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Category Archives: life ehgo

The Bee’s Bruised Knees

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Elle and I are a lot more alike than either of us will probably ever readily admit. In the pursuit of being your own person, sometimes the driving factor is to show who you are not.

And yet, I see Ellie’ s banged up shins next to my own bruised legs and can’t help but think, “Yep. That’s my girl.”

Ok, so it's really our shins. Whatever.

We are not particularly careless, but we are not overly cautious either. I’m a mechanic and like a gardener, getting dirty is pretty much part of the job description. By Sunday, my hands are usually not too gray — unless I work on our cars over the weekend — in which case, forget it. However, my legs tend to bear the brunt of my work. On our smaller buses, the Type As (the rest of the world knows them as Short Buses), I remount the tires by resting them on my thighs and then lifting. Don’t judge. It works. So that’s the twin bruises on my thighs.

Then there’s the abrasion on the outside left leg paired with a two-day-old bruise on the inside. Inside is where I banged my shin after a test drive and outside is where I gouged it BEFORE the test drive on some sheet metal.

It’s cool. My tetanus shots are up to date.

Elle on the other appendage, is a complete mystery. I ask her, but I don’t think she always notices when she gets injured. Mr. Pirate and I have encouraged her from the get-go to dust herself off and pick herself back up again. She cries, but almost always follows it up with, “I’m OK.”

Maybe she’s been watching a bit too much “Paw Patrol” and has accepted the accident-prone Dalmatian, Marshall, as her personal hero?

Marshall the firehouse dog

He really is OK. He’s just still growing into his paws.

Regardless of the why, I think I’d rather she learn to be resilient and aware enough of her own body so that she knows when to sit it out and howl, and when to bounce back with a grin and a wave.

So for all of the Moms like mine who had semi annual visits to the hospital, thanks for letting us learn our limits. We’re out there raising up the next batch of cheerfully bruised kiddos, and I think we’re all better for it.

~*La!

 Fashionistas Don’t Fall Far From the Family Tree

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 Fashionistas Don’t Fall Far From the Family Tree

Learning things about your parents is always weird.

I used to think that the pursuit of understanding where you came from was a pursuit that only those who are adopted could truly undertake. That for the rest of us, it’s too easy. Our answers are right there if we only know what questions to ask.

We’ve had the easy path outlined for us in bright flourescent genetic paint. 

But then you stumble across a box of your mother’s old clothes and you find not only skirts she sewed herself, but also the type of shirt you longed for her to let you wear at age 14.

A sweet little baby doll shirt that she loved probably at the same time that I was still little more than an idea. I don’t know. Maybe she had it before then.

I remember being in 9th grade and wanting more than anything else to be allowed to shop in the juniors department. The 70s were only just starting to make a comeback and I wanted my T-shirts to be both tight and tiny. Nevermind that the kindest description for my body type was skinny or waiflike. I just wanted to dress like the others girls.

And maybe this is part of why she resisted. It wasn’t because the shirts were too short in the midriff. It was because the fashions themselves reminded Mom of a time when she was much older than my little teenage self. By the late 70s, Momma was already a college graduate, a mother, and effectively a world traveller. Her teenager in the late 1990s had no business dressing like someone that mature. 

It’s also weird to learn that now her retro blouses would fit me but absolutely not her skirts. I’m 33 and like her I’m a college graduate, a mother, and a sorta world traveller (she’s got at least two more countries on me). Unlike my mother at that same age, my hips are epic. Not massive. Epic. It’s a good thing though. I like my hips.

It just means that if I want to set aside any clothes for Elle, I’d better hope she likes vintage when she’s 14. Otherwise girlfriend is gonna inherit hips and there will be no hope of any of us wearing these skirts ever again.

Helping

“Momma, I want to press letters.”

And so we are. I remember being her age and sitting at my mother’s blue typewriter, tongue sticking out of my mouth as I poked away at the keys. The satisfying click and thunk of the keys striking the paper roll.

This morning she read the white letters on the STOP sign in one of her picture books.

“S-T-O-P. Stop. That’s a stop sign.”

Ellie might not recognize the connection between what she’s saying and what she’s seeing, but that’s OK.

She’ll get there.

“I holded it up and I holded it down and I banged my heart in weightlessness.”

Yep. That’s my girl.

~*La!

Skeletons in the Backyard

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My parents will soon move from the house where I grew up and I have mixed feelings about the whole endeavor.

It’ll be good because  they’ll leave Virginia and move closer to me, but in doing so, will move farther away from my sister.

They’re having a new house built ultimately so that they can age in place, but I have a hard time visualizing them in their new space.

Back in the spring, my sister and I jotted down a list of all of the nice features of that old house. Skylights in the kitchen — one car-garage (in a neighborhood that does not have garages at all) — well-maintained year-round garden. But there’s other things about that house too that not everyone will love nor any potential buyer will ever know about.

Things like the guinea pig skeleton in the backyard. Scooter, a hand-me-down calico colored guinea pig, died the night before we were going to take her to the exotic animal veterinarian. I remember checking on her periodically throughout the evening and then going in to find that she wasn’t breathing.

We’d had other pets die before, but Scooter was mine. She’d been my responsibility since a neighbor kid couldn’t take care of her anymore and she came to live with us. Her grief was mine to carry and deal with. I emptied out a shoe box and we buried her the next day in the backyard. Every year when my parents go to till up the soil in the garden I think about where she’s buried and wonder how much evidence of her would be left. I wonder if whomever buys their house will ever find her tiny skeleton in tact or just dig up her bones one at a time and know them for what they are — a memory of child-sized grief.

 

Making Friends

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Ellie is having her first ever play-date on Saturday and I envy her ease at making friends.

Granted it’s with Sia, her best friend since they started in the infant room together at day care, but still. She’ll engage with other kiddos at the park and just instantly start playing with them as if they’ve always been friends.

I wonder if it’s the same for dog parents and if secretly, introverts have children or dogs in our lives as a way to force us out of our comfort zone?

Oh, you don’t like talking to other people? Here, teach this little person how to talk and play well with others.

Need to keep your social engagements to a minimum? Puppy needs to go for walks and everyone likes to talk to you when your pup is so dang cute.

This evening we had a picnic dinner at the library park and Mr. Pirate and Ellie were playing on the rock structure when a younger kiddo came up and started playing with her. Without much else to do, Mr. Pirate and I eventually wandered over to where the other girl’s parents were sitting. We talked a little, about the girls and their ages, about the fact that they’ve only recently moved to the area and then about the weather. By then, I was pretty much tapped out for conversation. I just don’t know what to say to people beyond that.

I think I’ve always felt introverted although my mom insists that I’m not. She’ll tell you that I’m out-going, and I can be. But I also reach a point where I’m ready to retreat inside myself and want to be left alone. It’s a balancing act though. One thing I have learned about myself is that there’s only so much social isolation I can handle – four months maternity leave was almost too much. I like people, just in moderation.

Maybe I just need to take a page from Elle’s book and play with people whether they want to be my friend or not.

In other news:

  • Camp NaNoWriMo was a slog this summer. I need to get back to writing in a very large way. My spelling has fallen off and ideas and thoughts don’t come so easily to my soggy and tired brain.
  • SO MANY BUSES! We took delivery in June of 10 new buses. Because they will be assigned to my terminal, I’ve been assigned to checking them in. That’s been an adventure. More on that later.

 

The Awkward Kindness of Strangers

One of the very best t-shirts I ever received as a gift is one that reads: “A girl with a certain, je ne sais quoi.”

It’s pink and is in my cedar chest for the day when Ellie expresses an interest in what her mama used to wear. Who knows? Maybe she’ll also grow into the kind of person with an indescribable “I don’t know what” attitude (I mean. I hope she does, but I can’t know that.)

At the time, the shirt helped me feel pretty and identify myself as someone whose sense of identity is her own. Sometime in high school, I stopped caring about my appearance. I still put an effort into what I looked like, and how I dressed. I just stopped being overly concerned with how others viewed me. It was very liberating.

I do sometimes still wonder what I really look like to strangers? Do they see the sharp profile of my nose? Do they know that I prefer to think of my hair as gingerbread blonde rather than dirty blonde? I just don’t know.

What I do know though, is that apparently when you pay with change at Goodwill, you look like someone who could use a break. Or a helping hand. Maybe both.

Ellie is growing like a 2-year-old wildflower. She comes up to my waist and size 3T shirts are getting too short in the torso. The cuffs barely come to her wrists anymore.

As a result I suggested to my mother-in-law, Nona, that she go shopping with Elle and I today at Goodwill to find some long-sleeved 4T shirts just to get us through the rest of the season. We made our selections and were next in the queue to checkout when Elle very clearly announced “I have to go potty.”

Nona had brought with her, her change purse. They’ve only just moved to Colorado and during their packing found a lot of loose change. As in, a good two or three pounds worth of coins. My father-in-law, the Curmudgeon, teased her that no cashier would want to count out that much money and she, like me, figured that half-price Saturday at Goodwill would mean we wouldn’t rack up that much of a bill.

So while Elle and I are answering the call of nature, Nona is counting out change in orderly piles while the previous person finishes her return (Yep. We got the line where someone wanted to make a return for torn merchandise. To Goodwill.). Ellie and I return and Nona has exactly $15.00 stacked in piles by quarters, dimes, and nickles.

The clothes are all off the hangers, the items rung up and our bill comes to $15.64. I fish the 64 cents out of my wallet and both Nona and I are pretty pleased with our combined math skills. The cashier swipes all of the coins into a pile and begins to recount them.

“You’re a dollar short,” she informs us and then begins to recount the money again.

Nona is a retired elementary school teacher. Counting out coins is the sort of thing she could do in her sleep, but as she starts to get another dollar out of her purse, the man behind us swipes his credit card through the reader and says, “There. Now you’re good. You ladies go treat yourselves to lunch.”

My jaw drops. Not because of what he did, but because we are absolutely not the people most in need of this kindness.

“Thank you,” I tell him. “You really didn’t have to do that.”

I can’t meet his eyes. He’s wearing a flannel jacket and has a small pile of clothes in his arms.

“Don’t worry about it and have a nice rest of your day.”

Nona and I leave Goodwill and don’t speak another word to one another until we get to the car. A car that I maintain myself and recently invested $300 in for its 100,000-plus-mile preventive maintenance. There we try and figure out why we appeared so shabby and resolve that maybe we need to look a little less clueless the next time we go to Goodwill.

That, and decide that the $15.64 for Ellie’s new shirts needs to go to a good cause since I will not be able to look at the shirts that we picked out for her and not think of the fact that some stranger was willing to buy my daughter clothes. I think SafeHouse Denver might be a good place to start.

Either that, or the Denver Aquarium because I sure feel like an awkward turtle after that whole exchange.

~*La.

It’s “Mrs.” Ninja, actually

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When we adopted our cats Mr. Pirate and I had a very serious conversation. Whose last name should they have?

You don’t often think of pets as needing last names, until they go to the vet that is. Antigone’s name is fairly singular, but Harley is about as common as, well, his orange motorcycle namesake.

Categorizing patient records by first name is ridiculous regardless of who the patient is. So the cats’ last name is Pirate. I figured it would be good preparation for when we eventually had human kiddos since we agreed that our offspring would have whichever last name sounded better with the chosen first name. So Elle is Elle Pirate and as a result, I’m completely out-numbered in our household when it comes to surnames. We’re a house of Pirates and one Mrs. Ninja.

But it’s not a big deal. Mr. Pirate fell in love with me as he first met me – as Amanda Ninja. We always know when solicitors call and it’s a bit of a running joke when mail arrives for Mr. and Mrs. Pirate.

It’s just funny that I can’t deposit a check into our joint checking account if our names are on a check as Mr. Pirate and Mrs. Pirate.

Both funny ha ha and funny awkward.

Here’s the awkward:
In order to deposit the check without having him there at the bank with me and holding my hand, I can do one of two things.

  • Have him co-sign the check and then go back with our marriage license to demonstrate that I’m really who I say I am.

Or

  • Ask the person who wrote the check to write us another.

We’ll be going with the first because the second just demonstrates poor manners. I may be a lot of things – and a stubborn lady who didn’t change her name when she married happens to be one of them – but I don’t have poor manners.

Here’s the funny ha ha:

This whole adventure only reinforces why I didn’t change my name in the first place. My last name is unique. I’ve often maintained that if you’ve met a Ninja, I’m probably related to him or her.

courtesy of www.transportcemetery.com

As far as I know, we don’t have any kin in Jonesboro, LA — but maybe we should road-trip there one day to check.

That was certainly true today.

As I pulled out my driver’s license to demonstrate that I am actually the person whose name is attached to the account, the teller remarked, “Oh. I went to school with some Ninjas.”

Eight years ago when we got married and moved to Colorado, Mr. Pirate and I happened to move into the neighboring county of where my dad and his siblings grew up. (In fact! Elle will go to school in the same school district as her Granddaddy, three great uncles and one great aunt.) The teller mentioned, that the Ninjas she knew lived in Fairview Estates and that she went to school with Dale Ninja.

Well guess who happens to be the niece of Dale Ninja?

I didn’t have a chance to let her reminisce, or to mention that my uncles all live in Oklahoma now. There was too much of a line growing behind me.

But maybe when I go back with my marriage license to deposit money into the checking account, I can let her know that my uncle is well and in good health.

That’d be the polite thing to do after all.

~*La!

 

[Photo courtesy of www.transportcemetery.com Seriously. We need to go visit.]