Chicken Fried Vogue

For 15 years and most of her adult life, Bubblez lived in the suburbs of a major metropolitan city. She enjoyed taking her children to museums, parks, and dates at Starbucks. Then Bubblez moved to the country and her En Vogue attitude got chicken fried. Her yard is a park where the neighbor's rooster won't stop crowing, Starbucks is almost an hour away, and her large collection of fancy shoes is worthless. But, living in the acres of green has presented more opportunities for living "green" as Bubblez travels the path toward self-sufficiency (and bitches ((and prays)) along the way).

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Farts And Feral Cats

A couple of weeks ago, I was driving across the back end of the Wal-Mart parking lot, and there where there are always a lot of empty spaces (between January 5 and November 15, excepting the occasional RV convoy sometime mid-summer), I noticed a semi truck that looked like it had just been plunked down the way toddlers do with Matchbox cars. Now, I am forever seeing odd or funny things that other people completely overlook. The side of the truck was labeled with the company name, Ferrellgas. It cracked me up. In fact, I just Googled the name to make sure I had it spelled correctly, and it made me laugh, again.

So, here I am, in the middle of the parking lot, with at least one person in my vehicle who was old enough to get the joke, bent over the steering wheel laughing, when I look around, and nobody, I mean nobody can see what's so hilarious. Right? Even you might be sitting there reading this going, huh? That's what I'm saying.

Let me escort you through the kooky Seussland that is my brain. Keep your hands inside the car.

Did you know that there is a Feral Cat Coalition? I didn't either until just now, and although I probably shouldn't have, I giggled at that, too. It's only because of other ways in which I've heard the word, coalition or coalescing. Only in California..

Anyway, Ferrellgas = feral gas. Are you tracking me yet? (<---pun)
Keep the notion of gas (we're talking farts, people) in your mind while reading the following definition of the word, feral.

1: of, relating to, or suggestive of a wild beast
2: having escaped from domestication and become wild 

Are you giggling yet? If not, just go away now because you are obviously too mature to be hanging out with me. 

A few days later, I was, ironically, parked outside of a local gas station.
I parked near the building intending to run inside for a fountain pop. Another car pulls up and parks next to me, and this old, hunched over, Wimpy looking, dude (I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today) gets out and walks along the sidewalk in front of my windshield toward the entrance. I watch him for a moment. He was hobbling by somewhat slowly, and I wanted to give him time to get ahead of me so that I wouldn't have to rudely push past him on the sidewalk.

I climbed out of my car, hopped up onto the curb, and began strutting my way toward the front door, and then.. it hit me, feral gas.

Old Mr. Wimpy had left an invisible cloud floating over the sidewalk. It was rank. I know I made a face, but otherwise, I hope I kept my cool out there. You never know when someone is watching you, and if I had doubled over or held my nose and run, or, since it's me we're talking about, started hacking and stuttering profanities while dancing around in a circle with my arms flailing about like I was swatting a swarm of angry bees, no one who did happen to be watching would have had the first clue as to what my problem was, and given that this whole scene went down in Country Song, chances are that the person who saw it all would have approached me later at some inopportune time to tell me that they thought I was having a seizure or something and almost called 911. Then, everyone within earshot would be teasing me for the next six months, "Hey, Bubblez, how's that feral gas? Har har har" Hmm. Look who's not laughing now. 


Wednesday, October 24, 2012


There is no composure to my writing today. I do not plan to edit, plan, tidy style anything. There is no composure in my world today. No composure to me. I am disheveled and sniveling, sputtering words into type that my mouth won't speak. There is probably snot on my face. My eyes are swollen to slits.

Imagine this. A person in a chair with tears streaming down her face and snot attempting to drip out her nose and as she sniffs to keep the snot in, the tears that have traveled through the under eye valleys and over cheekbone hills into the little stream bed under nose mountain are being vacu-sucked up her nose. The only reason she keeps attempting to sniffle it up is to keep the nasty mucous from dripping all the way into her mouth, and where tears have a mildly pleasant salty taste, snot is just plain gross. As a passive observer in your own imagination, this scene admittedly, has a certain hilarity about it, the thought of someone sucking tears up their nose.

In reality, if you saw her, you'd look away, for no matter how evil some of us claim the human race to be, we can not stand to see each other in pain.

And she is in pain. Wracked with pain. Limp with it for she can't wipe the salty rivulets from her face or even exhale hard enough to blow the mucous away. She simply sits, head cradled on her very own shoulder, completely silent but for the occasional sniff.

I want to throw something, break something, smash a million somethings into a wall, a floor, a tree, it doesn't matter, but I can't lift my arm. I am crippled by the weight of my own heart. Cliche as that may be, it's true.

I lost someone very dear to me today, and my soul is bleeding. I am sitting in grief's belly. It smells earthy, stale, and putrid like rotting potatoes, a wretched nauseating, smell. This is the third time that grief has swallowed me. Before, I waited for it to digest me and dissolve me into nothingness. This time, I know that it will only consume a small part of me before drifting away like a dense fog, leaving me wondering how it is that I can see again. Each time, my soul bleeds into Grief's thirst, and I am left to live, but live a little more hollow, a little more empty inside walls that will be colder and harder, where once they were like the brightly colored feathers of a boa.

I've never been punched in the gut so I don't know what that feels like, but I've done 100 sit-ups and the pain in my middle feels something like that. In an attempt to pull it together and wash my face, my body doubled over, tight and weak, convulsing, unable to stand, my eyes vomiting tears into the sink. And then the sobs came, as I laid my cheek against the cool marble and wondered how I'd get through the day with my children watching me. Heavy sobs that I hope were muffled by the bathroom door.

I'm a Christian. I believe in God and heaven and an afterlife filled with perfection. I don't claim to know all that exists in the spiritual world. There are mysteries, things the Bible doesn't tell us. There are feelings and forces and deep unexplainable connections that we have together.

A friend approached me last night. I do not know the depth if his spiritual beliefs, but he chose to touch me and without saying so, but it is who he is, attempted to lift away my bad aura. He pulled and pulled at it as if there were sticky strands attached to his fingers. He's done this before, and typically, I am left feeling cheery and peaceful, but this time it was something akin to removing gum from a small girl's long hair. The strands stretched and snapped but refused to let go. In the end, he hugged me and demanded I squeeze back hard. I think he was trying to absorb it. He never said as much. I did take some comfort in that, but he pulled away and looked at me uncomfortably.

This morning I got the call. I've been expecting it for years. In Minnesota, I would lay the phone by my bed each night in anticipation of its ringing. Day after day, it was the same. When we moved here, I let the practice slip because I was close enough to watch for signs.

For over five years, I waited as her body grew weaker. There were a few close calls, sudden trips to the ER, nights spent with pneumonia in a hospital bed, but still she hung on, and the call never came. Yesterday, she had a stroke, and today the phone rang.

She was 93, and had lived far longer than she said she'd wanted to. The youngest and last to remain of 11 children, she had seen the suffering that old age can bring. She was depressed, embarrassed, tired, and often cranky, though usually not with me. "I sit and think about people," she said, "and all of them are dead."

My mother called me, and as I tried to ask questions she talked over me proceeding with the speech she had rehearsed. They would meet today to discuss arrangements, blah blah blah. "Are you ok?" to which I said yes, because at the moment I was. Then I stepped inside the house, sat on the edge of the bed, and the tears came, unwanted, unwilled, not crashing through the floodgates, but rather seeping in between cracks in the mortar and running down the walls until everything was damp, sticky, and dark, an inch of salt water having quietly pooled onto the floor refusing to drain away.

The weather is sunny and hot, today. Odd for late October, and incongruent with my suffering. I suppose I should take it as a good omen, and I hope somebody does, but I feel cheated and it makes me angry.

"One more thing
That looked like me
When it still breathed
Rest in peace
Until the rapture comes to meet us"

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

No Shoes On The Furniture

"Get your feet off the furniture, missy. Teenie! Are you listening to me? Right now. I want those feet OFF of my chair and back on the floor."

sigh.. Nothing. No response.

"Mom. Did you want something?"

"Ack!" I jump. "You scared me to death. Would you please not do that?"

Teenie suddenly becomes visible behind me. I tell you it does no good at all having eyes in the back of your head when your teenager is invisible. We need to put a bell on that child.

"So, did you want something? I thought I heard you yell my name."

I look toward the chair that I had previously been talking to. "You left your shoes on the chair," I say, and walk to the kitchen hoping to hide my embarrassment. 

"Moo, please use a plate. You're dripping grease everywhere."

"Not, everywhere Mom. Just on the table."

I set a plate under Moo's fiery red hands. "Cup them, sweetie. Like this." I hold my hands together like two clam shells. "Then the grease won't spatter so much."

"But that makes the bacon all curly. I want it flat. See, if I keep my hands all stretched out flat, it lays nicer. Isn't that better? Do you want yours more done, or is that good?"

"A little crispier, please. You did wash your hands before you started, right? Ok. Well, tomorrow let's lay some paper towels down, or something. Maybe Dad could make you some kind of box to hold your hands in when you're doing that. I love when you make breakfast, sweetie, but the kitchen's a mess. At least you stayed at the table. Thank you for not walking around while you were making that.
Where's Nik? Is he up?"

"He's outside playing with Fluffy."

"Oh my gah, you're kidding me. Nikpod!"

Running out the door, I see Nik sitting on the grass, his hands poised in the air like a puppet master.

"Look, mom. I taught Fluffy to sit."

  He dips one hand slightly lower than the other as if he was working strings, causing the skeletal cat beneath them to lower it's rear and sit prettily on the grass beside him. Nik twitches his pinky, and Fluffy turns her head to smile at me.

"Nik, please let that poor cat rest in peace. Did you dig her up, or make her claw her way out this time?"

"I used the shovel." Nik glances toward a small broken cross in the corner of the yard where a shovel is lying next to a mound of earth.
"I was afraid I'd hurt her if I made her dig. She's getting kinda old, Mom."

"Ya think?"

"We were just playing. I'll put her back. Come on, Fluffy." Nik stands and starts walking, one hand out to the side controlling the boney little cat beside him.

"Seriously, Nik. One of these days, someone who doesn't know you is going to see you doing that and get the wrong idea. I know raising stuff from the dead is pretty cool, and I definitely don't want you puppeteering the live animals, but I really would prefer if you'd limit yourself to action figures and harrassing Teenie with the tv remote, ok?"

As I turn toward the house, I glimpse, from the tattooed area on the back of my neck, a set of eyes peaking out from behind the barn. Nik is using our horse, Frederick, to spy on me. Whipping around, I catch him shove one hand in his pocket while using the other to leap Fluffy back into her hole. "Nikpod King! I just told you, 'no puppeteering the live animals.' Don't make me tie your hands together. Now, bury that cat and come inside. For crying out loud, son."

Opening the door to the house, the smell of bacon greets me, again, as it wafts through the air.  Sheldon brings me a cup of coffee. He slides his finger over a chipped spot on the rim, fixing it, before handing the cup to me.

"Thank you, honey. Nik was playing with Fluffy again and making Frederick spy on me, obviously planning to keep Fluffy out after I told him to put her away, and Teenie almost caught me talking to a chair. What a way to start the morning. Did you get breakfast? Moo made bacon. He's getting pretty good at it."

"I did, but when I asked if he'd make me a piece of toast, he forgot to shake his hands off before opening the bread bag and melted it." Sheldon smiles and shakes his head. "So, have you figured out what to do about Boots? How long does she have to stay out of school?"

"They said that she can go back on Monday if we come in today to clean, so I guess that's what we'll be doing. Great way to spend a Saturday, huh, scraping gum off of every surface in the danged classroom? I'm not sure that's punishment enough, though. I mean, I'm glad she wasn't suspended. Her teacher was seriously frazzled. If any of the other kids had been in the room when she decided to blow that bubble, she probably would have been kicked out for good. Can you imagine what a mess that would have been?" Sheldon smiles and chuckles softly at the thought of twenty gum covered kids. "Still, she knows she's not supposed to have gum at school, anyway. Nobody is, not even the boring kids."

"Bubblez, maybe we should think about homeschooling Boots. I think the school's been more than lenient after some of the accidents she's caused, and do you really want to go clean up tornado damage every time the kid catches cold and has to sneeze?"

 "Well, no, but they do like her, Shel. She's got the sweetest little singing voice, and Mr. Treble even wants to start teaching her how to play the trumpet. I guess as long as they are willing to work with us, and for as long as Boots is happy there, I'm willing to do whatever's necessary to let her stay."

"Boots on the trumpet? Seriously? Don't they think she'd be better off playing something that doesn't use wind, like a freaking piano or ukulele or something?"

"I was worried about it, too, at first, but Mr. T thinks it will help Boots learn to control herself. He said she could practice in the gym where there aren't any windows and she can't hurt anything until she learns to puff gently. I think this could really be a great opportunity for her."

I glance at the time on my watch. "Oh shoot. It's almost noon. We'd better get going or we'll never get that classroom clean. I'm taking Teenie with us. I told her I'd drop her off at a friend's house."

Shel nods as we both stand up. He reaches up and taps the ceiling light as we are leaving the room. The bulbs glow brighter. He flips the light switch up and down a few times, and seeming satisfied walks back to the kitchen for another cup of coffee.

Boots is watching tv in the living room. On the couch, beside her, lay Teenie's shoes. "Dog-gone-it, Teenie," I say only half under my breath.

The shoes slide to the floor and Teenie appears in a half sitting position on the opposite end of the couch from where her shoes had been. "Mom?" She looks at me expectantly, and a long audible sigh escapes my mouth. 

"No shoes on the furniture," I say, and grab my keys. "Come on. It's time to go."

Teenie lifts the remote, and the button clicks all by itself. "Ugh! Nik!"

I chuckle.

Boots sucks in a deep breath of air and catches her own shoes as they bump against her chest. "Be right there, Mommy."

I wonder, would it be gross to have her suck the gum back off the walls? Grabbing the band around my ponytail, I let my hair down as I walk toward the door. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Leeping Liebsters

So, this is pretty cool. I was recently given a Liebster Award.

This very prestigious award was designed to give newish bloggers some much deserved recognition. One mark up from a participation ribbon, it's one part chain letter mixed with equal parts fraternity hazing and bragging rights, with a generous helping of exposure. Put your clothes back on! Basically, it means I've been welcomed into the club by the blogging community, which is a totally rad concept. I want to thank ihopeiwinatoaster for passing unto me this blogging baton, and I will run with it, proudly.

The rules are as follows:

          1.  Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
          2.  Answer the 11 questions the awarder has given to you, the awardee.
          3.  You, now the awarder, create 11 questions for your nominees, who are now the awardees.
          4.  Choose 11 awardees, link to their website, and notify them.
          5.  No award-backs.

Part One: 11 Things About Me

1. I am an avid golfer. No, wait. That's a lie. But, I did almost run my dad over with a golf cart when I was 15 and learning to drive.

2. When I was in college, I dreamed of having six kids. I stopped at four when the last of my brain cells finally died taking my figure and energy with them.

3. I took a single writing class in college, wowed the professor with my first story, and bombed the story after that because I insisted that I could write in the first person. My degree was in art.

4. I am exceptionally fond of red wine. Valpolicella is my preference.

5. After years of begging for a puppy, I now prefer my cats.

6. I can't remember the last time I read a book that was written for grown-ups.

7. I don't know how many pairs of shoes I own nor what most of them look like as they've been packed in boxes for over a year. Some have never been worn.

8. I like the way horses smell. A lot.

9. I once sang the National Anthem at a Minnesota Twins baseball game.

10. I prefer the window seat on airplanes. I really can't remember the last time I was on a plane (I know when I was on a plain, though. I'm on one right now.) or where I went, although I used to travel quite a bit. I'm also a fan of the road trip, and am not afraid to drive miles upon miles all by myself. In fact, I love it. Two days ago, my daughters and I drove through four states.

11.  I eat frosting from the can, but I'm not a fan of pre-packaged cookie dough.

Part Two: The Questions Of ihopeiwinatoaster

          1.  Were you pleasantly surprised or slightly irritated when I tagged you with this?

I was pleasantly surprised albeit suspicious. I got over the suspicious part.

          2.  Do you think I am sorry for that?

Not in the least. If you were going to be sorry, I doubt you'd have done it. I think you were proud.

          3.  If you were to smack me upside the head for passing this on to you with your favorite book, what book would that be?

Ok, not really, but it would be for fun than
seeing as my copy is a flimsy paperback. Kerouac reads like poetry. He makes alliteration sexy.
          4.  If you had back the (enter minutes spent on this exercise here), what would you do with them?

I'd be sleeping. It's 12:39 AM and my alarm goes off in less than six hours, but hey, there's no time like the present for passing out.... virtual trophies.

          5.  Do you think perfect strangers should stalk around the Internet and bestow odd awards and ask random questions?  Why or why not?


          6.  How can words be so beautiful to read and so frightening to write?

You are too worried about what you think others think of you.

          7.  Do you like my hat?

Did your kid make it?

          8.  How many hotdogs do you consume on a weekly basis?

I try not to consume hot dogs on a weekly basis. I'm a girl. Ohhhhh... or did you mean? Nevermind. It's none of your business either way.

          9.  You seem like a decent person, how did you become so?

This is how God made me. He did a great job, don't you think? I'm dead sexy, too.

         10.  Pop-up toaster or toaster over?

To edit or not to edit? The n key is nowhere near the r key. Is this a trick question? Anyway, I traded my pop-up to my mother-in-law for her oven and never looked back.

         11.  Where do you physically blog, as in, where are you right now and, did you ever suspect blogging would be this damned complicated?

Blogging isn't complicated. I'm confused. Normally, I blog on my phone from wherever I might be when an idea hits. Sometimes, I'm in the car, and sometimes, I'm in the kitchen trying not to burn supper. At the moment, however, I am sitting at my desk. My Blogger app doesn't let me put the pictures and links where I want them. Loser app makers.

Part Three: Answer Me, Dammit!

Sorry. I thought you were one of the kids. In my best Wonder Woman voice: you will tell the truth. Crap. No golden lasso. Alright, I could go all Jedi mind-tricky on you, but instead I'll just use magic. Please, will you answer these questions?

1. Do you smile a lot?

2. Blondes, Brunettes, Redheads, or Baldies?

3. Can you tell me how to raise any kind of farm animal?

4. What was your favorite toy as a child? Did it belong to you?

5. Ever steal anything?

6. How does it make you feel when someone corrects your spelling or grammar?

7. Have you ever run away from home?

8. Have you ever won a real prize in a real contest?

9. What do you like to do (activities) during your favorite season of the year?

10. Do you always begin at the beginning?

11. Does HTML make any sense to you?

Part Three 1/2: Intermission

11 was a racehorse. 12 was 12. When 1111 race 12112.
Will you grab me a Coke while you're up, please?

Part Four: The Lucky Recipients Of The Liebster Award

These people are great! Check them out.

Looking For My Escape
Down Wit Dat
My Wife Lies
Not Appropriate For All Audiences
Notes From The Shallow End
Pushing 40 - Aging Gracelessly
Binkies And Briefcases
Toulouse And Tonic
Oh My God Just Do What I Say
Saige Wisdom
Me And Meg

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Vogue Escape

Looking For My Escape
Chicken Fried Vogue

Bubblez, are you going to do this week's Blogger Idol challenge? Do you want to do it with me? I mean you know, not IT, but it? Looks down and shuffles feet.....

Absolutely. All about it. Glad you asked. Have you thought of how to approach it? Oh my gosh, there are these gorgeous shoes in this catalog that are totally distracting me. Ugh...bad pretty.
Shakes head.

Ok, let's see. Ways to approach this assignment?

We could be in a life raft surrounded by sharks and vying for who is the most interesting, because the other person in our boat is a hot, Latin, shirtless man, and he is STAYING, but, we only have food and water for two, and those sharks are getting restless.

Your blog is usually pretty serious, though. Would he be the soft-hearted type?

What I write about in my blog is just one aspect of me, and we need fun. Do you have my number so we can talk?

I get no reception here in the hole that is Country Song, or else I would, although, I'm a bit stumped on what questions to ask.

Well, you know, ask me things that make me look skinny and taller. I want to be taller in print.

So, if you were going to be an animal, you would be a giraffe?

A unicorn is over-rated isn't it? Yes. I would go with a giraffe, all long legs and a natural tan. What animal would you be?

I don't know what animal I would be, although, if I were a color, I'd be gunmetal because it keeps changing, and it's hard to define, and is, therefore, intriguing and beautiful.. and gets fondled by the menz.

I like the way you think. What made you decide to write your thoughts in a blog?

All day long, I have these goofy thoughts run through my head, or silly little things are happening around me, especially since I moved away from the city, and I want to share them with someone, but I am alone with the kids most of the time. Like money that burns a hole in your pocket, my thoughts burn holes in my head. I have to let them out. I originally started my blog for weight loss accountability, but that didn't last long. Since the platform was already in place, I decided to use it for head spew.

I have always assumed that you write for healing, is that true?

I started writing because I had kept my story of abuse in for so long. I was the secret keeper, and I did not want to carry that weight. I am not defined by someone else's sickness and I refuse to be marked by the stigma. Then, I start getting feedback. I never thought about how my story would affect others. I am on BlogHer now, and many pages and groups have picked me up, which makes me feel like I am helping people.

I've always believed that God can turn horrors into blessings. I'm certain that your stories are helping others, and that is such a very, very good thing, and I'm glad it keeps you going.

I've also had a great number of people say that it helps them understand others who have gone through similar circumstances, but if you set aside the reasons, it is still a good story. I mean, there is a lot in there; trial and retrial, and so much everyday life stuff, too. It is about taking responsibility for my life. 

Now, tell me how you write, doll. How do you decide your topics? Do you have a structure to your writing? Do you pick a subject and then figure it all out? How do you create?

I say, I don't get topics. Topics get me. I am constantly struck by the world around me. I'm amazed by the humor or tenderness in the everyday things that others overlook. I write a lot about the juxtaposition between life in Suburbia and here. A simple trip to buy groceries can provide enough fuel for three blogs. When I'm the only person who seems to notice the weirdness of the world, I want to share. I do a lot of my writing on my phone. I need to get it all down while the thoughts are fresh, before I lose momentum. Then, I go back later and redraft it so it looks nice.

I write nonstop. I am always thinking of something. It helps that it is my life, so I know what goes where and the direction we are going. I know what the story is about and what I want to convey. I just have to sit down and start writing, and it will pour out.

Do you work on your blog everyday?

No. I have to be in the right mood. Also, I'm pretty busy. I will be writing soon about homeschooling because I've had questions about that, and there is so much to say, but school is one of things I'm busy with. Even if I want to be writing, I can't always be doing that.

Yes, you do have to be in the right mindset. My hours are mostly my own because my children have grown, unless I have my Grandbaby, then, all bets are off.

Would you say our blogs have anything in common?

Well, we aren't really Mommy blogs are we? We are both writing about the things we are experiencing and the changes that have come to us.

That's a great way of putting it, Chele. That's exactly what we're doing. 

I've really enjoyed working on this project with you. Let's push Mr. Hottie out of the raft and paddle to shore, ok? I want to order those shoes. 

Get his wallet first and then feed the fishes! We have shoes to buy! 

You are a joy to work with and I really appreciate you.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

How A Suburban Housewife Landed In The Country

My parents were seventeen years old when I was born. They were married in October while Mom was still only sixteen. It was 1972, during the Vietnam conflict. My dad had enlisted in the Marine Corp and was home on a three day leave. At that time, the state required a one month waiting period after applying for a marriage license, but given the political circumstances of the time, that waiting period was waived. Mom and Dad grabbed a couple of friends off the street and went straight to the church, and soon after that, my dad returned to active duty. He was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.  I was born the following March, right here, in Country Song.


Mom and I spent the next year living on my grandparents farm. Mom went to school during the day and worked at night. I had a babysitter who kept me when Grandma couldn't fill in the gaps. A few months after my first birthday, Mom attended her graduation commencement exercises, drove back to the farm, and started packing. I was curled up in a pink blanket, asleep in Grandma's arms when mom finished loading the car that night. Mom picked me up and laid me on the back seat, and Grandma watched both of her babies drive away. We were going to North Carolina to be with my dad.

Marine Corp Birthday Ball 1974

Time passed and the conflict ended. Dad loved the military, but decided not to reenlist. He wanted to spend time with his young daughter. My parents moved back home to Country Song. They found jobs and a place to live in town. I spent weekends and school vacations visiting Grandma and Grandpa on the farm. I had my own room in what had been my mother's room before we left. Sometimes, one of my many cousins or my little sister was there to share it, but mostly, it was mine.

When I was younger, I used that room only for sleeping, and spent the rest of the day driving Grandma crazy with my non-stop, little girl chatter until Grandpa would take me outside and walk me around the farm teaching me things about the various plants and animals that were living there. I adored my Grandpa. He was strong and kind, a World War II vet who loved to tell old stories from his life. I never saw him drink. He was firm in his beliefs, but not especially argumentative, and he would happily strike up a conversation with anyone who looked his way.

As I entered my teen years, I would lay in my attic bedroom, looking wistfully out the window at the big pear tree in the yard and the fields beyond it, daydreaming, and listening to Bruce Springsteen on my boom box.  Eventually, the time came for me to walk across that same high school platform that my mother had, before me, and go off to make my way in the world.

I moved to another, slightly larger town, to work on my bachelors degree. While there, I met my soon to be husband. We got engaged and I followed him to the Pacific coast where he had been accepted to grad school. We were married the following spring. We found jobs and a place to live, but we were both out of our element in the Pacific northwest (he was from New York), and we longed to be somewhere else that would suit us better. Then, one magical day, he got offered a job in Minneapolis, our new home; metropolitan enough for him, midwestern enough for me.

We found a cute little apartment, and I gained employment with a custom furniture shop helping wealthy individuals decorate their homes. A couple of years later, Teenie was born and we bought a nearly new house out in the suburbs. It was a great neighborhood for a family. We were happy, there.

When Teenie came along, the hours I spent working as a decorator didn't suit me. Also, I hated leaving my infant daughter at one of those giant daycare facilities where I didn't feel she was getting the attention she needed. One day, after work, I waltzed into Barnes and Noble and left for home with a new job. I worked nights and weekends and was with Teenie during the day. When Sheldon got home from work, I'd hand her off like I was passing a football, and run. My paychecks were significantly smaller, but since we weren't paying out the ear for daycare, it worked. A couple more years passed and we found that we were expecting, again. By this time, Shel had moved up the corporate ladder far enough that we could afford for me to quit working, and I became a stay at home mom "housewife". I always swore I'd never do that, but of course, that was before I had children.

Nikpod was born, and 22 months later, Moo arrived: two darling boys as different from each other as night is from day. We had enrolled Teenie in kindergarten at a private school, and ultimately ended up having problems that, between these three kids, took us in and out of three different private schools before finding our niche with homeschooling. Minneapolis was a great place to homeschool. It was super common, so a lot of places catered to it. There were daytime gym and swim classes at the YMCA, classes at the dance studio, the gymnastics studio, classes darn near everywhere that were designed specifically for home educated children. The public library system was amazing. There were museums and aquariums and zoos and orchestras and historical sites to visit. It was awesome. We soaked all of that in and added another baby to the family; a sweet little girl we called Boots.

Grandpa with baby Nik

When Bootsie was just past her first birthday, there was a disturbance in the force.  My Grandpa passed away. It happened somewhat suddenly. One day, he was sick. About two weeks later, he was dead. I had spent almost every day during those two weeks talking to my mom on the phone listening to her updates on Grandpa's well being. I hated that I wasn't there. Mom would try to be positive about Grandpa's condition when she talked to me, but there were little things, he doesn't eat, he doesn't sleep, that tipped me off to the truth. Every day, I debated whether or not I should jump in the car and drive the twelve hours to see him, but there was no terminal diagnosis and no reason to think that he wouldn't improve. It wasn't practical to leave four little kids at home if I didn't really need to be away. Ah, regrets. He never even got to meet my little Boots.

The call came from my sister early one Saturday morning. I cussed and hung up. "We have to leave," I said, almost commanding it to Sheldon as I raised myself from the bed and started to pack. Within two hours, the six of us were on the road. Before night fell, I was sitting in my mother's kitchen.

The funeral home was packed with people. It seemed like Grandpa was friends with everyone in town besides having spawned four generations of children. Our procession of cars heading to the cemetery stretched two miles long. When the burial was over, our whole, huge, family lingered around, not wanting to say goodbye.

Someone had the idea to grab a bucket of chicken and head over to the local park. Most everyone followed suit. Poor KFC was raided that day and pretty much sold out. We sat in the park, reminiscing, laughing, and crying. And the honesty began to fly. Grandma let loose on one of my older cousins, the semi-secret, that Grandpa thought my cousin was a real jerk for not going and getting his heart checked out, and had said just that while lying in the hospital the week before. Another cousin was telling of her re-dedication to Christianity, and expressing genuine concern over whether or not various people were going to be with her in Heaven, talking to them, and asking them what they believe. Of course, everyone was reaffirming their love for everyone else. And then, it was my turn.

As I hugged one of my close cousins, goodbye, one who had shared with me much of of my childhood, playing hide and seek in Grandpa's barn or taking long walks through the fields and into the woods, he looked me square in the eye, and said, "It's time to come home."

my cousin and I in Grandma's kitchen

Standing in that moment, I knew he was right, and although I loved my life in Suburbia with choices of schools and shopping plazas, parks and museums, my heart belonged in Country Song.

I spent the next six months driving back and forth every few weeks to help Mom and Grandma as much as I could. The farm had to be sold. Grandma needed to find a new home. There was much to do. I'd leave on Friday afternoons when Shel got home from work, drive the long drive, spend Saturday night, and drive back to Suburbia on Sunday. I did this on the premise that they needed me, but really, I needed them.

My trips would slow down during the winter months because I didn't feel safe alone on icy roads, and then pick back up in the spring. I did this driving back and forth routine for four years while Shel and I debated the ups and downs of moving. The kids had friends. They were involved in great programs: a Christian based dance school for the girls, a boy's gymnastics team for Moo, and Nik was getting closer and closer to earning his black belt. We were near enough to city proper to have memberships at the Children's museum, the aquarium, and the zoo, but far enough out to randomly see otters playing or a beautiful white egret standing in a pond, or a bald eagle resting in a tree. Shel had never lived in a rural town, and I had only lived there as a child. The prospect of moving to Country Song was scary.

I was torn, unhappy, and growing bitter. I blamed Sheldon, and our little family was slowly, steadily, beginning to pull apart. Thankfully, Shel recognized it. He had an amazing job making good money, and he was highly specialized. Neither of us believed at all that he would find a job in Country Song. Jobs were scarce there at it was, as it is. He started putting the word out that he was looking for something new, maybe in Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Detroit, or Chicago. He had one interview in Ohio, but it wasn't a good fit, and nothing much else was turning up.

Then, it happened. Shel got a call from two different recruiters for the same position, a prestigious senior position, not twenty miles outside of Country Song. They flew him in for an interview and a few days later offered to move us all to Indiana. We were dumbstruck and thankful. It was surely an act of God. Shel moved ahead of the rest of us and stayed with my parents, bless his soul, while he started his new job. I started packing and getting the house in Suburbia ready for sale. Shel found a house for us to rent in Country Song, and we all moved in there together while we searched for a place we could buy. A year later, an opportunity presented itself to purchase a 100 year old house with four acres in the country, just outside of Country Song, and less than two miles from the house I was raised in.

old house

new house

I am constantly amazed that I am living where I am. Last fall, my Grandma, at 92, fell ill with pneumonia and I was here to help during her recovery. My cousin needed gall bladder surgery, and I was here for her, too. My sister was struck with appendicitis and I was able to sit with her overnight in the hospital. I was with my parents at a hospital in Indianapolis when a doctor told my dad that he needed open heart surgery, and able to stay with mom at the hotel there while it happened. I've been here for birthday parties, graduations, and new babies, and the grandaddy of them all?

Last weekend, we hosted a surprise anniversary party for my parents. 40 years!

Forty years ago, yesterday, two teenage kids with a baby inside stood in a church not knowing what the world had in store for them or for the future of their child. Not knowing, that they'd both end up living in the same rural landscape as their own parents. Not knowing that their first grandchild would be born four states away but come back to walk, like her mother, and her mother before her, across the same graduation platform in the same little school, for Teenie decided on public school this year and just started as a freshman.

I've got to tell you, though. Living rural as an adult is a lot different from living rural as a child. When you're a child, you spend your days taking long walks in the sun and marveling at the world around you. As an adult, it's much harder. I still wonder if moving was worth the trade off where the kids are concerned. Options for activities are so limited. Simple tasks like buying groceries can take a whole day because the stores aren't nearby. I'm not sure I'll ever get used to the snakes and giant spiders that occasionally present themselves, even though I put on a pretty good show of acting nonchalant and tough. Oh and mowing! Holy crap, mowing takes a whole weekend. There are cracks in the plaster that need to be filled, and the floors are in need of finishing. I have plants that are dying because I haven't found taken the time to plant them, and my 500 some pins on Pinterest? Yeah. Not happening. But, I love it. I do. I love it all.

And thus ends the tale of how a little country girl grew up to become a suburban housewife who moved back to the country. 

the street I grew up on

Downtown Country Song welcomes home a soldier injured in combat, 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I Would Not Write About Scratching My Balls

I'm not a big fan of prefacing my blogs, but this one deserves an explanation. This is week 2 of the Play At Home game with Blogger Idol. The assignment is to write about a day in the life of me, but from the perspective of the opposite gender. So, here you are: a day in life of Bubblez King, if Bubblez were a man, which come to think of it, isn't that far fetched.

*     *     *

Are the kids awake? No. Glancing at the clock, I decide I can give them 10 more minutes. "Good morning, baby." Maybe if I kiss her right there, almost under her ear? Hmm. Nope. Rolling over and stretching, I wiggle out of the twist of sheets and blankets I've been semi-cocooned in for probably half the night and lower my feet to floor. Yawn. Eye rub. Gotta pee.

I make my way past the bottom of the staircase and yell, "Girls! Are you up?" Teenie is getting too old for me to shake her awake. "Are you showering this morning? What do you want for breakfast?"

Now, when I ask "what do you want for breakfast," Teenie knows the answer is either, "I'll get myself some cereal" or "Toast." Boots, on the other hand, usually asks for oatmeal, but I don't dare rely on it or I'll be dealing with hysterics from her for several minutes, and from her mother for the rest of the day.

Ok, for three days. And it won't be hysterics so much as the dead silence that conveys how she's plotting to kill me. I don't know why they call it the silent treatment. I mean, her mouth is usually quiet, but between the stomping and slamming things about, life during these times is far from silent. Don't get me wrong, I love my wife, and I'm certain that she loves me, but you wake that woman up when she'd rather be sleeping, and you loose a demon.

I'd take this on, first. 
 Boots gives the go ahead for oatmeal so I pop that in the microwave, refill the water in the damn Keurig, and start slapping together PB&J's while the coffee water it heats. Both lunches are packed by the time the girls hit the kitchen. I eye Teenie suspiciously and ask if she's got a sweater or something she's planning to wear with that top. She rolls her eyes and holds up some furry looking black thing, and I take that as a yes. I plant a kiss on top of her head and check the clock. Man, she's getting big. "Ok, get your bags. The bus will be here any minute."

 Shelly stumbles out of the bedroom in time to ask if they remembered some paper or other and to say goodbye, then makes a beeline toward the bathroom. I get my coffee and sit down to check Facebook and messages. She'll be in there for an hour. This is my time, this little while before the boys get up.

I lay a kiss on Shelly before she rushes out the door, and set my cup on the counter before heading upstairs to roust the boys. Clothes and toys cover the floor. Nikpod is watching cartoons on his Touch. Moo is still asleep. A pile of Legos rests on the foot of the bed. I'll have to help him with that later. It's the new Batman set.

"Up and at 'em!" Scooping down to grab a t-shirt out of the clean laundry basket, I wad it up and throw it at Moo's head. "Come on. Get dressed. I'm making eggs. You guys want eggs?" Nikpod absently asks if he can finish his episode while Moo catapults himself out of bed and onto my back.

"Alright. Finish this ONE episode and then get your clothes on and come downstairs." I set Moo on the floor and start downstairs to cook. Im hungry, now. We'll eat breakfast and hit the books. This is Nikpod's sixth year of homeschooling and Moo's fifth. Teenie and Boots decided on public school this year. It's kind of fun hanging with just the boys all day. Fun, but exhausting.

The boys and I finish their school work about two hours before the girls get home. We do a few chores: loading the dishwasher and sweeping the floors. I send Nikpod up to get his dirty laundry and try to get Moo interested in those Legos again, but he's whining that he wants to play video games, instead, so we do.

Nikpod loads the washer and comes to watch. The next thing I know, the girls are walking in. They start chattering on a mile a minute about their day before finally leaving us to go scavenge for snacks, which makes me wonder whether Shel had plans for dinner or not. I shoot her a text at the office and finish my level on the game letting Moo win. He's a sore loser. Nikpod has disappeared with his Touch, again.

Shelly texts asking me to thaw hamburger for spaghetti. She has a late meeting, so the kids and I will be on our own, tonight.

After dinner we all sit around and watch cartoons on Netflix. Well, everyone does except Teenie. She's been in her room most of the evening doing homework and texting friends. Shelly comes home just in time to eat something before packing Boots off for a bath. I'll be mostly off duty now because this is pretty much the only time she sees the kids.

I consider going over to see one of my buddies, but my butt refuses to raise itself from the chair. Grabbing my iPhone, I zone out into cyberspace, telling myself that I'll get up in a minute and put Nik's clothes in the dryer since I know he forgot to do that.

Boots comes wandering downstairs in search of her teddybear and Daddy's goodnight hugs. "I love you, baby. Sleep tight. See you in the morning."

My heart.
 "Night night, Daddy."

Pretty soon, Shel will be beside me on the couch to tell me about her day, and then it will be her turn to disappear into cyberspace. I understand, but I really wish that she and I could spend more time together, even if that's just watching TV.

Changing into my sweats and a t-shirt, I climb into bed to read a little before, more likely than not, falling asleep with the book on my chest. Shelly will snuggle in beside me, move the book, and turn off the lamp. Depending on what mood she's in, we might make love and drift off into slumber wrapped in each others arms, waiting quietly for the alarm that signals that it's time to start over and do all of today, again.