I'm just a girl trying to find her own custom groove in this world without bending to the expectations of others.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Rhubarb and Kittens

I was eleven years old and the day was hot and dusty. A day made for chewing on stalks of grass and drinking lemonade. It was the first time I'd seen and tasted rhubarb. Every season when the weather first gets warm and humid, I can't help but think about that day. And I can't have Rhubarb without thinking of that mattered-eye kitten.

I was in grade school and life on a farm was something that I longed to have. I loved animals and I was at the age where farm chores seemed like fun, not work. I preferred to be barefoot and the dirtier I got, the cooler I felt. I was afraid of nothing. Put me on a horse with no saddle and I'd hang on to the mane and squeeze my little knees into the mare's sides and ride as long as she'd let me. I'd bounce up and down against the horse's back as she would trot and prance through mud and then loosen up my grip as she made the beautiful transition from bumping to a smooth full on run.

It was hot that day - even for a kid that loved being outside. After dinner, we went out to the pasture to walk the top of the fence. I feared falling inside and having the bull chase me, but the thrill of the danger won out and I walked the entire length, back and forth almost hoping I would lose my balance and fall so I could scramble up as fast as I could, heart racing.

Finally bored with the fence walking, we hopped down and strolled into the barn. The hay smelled sweet and the barn wood dry. Little rays of sun sliced through the wood slats and cut a laser of illuminated dust in the otherwise gray light. We gave bottles of milk to the calves who were "bla-a-ating" to be fed and monkeyed around with some farm tools before we meandered out the front doors and down the rocky driveway.

It felt even hotter on the dry gravel road and our feet kicked up clouds of dust that stuck to the milk that had spilled on our legs. The horseflies were annoying, trying to bite at our sweet, sweaty skin.

There, near the ditch across the street, the leafy plants with the long, purpley celery stems came into view. "What are those?" I asked.

"That's just rhubarb," Beth said matter-of-factly, "Try some. It's good."

It didn't look good, but my sense of adventure took over and I broke off a stalk, cleaned it with my dirty shirt and chomped the end off. It took only a second to register that it was sour. So sour that it stung the hollow part between my jaw and my ear and I spit it on the ground.

That's when we heard the mewls coming from up near the house. We followed the sound to a lilac bush next to the front porch where we found three tiny kittens. They were black and grey striped and probably about six weeks old. We drug them out from their little hideaway to cuddle and play with them, but we noticed one in particular didn't have her eyes open. It didn't look right. She was trying to open them, but had all this dried, crusty matter over them. We scooped her up and brought her to the house where Grandma Schaendorf fetched a warm, wet washcloth and slowly began wiping the kitten's eyes. After her tender care, the little girl that we named Crusty opened her blue eyes and blinked a few times as if thanking us. Delighted with our new friend we took her back outside to join her siblings where we sat for several minutes playing with them.

The mosquitos were starting to swarm in the long grass and we eventually got tired of slapping them away and headed back home to get cleaned up.

While this kind of day doesn't sound quite as appealing to me as it did at one time, I love reliving the events over and over in my head.

Friday, May 26, 2006

I Wish--That--I Knew What I Know Now (boom boom) When I Was Younger

Floating cotton on warm, lazy currents
The smell of dry meadow grass parched by the afternoon sun
Dust swirling in dissipating clouds around bare feet
The droning dissonance of summer insects
Blurred images across the hazy fields
Whispered secrets

The coolness of the forest shelter
Harsh landscape variations
Hot, dusty feet sliding into the creeks motion
Cool water flowing like silk through toes
Sunlight dancing between leaves
twinkling in callow eyes

A sense of security
A sense that all will remain
And then we grow up
Forgetting the magic of childhood
And the beauty of it's simplicity

© 2006 Michelle (nnm)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

These Kids are Going to be the Death of Me

Picture added to satiate Plimco's morbid self. Take great delight in the pain and suffering of my baby. Of course, it doesn't look all that bad 3 days later. If you don't look directly at the blister, you can see it better.

I've been to the doctor's office every day this week followed by a subsequent trip to the pharmacy. Monday was Emily's turn to be seen. She has had a wart that we cannot get rid of with over the counter treatments, so we had to go to the peed. It was no big deal as Drew had his well-baby check up that day too, complete with shots. Emily's wart was too close to a joint to freeze, so we were prescribed some stronger acid to treat her which cost about $60.

Tuesday, Drew has a reaction to his shots. Or so I thought. After he started pushing on his leg and crying, I took his pants off too see what was bothering him. His little thigh was sporting a hot welt about the size of a coffee cup. I called the pediatrician who told me to bring him in right away. Turns out that he has a staph infection from the needle. I know, believe me, I was pissed too. The doctor traces the borders, takes a picture of it, administers an antibiotic and gives a prescription to continue at home with instructions to take him to ER if he develops a fever or if the welt grows past the markings.

Wednesday, Steve gets sick with "the worse sore throat ever". Drew's bump has grown by an inch is hot and leathery and even has some blisters on it. I make another trip to the peed's office with all kids in tow. Steve has strep and receives an antibiotic and Drew gets a stronger medicine to fight his infection. A powder antibiotic that I have to reconstitute and give to him for ten days. At $80 a day.

Today, fortunately, everyone seems well. Drew's leg has visible improvement and he's no longer grumpy. Steve's throat is feeling better and Emily is doing acid. One bright note, Drew can't catch Steve's strep because of all the antibiotics he's on. Let's hope I don't get it too.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Island

Mackinac that is, pronounced Mack-e-naw for those of you who aren't from the north. Mackinac is a beautiful place to go, even when it's cold and rainy. It is very touristy in the summer months, but it's also a little like stepping back in time.

After a 20 minute ferry ride across Lake Huron, arrival on the island is the beginning of your horse or bike transport. It's the only way to get anywhere unless you want to foot it, which sucks when it's blustery cold and the rain drops are slushy.

The only motorized vehicles on the island consist of an ambulance and a fire truck which ironically, crashed into each other as they were racing to meet some ferry passengers that got a little roughed up on the turbulent waters.

Shops! There are shops and bistros galore on Main Street and what is a quaint little setting during the day turns into Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras at night. There is no cover charge for most of the bars and the alcohol flows like water. Since no one has to drive, there isn't any holding back when it comes to limit. What people fail to realize though is that they still need to ride their bike back to their residence or hotel after 10 or 12 rounds. I seriously think biking is more dangerous than driving a vehicle when you are drunk. About 1 a.m. things get really interesting. We're talking some metal mangling, knock-the-wind-out-you bike crashes.

The wedding was beautiful, but cold. It was right on the water so the bride was wrestling with her veil for the entire ceremony. At one point, it was wrapped around her head twice and I sensed a bit of panic from her when she couldn't find her way out. The music didn't work, the kids freaked out and wouldn't sing their solo and the rose petals we threw went up and blew away instead of making a romantic path for the newly married couple to glide over. At least the sun came out during the exchange of vows before the skies opened up in time to transport all 50 guests in carriages to Main Street for the reception. The bride looked like an Afghan dog when it was all said and done.

Despite the weather, we had a good time with our friends on the island. I can't seem to catch up on my sleep though. I feel exhausted. I'd like to post pictures, but looking through them, there aren't many that I feel comfortable sharing. I have a special one for you, Dribbler that I can't post here either. Think Ronald McDonald.

Here are some pictures I can show:

The view from our hotel.

Main Street.
The docks.

And I couldn't resist taking this picture on the ride home. Is this a suggestion or a warning?

Humorously, there was no squeegee in the bucket!

Thursday, May 18, 2006


This may seem spur of the moment, but I will be gone for a while.

this video about safe sex in my absence. (Note: If you are offended by cartoon characters "doing it", you don't need to view.)

PS: The link does work but apparently the site is having some difficulty. Keep trying.

Golden Boy

At seeing the title, I know you got really excited, Itchy, thinking that I was gonna do a write up on your lovely retriever. But, alas, the post title is in reference to a Seinfeld episode in which Jerry loses a treasured article of clothing (his yellow shirt, "Golden Boy") to the rigors of laundering.

I have a "Golden Boy" that isn't going to survive many more wash cycles. A pair of work out sweats from abercrombie. Not Abercrombie & Fitch, mind you, but abercrombie, as in kids. You can see why these are a prized article of attire. What an ego boost to actually have fit into something from a kids store. Granted I got them five years ago and they are really stretched out. Still, I won't be able to squeeze my ass into a new pair of anything from abercrombie ever again.

So I don't want these pants to fall apart any more than they already have. Both the knees and crotch are very thin - almost to the point of transparency. (I realize I'm opening myself up to all sorts of obscene jokes by mentioning the areas of thin material, but it's the truth.) The hem is worn away and the back of the cuff is all but gone. It's at least one inch shorter than the front of the pant leg. The band at the top has opened up to reveal the place where the drawstring once was. The stripe down the side of each leg is holey and tattered. But they are thee most comfortable article of clothing I own. They stay put when I bend over and they don't display half my ass when I sit indian style.

I've quit running them through the dryer and opted to hang them instead to increase their wearable life, but I still fear time is running out. It will be a sad, sad day when I can no longer wear my beloved pants.

© 2006 Michelle (nnm)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Brought to You by the Letter "T"

Chesneygirl had this on her blog the other day and assigned me the letter "t"

Here's how it works: You take your assigned letter and then write 10 words that start with that letter and explain why they are important to you. If you wanna play, let me know in the comments and I'll assign you a letter.

TIME: Time is very important to me. I appreciate it's value very much and I hate to waste it.

TRUST: Equally important, it is very hard to regain once it's lost.

TRUE FRIENDS: There is nothing like the comfort of a good friend.

TOWANDA: AKA, Clew. She's more important to me than I can ever describe.

TREE: Well not all trees, but the weeping cherry tree that I planted in memory of my son Owen. I don't sit by it everyday, but I would be very upset if something happened to it.

TOM: My step dad. He's important to me because he is so important to my mom.

TASTE: Never really thought about that one, eh? But it's pretty important. Life would be pretty bland without it.

TOP SOIL: At the present time as we are putting a lawn in and battling very sandy conditions without it.

TALKING: Talk therapy with a friend is the biggest stress reliever in my life.

TRIALS: Although they are no fun to endure, they do tend to make you aware of the good stuff in your life.

TRIUMPHS: Coming through the trials a whole new person.

Look at that. I didn't think I'd make it to ten and I somehow ended up with eleven. At least I didn't have TALLYING listed here as something important to me.

Monday, May 15, 2006

This is What Happens When....

you have an 18 month old and you take cold medicine that doesn't say "non drowsy".

Stop Here for Reality Check

Ah yes, Mother's Day. Ranks right up there with Christmas in the holiday stress level of family gatherings. With seven siblings and 23 grandchildren running throughout a few crowded rooms, someone's bound to snap right?

I enjoy Mother's Day. I do. There was a time right after Owen died, that Mother's Day was just another reminder of what I didn't have and I shot evil glances at the mom's in church that seemed less than enthusiastic about their day of honor.

This year, I look at mother's in a different light. A comical perspective. As I grew bored with the message, I let my eyes drift over each of the little families in church yesterday. Most of the moms looked tired and annoyed, having no doubt waken up early to retrieve their offspring from the warm confines of bed to fight about breakfast choices and appropriate church apparel. Some moms in the rush of getting the family ready to go, looked like they somehow forgot to comb their own hair. I reach up subconsciously to smooth my own tangled locks. Then there comes a loud bang from somewhere in the middle section of pews followed by a brief period of silence and then earth shattering wails. A mother stands up with a boy tossed across her hip and makes her way to the back of the sanctuary with a look of embarrassed apology on her tired face. Her other children whimpering in her wake.

I think of my grown children and of my little one and marvel at the amount of work and energy level that each age group takes. I sigh a contended little sigh knowing they are secure in my love for them.

To all the moms out there and to all the woman who desperately want to be mothers, hang in there.

© 2006 Michelle (nnm)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Different Course

I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. When I was little, I used to copy chapter books word for word and pretend that I had written them (before I knew what plagiarism meant). In middle school and high school, my term papers and book reports always carried high marks and my friends would beg me to write their papers too. My Creative Writing teacher even used one of my poems for teaching purposes which he still uses today in class. It started out:

Pegasus flew me
with his mighty wings
to a mythical mansion
where held captive - my king
(Give me a break, I was only 14)

I went to college on a Sullivan scholarship for writing. I earned my diploma in business, but received a minor in English. Again, my essays and reports were well received by my profs.

During the rocky years of my first marriage, I lost interest in a lot of things. I came to believe that I wasn't good at anything, especially writing. Part of it was due to the intense verbal abuse and part of it hinged on my own maturity level. It's easy to say that you don't care what someone thinks about you and your work, but when the people who are supposed to love you most berate you, the already low confidence level sinks even further.

After the divorce six years later, I decided to try my hand at writing again. I enrolled in a writer's class, but I was very rusty. The hardest part was trying to undo everything I came to believe about myself. By the end of the six month course, with the help of my instructor, I had a children's book ready to publish. I opted for the children's market because they are such a forgiving market with very little critics. Kids like anything, right? I never even sent the manuscript out. I never want to.

When I had proved to myself that I could at least do it, I set my writing goals aside to raise my children and start a new life. I was okay with that decision. Other things were more important to me at the time and I had yet to learn the fine art of balancing career, kids, and time for myself. I focused all my energies on the kids and our business.

Ten years later, the desire to write was awakened in me again after our son Owen died. I wrote a lot of poetry in the few months after his death and even started three separate books. Each with a different perspective on the silent death of stillbirth.

If I thought my writing skills were rusty before, they were all but corroded at this point. It was even harder to form tangible thoughts and more difficult to put them smoothly on paper. It was an easy decision to abandon my dream once again.

Five years later, this blog is a result of my restlessness. My urge to write is somewhat fulfilled by my ramblings here, but it still isn't enough. I decided last December that I wanted to follow my dream once again and write a book. But this time, I wanted to go about it differently. Rather than jump right in and become overwhelmed yet again, I decided to devote at least a half hour a day to writing something - anything. To do writing exercises daily to strengthen my craft. I subscribed to magazines such as Writer's Digest and Narrative Magazine in an effort to get "back in touch" with today's markets. The result is a notebook brimming with ideas and descriptive writings, poems and a bunch of ramblings that don't make any sense. And I continue to fill it daily even if it's simply writing down a quote that I think I'll reference someday.

I often wonder what will become of my little journals and scraps of paper if something ever happens to me. Who will find them and read them? What will they think about the person they didn't really know? Would they throw my thoughts away or treasure them as a keepsake?

Either way, I'm at least working toward my dream and have developed some habits that will make the journey easier.

(Yeah, my day got drastically rearranged and I had more time than I originally thought)

© 2006 Michelle (nnm)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Forgotten Post

Up since 6:30 a.m., I am 16 hours, two meals, seven baby diaper changes and four ineffectual allergy pills into my day. I am officially in a bad mood. I don't want to go to bed because I have a crazy busy day on Thursday that will start sooner than I want if I go to sleep. Yet, I can barely keep my red-rimmed, watery eyes focused on the computer screen.

I missed my 100th post. It came and went without any fanfare. No little celebration commemorating the often painful conveyance of thought to word, no streamers shouting congratulations for not giving up, no special little post marking the big milestone.

I'm kidding. Well, maybe not totally. I was working on a really cool idea for the 100th post and now I don't feel like using it. You'd understand my disappointment if you knew this post has taken lots of planning and coordinating on my part and it still isn't finished.

Anyway, I'm in a pissy mood because of that and other extenuating circumstances and I won't be around much Thursday if at all. In case you were wonderin'.

© 2006 Michelle (nnm)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Not-So-Pretty-Side of Motherhood

Did I mention I got my carpets professionally cleaned last week? Have I also mentioned that the increasingly mischievous Drew has learned to hide when he's doing something he shouldn't be doing?

I was on a business call last Friday when I noticed he was being particularly quiet. I found him in the pantry in a pile of Special K, Fruit Loops and Grape Nuts. Not just one box opened and dumped on the floor, but three!! And he was working on the Honeycombs. You can't really freak out and yell at your kid while you are in the middle of going over someone else's finances so I ushered him harshly out of the pantry and away from the mess which he was trying to eat. I needed to jot down some information and I swear I only turned around for ten seconds. He made it back into the pantry, retrieved the hot cocoa mix and toddled back out to the dining room carpet where he promptly dumped it too. It wouldn't have been so bad, except the dog started to lick up the yummy mess which turned it into liquid and stained my newly cleaned carpet. (Wait, dogs aren't supposed to have chocolate right? Does cocoa mix count?)

Fast forward to Sunday when I was getting ready for church. I thought my husband was keeping an eye on the boy, and he thought Drew was with me. We found him with a tube of my lipstick sitting on my silk duvet cover mashing it through his chubby fingers. He was covered, the duvet cover was covered, and yep, you guessed it, the carpet was covered too. Not to mention that the patches of white fur on the dog are now a pretty shade of dusky wine.

Now it's Tuesday. I'm worried that my baby has bulemic tendencies. He enjoys sticking his fingers down his throat until he gags. Today he went a little too far. Today he actually purged himself of his macaroni and cheese. He was in his crib and I heard it amplified on the baby monitor. He managed to get it all over himself and surprise, the carpet. I got him all washed up and set his new clothes next to him just as he began peeing all over himself and my bathroom mirror. Now, I am an experienced mom, but the last few days have me feeling at best like a fumbling rookie.

Have I also mentioned that Drew added "shit" to his vocabulary? I wonder where he got that.

© 2006 Michelle (nnm)

I got this neat little copyright symbol from this neat gal who got it from this girl who got it from her brother. Thanks to all.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Da Doo Ron Ron Ron

Driving around Sunday morning, a song I hadn't heard in ages came on the radio and instantly transported me back in time to my Holly Hobbie bedroom with the green gingham bedspread and matching curtains where I was waiting for Shaun Cassidy to discover the hidden talent (which was me) singing Da doo ron ron ron, da doo ron ron. Yeah, my heart stood still. Yeah, her name was Jill.......

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Caffe Verona

I recently ordered some books online from Barnes & Noble. They came packaged with a bag of Caffe Verona from Starbucks. This is how the package read:

Caffe Verona
"Coffee of Romance"
A seductive blend with a touch of Italian Roast lending depth, soul & sweetness

Maybe I'm not wordly enough, but I can't gather how that coffee might taste from that exotic description. What is a seductive blend? And do I really want my coffee to fill that demand for me? This description might be more suitable on a bottle of Scotch.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Greeting Card Cartel

The greeting card industry is a 7 billion dollar industry with three companies commanding a whopping 85% of the market; Hallmark, American Greetings and Gibson Greetings. And we, the American public have bought into this notion hook, line and sinker.

What does a greeting card actually say to the receiver? It says, "Hey, I'm too cheap to spend any amount of money on you and I can't think up anything endearing to say on my own, so I'll let a stranger handle my sentiments for me."

I'll admit, once in a while a person finds the appropriate message on a friendship card or encouragement card that can describe the giver's feelings better than they could otherwise, but what about birthdays? Wouldn't you rather have them spend an extra $3 on your gift and scrap the card? And isn't just a plain old "Happy Birthday" enough? How often do we actually keep these cards and if we do, how often do we haul them out and enjoy them all over again? Might just as well throw four bucks in the can.

Then there are the obnoxiously large cards. The one's the size of poster boards. "I still couldn't afford a present, but I just paid $8.99 for a piece of flimsy cardboard, but look the word love is eighteen inches tall!" What about the odd shaped cards or the postcard sized cards that require extra postage? They're smaller and they require extra postage?!!! Someone explain this concept to me. Oh, the greeting card companies are in bed with the US Postal Service. It all makes sense now.

Really, I have nothing against giving or receiving cards for special occasions or just because, but don't get pissed at me if I choose not to send one for MAY DAY!!!!!