Never at a loss for props

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One in a series of childhood humiliations

I’ve written about this before.

Let me quote myself:

Growing up as the daughter of an outdoorsman meant I posed with every dead thing my dad brought home. Every fish, rabbit, bird or mammal he snared, trapped or shot. And in each picture I have the same expression on my face: a forced smile in response to some off-camera plea-turned-threat.

It’s too late to ask my father why we played pass the dead thing.  Right around the time this snapshot was taken (1968) I was getting used to the feeling of scales, fur and feather in my hands. I was adjusting to holding still, smiling and waiting for the all-clear signal to resume my childhood. 

Was it a matter of scale? A fish looks bigger in the hands of a child? Was it a record of our vacation activities? Yeah, we had fish for dinner that night.

Ah, who knows? All I do know is that my family photo albums are brimming with pictures like these. What better way to join the shame-fest known as Sincerely Fro Me to You hosted by camera-ready Marcy. Go on over for more pictures that didn’t or shouldn’t have made the cut.

Culture – it's not just for yogurt

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Henry Moore, Reclining Figure, Detroit Institute of Arts

My effort to add a dash of culture to our weekly schedule begins with a family trip to the Detroit Institute of Arts. Armed with a map of the galleries, I lead the pack through the crowded building. It was family Sunday at the museum: culture, with extra toppings.

Sometimes in my zeal to share my passions with my family, I lose sight of common sense. This proved to be one of those days. Consider the following events:

Girl from the East thinks the modern art sculptures are play structures and attempts to climb them. Other objects, while not posing as climbing equipment, tempt sticky little hands to touch them when signs nearby advise against acting on such impulses. 

In the main courtyard, a folk singer strums his guitar before a foot-stompin’, hand-clappin’ crowd. Something about folk singers seems to send husband and older daughter fleeing in the direction of the Dutch masters.  I take folk singers on a case-by-case basis. In this case, the guy was young and attractive. Based on this, I take a seat.

I’m not seated for long. Between the singing and guitar playing, I detect a high-pitched note. Back-up singers? An exotic far-Eastern instrument? No. It’s Girl from the East, who has erupted in tears for an inexplicable reason. 

More cultural, artsy stuff is avoided as no one wants to enter the craft room, an area otherwise known as the open glue bottle and scissors territory,  and unsteady hands wielding paint brushes zone.

We  avoid the Native American art gallery because it is “too spooky.” Ditto for most of the African art. This is due to the tribal masks and totem poles. Mostly, it’s because there aren’t any pictures of Dora or Diego on the walls. See, there’s Diego and there’s Diego. 

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Detroit Industry, Diego Rivera

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Go, Diego, Go!

Girl from the West is caught texting her way through the Renaissance period.  

There are a few things that capture everyone’s attention: the food court (which features reproductions of European architecture and, well, food), those aha! moments when a famous masterpiece is discovered on a wall,  and the freight elevator. We ride it twice. It’s that good.

The first rounds of  ”Can we go?” “What’s for dinner?” and “How much more is there?” signal the end of my attempt to infuse culture into the family. At least I tried.

Suddenly, I recall the many Sunday outings of my childhood in which we landed at bird sanctuaries, ambled through Amish country, strolled through various museums and historic sites.  I remember my dad brimming with enthusiasm, exalting the virtues of this or that feature. I remember sighs and eye rolling and wishes for a trip to Dairy Queen or a Disney movie. 

Sorry, dad.

Would you like bread with that sandwich?

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www.gasolinealleyantiques.com/yoyo.htm

I suppose this is what I get for going to a fast food restaurant in the first place:

(For years, I prided myself in avoiding them. I was disciplined. But things change. Budgets get tighter. Schedules get funky. Certain people fall asleep in the car when you are hungry and miles from home. Certain sleepy people are best left sleeping at such times. To awaken certain sleepy people in order to accommodate your wishes is to release caged tigers upon the innocent. So, fast food at the drive through it is.)

But here I am, staring slack jawed at the confusing menu of stuff I mostly don’t eat, trying to find the one item I can order. It’s way at the bottom.

A disembodied voice sounds through the speaker box, jarring me from my stupor.

“Good afternoon. Would you like to try our SuperCrispyFriedCountryStyleBaconBurgerMeltWich today?”

“No. I would like one veggie burger please.”

“OK. So, one bacon burger. Anything else?”

“I’m sorry, no bacon burger. I said VEGGIE burger.”

“OK. Do you want the sandwich or the patty?”

What the ..?

“I don’t understand. I want a veggie burger sandwich.”

“Do you want JUST THE SANDWICH or do you want the PATTY ?”

“I want the veggie burger and the sandwich.”

This is absurd. I have to specifically request the burger portion of the sandwich now?

“So you want the patty then?

“I’m sorry I don’t understand.” 

“Please pull around.”

‘”Please pull around” crackles through the speaker in an exasperated tone reserved for the hopelessly stupid.

As I’m “pulling around” to face my tormentor, I wonder who would pay for a veggie  burger and then order the sandwich without the burger itself? Or the burger without the sandwich? How exactly does someone eat a burger, toppings and condiments without the bun to hold it all together? Why not just order a salad?

My  20-questions reverie evaporates as the drive-through window slides open and the smell of grilled meat and fried food slaps me in the face.

After a quick chat with the drive-through order taker, I learn this establishment now offers two options for vegetarians: the veggie burger is option No. 1 and, and its signature hamburger “sans the patty” is option No. 2.

OK. So, a veggie burger isn’t a veggie burger, it’s a patty. A “signature hamburger” without the hamburger is a sandwich

Got that?

I'm not buying this story

I’m steering through the heavy rain in the predawn, listening to radio news, when an item nearly takes me off the road: Woman didn’t know she was pregnant until she gave birth. 

Check it out for yourself: 

They even included sound bites from the 911 call in which the dispatcher and the mother discuss cleaning up the infant to clear airways and tie off the umbilical cord. The dad swears it was a huge surprise to everyone. (Side note: They already have three other children.)

I’m sorry, but I’m not buying it. 

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I realize some women may not know they are pregnant during the first trimester. I questioned this at one time, but I’ve talked to a few women personally about this who explained to me how this might happen. Some women have medical issues or physical situations that might obscure pregnancy symptoms. 

But not for nine months. Not three trimesters. This is hard to digest. Impossible to swallow. Even though the medical community says it can happen.

I’ve been pregnant. I’m one of those hyper-sensitive types who knew I was pregnant in the first month. I just knew. Something was different. Physically and mentally, I felt a huge shift. I knew before I knew.

By the time my pregnancy was apparent, there was no denying it to anyone, certainly not myself. You might be able to attribute extra pounds to a bad diet. Blame those first butterfly flutters in your abdomen on gas. But by the eighth month, when the fetus is kicking and nearly threatening to tear apart your internal organs, not all the beans in Whole Foods could produce that kind of gas.

Unless a woman is somehow isolated from society, denied an education or access to any form of information, she knows. At least, she knows something. Even if she thinks she has a massive tumor, eventually it will become obvious to anyone with whom she shares a bed or bathroom. Eventually you might get a bit freaked out about what’s happening to your body and say something.

Unless it’s a group denial.

Prove me wrong on this. But I believe any woman who claims a baby popped out of her clear out of the blue is lying or in a state of denial so deep there are psychological underpinnings. 

Why am I driving off the road on this one?

Years ago I covered a preliminary hearing in which the defendant, a college-student who lived at home, hid her pregnancy, gave birth in the family bathroom, wrapped up the newborn and tossed it out the bathroom window into a snowdrift. She was caught by her father who heard “suspicious noises” coming from the bathroom. Soon after, the father saw her walking away from the house with a plastic shopping bag in hand.

Police were called; they intercepted the young woman. Last I heard the baby (who’d now be a teenager) survived. What came out in court, the family’s story, was that no one knew she was pregnant.  It came as a shock to everyone. Their story was hard to believe, but they stood by it.

Mental illness? Overwhelming fear of consequences and judgment? It’s anyone’s guess the reasons for concealment. This isn’t a new story. Concealment of pregnancy isn’t uncommon in teen pregnancies or in places around the world where the consequences are dire. But ignorance of it in a first-world nation? By a woman who has three children already?

As the mother of a teen daughter, the possibility of a pregnancy, along with many other pitfalls of the teen years, crouches in the darker corners of my mind. I’m not saying I suspect anything, but the mothers of these girls are always quoted as saying: “We had no idea this was happening.”

Get the shovel and tissues

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Spoiled cat, c. 2003

As you may recall, one of our “twin terror” cats died in January. After the tears and an indoor “service” we placed one of the cat brothers on ice while the other brother looked at us with infinite confusion.

Oh, the humanity!

Oh, the humanity!

This is what our veterinarian suggested in January. When there was a foot of snow on the ground and we hadn’t seen grass or dirt since sometime in November. He said: “If you know anyone with a deep freezer, put him there … or we can take him here.”

 

Toe tag, anyone?

Toe tag, anyone?

There was a fee involved. 

I don’t know about you, but the idea of writing a check to have my cat wrapped, sealed, and tossed in a cooler with other dead pets, seemed, oh, I don’t know, callous?

And the very idea of calling around to friends and family seemed queer also. I mean, how do you ask? Mass e-mail? Individual phone call?

“Do you have a deep freezer, Aunt May?”

“Yes, I do, dear. Did your husband get a deer this season? Did you buy a side of beef?”

“Oh, no, it’s for our cat.”

“I’m sure there are other disciplinary measures you can take before resorting to this, dear.”

“No. No. He’s dead. The cat is dead.”

CLICK.

We don’t store or prepare meat in our household, so we have no need for a big freezer. Ours is just a dinky little box filled to the brim with crystallized ice cream and freezer-burned stir fry mixes. I couldn’t imagine grabbing ol’ fluffy by the frozen tail and shifting him to the left so we can reach for the Garden Burgers.

God forbid if he tumbled to the floor, like so many other frozen items from our freezer do when the door is pulled open too quickly. That would go over well with the babysitter, I’m sure.

“You’re out of ice pops, but you have a dead cat in your freezer. By the way, I’m busy for the next year. Don’t call.”

Through word of mouth, we found a discreet volunteer, one who is used to such matters, who offered up space in a big freezer in her garage. We drove several hours to her place. Sweet dead kitty was swaddled in a flannel sheet, wrapped in a bag, surrounded with all his favorite toys, cat treats, and a few messages written on note paper. It was all very Egyptian. Or maybe more like the The Sopranos?

Time passed. The snow melted. The ground thawed. 

Still, kitty remained frozen in limbo.

Then, as the buds unfurled on the trees and bushes,  a few inquiries blossomed in my e-mail inbox.

“About your cat ….I think it’s time.”

So, this weekend, without further delay, we are hauling out the old metal cooler, getting a block of ice from the local gas station, and hitting the road. We’re bringing the ol’ boy home for a burial.

You know what’s the most interesting thing about this? I ended my search for a new cat/kitten a while ago when none could be found. Just today I had an e-mail about a litter of kittens available immediately.

Timing. Interesting isn’t it?

You can run, but you can't hide

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Had I not successfully asked for and received a postponement, this is how I’d be spending my Friday.
Turns out the courts aren’t a babysitting service and don’t want three-year-olds in attendance at legal proceedings.
Turns out the only babysitter I had available landed a full-time gig.
Turns out not a soul I know is available to babysit pro bono for an indeterminate amount of time on Friday because … who knows how long jury duty could take?
Turns out that getting paid $20 for the day doesn’t cover the $10 hourly rate ($10 x 8 hours = Ack!) that babysitters charge nowadays.
Huh.
There was a time when I’d welcome a summons to appear in the mail. Twice before in my life I’ve reported for jury duty. Twice before I’ve been dismissed before voir dire even commenced. I was disappointed.
But having covered a number of trials in my reporter days, I know better now. Real-life court rooms are nothing like TV shows. Mostly, they’re boring.
Between now and June, when I have to show up for real, I’m going to work on forming a babysitting cooperative with at least one other family.

Bon Jovi called: He wants his hair back

Good day! How is your hair? If you’re proud of your hair decisions, thanks for visiting. If you have a hair horror story or some other humiliating moment captured on film, then join the party. It’s hosted by Marcy of the Glamorous Life Association. Go on over and check it out.

 

There is no shortage of  bad hair decisions in my past.

There is no shortage of evidence in my photo album, either.

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Bad hair weekend, 1986

Take this gem from the mid-’80s. I’m sure it took quite a bit of perm solution to achieve this big hair band masterpiece.  The aura of perm solution and other assorted chemicals in the air must have created a dangerous cocktail that addled my brain, altered my vision, and clouded my judgment. How else to explain this bodacious ‘do?

Folks, we weren’t out clubbin’. This was a camping weekend. No showers, no blow dryers or anything. That is the power of this perm. It held up for a whole weekend. In fact, I was in demand that weekend. There were reports, sightings even, of bear activity in the area. With this hairstyle  – and I’m sure the residual odor of perm solution in my wake — I was a surefire black bear repellent for at least a 50-mile radius.

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Proof that it wasn't MY idea

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I didn't even LIKE this music. I swear!