Tuesday, June 30, 2009

And you thought Jerry Springer was making this up

My daughter-in-law's father's family belongs on Jerry Springer. They need a regular feature. Sadly, they may not be unique enough to make the cut.

In today's episode, sister Cathy & girlfriend Vivian have refused to allow the daughters to have any part in the "celebration of life" ceremony after they (FINALLY) cremate the father. Cathy says the daughters abused the grandparents (a lie of course). They will be tossing out ashes to all and sundry, but not the daughters.

Poor Katy is a mess, as are her sisters. While I couldn't give a rat's patooty about cremated ashes, they mean something to her. I would like to be able to help her, but feel pretty powerless.

I mean, I could go beat up the cow, but let's face it... she'd mop the floor with me. I already gave her the "freeze" (southern thing, I think) but she was such a dumb heffa she didn't notice. Legal action is possible, but how can it not end up sounding like Judge Judy? "I want my daddy's ashes." "You were a brat as a child so you can't get any."

I think one of those judges would set them straight after all. But that's not going to happen.

Bob says he doesn't want to make a judgement since he doesn't know both sides. I told him that there was a time for justice and empathy for the other side, but this wasn't it. It isn't our job to rule on who is right. It's our job to stand by Katy and glare at anyone who hurts her.

Maybe I need to write a book. There are lots of signs pointing me that way. Not the most recent but the most piercing was from a novel, that a writer is a person who actually sits down and writes. Puts in the time, takes the chance. Aside from the fact that I need to kill off a few dozen people who have been irritating the crap out of me for many years, I feel ready to take the chance. Maybe.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The monday after the vacation

In about 30 minutes, Bob and I will head back to work after a week off. I hope I can find my desk. Bob will not be answering the phone today, since he will be plowing through messages. I have no idea what awaits me, but it's sure to piss me off.

There will be no big problem. The women in my office will have taken care of the payrolls, most tax returns, regular bookkeeping. They may even have cleared the file cabinets. But there are things they can't do. I can hope that my boss spent some time in this office and handled pressing matters. I'll be depressed if there is an emergency from last Monday on my desk.

I am just working myself up. Everything will be fine. I'll have little more than the crap I left. The tax returns for clients who opened for business over a year ago and need to take care of everything (including a pile of letters from the IRS & the SCDOR) RIGHT NOW. The tax return that was brought in two months ago that has been pushed aside while I do 12 months of bookkeeping for the client about to lose his licenses. The technical publications that will help me figure out how to help clients for next year.

OK, well here I go...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bertie's everyflavored Blog-farts

I have been gone a week and I am totally out of touch. After I check-off some items on my chore list, I'll try to catch up with all of my blogging buddies. I have really missed them this week.

I went to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Conference in Washington DC. It was spectacular, especially for a bumpkin like me. I am amazed at the brilliant ideas for choices in education that have been established throughout the nation. I'm thinking about what might work in Columbia, and what niches might be met. For instance, there are elementary schools (in SC too, I think) where everything is taught in French. I don't speak French, unfortunately, but I'd like my children to be able to speak as many other languages as they can master or even pick up. That's just one program, and the rest of the curriculum is excellent, of course. Anyway, I'll muse on that stuff more at my other blog The Matriarch's Corner, where I pretend to know something about stuff and try to use complete sentences. Not really.

We stayed at the Renaissance on 9th Street. It was a lovely hotel and the concierge was helpful and the mattress was really comfortable and the shampoo smelled really nice. And it was right next to the convention center. But, being a country bumpkin, I can't understand why, if we pay $300 a night convention rate hotel fees, we have to pay $12.95 a day for Internet service. And $2.50 for a soft drink. And $25 a day to park. OK, I admit it... I'm a provincial mouse. I have stayed at Best Westerns (and other hotels) with free Internet, comfortable bed and shampoo that didn't make my hair fall out. They didn't have a concierge, but when we asked the desk clerk where to eat, she said there was a really good Greek restaurant about a half mile away. It wasn't in the middle of DC, of course. And I know $300 a night is chump change for a nice hotel in a big city. And the mattress was comfortable. But, good grief, how do rich people stay rich when they waste so much on conspicuous consumption? I really am a hick, ain't I?

I love DC. Even though the streets are jammed with cars and buses full tourists and government workers and lobbyists and diplomats and everything else, the city's layout is logical. I love the fact that the streets are named after famous letters and numbers. I know the order, once I get the NW/NE stuff straight. The metro and bus system is just as clear, even for tourists. I love color-coded metros.

And DC has so much STUFF. My sister Ellen & I only toured one day, but it was great. We had hop-on/hop-off bus passes on the open-topped bus. I recommend that as a way to go. We saw more of the city than we would have if we'd tried to drive. We got to pick our stops and concentrate on the sites, not the parking. The pass was good for two days, so Dad, Bob, Ellen's husband Paul, Joseph, Mark, & Roslyn toured on Monday as well.

I saw the Vietnam Memorial for the first time. There were flowers for father's day, I think. Mark kept asking if I was OK, but I couldn't really explain.

At the Korean Conflict Memorial, there were Korean marines --- veterans and younger men. It was very moving.

On Wednesday, we went to the Capitol to tell our Senators and Congressmen we support Quality Public Charter Schools. That was cool, even though we met with staffers, mostly. The staffers were very knowledgeable and interested. We were supposed to meet with Congressman James Clyburn in person, and most of our group probably did. His office is in the Capitol building, so the security is tighter. I'm sure it's our fault for not realizing this, but we had a rather unpleasant encounter with a pompous security guard. We also had a wonderful encounter with a woman at the Sgt at Arm's desk who went out of her way to help us.

A staffer from Congressman Brown's office took us to where we go through security to get into the Capitol. The other office buildings had security, but other than having to take off my stylish belt, it wasn't a problem. At the Capitol, we got in the wrong line and someone said we could go the other way. Following directions, we walked in that direction. There was a metal detector there, so it's not like we were jumping the security. But Officer Odie started yelling, "LOOK OUT YOU HAVE SOME RUNNER'S!" We didn't pay attention because we didn't know WTF he was talking about. When he grabbed us, we explained what we were doing. God, what an ass. So we headed over to the Sgt at Arms desk, where two women checked our IDs and gave us passes. Ellen wasn't with us, so I asked the lady what Ellen should do to get in. She said she'd get her, asked me what she was wearing and run upstairs to find her. It took two tries, but she got her and got us through. BUT THEN, we went back to the metal detector where Officer Odie starts yelling, "LADIES!" like we are supposed to know the dumb f he is talking to us. Then he tells us our bags are too big and we have to do something but I'm not sure what. One alternative was to put them in our congressman's office, but our congressman's office was in the capitol building. So I said, "Fine." And we left. I understand the need for security, & I don't expect security people to be overly friendly, just professional. I don't see the need for pompous rudeness. And the fact that the lady (I think her name was Bobbie) was soooo helpful stands in stark contrast. We were really looking forward to talking to Congressman Clyburn, too. Oh well. Maybe we can invite him to the school.

On the way up to Washington, we visited my cousin Karla and her family in Leesburg VA. They were so welcoming! (Chris --- thanks for letting us use your bed and sorry for ruining your Wii golf score.) Along with great talk, great food, and great coffee, Karla took us to the Mannasses battle site even though she's probably been there a million times.

On the way back, we saw my aunt & uncle, Ellie & Cec in Shadyside Md. Cousin Jay and his cool family came to visit, but we had sort of dropped in (not literally, but only a couple days warning) and they had other plans. It was good to see them all.

Between Karla & Frank's house and Ellie & Cec's house, I am inspired to get rid of a lot of my junk and only keep stuff we love. Frank is a Navy officer, so they have traveled a good bit. I think it's the moving that honed Karla's simple but elegant & comfortable decorating style. Ellie & Cec have lived in the same house for 40 years maybe, and you can see layers of collected things reused in a new way. But no clutter. We'll see, but wanting is the first step to realizing, right?

The weather was perfect the whole time. It was in the 80s with a breeze. With the right shoes, I could have walked all day.

It's great to be home. Time to start deciding what I really love... other than the husband, the children and the babies, of course.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

To all of the Fathers

Happy father's day to all of the fathers, none of whom will read my post.

To my Dad, I love you & I am grateful that you have reached a point in your life when you can respond, "I love you" instead of "thank you" or "me too." Thank you for the stories and the sense of humor (even if you sometimes don't get mine) and the sense of self that you have given us.

To Mr. Bob, the father of my husband, I love you and I am grateful for all of your support, love and kindness that you have given me since I married your son. Thank you for the love and stories and sense of justice and mercy you share with us. Thank you for raising a fine son.

To Bob, the father of my children, I love you & I am grateful that you are snoring right beside me right now. You are a wonderful father and wonderful husband. When I see you with your grandchildren or even with other people's children, I am awed by your rapport with the little people. What can I say about a man who sees a dirty diaper and changes it? A man who willingly takes five children (ages: 11, 9, 3, 1.5, & .5) to a pool? And even though it is harder to be a father to older sons, I admire the way you are learning to step back and let them be. I have noticed you say "hello" before you say "did you get a job" these days.

To Robert, my son who has two boys of his own, the father of my grandchildren, I love you and I am grateful that you have grown into a strong, kind, loving man. You will take the best of your father & your grandfathers and make it your own. You will learn from our mistakes then make some of your own. But it's OK, cause kids love you and will turn out fine. Mostly. (Lock the bedroom window.)

And finally, to Joseph who is not a father yet and who should not take this as a push in that direction. Take your time and grow into the man you will be, but let me tell you that I have no doubt that you will be a great father. I see you with your nephews and it brings me joy to see you love them and care for them.

Happy Father's Day, to all of the men who have stepped up. Thank you all.

Friday, June 19, 2009

BFF = and off we go

I continue the BFF tradition, even though it occurred to me that I ALWAYS write blog farts. Almost always. Oh well.

Last night we drove to the funeral of my daughter-in-love's father. It was a very difficult time for her and her sisters, because his girlfriend and brother and sister have decided to act as if he didn't have children. As a small example of the smallness of these people: they made a photo montage DVD for the "family" gathering. They made two copies: one for his father & one for his girlfriend. When the daughters asked for a copy, they were told they would have to pay $35 each. "Why would you want it anyway?" they were asked.

I have seen excellent stepmothers (Kim jumps to mind, of course), and so I know a woman can love her husband's children as her own. I cannot imagine the smallness and weakness of this woman's heart. I cannot image the spoiled selfishness of the father who was cherished by his own parents but didn't know how to love his children. I am appalled by the hypocrisy of the person who said, "He never hurt anyone in his life." I don't expect you to get up and say "He deserted his children when his first wife left him after years of abuse, but God loves him anyway," but don't lie. There were severe thunderstorm warnings already.
Today we are driving to Virginia to stay for a couple of nights with my cousin. Sunday we will go to Washington, D.C. My sister & I will attend the national public charter schools convention while my husband, sons, father, brother-in-law, and niece tour Washington. Mark went a few weeks ago and is looking forward to showing off his favorite things. Ellen & I will tour with them on Sunday in a bus deal where you can get off and see stuff then hop back on when you are ready to move on. No traffic.
I like travel from a theoretical point of view, but the process makes me very unhappy. I can't find enough clothes for everyone. I'm pretty sure the hotel at the conference is going to be a mess. I know we can't afford the trip. But then, my kids really need to travel. See relatives at times other than funerals. Be a part of someplace other than home. I sort of think my anxiety is a protective mechanism. If I worry hard enough and well enough, nothing bad will happen. The trick I am learning as I get older is to do the necessary worrying without letting anyone else know.
I will have a small laptop on the trip. I don't know if I can get the wireless connection to work, but I hope so. So I will either blog on or take a break. Like usual.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Why I am not speaking to my husband

Today is going to be a long day. We both have to finish up projects at work. I have to go to my second job and run a payroll. Then we are going to drive to a funeral two hours away, then come back. THEN (because we are like that) we are going to pack for our trip to Washington. We will leave sometime tomorrow, probably midday.

That is not why I am not speaking to my husband.

This morning, I woke up to the FOX news morning bimbos discussing the economic crisis. In their particularly whiny, silly way, they were 'llowin' as how it's UNAMERICAN to prevent CEOs and other top dogs from raping companies for their own benefit even though it hurts everyone else in the country and the world. Individual rights, to the point of selfish, materialist greed that destroys the economy is WHAT WE ARE FIGHTING FOR. (Note that these same people do not think an individual should be allowed to marry who he or she choose even though it hurts no one and may even help the economy). Now, I believe that individuals should do what they want, but every country needs a dose of community spirit. While it doesn't hurt the community to have three morons spout their opinions (and actually, that applies to the other cable stations too --- who cares what a journalist thinks?) it does hurt the community if CEOs rape the company. And then to call that patriotism... well that explains a lot.

It does not explain why I am not speaking to my husband.

So I said, oh for pete's sake, I'm already having a crappy day, do I have to listen to this $&!#?

And Bob jumped up from his sleep (because he had turned on the TV and gone back to bed) and yelled at me. And I said, screw it, watch whatever the %^&* you want, your holy heiny. I tried to slam the door on the way out, but our doors don't slam well. It took me three tries to slam the bathroom door.

Then I came downstairs, started the coffee, straightened the kitchen and got on the computer.

And while this will blow over, I am still starting my day with a headache, a bad feeling, and a bit of shame that I acted like a twit, no matter how great the provocation.

I really need to learn to breath.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What's happened since Friday

Katy got out of the hospital on Friday, which was great. She is still weak, which is not great.

On Sunday, her father died. He had been in the hospital for several weeks, with Katy by his side until she got sick. She divided her time talking to doctors and nurses, helping her father, and driving her family around. It is amazing to me how much she did. It is no wonder she got sick. Unfortunately, as is normal but unpleasant in times of stress, some of her family members were less than grateful. In fact, there was a great deal of complaining when she went to the beach after spending an entire week with her father, in the hopes of recuperating.

The funeral is Thursday, and then Katy's grieving will begin.

Friday, we (Bob, me, Mark & Joseph) leave for Washington DC. I am going to a National Charter School Association convention. It should be interesting, but I'm underwhelmed with the offers for reasonably priced uniforms, multiple choice test kits, and traditional desks that we are getting. Since Carolina School for Inquiry is a child-centered, inquiry-based public charter school, we don't do those things. But I'm hoping for lots of information about grants, marketing, and stuff. I'm really looking forward to the goodies that these people better be giving out. Pens of course, but I want some good stuff.

In the mean time, Bob and I are trying to get ahead at our respective workplaces so that they won't fall apart while we are gone. It's not a piece of cake, but there is a certain amount of satisfaction in crossing off items on the to-do list.

And now, I've finished lunch (two red, two orange, and some green so far today) and it's time to get back to the expanding to-do list.

Friday, June 12, 2009


It's Friday morning, 6:13 a.m. I've been up since about 4:30. I almost wrote this post last night, because I'd forgotten what day it is. I suppose this is just a warning that these BFs may be stinkier than even I usually do.
My daughter-in-law has been in the hospital all week. I am a terrible person who doesn't go visit people in the hospital. I am going today, but it really didn't hit me until yesterday that I ought to go see her. We have been taking care of the babies while Robert stays with her at night. Fortunately, they go to daycare during the day, but getting them ready is a struggle. It's been awhile since I've had to deal with small things that don't dress themselves.
I've been back from the beach for a week and still haven't managed to catch up on blogging. The house is a mess, but that's normal. I have gotten a lot of productive stuff done at work. That's something.
We got a mini-laptop. I'm going to set up a home network so I can blog in the hammock. That will last about a week, maybe, before the mosquitoes and the tropical humidity chase me back inside. But at least I'll be able to get on the computer.
Last night we went to a family night at the zoo. It was lots of fun, even though we had a severe thunderstorm right before and right after the event. The tiger looked like he thought we were extremely stupid not to know when to come in out of the rain. I forgot my camera and had to use my phone camera, which sucks. At least I can blame the camera and not my own pathetic photography non-skills.
Brendon is now 9 months old and the ladies at the day care say that he is ready to move beyond baby-mush. I sort of knew that, since he grabbed his brother's chicken nugget and gummed down half of it before I could get it from him. He ate beet salad and seemed to like that. I think it's important to give babies weird foods so they have a base-line taste for it. I don't mean sushi, of course. I think you have to be two to eat sushi.
I am mentally reviewing my to-do list and feeling tired. Everyone who went to the beach has some sort of cough and cold kind of thing. Katy (my daughter-in-law) got a kidney infection, but she was under a lot more stress. I'm very concerned about her, since they think she has an underlying problem that contributed to the kidney infection, but don't know what it is. Can extreme stress cause a kidney infection? Is fibromyalgia hereditary? If a patient is on medicaid, does the hospital staff work as hard? (The people I know who work in hospitals do. Are they the exceptions or the rule?)
Time for the rest of the family to rise and shine... or at least rise.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hi Ho Hi Ho

...it's back to work I went.

I really need to buy a lottery ticket.

Although the very competent people with whom I work did a great deal while I was gone, I still could not find my desk when I walked into my office this morning. There were notes from Monday, as if they didn't know I wasn't going to be there all week. (By "they" I mean my boss, bless his heart.) So I spent about 45 minutes sorting stuff. Then I spent another 45 minutes calling people and telling them I'd help them as soon as I figured out what had been done last week. And then I worked on bookkeeping for a client who doesn't like to bring everything in on time, so I'm in June of 2008 instead of 2009. Since the county is threatening to levy his house if he doesn't pay business personal property tax, he is a high priority today. Tomorrow it will be someone elses turn, I guess.

And then I think of something another client said. She wondered if going on vacation was worth it if you came back to a pile of stuff to catch up on. I said, then, yes, it's worth it. Now, as I sit here in a house that still needs cleaning, thinking of the work that's not gotten done, and the things that I maybe should have done, I wonder: was the week at the beach worth it.

Hell yes.

It cost too much, everyone got sick, tired and sick & tired of each other (especially me and Bob), but it was great. Even the rain was better there. The food was better. The sandcastles and the pool games and even the sweet young thing whose job it was to harass us into playing dumb pool games and getting our hair braided at $1 an inch were great.

Ah, well, it's not even summer yet and we are primed. Let the good times roll.

PS: I managed to not get a tan or burn even though I went in the sun a whole lot. This is a good thing, since those are simply precancerous conditions, in my book. Yeah me!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Summer vacation & the duckwalk home

I honestly thought that I would take some time over my vacation week at the beach between trips to the pool and walks on the beach and the seven library books to catch up on reading blogs and writing my own.

I found that it is harder to write a blog when you are in the middle of the living/dining/kitchen area with a whole boatload of people. Especially my Dad, who kept saying, "Are you writing your blog?" He didn't come out and say, "Are you writing about me?" which is what my mom would have said. I'd have said, "No," then written, "Dad thinks I'm writing about him." So, technically, the answer would be yes, but nothing interesting.

Dad has heard my friends (including my sister) and me talking about things I've written. One friend has said he doesn't need to ask what I've been up to, since he reads the blog. It does save time at happy hour. I have sent my Dad my blog when I have written about him (or did I just tell him about it?)

I always write as if Dad would read it, which may surprise some people, considering how disgusting I can be. I just don't say mean things about people I know. Everyone has their boundaries. I talk about sex, money, weight, religion, and politics. I don't say ugly things about people in writing, if it's possible they will read it and sue me have their feelings hurt. When people say they don't talk about people behind their backs, I am bemused. Surely you don't say that stuff in front of their faces?

Since my general philosophy is leave me the hell alone or I'll make you the murder victim in my as yet unwritten mystery novel live and let live, I don't usually give advice to people's faces. If it will make an interesting and/or amusing story, I will talk about people. I'd like to say I didn't have anything ugly (even if it is funny) to say about anyone, but that's just not true. And I rarely lie if the truth will do just as well.

I'm not sure what my point is, originally or recently. But those are my Sunday morning musings. I think I need some grits.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Greetings from Hilton Head, South Carolina

I am at Hilton Head for the week. I seem to have a wireless connection right now, which is good because I'm addicted to the internet. I tried to send a blog post from my Blackberry, but after about a half an hour of furiously thumb typing, I got confused, pushed the wrong button and lost everything. Oh well, it was crap anyway, since I'd been stunted by the medium.

This is the walk that Bob, Gabe, Roslyn & I took this morning. The tree is a live oak, a wonderful tree that clings to the ground with branches that look like they were made for a tree mansion.

We walked about a quarter mile down the beach, which is pretty impressive considering that Gabe is only 18 months old. This is his first beach trip where he really knows he is at the beach.

Yesterday, Gabe, Brendon, Katy & I built a little sandcastle. Brendon was sitting in the title pool, as happy as a 7 month old clam in the world's biggest muddy sandbox. I saw a family looking at him, and was taken aback to see that the teenage girl looked disgusted. How can someone look at my grandbaby like that? I thought. Then I looked a Brendon, who had a full beard of sand and drool coming from his mouth. Well, you know what they say, got to eat a peck of dirt...