Friday, September 9, 2011


My nephew is turning 17 today.  I find this very difficult to wrap my head around.  Only slightly less difficult than the realization that next year, he'll be 18.  While he is turning 17, I'm turning into one of 'those' Aunts...wanting to tell him about how I remember the day he was born.  And how he had quite the cone head from the bungee jumping exercises on his way out.  And how his infant smile filled my heart with warmth.

I find it impossible that 17 years have passed mainly for one reason.  I'm pretty sure I haven't gotten any older, so I'm not sure how he did.  Very suspicious.  Maybe the air is different in Pennsylvania.

I count my blessings everyday that my nephew is who he is.  And that he still considers me to be cool enough to hang out with (or at least he lets me believe that).  Hanging out with him has become more of an exercise in danger over the past few years, but still, I'm in.  What's a few bee stings, after all?  Or who is really going to remember which one of us fell into the Neuse River on a nature walk?

He's grown up to be one of the most caring, sensitive people I know.  Super protective of his friends and family.  And he's inherited the family sense of humor.  The one where things are funny, even if they aren't.

Just this week, my brother and I were talking about how my nephew's suddenly bloomed into this responsible, logical sounding person.  Where'd that come from?  Fortunately, he came home the next day with these:
Can you see the giant earrings?  That's a new addition.  Whoopsie. 

And when my brother asked me my thoughts...well...I've got a few tattoos and five holes in my I'm pretty sure I don't have a dog in this fight.  It did make me chuckle though.  It's a moment that reminded me that he's still my slightly nuts, slightly spontaneous nephew - not yet a grown up, but getting close.

And we'll probably survive the earrings.  


Life at the ranch continues.  A full house of cats and dogs who are rapidly training me how to behave.  I've now taken to mumbling "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" over and over while I squish my way onto the couch between four legged creatures.

I'm not sure I'll be giving the kitten back.  I mean, just look at him:

Or what about this:

Or this:
Clearly he is very happy at my house and enjoy snuggling with me more than anything in the world. 

The week's been mostly uneventful - except for some canine mood swings.  Did you know dogs can wake up cranky just like people can?  We started out the week with a hunger strike by Bogey.  For a few days in a row, she flat out refused to eat her breakfast.  Flat out refused AND offered up a look of disgust that I was evening offering her some kibble.

Yesterday it was Hacker's turn.  She wasn't interested in any of the morning walks (or more importantly - the business at hand).  She wouldn't be taking her morning vitamins, thank you very much.  She practically shoved me out the door to work. 

This morning was the first 'normal' day of the week.  All dogs happy.  All dogs fed.  All dogs walked successfully.  Now if I can just convince them to sleep in tomorrow, we'll be in business.

Finally, I guess I'd feel funny writing a blog this week without mentioning the 9/11 anniversary.  Although to be fair, I think I'm going to do my best not to get wrapped up in all the coverage.  Which is already proving difficult as it seems to be on every station.

The truth is - the day can still hit my stress button even though a decade has gone by.  I will never forget the phone call from my brother announcing a plane crash.  Or waking up my sister and her husband (I was visiting them at the time) to turn on the news.  And then realizing that it was just one plane crash - but much, much more horrific.

The days that followed were a mash of sadness and fear and trying to figure out how I was going to get home to North Carolina (I did finally, by car, thanks to a Chad-Mom-Kathy shuttle).

I know we all have our own stories about that day.  I'm just not sure, for me, that it's healthy to watch news story after news story after news story.  I remember.  But I'm not sure I want to get back to that place of despair that the endless coverage is bound to bring up.  It's not that I don't think the anniversary is deserving - it's just my choice.

I remember.  And I know you do too.  I'll wear my red, white and blue proudly on Sunday - and send up a prayer of thanks and remembrance.  And that will be enough for me.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fine. I'll get back on track.

You've probably been wondering what happened to me.  Or rather my excellent record of posting a blog each week.  Well, nothing really happened.  Except I didn't post for like a month.  I don't even have a really good reason - just that every time it came up on my mental list...I did a quick scan of my brain and realized I was having a lack of good stories.

Oh, great news - I still have a total lack. I thought maybe if I just started plugging away, something would come up. 

It has been an interesting few weeks here in the Carolinas.  If you're into natural disasters. 

Everybody knows we had an earthquake - that's no longer hot news.  Well, I think I was one of two people in Raleigh who didn't feel a thing.  Or rather, I was at the gym at the time - so was probably pumping so much iron that the weight of the weights prevented me from bobbling around like a Weeble Wobble.

And, yes - it was the talk of the town.  Much to the amusement of my West Coast friends.  Hey, give us a break - this is not our norm.  I tried to be really still for the rest of the day so I could maybe feel aftershocks.  No dice. 

And then there was that little storm - Irene.  That was more exciting than the earthquake.  This is something we are good at here - prepping for hurricanes.  We call it hunkering down.  I never even knew 'hunker' was a word until a decade ago when I moved south. 

The thing about hurricanes - is that they aren't as predictable as you'd like them to be.  Anything that rolls onto the weather map surrounded by a Cone of Uncertainty is just that...uncertain.  So depending on where you sit in the cone, you either pay no attention to the reports or you stock up on water, beer and books. 

In this case, I hunkered down at my parents' house (yes, I went closer to the storm) and we pretty much planned on a Saturday of sitting inside listening to the rain and wind.  They are on well water, so we were ready to not be able to use the water should the power go out. 

We got up for the day - and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  And eventually got bored of waiting and went out and about.  As it turns out - there house sat right in the spot where no rain fell and the winds only gusted to 25 mph.  Which was gusty enough to turn off the power for a few hours, but nothing serious.  Although we were mere minutes away from pulling out a board game before the lights came back on.

Obviously we got the best of it.  I have had to shake my head several times at the arm chair quarterbacks going on and on in days that followed about the 'overhype' of the hurricane.  I'm pretty sure most of the state of Vermont would disagree.  And isn't the point of evacuations to save lives?  And didn't that work out pretty well? 

So now our minds are on Katia - the next storm out there.  Which has a rather large Cone of Uncertainty pointing our way. 

If that comes along next week, I'll be hunkering down Noah style.  I'm currently loaded up with guest pets at my house - and am a little nervous that TLC is going to drop by to film an episode of "How many animals are too many?"

Months ago, my friend asked me to keep her cat while she was off learning to be a doctor in Colorado.  Of course!  No problem!

What I failed to realize was that the exact time she would be gone would coincide with my parents' trip to Alaska - during which I'd be caring for their two dogs and kitten.  So I've got three cats, three dogs and a tiny square of room on the couch.

The biggest challenge?  Picking up three poops without, well, messing up. 

Mainly it's just hilarity though.  Especially with the little kitten (and I just realized I did not put him in his crate before I left this morning, so am now panicking a tiny bit).  Yesterday morning I was making a turkey sandwich for lunch.  There was a white streak up and across the counter and suddenly I was making a sandwich with much less turkey.  Then there is a the nightly playtime - when the collies use the kitten as their plaything.

And then there's bedtime.  When every dog and cat decides there is plenty of room to hop on in.  It's tricky to find enough room for my own arms and legs.  And then even trickier to lay very, very still so as not to disturb the masses.

Yes, my heart did jump a little this morning when I heard of an earthquake in Alaska.  And being geographically inept, I had to pull up Google Earth to figure out that my parents' cruise ship was nowhere near it.  That sure would be a wild vacation story.

The real shocker right now is that it's already September.  How the heck did that happen?  I'm already feeling glum at the chill in the air each morning.  I really do prefer hot and humid.  There is a bright spot, however.  My toes.

About the only think I like about the switch to fall is the switch to close toed shoes.  And I only like that because it means not having to keep my toes pristine for a few months.  It's a lot of work to keep your toes sandal worthy from May to September. 

Next year I may start a campaign for naked toes. 

Okay scratch that.   I was going to put in a picture here of naked toes.  Here's something I do NOT recommend - searching Google Images for "Toes". 

I now have to go wash my eyes out with soap.