June 25, 2005

The Cows Are Mad. This is News?

Well it’s official. American cows are found to be mad. This means somebody went out to a pasture and stuck a needle into the hide of a cow* to find out if he’s mad or not.

They could have saved themselves many dollars by just asking me. Of course the cows are mad. They’d have to be.

Firstly, they are forced to live in smelly barns with dozens of others who they probably don’t even care for very much. If they’re anything like us, they probably aren’t as offended by the smell of their own crap as they are by the smell of the others. To add insult to injury, they have to step in it on their way out to pasture. Cripes, I’d be mad too.

Their day goes something like this …
Up at the crack of dawn, herded off to graze in bug infested pastures in the blazing sun or in snow-laden fields to freeze their hooves off all day long while snow accumulates on their backs and heads all day. Cars drive past occasionally and people generally act like asses at the mere sight of them, tossing rocks to get them to move or yelling stuff out the windows as they pass by. This would tick me off too.

Midway through the day, they find their way to the troughs where they get stuck eating “feed” for lunch, or water that has nearly boiled in the sun or frozen in the cold. They all have to slurp from the same trough. That means Joey da cow is eating Pete’s splashback. Oh yum. There’s no variation or “menu” to choose from. It’s lunch, and if they don’t eat this mess, they’ll starve. It’s no wonder they graze on the ground offerings in between … that’s their only treat. Who wouldn’t get a bit testy about this ritual?

At the end of the day, and with no say in the matter, they are herded back to the smelly barn and jammed together for a fun filled night in the dark ~ left to crap where they stand and smell one another’s pies for the next eleven or so hours; true bliss. Nobody reads them a story or tells any farmer’s daughter jokes.

Through it all … they have flies biting at their asses and eyeballs, with no means to swat them. Thank goodness for the tail, though the gentle back and forth swishing is no real threat to the ever-returning flies; still, it’s the cows’ only defense. I’d be pretty shook up over this as well.

Perhaps the worst of the worst is the “moo.” No matter how pissed off they get, and how red-in-the-face angry they become, the most they can issue is a resounding “moo.”

Admit it ~ this would get mighty old mighty fast. What better release is there than to spout off a string of expletives when something really pisses you off? Think about it … you’ve just been abruptly woken up from a sweet bull-romping dream, herded through piles of your neighbor’s dung, forced to stand in the 90 degree pasture with flies biting at your eyes, led to a slop trough for lunch then herded BACK through the piles of crap and told “lights out” before you even have a chance to get a card game going, and all you can say is freaking “moo.”

Of course they’re mad! In fact, if the science guys probe deeply enough, I’ll bet they’ll find out some of them are downright furious.

Stupid science.

*I’m sure this isn’t exactly the method that was used, but I’m betting there was lots of money involved in this process somehow.

June 19, 2005

All She Wants For Christmas ...

{Before I begin, I'd like to wish a most happy and loving Father's Day to all you great dads out there!}

I’m not sure which was worse for me ~ the phone call from hell telling me to get to the emergency room as quickly as possible because my daughter had an accident at the swimming pool, or racing through the double glass doors at the hospital and finding her sitting in triage with a bloody cup holding her two front teeth. No, the phone call was the worst part … the not knowing. Finding her in the chair was actually like being reborn (just realizing that she was breathing and coherent).

This particular life-trial happened nearly six years ago, but as I sit and recall it through written words, it might as well have been yesterday.

It was the first day of summer vacation from school. Sarah Jane had been invited to a friend’s house for a pool party with four other girls. This “friend” wasn’t one of the usual girls she’d spent much time with during the school year, but what mom can say “no” to such an invite on the first day of summer vacation? So I dropped her off, kissed her goodbye and said that pathetically stupid line that we parents all say to our young ones, “Be careful.”

I was happy to go home and work on sorting out a personal website I had been developing at the time. Peace and quiet … at last … no one to interrupt me for lunch and no one to tell me how bored they are with television and the hundred and fifty seven games and videos they had in the next room.

SJ was just twelve back then and that’s the age when I’d overhear her talking on the phone one moment about all the cute boys in her class and find her the next moment on her bedroom floor adjusting Barbie’s clothes. Complete confusion at twelve is quite normal; I remember it well.

About two hours into the afternoon, the phone rang and the trauma began.

I was told, by this new friend’s mother, to get to the emergency room as quickly as possible because there had been an accident. She said there was really no time to explain, but that SJ was involved and she needed immediate care. As my shaking hand held the phone to my ear, I could hear loud noises and many voices in the background, none of which sounded at all like SJ’s. “Ten minutes,” I said, as I hung up and grabbed my car keys. I didn’t care that the door was left unlocked and truthfully couldn’t have cared less if I was even presentable. A flood of nightmarish visions crowded my brain as I swerved through country roads, the gas pedal nailed to the floor the entire time. I half-ass parked the car and raced inside the emergency room, unsure what I would find. None of this was too good for one who had had a heart attack three months earlier.

I waded through people with belly aches to find the triage office, and was thrilled to see my daughter’s little head as she sat in a chair holding a bloody towel to her mouth. I realize how that sentence would sound in any other context, but “thrilled” in this case is an understatement. Trust me on that.

SJ and the girls had been taking turns playing “gymnast” and climbing on the side rail of the above ground pool – positioning themselves to do summersaults into the water. It was all good, girly, pool fun. Sarah Jane, however, lost her footing and slid on some water on the rail, tumbling backward ~ directly into the cellar bulkhead (doors open) and down the stairs.

It was roughly a seven foot drop. She came down onto a cement step, slamming the back of her head and forcing her two top front teeth clear from their foundation, through her chin just below the lower lip. Hard to imagine ~ but true.

The entire ordeal only took seconds. Blood covered everything within her peripheral vision, but she immediately spotted what looked like two small white pebbles on the ground in front of her. She doesn’t remember what made her hand move out to snatch them up. They were her teeth and the moment she realized this – she went into a state of near-shock.

Luckily, the friend’s dad had worked as an EMT for some time and knew enough to place the teeth into a cup of milk to preserve any life that was left in them. They were rushing her off to the hospital within minutes; only stopping to call me first.

After the immediate “high” of seeing my daughter alive, the “eww” mode kicked in and it was all I could do to maintain any sort of calm in her presence so that my facial expressions wouldn’t scare the crap out of her. I didn’t fare too well in this area, but I was there for her. That was something … or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

It seemed like forever until the maxillofacial doctor arrived to the hospital (it was a Saturday, but of course). Until he got there, they wouldn’t even give her anything for pain. Nothing. This tore me up inside, but I knew better than to stand and beg the ER folks for meds. It simply doesn’t do you any damned good.

They managed to replace the teeth into their respective cavities (as in “holes”), but whether or not they would remain there would be a mystery for many years to come. They had an important job to do … to reattach themselves to the root and grow new tissue around them. It was iffy at best.

The gash on her upper chin where the teeth had exited was ghastly; through and through, yet jagged. That was remedied quickly enough with several stitches ~ and there was talk about plastic surgery down the road, though this was the least of our concerns at the time.

All is so-so by now. I say this because she is still undergoing several dental procedures to try to make it permanently right, but she’ll always have a sensitivity there. The teeth did their job, and perhaps had they been replaced with more care (time was of the essence) they wouldn’t protrude quite as much as they do, and they wouldn’t be visibly lower than the rest of the teeth. This can all be cosmetically fixed, if and when we ever muster the money to do so. It’ll come with time.

SJ has grown accustomed to her new look. I’ve asked her several times over the years if she’d like to have the scar repaired, and her reply has always been pretty much the same, “Nah, it’s a part of who I am now mom, it gives me a story to tell.”

I can think of nicer stories to tell, though I fully understand her logic. Look at me! I’m telling the story here and it didn’t even happen to me.

So I guess lessons were learned that day.
Firstly, neither SJ nor I had any idea that teeth could be pushed through a chin. A lip? Sure … but a chin?

Secondly, wiring teeth into the upper jaw for an entire summer doesn’t stop a twelve year old from talking incessantly.

And lastly, it’s not such a bad thing at all to be interrupted by someone asking you to fix lunch. Not a bad thing at all.

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SJ heading to her prom last June

June 12, 2005

Tag... I'm It

I've been tagged by Lyvvie to talk about the top 5 things I miss from my childhood.
But first...the Rules.

Remove the blog #1 from the following list and bump everyone up one place; add your blog's name in the number five spot. You need to link to each of the blogs for much cross pollenation of your pal's blogs.

1. third world county
2. BTW
3. Soliloquy
4. Lyvvie's Limelight
5. The Cerebral Outpost

Next, select four new friends to add to the pollen count. (Not obligated to partake)

1. Mr. Haney – Ramblin’ On
2. Mark – Meandering Musings Muster Madness
3. GEL – Silken Threads
4. Judy – JustaskJudy

(and because I’ve never been good at conforming)
5. Walker – Lost Here and Beyond

Okay. Now that you've wasted an hour of your life cutting and pasting ~ write about the five things you miss the most from childhood.

Mine are as follows:

1. My mother’s cooking. Understand one thing before you continue reading this one ~ mother (and the rest of the world at that time) wasn’t worried about things like cholesterol levels, maintaining a stick-thin figure, carcinogens and sugar highs. She was more concerned that we enjoyed what we ate and that she could manage to make both my German and my Irish/English grandparents happy by keeping some old family recipes alive. It wasn’t her fault that she prepared most meals in bacon fat or butter, and baked everything with a truckload of sugar. Blame could be layed on ancestry and ignorance; but not on mom.

The thing I loved most about her dinners was that they were served at precisely the same time every single day (except Sundays when we had a huge midday meal instead. The house would start smelling like delicious food sometime around 5 p.m. and by 6:00 all six of us were sitting around the table together, hands and faces washed and ready to share all our little bits and pieces about the day. You could set your watch by our dinner time. In fact, the entire neighborhood retreated to their dinner tables at just about the same time. It was the thing to do back then.

2. I miss the old neighborhood, terribly. Most of our neighbors were immigrants (some first generation but many second or third) from Italy. If you’ve ever watched or heard of the Sopranos, this was pretty much my old neighborhood. People looked out for one another and everyone within a three-block radius was “family.” You never shit on each other and all of the parents minded all of the children ~ even to the point of disciplining when necessary.

(incase you don’t believe me about the Sopranos reference, here’s a picture taken at the funeral of a mutual friend. This was four years ago, just after 9/11. We all grew up within a block of one another)

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After school, you did your homework then ran out to play. Stickball was one of our favorite activities and back then, traffic was light and slow enough that you could use your own street as a playing field. Nobody got pissed off when a car interrupted the game ~ you just got out of the way and waited till it moved on then picked up the game where you left off.

There was always someone to play with. If Tony and Anna weren’t home you could walk down the block and find Georgie V or Freddie S hanging out at the schoolyard. If the schoolyard was empty, just continue around the corner to the candy store and sure as shit, there would be any one of the more than fifteen other friends from the same street. There were plenty of doors to knock on, and you were always greeted by parents with a welcoming smile.

I don’t even know who my neighbors are today. We wave and smile politely if we happen to catch one another getting into or out of our cars. That’s the extent of it; nothing even close to the way it used to be back home.
3. I miss how my dad used to take us kids on an outing every single weekend during the nice weather, offering mom a break for the day. He took us to places like the Staten Island Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Bronx Zoo, Coney Island, Asbury Park, Olde Richmondtown (a restored historical site with museums and people dressed in period clothing on Staten Island) … actually, there were too many outings to name. Having been born and raised in Manhattan, he also loved to just take us on various subway rides through the boroughs. I think he was showing off a bit ~ he knew those trains like nobody else. He was such a cool guy to hang out with. Often times, we’d ride a train till he got struck with a brainstorm and we’d get off and head to some obscure little museum or shop.

We’d leave early in the morning and without fail, we would return just in time for dinner.

4. I miss having a completely trashed bedroom and not giving the slightest shit about it. My mother would get after me every other weekend or so, and I’d scurry things into closets and drawers or under the bed till the room passed inspection, but within a day, it was usually right back to being a heaving pile of crap. We weren’t allowed to bring food upstairs to our rooms, so the junk wasn’t hazardous; it was just a simple mass of kid toys, dolls and stuffed animals, clothing, shoes, books and paper. Even as a young kid, I always did a lot of writing and loved to surround myself with every bit of it. I think I kept about three diaries at a time. I still have several of them and love to turn the pages on occasion, remembering the good and the bad times.

5. I miss the music. I grew up on several genres. Mostly my parents flooded my sensory receptors with 30s and 40s Big Band stuff. This remains my favorite type of music. Lyrics were written with such flair and grace and the tempos were so varied. You could enjoy strings and horns and tasteful drums in every single song. Sinatra was a staple in our house; he was born and raised just across the river from us in Hoboken, NJ and my best friend was a second or third cousin of his (probably fifth cousin twice removed but when you were a kid in our neighborhood, a cousin wuzza cousin ~ know what I’m sayin?)

My oldest sister listened to 50s tunes on the AM radio in her room, and my second oldest sister was a Motown and 60s fanatic.

Then there was Susan ~ my nemesis. She, being two years my senior, turned me on to the lovely sounds of Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Grand Funk etc. She also turned me on to marijuana and single-handedly made me wish I were an only child. She was the family rebel and enjoyed terrorizing me at every turn in the road, the be-otch. I do thank her, however, for having one hell of an album (LP) collection back then.

As I moved on through time, I became particularly fond of music of the Eagles, Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, America, Blind Faith (or any Eric Clapton actually), Black Sabbath, Doors, etc. But my hero from that era, as far as vocals and lyrics, remains Joni Mitchell.

Oops, this wasn’t supposed to be a post about music.

Anyway, there you have five things I miss the most about my childhood. Perhaps another time I will create a post on things I hated the most about my childhood, but I’ll have to wait till I’m in a particularly hateful mood for that one.

It should go without saying that the two things I truly miss the most about my childhood are my mom and dad; but some days you just don’t feel like going all mushy so I refrained from delving into that any further than I already have.

Thank you, Lyvvie, for making me recall these things and get them into writing. It was fun for me.

June 06, 2005

With Eyes Half Closed ...

Hoo boy, I really really need to update my Blogger links. My list is way old by now and some of those blogs have since passed on to the great beyond. More importantly, I have so many more wonderful sites to add. Soon. Very soon. Remind me.

In the meantime, as some may have noticed, I’ve been trying hard to make my rounds and leave apologetic comments on those who I haven’t visited so often lately. Blanket statement here for all those who stop by … Weary Hag has been under great duress at the workplace during the past two months, has been experiencing bouts of general depression, and has just plain NOT been herself. Her desire to maintain daily visits and twice-weekly posts apparently isn’t strong enough to drive her to do so, but she truly misses both activities. Hopefully, she will regain her composure before long and will refrain from killing anyone in the meanwhile.

Now… for lack of better posting material this evening, I offer some more Hagtoids (factoids about the Hag) for your reading pleasure.

42. I had a miniature Dutch bunny as a pet when I was a kid and used to walk him on a leash around my neighborhood. He seemed to enjoy this activity.

43. There was a crazy woman in my neighborhood named Mary. Mary used to walk up to poles and trees and just touch them lightly with both hands, then talk to herself as she walked away. I think she held the secrets to the universe.

44. My fiancé is currently in St. Louis and I miss him terribly.

45. I have varicose veins in one leg and my daughter at four years old asked me one day how I got my “very close veins.” It was the first and last time I laughed about having varicose veins.

46. I like to be a dark room but only after my rods and cones have adjusted. I prefer darker rooms to brightly lit rooms any day of the week.

47. I have an extremely low tolerance to perfumes and colognes. I don’t mind shower or bath soap smells because they’re not overpowering and usually dissipate after a short while anyway.

48. I went to see The Fifth Dimension in Atlantic City many years ago and before the show my date took me to dinner. He ordered crabmeat cocktail as a joint appetizer and I broke out in hives from head to foot just before the show started. Who knew?

49. I am a lover of all things ichthyological. I do not, however, enjoy EATING things that smell like rancid socks.

50. Elvin Jones once flirted with me at a club in Manhattan during and after his performance. (famous Jazz drummer)

51. I have perfect pitch. (this means I can sing a given note by recalling it in my head with no accompanying music)

52. I once dumped a friend’s Harley on an entrance ramp to the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn. Fortunately I had just started out and merely dented the thing. Some girls just don’t belong at the helm of an old Electra-Glide.

53. As a young girl, I lost my first tooth in Central Park Zoo while eating a candy apple.

54. I like Healthy Choice frozen meals but find the pork too fatty. Ew.

55. I could stand to lose 30 pounds but cannot tolerate dieting advice from people who could stand to lose 150. I just want to haul off and slap the dogmeat out of them.

56. I also take great offense at these same people pleading with me to quit smoking. All I want to say is “Quit eating twinkies, candy and ice cream because your second-hand bulge is kinda killing me too.”

57. I like to listen to sad songs when I’m in a funk. By all the rules, this shouldn’t help, but it somehow does.

58. If I were inclined to board a plane, I would like to visit the Sherwood Forest in England. I know there’s nothing there, but I’m just sayin.

59. I was always envious of my best friend (female) who could do the two-finger whistle thing that could be heard clear across an arena.

60. My single phobia in life is emetophobia*. It’s severe. It has interfered with my ability to partake in many fun activities throughout my lifetime. (*fear of vomiting)

61. If the average person has six million hair follicles on their head, I have at least twenty-five million.

62. I have a theory about marriage. I think people shouldn’t be allowed to marry until they reach 40; it’s not until then that you can really decide what it is that you do NOT want in life. I believe knowing what you want in a partner is only part of it, and maybe even a less important part. Knowing what you DON’T want and avoiding that at all cost is critical to true happiness.

63. I have finally found true happiness with my life partner. He rocks and rolls my world with every breath he takes and I don’t even think he has to try to. This is VERY cool.

64. I slept for two hours during the day today ~ mostly because it was so hot and sticky in the house and I felt lonely and low. I’m never up this late anymore. I’ll want to slap myself in the morning.

Time to check on the boyz (cats) and summon the tuxedo clad one for his spot on the bed.

G’nite all.