Welcome to my running commentary on life.

Welcome to my running commentary on life.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Gardening in the Rain

Mom gave me over a hundred flower bulbs. It was time to replace her tulips, so of course she ordered enough bulbs to populate the Netherlands. My mother is a generous person. She felt I needed about a hundred of them.

Thanks, Mom.

So, there I was with a big crate of every kind of bulb I ever wanted to plant and no time to do it. My plan was to have them in the ground by mid-October. Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men . . .

October came and went. As from my former post, you remember what happens when you wait too late in the state of Illinois to do an outdoor project. I still have frostbite on my ass from that one.

The problem was more than time. The summer had been hot and dry, and the ground had been baked to a brick-like consistency. So, I needed to wait for a little rain.

A little rain.

It was too cold the day I cleaned the flue on the roof. It was too cold and icy to do much at all. I needed to wait. Hey, the weather man said it would warm up. He also said it would rain almost non-stop.

Like without stopping.

But Mom had given me a crate of expensive bulbs. Before the bulbs could go in, I had to take out the tomato beds. The wood was rotting. The beds were full of fungus from the wet spring, the kind that infests tomato plants and makes them die. So no tomatoes could be planted there again. So they had to come out.

When I put them in a few years back, I put in a potent mix of well over 2000 lbs of organic materials to grow my lovely veggies. Each year before planting, I mixed in another 250-500 lbs. I figured, after some run-off and whatnot, there was probably still 2500 lbs of soil to move. Removing the rotting wood took little effort. One sharp whack with a hammer and the wood falls away.

Yesterday dawned drearily, but the rain had stopped. It wasn’t a heavy rain all week. It was a drippy, drizzly rain that soaked into the bones, but not the kind that fully saturates the ground. It does, however, soften it enough to actually drive a spade into it without killing oneself.

So, yesterday I started. I knocked down one box, carted the soil away—a wheelbarrow at a time—and worked the area, put in 28 bulbs in the cold wind and quit. It was too chilly, too windy to carry on.

Which meant my extra day off was going to be hell. I needed to cart off another 1500 lbs of dirt, break down the box, put in two more tulip beds and a bed of annis, various hyacinth, daffodils and whatever else was in the crate.

Then get Christmas lights down from the attic, string them up, put up the deer and other display lights. So much for reading that book I have sitting on the table. Sigh.

The wheelbarrow is rickety. It’s only 30 years old. The ground is wet. No, it’s a slog of mud. The grass is wetter. The mud is slick. The shovelfuls are heavy.

I was on my fourth load in the wheelbarrow. I was moving the soil to various low spots—anywhere where I could get rid of it. That’s a lot of dirt to dispose of, but I was determined.

My muscles screamed, still sore from the day before. My back was telling me no more. My boots were soaked through and heavy with thick globs of mud and wet leaves. It was like carrying around 10 lbs of cement on my feet, and my feet were freezing.

The fourth load was especially heavy. For some reason, I failed to remember how rickety the wheelbarrow was. So, I was moving the load, moving fast because it was heavy.

The handle snapped off at the base. It sheered away under a couple hundred pounds of muddy garden mix. The other handle was intact, so the barrel immediately listed sideways, causing me to over-correct, which caused the barrel to drop to the ground at a dead stop.

I failed to stop. I failed to stop when my pelvic bone came into contact with the lip of the barrel. I failed to stop when I went down into the mud in the bowl. Ah, I just love the flavor of organic, composted shit in the morning.

So, wiped the mud from my face, spit out a mouthful of sphagnum and manure laced with vermiculite, and crippled the barrel over to my next dump spot.

Time for a break.

I hate my neighbor. He said, “Hey, why didn’t you come get me? I would have used my in-loader to move all that for you.

Yeah, I hate him and his kind offer. I guess my deer-in-the-headlights look with black mud streaking my face and hair, not to mention the copious amounts coating my clothes and boots, must have been comical. He launched into a belly laugh that would make Merry Ol’ St. Nick envious.

“Too late?” he asked.


I was done moving dirt, so it was time to plant. Bulb diggers are fabulous tools. I highly recommend them to anyone who wants to plant bulbs. You plunge them into the soil, twist, pull, and you have a perfect hole.

I recommend you spend more than a two dollars like I did. On my second row of bulbs, the digger split down the middle, flew apart and sent me face first into the freshly turned mud.


This time, it went up my nose. Not to worry. I always carry tissues when digging in the mud on cold, rainy days.

Yes, it started raining again. Lovely. Four tissues later, I pieced the cheap POS back together and went back to planting. The dog was howling. She hates rain. She wanted in the house, her little body shivering while her cute button eyes looked at me with an expression pure hatred. On my feet again, over to the door, let the dog in.

I noticed every time I knelt and climbed back up; it was becoming more difficult. Each movement elicited old lady grunts from my throat; each reach, a groan.

I sneezed out another load of mud.

When the large tulip bed was finally finished, the neighbor yelled over to ask if I wanted him to send over his boys to help. These are great boys. They are everything true boys should be, but I couldn’t stand the thought of mud balls decorating my siding, so I declined.

On to the next flower bed. It was on the south side of the house, so I figured I would catch less of the breeze. I was soaked to the skin, my hair clinging to my muddy face and neck. It kept getting into my eyes, so I brushed it back with muddy gloves.

Oh, hell. Who cares at this point?

The drizzle stopped. For like a minute. Then it rained. It really rained. Like a downpour. I didn’t care. It didn’t matter. Nothing was going to stop me from planting all those daffodils, tulips, annis, crocuses and hyacinths. I shall be victorious!

The neighbor on the south side pulled in. Upon seeing the broken wheelbarrow lying on its side like a beached whale, he offered me his. His response was my turning my mud-covered face in his general direction and offering him a sneer.

I can still hear him laughing. He started laughing as he walked away. He laughed as he entered his garage and closed the door. He was still laughing so loudly when he entered his house that I could hear him in my yard. He’s still chuckling. I hear it now.

Finally, with all the daffodils, hyacinth and crocuses in, it was time to move to the big garden in the front yard. I’d dumped a lot of dirt there. So, off I trudged with my crate of bulbs, my mud-caked cell phone, and equally muddy mini-speaker, and headed that way. On the wet, muddy oak leaves scattered over the wet, muddy grass. I’m not sure I even managed to find all the bulbs that flew through the air with the greatest of ease when my feet took wing and escaped from gravity. The back of my head landed in the freshly turned mud, causing four bulbs to squeeze out of the ground like toothpaste from a tube.

Come to think of it, that might be why the neighbor is still laughing.

Anyway, I hauled my wet, muddy ass up, picked up the crate, hurled into the driveway with all my failing strength, threw the spade like a javelin, embedding it in the ground more than 40 feet away, kicked the crippled wheelbarrow, possibly broke a toe and set a new record in colorful curses that ranged in the realm of multilingual. My Cherokee grandmother would be so mortified.

With renewed hatred for the task I had taken on, like a woman possessed, I dug what I could find of the numerous bulbs from the wet grass and leaves, marched to the last of the flowerbeds, dug so hard mud was slung into the street and shoved those accursed bulbs into place. I was done.

I also managed to get one lighted decoration from the attic when I discovered I could no longer climb the ladder or pull any heavy boxes down. It was all I had to give. I was so far past done.

Now there’s a trail of mud—and a little blood—blazed through the house, and the water heater is out of hot water, I feel like I was trampled by a herd of moose. It’s not an ache, exactly. It’s more like a burning, blazing fire through every fiber of muscles in my body. My joints won’t bend properly, and there’s a distinct possibly I may have cracked my coccyx.

Those blessed flowers had better be worth it, and spring had better bring plenty of colors.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

In Today’s Episode of the Joys of Home Ownership . . .

The writing partner chose this time to go away on a much-needed vacation. My husband cringed.

Why cringe, you ask? Because when I’m not spending my weekends writing, editing and working on publishing projects, I have The List. And because I spend so many weekends on my writing projects, The List grows long.

Partner JJ, the husband is gunning for you.

This weekend’s list was grueling, but since Saturday brought snow and ice, the chores outside had to wait. The day was spent pursuing a level of cleanliness this home has not experienced during the very busy summer months. When I hit the ground running, the family had better hop-to, because Mama ain’t kiddin’.

So, each member of the household was assigned chores. Mama said, “No grumbling, or life as you know it is over.” The grumbling went on, of course, but by the time the dust had settled, I was almost satisfied with the shininess.


Hey, I’m a woman. Nothing is ever clean enough—but we were close, and we were tired. I called a halt. You’d think the husband had been released on early furlough. Never mind that in the middle of the cleaning frenzy, he suddenly decided it was time to take a gallon of loose change to the bank to find out how much cash he could get. The kid acted like she’d been worked to death, never mind that while she spent much of her time cleaning her room; somehow the rest of the house was magically finished without her. Mama was done for the day.

That brings us to Sunday—and back to The List. Now, there are few things that frighten a husband more (at least in this household) than roof work. Yes, that’s right. Work needed to be done on the roof. Being a self-sufficient DIY-type gal, I feel small projects do not require a phone call to some handy-dandy repair dude that’s going to charge a hunny just to look at something.

No, this type of work could be handled by us—and by us, I mean me. This involves the man standing at ground level, holding the ladder, cringing constantly, spouting needless words of caution, running for tools I don’t have in hand, sighing constantly at having his Sunday disrupted, whining on occasion about how cold it is standing under the shelter of the house’s eaves, and generally driving me to the point of distraction. I have to point out that I’m on top of the roof, which is wet and slick, and the more he distracts me, the more danger I’m in.

He grumbles more, which makes me wonder if he wants me to fall and break my neck. It’s possible. After all, if I’m in the hospital or the bone yard, he wouldn’t be out in the cold watching me working on the roof.

Nah, he wouldn’t do that. That’s more my M.O.

Anyway, the work on the roof included clearing autumn from the gutter caps and cleaning the chimney. Ditch your romantic images of a Dickens chimney sweep. There’s nothing nostalgic or even competent about my abilities as a chimney sweep. It’s just something that has to be done and I fumble my way through it.

The flue cap has to be loosened and removed, the long chimney brush must be inserted and the flue scrubbed until I feel as if my arms will come off. Think really big butter churn that must be pumped about a hundred times while one is perched precariously on the apex of steep roof.

So, up the ladder I went. “Be careful,” he said before my foot was on the second rung. The long steel brush in my hand almost fell on his head while I thought, Actually, I was thinking of doing a swan dive when I get to the top. Do you think you can catch me?

I didn’t say the words—or the oh-so-vicious other things that came to mind—but it boiled down to: well, duh. Once at the top, I laid the brush on the shingles and pulled myself over the edge.

“Don’t kneel on the gutters,” he said.

Seriously? How stupid does this guy think I am? Of course, I asked him as much. Of course, he reminded me that I had married him. Point taken.

As I said, it had snowed the day before. As with most early snows in this part of Illinois, it was gone by the time I decided to embark on the miserable project. It didn’t mean the roof was dry, or that the wind wasn’t cold. It just meant no snow and ice on the roof. It was still slick. It was still wet. It was still freezing cold.

Now, normally, I do this chore a month earlier, but time had gotten away from me. I wanted to light a fire, but didn’t dare. The child whined for a cozy fire, so there I was, in the chilling wind, staring at a flue cap that was higher than my waist. With a morbid sigh, I looked the situation over.

There are layers of skirts that are held with tension over the top of the chimney. Think large Christmas tree with a table-like flat top. I’ve often thought it would be a good place for a picnic, but . . .

The tension comes in the form of two sets of brackets held together with screws, washers and nuts. The bottom skirt has to be loosened and lowered. The next layer has to loosened and the assembly can be lifted away.

As luck would have it, the bottom piece fell away easily. On to the next. The next was not such a sure thing. Now, don’t tell the husband this part, but while I was working on it, my foot slipped on the wet shingles and—just for the briefest of moments—I almost saw the ground coming up to meet me. Believe me, friends, this is not something anyone wants to experience. I righted myself, wiped my suddenly sweaty brow in the freezing wind, and took a deep, steadying breath.

There was nothing for it but to sit on the cold, wet surface so I could better see what I was doing and approach from an improved angle. My butt will never be warm again—even with a fire in the fireplace. Seriously, you could freeze ice on my ass.

So, now sitting beyond my husband’s view as he stepped backwards to look, he thought I’d fallen and yelled. Of course this freaked me out, so I dropped my screwdriver and it rolled off the opposite side of the roof. At that moment, I kind of wished it had dropped the other way and landed on his head.

Oh, come on. You all know I have a vindictive side.

So, there was a fair amount of cursing under my breath and a responding yell that I was fine. And not to worry, being my daddy’s daughter, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the spare screwdriver, muttered a few things about how I hoped he’d keep his mouth shut and went back to work. The screw wouldn’t budge. The nut was frozen tight. I reached for the wrench in my other pocket, but realized I’d left it on the work bench in the garage.

On my feet again, I climbed over the peak and down toward the waiting man. I told him what I needed. He answered by telling me to be careful and went to get the tool. He came back, handed it up to me and told me to be careful.

Back up over the top of the roof and back to work. But it didn’t work. I struggled, cursed, struggled some more. Back to the edge of the roof. “I need the W-D.”

He went for the spray lube and told me to be careful. When he brought it back, and I stood to go back up, he told me to be careful. I almost dropped the can on his head, and smiled at him.

I sprayed and worked, sprayed and fought. I hit the nut with the wrench a few times, sprayed it again and tried once more. (Hey, smacking it around works on the threads of pickle jar, so I thought it couldn’t hurt.) The head of the screw wallowed out to the point there was no way it was going anywhere.

He asked what was wrong. When I told him, he told me to be careful. Peeling my frozen posterior from the shingles, I made my way back to the ladder. He told me to be careful. I told him to shut up and hold the ladder.

So, it was off to the hardware store for new screws, nuts and washers, then to Harbor Freight to see what tools they had which might cut through the mess.   

Now, my husband likes tools. It’s a guy thing, I suppose. He has a nice, small array of tools. He’s proud of them and likes to show them off from time to time, but I’m the one who uses them most. The husband is brilliant at his job, is much-respected by those in the printing industry because he’s a true artist and craftsman.

What he’s not is handy around the house. Most repair work is done by his wife who isn’t afraid of it and has no qualms about possibly screwing it up. I do minor plumbing and electrical work, can drive a nail straight, operate power tools with a fair amount of proficiency and truly enjoy working with my hands. That’s my thing.

But his tools did not yield anything with the capacity to cut through a stubborn screw. At Harbor Freight we found a lovely oscillating multifunction power tool. I bought the cutting attachment and back to the house we went.
In the scant hour we were gone, the temperature must have dropped ten degrees. The wind had a real bite to it and I was not looking forward to getting back on the roof. The sun was lower, the breeze higher, and somehow, the shingles looked wetter. Bummer.

After assembling the tool and finding a bucket to put all the tools in I’d left on the roof, I started in on the squirming mass of extension cords kept so precariously piled in a corner of the garage. I think there were five of them tangled up together. This is where knowing how to curse properly really comes in handy. I cursed, I snarled, I slapped the husband’s hand when he reached in to help.

Poor guy.

Once done, I climbed back up, pulled up the cord and the bucket with my new power tool nestled in it. He told me to be careful and I whipped the cord out just hard enough to strike the side of his head. With a smiling apology, I walked up over the top of the slick roof and realized it was starting to ice over. Fabulous.

I sat my already-wet butt down and it froze to the ice on the shingles. Now, this new tool is a jim-dandy. When I turned it on, it sounded as if it would cut through a diamond. With a grin, I went to work, but the grin soon fell away. No matter how hard the thing oscillated, it wouldn’t cut through the screw.

He must have heard me drop the mother of all curses because he yelled up, demanded to know what was up. When I told him, he said he’d hire someone in the morning to come do it. Oh, hell, no. There was no way this thing was going to beat me—and no way I’m paying someone to do something I can do.

With a savage and barbarous battle cry, I went after the rusted nut. I drove the tool into it over and over until it disintegrated and dissolved away.

He heard my cry of victory and told me to be careful. I muttered something under my breath about where he could bite me and lifted the cap away. By this time, I was worn out. Fighting cold wind and frozen hands, I retrieved the heavy brush and started scrubbing the flue. He yelled at me to be careful. I almost kicked the bucket of heavy tools over to drop on his head.

He disappeared, but before he left, told me to be careful. When he came back out, he told me he didn’t see any soot falling into the fireplace. The glass doors over the hearth had been sealed with masking tape, so the soot wouldn’t leak out. I knew he wouldn’t be able to see it. Soot is blacker than midnight under a skillet, to quote a friend of mine from Texas, so falling into a blackened hearth would be nearly invisible. I knew the thing was getting clean, from the copious amounts of sooty dust flying out in the wind.

He told me to be careful.

I finished scrubbing, laid the brush aside and reassembled the cap. I had yet to do the gutters. There is only one area where the gutters have an issue. It’s a corner of the roof right over the door. When it clogs up, rain pours down over the stoop. It was next of my hit list.

After unplugging the multi-tool, I let go of the extension cord and let it slide down over the roof. Apparently, the husband thought it was me falling, whipped his head around and stared up at the top of the roof. I smiled down and told him, “Heads up.”

He was not amused. He told me to be careful.

As I handed the brush down to him, he told me to be careful. I let it fall and it almost landed on his head. He accused me of doing it on purpose. I smiled innocently.

He held the ladder, but I didn’t climb down. I went to work on the gutters. He told me to be careful. I growled at him as I sat down. My butt stuck to the frozen shingles as I worked. A large glob of sludge hit his glasses.

“Oops, sorry, honey.”

“Don’t step on the gutter,” he said. “You’ll break it. Be careful.”

Another glob landed on his head. Then the chore was done. I lowered a foot to the ladder and he stared at me. I put my foot on the ladder and gave it a shake. He stared at me.

“Are you going to hold the ladder?” I asked.

“Nope.” He grinned at me while picking the last of rotting leaves from his hair.

I cocked a brow at him and reached for the ladder. When he saw I meant to climb down without his help, he jumped at the ladder and held it steady. I handed him the bucket of tools and down I went.

Now, sitting in front of the fire, wrapped in a blanket with a heating pad under my frost-bitten ass, I’m wondering which of us will cook dinner. You know it’s going to be me. Sigh.

I need tequila.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Another Day in Paradise (Or a Study of the Effects of Tequila on the Human Mind)

System updates—we’ve all experienced the incredible euphoria of that announcement. You get the nicely worded email at work and you know your life will soon turn to crap. We got the emails on Friday. The updates were to take place over the weekend, which meant Monday would be a new adventure through the Nine Rings of Hell. Happy, happy, joy, joy.
Well, here in Illinois, it’s called the Seven Gates of Hell. Those gates can be found near Collinsville, Illinois, along Lebanon Road as you travel toward Troy. Legend has it there are many horrors facing the unwary traveler at the stroke of midnight. You can find out more about it here: http://nightfallunlimited.com/?p=6.
But I digress. This is not what I’m writing about, so back to the subject at hand.
Anyway, Monday rolled in with all the troubles we would normally expect . . . and a few we didn’t. By 5:00 P.M., I was ready to pull my hair out, but I shucked it off and clocked out. There’s a trick to shutting off the work day. It took me years to figure it out, but I’m usually successful at it now. Monday was behind me and life was good.
Until Tuesday.
I’m getting to hate Tuesdays almost as much as Mondays. Still, like everyone else, I slogged through slow systems, internet interruptions and a constant barrage of client issues—each worse than the last. Like Gloria Gaynor, I survived. (Oops, just showed my age.)
Then dawns Wednesday. On the scale of hated days, Wednesday usually ranks fairly low. We all hate the camel that demands you guess what day it is, but hump day signals the downhill slide to the weekend. Unless it was this day, this Wednesday.
Like a moment from my pre-teen life, I rolled over when the alarm went off and begged, “Mom, just five more minutes,” and went back to sleep. Yeah, brilliant move, that. I woke again fifteen minutes before clock-in time. Man, don’t you just hate it when that happens? It was a mad dash to the bathroom to splash water on my face and pass a brush over my teeth.
The kid pounded on the bathroom door, entreating entry. Tough. I was late. She had to grit her teeth and struggle through the minutes until I emerged and ran back to the bedroom to toss off the nightgown, make a stab at making my bed and throw on whatever mismatched clothes I could find on laundry day. (Okay, laundry day was Sunday and I didn’t get it done. Don’t judge.)
I took three minutes for eggs over easy and to set water on for tea, then it was a mad dash to the office.
Relax, people. The office is at the front of my house. I clocked in exactly on time . . . I think. It was kind of hard to tell since I wasn’t really paying attention. I was too busy trying to get the systems up and running.
I work with a VDI system. I’m told that means Virtual Desktop something-or-other. My dear friend, Joey Walnuts, says it means, “A totally #$%@ up day in techno hell,” but those are his words (and colorful symbols), not mine. All I know about it is it has no hard drive, you cannot save anything on it and if it doesn’t like something you do, it locks up and you have to start all over. I was on my third start-all-over when I started drinking tea like it was going out of style. I had to get awake, and quick.
My first phone call from a doctor’s office looking to get an issue fixed was answered with a rough voice and a sneeze. I apologized while my caller blessed me and I jumped into the work day. Then the #$%@ up (again, Joey’s words) VDI kicked me out. The poor caller had to wait ten minutes while I got the stupid thing up and running again. She helped with humorous comments about stunning technology and stellar savings on our valuable time.
We laughed through the call and on I moved to the second. That’s when the dog went off. There’s a new neighbor in the maple tree out front. He’s a squirrel we named Sly because he’s a tricky little fellow. Sly mocks Lucy the Bichon and Lucy is not one to take such an affront lying down. Sly has been known to climb onto the screen where the dog likes to nap and chatter derisively at her. This day was no exception, but I digress again.
The caller started laughing as I apologized for the loud and intemperate animal snapping, snarling and barking at the disrespectful little beast hanging from the screen. If I live to be a hundred, I’ll never understand how one small ball of white fluff can make so much noise.
I made it through the call. The dog got through it unscathed even though I had threatened to cook her up on the barbeque grille out front. She just snorted at me, barked at the window one more time and went back to sleep.
The next call was even more fun when the internet went out and I lost the caller. I have a lump on my forehead where I pounded it on the desk in frustration. I knew when I saw the Mediacom truck drive by my office window it wasn’t going to be good. For the next forty-five minutes, the internet was up and down until I finally called the company and was told they were doing maintenance on the lines. Well, that’s great. I’ll just take a couple of hours without pay while you all have a good time. She apologized and said it wasn’t supposed to disrupt service. I told her to call her guys and get them to fix it immediately or I was going to walk over and find them. I made her understand this was not a scene she wanted her guys to experience. Five minutes later, it was up and running with no further interruptions.
Lunch time.
I fixed a lovely meal of tomatoes with basil from the garden, pan-seared salmon with dill sauce and iced tea. It was a nice meal because I needed strength to get through the rest of the day.
I came back to work and the VDI was down again. Okay, so Joey was right. It truly was behaving like a #$%@ up tool. Fortunately, it only took a few minutes to get running again and I clocked in on time. After slogging through a few more calls with slow systems and a worsening attitude, I reached for chocolate to keep myself out of the liquor cabinet. I had dreams of a mojito or a shot of tequila with a nice wedge of lime. I abstained. Regretfully.
At break time, I got a bag of ice for the growing bump on my forehead and took a swing at Sly with a ball bat. Hey! It’s not your miserable day. It was mine. And don’t worry. The squirrel was much faster.
Back in the house, a large and fearsome wasp was making himself at home on my desk. I discovered this when I came back in after chasing the fluffy-tailed monster away from my house. Mr. Wasp was sitting on my headset. Without my headset, I cannot do my job. I work for a call center, for crying out loud. I have to take calls.
Ah, the bug zapper. Of course. After a quick run to the gazebo to get an apparatus that looks like a badminton racket—but is decidedly more deadly—I came back to fight the now-infamous Battle of the Headset. The wasp was the aggressor, I swear. I had no choice but to defend my home and my livelihood from the creature. After knocking over a vase of flowers, toppling a shelf of books, smacking a cup of tea all over the carpeting and destroying a desk lamp, the wasp was cornered in the window against the screen. I had him now.
This ingenious zapper is activated with the touch of a button. Aldis sells them for less than $2.00 and I bought several. They make a satisfying snap, crackle and hiss when you slap them against bugs. It smokes some, and it smells some, but it’s vindication against troublesome insects. The wasp was no exception. It smoked and smoldered and fell down dead in the windowsill. Yeah! That’s right. I won and the wasp died a horrible death. I have no remorse. I just wish I’d removed him from his final resting place and flushed him down the toilet. Ah, well. Live and learn.
Anyway, I was late. I had to get back to work. Lo and behold, the VDI was up and working—for the moment.
By 4:24 P.M., it was down again. Another call to the help desk and it wasn’t fixed. At 5:01 P.M. I ended my work day with a slam of my chair against the wall.
Enter tequila. As I contemplated the evening menu and the family arrived home, I pulled out a lovely bottle from my collection of fine tequilas. Just as I uncorked the bottle, I heard the worst screaming of any mother’s life. My child had gone outside to the gazebo, stepped on a wasp and remembered why I always tell her to wear her shoes. Too bad she didn’t actually put her shoes on before heading out.
Our home has become the center for vengeful wasps since the now-infamous Battle of the Headset. They’re all bent on retribution for the terrible crime of having slaughtered one of their own. They exacted that vengeance on my child. This shall not stand!
After some quick first aid and a hug to the shuddering, devastated child, I grabbed all the weapons I could find and went after the enemy. Now, those who know me know I don’t use pesticides, but we keep one single can of hornet killer around because I’m allergic. One sting and I’m ill. More than one and it can be deadly. I was on the warpath and anything flying was my enemy. I found the wasp that dared to touch my daughter and made it my first target. Vanquished, the terrible beast fell from the sky like so much spent ash. Then I went after its sisters and brothers.
That done, I tried to remember what I was doing before the terrible disruption of a screaming, damaged child. That’s when I saw the mess in my office. Broken lamp pieces still lay scattered about. Books were all a-tumble. I had managed to clean up the spilt tea, but the rest had to be set right. So, as I sat in my office chair, reorganizing the mess, I heard a horrified moan behind me.
“Mom, another wasp. It’s trying to kill me.”
Sure enough, when I turned it was to see my again-bare-footed daughter tiptoeing backwards away from an advancing winged dragon that limped across the floor. I glanced at the window sill. The little monster from earlier had not truly died. It was gone and set on attacking the princess. I grabbed the bug zapper, yelled at her to get back and brought the instrument of death down on the fiend once more. It sizzled. It snapped. It sparked—and it stung the zapper over and over. When it finally stopped moving, I scooped it up in a tissue and witnessed it trying to sting the paper. Straight to the toilet and a resounding flush later, I hoped it didn’t crawl back out and try to sting her on the butt at some point. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have mentioned it aloud in front of the girl because now she’s afraid of the bathroom. Live and learn.
Throwing my hands in the air, I moved back to the tequila and fixing supper. I wanted to pour the wonderful elixir into a pretty glass, but . . . my daughter’s cell phone rang again.
 So, getting back to earlier in the day, one of the issues I had was the cell phone she left in my care. It rang several times an hour. All. Day. Long.
Okay, she’s a young, new teenager with a cell phone. But this isn’t one of those times. You see, someone has been systematically harassing my daughter. It’s not a bully or someone from her school. It’s not anyone from the community. It’s a spam caller of some sort. The number is (458)201-2338.
That’s right! I posted it.
It’s okay. This number is all over the internet with warnings about spammers or fishers trying to get personal information. The number called no less than sixteen times and I was no longer on the clock. They had called eight times on Monday and ten times on Tuesday. I intended to answer this time, as I had done on my lunch and break.
These people don’t even know who they’re calling. They ask for a name that doesn’t belong in this house. When you ask who’s calling, they start stuttering, acting as if they can no longer hear you and disconnect. Well, this time I wasn’t going to allow such. I answered the phone. The heavily-accented voice asked for “Mr. Dawn”.
The next sound he heard was a maniacal laughter. Then I launched into a tirade that had my injured child backing out of the room.
I yelled, "Don't you act like you can't hear me. I know English isn't your first language, but I know you can understand me. This is my child's phone. I've already reported you to law enforcement, several consumer fraud agencies and my attorney. You call again, it's grounds for prosecution. If that doesn't work, I'll come find you. Say I won't. I'll find you and we'll talk face to face. Am I making myself clear? I will travel to India, Indonesia or whatever exotic country you live in, but I swear I’ll find you. I will not stand for anyone—I mean, anyone—harassing my little girl. Do you understand me? Do you? Answer me!”
The voice on the other end had grown very small. “I . . . I’m sorry.”
“Sorry doesn’t cut it, pal. You terrorized my child. Do you know what that means here in the good ol’ states? We don’t stand for such cruelty, such unwarranted bullcrap.”
“I . . . hello?”
“Don’t you dare act like you can’t hear me. You hang up before I get all this off my chest and I’ll reach through this electronic cellular line and snatch you bald-headed. You called this number no less than fifteen times, today—sixteen, counting this one—and you have yet to give me any information about why you’re disturbing us. Why did you call?”
“Find a teacher. Learn to speak my language if you want to get anywhere with my species. In the meantime, get bent.”
There was a resounding click. I managed to yell all of it at the poor man on no less than three breaths of air while the child was moaning and backing from the room and the husband was storming in to demand to know what was happening.
I was beyond angry. I was searching for a new victim—until I happened to touch something on the iPhone in my hand. There was the answer to the dilemma, staring me in the face. I had the option of blocking the number. What a dumbass! I hadn’t even considered the nifty little phone could do such a thing. I blocked the number and started to laugh at myself. All that drama and all we had to do was block the number.
Okay, so we live and learn. It was a funny thing. After yelling my heart out at the hapless call agent from the Philippines or Taiwan or wherever, I felt much better. It was most cathartic. All the stress of the day washed itself away on that poor man’s hide (or ears, as the case may be) and I was a new woman.
The tequila, now forgotten—and still un-savored—sat on the liquor cabinet with all its contents intact. Supper was prepared, my mood was lighter and my husband and child were cowering in fear. It’s the same effect tequila has on my brain, but I didn’t need it. It was a good day after all.