Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lesson in sharing

I got a cold in my doze.

Thank you, my children, for showing me you have learned the lesson so well that I've spent so many years trying to teach you.  You have learned to share.

Unfortunately, you have learned to share your germs and I really didn't need those shared with me.

If you need me, just look for the pile of tissue.  I'm somewhere under there.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Peter Davison

This past weekend, I got to meet and get a picture with the actor Peter Davison.  I used to watch him back in the 80's on TV.  My Mom was a big fan of All Creatures Great and Small.  I would watch it with her. In the 80's I didn't know all that was going on in the show, but I remember the three main characters very well -James, Siegfried, and Tristan.  Tristan was always my favorite.  Years later I re-watched the show and found Tristan was still my favorite character. 

Peter Davison as Tristan Farnon
Later I found out he was also the 5th Doctor in Doctor Who, a favorite TV show in our family. 
So cool!  I got to meet Peter Davison!

Peter Davison.  Still a good looking guy.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Fog

One Sunday, I was scheduled to park sit and woke up to a thick fog.  I carefully drove to the park to have the gate opened by  7:15am.  The park was covered in fog.  I couldn't see to the other side of the park.  It was cold, misty and just plain foggy.  Imagine my surprise when at 7:30, I see cars in the parking lot and people jogging along the trail.  I just wanted to shout, "Go home people, it is a foggy, miserable day!"

Thankfully for me, I had the park's maintenance office to spend the day in.  I'd go out every hour to check on things around the park.  I would make sure the bathrooms were clean, the trashes were empty and no one had started a fire in the shelter's fireplaces.  The shelters have fireplaces, but you are not allowed to have fires in them.  Go figure.

The fog didn't lift until about two in the afternoon and it was back by five.  It didn't matter, though.  The park was filled the entire day with dedicated park goers and joggers.  When the park closed at 5:30, it was almost dark and a thick fog laid across its open fields.  I actually had to go kick people out of the park.  Go home!  It is time for a blanket and a mug of hot cocoa.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The park sitter observes football

I am a park ranger.  Well, more of a park monitor or park sitter.  I work in county parks.  Not the great lovely national parks.  County parks, which are complete with baseball diamonds, soccer fields, play grounds, walking trails, wide open spaces to run in and shelters with picnic tables.

I've seen and done some interesting things.  I've only been working this job four months and only in the fall and winter.  I'm sure spring and summer will only bring more stories as people come out of their warm homes to the fresh, warm, humid air.

I came on in October.  The days were getting shorter and the nights cooler, but many days were still warm and pleasant.  It was mid-football season.  Football.  It is a highly misunderstood sport - by me.  I don't get it at all.  Why would anyone want to put on 10 lbs of plastic gear and run head first into someone else wearing 10 lbs of plastic gear? 

Apparently, I am not the only one baffled by this sport.  Each week, hanging out on the playground next to the football fields were four girls who looked to be the ages of 9-11.  They would sit on top of the monkey bars and talk.  I imagine they met at the first football game and formed the "I'm Stuck at the Playground and Bored Out of My Mind While My Dumb Brother Plays Football Club."  Similar clubs exist during baseball and soccer seasons.

My own brothers played soccer.  The first couple of years, I had to go to all the games.  Luckily for me, my best friend lived next door to my brothers best friend, who played on the same team as my brother.  She would often come to the games and we would hang out together.  Is that a best friend, or what?  She didn't have to come to the games, but she did, just so we could hang out together.

There were no bleachers at the field my brother played on.  You brought your own lawn chairs and blankets.  My friend and I would alternate watching the game, walking around the field, or sitting in the grass, making clover flower necklaces.

So, I feel for these sisters - drug off to games they have no interest in, sitting on the monkey bars with other sisters, plotting their revenge on their brothers.  Just wait until drill team starts, mister!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Texans Talk Weather

Texans love to discuss the weather.  When we greet each other, it goes something like this:

"Howdy, Buddy."
"Howdy, Joe."
"Quite the weather we've been having."
"Yep.  It's been nice today.  I'm glad it got up into the nineties to melt all the ice from yesterday's hail storm."
"Did you hear there is suppose to be a tornado tomorrow?"
"Yep.  Got my storm gear already set up in the bathroom."

Texans will even discuss the weather when they aren't in Texas.  I live in Virginia.  My grandmother lives in New York.  We are both Texan, born and raised.  When we talk on the phone, we take the time to discuss the weather in our states.  Then, we discuss the weather in Texas, where my parents still live.

When I talk to my dad, he will ask, "So, y'all been having some weather?"

I think Texans fascination with the weather goes back to when our lively-hood was depended upon the success of our cattle herds.  A close eye had to be kept on Texas's highly variable weather to ensure the safety of the herd.

"Hey Joe, did that tornady cause you any problems?
"Well, the house is gone, my wife was found in a tree two miles away, the barn is destroyed, but the herd is safe."
"Thank goodness for that."

Perhaps Texans discuss the weather because it can change from day to day, even hour to hour.  I remember, my childhood home faced north.  We would get these northern cold fronts and more than once, I watched storms as they approached the house.  You could stand on the door step, feel the wind pick up and watch as the storm travelled down the street towards the house.

"The storm is at Lizzie's house," I would announce to my mom.  "Now it's at the Johnsons.  Now it's two houses away.....  and now here it is!"  Cold wind and rain would rush through the door.
"Molly! Close that door.  You're letting the storm into the house!"

When I started driving, I had to drive my brother to an activity one summer afternoon.  It started pouring rain and rained so hard, I couldn't see the car in front of me.  The rain pounded on the car's roof, deafening in its noise.  I drove quite slowly, watching for the red lights of the car in front of me.

Texas weather.  There is nothing like it and Texans love to discuss their beloved insane weather.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Park Maintenance

Thankfully maintenance is not my job.  I have no interest in the upkeep of baseball fields, performing repairs, checking sprinkler systems, and the like.  Especially in the cold winters or hot summers.  I wouldn't mind mowing the grass on the soccer fields, IF it involved a riding lawn mower with a roof.

However, on the days I park sit, I am responsible for the trash cans.  I learned that certain parks, during football season, managed to collect tons of trash.  Ten huge trash barrels surround the field.  During the course of the day, each barrel fills with trash.  These barrels are as high as my waist and when full of trash, are quite heavy.  My job is to empty the barrels.  Somehow, I am required to maneuver  holding a trash bag over the barrel, pick the barrel up, hold it upside down and shake it until all the trash falls from the barrel and into the bag.

I am not strong or coordinated enough to do this successfully.  Most of the time, I manage to dump half of the trash onto the ground thanks to the bag slipping off the rim of the barrel while I was holding it upside down.  When this happens, I mumble a "gosh dang-it" and I stoop down to pick up the trash and throw it into the bag.  There are people all around, watching football games.  I'm sure that they find me much more entertaining than the game.  I'm waiting for them to bring their folding chairs over, sit in a semi-circle around the trash barrel and sip from their cans of soda while watching me as I attempt to be a good park sitter and empty the trash cans.  I am the new spectator sport. 

I developed a deep dislike of coffee one fall day.  A competition of cheerleaders was scheduled to begin at nine.  This meant that by 8:30, the parking lot was full and the park was populated by little girls in cheerleader costumes with their shivering moms in coats, clutching cups of gas-station coffee and cursing themselves for signing their daughters up for cheerleading in the first place.

By the end of the competition, at lunch-time, the day had warmed up to a pleasant temperature.  Coats had been shed, cheers had been cheered and trophies handed out.  They went home.  Football games would be starting soon, so I decided it would be a good time to collect the trash.

The trash barrels were filled with the coffee cups that had previously been the cold cheerleader mom's life line.  I'll never understand why they paid for a large coffee, only to drink half of it and throw the rest away.  By the time I had dumped the first trash barrel into the garbage bag and ground, I was covered in coffee.  The trash bags, which had no holes in them, were dripping cold coffee.  It just seeped through the plastic of the bags.  I put the trash bags into the bed of the park's golf car-like maintenance truck and drove them to the far side of the parking lot to the dumpsters.  I proceeded to toss the bags into the dumpsters, successfully managing to get even more coffee on me.  The truck bed had pools of tan-colored coffee in it. I left that mess for the park's maintenance people.  They can wash it out later.

I'm looking forward to summer, when the coffee cups will be replaced with sodas and the trash barrels will be swarming with bees.  Good times are yet to come.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Getting kids to bed is a nightmare.

There is no "sweet dreams" when bedtime comes around.


Suddenly there are books to bed read and notes from school to be signed.
Suddenly they are hungry for a night-night snack.  Pop-tarts are toasted and eaten.
Suddenly the kids have deep questions about life to ask.  What kind of home does a skunk have? What does a warthog eat?  Can I draw a picture of a spaceship tomorrow? What is a Mobius strip?  Are germs bacteria?  How do you manufacture things to be smooth?  Can you tuck me in?

One daughter goes to the bathroom about 6 times before she settles in for the night.
The same daughter will hug the Hubby and myself when we tell her it is bed time.  She will return later to ask us a question of sorts.  (See one of the questions above.)  She hugs us again.  She goes to use the bathroom for the first time and comes back to tell us good night.  We ask, did you brush your teeth?  She goes to brush her teeth.  She returns to tell us goodnight and get another hug.  If I happen to be wandering the house putting toys (laundry, dishes, etc.) away, she will come and find me for another goodnight hug.  As I walk past her room, she will call out goodnight again and blow me a kiss.  She gets up to go to the bathroom for the second and third time, each time returning to say goodnight.  JUST GO TO BED, ALREADY!

It's not that she is lonely, she shares a room with her 4 year old sister.  If she leaves the room too many times, little sister gets tired of waiting for her roommate and comes to find Hubby or myself to hold her.

Then, we hear them walking around for another half hour.  What are they doing?  My kids walk like elephants and you can hear their every footstep in the house.  It doesn't matter where you or they are in the house, you can hear them walking.  The 14 year old with size 12 feet is particularly bad about that.

We should send them to bed an hour earlier than their bedtime because it takes them that long.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Turtle Monkeys

Each morning, my kids and I hang out at our bus stop, waiting for the school bus.  We live in a forested area.  Being winter, all the leaves are gone and we can see into the dense trees, something you can't do during the other seasons.

I love to look for birds and squirrels as we stand there waiting for the bus.  As far as birds go, we have blue jays, robins, cardinals, sparrows, finches, and woodpeckers.  Squirrels run around the trees and we love to watch them.

For whatever reason, my youngest son began calling the squirrels 'turtle monkeys.'  Today he kept trying to tease me by pointing somewhere in the trees and calling out "There's a turtle monkey!"  And of course, I would look and he would laugh at me.  He asked me if turtles can jump.  No, I say, they can't.  The funny little ideas that go about in kids minds....

Several weeks ago while waiting for the bus, we saw a robin get run over by a car right in front of us.  Miraculously, the robin survived and flew away.  It must have gotten in between the wheels and tossed about by the wind current the car made.  Despite the happy outcome, it was rather traumatic to watch.

Stand at the bus stop.  Learn about life and death, jumping turtles, and the effects of cars on robins.

I can't believe it is February already.  If the groundhogs prediction is in any way accurate, the trees will start to bloom soon.  Spring was early last year and I remember by the end of March, I was planning my garden.  By April, I had been able to plant some things.  I guess it's time to start thinking about those things soon.  Happy Valentines Day!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Growing up

My kids are growing.  I keep telling them to stop growing up, but just like I ask them to keep their rooms clean, they are not doing what I've asked.  They continue to grow.

I like to hear my four and seven year olds have conversations.  They can be each others worse enemy, but they can also be the best of playmates.

For years, my seven year old has been wearing the same clothes.  Really, there are pictures of him when he was 4 and 5 and he is wearing the same clothes he is in today.  He has grown very little.  Last month, we realized his diet was mostly cereal and bread.  He dislikes most everything else.  There was very little protein going into his tiny body.  We started buying him those Boost shakes.  I noticed this week that the pants I bought him at the beginning of the school year are too short.  He's actually grown!  Still, I don't want him to grow up.

My twelve year old has reached my height.  He wasn't allowed to get taller than me!

I'm glad they aren't little anymore, though.  I like this age we are in now.  My oldest is a teen, but he can't drive yet.  My youngest isn't in school yet, but she's not a diaper-wearing toddler.  The others are nicely in between.  It's fun.  They are great.  I'm glad they are growing.