage," which makes me think she is teaching the class as part of some court ordered community service.  Or Sam's full of beans.

Through all he learned about "no zones," and the fragility of thumbs, and catastrophic head injuries, he never had one lesson on what I've found to be the best driving lesson:  What to do if there is a bee in the car.  I  have had more near-accidents because I was screaming about a bee (or some other gross bug) in the car I can't even tell you.  I had to learn the hard way how important it is to keep my hands on the wheel and my feet on the pedals and to keep my eyes open.  If it was up to me, when the kids took the behind-the-wheel test, I wouldn't bother with the parallel parking.  I'd just throw a bee in the car and see how they react.  If they spaz out: fail.  If they keep their cool: pass.  Easy.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

An Open letter to Stephen B. Oates, Author of Lincoln's Biography

Dear Stephen B. Oates, author of With Malice Toward None, A Biography of Abraham Lincoln,

I got your book because it got really good reviews on Amazon and on the back there was a blurb from The Washington Post that said, "The standard one-volume biography of Lincoln."  Perfect, I thought.  I want to know about Lincoln because I find presidential biographies interesting, but mostly because I like to know just a little more about common topics than average people so I can feel smug about it.

I read your book.  I liked it.  I was feeling smug.  That is until last night, when I went to see the documentary Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter and I realized that you left out a LOT.  Maybe that is why The Washington Post made a point to say that yours is only a one-volume book.  Maybe all the necessary information about the the vampire hunting goes into volume two.

Never mind that you left out little details that bring a story to life like the fact that Lincoln's vampire hunting weapon of choice was a silver tipped axe (the "rail splitter," ha ha; my ass), and that he was a martial arts master, was strong enough to cut down a big tree with one swipe of his blade, was a parkour enthusiast, and could twirl his axe better than any beauty contestant in the seventies could twirl her batons; you didn't even mention his motivation for doing all the vampire hunting:  Vampires killed his mother!  You said she died of "fever."  Boring.

You went in to great detail to outline the political shape the country was in during the time of Lincoln.  The 1850s was a tumultuous time between the South and the North because of the "peculiar institution" of slavery.  You kept saying that phrase "peculiar institution," which I just assumed was something it was called back in the old days and I didn't think twice about it.  Now I know why it was so peculiar, no thanks to you.  The South was full of vampires, feeding on slaves!  Were you afraid to tell me that because you thought it might make me think even less of the old South?  Are you from the South and don't want to make your ancestors look any worse than they already look?  Are YOU a vampire?  ARE YOU?!

You know, come to think of it, I should have known about the South's history with rampant vampirism.  I read all the Twilight books and Stephenie Meyer mentioned that when Jasper was turned into a vampire during the civil war, that the South was teeming with vampires.  My bad.  I should have paid better attention.  But still, you could have at least mentioned it.  HUGE oversight on your part.

What I am most disappointed that you left out of your book is the part of Lincoln's young adult life where he finally, finally hunted down his mother's killer and chased him with his axe amongst a bunch of stampeding horses, actually running across the backs of running horses, chasing a vampire.  Oh My God, I bet you feel so stupid right now.  Did you just slap your forehead?  You should have.  That was a MAJOR part of Lincoln's life.  He could have been killed by those horses, OR by that vampire.  It was pivotal, PIVOTAL! 

When Lincoln got in to politics he put his vampire-killing axe away in a trunk because he thought it was better to fight the epidemic of vampirism with words instead of with the axe.  He became a politician and we both know how that turned out.  But you didn't mention that in the dark days of the civil war, when he realized that vampirism couldn't be defeated with only words and he went in to that dusty old room with his old trunk and he opened it and got out his old axe and started twirling it like an old pro.  That was poignant.  I don't know why the lady sitting behind me was laughing.  You missed a real opportunity there for some good writing.

And how about when Lincoln realized that the South was winning battles with less men and inferior supplies because they were using vampires?  If it was left up to you I wouldn't even know that it was Lincoln's idea to bring artillery made of pure silver to Gettysburg!  That is not only a major part of Lincoln's life that you just totally glossed over, but a major part of  our national history.  And you call yourself a professor emeritus of history?  Do you really think you deserve that title?  The Gettysburg address has always been a powerful piece of writing, but it means so much more when you know that the entire night before he gave the speech he was fighting vampires on a train.  Holy crap, he must have been tired!  No wonder the speech was so short!

So anyway, "Professor," I just wanted to tell you that back before I knew the whole truth, I liked your book but it would have been way better if you would have mentioned what a kick-ass vampire hunter Lincoln was.  I think it might be time for volume two.  Get busy.

Sarah Lindahl

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Kira in the Car (she's really something lately)

Kira: If I was a superhero, I would like to only have one eye.

Mitch: Why???

Kira: Because I think it would be hard to cut two eyes out of a mask and make them even.  

Monday, June 25, 2012

Kira in the Car

"What if people with dimples grew little arms out of their dimples that would wipe their mouths for them?  That would be cool."

Friday, June 22, 2012

Something gross and something embarrassing

First the something gross:  My sister called me and left me a message that said, "Millie ate something DISGUSTING; guess what it was..." and she left me hanging thinking of all the gross things a one-year-old could potentially eat.  Poop came to mind.  Gross.  So I called her back and she made me guess for a while; poop? no.  A bug?  Yes.  Sure, that's pretty gross, but still, so what?  When Kira was one she ate a jar of ladybugs that Sam collected.  I didn't believe it when Sam told me that, but sure enough, the little weirdo had a little orange shell on her lip and her breath had that squished-lady-bug smell.  So I wasn't that grossed out about a baby eating a bug until she gave me the details.

Millie ate an engorged wood tick.  A wood tick like this:

Beth said that she saw something blackish dripping down Millie's chin and couldn't figure out what it was because she said, "I knew it wasn't dirt.  I don't have any plants."  So, now that she had eliminated dirt, Beth wiped off Millie's chin and thought about what it could be when Millie spit out the flattened, deflated carcass.  Beth thought it was a grayish corn kernal and then it dawned on her that Oh My God, that was a disgusting wood tick that must have been attached to the dog, filled itself with dog blood and then her baby ate it.  

We wondered how one could call the doctor and ask if dog blood passed through a tick is bad for babies without seeming like a horrible parent.  There is no way.  But we figured since she spit (most of) the blood out and then also spit out the carcass, she's probably going to be okay.  Nevertheless, I'm never touching her again.  Gross baby.

I'm not going to go into great detail about the embarrassing thing because it is about me and this is my blog so I don't have to put myself through the wringer like I would if this was someone I knew.  Let me just tell you that in a fit of hypochondria I convinced myself I was dying so I went to the doctor and after a thorough, thorough exam she gave me my diagnosis:  "You have your period."  Yeah, that's right, I'm 41 years old, have had my period for about 30 years and I panicked and went to the doctor only to have her politely tell me that I'm perfectly fine, I'm just menstruating.  I was like, "Oh.... heh heh.... better safe than sorry!... lol."  and she said, while decidedly not lol-ing, "Do you need a pad?" and then she gave me pamphlet titled, "Congratulations! You're A Woman Now" and sent me on my way.  Just kidding.  She didn't give me the pamphlet.  I would feel better if she had.  But hey, I'm not dying!  That's something!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

More Flood

Remember yesterday when I told you we had a flood and you were all like, "Yeah, okay, whatever.  It was raining here too.  Just because it rains doesn't mean you had a flood.  Geez, you are always exaggerating."

Well I wasn't exaggerating!  I don't exaggerate!  Am I spelling that right?!  I don't know!  Here's more pictures from the damage yesterday (Thanks to my friend Dana's Facebook page):

Somebody's backyard
Haines Road
Vermillion Road
Grandma's Restaurant at Central Entrance
Swinging bridge at Jay Cooke State Park

See, it's worse than you thought.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Where's the Flood?

Holy Cow, has it been raining like crazy here in Duluth!  It started the night before last and yesterday as I was all cozy, comfy on the couch, watching the lightning and torrential rain I thought to myself, "This is nice.  I wonder how long I could do this until I get sick of it?"  The answer is one day.  We live on a big hill miles above the Duluth hills so we weren't in any danger of getting flooded out, but the rain was coming down so hard that it started seeping into our basement because the water can't flow down the hill fast enough.  We got six inches by last night (that's what she said). I got up early this morning because I was planning to go to a meeting downtown but my meeting was canceled because streets are flooded all over the place.  I got on Facebook and some people were posting pictures:

I'm not sure all these pictures are about the flood.  I got a little carried away stealing pictures.  The Duluth Zoo got flooded and apparently some of the farm animals in the petting zoo drowned or escaped, and I also heard some snakes have escaped, and according to one of the pictures I posted, apparently a seal has escaped too.  That would be weird.  To go out and look at how flooded your ditches are and see a seal.  The sun is starting to come out now so I am going to GO OUTSIDE!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Would you rather...

Have a bucket full of snapping turtle eggs that are alive and thriving on a shelf in the house so the raccoons don't get them, and they will hatch at some unknown point sometime in August or September and crawl into your bed and bite your toes off before you even know they have hatched...


Have a bucket full of snapping turtle eggs that are dead and getting moldy and disgusting and you can't even check them until July 12 to see if they are "veiny" (which indicates live eggs) and alive, or moldy and gross?

Sam in the Car

We were driving along yesterday and Kira spotted some Canada geese with their ugly babies and she said, "Oh! Stop so I can get one!" and Sam, having had a volatile history with Canada geese, and in fact, having a checkered history of being victimized by almost all large-ish birds said,
"Yeah, stop so I can go punch one of those babies right in the bill.  Call it pre-venge."  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Maria Bamford

For Book Club tonight, the ladies and I went to see comedian Maria Bamford do a show at St. Scholastica.  It was great.  She is the one who does the Target ads at Christmas time.

She's really strong.

I have been a fan of hers since my aunt sent me a home-made cassette tape out of the blue and told me to listen to it.  It was one of Maria's albums and I loved it so much that I wrote her (Maria) an email and told her that I thought she was so funny that from now on I would buy her albums myself and not rely on my relatives for bootlegs.  She wrote back and said she was glad I liked it.  Nice!  So I have bought her albums since then and I have kept up with what she has been doing.  She had a web show for a while that I loved.  I'm not a huge fan of stand up comedians but for some reason I really love Maria.  She does a bit about "Christy the Christian Teen" that just about kills me, and she also does impressions of her family members that are hilarious.  One of my favorite bits she does is about leaving her mom voicemail messages from the baby Jesus.

Tonight Maria did some material about mental illness that I thought was great.  She said people still don't think of mental illness as a "real" ailment because you never hear someone say they should treat their nearsightedness or cancer with an "attitude adjustment."  I loved that.

After the show we hung around and got to chat with Maria for a few minutes because my friend Dana went to high school with her.  Dana took a picture of the two of us.

But by far the most bizarre thing that happened all night was that I was sitting in the front row of the second section and a lady in an enormous motorized barcalounger came rolling up and everyone in the row had to scooch their chairs down so she could back into her spot right next to me.  The lady was on oxygen so she had a big tank and she also had bags and bags of stuff hanging all over within arms reach.  She took out a big bottle of water and a cup and had a little drink at one point. But that's not the bizarre part.  She also had a  wiener dog on her lap who was wearing a silver necklace and a pink, gingham, halter dress. I couldn't stop looking at that stupid dog.  And the dog couldn't stop looking at me.  It was unnerving.  Other people were looking at the dog too and I think the lady was getting self conscious about it because she put a pink vest on it that said, "My name is Rosie and I'm a service animal.  Please don't pet me."  I couldn't really pinpoint what service Rosie was providing, unless having a dog indefatigably lick your nasal cannulas is a service.  If it is, Rosie was doing a great job.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Kira's Summer Project

Kira came running into the house this evening and said, "GET THE CAR! I KNOW WHERE SOME TURTLE EGGS ARE!" and she made me drive down to the river and dig up a snapping turtle nest with her on the roadside.  This has been her dream for years.  Every year we watch big snappers come out of the river and dig up the shoulder of the road and lay eggs.  Then, by the next day the raccoons have gotten every single nest.

When she was about nine, she found some eggs and put them in her pocket and ran home to bury them.  Surprise surprise, they never hatched after the half a mile jog in her hot, dirty pocket.  I think Kira must have gotten this nest on the same day that it was laid.

We took about half a dozen eggs and then re-covered the rest. Right now they are in a bucket full of road sand, on the top of her bookshelf.  If they hatch, it will be in three months.  Then I'll have a house full of snapping turtles.  My dream.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Shady Lady

Other than the yard sale I wrote about in the last post, we spent the weekend at the lake because it was so HOT.  The cabin is Kira's absolute favorite place in the entire world.  When we were driving up to the Falls on Friday, we got a few miles from home and I said to Kira, "Do you have your swimsuit?" and she didn't so we turned around and went back so she could get it.  Saturday evening we went out to the cabin and Kira said, "I forgot my suit at Grandma's.  Oh well," and then jumped in the water with all her clothes on because nothing is going to keep her out of the water.

Sam, Mitch and his brother, Mat worked on the silly little boat Mat got a few years ago that they call "The Shady Lady."

I mostly enjoyed watching Mitch work on the boat while lying on his stomach on the dock.  Look at his feet:

He would have been a fantastic ballerina.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Yard Sale

School got out last week and we already had a busy summer weekend.  We went up to Intl Falls to help my parents and sister with their big garage sale.  I put some stuff in too.

Mostly old purses and all the chicken decorations everyone and their brother gave me several years ago when I got three live chickens.  Seriously, nobody gave a second thought about what to get me for my birthday that year, if it had a chicken on it, the general consensus was that I wanted it.  I got a chicken platter, a chicken rug, chicken plates, chicken candy dishes, a metal and wood decorative chicken, a chicken key holder, a big glass chicken full of olive oil and vegetables, a chicken basket, a chicken bank, a chicken tape dispenser, a gigantic cement chicken that weighs more than a 100 pounds etc etc etc.  I brought some of the better looking chickens to sell, thinking nobody would want a bunch of chicken stuff and it would end up in the dump.  The very first lady at the sale, who arrived an hour and 15 minutes before it officially opened, bought ALL the chicken stuff and would have brought more if I had only brought it all.  DARNIT!  I should have brought it all.

I finally acquired the giant fish platter that my sisters and I have been coveting since my mom got it about fifteen years ago.  I thought I was going to have to wait until they were dead and then fight my sisters for it, but my mom decided she doesn't want it anymore so it was going to go in the sale.  First my sister Beth was going to snag it and give it to my sister Amy for her birthday (tacky), but too bad for Beth, she was at work, so I put it in my car. HA HA! Now I have the big fish platter, my sisters do not have it, and my parents are still alive.  Win win win.

I tried to sell Amy's dog again, but nobody wanted her.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Priorities and Anniversaries

Yesterday I was driving around, running errands and I heard on the radio that Venus was in front of the sun and could be seen and looked like a little black freckle.  Naturally I immediately looked up for the sun to see if I could see Venus.  As I was craning my neck around, while driving in traffic, to look directly into the sun, I heard the radio broadcaster say, "DO NOT look directly at the sun."  And I said to myself, "Oh yeah, no duh."  Then I thought, "Hey, I'm wearing sunglasses.  I could look at the sun for just a second!"  And I looked up again to see where the sun was and at just that moment I heard the broadcaster say, "It is never safe to look at the sun, even with sunglasses."  And I thought, "Crap! I want to see Venus, but I also don't want to be blind, or get into a car crash!"  So I decided to take their word for it that Venus was in front of the sun for the last time in about a hundred years and I missed seeing it myself because I value my non-burned retinas.  Priorities, man.

In other news, my parents are having their wedding anniversary today!  Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad, from your favorite and smartest (see above) daughter!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

First World Problems

It's been a stressful few weeks around our house.  The end of school always causes a little stress because I, for one, don't deal very well with transition.

Sam is stressed because if he doesn't perform well on his finals, he might not make the honor roll and if he doesn't make the honor roll he can't get his license, which has been the dream of his entire life.

Kira thinks she's going to get a B or possibly even a C in math (gasp) and she's horrified at the thought of it.  

Half my garden died within a week of my planting it.  I should have taken a picture of it.  It was so sad.  I think the plants either froze or got drown by the recent monsoons.

Mitch had a truly awful day recently and he was telling me all about it and then he ended it with, "... and to top it all off, a dragon fly landed on me, right on my lips. I couldn't slap it, I couldn't blow it away, I couldn't do anything until it flew away," which made me laugh thinking of Mitch walking around for half of his shitty day with a dragon fly on his mouth.  Turns out it was only on there for a few seconds.

Now I have to run because the hummingbird feeder is empty and the bossy little birds feel entitled to their free sugar so much that they keep bumping into the window as if to say, "Hey lady!  Get off your ass and fill the good feeder!  We don't like the other three that are almost exactly the same!"

Friday, June 1, 2012

Saggy Pants

"Excuse me, Sir?  Your butt is hanging out.
Thought you'd want to know."

In the last few years of subbing I've seen more and more of the latest in "I'm-a-badass-gangsta" fashion of wearing pants not just low, but totally below the butt.  These boys wear their pants BELOW. THEIR. BUTTS.  And they think it makes them look really tough.  They basically have to wear a belt cinched tightly across their upper thighs to prevent the pants from falling all the way off (cuz, boy would that be embarrassing!) so their clothing choice is actually hindering their movement, much like high heels (but that's another post), and their back pockets, conveniently located at arm's reach when the pants are worn properly, are waaaaaaay down behind the wearer's knees.  It looks so stupid.  Not only is it hindering their movement, but their butts are hanging out.  It's like they're trying to say, "Hi, my name is BiTchH8R (Josh) and I have no dignity."

I've seen the teachers in the high schools beg them to pull up their pants and the kids argue and tell them to stop nagging them.  This is how they want to look blah blah blah.  And the teachers plead with them by saying, "Please pull your pants up.  That looks so stupid." and then the kids inevitably get all huffy and say, "You think I'm stupid!?"  The question is never answered but the answer is always YES.

Well, today I found the solution.  I was subbing at an elementary school and had my class out on the playground.  The kindergartners were out too with the "Trailblazers," teenage delinquents from the local residential school.  I love watching the Trailblazers try to deal with the kindergartners because five year olds are not intimidated by ANYONE so the tough-guy act is totally wasted.  It turns out that after you cut through the posturing, the Trailblazers aren't that tough after all.  One of them was playing tag with a bunch of the kindergartners (or he was just running for his life, I don't know) and his big shirt came up and his butt was hanging out. When the little girl at the front of the pack saw that she stopped, pointed and screeched, "I SEE LONDON! I SEE FRANCE!" and that boy yanked his pants up so fast she didn't even get to finish.  After a while I looked around and all of the Trailblazers had their pants pulled up.  Hmmmm...

So my idea is to hire a kindergartner to come with me to every job I do next year.  They are very intimidating.  They aren't afraid of anything and nobody messes with them.  And wouldn't they have a fantastic time at the high schools pointing out how many times they see London and France?  Pants would be pulled up all over town.