Ditch Witch and Other Things

The neighbor Dale and her husband Old WhatsHisName had a Ditch Witch up and running at nine in the morning. On a Saturday. Listen, I like Dale and Old WhatsHisName, but mostly I just like their dog Cookie. She’s a chocolate lab and she’s beautiful and friendly and she likes to play tug in her front yard with her favorite rope toy and she reminds me of my dearly beloved, Bentley, whom we had to put down two years and some change ago on account of her arthritis and her slow doggy dementia. She was nearly 14 years old and sometimes she forgot who I was, but mostly she sat at my feet and watched squirrels out the window and listened as I read her bits of essays and stories and she always, always let me cry into her neck fat. Dale and Old WhatsHisName are sort of afterthoughts. I like their dog so I tolerate them. I listen to Dale tell me stories about how she used to live in Charlotte too and really she didn’t like it as much as I did being a make-up exec is hard work and do I ever use eyeliner, because I have beautiful blue eyes, but…

The Ditch Witch at nine am was a bridge too far. Especially because I didn’t sleep well last night on account of it being week eight of my semester and why does everyone suddenly need me to do something for them and yeah I’m aware that I need to make some important decisions about residency and candidacy and my thesis in the upcoming weeks and when is the last time I cooked dinner for my family and hey they are opening school back up and Jackson is too afraid to go and I agree especially because a custodian in the district just died from Covid, but I mean half of the teachers are vaccinated and MAP test scores don’t really matter much this week and maybe we should just keep compounding this mom guilt on top of wife guilt on top of whatever it was that made me give that cash to that woman today in the Sam’s Club parking lot.

So the Ditch Witch sprang to life at nine am and I rolled over to my husband all, what the actual hell is that and he said how should I know it sounds like some type of heavy machinery and I knew right then that Dale and Old WhatsHisName were doing some yard work because about a month ago I was violently awakened from the loud diesel noises of a wood chipper from Sunbelt Rentals.

I wish I had a point. And I was drinking a glass of wine on a beach somewhere all alone. I feel all alone all the time, but it’s not possible because I am with my family all the time and I love them dearly and also I need a fucking break and a vacation and someone to tell me that it will all be okay. I know that it’s usually me reminding you all that it will all be okay, and really I know that it will, but sometimes when you haven’t been sleeping and your medicine is making you sick but you have to keep taking it or you’ll really get sick and you have no means of escaping this life that is really actually quite beautiful and you are thankful for it so much but that sometimes sucks like it does for all of us right now in varying degrees you just have to get on your old blog and yell about Ditch Witches and neighbors who really aren’t that bad and things that are absolutely outside of your control and some in your control but you that you don’t have answers for and you have to say your dead dog’s or your dead kid’s or your dead dad’s name because it matters at that moment.

That’s all I’m saying.

Damn it, y’all. It will get better and I love you and you have pretty eyes and you don’t need eyeliner but if you want to use it then use it because you are responsible for your own happiness and one day when we can hug each other again I’m gonna hug you so tight you might have a hard time breathing but you won’t mind cause you’ll get it. I hope you get it.

M.

There’s No Place Like Home

Meaning, there’s no place like where your home is. The home that has your actual shit in it. Your bed. Your favorite toilet. You hidden stash of chocolate. But alas, for the next 24 hours my “home” will be in a rented Chevy Suburban since Jerimiah, Jackson, the dogs, and I are leaving tonight to drive to Kansas to get my mom, to then turn right around and drive back. Twenty-four hours of being in the car with gas and bathroom breaks with my kid, my husband, my dogs, and my mom (for 12 hours). This should be fine, totally fine.

Listen, we haven’t seen my mom in over a year and she wanted to come visit for Christmas and while she is mentally well, she is physically not able to make it around an airport without help. Plus, she would have to fly into, literally, the world’s busiest airport in December. So that’s a no. Plus, who is flying right now? And if you are, why? That’s all. Why? It’s bad enough to have to chart out the gas stations on the way to Kansas and back that you think might be the cleanest (that is to say all the Quik Trips) but how could you navigate a small space like an airplane and not constantly be bothered by the fact that you are sitting so close to other people. Like those people who flew from Mainland to Hawaii against doctor’s orders because they had all tested positive the day before but I mean, fuck everyone else on the plane, amiright?

So we are loading up today to make the trek and hope to be home by Saturday evening. We are taking the dogs because otherwise we would have to leave them outside all night (with the doors to the screened porch open of course, for shelter) because Winnie hasn’t learned to not chew up all our shit when we leave them alone for an extended period of time. We would board them overnight but Winnie, being a quarantine puppy, isn’t well socialized with people. That is to say people terrify her. She shakes and hides. So there is that. As you can see our dogs rule our actual lives.

We have all been tested. We have quarantined since tests and we are not making stops, going inside people’s houses, etc. We might make a couple of driveway stops to say hello to my sister and best friend, who are also not infected with the virus, with our masks on, no hugging, to say hello. Otherwise, nah dog. There are too many variables and too many people have not been tested and are around people who are not tested and who are regularly not taking this seriously. This, we have deduced, is the safest way.

So wish me luck. Or don’t, doesn’t matter much to me either way, but I do hope that you are wearing your mask, avoiding excessive and unnecessary travel (do as I say, not as I do) and are considering getting the Jolene Vaccine (The Moderna One) in the spring when it’s safe to do so.

Love to you all!

M.

Christmastime is Here

We decorated for Christmas, woo, what at time. Well, we partially decorated. It’s more like a decorating weekend around here. Not that we can’t do it all in one day, I just never know what I want to do, how I want to decorate, what new items I may need to incorporate, then we realize we need something because we misplaced an item or it broke (this year it was the star for the “big” tree) and Jerimiah has to run to Target, then there’s the whole Jackson gets bored and spends hours chasing the dogs around trying to put a Santa hat on them, and then it finally happens (only with Duke this year) and hilarity ensues. At that point we are hungry and take a break for dinner, then decide enough already and watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation to start the season off right. Yesterday was no exception. So enjoy the photos of the mantle, the family room tree, and the living room tree. That’s as far as we got!

Hope you’re feeling a bit of Christmas magic this week!

M.

Dam Yam Hypothesis

We cancelled our Thanksgiving plans this year, more on that at a later time, but instead of having a houseful, it will just be the three of us (five of us if we count the dogs, some days I do, some days when I think I might kill one of them, I don’t). Still, even though there will only be three, maybe five, of us eating yams we bought the biggest can that Sam’s Club has. Why? They are yams, damn it.

The point of this is that the can of Bruce’s Yams is now sitting on our kitchen counter, because where does one fit a nine-pound can of yams? And Jackson has taken a liking to showing whomever he Facetimes with, his grandfather, his friends, his school study group, the can of yams sitting on our counter, while saying, “Look how crazy my parents are!”

Yesterday another sixth-grader yelled, “Oh my goodness, my parents have a six-pound can of strawberries on our counter!” And much to my hilarity I was sufficiently absolved of my yam guilt as Jackson said to his father, “Daddy, you and mommy are not the only crazy parents! Andrew’s parents have a six-pound can of strawberries!”

And just like that the world righted itself.

But by this time the question of how many yams are in the can had presented itself, leaving Jackson with a long division problem that he didn’t want to do, but one that Jerimiah made him do. Turns out, there are approximately 11 yams in the can. At least according to the “Dam Yam Hypothesis.”

Stay strong parents! And get those yams!

M.

Flannery O’Connor

So I have this term paper due on Flannery O’Connor and her collection of stories, A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories and if you don’t already know this, then you haven’t been paying attention. I’ve been complaining about Flannery O’Connor since the moment I was assigned her back in August, even though it was my own doing, like, I picked her from a list of authors and books, authors and books I would gladly trade with a classmate right now because I swear to all the holy peafowl the name Flannery O’Connor is getting on my last fucking nerve at this point.

Whew. Okay, deep breathes.

My paper is due…ummm… yesterday? Today? Friday? Our professor has moved the due date because she is gracious and kind and because we are all, “Uhhh, umm, about the final paper…” Our professor is cool. I like her. I hate Flannery O’Connor at this point.

Lately I’ve been waking up arguing with myself. I’ll be coming out of that dreamlike trance one is in upon their dog licking their face first thing in the morning and I’ll be thinking, “Flannery O’Connor is a raving racist.” Then my dog will lick my face more, and I’ll be all, “No, Flannery O’Connor was commenting on racism,” then more licks and then, “Flannery O’Connor was just a victim of her time.” Then finally I’ll yell, “Stop licking my face, God damn it, Flannery! Err, Winnie!” And I’ll begrudgingly start my day.

Life is weird.

Anyway, I better go work on this damn paper. Have a pleasant, Flannery O’Connor-less rest of your day, assholes.

M.

Squirrel-Lee

Thursday of this week was a bit hectic. Jerimiah had to go to his office for a meeting (gasp) I hate when he has to leave the house for work. I’m so used to him being at home with us where it’s, you know, safe. And I never feel prepared on those days. Truly he’s only left about four days since the second week of March, but still. So, he was gone all day, the dogs were acting nuts, I had class, Jackson had class, I planned to cook a nice dinner and have it ready in the hour between when Jerimiah would be home (5:00 pm) and my class started (6:00 pm). In a normal year the time between five and six is also known as “Hell Hour” on account of all I’m trying to juggle. Of course I haven’t experienced “Hell Hour” in like seven months now so this week it took me by surprise.

It was a pretty uneventful day, save for the crazy dogs, then suddenly (as it happens) all hell broke loose. Jackson had a bit of a meltdown concerning math, I had started dinner, my phone was ringing, Jerimiah was texting me about an errand I had him run, and just when I was like, “The hell, Thursday?!” the baby squirrel showed up at the front door.

What now?

For sure. A tiny, baby squirrel who had fallen out of a tree and was in such shock that it was trying to get into our house, while the dogs lost their mind at the glass front door, then tried to climb the brick by our front door and fell again. I couldn’t take it anymore, so Jackson and I sprang into action (after I turned the heat down on the mushrooms I was sautéing.)

I immediately remembered the last time I had saved a baby squirrel, many moons ago in North Carolina. I’d Googled “Squirrel rescue” and a place had popped up and I called them and was schooled in squirrel rescue. In fact, I learned so much that I had saved the number in the event it happened again, and had just, last month, deleted the contact: “Squirrel Lady” from my phone. After all, she had been the Lincoln County, NC “Squirrel Lady” so she wasn’t going to be much help now. But I did remember some key points.

1. Don’t touch it without gloves.

2. Put it near a tree, the mother is probably around just waiting.

3. If it comes to you for help it’s probably in shock, they aren’t that trusting.

4. Only call someone to come get it if it looks terribly injured.

5. Do not try to keep/rescue/rehabilitate it yourself.

Number five came in handy a few times when Jackson begged to keep “Lee” as we named him. “Squirrel Lee.”

Obviously Jackson wanted to save Lee, so he put on his ski gloves and went for it. Meanwhile I was cutting the Brussel Sprouts to roast them, and hoping my kid wouldn’t get bit by a rabid squirrel. Hell Hour, geez.

Turns out Lee loved Jackson, so much so that every time Jackson would place him back by the tree, Lee would run back to Jackson to get picked up. It went on like this until I finally had to say enough and force Jackson to come inside so the Mommy squirrel had a chance to come back. The whole time I was terrified I’d find a dead Lee in the morning, and also had a dream of Lee trying to break into the house and cuddle in bed with me. I dunno, y’all. I dunno.

Anyway, Friday morning Lee was gone. And Jackson was happy, but also sad. And I was still burping up Brussels Sprouts from the night before.

The squirrel-Lee story.

The end.

M.

**Please don’t try this at home, we are not trained professionals.**

The Chaos After the Storm

I’m getting real fucking tired of saying this, but here we go, “The hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm somewhere over Alabama and it got us. It got us good.” I didn’t sleep a wink. Right before bed I got the alert that said it was headed our way. Now mind you, I knew it made landfall in New Orleans, but New Orleans is a good eight hours from us so I wasn’t too worried. Then I started to get weather alerts from DeKalb County all, “Y’all, some shit fittin’ to go down tonight. Pull ya umbrellas out ya tables, pick the pinecones up out ya yard, and remember to vote. The election is six days away!” They also “closed” school, but not really because we are still going virtually on account of the Covid, but essentially they said don’t worry if you can’t log on in case you lose power “cause you will probably lose power.” Seems to be some infrastructure problems they could be working on, rather than sending me salty texts at midnight, but whateves.

So early yesterday morning, right around the time I was falling into a good sleep, Lady Winifred Beesly of Atlanta started up on her barking at random noises she heard, only it wasn’t so random. It was pinecones hitting the roof and the windows at speeds no pinecone should travel. Then the creaking of the pines started. I don’t know if you have ever watched a pine tree sway in downgraded hurricane winds, but Imma tell you it’s spooky.

Pine trees are so tall, and their roots are so far into the ground, that they are flexible trees by nature. But that doesn’t stop you from looking out your window, watching the swaying trees, wondering if you would be safer if you woke up the whole family at three am and herded them into the guest room in the basement.

The good news is we made it through the night unscathed. Relatively. The street looks like it vomited pine needles, the plants are all a little wonky, and our old windows took a beating, but the worst part was when the doorbell rang at 8:45 am and our neighbor Dale was standing at the carport with Sir Duke Motherfucking Barkington of Charlotte on a leash. What?! How did that happen?

Turns out the wind was so strong, it knocked open our wooden gate. It didn’t unlatch, just opened it up wide enough for a petite standard poodle, who hates me, to slip out undetected and romp through the neighborhood until Dale and Cookie came outside and found him running around the empty lot by their house. “Looking like he was chasing butterflies.” Yeah, that fucking checks out.

Listen, it’s been a week. And I need these storms to be over and I need this damn election to be over and I need to incorporate more gin into my life.

Hope you are all unscathed these days.

M.

The Hike

Jackson took us on a “hike” yesterday evening. He discovered a new trail with his friend Bella a couple of weeks ago that was “way far away.” Way far away, is really just behind our cul-de-sac and he’s been wanting us to go “exploring” out there with him so he could go further out, so we harnessed the dogs and took out about five o’clock last night.

We only made it to the end of the cul-de-sac before our neighbor Mary (who’s just come back from seven months in Germany) stopped us to say hello, tell us she loved our yard signs (BLM and “Bernie, Ok Fine Biden”) and to warn that there is a mother coyote and her babies living back there somewhere. Cool. Cool. Cool. Thanks, Mary! (Side note: she also said she came back to vote “him out” and it was so different being back in the US where no one takes Covid-19 seriously.) Have I mentioned how much we love living in the brightest blue spot in the South?!

Anyway, we trudged off through the woods then, with Jackson and Duke leading the way, while I slapped at mosquitos and tried not to step on Winnie, who is so afraid of everything (she’s literally a 60-pound 8-month old puppy 🙄) that she kept running between Jerimiah and me every time she heard a twig snap.

Jackson was dressed, of course, as Police Chief Hopper from “Stranger Things” because we just finished the first season and he’s obsessed, and also he knew we might need the protection of the law, especially when we reached the “creepy, energy place that has a fence around it” like in “Stranger Things.” We were all, “Oh sure, okay. (Wink, wink).” Until we got to the fence with barbed wire and we’re like, “Oh damn, yep, that’s like in the show. Weird.”

So there you have it. We took a nice long “hike” on what we think is sewer easement land, stuck behind our cul-de-sac and a creek/lake we had no idea existed and right before a creepy energy compound secured with fence and cameras. Not weird. Not weird at all. Ps… we saw a dead raccoon, but no coyotes.

As usual, enjoy the pics from our little adventure.

M.

Mondays, Hmpf

I mean, the hurricane is gone but things are still wild down here in Georgia. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of things I did this weekend:

  • Bought a fabric shaver
  • Gave both dogs a bath
  • Threatened to stab both dogs
  • Finished a project for a friend’s birthday
  • Listened to Adele and cried
  • Played Tony Hawk
  • Told my son all about RBG
  • Ordered 30 cupcakes for a pool party on Saturday
  • Cancelled pool party on account of weather
  • Ate 10 of the cupcakes
  • Read “Memorial Drive” with Jerimiah and cried
  • Watched the movies “Coneheads” and “Twins” with Jackson
  • Finished off the last of the Chinese takeout
  • Sat in the hot tub with the jets on high
  • Took a lot of naproxen
  • Checked my absentee ballot status, all good
  • Cleaned the floors
  • Hired a housekeeper
  • Googled pics of RGB’s family and cried
  • Watched four episodes of season two of “Pen15”
  • Ordered more birthday presents for Jackson
  • Finally fell Asleep

Yeah, it was a long weekend. Hope yours was just as, uhh, productive as mine.

M.

Why Are You Wet?

Hurricane Sally did a number on us this week. We are lucky, of course, to be four hours inland, and not near the Gulf Coast (some of our Mississippi and Louisiana friends weren’t so lucky) we’ve just had a ton of rain. So much in fact that I’ve been running around screaming, “Why are you all wet, you assholes?!” To the dogs, naturally.

And in true Duke and Winnie fashion, they refuse to answer me, instead they jump on top of my couch and roll around, or jump in my bed and roll around, or jump on top of me and roll around. Why is there always so much rolling with the wetness?

Then, you know what, go ahead and add the mud to that. They’ve been digging, if you recall the “Remains” story from the other day, and digging in wet dirt is called digging in mud. Which apparently they are both big fans of.

All of this to say, that the dogs are still alive. I haven’t killed them. We are safe from storms. And my whole house reeks of wet dog.

How’s your week?

M.

Dog Farts and Peacocks

I’m surrounded by dog farts and peacocks. To be clear, they aren’t actual peacocks (I’m not a fan) but rather representational peacocks. To be crystal clear, the dogs farts are real, not representational and quite abundant. I’m reading Flannery O’Conner (yes, again, or rather, still) with a highlighter, in bed, under my blanket that mysteriously matches “A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories” (A Harvest Book edition). So mysterious. And my poodle is on the end of the bed farting because, and I think this is the correct answer, he hates me.

It’s midnight on a Saturday, or maybe it’s Sunday and this is my life now, and I wish it were a folly, a joke, a side-splitter, but it’s real life and as we know real life can, at times, be just as ridiculous as art.

That is all.

Good day, Madams and sirs.

M.

Mysterious…

Remains

The dogs have been swapping a bone in the backyard. We noticed it the other night. Duke refused to come inside when called for dinner. Jerimiah walked into the backyard and saw something laying beneath Duke so he approached and Duke growled. Jerimiah was all, “The fuck, man?” And he low-growled another response, so he let him be.

We eyeballed him out the kitchen window and noticed him gnawing away. They dogs had been digging that morning, up until the point when Jerimiah and Jackson flipped the outside table upside down on the hole to keep them out until we fill it.

“I think they found a bone when they were digging,” Jerimiah said, sipping his tea.

“Uhhh, what?” I inquired, like totally bewildered he’d let him chew on something he dug up.

“It’s just a bone,” he said with a laugh.

“You mean remains,” I corrected.

“Six of one…” he walked off.

Last night the remains made it to the living room rug when Winnie ran in all wild-eyed, and proud of what she’d found. I squealed. Jerimiah laughed. Winnie pranced around in a big display. Duke sulked.

This house has gone mad.

Totally fucking mad.

Stay away.

M.

Moving Forward

My 39th birthday is right around the corner. I’ve got a million things going on between my school, Jackson’s virtual school, the house, this global pandemic, and several doctors appointments lined up this week to try to figure out what’s wrong with me. That might be the most stressful part. Sure I’m inching closer to forty, but man, does it need to feel like it?

I’m still trying everyday not to complain. I know I don’t have much to complain about considering the world we live in. I have a great family, we have a stable income, I get to work from home all day, everyday with my husband and son. I’m way more involved in Jackson’s school life than normal 6th grade would allow, and my dogs, well they are a pain in my ass, but they’re so damn cute. And then there’s Jerimiah. Most days I don’t know how he puts up with me, but lately he’s not just been putting up with me, he’s also been taking care of me. I guess it’s that whole “in sickness and in health” deal. Thanks, Jerimiah.

Grandparents are healthy. Our friends are all safe. Our extended family is good. We don’t get to see everyone as much as we’d like, but we’re all making do.

But still I’m walking around in a daze most of the time. I’m trying to be positive. I’m trying to be upbeat. I’m trying to stay chipper, but some days are better than others.

I’m getting a scan of my veins and arteries this week, hopefully that will give us some answers. I have an an appointment with a Rheumatologist, more answers, fingers crossed anyway. But the beat still goes on, yeah? The world still turns. Yeah. It all keeps going whether we need a breather or not. I think that’s what I love about this life. We don’t have much of an option. Just forward.

So yeah, I’m turning 39 soon. My age is moving forward, my feet are doing the same. And eventually my heavy head and heart will catch up. Here’s to a good week, y’all! May you be healthy and context if you can’t quite be happy.

M.

The Floor is Flour

We ran out the other day to pick up Jackson’s snare and bells set, and we left the dogs inside. Now normally we’d let them chill outside, with a bowl of fresh water, and the door open to the sun porch, with the fan left on, just in case they get hot. Yeah, our dogs are spoiled like that. But we were in a bit of a hurry, so we just closed up all the doors upstairs, and left. The dogs stayed inside, which the doggy door on case they needed out.

We were only gone about two hours, and when we got home we were greeted by this:

I was the first one in and when a long gasp escaped my lips, Winnie ran outside. Duke stood there looking at me, no guilt in his face. And when Winnie finally came back in, we were met with this:

Not that we doubted for a second who the culprit was, it was nice to have the proof. She also had white paws, and clumps of flour all over her chin and chest because at some point she got thirsty, probably all the flour, and mixed water with the flour which, if you can imagine, was no fun to scrub off the floor.

So, what’s the point of this post? There isn’t one, unless to say that she’s still alive, but I thought for a split second about shipping her to a grandparent for a few weeks.

Don’t be a Winnie, y’all.

M.

Taco Tuesday

Listen, I love me some tacos. In my baby book my mom wrote that my favorite thing was tacos when I was like six months old. There is a lot wrong with that, but let’s focus on the good, I was one cool baby. So the number one thing that I miss right now is getting down on some tacos at our favorite, local Mexican restaurant. I miss so much about it, that sometimes I wake up thinking that I can actually smell the sticky, vinyl seats. I’m sure I can’t. Or can I? I don’t know, it doesn’t matter, with Jackson’s help I took Jerimiah on a “Date Night” last night to our new favorite Mexican restaurant: Our back porch. And you know what? It wasn’t half bad.

Jackson took his role as our server very seriously, as he usually does pretend play. He never once broke character, even allowing us to take our masks off only after I convinced him we were the only patrons of the restaurant. This was the note taped to our front door when I loaded Jerimiah up in the car (with the dogs) and drove up the road and back while Jackson “prepared” (got into a suit and character).

When we got to “Saren Mexican Eatery” we were told that our table wasn’t ready and we were offered a spot at the bar, where we were lectured on the business of the restaurant business, and how it takes its toll on a person. Then we got drinks!

We ordered chips and queso, had to ask for the queso to be a little warmer since it was cold in the middle. We watched him “make” guacamole (dump it from a container into a bowl) and then we were told our table was ready. We took our drinks and appetizers to our sun porch, and well, hilarity ensued.

Eventually “Scott” came out (sans glasses) to take our order, and complained that “Dorian” wasn’t putting in the work and his section was slacking, but probably he’d be our server too. We did meet “Dorian” later, he really needed to get his shit together. Though his only real job was to come out onto the patio and announce parking problems every few minutes. Someone blocked the fire hydrant! Someone parked illegally! Someone needs to move their car! Things of that nature. Oh, Dorian. At least you’re cute.

Then there was the very loud, disruptive Spanish music blaring from Alexa while we ate. I’m sure it was very confusing to the neighbors, and the dogs didn’t seem to care for it so much. Eh, you can’t win ‘em all.

The main course came out quite late and not very hot, but I must say he was the only server/cook/manager on duty, and even though the food was precooked that day by the head chef (me) it could have used a tad more care. But we ate it without complaint, even when we were informed that the house was out of a few staples like tortilla chips and lettuce even the some of us knew we absolutely were not out of those items. Bizarre.

Dessert was not listed on the menu, it was a secret, and you kinda had to know how to ask for it. Also, the box of cheesecake bites was missing a couple when presented to us. Hmm…

All-in-all, we had a nice evening at Saren Restaurant and (Rebranded) Eatery, and even though our bill was absurdly wrong, the service lacked a certain, umm, finesse, and there were way too many dogs present, we still managed a hefty tip which was immediately pocketed by “Dorian” or maybe it was “Scott” while forgetting to actually clean up after us… Still I have it a 10 on Yelp.

M.