Travel Games – Trailer Park Style

Dreading the road trip to The Park last Friday, i was a bit cranky when i rousted my 20-something sprogs off to the car.  Definitely grumpy, edgy and not looking forward to what might lie ahead, we piled into The Girl’s car – which is the newest in my fleet of shitmobiles, and has an actual back seat (uncluttered by sk8erboy shrapnel).

The Girl called “shotgun”, which brings with it DJ responsibilities*.  This left The Boy – bored – in the back seat.  About halfway into our 60 minute funerary commute, he asked her if he could smoke to help pass the time.  “No”.  End of discussion. 

Following the path that we all instinctively know**, he proposed a travel game: “Bitch or Dude”.  The rules are simple.   As you approach a car, each of us had to “profile” the vehicle – looking at make, model, color as well as other “tells” (custom plates, stuff hanging from the rear-view mirror, stuffed animals in the back window, etc).  We’d then call “Bitch” or “Dude” to tag the gender of the driver.

Several elements made this game harder than it might seem.  For example, it was December 26th – a busy travel day.  We quickly realized that most of the Minivans were being driven by men.  Which led to the call of “Emasculated Dude” upon approach. 

The other challenge?  To make this fun, you pretty much need to be passing everything on the road.  Good thing i was driving… not a problem.

We would occasionally get more specific – for example, when i’d see a little souped-up wiener-mobile – a “Too Fast, Too Furious” wannabe, with spoiler, rims, and other trappings – i’d call “Douchebag”.  Or if it was a 1998 Oldsmobuick, seatbelt dragging and sparking along the pavement, with a turn signal blinking itself into oblivion?  That’d be “Old Dude”.

As we headed out after the family visit from hell, we didn’t play for about the first 20 minutes.  Post-processing the family bullshit was a bit necessary.  But once we started playing again?  Good, happy, mindless fun… chock full of discussion of stereotypes, racial profiling and gender bashing. 

God bless us everyone…

The Family Truckster

The Family Truckster

* She’s got great musical taste… and an ex-boyfriend who cranked out some killer mix-CDs.  While The Boy and i can agree on some of the classics (Doors, Bowie, Stones), i’m not a huge fan of one of his favorites, Leftover Crack… He is patient with the “Indie” stuff…

** We have other games.  For long trips?  We play “Who Sucks More?” – a game pitting all female drivers against male drivers.  If you spot someone doing an asshole maneuver, you need to ascertain gender.  On a 8 hour roadtrip with The Boy, it was “Chicks – 5 1/2, Dudes – 4”.  And the “1/2” was on me – for changing lanes in an intersection.  But since i signaled, we only counted it as a half point.  Roadtrips in autumn?  That’s when we play the “Dead Bambi Game”, counting the deer corpses along the interstate…  22 1/4 on our last drive from central Ohio to Washington, DC for a college visit a few years ago…

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Another Christmas in The Park

This year?  The Girl won the “Over-Under” bet. 

It’s become a bit of a tradition that we do a little friendly wagering as we travel south to spend our requisite “holiday time” in The Park.  This year, the wager centered on my ridiculously self-absorbed sister, S:  “How long – from the time she and i are in the room together – until she mentions the need for us to talk more?”  Anything relating to “sisterly talks”, “more time together” or the like..

The Boy picked 20 minutes, with The Girl calling “Over”.  Once i offered a prize to the winner – a Mom “ShutTheFuckUp” (STFU) card* – they reconsidered their positions, taking the competition much more seriously, yet held firm.  His logic?  S would launch into it from the very start, or wait until the late-afternoon “good byes”.  About a 50/50 shot.  But it wasn’t until we were all packing up to go that she descended into a drawn out,  banal monologue about our need to “really talk more this year”…

The visit wasn’t all that bad.  At first.  It was at the home of my brother, T, and his wife, K.  They’d generously offered to host us all on the 26th, to avoid the frenetic Christmas Day trooping from place to place that happens to folks who have many grandparents – not to mention multiple sets of parents – in the same town.   i ate some cookies, and wandered off to play Wii cow racing with my 5 year old nephew, Little T**. 

Other than my recent bout of verbal diarrhea, the drama this year was around my brother and his family.  This was also the topic that set me off during the Thanksgiving event… T and his wife are happy.  They are doing well.  They live within their means.  K is his third wife, and she just happens to be a little younger than his two daughters from his first marriage.  And their son, Little T, is younger than Ts three grandchildren from those first daughters.  Yeah, you kinda need a white board to diagram this, but hang with me, here…  T also has three teenage boys from his second marriage.  That’s six children, for those of you keeping score at home.

Mom, S, and my niece, DQ, like to rant about the fact that T and K rarely come around, call, or join in any drama games participate in family events.  i’ve spent a bit of time with T and K, and it makes sense to me.  They have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps financially – and have been frustrated seeing Mom and S repeatedly underwrite the financial irresponsibility of DQ and her clan…  They have no use for the drama.  Never mind that Mom is a complete buzzkill – has nothing positive or pleasant to say about anyone or anything.  Whenever they do come around? All they hear is “You never come around”.  Doesn’t really make for a good time…  i completely understand why they are a bit scarce…

We haven’t seen T’s three boys for about 2 years.  His second ex-wife became a born-again christian after she remarried, and home-schooled the boys.  Recognizing the threat that our heathen family presented, she wasn’t particularly accommodating about holiday visits.  This year, since the oldest boy has his drivers license, they were able to escape for the afternoon to visit with our family.

Awkwardness for the boys, for sure, but there were moments to chat, catch up, and reconnect a little.  But as they were packing up to leave because the oldest son had to get to work?  Mom started to lecture them.  Informed them that she didn’t even recognize them when she arrived since it had been so long since she’d seen them***.  Told them “you avoid us by choice.  YOUR choice…”.  S couldn’t resist the opportunity to pile on.  Reminded A, the youngest of the three, that she’d seen him at a hair salon a few months ago, and said to him then that he looked just like one of her nephews she hadn’t seen in ages…

i was mortified.  “Happy Fucking Holidays, Boys!  Come back and see us real soon!  We’ll make you squirm and twist…”

Immediately started packing up, giving my kids the signal “we’re outta here before i pop a cork”, and we made our escape – but not before S got in her unnecessarily long-winded “we’re going to spend more time together this year” speech…  After about 10 minutes of that, with my brother echoing like a greek chorus “yes, we’re going to do it”, my sister-in-law, K, shut it down quite nicely with “Great!  Enough talking about it.  Let’s just do it…”. 

i’ll show up.  i’ll be nice.  i’ll show up.  i’ll be nice.  i’ll bring jello shots.  i’ll show up.  i’ll be nice.  i’ll keep my mouth shut.  i’ll be nice.  i’ll show up….

must. up. medication.

must. increase. medication.

* The winner of the coveted STFU award can throw it back at me in the future when i’m tearing their sorry asses apart providing motherly guidance without taking a breath.  The STFU block only lasts for five minutes, but this is considered a nifty gift on occasion. Upon winning?  The Girl asked if she could re-gift it to The Boy, as he seems to be the more frequent target of my tirades… He recommended that she hang onto it.  With her return to the country, she was just as likely to need it…

** No, i certainly did not let him win.  Makes ’em tough, and prepares them for the real world.  “You gotta hit the scarecrows, or you’ll never score enough points to beat me!”  He was cool about it…

*** Couldn’t have anything to do with her eyesight?  Cataracts, macular degeneration?  Naw…. couldn’t be that…

T-shirt Friday: Galapagos Style

While banging around in South America, stumbled upon this gem in the airport at San Cristobal, Galapagos.  While my friends were loading up to head to the dock for boarding, i frantically snagged one of these…. with nursemyra in mind!

Happy T-Shirt Friday!  Not sure who else is playing along, but nursemyra is in the game…

Boobies rock.  Fully.

Boobies rock. Fully.

In case you’d like to read more about boobies, here’s a little bit more info.  Like all the critters in the Galapagos, boobies have no fear of man.  Or woman.   Took this shot from about 2 feet away…

Fearless Boobies of the Galapagos
Fearless Boobies of the Galapagos

Oooh – gnukid has joined in

Breaking news:  Sledpress and Renal Failure have popped in with t-shirt friday moments!

Hope…

i’m not much on ‘glurge’.  and i’m not much on ‘sports glurge’ in particular…

but this one got me…  maybe it’s the bottle of wine i consumed with a pal tonight.  maybe it’s the christmas spirit.  hell, maybe it’s just the fact that i don’t want to leave a post about dog poo up for christmas…

redemptive nuggets of humanity are out there… and sometimes, you can find* them in the sports pages…

Hope.  It’s not all that hard when you think about it. 

Best. Gift. Ever.

yes.  another puppy.  that's the ticket...

yes**. another puppy. that's the ticket...

* i found it here.  cool guy… has a cow…

** image sourced here.  mesmerizing…

Death-Wish, Doggie Style

Is it possible for a dog to have suicidal tendencies?  Perhaps.  There’s a case from The Trailer Park where a miserable Pekingese hung himself on my sisters basement stairs, but that’s a story for another day… This one falls, unfortunately, in the category of “current events”.

Mr. Pickles has once again survived an attempt at “Death by Chocolate”.  Last christmas, after The Girl stayed up all night baking a double batch of Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscotti, we were faced with a morning mystery.  While at work, i received a call from The Irate Girl, asking if i’d put away some of the biscotti she’d left on the counter.  Negatory… But somehow about half of it was gone.  The half that was on the edge of the kitchen counter…

Seeing a large brown animal, sporting a suspicious belly lump, skulking under the kitchen table, she deduced that Mr. P had helped himself to some chocolatey goodness when no one was looking… Fortunately, he is a large pup, and the chocolate was dilute enough, that he only had a serious bout of ‘doggie drizzlies’, with no need for veterinarial follow up… 

Chocolate can be deadly for dogs.  A few years ago, we had to hospitalize our smaller, yet more ferocious dog, Turbo, when she ferreted out the 2lb box of dark chocolate truffles, beautifully wrapped and under the tree*.  Not only was she tweaking like a cokehead, she’d either heaved or shat approximately 2lbs of chocolate-colored lugubrious secretions all over my kilim rug.  Which went directly to the dumpster…

After my holiday baking frenzy on Sunday, i’d carefully placed all potential hazards out of reach.  Most on the kitchen bar, but one tray of Chocolate-Peppermint Brownie Thingies** on the counter next to the sink.  Counter tops in this kitchen are a bit higher than the old one, so i didn’t think they were at risk…

Returning home around midnight from a holiday pub run, i found Mr. P slinking around the kitchen… looking guilty.

Guilty Brown Dog

Exhibit A: Guilty Brown Dog

And shortly thereafter, spied the half-empty tray of choco-peppermint death nuggets…

Mint Chocolate Drizzlies... which perhaps should be renamed...

Exhibit B: Mint Chocolate Drizzlies... which perhaps should be renamed...

Despite being five pints gone, i was able to do the math and make the connection… He wasn’t tweaking, so i reloaded his water bowl and hoped that the dilute levels of chocolate in his large brown body wouldn’t be toxic.  i then proceeded to yell at him, as he cowered in the corner.  The really cool thing about dogs?  You don’t need to hit them.  It’s overkill.  With just my voice, i got the little junkie to sit in the corner like the only subservient wormboy at a sadists convention.  Where he stayed even after i left the room.

i left him to stew as i got ready for bed, eventually “made up” with him, and he hopped up and snored on the adjacent pillow as if nothing was wrong.  Which it wasn’t.  Until i got up this morning.  And smelled it… wafting up from downstairs…

In the theater room.  In a perfect nautilus arc, which is his signature.  A choco-poo slime trail on the carpet, just inside the door.  Not, mind you, on the indestructible vinyl plank flooring*** i’d just had installed in the billiards room.  A mere two feet away… yes, he had to walk farther to get to the carpet. 

The mutt defies death yet again – barely.  Big critter can handle his chocolate.  The Girl didn’t kill him last year, and i didn’t take him down this year. Yet.

——————-

* Will never forget the call from a twisted, sarcastic veterinarian, who had just pumped Turbo full of emetic (Ipecac) to make her cac.  His words: “Just wanted you to know, we found the cherry…”.  Ewwww….

** They sound better than they taste…

*** i chose this stuff for it’s indestructibility.  Guaranteed to be waterproof, i’ve already tested it, and certified it “beer-proof”.  The Boy has also provided a testimonial that it’s impervious to blood, and perhaps a few other body fluids…

Sort of getting there…

Spending a few days with the kidlets helped.  Having a nice drama scuff up with the family definitely brought back the emo-memory*.  But it has been the time in the kitchen that’s really started to do the trick.  Spent an entire day yesterday baking.  Some cookies, some biscotti and assorted bits and tasty things to give to friends…

Mr. Pickles decided to help.  i’m pretty sure i washed my hands after i petted him with flour all over me… it’s ok.  Dog fur adds fiber…

you know you wanna give me the chocolate, lady

you know you wanna give me the chocolate, lady

Oh, and the decorations.  The neighbors have done it up right.  i just don’t have stuff on hand to decorate outdoors.  So i found some mini-ornaments and hung them on the dead chrysanthemums still on my front porch.  i think it’s lovely… perhaps some lights?

they'll resurrect themselves for easter

they'll resurrect themselves for easter

* like muscle memory, only emotional.  they can poke at me with a word or gesture, and dredge up decades of annoyance and frustration.  only family….

Why yes, that is a bullet hole…

Right foot.  .22 caliber if i had to call it… Missed the bones, but will take a few months to fully heal.  Shot from close range, but no powder burns…

Doing last minute preparations before a dinner date last night, and the phone rings.  My initial assumption is that it’s my date, calling to stand me up because he got a better offer… but it was Mom.  Uh oh… Trouble in The Park.

Mom simply asked if i was busy, and had a few minutes to talk.  Out of the ordinary for sure – and clearly not the emergency call i’ve come to expect.  Whew.  i let her know that i had plans for dinner, and would need to leave shortly but absolutely had time to talk.

Winging it’s way toward me from left field came the following:

Mom:  S (my ridiculously self-absorbed 56 year old sister) feels as though you’re discriminating against her.  That you’ve been mad at her since May*, and she is very hurt.

Wandering out to the dining room to sit down, The Boy and The Girl are mucking around, packing up gear to head back to their apartment for a few days… they quickly realize that it’s a “Drama Alert” from The Park after i launch into a short, passive-aggressive rant…

Now, back at Thanksgiving i was pretty fed up with the lot of them.  As i described to a few folks “i’m two chocolate bars short of giving a shit”.  i was prepared to level them.  The timing on this bit of tele-drama was pretty bad from that point of view…

Not sure exactly what i said, but it was a monologue along the lines of – “No, i’m not mad.  ‘Discriminating against her’?  Huh?  i mean, i get frustrated when everyone down there rolls around in the drama, and when people start barking about T(my prodigal brother).  Shit, i mean no one down there really knows me much, or seems to care much about what’s going on in my life, so i’ve just gotten used to it.  It’s ok, though.  i’m not mad.  It’s about meeting people where they are, and i know i’m not going to change anyone, so i just accept the family for who they are and go about my business… i’ll do anything to help, will always come down for get-togethers.  i love you all dearly, but it’s not my job to manage the relationship between S and T, or anyone for that matter….”

Taking a breath, i finally ask Mom “what the hell was it that S was upset about?”

Mom:  Well, DQ and i got Christmas cards from you that had a nice letter, with photos in it… and S didn’t get one with her card, so she thought you just didn’t want to share it with her….

daisyfae:[shocked briefly into silence]  Oh, fuck, Mom… that was a MISTAKE!  i was slamming the letters into the cards on my lunch hour so i could actually get them mailed before February this year, and must have missed one.  i didn’t do it on purpose…. oh, fuck…. no…. please tell her it was an oversight, i can understand why she might be a little miffed… i’ll get a note out to her tomorrow, with an apology…

In the meantime, The Boy and The Girl are sitting on the steps, amused while watching me twist athletically in midair.  The Boy pantomimes shooting himself in the foot.  The Girl just shakes her head sadly…  i mouth the words “BLOG POST”. 

Finally reassuring Mom that nothing is wrong, that i’m fine, love them all, and don’t want there to be any trouble whatsoever over the holidays.  My eyes were doing about 45 rpm in my head at this point – wondering how the hell i was going to avoid holiday drama…

As my date arrived, my phone rang – S was calling.  Oh, no.  i let it go to voicemail… Didn’t Mom tell her i was on my way out for the evening?  i didn’t even bother to get the message until much later.  The final twist?

S:  I found the christmas letter – it was still in the envelope.  Sorry I felt the way I did.  We need to talk.  I think you need someone to talk to.  Maybe we should get together sometime and have a long sisterly talk**.  You don’t have to go through things by yourself.  I want you to know I’m there for you and love you.***

a little more to the right.... that's it!

a little more to the right.... that's it!

*oh, no… it goes back MUCH further than May!  that was just when i instructed her to watch the Lion King and stop the fucking hospital dramatics.  Her insistence that she be allowed to “help” me through the breast cancer was when my tolerance meter pegged out at “Argh”…

** MY BRAIN SCREAMS AT THIS THOUGHT….   Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!

*** Crap.  An apology AND a genuine kind thought!  i’ll call her.  i’ll hack up an hour or two of my life and make nice.  She means well.  Really.  But so did a few members of the Bush administration…

Hormones – one man’s point of view

During a belated birthday dinner tonight with The Boy, we wandered through a discussion of holiday logistics, where the kids would be going on what day and all that.  i’m not fussy… just want some ‘hang time’, and i don’t care if it’s christmas eve, christmas morning or whatever.

This led to a discussion of the latest fun with their dad and his live-in girlfriend.  They’ve both been irritated by her inability to let go of their father long enough to let them have time alone with him.  Oh, and the fact that she barks at him all the time…

The Boy:  She’s just fucking crazy.

daisyfae:  All women are a little bit crazy.  Can’t help it.

The Boy:  Yeah, but she’s totally predictable.  You just know what’s going to set her off.  With you?  i NEVER know what it’s going to be… at least there’s some element of surprise to keep it interesting.

Oh, no you didn't...

Oh, no you didn't...

Return of Danger Monkey

The Girl is home!  After 4 months in Beirut, she was successfully retrieved from the airport*, minus one bit of checked luggage, and none the worse for her adventures!

She used her time well, visiting the north, the south, The Cedars, Tripoli and everything in between.  Scariest thing that happened to her during her stay (besides this)?  An elevator ride in JFK Airport, NYC.  As the elevator shook violently, her thought was “Damn!  After all that I’m going to die in a fucking airport elevator!”.

We returned, killed a bottle of wine, hung out with The Boy and swapped pictures and stories until way too late for this old lady with a pesky day job.  All’s well – for the moment – in this little corner of my trailer park…

At Musa Castle, Lebanon

At Musa Castle, Lebanon

*Despite predictions of a killer ice storm, raining death and destruction… which never materialized.  Not a damn flake of snow.  Yep.  It’s winter here

Merry Christmas From Heaven

Dad died in April, 2001.  That year at Christmas?  Mom felt compelled to give us each a special gift…  to help us cope with the loss over the holidays.  i find it every year as i drag out the decorations.  Thought i’d share it…

Hangin' with Jeebus...

Hangin' with Jeebus...

The ornament says “Merry Christmas from Heaven” around the periphery, with a nicely rhymed poem in the center:

I love you all dearly
Now don’t shed a tear,
I’m spending my Christmas
With Jesus this year.

Accompanying the ornament?  A longer poem, which also rhymes smartly*.

I still hear the  music
I still see the lights
I still feel your love
on cold wintery nights

I still share your hopes
and all of your cares
I’ll even remind you
to please say your prayers

I just want to tell you
you still make me proud
You stand head and shoulders
above all the crowd

Keep trying each moment
to stay in His grace
I came here before you
to help set your place

You don’t have to be
perfect all the time
He forgives you the slip
If you continue the climb

To my family and friends
please be thankful today
I’m still close beside you
In a new special way.

I love you all dearly
now don’t shed a tear
Cause I’m spending my
Christmas with Jesus this year.

She meant well.  i know she did.  But if my daughter were an atheist, i’d like to think i’d know it.  And i sure as hell wouldn’t be dropping this kinda shit on her for Christmas…  How did my family respond?  My next oldest sister, T?  Probably lost it in an airport trashcan before she hopped a plane for home.  Brother?  i bet he has it around the house… somewhere…  Oldest sister, S?  She was delighted with it – perhaps shed a tear.  Certain to be prominently displayed on her tree.  i’m glad it gave her some comfort.  i just wish it were that easy for me…

Reminds me of a favorite Kurt Vonnegut story.  Mr. Vonnegut, a well known humanist**, was asked to eulogize his friend Isaac Asimov, also a well known humanist.  He opened the eulogy with “Isaac’s in heaven now” and was delighted to be hit with a blast of thunderous laughter.  As he later recounted “It was quite awhile before order could be restored. Humanists were rolling in the aisles”.

So i guess Dad’s in heaven now.  Hangin’ with Jeebus…. not to mention Kurt and Isaac….

*snort*

_________

* The rhyming of “cares” and “prayers”, as well as “proud” and “crowd”?  Literary genius!  i mean, they aren’t even spelled the same way!

** Humanists reject superstition, and the supernatural and do not believe in (nor waste time thinking about, or praying to) a supreme being.  Humans can fix their own problems, and there is no heaven – dead is dead.  We just need to look out for each other while we’re here… be kind and all that…. Kurt Vonnegut and Isaac Asimov were both honorary presidents of the American Humanist Association at different times… Those are the wonderful folks who are bringing the international ad campaign – “Why believe in god?  Be good for goodness sakes!” –  to the US…