Friday, August 31, 2007

Public Bathroom Etiquette

I’ve always kept an imaginary list of “Public Bathroom Etiquette” and I mentally refer to it time and again whenever I’m forced to journey into the world of other people’s germs.

Number one on the list has always been the “Courtesy Flush.” That’s for Number 2.

Anyway, I digress. Who, in their right mind, would believe that someone – let alone a public figure, would pick up the trash on a dirty, public restroom floor because they were a public servant?

New Rule #1 for my Imaginary Bathroom Etiquette; Repeat after me – If it’s on the floor, it is quite possible that it was previously in contact with someone’s ASS. Leave it alone!

New Rule #2 - If you see dirt, grime, or smudges on the bottom of the stall wall, unless you are wearing rubber gloves, are holding a Clorox wipe and have your name printed on your shirt – you should have NO REASON to put your fingers on the bottom of the wall or, for that matter, anywhere inside the stall. Put your hands in your lap and don’t move until you need to reach for the t.p

New Rule #3 – Unless you are playing a musical instrument or stepping on a deadly spider that is attempting to take your life – DO NOT TAP YOUR FEET. And if you are sitting in your stall, playing a musical instrument, WTF!!!?

New Rule #4 - If you have a W I D E stance, you might want to consider 'tucking in.'

The basics for bathroom etiquette involve a plethora of BASIC public behavior. The coughs you hear in stalls next to you are not people who are suffering from a cold. That’s called a noise distraction (Rule #53) to cover up the real activity taking place in that individual's stall. The courtesy flush (original rule) is a nice way of covering up the olfactory clues of what you are doing, as well as making it so other toilet patrons don’t have to try and hold back vomit because they can smell what you had for dinner the night before.

If you are a ‘hoverer’ – please be courteous and wipe the seat when you are done (Rule #36). Hovering is good to keep your butt off the seat, but for the person coming in after you who doesn’t have the coordination required to be a successful ‘hoverer’ it’s not fun to go for the sit and release, only to have to jump up quickly because they suddenly feel a 'hoverer's' leave behind. For those of us who have a tendency to wait until the last minute to go, it’s really a pain, because the jump up also means we’re going to have to dry the inside of our legs, as well as the toilet seat.

Proper use of a public restroom should not require that you have a master’s degree, or be elected to public office for that matter. It involves basic common sense. I won’t even get into the imbecile’s who don’t wash their hands with soap and water when they are done. That’s the reason for rule #137 – always use a paper towel, toilet paper, or your sleeves to open the door on your way out.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The World Wide Web is at MY HOUSE!

Spider Web that is!

I got home around 9:30 p.m. the other night. I worked late - I was not in the mood for much. Arriving home at night when you live "out in the boonies" (this is a term - I checked) can be a scary experience. There are coyotes, foxes, skunks, and any number of wild animals that you can think of if you are scared enough and you put your mind to it. There are also spiders - and we have TONS!

Alan and the kids had gone to bed before I got home, and they only left the utility room light on. Okay, I don't like the dark either, but particularly when there are spider webs in every oraface of the car port and the wrap-around porch (yeah - the spiders wrap around it too). Of course, the utility room light was enough to illuminate the huge spider that chose that moment to dangle DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE UTILITY ROOM DOOR!
This is a link to a picture of the kind of spider that was waiting for me. The eriophora species. Non-aggressive (whatever)

Anyhoo - as you can imagine, there was no FRICKIN way I was going in through that door. I waited a few seconds, while not taking my eyes off of it but patiently expecting it to go away (i don't know where to - I just wanted it to go). I fumbled into my purse for my phone and called HubbyD's cell (we have no land line). No answer - straight to his voice mail. OMG!!...

So, while not taking my eyes off the spider, I called Alan's number again.....ELEVEN TIMES!!! Geesh! So, I decided - I'll just get back in the car and honk the fricking horn until he wakes up. Screw what the neighbors think - this is a life or death situation - THERE IS A SPIDER in the ONLY lighted doorway to the house. Sure, I could take the porch around to either the front or back doors, but I already know the location of all the webs around the porch and there is no way I'm walking through an UNLIT web of WEBS!

So, I turn around to head back to the car, when I suddenly realize I have been standing with my back to not ONE, NOT TWO - but THREE of THESE:

The one on the far left - yellow and black.....insert collective chill here.

Well, now, what would any other arachnaphobe do under this kind of ill duress? I decided my only choice of action was to try and alert our 85 pound great pyranese (I believe I have mentioned Ally before) - her barking seems to be the only thing that wakes Alan up at night.
So, I whistled - and I can whistle pretty loud, let me tell you. Our cats came from out of nowhere - I didn't even know they were still outside! Ally heard too and she stood up to the window of the back door - panting and whimpering. I'm yelling at her to "BARK - BARK YOU DARN DOG!!! THERE'S A SPIDER!! TIMMY FELL IN THE WELL!!!" which is, I am sure, in direct conflict with what I normally yell at her which is "STOP BARKING!!!"

By then, the cats were all mewing and rubbing in and out of my legs, their tails tickling me (much like a spider might, were it crawling on you). I was really beginning to freak out, so I called HubbyD's phone about 12 more times (he actually had 18 missed calls this a.m. - so whatever that would make it). No answer. Spider still dangling in front of the door, my dinner sitting right on top of my esophagus, Cats meweling, and Ally standing in the window, panting like a doofus and cocking her head and looking at me while I stood there crying! What could I do? My heart was racing, I was trying to get the cats off me and keep my eyes off all of the spiders, who I am sure were circling for the attack.

What finally saved me was the spider itself. He seemed to have gotten tired of his aimless dangling, and shimmied back up his web rope to his coveted spot above the doorway. I decided to just make a run for it, because I couldn't keep an eye on the spiders behind me at the same time, one of which had apparently felt threatened as he was bouncing in his web (they do that ya know - really creepy) - so I RAN!! Had the door not been unlocked, I am positive I would have just broken right through the lock!!! I knocked Ally outta the way (her 85 lbs were no match for me, or my momentum) and slammed the door behind me. I had to look up and make sure the spider was still there. He was, and I'm quite sure if spiders could laugh, he would have been slapping all 8 knees.

Once inside, I decided to call Alan's phone again just to see if it was working and where he might have left it sitting. I heard it ringing from the dark living room, but just as I started to go towards it, the upstairs light went on and Alex, my son, came out of his bedroom yelling "What is that freakin' noise????"


Alex asked "WHAT HAPPENED" - very worried sounding, my sweet boy.


Alex, who is just as much of an arachnaphobic as I am said "OMG - HOW BIG??" - the sympathy was much needed at this time.

"Who cares how big - it could have killed me and ya'all wouldn't have known until you bothered waking up in the morning to my web covered, ridgid body" It can happen - check this out:

Needless to say, Alan was not amused that I woke him up to tell him that he nearly caused my untimely death by not waking up; nor was he sympathetic to my spider plight. People with NO 'real' phobia's just cannot understand.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Can You Give a 14 yr old a Time Out?

I hate stories that begin with "Seems like only yesterday," but it truly does serve as the perfect intro to many fine tales. Why, it seems like only yesterday I just started this blog...

Anyway, as you might have guessed, this is going to be one of those "remember when" type rants that will eventually lead to my much anticipated point.

It seems like only yesterday ('s not like I didn't give you plenty of warning) I was keeping a written list of the cute and funny things my kids said. Some of them were just SO darned funny!

Example, here's a conversation I once had with my son, when he was 2 yrs old son while at a public fishing event for kids. I was trying to get him to talk to the video camera for the movie I am unfortunatley still recording for my parents (13 yrs in the making):
ME: "Tell grandpa what you're doing..."

SON: "Where's Granpa?"

ME: "The video camera, tell the video camera what you are doing.."

SON: ""

ME: "Did you catch anything."

SON: "Yeaaahh...."

ME: "Well, tell grandpa what you caught."

SON: "Where's Grandpa?" looking around now....

ME: "Tell the video camera what you caught...."

SON: "Uhm...two worrmmms...."

Yeah, the son will be turning 15 in 15 days. As far as I'm concerned, he should feel lucky I let him live this long. It's a lot harder at this stage in their lives to get them to just say something nice, let alone say something cute and worth dragging out the video camera for. Not that he would even let me get him on video tape, let alone a camera. "DON'T TAKE MY PICTURE!!!"

I've tried the creative approach to parenting, and since that's obviously not working for us, I am trying some other low stress level approaches such as "raising my voice," which according to my kids is YELLING, and the even more popular selective listening, which my kids have correctly labelled "ignoring." My kids don't think I'm funny. They aren't even sure I have a sense of humor to speak of, and they certainly aren't going to laugh at my jokes. That's why I have to laugh at my own, and if it's at their expense, all the better.

It's just that it seems like yesterday they were cute and sweet, and now, on the rare occasion we can coax them out of their bedrooms, they are moody and always ready for an argument. Every question you ask them is at first answered with the audible and much exaggerated *SIGH* before they want to know "WHY?" you need to know. By the time you tell them WHY and ask a second question, they want to know "WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS ASKING QUESTIONS?" If you are a parent with enough patience to calmly answer this question, then more power to you. At my house, it typically resorts to tears (not always mine) and somebody slamming a door (not always me).

So, here we are, dealing with a 15 yr old "person" living under our roof and NOBODY and NOTHING seems to make him happy. I would ground him, but that would mean he'd just hang around us being moody and that's not fun for anybody. But maybe that's the plan? I'm all for a "time out" chair for teenagers that not only makes them behave, but keeps them from growing up too fast. Is that too much to ask?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Cats and Tylenol PM - Weak Stomach Alert!!!

QUESTION: What two things do not go well together....

Last night, I got a reminder of what it's like to have a newborn baby with colic. I wasn't looking to be reminded. However, when you have 4 young kittens in the house, accidents are bound to happen.

Alan was taking a Tylenol PM last night before bed and one dropped out of his hands onto the kitchen floor. Before he could even say "Dam it - I dropped one" the kittens had pounced, and because there was a mad dash for the surprise kibble, the kitten who was the fastest immediately swallowed it whole. Now, a 500mg Tyelnol pm is at least 4 times bigger than the flea/tick pill that takes two people to force down a cats mouth. Who knew that all you had to do was drop them on the floor????

So, Alan comes to me and says "One of those kittens is going to sleep well tonight." and then proceeded to tell me what had happened.

I immediately freaked out! I screamed "Which ONE? Was it Panther?" (because everyone knows he is my favorite, and if it was any of the others, I could at least relax a bit because hey - we have 5 other cats...-PETA supporters, please note this statement is in jest).

Alan replies "I don't know which one. One of the black ones."

Oooh - thanks for narrowing it. Of the 4 kittens - three are black...

"What??? You mean you don't know? Didn't you pick it up to try to get the pill back???!"

Alan: "Well, yeah, but he had already swallowed was one of the boy kittens."

ME: "Yeah, okay, all three of the black ones are boys....are you sure it wasn't Panther??!"

Alan: "Is Panther one of the black ones?"

ME: "YES! Was it a black one with the white in his ears? Because that one is Pandy and the skinny one is Fatty. Panther looks like a Panther..."

Alan: "I don't think it was Panther."

So, of course, I am panicking and am ready to call poison control and the veterinary clinic and he is like "Calm down - it isn't poisonous. You can feed them to kids." (the pills - not the kittens)

ME: "Yes, but you wouldn't feed one to a newborn, and that's exactly what a kitten would be considered. Plus - it's not a human baby - it's a kitty baby..."

Anyway, Alan went upstairs to watch a movie with the kids but I immediately went on Kitten Patrol. I put all the kittens on the living room floor and they were playing like any normal kitten does so I just had to wait until one started acting like a kitten might act if they had taken a tylenol p.m.

For the record, they would act like a young toddler who might have drunk a whole beer. Sure, it's not going to kill the toddler, but it's going to make him cry and get sick because he doesn't know what is wrong with him. By the way, you must trust me when I say that I do not really have first hand knowledge of how a drunken toddler might act, but I'm sure it's not much different than this was.

Before long, Panther (of course!!) started wailing like a banshee and trying to stand up straight, but he could not. I immediately scooped him up and for some un-Godly reason proceeded to bounce him like a crying baby. He responded much as you would imagine; with claws out and loudly screaming as he climbed his way up to my head. I peeled him off and starting shushing him and telling him it was going to be okay.

Then I thought – I know what I should do; I should feed him some kittten food. If he has something in his tummy, maybe it won’t be as bad. Picture your high school or college days and Taco Bell after the bars close. You know, when you think you’re hungry, but you’re just buzzed, but you order everything off the menu anyway? Panther ate his fill and he ate it hungrily like he usually does, so I didn’t worry too much. Just in case though, I gave him a little saucer of milk. Well what would YOU have done??!!

Then he started wailing again, so I picked him up and started shushing him again. Of course, I was crying and he was crying – we were a mess. I sat in the la-z-boy and decided to lean it back because I had already figured to be in for a long night; and after the “bouncy baby fiasco,” I figured rocking him was pretty much out of the picture.

So, there I sat, cooing and petting and crying as he kept swishing his tail violently back and forth (I would liken this to a drunken swagger…) and mewling and sniffing. The other three kittens were decidedly jealous so they joined us in the chair and began their own concerned grooming of Panther and of me. We were a lovely site and I thought that when Panther started fighting the sleep, as his eyes were rolling back in to his head and he was nodding but trying not to, that we might finally be down for the night. So, I started to doze.

And THEN I heard the gagging..

Well, I’m no fool! I recognized the signs and I tossed him to the floor just in time for him to vomit up the cat food and milk he had just eaten (no pill in site, in case you were wondering). I was thinking to myself “I can do this, I won’t get sick…I won’t get sick” until the other three kittens decided to jump in and have a little snack. OMG! I threw up a little in my mouth just typing this….

So I had to scream for Alan to HELP!! HELP ME!!! HEEEELLLPPP! He came running down the stairs and when he saw the mess he yelled: “Well get me some paper towels – QUICK!”

Uhm, hello – I'm the one straddling a horde of vomit eating kittens and trying to drag them out - you do it....

And you should know, when I screamed for help, our 60 lb Great Pyranese decided she needed to come to the rescue too, so she had come running and she slammed into the back of my legs and nearly knocked me down – straight into the mess. Boy, wouldn’t that have made for a good story?

Needless to say, we got that little messed cleaned up and I went back to the La-z-boy for my kitten watch and Alan, of course, went to bed.

Poor Panther…he cried and slept some and cried and slept some. I finally had to just make him a bed in the la-z-boy and go to bed myself because I had to work the next day, but only after I was kind of sure he’d be okay.

When we got up the next morning – there were little piles of Panther's sick all over the living room floor and Panther was looking pretty exhausted, and HUNGOVER – if you will. Alan felt so bad about the pill that he cleaned up all the little messes (as if I actually would have attempted…).

We had to set up a little kitty hospital in our bathroom for the day with some water, his own litter box and a bed. He was sleeping drowsily when we left this morning. Poor baby. I hope he’s okay when we get home. If not - Alan is in some BIG trouble!!!

"One of those kittens is going to sleep well tonight..." Famouse LAST words.