Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Seatbelts and Helmets

I had the pleasure of attending traffic school last night. Yeah, yeah, I did go last year, and it didn’t take. All I can say is that

1. The class was full
2. We were all innocent (overheard from conversations around me)
3. (Learned in class) Our county has government money to target motorists because of excessive fatalities (on the Interstate, which is NOT where I was pulled over). They’ve expanded this to catching anyone two feet over the change in speed limit.

The class wasn’t overly painful, except for the loss of my evening. The “professor” fancied himself a stand-up comic and liberally peppered his presentation with jokes on driving, marriage, and women. His sarcastic jokes on marriage might explain why at 60-ish, he’s never married. I sat unsmiling, the reluctant student, forced to class but unwilling to participate.

Yet, I did pick up a few useful tips and facts that I’ll share with you:

In KY, they can now pull you over for not wearing a seatbelt, and you’ll be fined for each person not wearing a belt in your car. You can, however, legally jump on the back of a motorcycle, no seatbelt, no helmet, and no leather clothing to protect your skin, and careen down the highway at 65 mph. Does this make sense?

Car seats:
In our fair state, children under 40 inches must be in a child safety seat. Good law. Saves lives. Yet, you can take a child, put it on a motorcycle, no helmet, and be perfectly legal. Make sense? You cannot put the child in a dog crate secured in the back of a pick-up truck. (Some deranged fool was pulled over for this. I’m glad to be duly warned.)

Back to seatbelts, a woman angrily asked why her child’s bus had no seatbelts. The instructor, very tell-it-like-it-is, said that belts in a bus make it difficult to remove that number of children quickly from a vehicle, and you can’t count on the children being able to get the belt undone, due to injury or not knowing how. Therefore, no belts make it easier for rescuers to get them out, or for the children themselves to walk out. Self-releasing devises, such as are used in amusement park rides may not work if the vehicle is damaged, nor fit the variety of passengers. And, he added that if he did have children, they’d never see the inside of a school bus.

Though no one there could have been cited for DUI, as you must go to court, they spent a good deal of time on DUI or DWI. Did you know you can be arrested for DUI even if riding a bicycle or horse?

Good Tips:
Finally, here are a few tips I heard for the first time and thought ought to be sent on a postcard to every driver:

1. Car seat: Tape a paper to the back of the car seat with that child’s name, vital information and health insurance written on it. If in an accident you are both injured, that child will be sent to a Children’s Hospital while you are sent to a more general hospital.

2. If you have other children in the car not in a car seat, you should have the same information on paper on your visor, in the glove box or someplace easily noticed, maybe in an envelope marked “In Case of Emergency”.

3. You should have a pair of good scissors in your car for cutting the straps holding in the car seat for quick removal.

4. You should never remove the child from the car seat until medical personnel have examined the child.

5. You should never drive through our county going even a little over the speed limit.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


I’m thinking of becoming a Quaker, maybe Amish, though I don’t think I could give up my computer or dh his blackberry. Okay, Quaker it is. Aren’t they pacifists? I want to have a clear history of pacifism long before my son (or for that matter, my daughters) is old enough to be drafted into the army. With a new war or threat every few months, I don’t see how drafts will be avoided in the future.

It’s not that I don’t support our troops, I do. But each and every face I see, killed in action, is a knife to the heart. Each and every man and woman once laid as a babe in the arms of a woman like me, loved intensely, hope filling a heart for the child’s future. Each life ended is the end of those possibilities cut short. I can hardly stand to watch the news, but I look at their faces and try to absorb the meaning of their sacrifice.

I’m having a hard time with these wars and their effectiveness. A email acquaintance living in Israel wrote: “Unless and until we/someone gets rid of the terrorists, or disarms them, then Israelis are not safe in Israel, Lebanese are not safe in Lebanon, and Americans are not safe in America....”

What scares me about this statement is that I feel, deep down, that this will never happen. It would seem that terrorism is here to stay. There will always be terrorists, whether it is a man shooting Jews in America, or terrorists in Lebanon, there will always be extremists. The difference will lie in how the world deals with those terrorists. As long as we deal with them country against country, rather than humans united against terrorists, there will be war.

I can hardly stand to read the paper or look at news magazines. Photojournalists bring to my home the photos of men and women holding their babies, their little boys and girls the same age as my William, heads bandaged, arms bleeding. Anguish fills the faces of the parents. And I think of my William, and the despair I would feel to not be able to protect him from falling bombs. …and the anger I’d feel at the bombers’ country for hurting my innocent child. I go to him and hug him, thankful that for now, he’s safe and wondering what I, just an ordinary mom, can do for those children not safe. And I wonder how to become a Quaker.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Lauren's Day

We heard from Lauren yesterday that all was well. After finding their hotel, she dined on French onion soup and a chocolate coconut crepe. They saw Sacre Coeur, rode the Metro, and at 11 p.m., were not feeling tired, since their bodies thought it was 5 p.m.

Today, they were to explore Paris, including the Louvre, Eiffel Tower and perhaps ride the Seine on the Bateaux Mouche. She also hoped to see Notre Dame. A very ambitious day indeed.

My Day
It poured down rain all morning, making morning chores very wet. Towards noon, however, it abated and we decided to go to the downtown library for a book Anna wanted, and to the zoo. She has a writing assignment that requires her to sit and observe people for awhile and write descriptions of them. This proved impossible when we found that there were NO people at the zoo today, perhaps driven off by the rainforest feeling left behind by the heat and rain. Instead, she spent time watching a male silver-back gorilla pick his nose and eat it.

When I returned home, I began making dinner but was interupted by a call from the neighbor about her minature horses which are in my care for the week, since Lauren is gone. It seems her stallion mini pushed against a post and found it rotted. He was in the pasture with the mare and baby, and though all were okay, the fun began when they realized I meant to capture them and separate them. After catching the baby, I returned for the stallion who chased the mare, who ran after the dog (Daisy). It could make a kids' book except for the part about the stallion trying to mount the mare as the farmer (me) tried to capture them all. Not G rated. I wasn't killed in the process though, and for that I'm grateful.

Wm is ready to go to bed, so I'll sign off now.

On Sea Turtles

After checking out our beach rental, we were delighted to find that a sea turtle nest was at the end of our walkway to the beach. Even more exciting, there was a crack in the sand, a sign that hatching would most likely occur that night.

After settling in to the house and having dinner, we took our places near the nest, which was sectioned off with orange tape. Nothing appeared to be happening at first, but the volunteers, mostly local retirees who are trained in turtle hatching, assured us this was the night. Sure enough, the ground soon looked like turtles boiling out of the sand.

One by one, tiny sea turtles made their way down a chute dug in the sand by volunteers. When they had crawled about 6 feet down the sand chute, they were picked up by a volunteer, inspected, and placed in a plastic tub. After quite a few were collected, they were carried to the sea and released. This is supposed to give the turtles a better chance of making it to the ocean without being picked off by a seagull or crab or human foot. They seemed so very vunerable, I couldn't help but think of the large sea monsters that were waiting for a midnight snack.

As we watched, the night sky darkened, and lanters were put at the end of the chute to guide the turtles which followed the light. We were cautioned not to take flash photos. I grabbed my digital, set it to "no flash" and took this useless photo:

As you can't see, there are no turtles visible. So, not thinking, I set my camera to "night shot", not knowing it would then turn on my flash, so that I got this shot:

The flash went off like a lightening strike. Immediately, a groans, boos and dismay issued from my fellow bystanders while a volunteer loudly reissued the "no flash" policy. "You've just blinded a baby turtle." I shrank back, muttering in my mind, "I didn't mean to!" Thankfully, the flash was such a shock, that no one knew WHO took that photo, including my sister standing next to me.

So if you ever encounter a blind sea turtle, I can explain how that happened. It was a technology malfunction. Really. I didn't mean to.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Lauren in France

As I wrote in my last blog, Lauren had the opportunity to go to France to compete in a horse competition and do a little educational sight-seeing as well. Travelling with her five team members, a mom who is a travel agent and speaks French, and with their adult female coach, the girls have quite the itinerary before them. I'll write a little each day about what they are likely doing.

Boarding the plane yesterday at 5 p.m., they were to arrive in Paris at around 11 a.m. and proceed to their hotel by 2 p.m. They planned to spend the afternoon touring the Latin Quarter, seeing Notre Dame Cathedral, and dinner. I've not yet heard from her, but as the chaperone said, no news is good news. Speaking of news....

Dh just about gave me a heart attack this morning when on returning from dropping Anna off at her religious ed. class, asked me if I'd heard the news about a plane crash. After picking my stomach up off the driveway, I learned that it was a small commuter in Lexington. Not Lauren's plane. My heart goes out to those that were on that plane, and those left behind.

Letting her go was very difficult. I was emailed, "Is is safe to let her go?" Well, I can tell you I'm likely to lose a year or so on my lifespan, but if you don't take risks, you don't really live. Besides, despite today's crash, it is more common to be injured in a car on the way to the grocery than in a plane. So what, we don't eat? No, I let her go confidently. She's a beautiful butterfly and it's time to fly.

Getting Back Into the Saddle

I've been gone from my blog a long time. It will be difficult to get back into the habit of daily writing, though blogs are starting to write in my head again. When I become overly stressed or overly schedule or in pain, all of which have occurred recently, the part of my brain that writes shuts off. It has been at work again lately, and I've had to make a list of blogs I'm going to write so that they (the blogs) would quit hammering at the inside of my skull, begging to escape to the computer screen. It may take me awhile to catch up with this month's events.

We left for Holden Beach, North Carolina on August 11, driving 7 hours the first day and 5 the next. Our very first stop was in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, the town renowed for being the model of Mayberry of the Andy Griffith Show. I, at least, was excited to see what the historic part of town looked like. We resolved to drive into town, seven miles from the hotel, to eat at "Goober's", which boasts some show memorabilia.

It was a doomed experience. Our three car wagon train (our car, my MIL/FIL's car, and my sister's car) snaked around, trying to find Goober's. We had bad directions from the hotel. Finally, we gave up and ate at a buffet style steak house which left much to be desired but did fill our bellies with what passed as food. We now refer to getting lost as "going on a Goober trip".

Next: Our first night at the beach watching sea turtles hatch.

In the car with wild and crazy girls
Photo by William, Age 4

Friday, August 11, 2006

Backseat Driver

We forgot the cord to the DVD player, horror of horrors. We were now packed like sardines in a tin can travelling 70 miles per hour down foggy roads with no view. Still, we did pretty well. The kids played with K'Nex with William, listened to some audio tapes, and later, composed limericks on person per line.

After hearing complaints about my driving, I wrote my own for dh:

There once was a man named "Dad",
Whose passenger manners were bad,
His comments were snide
to the driver of his ride,
When in fact it's the best that he's had.

So there, backseat driver!

And, Anna wrote:
There was a man with big nostrils....

Well, we'll leave that poem for another time.

Country Roads Take Me Home.....

The heavens opened and bucket loads of water poured down as we made our way through the mountains and tunnels of West Virginia. In front of us, a red SUV slowed, cowed by the rain, and put on emergency blinkers. I am driving.

Me: What is this person's problem?

(We pass the SUV.)

Dh: Oh, it's a woman driver

Me: Hey, you'd better watch it. You've put your life and your childrens' lives in the hands of a woman driver.

Dh: Yes, but I don't think of you as a woman driver.

Me: What? I'm not sure if I'm complimented or insulted.

Dh: (belly laugh and slapping of knee)

The Concept of Vacation

While driving, I told the girls that MY idea of vacation would be to act as if we were actually going somewhere on vacation, clean the house, do all the laundry, have all the everyday tasks done, then, hire a maid for the week. We'd stay home and read books all day, ride our horses, sit on the porch and enjoy our own place.

Both girls started laughing. "Mom, that's what we do now, everyday, " they said. "We want to go somewhere."

Hah. My eyes opened. So I'm the maid. "Well, yesssss," they said slowly in unison. They knew they were walking on very thin ice.

Truly, though, I love where I live. Granted, there is no ocean, but early in the morning, you can sit on the front porch and listen to the cicadas. Lester, the rooster, announces that the day's begun. The sun comes up just over my barn that is no more but is to be. My dogs dance about my legs, making me laugh. I think a bit of heaven is right here, and there is no need to go in search of it.

Ugly Deer

We were pulling the horse trailer down a rain slicked road last night when I spotted reflecting eyes in the headlights. The girls braced and said, "Deer!" The truck locked and slid a little, but I wasn't going very fast. We stopped in time to catch a fat, short, and scruffy grey rear end darting off the road into a yard. Simultaneously, we hear "baaaaaaaaaaaaa".

"Man," I exclaimed to the girls, "that is one UGLY deer."

I made the girls get out (it was dark and they were reluctant) and go up to the nearby house to tell them their goat was loose. It was their neighbor's goat, and they knew it well as it had eaten all their flowers.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Thankful for Good Friends

My posts are often written sarcastically, as such is my nature. But today, I'd like to write a tribute to good friends. Sometimes, being a mom can be a lonely proposition. There are endless demands on our time and little free time. Women, in particular, I, in specific, need to know that there are people out there that not only are there for you, but understand exactly what you are going through.

For me, there is Christine, who I'm sure God put in our life. Her little boy gave William a much needed best friend.

It's truly amazing that they moved in less than a mile from our house, given that we live in the country. And Christine is such a giving person. She has a way of for example, house sitting for me and making it sound like I'm doing her a favor. I can go on vacation and not worry, as she loves my dogs as her own. She's improves me, because I think often how I can be more thoughtful like her.

Becky is the drop by friend I've always needed. When she's not building a house with her own hands, she'll stop by for a cup of coffee. Fun and adventurous, she's a belly dancer part of one day, and out laying floor tile and mowing pastures the next. You are likely to see her with no make-up one day, and with an exotic dress and earrings the next. And she laughs. And I need that. Becky calls me often, even when I've gotten too busy to remember to call her. Her influence reminds me to take time for friends.

Liz has mentored my girls in horses. I probably have not met a more giving soul. She has lent horses to us, taken my girls on international trips, and takes care of our more needy horses when we're away. She'll ask Lauren to ride horses for her, and act like Lauren did her a favor. Liz teaches me to be generous and share what we've been given.

And of course there is dh (dear husband), who is my eternal friend.

Chicken Tractor

What is a chicken tractor, a reader asked? It is not what you might think:

A chicken tractor is a small, mobile chicken pen with a small coop. The idea is that a small number of chickens can be put in the pen, and the pen can be moved around, weeding the area under the pen and fertilizing it at the same time.

Our chickens are free-ranged, but must be cooped up at night or risk being eaten. When we demolished the barn, their coop was also demolished, so I had to come up with a coop rather quickly. I built this rather rough chicken tractor in three days.

As you can see, there isn't much room in the "yard" part of it, but there are roosts made of dowel rods in the enclosed coop which comfortably fits all seven chickens with room for more. We let them out in the morning and at dusk, they put themselves to bed. We only have to shut the door. When the floor becomes littered, we push it to a new location (using PVC pipe underneath to roll it).

Considering I've never built anything of wood in my life, I guess I did okay. I do now understand why men building houses cuss.

Here is a better chicken tractor Dh built one winter, which is now being used to house Chicken Licken' and her three chicks:

The three hens looking from the outside in are not interested in the chicks, as you might suspect. They are checking to see that I didn't throw any nice morsels of food to the chicks that they could steal.

The barn is now completely gone. Dh says good riddance, but I miss it. I have many memories in that barn. It was necessary, given that many of the posts supposedly holding it up were rotted at the base and it was ready to come down. I fear the newer barn won't have the character of the older barn, but will be brighter, easier to clean and healthier for the horses.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Cathy's Laws of Inverse

Law #1: The amount of time a four year old wants you to sit on the floor and play with him is inversely proportional to the amount of time you have to do so.

Law #2: The number of tasks that one has to do before leaving on a trip is inversely proportional to the number of days remaining until you leave.

Law #3: The number of people around to help the main packer for said trip (moi) is inversely proportional to the number of days remaining until you leave.

Law #4: The amount of mess created in the house in packing is inversely proportional to the neatness you are trying to create in the packing of items to bring.

Isn't it cool that there is such order in the universe? I'm sure God is having a good laugh.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What is there to do?

Noticing my stress, Dh asked, thoughtful as always, what there was to do before our trip to the reunion? Give me the list, he said. If you know me, you know there is no list. There is just an endless loop in my mind repeating all the things I must do in order to leave and feel at peace. What was there to do, he asked? One only had to pack a swimsuit, a pair of shorts and a towel. It's amazing the man can still walk.

Was he going to help me accomplish those things on my unwritten list? No, he could cross off those things that were unnecessary. Humph!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Call Me Wonder Woman

Dh takes a lot of ribbing from me because he will fall asleep in most any movie I'd like. If the movie is started late enough in the evening, he'll fall asleep in movies he likes. I noticed, however, that despite the very late hour we watched it, he didn't miss a frame of CatWoman. That's why I was disappointed with my results in the Superhero test.

Your results:
You are Superman
Iron Man
Wonder Woman
Green Lantern
The Flash

You are mild-mannered, good, strong and you love to help others.

Well, given that I'm not a MAN, the next woman down on the list (you'd think the test designer would ask one's sex) is Wonder Woman. Well, to hell with that! I want my dh to stay up all night just to watch me move. Wouldn't that be nice?


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