You are not my Mother

The other day, I drove across town to deliver my daughter to soccer practice.

I parked in the parking lot, tied my daughter’s cleats in double-knots and chided myself for my failure to teach her to tie her shoes.  I keep meaning to do that but somehow never remember when we’re at home and have a closet full of shoes with laces to practice upon. I will probably remember to teach her to tie her shoes on the same day I remember to start teaching her piano lessons.

My daughter opened the van door and scooted out with her soccer ball.  At the same time, a woman knocked at the driver’s side window and I rolled my window down, happy to chat with another soccer mom.

Only she was not a soccer mom.  She was the self-appointed Monitor of the Stop Sign at the Corner of the Park and she was irate.

She said something like this, all in one breath:

You did not even stop at the stop sign!  You rolled right through and YOU!  DID! NOT! EVEN! STOP!  You are a mother!  There are children at this park!  And you did not even stop!  You need to be careful!  You have to stop!

She was a mishmash of judgment and sorrow and fury and busybody and I was so shocked that this woman jogged from the corner of the park, down and around the sidewalk and across the parking lot to confront me about my poor driving skills that I just greeted her outrage with slack-jawed puzzlement.  I said nothing.  She jogged away carrying her burden of self-righteousness while I rolled up the window.

I wonder if yelling at me was satisfying for her.

To be honest, I don’t set out to break the law and I don’t normally disregard stop signs with wild abandon.  After this odd parking lot confrontation I tried to recall exactly what happened at that corner.  Did I stop?  Did I roll through after slowing down since there were no cars at the corner?  Did I even know there was a stop sign?  Was I distracted?  What happened, exactly?  Should I be arrested and thrown into jail for my recklessness?

I don’t know.

But I do know that when I walked through the intersection a little later with my dog, I noticed at least five cars slowing and rolling through the stop signs before turning into the park.  So I am not alone in my criminal behavior.

Not that five wrongs make a right.  Clearly I don’t want to ignore stop signs.

But that woman?  The outraged jogger who chased me down to yell at me in front of my child?  She is not my mother and it was really weird for her to scold me.

For the record, I have never run over anyone while driving.  I’ve never had an accident and it’s been 20 years since I’ve had a traffic ticket.

But you can be sure I will never roll through that particular stop sign again, lest the wrath of the woman who is not my mother explode in my general direction again.

You are not my Mother

American Girl

My own American girl is obsessed with American Girl stuff.  She’s had a “Bitty Baby” (aka a baby doll) for quite a few years.  Then a couple of years ago, she asked for an American Girl doll.  She received a blond curly doll for Christmas.

For awhile, the American Girl doll just sat, untouched.  But something recently renewed her interest in the doll.

She spends her free time perusing the American Girl website, compiling lists and computing prices.  She tapes together cardboard to create furniture for her doll.  She cleared two shelves of her bookshelf to make space for her American Girl doll’s bedroom.  She longs to visit the American Girl store in Los Angeles.  She asked me to order a special brush so she can fix her doll’s hair.

That American Girl stuff is expensive.  It’s ridiculous, really.

But knowing that my 10-year old daughter is playing with dolls is priceless.  This won’t last forever.

Nothing ever does.

And now, let’s all join together and sing along:

American Girl

Hesitation

I used to write here with glee, eager to slap words on the page, to paint pictures with a big sloppy brush.  Those were in the days before my kids had Internet access, before my real name was attached to this blog, before people I knew in real life knew that I did this crazy thing called blogging.  Back then, people didn’t even know what a blog was.

Even when I could still imagine I was somewhat anonymous, I always did try to be careful about what I said, aware that my words were out loud even though they came through my fingertips and not my lips.  But I’m even more careful now.  I keep more and more of my observations and judgments and stories to myself.

It’s kind of sad, really.

A handful of bloggers who started blogging when I did have published books and built sturdy platforms around which their tribes clamor.  They’ve appeared on morning talk shows and had blog excerpts featured in Good Housekeeping and have powered on, creating Facebook communities and more.  They go to blog conferences and speak to wanna-be bloggers.  They have cooking shows and cookbooks.  They are everything that I am not.  They are eager to dig up every inch of their figurative back yards to sift through the soil to uncover treasure or bones or something worth something they can write about.

Instead of gaining momentum with my blog, I have dragged my feet and slammed on the brakes.  When others sped up, I slowed down.  I’ve pretty much taken the exit so I could get out of the fast lane.  Five years ago, when I started working full-time and our whole lives shifted (jobs coming and going and coming again), I stopped writing here as much.  The stories I wanted to tell would breach the privacy of my kids and my husband.  I had less time and truthfully, less to describe.  That’s what happens when you suddenly begin spending forty hours a week working at your computer.  What is there to say?  “Today my kids were annoyed that I worked for eight hours.  Then I made dinner.  The end.”

Mostly, I didn’t want to say something I’d regret, to blurt out stuff that would have eyebrows raising.

I never wanted to write a blog that told other people what to do, how to live.  I didn’t intend to shape my daily life into a devotional thought.  I just wanted to write about what was happening, to tell stories that might help me remember and sometimes, help me understand my life.

I write because it helps me think.  It helps me figure things out.  It gives me perspective.

I can never stop writing even though this blog is so neglected.  I am still writing, but more often, in a sound-proof booth so no one can hear me.

And, of course, I’ll continue to putter along here, mostly unnoticed, determined to tell stories from time to time.

Hesitation

Mrs. Fix-it, The Sequel

In a startling turn of events, I already fixed our backyard fountain. It’s been inoperable for less than a year, so I count this a major victory in my neverending battle against brokenness and failure.  (Hey, what are we talking about here anyway?)

Here’s how to fix your backyard fountain in thirty easy steps:

1)  Notice that the water has stopped flowing.
2)  Spend some time wondering why.
3)  Empty all water from fountain.
4)  Ponder the pump.
5)  Blame the pump.
6)  Ignore the fountain for at least six months, preferably a little longer.
7)  Consider how difficult it might be to remove old pump’s cord and get new cord threaded through hole and behind fountain and into plug-in box thing.
8)  Worry.
9)  Plan to go to Home Depot.
10)  Procrastinate.
11)  Worry.
12)  Purchase pump at Home Depot.  Ask for advice from passing orange-vested sales people.  Try not to notice that you are old enough to be their mother.
13)  Get home, cut open dangerous plastic packaging, realize that the pump output pipe is too small.
14)  Cry.  (Optional.)
15)  Procrastinate.
16)  Return to Home Depot.  Purchase second pump, bigger, better, faster, stronger.
17)  Get home, open dangerous packaging.  Do not cut fingers.
18)  Look closely at fountain.
19)  Scoop out frog eggs and place in giant vase previous owners of your house abandoned when they moved.
20)  Install pump.
21)  Realize that pump is a little overly enthusiastic.
22)  Watch water slosh out of fountain.
23)  Turn off fountain.
24)  Retrieve old pump.  Observe brand name and size.
25)  Order pump from Amazon.
26)  Wait two days.
27)  Install new pump.
28)  Return two pumps to Home Depot.
29)  Observe frog eggs morph into pollywogs.
30)  Celebrate success while listening to soothing sound of running water.

Please.  Hold your applause.

Mrs. Fix-it, The Sequel

Mrs. Fix-It

In 2011, after we moved into this sunny house with its many windows covered by beautiful Hunter Douglas blinds, my son pulled on the window blind cord in his bedroom and when it didn’t open or close or whatever, he pulled harder until the plastic end cap broke.

I emailed the Hunter Douglas company and asked for replacement parts.  They promptly sent me brackets.  But I didn’t need brackets.  I needed an end cap.

Months passed.

I drove thirty minutes to the Hunter Douglas store.  I brought the broken part and the lady there rifled through a box of parts, comparing parts to what I’d brought in and came up with an end cap.  She couldn’t get the broken part out of the cord mechanism thing but sent me on my way.  When I got home, I put that thing into the freezer and after some time, managed to wiggle it out.

But the part was wrong.  I needed a left end cap but I had come away with a right end cap.

Months passed.

I drove back to the store, showed them the part, told them I needed left and had right–and in some kind of strange sleight of hand trick, the ladies at the store got sidetracked about whether I’d paid for the part before and they noticed the part I brought in had a small crack and somehow, I thought I got a new part but when I got home I discovered they’d given me the exact same wrong part.

Months passed.

I drove to the store again.  Explained I still had a right and I needed a left end cap.  She produced the left end cap.

I went home, so excited and tried to put the end cap on the head rail and found that it was the wrong shape.  Very slightly wrong, but wrong nonetheless and impossible to use.

Months passed.

I emailed the company again.  I begged for help.

Yesterday, the correct end cap arrived.

I reassembled the blind, pushing the end cap into place, hammering it gently.

Then, I hung up the blinds.  I. Hung. Up. The. Blinds.

I am woman, hear me roar.

From broken to fixed in seventeen months.  (Why rush into these things?)

Next up?  I am determined to replace the pump in my outdoor fountain.  So far, I’ve purchased two wrong pumps.  According to my calculations, I’m right on track.  One more wrong pump and another fourteen months, and I should have it fixed right up.

Mrs. Fix-It

Bits and pieces

After church today, we had some friends over for lunch.

This pretty straightforward situation was complicated by the fact that it’s hard to cook lunch when you’re at church and made worse by the fact that my dog woke me up three times between 2 AM and 4 AM because her puppy tummy was upset.  At least, I think that was her problem.

(Trust me.  You do not want additional description of what I saw.)

After our company left, I took a three hour nap.

*

On Friday, my daughter lamented, “It’s Friday!  A ten year old girl should have plans on a Friday!”  She did not have plans, much to her dismay.

*

I spent a long time on Saturday trying to get my backyard fountain flowing again.  I went to Home Depot twice.  I bought two pumps, both wrong.  I am going to solve this problem or die trying.

*

My daughter would like several things, including but not limited to 1) more American Girl dolls and accessories; 2)  a trampoline; 3) a swimming pool; 4)  a baby sister; 5)  a guinea pig; 6) a small puppy.  Her chances of acquiring these things ranges between slim and none.

*

Since living in Southern California, sometimes I can’t quite remember what season it is.  As it turns out, sunshine can be disorienting.

 

Bits and pieces

Five things in five minutes

Let’s see.  What can I tell you?

1)  I figured out and filed our taxes all by myself this year for the first time in many years.  I used Turbo Tax and a friend of ours reviewed the forms before I hit “submit” and sent them off.  I tell you this so you feel my pain over spending two whole Saturdays finding the paperwork and then filling in the forms.  Also?  I still have piles of tax-related papers on my desk.

2)  Several weekends ago, I went to a Storyline Conference featuring Donald Miller.  I met a high school English teacher from Los Angeles who happened to have the same breed of dog that I do (which is relatively uncommon) and the exact same business card design.  So it was excellent to hang out with a new friend.  Donald Miller turned out to be an interesting speaker, amusing and engaging.  (Better than I expected, actually.)  The second day, I met a different new friend in the cafeteria line (an aspiring actress and screenwriter) and we’d put our things down on a table to save ourselves spaces.  I was also saving a space for my new school teacher friend.

When we came back to the table with our food, there were several other people at the table (designed to seat six) which would have been fine, except they took the space I’d saved for the school teacher.  I was trying my best not to be annoyed, smiling tightly and assuring them it was fine, just fine.  Then one of the ladies waved her hand toward the other older lady and said, “That’s Donald Miller’s mother!”  I looked at her as if I didn’t speak English and said, “I’m sorry?”  And she repeated it.  “That’s Donald Miller’s mother!”

And that’s how I ended up sitting at Donald Miller’s mother’s table with his mother and two aunts and their friends, all from Texas.  (Favorite quote from his mother:  “We’re from the Bible Belt.  We shock easy.”)

3)  Why does Easter always sneak up on me?  Just a few weeks and it’s here.  Somewhere I have bunnies and eggs and decorations.

4)  We went to see the sunset last night, me and my daughter.  The others refused to leave the house.  I can’t understand why you would give up the chance to see the sunset at the beach–considering that each sunset only happens ONE TIME.  But whatever.  As soon as we started down the road, I saw a huge bank of clouds squatting over the horizon.  As we drove closer, the fog rolled in.  We nearly turned back but decided even a cloudy beach was worth visiting.

We parked and saw that a narrow strip of sky along the horizon glowed.  And so we were able to see the sunset.  I would post a photo but . . . the photos are on my phone and I’m so tired, too tired to transfer them tonight.

5)  I ran out of ideas.  So there is no five.

Goodnight.

Five things in five minutes