Monday, December 5, 2011

To Santa... or Not

In one of the tales from childhood... you know, the ones Mom or Dad insist on telling every chance they get, my father explains how he came to never use Santa as a weapon or bargaining chip.  I have tried desperately to keep that same lesson with my own children.  Sadly, I am at a point where Santa might be the only behavioral lesson they just might learn.

Last year my oldest received Christmas gifts from the family, but nothing from Santa. Days before Christmas he stole a gift out of the Toys for Tots box at my workplace.  I believed that had to be something so rotten as to deserve a "no Santa Christmas."

The thievery has continued for much of this year. A sneak here or there, coupled with a few events at school (twice in three days) and big monetary loss when collectable coins were stolen.  Add the inevitable collusion with a brother who worships him so much that he would even take the blame to protect him, and we have a big batch of naughty.

I have come to the conclusion that no matter how much positive attention we give our oldest, he still desires to be punished.  I realize there are psychological reasons behind his behavior but enough is enough.  According to our therapist he is most certainly secure in our loving home and attachment is not the issue. Therefore we are at a loss as to how to help him overcome the deep dark angry monster that eats at him every day.

While the two younger boys, who are not innocent by any means, will be receiving replacement items for those stolen earlier this year (by real thieves, not big bro), he will not.  Santa will not be coming for him this year, much to the consternation of Nichole who believes we should replace the stolen bicycle, along with the scooter and skateboard.  I on the other hand hope to prove a point when the little ones see their new bikes and his is non-existent.

So now comes a new dilemma. Our second oldest is beginning to act out based on his need to relieve some of  big brother's frustration.  Together they are sneaking and getting in to things meant for Christmas.  Do I hold them to the same standard? Should child #2 also loose out on a visit from Santa? Or is there a way around it, like remove one gift and tell him it went to the orphans.  Maybe I should let him open a few gifts and then immediately remove them to be given to the orphans.

It is hard for me to discipline the boys in what they would deem equal treatment.  They each have their issues that manifest differently and they each respond differently to certain punishments.  So how then do I do this in a fair manner where my oldest doesn't see favoritism?

Christmas is not about Santa or gifts. It is about family, love and most of all Christ.  It is the only "birthday" that the guests receive gifts rather than give them to the guest of honor.  But that is an adult understanding, not a child's. My faith teaching is that love forgives. But my social upbringing teaches me that although love forgives, discipline or punishment is part of the penance paid. To be dramatic and cliche', "do the crime - do the time." Once your time is paid up, then the slate is clean and forgiveness granted.

I love my boys more than anything.  My heart aches for them each time they suffer.  All I really want to do is fill them with love and guide them to the goodness that is within.  I want to be proud of their accomplishments and for their accomplishments to outweigh the disappointments.  I want them to be good citizens with good values, and to know that some of that goodness came from us and the way we raised them.   It is every parent's dream.  Is this too much to ask?

Friday, September 30, 2011


"I know you don't like spiders, but you do most the guy stuff and well, you're like the Daddy-Mom." Isaac was 6 or 7 at the time, and like many children of same sex parenting he was trying to figure out how his family fit into the big picture of family being taught at school.  He'd called me in to the bathroom to kill the spider.  I have a true phobia of spiders and often am physically ill at the sight of one. But like a good Daddy-Mom, I pulled in my queasy gut and killed the spider - three times.  Spiders must be killed three times and flushed down the toilet for me to believe they are truly dead.

Like many households, gay or straight, the chores and duties are divided according to individual strengths and likes.  I really enjoy fixing things and the boys believe I can fix anything.  I like that.  My boys believe in me.  Nichole likes to put things together and most of the "assembly required" projects go to her, but I am the fixer.  Please keep in mind, that fixing things often involves the discovery of three new related projects and two extra days of frustration - like the tilted door in the rebuilt door frame.  Like the chores, other aspects of parenting come more natural to one or the other of us.

Nichole is the first sought out for light injuries - she is more nurturing.  Big injuries are usually handled by me as directed by her on the way to the hospital.  Nichole is the first sought out for the "I wants" because the boys believe her the easier mark.  In a way she is.  I tend to say "no" for the sake of "no" and have been called to the carpet by her.  Even Isaac, when explaining the shotgun under the bed told me "well, you know how sometimes you just say 'no' before I'm even done asking the question...?" knows that sometimes I am just feeling contrary.  Although we both issue disciplinary orders, mine are often much harsher than Nichole's. She thinks ahead to the big picture of parental survival, while I tend to issue ultimatums on the fly.

Because I am the Daddy-Mom I have a certain appreciation for boys. I am the one they want to share all their bugs with.  I have held their giant worms ( the tomato horn worm frequents my plants) and let snails creep across my palm.  I am proud of Isaac's good taste (at age 10) of bikini clad women, despite the fact he subscribed to a phone service called Bikini Babes and downloaded the pictures to a phone he wasn't supposed to have. Although I am a woman, I look forward to the "talk" and have made a safe enough place that he and his brothers can ask me, or Nichole if preferred.  But I have also let them know that Uncle Craig is available too.  I look forward to teaching them all to drive - with the trepidation of knowing the statistics of young boy drivers.  I look forward to being at their sports events. Nichole does too, but she fears the football years.  I encourage Nathan to fight back against Austin at times, when words aren't working and Austin is arbitrarily seeking Nathan as a victim. I am proud of them all and know we have done well.

Last night Isaac came to me in all earnestness to talk with me privately.  I immediately dropped what I was doing - to prove I thought his need was important - and joined him in my room with the door closed.  I was expecting questions about girls - the bikini episode was only a few days ago. Instead, he had a heavy heart and was seeking advice on changing some of his bad behaviors.  I like to believe he came to me because I am the harder disciplinarian and he truly wants us to get along.  He knows how much I love him, that is a given but there are times when I can tell he is seeking my approval.  He wants to make amends after an argument by asking me to wear my pajamas that most closely match his.  He wants me to dress up for church because he is going to wear his tie and dress up instead of the usual shorts and t-shirt.  He wants me to coach him with the interest of the moment.  He wants Nichole to teach and nurture. Although I am the primary cook, it is Nichole who helps him cook his own breakfast or do his own laundry.  It is Nichole who helps with the technology and the homework.  It is Nichole who goes to school with him and volunteers in the classroom. Isaac, despite his troubles, is a well rounded boy who will grow to have a great appreciation for the women in his life. He will be balanced and able to assist when his wife is overwhelmed. Isaac will know that although there are traditional roles in every household, those roles can be interchanged at any given time and nothing is truly "all the guy stuff or all the woman stuff."  For now, this Daddy-Mom is quite content with the title as it really does describe the interchanging roles of running a household.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

She Will Forever Be My Baby Sister

Just I was beginning to worry, our father asked me the question: "Have you heard from your sister lately?"  I hadn't and that was unusual.  We regularly text each other if for no other reason than to just say "hi." Dad hadn't heard from her in several weeks. She moved in with a new boyfriend that we don't know. Her phone was disconnected and no one had heard from her since.  What else could I do but fear the worse?

Years ago Anna married and moved across the country to Florida. It was a strategic move that benefited their financial circumstances.  By the time they divorced, Anna had a good government job with benefits and stability. She was now  nearing her 40's and finally rooted.  We encouraged her, even begged her to come home where she has family but for the first time in her life (by my reasoning) she was finally standing on her own. She went several years without a steady beau. She lived alone, not relying on roommates to make ends meet and she grew tremendous spirit.  Yet at times, I could hear the sadness.  I worried.

I was never quite clear where Anna worked.  She kept telling me it was the prosecutor's office but when I would ask "District Attorney?" she would respond "No... I think I work for the State."  That is Anna in a nutshell "I think..." So when Dad asked about her, and I was already beginning to wonder why my texts had gone unanswered (stupid me I never did just  call ) I jumped to a lot fear that is based on my expertise in domestic violence.
  •  Who is this new boyfriend she's only known for a few months? I only know his first name.
  • She sure moved in quickly by my standards
  • She talks about him like he is "too good to be true."
  • Communications are now cut off.
  • What if she never updated her emergency contacts after the divorce? I assume her ex is still on the form since they are amicable and he is local.
These are just a few of the signs and certainly not definite indicators of domestic violence, but of course I am suspicious of anyone I don't know and I am certain she's suffered from D.V. in a previous relationship prior to her marriage.

Dad and I emailed back and forth a couple times about how to track her down. We'd lost contact with her ex, who was my first choice and we still didn't really know where she works. That was on Friday just before our Labor Day weekend. Tracking government offices would have to wait until Tuesday.

Yesterday morning as, as soon as I was able, I began searching.  Let me back up a moment and mention that by the end of the weekend I was under a lot of unrelated personal stress.  Okay, so I began by Googling for the District Attorney nearest where she lives. DOH! There is no such thing as a District Attorney in her area. The closest I found was the Public Defender.  They would know who to hook me up with. I called and explained my urgent need to contact my "missing sister" and was transferred to the City Attorney.  They never heard of my sister but transferred me to the Broward County Clerks Office.  They never heard of my sister and by now I was starting to panic.

"I don't know. She works for the District Attorney... or your equivalent in the clerk's office. She's missing! We haven't heard from her in weeks... she calls our dad every week!"  At that point whoever I was talking to went into calm-down mode.  I was sobbing "hff FFF  fff FFFF" you know... huffing and unable to breathe sobs.  The clerk figured out that I needed the STATE attorney's office.

One thing I did know was that Anna had recently been promoted from "front desk" to some other division in the actual office. She is never clear about details with us.  So the front desk clerk answered and I began again, by first asking for her by name. That drew a blank.  I kept at it in-between huffs. I gave both her married and maiden name in case the phone tree hadn't been updated. Again, I was met with a very calm and understanding voice who assured me she would find my sister. DOH! "The only Anna I can find is Anna..."

"Wait, I think I know who you are talking about." A glimmer of comfort.  Several huffs and stopped breaths later she told me "OH I found her! I am going to transfer you straight to her desk!" My baby sister has her own phone line?

"State Attorney's Office, this is Susie" WHERE THE HELL IS MY SISTER?  Now I was beginning to fear the worse... had she not been to work for a while and they didn't know who to contact? Could she really be missing?

After sifting through my now hysterical crying, Susie assured me that Anna was just away from her desk and that she was fine. Susie even went on to tell me that she'd met James and he was a "great guy." I left a message Anna to call me or Dad. But the story doesn't end here.

After learning that Sis was OK, I went back to desk to immediately email Dad.  DOH! Right there in my in- box was an email dated a day earlier with his message that Anna had finally called him for the holiday and he'd gotten her new number, address and full name of the boyfriend. Should I be laughing or crying? While I was composing myself, and my email, Anna called me.... now frantic herself because the message she received was "your sister called here. She was crying hysterically!"  Now I'm back in tears... well, no... I was still in tears before she called, huffing in sobs while my Baby Sister, sounding more mature than she ever has, is trying to calm me down enough to learn that Dad is fine, I am fine and assuredly she is fine.

One day, maybe, I will tell you all what F.I.N.E. really means.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Comic-Con 2011

Six years ago we attended our first Comic-Con. We were invited by my dear friend Lisa to join her and her family for the events. We borrowed tickets from others who'd somehow received duplicate badges and enjoyed the mob scene of lookie-loos who came to gape at movie stars and costumed geeks. It was here that 1 year old Nathan uttered his first recognizable word "I'aac." Our little toddler was crawling across the lawn chasing his 3 yr old brother Isaac. What a wonderful moment that Nathan's first word was his big brother's name.

Lisa and her family have been coming to the Con for almost 20 years. I seem to remember 20 years ago swearing I'd never subject myself to something as dorky as a convention full of crazed fans dressed as their favorite whatever. Ok, we came, we had a good time, and we have returned every year since. We make a weekend of it. The boys come with us to preview night and then spend the weekend with my brother and his family. On Sunday we return with the boys for the family day of events geared more for kids. It has been an event the boys excitedly remember and look forward to the next year.

Sadly, this time there will be no "next year." This insane event draws close to 200,000 people. We trudge through the exhibit hall shoulder to shoulder, desperately holding to each other's shirt tail or backpack strap so as to not be separated. It surprises me the boys enjoy themselves since we adults hold them tightly close and snap the minute one begins to stray from our sides.

I have never like crowds and after so many years in a profession where my personal space had to be guarded closely, I can emphatically say "I still do NOT like crowds!" The stress is too much. I begin to hyperventilate and become panicked. All of my distrust of the general public comes to the surface as I constantly tap my pocket to reassure myself that my wallet is still there. Then there is the momentary distress when I can't feel the wallet, only to be amused when I realize I have placed in a front pocket for safe keeping.

Comic-Con is winding down in San Diego. It long outgrew our convention center and has declared that once the contract expires (a mere 10 years from now) they will move the convention to a much larger venue - perhaps Anaheim or Los Angeles. San Diego has a proprietary cause for keeping the Con. It was conceived here. It has always been here and should never be anywhere else. But seriously, I can't imagine next year, much less 10 years from now.

Tonight even though we are not buying tickets for next year, we are camping a line. I never thought I would find myself sleeping in a chair overnight just to buy tickets for some event, but here we are. We promised a friend who missed out this year that we would buy tickets for her to attend next year. At the time we made the promise we believed pre-registration would be the same as every other year. But the rules changed. Pre-registration is restricted to only 2500 tickets per day.  You can only buy them during a two hour window in the morning and only if you have a valid ticket for the day you stand in line to purchase the tickets.

Comic-Con raised the prices. The daily event passes were raised only a bit, but the full 4 day plus preview night went up almost double! We won't pay that much to be squished in sea of weirdoes. It’s not worth it. Yet I feel sadness because in the end, it is worth it. We hang out all day in one conference room or another. We see and hear stars from our favorite shows, unscripted and un-edited as they banter with the crowd. We (I really mean Nichole) haunt the autograph room for a chance to hug some hottie. She has an autograph from and a picture of herself with Adrian Paul. I dare not touch that picture. Strange how our last time here is the first time we camped a line, and not even for ourselves.  But in the end, I just can't justify $175 per ticket for days of glorious stress. I will content myself with adoration from afar.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Day After the Day After...

July 6, 2011 and I still haven't fully recovered from 4th of July celebrations. I had learned that the celebration in Old Town, San Diego was a really cool event so we packed up our three plus Kaitlin, the baby and the rest of her family and headed out for the park.  I was surprised at how many people were there considering I'd not seen any advertising or notices, but the crowd was pleasant and not too thick.  There was plenty of room for us to spread in the shade for a picnic lunch, and enough free activities to keep the kids interested.
Naturally it was the cannon blasts that intrigued the boys and Samantha.  As soon as the first blast exploded they all tore across the plaza lawn to the other side for the next shot.  Thankfully Kaitlin has recovered enough to run after them.  By standards of my youth, that they had run off like that to somewhere we knew they'd be wasn't a problem. But of course we all know things are different today and just don't like them out of my sight. Especially the four (adding in Kaitlin's brother) boys with little or no self restraint. Not to forget littlest sis (2 yrs) who has to follow her brother and sister everywhere.

OK, I admit it. When the volunteers were blowing powder balls (kinda like homemade explosives) closed between two anvils, I had to watch too.  All cops (and ex-cops) like explosions.

The festival was nice and many "activities" or demonstrations were free. Unfortunately though the fun stuff was not. To play or enter the potato sack race required tickets.  The cake walk I understand since there was a cake for the winner. But seriously, kids don't care if there is a prize for potato sack races. They just want to hop along and fall in the grass. The horse and buggy ride was fun for all the kids.

From Old Town we headed home where the kids cooled down on a slip-n-slide while I lit up the BBQ. We had good ole American hot dogs, hamburgers, beans and watermelon for dinner. Then of course we loaded up both cars again and went down to the neighborhood gathering for fireworks.

Fireworks are a lot of fun in our neighborhood. We live just blocks from where they light 'em off.  So everyone gathers at the grocery parking and the park across the street to sit directly under the exploding rockets. The booms rattle through your bones and at times it seems as though the glowing embers will land atop your head. I believe some were more entertained by the boom than the actual display.

This year was special with the fireworks. Not the fireworks themselves, they are pretty standard year to year. But for the first time in several year Kaitlin and her family were together to watch. And finally after 6 years for us, Austin was not afraid and did not have to go back to the car to escape.

I have to say it was a very long hot sweaty fun day. Nichole and I, well everyone, were totally exhausted and no amount of sleep recovered our bodies. I can not count the times I fell asleep at my keyboard or just in-between mouse clicks.  But we muddled through the day and night with only a few moments of unruliness. Today is only a little better. I'm not falling asleep but the lids are heavy and lunch break is looking better and better for a good long nap.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Humpty Dumpty Should Have Had Glue

The day Humpty Dumpty fell from the wall there was no such thing as surgical superglue.  But unlike Humpty, Austin was successfully glued back together this morning after a fall at school.  We can now say that every boy we have cared for has been to the ER for stitches incurred while in our custody.  It is certainly not a proud boast, just the irony of raising boys, whether our own or someone else's.  Our first foster child Erin (yes, that is how his mother spells it) fell onto the fireplace hearth and split his eyebrow.  He was at the neighbor's house because ironically, Nichole was preparing to drive me to the ER for injuries I received breaking up a three dog fight. Mind you, I am not stupid.  All three dogs were mine and two were ganging up on one. Anyway, Erin fell and together we went to Children's ER where they had compassion and treated my wounds at the same time as Erin's.

Shortly after we received Isaac into our home he was felled by another student at his pre-school and split his ear. The fall and subsequent police report (required by the preschool) were more traumatic to Isaac than the stitches.  Considering his last experience with police was so negative, who would blame him for cowering behind Nichole's skirt. One year later, after Nathan learned to walk he tumbled full toddler-tilted speed into a reinforced corner of the wall.  By now, Children's had us on the watch list I'm sure.  Nathan sports a beautiful zig-zag Frankenscar down the middle of his forehead.

Well, Austin was terrified after hearing the stitches stories of his brothers.  He tried to be brave, and didn't cry at the thought, but I could hear and see the fear.  He whispered to the Dr. "I don't want stitches."  Austin's cut was only about 1/4 inch but it was deep.  The Dr. opted for surgical glue and Austin didn't utter a whimper as he pressed down on the cut.  Austin later confessed "the Dr. is happy he didn't give me stitches." When I asked him why, he responded "because I would have kicked him."

While mine are certainly not the only children to suffer head wounds and other injuries, as a mother I tend to believe no one else has gone through the pains of my own kids.  I am certain there will be more injuries along the way, as these boys do not know the meaning of "slow down" or "be careful."  I can only pray that each event is as easily managed.  The fear I now admit to feeling when told to come get Austin and take him to ER, was crushing. 

Every day I thank God for the health of my children.  Every day, I will remember that no matter how angry I am, no matter how exhausted or frustrated I become, nothing is worse than feeling your child's pain.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

On the Crooked Cross

Long before Mel Gibson produced The Passion of the Christ, a friend of mine described in graphic detail his interpretation of Jesus’ agony on the cross.  Mike was destined for the priesthood and often had insightful words to share.  In Mike’s reasoning the cross was most certainly not two milled slabs of wood carefully locked together in the pretty and symmetrical symbol we’ve adapted over time.  Instead it was more likely two heavy, gnarled tree branches or trunks lashed together with rough ties similar to hemp.  The branches were not stripped of bark or uneven knots sanded to a smooth surface.  It was highly probable that Jesus, stripped naked and rife with cuts from the flaying he’d received prior to the crucifixion, was tortured by the rough splintery surface as his wounds rubbed against the branch.  It is also likely that the seat or step depicted in many artworks was nonexistent and   Jesus was forced to bear His weight at his wrists.  The position of his arms would have made his sufferings worse as gravity pulled at Him, stretching his body away from his shoulders and collapsing the lungs.  I often think back on Mike’s words, especially when I am feeling sorry for myself and overwhelmed by life’s challenges.
There are times when I arrive home after a long day of work to find two days worth of dishes in the sink, scattered toys, shoes, clothes and snack trash on the living room floor and a week’s worth of clean clothes still in the baskets waiting to be folded.  I would love to come home to a sparkling clean house, but it isn’t practical.  I am a woman of bad habits.  So I fret and then become resentful as I list all the responsibilities that are mine along with those of others that I must absorb.  I try to be reasonable and remember that first, I am not alone and second, I am not the only one with multiple obligations.  I try not to speak out loud the resentment I feel because I know that time is our enemy.  It was much better when I was not working and I could keep up on things a little each day.  In this way I envy stay at home mothers.  This is one of those gnarly splintery knots that rubs and scrapes against my back.  But unlike Jesus, this is a cross of my own making.
When the boys work against my last nerve and I find myself with an angry mind and heavy heart, I wonder about Jesus.   His recorded stories have few instances of rage, fear or resentment; but he must have felt them.  He threw a tantrum in the temple when he overturned the tables of the money changers.  It was an act of anger, not a polite “excuse me; I’m going to tip your table now.”  He threw a tantrum when the tree was void of fruit and he cursed it.  He cried in fear in the garden before he was arrested.  None of this compares to the frustrations I feel at not being able to keep my house clean.  He hung on a crooked, gnarled cross and died; and in the end, He forgave them all.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Musical Beds

It's not quite what it sounds like.  Each night at bedtime Nichole and I sit with the boys in their room just long enough for them to drift off.  It is a ritual that really goes back to their infancy when we would rock them to sleep.  Ok, that was six years ago but lately they've been wanting us to lay with them until they are out.  When the boys are tucked safely in their beds, we retire to our own.  We often go to bed at the same time as the boys... we are tired after all.  Sometimes we take our computers with us, other times we read or work our puzzle books. Then there are those times when we are so very exhausted we actually go to sleep. 

When Isaac was four or five we managed to wean him from joining us throughout the night.  Nathan and Austin, not so much.  Just about every night one or both of them join us in our bed.  We are constantly pulling elbows from our ears and toes out of our noses.  Nathan is a flipper.  He will spin around in full sweeping motions until he has slept on every square inch and stolen every blanket.  Austin is a crowder.  He will tuck in so tight he almost becomes a growth on my back.  Come to think of it, perhaps it is his arm sprouting from my ears.

We almost had them cured of the incessant need for the Mommies but then something happened.  I don't know what, but we (mostly Nichole) put them back two or three times a night.  Austin has taken to calling out for Nichole to come to him and lay with him till he falls asleep again.  On occasion Isaac still comes in.  We find him in the morning laying across our feet at the foot of the bed.  We don't send him back.  I figure if something bothered Isaac enough to climb in with us, he needs the extra attention.

So this morning I had to ask "did anyone other than me wake up in their own bed?"  To be fair, Austin was in his bed... with Nichole and Nathan.  Isaac was still across the foot of our bed.  The dog and cat were in their usual lumpy pile of clothes.

Truth told, I don't really mind the boys coming in, as long as it is only in the morning.  I call it family snuggle time.  I can't get enough of my boys hugs and snuggles, and I know that the time will soon come when they cringe at the thought of showing their affection for the Moms. 

Monday, February 28, 2011

I Am Here - Please Find Me

Social networking can be an amazing tool.  Just the other day a homeless man was reunited with his daughter because he was able to tweet about his homelessness.  Family and friends, long separated are brought together, at least through the networks.  Written communication has taken a whole new style.  Dictionaries are needed to decipher the codes of a new language; a new shorthand.  I still prefer longhand.  Words without vowels disturb me.  Tone and meaning are lost in translation.
Realistically, instant communication is a great.  Exciting news travels faster than lightning.  With one entry all the world, or at those who are important, can get the message of a tragedy or a triumph.  With all the avenues available to spread our glad tidings, it is inevitable that the mundane is also shared.  “Joey has just checked in at the toilets of Aspen Hotel.”  Voyeurism is at its highest as we insert ourselves into everyone’s business.
Through social networking I have learned more about certain family members than I would ever want to know.  I know what they are smoking and with whom they have a “thang.”  I would love to be more involved in their lives, but then again after reading their pages I wonder.  You would think that people have enough sense to not rant or brag about certain things in an online forum.  Every day we hear advises to “be careful of what you post.”  Yet we do it.  We post our innermost frustrations and dubious triumphs.  These postings are forever etched in the digital world and can be used by a number of persons to determine our character and potential.
Despite this I believe in the value of the social network.  Just go back to the beginning where a homeless man is reunited with his daughter.  Old friends and family never met are finding each other and building new relationships.  I have enjoyed meeting and getting to know a cousin who I never met until my mother’s funeral.  We are clearly different and have extremely opposing views on worldwide issues.  Debate is difficult due to rigidity and failure to at least value input from one another. 
On the other hand, I have reunited with old friends and found that despite years of absence we have much to share and learn from each other. Conversations range from plain old fun loving jest to educational rants and debates for the sake of debate. The hard part of it is that there are some who cannot or will not be found.  Either they have disappeared from the face of the earth or they have refused to rise to the times.  Of course I want to know what they are up to and I worry that my inability to find them is because they are gone forever.  I suppose social networking has replaced class reunions in that anyone we needed/desired to find and follow up on is here.  The rest are just memories.  In an age where the ability to find a lost friend is at our fingertips, it is hard to believe there are some who will not be found. 
Damn, I was trying to end on an up note.
Dear old friends that I cannot find, I am here… please find me.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Attack of the Black Fuzzy Caterpillars

The prediction for early spring has been made, but I do not require a groundhog to tell me this.  I live in Southern California and the seasons here are pretty much indistinguishable.  Winters are mild and summers average.  The only way we can tell the changing of seasons is to hear the laments of friends and family in far away places.   This year is particularly harsh for friends in the Midwest, South and well, anywhere east of the Rockies.  I feel for them and keep them in my prayers.
While they all freeze in the blizzards of winter and cheer the predictions of Phil, I have my own indicators of early spring; the black fuzzy caterpillars.  Our yard is a carpet of creepy crawly moth larvae.  I am told these creatures with brown stripes are moths; the big white kind that attach to walls in the day and flit about lights at night. 
It is difficult to ignore them.  They are everywhere; inside and out.  I first thought the indoor invasion was the few escapees from my son’s bug cage.  I was wrong.  It didn’t take long to realize the dozens attached to our living room curtains had found their own way in; through the breezy cracks of our sliding glass doors. Weather proofing doors and windows are low on the priority list of needed repairs.  Instead each repair moment is focused on other projects.  It seems silly.  Weather stripping is cheap and easy but I’d rather focus on the doors, cabinets and furniture that are so subject to slamming, kicking and throwing by crazed children. 
I enjoy working on house projects, provided I don’t have too much “help.”  The constant chorus of “can I hammer something? Can I saw it?” will turn an hour long door frame-up into an all day ordeal. Well, that and the fact that although I enjoy working with tools, I am not that good at fix-it projects.  So, while the new door hangs crookedly in the frame and awaits renewed efforts to fix it, the new black fuzzy carpet will continue to slowly creep across the lawn and into the house.  The cat will continue to bat the caterpillars into oblivion, the kids will marvel at the cocoons and I will wave a magic wand at the door and tilt the house the opposite angle to give the appearance of level.