Unplanned

black and white house under thick clouds
Photo by Alex Andrews on Pexels.com

Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned. Take this weekend for example. I had planned to get a ton of writing done. I was going to work on this short story I want to finish and send out before the end of June. I was going also work on this other thing that looks like it might be part two of something I’ve already completed. I was also hoping to plot some of a series I’ve been planning, then write a blog post.

None of that happened. Well, this is the blog post but not the one I originally planned on. Yesterday the sky was overcast and the wind was shouting nature’s fury through the trees. Then the storm began and the power went out. No power, no internet.

It was fine at first. All the people in my neighborhood opened their curtains and doors. People stood on their porches and watched the storm rage. When it the weather cleared the power was still out, so my son and I went to visit family, run a few errands, and grab some lunch. We passed downed trees and broken limbs everywhere; evidence that the storm had been worse than I thought. Traffic lights were down and a lot of places were without power.

It took us longer than expected but we returned home by seven in the evening to a dark house. The power rarely goes off where I live so I had expected it to be repaired by the time we made it home. It wasn’t a big deal to me. We have candles and lanterns if we need to see and I have a camp stove if we needed something warm to eat. I also have a reading list that never seems to get any smaller.

My son, however, thought the apocalypse had come. The battery in his game console was almost dead and so was his phone. He couldn’t turn on the tv or his computer and we had to use a tap light to see in the bathroom. I told him to read a book. He pouted for a bit but finally started a series he received for Christmas.

The power was back on by 10PM but it was kind of nice to unplug from technology for a bit. I managed to read three books and my son focused on something that wasn’t Minecraft for a few hours. So, even though things didn’t go as planned and I didn’t get the writing done that I wanted, it was still a pretty good day. (The power went off for a while today too but only for a few hours.)

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Making Mistakes

Recently I was applying a thick coating of antibiotic cream to an abrasion my eldest error-101407_1920achieved from doing something she realized (in retrospect) was a bad idea. It was while listening to her hiss in pain as she attempted to hold still that I was struck with a thought. Kids are a second chance to learn from your own mistakes.

You see, the thing she did was something I easily could have done once upon a time. I have even considered it before. However, by that time I was old enough to think the idea all of the way through and realise what the end result would probably be. She is still at the age of: “I have an idea! Let’s try it.”

Being a parent of really creative children is a joy and a challenge. They come up with some wonderful insights but they also find their fair share of trouble. Sometimes they find that trouble earlier than they are prepared to deal with it. Mostly it is because they simply haven’t learned to think things through. It can be a hard lesson to learn. Some people never learn it.

doctor-1015624_1920Bumps, bruises, scrapes, and embarrassment help encourage us to look ahead to possible outcomes. This is a good thing for self preservation but it can also be a bad thing if you only weigh the negative outcomes. There is a balance that has to be learned. Sometimes it is worth it to take the chance. Sometimes it is not. The important thing is to think about things before you do them.

I would like to say this is a lesson I know well, but that would be a lie. In some things I am good at looking ahead and going “Nope. Bad Idea. Okay, Plan B…” In other things it never occurs to me. (Hence the three novels currently being worked on all at the same time.) Sometimes I see the mud puddle and jump it without look to see what the ground is like on the other side. That is a good way to lose shoes. (I know from experience.)

If my daughter had thought things through she wouldn’t have gotten hurt. It is a lesson she has learned and will not repeat soon. It also reminded me of my own mistakes and the things I learned.

Parents like to repeat: Look Before You Leap. There is a reason. It is cliche but it is ancient silhouette-1082129_1920wisdom we try to pass on. We try to warn our offspring. Often they don’t listen to the warning and end up making their own mistakes anyway, just as we did.

One day they will grow up and pass that phrase on to their own children, who will roll their eyes and make mistakes. It is part of the learning process. However, if the same mistake keeps getting repeated over and over then the lessons aren’t getting through and it may be time for extra guidance. (Unless you are trying to make something. Then those “mistakes” turn into “drafts” or “experiments.”)

A Mountain Trip, Or How I Crashed a Funeral

We have been enjoying a couple of nice sunny days recently. Yesterday, I took advantage of that to pry the kids away from their electronics and take a trip into nature. We headed north toward the Great Smoky Mountains and Cades Cove. moutian

Cades Cove was settled by Europeans in the 1800’s but had long been roamed by Native Americans before then. Now it is a national park with a scenic drive, white tail deer, and restored rural dwellings and churches. The views are breathtaking and inspirational. Walking the trails, it is easy to see why settlers came to the area and decided to go no further.

deerMy kids complained a little about the lack of their usual entertainments, but my son soon forgot about mine craft when he handled actual quartz found in a cold mountain stream. We marveled at the height of the trees and stood just a few feet away from deer grazing in a field. Then we found a little twisting dirt road with a sign that announced a rural Baptist Church so we decided to follow it.

The road was a narrow bumpy ride through the trees and ended in a gravel parking lot with a little white wooden box of a church. My son remarked that: “It looks just like that Church in that show Nanny always watches.” (That show is The Waltons, and Nanny being what he calls my mom.) I agreed the two did look similar.

The gravel lot was crowded with cars. Other visitors were snapping pictures of the church set among the trees and some wandered the old fenced-in graveyard. I thought the graveyard would be a good way to encourage my daughter out of her no wifi/phone signal funk. (She is a teenager.) She likes slightly creepy things.

That was when I noticed several people exiting the church dressed in black. I was a little confused at first because, while it was Sunday, it was a bit late in the day for a church service. We were near to the little gate that lead to the graveyard when I heard one of the women who had come down the steps say, “I wish they would stay away at least until we close the casket…” It all suddenly clicked into place. The freshly dug grave and the huge pile of dirt next to it helped to tip me off.

There was something the little white hand-painted sign hadn’t told us. Not only was the Baptist Church still in current use but the graveyard behind it was as well. Realizing that we were trespassers at an emotional time, I quickly herded the kids back to the car. The other tourists snapping pictures; were still oblivious to the intrusion we all represented.

As we made our retreat as discreetly as possible, I heard the lady address two teenagers also dressed in black. She asked them if they were visitors to which they replied yes with wide-eyed confusion. I don’t know if they were visitors to the park, or for the deceased. I left before finding out.

We passed two more churches on our scenic drive. They didn’t appear to be in session. The parking lots held only a few cars and there were no fresh graves that I could see, but we didn’t take any chances. stream

Star Wars: A Non-Spoiler Post

My family went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens this weekend. I can easily say a good time was had. My daughter is in that awkward teenaged mode where she is too cool for everything, so she was just like: “That was a good movie.”

My son on the other hand is 11 and he left the theater exclaiming that it was:”The best movie ever!” He also wants to build his own droid and cobble together a soap box racer/x-wing.

(I worry about this because my dad and brother are small engine mechanics and my cousin is our family mad scientist. My dad and my cousin live next door to each other. I bet it would take little prodding for my son to convince them to help him build something that makes me envision broken bones.)

We bought him a Star Wars hoodie from the stand in the theater lobby. He put it on immediately after purchase and didn’t take off even when he went to bed. My brother also bought a hoodie. I haven’t checked with his wife to see if he wore his to bed, but he was adamant with her about not sharing. Sarah, my loving sister-in-law, just rolled her eyes and smiled.

It was thrilling for me to see my child’s eyes light up with joy at something that was such a big part of my own childhood. I watched episodes IV, V, and VI so much growing up, I still know all the words. When they were re-released my friends and I were standing in line, in costume. This weekend my daughter and I continued the costume tradition though we bought our tickets in advance. (She may be too cool to react outwardly to the movie, but she doesn’t pass up an opportunity to wear a costume.)

I think I would like to see it again with my mom and dad. I know they would enjoy it. My dad watched episode IV fourteen times when it originally came out in theaters.

I know there is a lot of hype about the fact that Disney owns the franchise now. Honestly, I am more concerned with the quality of the movie rather than who produces it. If it is bad, it is bad regardless of who paid the money to have it made. The reverse is also true.

Watching The Force Awakens with adult consumer eyes, I can see where certain things are going to be big marketing pushes. However, it was done well enough that it didn’t distract from the enjoyment of the film. I left the theater this weekend with a satisfied feeling and echoes of my youth flitting through my mind.

I look forward to the next one.

 

A Monday For Facing Fears

Hello. It is Monday again. The sky is overcast and the grass is still damp with dew. I have been up for a bit but I am just now sitting down to write this. I have been stalling.

You see, if I sit down and write a blog post that means it is really Monday. This Monday. The Monday where I once again have to do something that I don’t really want to do because it scares me a little.

Now before any of you get ideas of doctor appointments or tightrope walking into your heads, it really isn’t that big of a deal to the rest of the world. Once I go and get things over with it won’t seem like a big deal to me either. It is the time before I actually step out of my door that is the worst.

I have to go out into the world and adult today. Yes adult can be used as a verb. If you don’t think so, just wait. One day you will do a thing and it will be something that is necessary but not really something you want to do. In fact you would probably like to avoid that thing all together. However, you will take a deep breath and do it anyway. That is adulting. (In some cases “adulting” can be not doing a thing you do really want to do.)

I have to put on my adult costume and go pretend to be something I’m not. I am an adult. I have bills, pets, kids, laundry and everything. It all gets paid, fed, or washed. But to the rest of the world I get the feeling that I am just not quite adult enough. I have to go confront the local school board over my son today. I may even be home schooling before the day is out.

(Summary of the issue is that they want my social anxiety afflicted son to move schools during his last year of primary because he is not zoned for the school he has attended since kindergarten. Makes sense except for the fact he has never been zoned for that school but it hasn’t been a problem until now.)

Sometimes I feel I have to over adult because once someone in power find out I am a single mom, for some reason my adult meter drops. I watch it happen. There is this little smirk that comes up in the corner of their mouths and their eyes say “Oh, that’s what we are dealing with.”

If they find out I am pursuing the dream of being a writer the meter drops even more. It is like I am a little kid dressed up in her mom’s shoes and no longer have to be taken seriously. I hate, hate, hate being humored or patronized. If you are going to look down on me at least do it in a way that gives me a chance to fight back.

I am not on welfare. I am paying my own mortgage. I work 72 hours in one week, then come home and do all the other stuff people have to do and be mom.  (Okay my incredibly wonderful mother helps me out with some of that.) Then I write because I am a writer. I can and I will pursue that dream. Just because I happen to not have a mate does not mean I have to give up on everything and go wallow in how hard life is.

I even have a freaking vegetable garden in the back yard! If anything I feel like they should be taking me more serious or at least trying help me out a little. But that is not the way it goes. Instead I am silently put into a stereotype box and anything I say from that point on will be viewed wearing shades colored by that box.

It is incredibly frustrating and I don’t like confrontation to begin with. Writing it all out here has helped. I don’t feel so uneasy now. I am going to go forth into battle before my courage fades. Wish me luck.

Literature In School or How The Dog Dies

My daughter is in the 6th grade. She has enjoyed most of her class, as much as a 12 year old can anyway. She does have a reoccurring complaint about the curriculum however.

It is a complaint that I echoed at her age and still ponder to day. The friends I have spoken with about it have the same issues. We can all agree, that while well written, they could have chosen better books for required reading.

I am not a dog person. I like dogs. I like most animals. I will happily play with and pet a dog. I had an absolutely amazing terrier mix as a kid who would go fishing with me and was smart enough to know when I had a fish hooked.  However, I am not really a dog person. As in I don’t think I am a good dog owner. They deserve more love and attention.  Cats on the other hand never ask for love or attention. If they want it, they take it and it doesn’t matter what you are doing at the time.

My cats are one of the reasons it is important for me to reread things I have written. Not only are there my own mistakes to look out for, but the keyboard sometimes gets walked on when I get up to get coffee. There won’t be a cat insight when I get back, but the evidence remains.

Some of you are wondering what that has to do with books and school. Well, when I was in middle school the preferred reading was every well written book where an animal dies at the end. Most of those books were dogs. Yes, they were heroes first but they still died.

Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, Black Beauty, Frankenstein, Animal Farm. These are all bloody death books from when I was in school. Good books from the vantage point of adulthood but when I was a kid I wasn’t so pleased.

Like my daughter said: “Why do they make us read books where everything dies? Isn’t life depressing enough? Are they trying to drive up the suicide rate?”

The thing is she has a whole new batch of books. They are ones I have never heard of but the theme remains the same. Someone or something dies at the end. I have to wonder if all of these authors read Romeo and Juliet and thought “Yep that is the way to go. Kill them at the end.”

If they want kids to read about death and such at least give them something else to focus on than a mom dying of cancer or a dog with rabies. How about some science fiction? How about the Hobbit? Yeah, some of the kids wouldn’t like it and a lot of parents don’t like their children getting wrapped up in fiction “nonsense”. But good heavens, Stephen King has happier endings than some of these things.

I am fortunate that both of my children like to read. The library is a fun place for us. Some kids don’t and the only exposure to books that they get is the enforced reading in schools. It would be nice if they got a chance to read something where, just once, everyone lives.

Sibling Rivalry?

dukeMy ex-husband and his wife are moving west. In preparation of their move they are condensing their worldly belongings and looking for homes for the pets they can’t take with them. That is how I ended up with a teacup Chihuahua. To be honest I am not really a dog person.

I isn’t that I don’t like dogs. I do. I love to play with other people’s dogs. I just don’t really see myself as a dog parent. Especially when I have seen guinea pigs bigger that the dog in question.

In my experience little dogs tend to be yappy needy things I don’t have the patience for. Yet, when my son looked up at me with those big blue eyes; I caved and agreed that it would be best for the dog to go to someone he was already familiar with. (Yes I am a sucker. That is how I ended up with three cats rather than just the one I planned on.)

So far Duke Tiberus, a.k.a the dog, hasn’t been too much trouble. He likes to sit close to whomever is home and he shivers a lot but he doesn’t argue when I give him a bath and he allowed me to attach a bow tie to his collar. (Because bow ties are cool.) He lets me know when he needs to go out and he eats very little.

However, all is not peaceful in my house. I have three cats. They were not happy about the

Panda
Panda

introduction of a dog into their household, especially my son’s cat Casper.

I expected more trouble from Panda, the eldest of the three and self appointed queen of all she surveys. She responds to Duke more along the lines of “What the heck is that?! Keep it away from me!”

Max
Max

 

 

 

 

Max, our blind kitten and youngest, just keeps his distance and sneaks up for a sniff when the dog is asleep. Casper on the other hand is not happy. My son is his person and now his place on the bed and in cuddles has been taken by this tiny thing that isn’t even as long as his tail. He hisses and spits and chases the poor dog up and down the hall. Whenever he notices Duke attempting to get close to me, he quickly claims my lap.

Casper
Casper

(Neither one ask for my opinion.)

Duke Tiberus has only been living with us for a little while. I am hoping things will settle down and they all learn to get along. Since he lived with a cat before, Duke is fine with his feline brothers and sister. He used to sleep and cuddle with the cat he lived with. I am sure he would do the same here if they give him the chance.