Thursday, August 30, 2012

Now I can bore you with my vacation

Now that I've shipped my niece back to DC, I thought I should backtrack a bit and blather on about our vacation. As you may recall, it started off badly with my husband getting waaaay lost. So, things could only get better from there. We woke up on Saturday morning ready to get our vacation started.  The kid and I went "into town" for a few groceries. We stopped at a farmers' market which, as luck would have it, was hosting some special "kids' day" activities. She had her face painted, played some games, and petted some hipster's rabbit. (Seriously - I wasn't sure how else to describe that. This dread-locked dude had an angora rabbit and he was plucking out chunks of loose fur so that he could weave something out if it later, I guess.)

When we got back to the cabin, it started to rain. And then to hail. The hail was a little unnerving but we took it in stride. Because we had alcohol and didn't have anywhere we needed to be. I had also brought along lots of stuff for the kid to do. She played games on the Kindle, watched the original Star Wars trilogy on VHS (that's right), and spent an entire afternoon making crafts out of masking tape. She then set up a store to sell her masking tape products, and forced me to purchase a nail polish holder for a quarter. It's basically a slab of masking tape with the words "nail polish holder" written on it. I can't return it because she didn't give me a receipt. Because I know what's good for me, I dutifully took it home after our trip and piled a bunch of bottles of nail polish on it. Occasionally she asks me, "How's that nail polish holder workin' out for ya?"  I think this is code for "don't you dare throw that thing out until I leave for college."

The weather got better as the week wore on. Some days we left the cabin and actually went somewhere - such as the day we went hiking at a state park - and other days we went nowhere at all. The kid and her dad did a lot of fishing. We don't eat fish so they just caught the fish, made the fishes' lives flash before their eyes, and then tossed them back in. I walked the dogs once a day so that I could say I had "worked out."  I also did follow through with my plan to do some yoga on the deck. It was downright peaceful, downward-dogging it with the call of the loon drifting up off the lake.

We basically did the same stuff we do every year, which isn't a bad thing. I read a couple of books. Normally I don't get as much time for reading as I would like. The most excitement we had was that Gideon broke out of his crate while we were out and ate all of our cinnamon rolls and doughnuts. So, aside from being short on breakfast items thereafter, we had a great time.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cousins (or cuzins, as the kids say)

There are seven grandchildren in our family; five of them have penises. The two girls belong to me and my middle sister. When I was first pregnant many years ago, my baby would have been born in early 2000.  I had hoped that he/she and my niece (born at the end of 1998) would be close in age and would be close in other ways, too. Well, that scenario was not to be. It took several more years before Short Stuff joined our family in 2005.

My niece has been visiting us since last week. Even though my daughter and my niece are 6 1/2 years apart, they get along great. My daughter thinks her older cousin is the coolest thing since the iPad. To give you an example, we went back-to-school shopping at the mall the other day. When my niece told my daughter that skinny jeans are "in," my daughter immediately required me to buy her two pairs. I have to admit that she does look exceptionally cute in them. She still wants to wear mostly dresses, but pants are starting to creep in from time to time. I think if her cousin told her that all the cool kids are wearing cabbage leaves as hats, I'd be buying those, too.

By the way, if you are over 30 and want to feel REALLY old, let a 13-year-old girl watch you send a text message. I had this experience the other day. My niece was so distraught over my slowness that her thumbs started twitching and a bead of sweat formed on her lip. My sister told me that Blondie even dials the home phone with both thumbs. When I dial a phone number, it's with my right thumb exclusively. My left thumb would not even know how to get involved in that. 

We've had a lot of fun during Blondie's visit. I'm still short on time so I'm going to do some shameless photo-sharing here:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Little Scare

I haven't had much time to write, as my 13-year-old niece is visiting and I'm using all of my spare time to come up with new ways to embarrass her. I started off by yelling, "BLONDIE!" at the top of my lungs when I spotted her coming through security at the airport after her plane landed, causing her to duck into the crowd and pretend she didn't know me. I followed up by taking photos of myself when she briefly left her iPhone with me on Friday. My sister tipped me off that Blondie finds eyeball close-ups particularly horrifying, so I quickly took a snapshot of my eye and then blithely handed the phone back. Teenagers are fun!  They sleep a lot and eat a lot, though. When my niece wasn't waking up on Friday, I sent her mom a text asking if I should go in and hold a mirror under Blondie's nose.

We returned from our vacation on Thursday. We had a great time at the cabin. I'll write more about our trip later (I'm sure you can hardly wait), but it did not start out well.  The lake is four hours from our home. I knew I'd have to go straight to the airport on Thursday to pick up my niece (a six-hour drive), so it made sense to take separate cars. My husband drove with the dogs. He left about an hour after we did (on Friday the 17th).  The kid and dogs and I got to the cabin at about 8:30 that night. I had wanted to get there before it was completely dark because the road we are used to taking is closed. My friend (the one who owns the cabin) had given me a workaround and I had also printed maps. The GPS is a little iffy about some of the dirt roads up there. The lake is in a national forest and is not all that easy to find.

Once I figured out the correct way in, I immediately called my husband to make sure he would know where to turn. The map was a little deceiving - the turn came up far quicker than one would expect. I got a "this caller is not available" sort of message. We both have the same cellular provider so I couldn't figure out why I'd have a signal when he didn't. Not too concerned, I unloaded the van as the sky grew dark. As you can imagine, a remote lake on a private road in the middle of a national forest . . . well, let's just say that when it gets dark, it gets DARK. I tried to call P a few more times as I unpacked. No answer. I set up the dogs' crates and tried to keep myself busy. I flipped through a magazine. Soon it was 9:30, the approximate time I was expecting him. Then 10, then 10:30.  I tried to call over and over. If you looked at the "sent" folder on my phone right now, you'd think I was a crazed stalker.

The kid was asking where her dad was, so I said he was probably lost but tried to act nonchalant about it. Secretly, though, I was very worried. Eventually, she fell asleep on the couch, which was somewhat of a relief. Soon it was 11. I was not sure what to do. Do I call the hospital? (where is the nearest hospital??? I realized I had no idea, which was probably bad). Do I call the police? I also had the thought of calling my mother, because of course she'd be able to fix everything from 1400 miles away. I wondered if I should go out looking for him, but that seemed like a bad idea, too. I did the most sensible thing I could think of, which was to go into the bathroom and cry. I called my husband's number for the millionth time, picturing his phone ringing next to his lifeless body after he had plowed into a tree in the pitch-black darkness. Then I would think, "Well, the man was a Marine. Surely he is okay?"

Eventually, not knowing what else to do, I climbed into bed and fell into a light sleep. I heard the door open at around 12:30 a.m.  I have never been so relieved in my entire life. As it turned out, he had been hopelessly lost on the miles of dirt roads and had no signal on his phone. He said he had been bouncing around on those unpaved roads for so long that at times he thought he might have to pull over and puke.  He didn't drive again for the rest of our trip, as he wasn't sure he ever wanted to see a dirt road again.

The vacation got infinitely better from that point on. Of course, a couple days later he was chewing a tortilla chip at a freakish volume in my ear and I felt like I might drown him in the lake but for a little while there, I was reminded of how much I do like that guy. Let's just keep that between you and me, though. I don't want him to think he can get away with that tortilla-chewing thing indefinitely.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A loaf of bread, a box of wine, and thou

Keeping it classy with a box o'wine. Apparently, I am meant to take it hiking with me.
We are leaving for a little trip so I'll be offline for a while. Don't rob us while we are gone. We have someone watching our house. Also, we have a very capable third-grader from our 'hood coming by to water my tomato plants and SHE MEANS BUSINESS, MISTER. We are looking forward to a quiet week, our annual cabin-by-the-lake trip. Well, quiet is sort of a relative term when you have a child who cannot stop talking, even when she is on the toilet. We're packing lots of books, board games, coloring books, and alcohol. I am even bringing my yoga mat in case I decide to run through a few sun salutations out on the deck (don't worry- nobody can see me out there).

A couple of random updates . . . 

We finished watching Season 1 of "Game of Thrones." We can't seem to find a way to get our hands on Season 2, as it's not yet available on Netflix and we don't have HBO. We've had HBO in the past but whenever we have a premium channel, the daily line-up always looks something like this:

5:00 p.m. St. Elmo's Fire
7:00 p.m  Lethal Weapon 3
9:00 p.m. From Justin to Kelly

Anyway, if you do happen to have HBO and want to invite us over for, say, ten nights in a row so that we can watch Season 2, just let me know. My eye candy (Khal Drogo) died at the end of Season 1 so I've lost some of my enthusiasm for the series, but I shall persevere. 

In other news, you may be wondering how the allowance situation is working out (I know you weren't wondering - just humor me here). The first week went fine. The kid received her five bucks and all was well. I mean, her dusting skills are nothing to write home about, but I wasn't nitpicking. She started to get a little bit surly about doing her chores in the second week, though. I reminded her to pick up dog poop and she started explaining to me how she doesn't like picking up the light brown piles because they are squishier and besides, the job is just SO gross.  So, I sent her to her room, picked up the poop myself, and deducted a dollar from her allowance.

That's all the news for now.  See you on the flipside!

Monday, August 13, 2012

The fairest of the fair

Actually, the fairest of the fair was me. When you have no pigment in your skin, you get to be the fairest of wherever you go. I'm the fairest of public restrooms, the grocery store, Target, you name it.

The cutest of the fair, though?  My kid, of course. We had a great time at the state fair over the weekend. When we first got there, I headed for the vendor expo while the kid and her dad hit the children's activity area. She made a bracelet with her name on it, watched a pizza-eating contest, and scored some free Oreos and potato chips. As for me, the only thing I bought at the expo was some jewelry cleaner. The man offered me a free ring cleaning, so I handed him my wedding rings. However, not before I nearly had to wrench my ring finger clean off to liberate those rings from my hand, eventually resorting to the use of my own spit. "Ha ha!" I said. "I must have gained a pound or two since my wedding!"

I also came |this| close to buying the Slushie Magic thing my daughter has been begging for. I stood and watched the demonstration as if in a trance.  The loud-voiced sales guy spoke of magic ice cubes and how you could even put vodka Hawaiian Punch in there if you wanted to! They were only selling the kits in two-packs, though. I decided to pass. Maybe I'll reconsider it for Christmas or something. Or maybe never. It looks messy.

For breakfast on Saturday, I had limited myself to a Slim Fast shake so that I could eat something unholy at the fair. I decided to try deep-fried cookie dough. It was okay. I will probably go for a new experiment next year.  The cookie dough was really the only wacky thing I ate.

We spent a couple hours on the midway where our daughter rode every ride she was tall enough to ride. She's hoping to hit 48 inches by next summer, as it will open up even more puke-inducing fun when she can ride the bigger ones. We bought her a wristband (to the tune of $30) that granted her unlimited rides. It seemed like a decent deal but then again, everything seems pretty reasonable to us now that we've been to DisneyWorld. P kept a running tally to make sure we got our money's worth out of that wristband. I think the kid eventually hit something like 25 attractions, some of them twice. P and I watched her spin on this and that while we clutched our abdomens and made comments about our daughter and her stomach of steel.

Oh, we also paid $2 for her to walk through this thing (below), where she was supposed to learn about internal organs and other part's of a lizard's? dinosaur's? anatomy. You could hear gurgling and farting from the outside. The ride operator informed our child that she would come out the other end, as dino poop.  Needless to say, that is her new nickname.

Later, we checked in at our hotel and went swimming. P and I realized that we had gotten a bit too much sun while we were standing on the midway for so long. We burn while our daughter tans beautifully (even with sunblock).  P asked me why I had not informed him earlier that his face was red. I honestly had not noticed, but I did have sunblock in my bag, which he could have asked for at any time. I have been telling the man for over 20 years now that I am not his mother. Ten bucks says we repeat the same scenario next summer.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The intricacies of the school supply list

We're leaving for the state fair this morning but I wanted to get this little gem written down before I go. As a parent, I think it's extremely important that I chronicle everything that will embarrass my child later.

Last year, I waited too long to buy school supplies. We generally take a vacation in late August (as we will again this year) and I don't like to think about school until, well, Labor Day. My daughter is extremely excited about going back to school, however. She is a big, bad second grader now. There are three grades under her so I'm sure her level of power on the playground is growing day by day.  For me, school is . . . a lot of work. Between making lunches and dealing with the mountain of paper that comes home every day, not to mention the homework and the reading logs, I'm usually sick of it all by Halloween. I am not sure why all of the jobs fall to me just because I have ovaries.

Anyway, after finding the school supply section was all but empty when I went last year, I decided to suck it up and buy the supplies last night. I grabbed the list and the kid and I headed to the store that was promising ten-cent folders and glue sticks. I quickly determined that a few of the items on the list were a little bit ambiguous - or at least were not packaged such that I could buy exactly the needed quantity. 4 black dry erase markers. Well, does she need the thin ones or the fat ones? 2 red pens. I had to buy a whole box because they are not sold singly or doubly. Another item on the list: post-it notes that are 1 1/2 by 2 inches. As far as I can determine, after visiting two stores, this size does not exist. Very funny, teacher lady!

After about an hour, we had just about everything on the list except for the two composition books that were required. My daughter scanned the shelves and asked me what they would look like. "They're usually black and white," I said. "The cover kind of looks like it's marbled." 

I continued to study the stacks of post-it notes while she looked for the composition books. A few seconds later, I heard her gasp. And then she exclaimed, for all the world to hear:


Thursday, August 9, 2012

The whole world's gone mad

Animal Liberation has a lot of handicaps. First and most obvious is the fact that members of the exploited group cannot themselves make an organized protest against the treatment they receive (though they can and do protest to the best of their abilities individually). We have to speak up on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. You can appreciate how serious this handicap is by asking yourself how long blacks would have had to wait for equal rights if they had not been able to stand up for themselves and demand it. The less able a group is to stand up and organize against oppression, the more easily it is oppressed.
                                                                    -Peter Singer,
Animal Liberation 

It's no secret that when it comes to animals and their treatment in the world, I have some pretty strong feelings. I am not down with eating animals, experimenting on them, or using them for our entertainment.* A lot of people point to the Biblical reference that God gave man dominion over the animals. I am obviously not a Biblical scholar by any stretch of the imagination. However, I've read that the original translation of the word was more akin to "shepherd" or "steward." We could have used that kinder, gentler definition, but we didn't. We went with the "do what we like with them" translation. And once we accept and believe that animals are here to suit our needs, we can convince ourselves that our treatment of them does not matter. They are a resource. Nothing more, nothing less.

I found this anonymous quote online. It sums up my thoughts pretty nicely:

If you consider dominion (e.g. domain, supreme authority, sovereignty), then you should ask: what do you consider this word to mean? Dominion could be the benign notion of responsible stewardship over other things and beings. On the other hand, historically dominion has been used to justify atrocities such as slavery, heinous levels of exploitation, and genocide. Because humans are technically omnivores and we can exist on a mostly (vegetarian) to exclusively plant + algae/yeast based diet (vegan), we have some choice what type of diet that we select. An important question to ask is: what happened to the animals on your plate? In the days of Christ animals were not factory farmed in the cruel manner that they are today. Factory farming of animals is excessively cruel and matches the definition of dominion as an atrocity on other beings. In contrast, if killing is not offensive to you and you accept that animals do face predators in nature, then your discomfort over eating meat may be assuaged by limiting meat and only purchasing meat that came from small local free-range farms or was hunted as game or that was fished in oceans and lakes.

Why am I thinking about this stuff?  Well, I think about it a lot, to be honest. I just don't say it out loud very often because I know my views are a little extreme by society's standards and I do have an interest in having friends, having a job, etc.

I am taking my daughter to our county fair next week. We already have our tickets and everything. However, I am now having a sizable ethical dilemma because I've learned that the fair will feature a bear act this year. I've already written to the fair organizers to complain. I don't want to disappoint my daughter by boycotting this year's fair, but if the bear act is back next year, I will actively boycott.  I mean, we go to the fair to ride the Ferris wheel and to eat fried Oreos. We didn't need anything added to the offerings, particularly not abject cruelty.

I am horrified that a civilized society would find this to be an acceptable form of entertainment. I already know that "their" arguments are:

- It's educational. Bullshit. I can learn about bears in a million different ways without them riding a bicycle for me. If a bear doesn't do it in the wild (and I'm pretty sure they don't wear collars and ride ten-speeds in the deep woods), then it's unnatural and wrong.

- They are well cared for. Of course they are going to say that. The circus people say the same thing. Do you think they are going to say, "We force them to submit to us physically and then reinforce this control through whatever means necessary?"

- It's family entertainment.  Again, we'll just stick with the Ferris wheel and a funnel cake, thanks.

Performing bears. Ai-yi-yi.  Am I the only person who thinks this is nuts? Why can't our county fair stick with bringing in has-been rock bands from the 80s like all the other fairs?

*Except for putting my dogs in Halloween costumes for photography purposes.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Chores, chores, chores

I've been comparing notes with some of my friends.  "What kind of chores do your kids do?" I ask. "And do you pay them?"

The reason I'm asking, of course, is that my workload is heavier than seems necessary some days. Doing laundry, vacuuming, dusting, mopping, cooking, and cleaning toilets, all while holding down a full-time job? Blech! Everyone who lives in my house is ambulatory. It seems logical to me that some of the people who share my last name could be, you know, doing a little more. Also, I'd like to teach my daughter the value of work and money. I don't want to raise a spoiled kid who shows up for her first day on the job and expresses horror at the fact that her boss may expect her to . . . work.

I heard a wide array of responses from the friends I queried. Some of my parent-friends dole out allowances and some don't. Some feel that chores are expected because it is part of the obligation that comes with being a member of a family (chores aren't tied to money, in other words). Others don't mind paying on an ad hoc basis if the job is done well. And that, mes amis, is the operable word. Well. Every husband in the world has attempted to get himself out of laundry duty by failing at the task in spectacular fashion. Ruin your wife's shit and you're off the hook for the next decade at the very least. My husband is not allowed to touch anything that contains, or even appears to contain, thread and/or buttons.

Anyway, when I started hearing that some of my friends' kids have been putting away their own laundry and emptying the dishwasher since they were fetuses, I knew it was time to obligate my daughter to do a little more.  So, I made a chore chart for her.  Here it is:
  • Daily: Make bed and keep room picked up
  • Every other day: Take a shower/bath with minimal assistance
  • Weekly: Dust
  • Every Wednesday after school and every Sunday before church: Pick up dog poop

Allowance: $5.00 per week if all jobs are done WELL.

Now, I know she won't do everything perfectly. When my husband puts the pans away in the cupboard, he puts the big frying pans on top of the smaller pans, so that they are teetering there precariously. To me it seems like common sense that you would nest the pans with the largest one on the bottom. But apparently this makes me an overbearing control freak so I've learned not to say anything out loud. When I open the cupboard and observe the precariously teetering pan tower, I just silently repeat to myself, "Different doesn't mean wrong, different doesn't mean wrong." 

The chore schedule started yesterday. I sent her outside before church to pick up dog poop. This involves putting a sandwich bag over one hand and then using that hand to pick up the poop and toss it into a bag. We then have a bucket in the garage for the bag o' poop. Things started out pretty well but then she somehow managed to drop a dollop of poop on the deck. Then she stepped in it and somehow got a smidge of it on her hand. So, she abandoned the bag where it was and went inside, wearing her poop-smeared flip-flops (that part's my favorite!). The dogs then ran across the deck and also stepped in the dookie.  I momentarily thought of crawling under my bed and curling into the fetal position, but instead took a deep breath and cleaned up the mess.

A few minutes later, my daughter asked me when she might expect to receive her allowance. Ummmm . . .

Friday, August 3, 2012

You Shoulda Seen the Other Guy

My newly minted bike rider had her first major spill yesterday (yes, she was wearing a helmet). We rode to the park after dinner and were on our way back home when it happened. I'm still not sure how she fell. Maybe, with a few weeks of riding under her belt, she got a little cocky and wasn't paying close attention. Or maybe there was something in the road. I'm not sure. I was riding behind her and saw the handlebar jerk to the left. Then I saw her face hit the asphalt.

It was one of those slow-motion moments, the kind a parent fears the most. I saw her bike fall and I watched her go down. The first thoughts to fly into my brain were, "Broken teeth! Compound fracture!" I hopped off my bike and engaged the kickstand, but the bike fell over and clattered against the curb anyway. I ran over to my daughter just as she was getting up.

Now, my child is not the type to dust herself off and soldier on. So, I knew there was going to be a scene, regardless of whether her injuries were superficial or not. She clutched her knee and hobbled over to the curb, crying loudly. She had a sizable mark on her right cheek from where her face had collided with the road. A cursory exam revealed that she would live. We sat on the curb for a little while and I held her while she wailed, "Owwwwwie!" over and over, in case any of the neighbors had missed it the first few dozen times.

Eventually, I convinced her to get up and walk the three blocks home (since riding was clearly out of the question). I walked the two bikes back to our house while she followed behind, crying and limping. When we got home, she laid on her bed while I cleaned her up and gave her an ice pack for her cheek. I added a glob of Neosporin to her knee and applied a couple of Muppets Band-aids over the scrape. I set up her portable DVD player and popped in Toy Story 3. Finally, I handed her a cotton candy-flavored freezy pop and she was quiet for the rest of the evening. Well, she did take a few moments to detail her brush with death for her Meemaw over the phone. Meemaw was suitably sympathetic.

Her dad was working last night so I didn't tell him about the accident until this morning. I told him NOT to advise our daughter as to what she could have done differently so as to have avoided the incident. I knew that would not go over well. Our biggest concern now is getting her back on her bike. We're going to encourage her to get on the ol' horse this weekend, if only for a loop around our cul-de-sac.

She was afraid everyone at Kindercare would stare at her cheek today. I gave her a couple of witty comebacks, but she wasn't interested.

"Oh, this? Bar fight."

"Football injury."

"The street was mouthing off so I beat it up with my face."

"That fourth shot of Patron musta been a doozy!"

No one finds me amusing around here. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Let me just be the 8 millionth blogger to comment on this

I do not eat at Chik-Fil-A. I am a vegetarian, so I have no need to go there. Plus, we only have one in our state and it's not terribly close to me. So, there's that.

It's been hard to ignore the buzz about the restaurant chain lately, though. As we've all heard by now, COO Dan Cathy made some remarks regarding his support of the "biblical definition of the family unit."  He also spoke of the fact that we, as a nation, are "inviting God's judgement" if we do not support that definition. As many news sources have pointed out, he/the company donates to organizations such as Exodus International.

It bothers me when someone talks about the traditional family, the Biblical definition of marriage, and so forth. My family was created through adoption. What if someone decides that my family isn't legitimate enough for their liking? (You may think I am exaggerating here, but there are some anti-adoption people out there who literally terrorize adoptive parents.) I guess you could say that I have a traditional marriage but why is tradition so important? Times change. There are passages in the Bible that would seem ludicrous to us today, if we were to follow them to a T. We, as a society, change and evolve. We used to smoke in hospitals, people!

At first I didn't invest myself too much in the Chik-Fil-A drama. But then a friend of mine sent me an email that caused me to take a closer look. She is gay. She is married and she and her wife have three children. She spoke of how frustrating it is to have all of these people sitting around and talking about (and making decisions about) HER family.  Why does everyone get a say, for crying out loud?  I never thought about it quite that way, but her point is a valid one. I have to confess that I've always found it irritating that the majority of the people who make laws regarding reproductive rights will never, ever be pregnant (cuz they have penises, in case you weren't following my drift).

In the end, I guess I'm not sure if this topic is my business or not. I'm not gay. I don't eat chicken. To me, though, it does speak to a larger issue, which is civil rights. And I do care about that. A lot of people on Facebook are saying that they support Chik-Fil-A because they support free speech. They say that they appreciate that Dan Cathy stood up for his beliefs.  As far as I can tell, they in no way found his remarks to be homophobic. People who went to Chik-Fil-A yesterday (after the call from Mike Huckabee to patronize the company on August 1st) had a variety of reasons for going, but many were also quick to say that their support of Chik-Fil-A was not backed by ill intent. I saw lots of " I do not support gay marriage" . . . quickly followed by ameliorating statements such as "I have nothing against gay people." And see, here is where I have a problem. If you have a friend who happens to be gay (and I guarantee that you do, whether you think so or not) . . . if you can look that person in the eye and say, "I don't want you to have the same civil rights that I do (marriage), but that doesn't mean I don't like YOU, silly!" . . . I am not sure that you are much of a friend after all.

How can someone say that they support denying civil rights to an entire population of people (in this case, folks who happen to be gay) and not think that sentiment is homophobic? I just cannot wrap my brain around it. Someone on my Facebook page mentioned the fact that I don't eat meat but it doesn't mean that I hate people who do eat meat.  That is true - I don't hate carnivores. However, it is not an apples to apples comparison. I choose to be a vegetarian. I did not choose to be heterosexual. It just so happens that my natural inclination is that I dig the menfolk (speaking of which, have you been watching the men's swimming events in the Olympics? Whew!)  When someone says that they disagree with homosexuality . . . I mean, how does that work? It's like saying that you disagree with my skin color. It is 2012 - are we seriously still debating the "innate vs. choice" thing?

Although I care a lot about the joint topics of civil rights and discrimination, sometimes I do have a hard time understanding why some folks get so worked up about opposing same-sex marriage. I recently told a friend, "If you and your partner got married, the only way I can think of that it would affect my life is that I'd need to buy you a gift."

"We don't plan to get married," he replied.

"Well, good," I said, "Because I didn't really want to buy ya'll a gift."  I was kidding, of course. I would buy a gift. But other than that, what's it to me who gets married and who doesn't?  I struggle to understand how it would somehow damage my "traditional" marriage or the moral fabric of our country (with its 50% divorce rate).

As an aside, did you know that the Prime Minister of Iceland is gay (and married to her long-time partner)? Did you know that no one in Iceland gives a rip? Seriously, it seems to be a non-issue - not just in Iceland but in many countries. Oh, but that we Americans were as evolved!

I think part of my frustration with this topic is actually something more akin to embarrassment. I am sorry that my friends and family members who are gay have to deal with this every day. I mean, it is one thing for me to be outraged as a human being, but the reality is that I don't live with this discrimination as a constant in my life. For me it's more of an outrage by proxy, I suppose. It hurts my heart

I wish I had some neat and tidy way of wrapping up this little rant of mine. I don't. This is messy. However, my final thought is this: I believe that discrimination is wrong. I would go so far as to say that discrimination in any form is wrong but the two-faced "we still love you even though we don't want you to have rights" variety seems just seems particularly repugnant to me.  Word.

We bought a disintegrator

It's been a quiet week so far. I cleaned up the basement and tried to figure out what to do with all of my cat-related stuff. I do not plan to take in any more kitty cats. I have lived with cats all my life and I adore them, but I have two little problems: 1. I do dog rescue and 2. I'm allergic. My dogs are not vicious by any stretch but if a cat runs, they will give chase. And when you have three big dogs doing the chasing, the pack mentality sort of takes over. It's not fun for the feline. For those who manage to have lots of dogs and cats living together successfully, my hat is off to you.

Until Ella was gone, I didn't realize how much cat paraphernalia we had downstairs. There were toys, scratching posts, beds, and catnip. Also, a lot of hair. I didn't vacuum down there too frequently because Ella had a coronary event every time she heard the vacuum cleaner. When we first bought our house, I purchased a carpeted, multi-level cat condo sort of thing.  I've reached out to some cat rescues, as I'd like to donate it (I will scrape the hair and vomit off first). I've had a few responses, so I'm hoping it will be put to good use for some other kitties.  I think I can find a good home for the cat dishes and other re-usable items, too. I will keep her cat carrier because I've needed it a few times to haul injured wildlife over to our local sanctuary.

[Warning: 'Claudia might be crazy' alert] Ella came back to me for a brief moment on Monday night. I was lying in bed and she mewed just once and then she was gone. It was comforting in a way. After Lucy Annabel died, she came back once or twice. I heard her tags jingling one night. She used to sleep with me (she was an excellent spooner) and for just a moment, I knew she there. I think it must get harder for them to come back after some time has passed. Then again, I am not one with a lot of psychic abilities so I'm not sure how these things work.

The only other excitement we've had this week is that we purchased a new dehumidifier for the basement. The kid can never remember what it's called and has referred to it as the disintegrator, the fumigator, and possibly even the detonator. I'm actually pleasantly surprised that my other half accepted this assignment when I gave it to him. He tends to get a little bit passive-aggressive when it comes to requests from the ball and chain. Our gutters, in case you wondered, now have small trees sprouting out of them. I pointed out to him a while ago that the old dehumidifier was not working properly. It would freeze up - literally. The thing would suck up water for a while and then develop a solid block of ice on the back of the machine. I suggested that we needed a new one, in as much as the one we had was 14 years old and had made its retirement plans pretty clear. "What are you talking about?" asked my husband. "It works fine!" (Makes a humming noise = "works just fine.")

I pointed to the iceberg attached to the filter on the back. "A polar bear could live on this," I noted. "There are probably, like, seals and fish living underneath."  Anyway, he relented and brought home the new one.

So, that's my week so far. Oh, I'm back to counting my points and doing the Weight Watchers thing. I fell off the wagon, I guess. Again. Some days I just want to buy a muumuu and be done with it.

Pack of Doofuses