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Friday, July 29, 2005

Musical Fruit

Sunday I am going to my sister Anita's house. She is having a birthday party for my niece. Family gatherings always end with a stack of mental material for me, so I can hardly wait.

The only thing that bums me out about the upcoming festivities is that Anita asked me to make baked beans to go with the dinner she is making. I guess she has grand Dutch oven plans with her old man Sunday night.

Grabbing a can of beans at the grocery store is just not acceptable. Anita likes the homemade variety. She can be a real pain in the ass.

I've told her a hundred times how to make them, but Anita simply whined and said, "Come on Lois, please?! Don't you love your big sister? Don't you want to make your niece's birthday special?"

"Yeah because there's nothing like the gift of gas from your favorite aunt."

I wish we were still living in simpler times when Anita liked, what she called "Bed Dub Dub and Who Who", which was just bread, milk and sugar in a bowl eaten like cereal. It was just another "poor family" concoction our mom fed to us.

I just know bringing weird dishes to family outings is going to leave a mark. You know how when you were a kid and went to a family function, you had an aunt who always made something? A dish to pass, if you will.

She was the crazy aunt who could make a Jell-O mold in every color and shape, that usually matched the occasion of the family gathering. Or maybe she was the kooky, yet creative aunt who could make Spam patties with her Christmas cookie cutters. You and all of your cousins sat around talking about her and her weird food items. That's going to be me if this shit keeps up.

"Hey guys, look, there's Auntie Lois. She has a new burn on her face. She must have made spaghetti."

"Well, her arm hair is singed off, maybe she made macaroni again."

"Auntie Lois is such a gas! I bet she made beans again."

The last thing I need are my nieces and nephews making a mockery out of me and my cooking.

Wish me a fire-free baked bean blowing bonanza.

For those of you who asked in yesterday's comments, the crazy opossum lady said she would keep me abreast of the babies' condition.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Can't Put This Opossum In A Cage

I made contact with the opossum lady and we planned to meet at 7 p.m. (See last two posts if you are wondering why I would want to meet with the opossum lady.) She has been a wildlife rehabilitator for nine years. She specializes in opossum babies and was willing to meet me halfway to pick them up.

Every kid in the neighborhood came to see the babies off to their new surrogate mom's house. With roughly twenty kids (no exaggeration) waving goodbye, I backed out of the driveway. Lane 2 was holding the box with the babies and Lane 1 was blabbing about how glad he is that someone else will be taking care of them.

My boy is a bit squeamish, apparently. He didn't like the look of their pink naked bodies and he really hated feeding and potty time. He was the only kid who wasn't bugging me to hold one.

"Dude, Mom! That is so gross!"

"So what do you want me to do? You and the rest of the kids came running to get me to help these babies and now I'm doing all I can, and you think it's nasty. I can't win can I?"

"Not this time Mom. They are gross!"

"Want a little mustard on your hotdog Son?" I asked as I wiped a baby's butt.

He gagged and left the room.

In the car, I asked Lane 1, "So you're saying you won't miss them?"


"Not even one tiny little bit?"

"Mom, they creep me out. All I can think of when I look at them is My Precious."

"Who is that?"

"The freaky naked dude on Lord of the Rings."

"Okay, so they are ugly, but they are babies. And you know the whole freakin' neighborhood was counting on me to keep them alive. That's a lot of pressure. Now they will be in someone's care who knows what the hell they are doing."


We pulled into the meeting place and didn't see her truck. So I parked and we waited. Lane 2 took them out of the box, and had them cupped in her little hand. She was talking baby talk to them, telling them that they are going to a new home, to have a new mommy and telling them how much she would miss them. The boy sat rolling his eyes.

Racing into the parking lot like a cop entering a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop, her truck pulled up next to me. She was in the passenger seat, which told me the person driving had been directed to hurry.

She hopped out of the truck in such a hurried way it just made me laugh. In my mind I heard her say, "Stand back everyone! I am the great and powerful Opossum Lady and I've come to save the babies!" All she was missing was a cape. Yeah, I have an active imagination.

She had an animal carrier in her hand and rushed toward my car. I got out, took the babies from Lane 2's hand. As I went to place them into her carrier, she said, "Oh my gosh! These are so small. I am amazed they've made it this far. You've done a good job Lois. You should be proud of yourself."

I felt like I was playing Robin to her Batman. "I just did what I could."

She grabbed my wrist as I was about to place them in the carrier. She looked me very seriously in the eyes and said, "They are too small. The carrier isn't warm enough. I am going to have to keep them warm with body heat."

This is where I have to interrupt her speaking to stress to you how serious this lady was. There was this urgency in her eyes and her voice. She must keep them warm...

"I will hold them in my bra." she continued.

What have I done??? I was giving these babies to a opossum pervert, the kind who surfs the net for opossum porn! The kind of pervert who probably makes her own opossum porn! What have I done???

"I'm sorry, haha. I thought I heard you say you were going to put them in your bra, hahaha."

Stone faced, she said, "Yes, that's what I said. They must stay warm."

"Yes, they must."

What else could I have said? Should I have blurted all of the things I was thinking, "Are you going to stick them in your pouch when you get home? Will they suckle directly from your nipple? Are you the Michael Jackson of opossums? "

I repeated, "Yes, they must stay warm."

I admit, I went to great lengths to keep the little guys alive but sticking them in my bra was just something I couldn't have thought of or done, in a million years.

What have I done???

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Breakin' The Law, Breakin' The Law

I don't know what the lesson from this experience will be, but, like everything, I'm sure there is a reason. I know living out in the middle of nowhere leaves me open to little creatures finding their way into my home. I also know my children are much too quick to bring animals in distress home. I truly do love animals and mostly none of this stuff bothers me. I am tired, however.

Three of the opossum babies died by late afternoon yesterday. Thankfully the kids were prepared and didn't get overly upset. I explained that I'd never taken care of a opossum or had even seen one as small as these. I told them I had no idea what their chance for survival was and said, "Don't name them and don't get attached. If I can find someone else to care for them, who knows what they are doing, they will have to go." I told them I would do my best in the meantime.

I called our county animal control, who gave me a number of someone else, and so on and so on. After a couple of dead-end phone calls, I went to my vet and bought some opossum formula. I bought bottles and syringes. The vet couldn't take the babies and offered me no advice. I asked him for feeding tubes as a last resort and he denied me, saying it's illegal for me to even have them in my house. Yeah so let 'em starve asshole. I've had a couple of kittens here in the past that needed to be tube fed and although these are way smaller, I figured it would still work if need be.

A phone call into the DNR gave me the same results. "We can't offer you any advice because it's against the law."

"But you won't pick them up or let me drop them off. The least you could do is offer me some assistance over the phone."

"Sorry ma'am, that's against the law too."

I took the kids to our nearest Farm and Fleet store and bought the tubing. When I returned home, I got back on the phone, spending eight hours trying to find someone to take them or at least teach me how to take care of them. I really didn't want to tube them.

After trying the bottles (too big) then the syringes (too big) then a cloth soaked in formula (only a couple got it) I ran into town and got some coffee stirrers. I placed my finger over the top to hold the formula in the stirrer, held it to their mouths, one at a time, but only a couple of them got it, the others got a formula bath. I had to cut all of my fingernails way down just so I could maneuver them without ripping their frail skin.

The stirrers had two openings so I thought about cutting them in half long-ways and right before I almost chopped my finger off, I remembered the new can of WD-40 in the garage. It had one of those straw things so you can spray it into tiny places attached to the side of the can. I pulled the straw off and used it, but again, only some of them got it.

I tube fed the ones that needed it and WD-40'd the others.

They needed to be fed every two hours and also needed their little private parts massaged after eating. I would love to get that treatment. A-hem, where was I? Um, I am not a pervert, that's how they expel their pee and poop. Their mother usually licks the area to help them go potty, but that was just way too far over the line. I opted for a damp paper towel massage instead.

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See how tiny these things are? Imagine stuffing a tube down their throats. Not fun! I didn't take any pictures of the genital massage, so if you are here looking for some opossum porn, you came to the wrong place. You sick freak.

Somewhere around 11 last night, one of the certified wildlife rehabilitators I left a message for called me back. She wanted to check up on the babies and was surprised any of them were still alive. She said, "If they are still alive tomorrow evening when I get off of work, I'll meet you somewhere to pick them up."

There is relief in sight. Thank you all for your advice yesterday.

I received an e-mail about a webring. They invited me into their little group of women bloggers. Although I have not reviewed the sites yet, the new additions are to your right in my links. Let me know what you think of these new additions. Also, if you would like your link added, leave a comment or send me an e-mail, I'd be happy to add you.

For my nephew Richie Rich 1990, does your mother know you read this smut? I love you bud!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Playing Dead

First of all thank you all for your kind and encouraging words. Secondly, to answer some e-mail from a few concerned folks today, nope, I didn't hang myself. I'm still alive and kicking. Although I admit to being a temperamental artist, suicide just ain't an option.

Here are the six reasons why I can't give you guys a good post today...

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The mom opossum was hit by a car early this morning. These guys came out of her pouch on their own seeking food and warmth. Kids, damn kids, found them and came running into the house, "Mom, please! You have to help! Hurry!"

I called all of my animal caretaker friends. None of which have room in their shelters or are certified to care for opossums. I am actually breaking the law by having them in my house right now. I should be certified to care for "wild animals" but I haven't gotten that far yet. Actually, I am just a volunteer and don't really want to be certified to do this mothering to rodents on a regular basis. Alas, I made many phone calls, striking out each time. The only place I found that could take them is four hours away from where I live. No one from their staff will meet me halfway. Fuckers!

I got a lot of people offering advice, none of which has worked so far. All of the "manmade" bottles and syringes are just too big for their tiny mouths. I saturated a washcloth with opossum formula and they are all trying to latch on as I type this. Wish them luck.

Monday, July 25, 2005

This Is The Blog Post Where Lois Lane Complains About Stuff

Someone call the whhhaaambulance.

Woke up with sleep clinging to my eyes. In no mood for anything. Tired. I started up the computer. It's going to be a busy day of writing and sending letters to drum up new clients. My books are in a holding pattern, this week, awaiting an agent to scoop me up. Maybe I need to flash my Imogenes to land one.

As a freelance writer, I'm always writing a letter to someone, pitching a story about something, selling my skill, selling my ideas, selling my words, hoping to find someone who will need me regularly. It's mostly a pain in the ass. A whole bunch of letters go out, maybe two positive responses come back. It's hard to sell yourself or skill in a concise letter.

"Dear Santa, I've been a little naughty and a little nice. I'd like a bunch of money, 'cuz what I got won't suffice."

I wonder what it feels like to say, "I'm sorry. As much as I would love to be part of your book, I am under contract and can only work with who my publisher assigns me to work with."

I know what it feels like reading those words in a letter, addressed to me. It sucks big hairy donkey balls.

I put my feelers out to a well-known illustrator, she is someone I know, someone I have interviewed, someone who is very talented, someone I have talked on the phone with and someone I actually thought I had a chance with. Not so much, apparently. Can I take all of those superlatives back now?

I wrote a children's book a while ago. I collaborated with an illustrator who is amazing. He can draw what I see in my mind. We just clicked. He, unfortunately, has been dragging his heels. Sure he is busy having a regular job and family, life, etcetera, but I have come to realize this book, which ultimately will be a series of books, is merely a pipedream for him.

I called him the other day to tell him, I just can't wait anymore. He said he would call me back because he was headed into a meeting. He never called. That's when my feelers started moving, twitching, zinging through my body like lighting bolts tapping my every nerve.

Should I put my life and goals on hold for someone because they forgot to call back? Should I seek out other options, even though we clicked, even though he is awesome? Should I put that book on the backburner and work on my other projects in the meantime?

So many questions are racing through my mind.

The first feeler coming back as a "No" isn't too terribly upsetting. I think she would really like to work with me and just can't. She and I clicked the first time we met too. I think I might send a friendly letter to her publisher. Make a contact. Get my name out there. Maybe the publisher will say something to her about me. Maybe she will offer good feedback. Maybe it's a waste of time.

Today all of my feelers are going out for my freelance work. If I've not been by your home in Blogland, sorry. My fuck off time has been very limited lately. I miss reading all of you guys and appreciate all of your e-mails and comments.

Mr. Lane received 47 e-mails/comments for his birthday and told me to thank you guys. He had no idea how many e-friends I have here at Home Fires. Katey has a great picture of him posted from her visit to the Lane Estate. I'm in the picture too but look like shit. It's hard to look sexy when you are humping a leg.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

You Can't Lose Me

My best friend headed back to Tennessee last night. Every time we are able to visit, the saying goodbye part sucks more and more. You would think we would be used to it all by now. She has been out of state a few years and I was out of state a couple too. We've been here and done this, so why the hell is it still so hard?

When I moved away to California almost nine years ago, I cried saying goodbye. Honey's daughter, still makes fun of me about that crying stuff.

Yesterday afternoon, Lane 3 said, "Lois, are you going to cry again?" and then she proceeded to remind everyone about that one and only time she saw me cry.

It was nine years ago, and I don't think I'll ever live those tears down.

Honey has four kids, Mojo Jojo, Mister Magoo, Lane 3 and Taz. I dubbed them with those nicknames because her oldest, who is now 16, is a hairy mutha fucka, plus he has attitude, just like the crazy little monkey in the Power Puff Girls cartoon.

Mister Magoo is her 14 year old, who looked just like Mister Magoo without the glasses when he was little.

Her daughter, Lane 3 is my favorite and has always acted more like one of mine than one of Honey's kids.

And then there's Taz, her baby boy. He's mellowed a lot but when he was little he was just like the Tasmanian Devil, zooming all over the place and running over the back of mine and Honey's feet with his walker, droolin' all the while. At 10-years-old, he isn't technically a baby anymore but he is the youngest of our brood.

It's funny how the kids just picked up where they left off in their friendships. Have you ever had a friend whose kids just sucked? Or have been in a situation where you really liked the parents but their kids were just annoying and even your kids didn't want to play with them? Out of six kids, we've never had that. I don't know why that seems very cool to me but it just does.

When Honey told me that Magoo and Mojo Jojo were each bringing a friend, I cringed at the thought. I thought her boys had outgrown Lane 1 and he would now be left out of the mix. That, thankfully, didn't turn out to be the case.

Crash Bandicoot, who was blessed with that nickname because of all of the injuries he inflicted upon himself, was just like one of mine or Honey's kids. He fit right in and treated my kids like he's known them all along. Sure the little shit didn't abide by my rules, "No, bleeding! No getting hurt! No wipeouts! No getting injured while in my home, neighborhood or presence!" but other than that he was a really good kid. He really should be wrapped in bubble wrap before he goes skateboarding, however.

Magoo's friend Shaggy, who, if you looked at the pictures on my Flickr account, you'll see where his nickname came from, also fit like a glove into our "family". But much like Crash, he didn't follow all of the rules. He sat on the couch all by himself. I asked what was wrong, he said nothing. Honey asked why he was just sitting there and he said he was thirsty. The rule Shaggy broke, "If you are thirsty, get yourself a drink because my crystal ball that detects thirst, is broken."

I looked that boy in the eyes and asked, "Are you new here?"

"Well, yeah, sorta," he said.

"I'm sorry but you are no longer a guest. You see this big rectangular thing here in the kitchen? That's what we northerners call a fridge. That's where we get our drinks from. Now, if you would like a drink, you aren't going to be able to get one from the couch. The couch is where us damn Yankees take a nap. Ya dig?"

He looked at Honey as if to ask, "Is she crazy?" Honey smiled at him as if to answer "yes". Just like with her own kids, sometimes words just aren't needed.

If the kids weren't swimming, playing at the park, skateboarding or playing video games, they were just talking and hanging out together, which is what Honey and I did the whole time... add coffee and spoonin' of course.

With all of the goodbyes said, and neither of us knowing when we can see each other again, my mind goes back to nine years ago, when I moved away. Faith Hill said it best and her words still hold true to the way I feel about my Honey having to go.

You can't lose me
Bet your life
I am here, and I will always be
Just a wish away
Wherever you go
No matter how far
My love is where you are
You won't be lost if you believe
You can't lose me

Friday, July 22, 2005

Picture This

Honey and her family are leaving in a few hours. I've posted some swimming pictures on my Flickr Account for your viewing pleasure.

We will return to our regularly scheduled blog tomorrow afternoon.

~ Lois

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Way We Were

My visit with Honey is going well. It's so nice having her "home". She and her children are offering plenty of new material, which will be coming soon to a blog near you. A lot of our time together has been spent just talking about the good old days. Thankfully, we have very few misty water colored memories. We've had lots of good times, even when times were tough.

The problem with rolling down memory lane with eight kids in the house, most of whom are teenagers, is that, they won't go away so we can visit properly.

The good news is, together, Honey and I have so many embarrassing stories about each and every one of the little darlings, we can simply say something like, "Remember the time, Mr. Lane took Lane 1 fishing?" As quickly as those words zoom out of my mouth, my son, Lane 1 is running out the door.

At the tender age of 13, Lane 1 doesn't want to hear stories about his younger days no matter how funny those stories might be to everyone else. All of the other kids stood listening to the tale of that special father son moment.

One day, soon after we were finally able to bring Lane 2 home from the hospital, Mr. Lane decided to take the boy fishing so the girl and I could get some much needed rest.

He was almost 2 1/2-years-old. He was completely potty trained but had never been to a place that didn't have a bathroom, until fishing day. He told his father he needed to go. His father told him to flinch his butt cheeks because there was no place for him to go. Lane 1 explained that he couldn't make it "just go away".

Mr. Lane, being a resourceful man, walked our son into the woods. Lane 1 was mortified at the thought, but his rear end was ready regardless of the "bathroom" conditions. Reluctantly, he did his business.

When they returned from their fishing trip, Lane 1 couldn't wait to tell on his father.

Working up tears he said, "Mommy, (sniffle, deep sigh, sniffle) Daddy made me go poo-poo outside! (gasp, sniffle, big ol' tears rolling down his dirty cheeks) And he wiped my butt wiff (with) weaves (leaves)!"

All of the kids laughed, and ran outside to give Lane 1 a hard time. It was nice and quiet for at least an hour.

When they came back and began to invade mine and Honey's coffee talk time, I reminded her boys about the first time they noticed that Lane 2 was not a bottle fed baby.

All of the older boys let out a groan as I told the others how they hid under the kitchen table until my boob was out of Lane 2's mouth.

"Silly me! I thought all teenaged boys loved hearing stories about boobs." I shouted as they all ran outside to escape my breastfeeding tales.

Honey and I may be out numbered when it comes to kids versus grownups, but our arsenal is locked and loaded.

Tomorrow is Mr. Lane's birthday. If you would like to tell him what a lucky fucker he is to have such a darling wife, you can do so by e-mailing him at or if you just want to send him birthday well wishes, that would be fine too.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Sometimes You're The Windshield

I've been accused of lying to you wonderful people. Some evil bitch, who shall remain nameless, said I "need" to be "honest" about my post below, "Come On Eileen".

I was honest. I swear. Pinky swear, even. I simply left out one tiny detail. I didn't know I would always have to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me blog. But to get the said evil one off of my back, I guess I have to spill. (This right here is reason 8,672, why not to tell the whole story to anyone in person, ever. Especially an evil bitch.)

While in the nasty restroom, when I could finally take to the throne, something crawled on me. Let me back up and explain. I was wearing one of those stretchy t-shirts that had rode up my back while I was hunched over, trying to catch my overalls before they fell to the floor.

As soon as my body was back in an upright position, something was trying to crawl into the top of my ass crack. Yes, I did let out a loud, high-pitched scream. No, I am not afraid of bugs. Normally, I just squash 'em, but this one was on me! And it was trying to crawl into my ass! Yeah, I screamed, like the girl I am.

I gave myself a reach around to grab hold of the bug, to squish it to death for trying to invade my ass. I grabbed hold of it, in a pinching movement, I grabbed it, squeezed, really hard and yanked my hand away. Everything would have been perfectly fine at that very moment, had what I grabbed and pulled, actually been a bug.

It wasn't a bug on me as I had imagined, it was the ends of my hair tickling my ass crack as I leaned back. So that "bug" I squished and pulled away from my ass crack, was actually my own hair. And yes, I pulled hard. Hard enough to rip a small pinched handful out.

Today's story comes with three lessons. One, never tell someone something unless you want everyone to know. Two, if your hair is long enough to tickle your ass crack, you probably should get it cut! And three, sometimes, you are the bug.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Sugar, Ahh, Honey, Honey

Tomorrow my very bestest friend in the whole wide world is visiting from Tennessee. She and her four kids, along with two of their friends, will land upon the Lane Estate to stay for a few days. It's always a huge honor when someone comes to visit us and calls that a vacation. Honor or insanity, such a fine line.

She is the one I call "Honey". She has a real name but because of a slip up, she is just Honey. One day, some 15 years ago, she and I were getting off of the phone. At the same time, Mr. Lane was leaving for work.

I tried cupping my hand over the telephone to say goodbye to him, "Bye honey. Love ya."

From the phone, I hear her giggling, "You talkin' to me, Honey?"

"Uh... yeah, because I always say, 'Bye honey, love ya.' to you."

"Hahaha! Okay, I'll talk to you later. I love ya Honey."

"I love ya too smart ass. I mean, Honey."

And so a nickname was born unto both of us. A name that no one else calls us but the other. To this day, when we are getting off of the phone or instant messenger, we start with, "Hi ya Honey! and end with, "I love ya Honey!"

A Spoon Full Of Sugar (Honey)

Honey's favorite story that brings me embarrassment to this day, is one of those things she brings up every chance she gets. One night she talked me into watching Armageddon. It was her favorite movie and she was appalled that I had not seen it yet. We settled the kids on the couches and living room floor with a movie and the two of us went off to her room.

We often had sleepovers, mostly because we had a shitload of children, and when we got together one of them always seemed to fall asleep. Having a sleepover was easier than moving dead weight. Even when we lived within walking distance, we still just stayed put until morning.

As the world was blowing up on the tube, I was getting sleepy. She kept nudging me and tried getting me to sit up and "Pay attention!" She eventually became so engrossed in her movie, leaving me alone long enough to fall asleep.

It wasn't that the movie sucked. Hell it was probably a good one, but every time I get into a horizontal position, I'm out like a light. (Okay, maybe I use that position for other things, but that'll be a blog for another day.)

I remember hearing her turn the TV off as the closing music played. Back into my deep sleep I went. In the middle of the night one of my eyes popped open, as if my mind was saying, "Where am I?"

Oh boy! What my eyeball saw that night has scarred me for life. I was spoonin' Honey! Laying all up in her grooves. My knees in her bends. My right arm draped over her like a teddy bear.

I slithered away from her, getting back to my side of the bed or maybe I was squishing myself against the wall so that wouldn't happen again. I had trouble going back to sleep.

Morning came and I hopped out of bed, made coffee, made breakfast for the kids and Honey emerged. I handed her a cup of coffee as she started giving me shit for falling asleep during "the greatest movie ever made".

I interrupted my scolding to make my confession. Looking into my coffee cup, I said, "Honey, I woke up during the night..." (cheeks all rosy) "...and I was spooning you."

"Hahaha! You spooned me?"

"Yeah, only you aren't making matters any better."

That statement sent her into overload. My embarrassment was thrilling to her. Still is. The other day we were on the phone talking about her upcoming trip and she asked me if I would spoon her. Smart ass!

We've been through birth after birth, taking care of babies, then toddlers, all the way through the teens together, even when apart by miles. We've been through richer... okay, mostly poorer, separations from our husbands, sick kids, our own personal health issues, moves that have taken us out of state far from the other and yes, even spoonin'.

She used to call me a homophobe for freaking out about spooning her. Of course, she knows better. And if ever, I decided to pitch for the other team, Honey, who I love and loves me back, who loves my kids as much as I love hers, understands me in all of my insanity and loves me in spite of everything, would make the perfect wife for me.

But, truth be told, I like beef. It's what's for dinner.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Greased Lightin'

"Jasper" has gone right back into being "Chip". (For more about Chip, who went missing for a year, please see the "Stranger" series below.) He answers to his name, torments our other cat Patches, the bitch cat and poor old Guido, the 17-year-old cat. Although, Guido just seems too old to care if Chip wants to pounce him. He lets out a disapproving "mrrroooooorrooow" and Chip continues his antics and then rolls onto his back, exposing his belly in an effort to get Guido to play along. No dice.

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Chip destroys any board game you try to play. Here I was totally getting my ass kicked in a friendly game of Scrabble, by my 10-year-old daughter, when Chip saved me from the humiliation.

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Immediately after Monopoly was set up, there was Chip pouncing everything. He ran off with one of the houses in his mouth, hid it and came back to try to steal more. Kitty Kong was stopped by tossing a cat treat his way.

He still loves the light switch trick and once I get my film developed, I'll post him showing off. My digital doesn't have a fast enough shutter to capture him. I was lucky to get the two photos posted here today. Lighting fast little shit!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Come On Eileen

Firing up so many emotions over the last week or so, I thought it was time for me to give you wonderful readers something to laugh about. Let's be honest, most of you aren't here to get sad or angry. Although, I love each and every one of you for feeling my pain. You came here for a laugh. Today I hope you achieve laughter, at my expense.

As many of you fine folks know, my family went on a road trip recently. The road trip lasted 11 days and took us through 11 states, some more than once. Let me clarify for you new visitors, this was not, I repeat, not, a vacation. We were on the road with my husband, Mr. Lane, on business. What you are about to witness is real. The participants are not actors. The names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Preparing for said road trip, I went out shopping. I thought since we were going to be sitting in a truck most of the time, getting comfy clothing was important. At the very first store, I saw them. The hardware shown like a beacon in the night. Perfect clothing. Perfect comfort. Perfect redneck attire. Overalls.

My first thought was "too-ra-loo-ra - too-ra-loo-rye-aye"! Yes, I hummed along with the music in my head. I was reliving the 80s in my mind as I stood there holding them up to my body. Thinking of what a sexy bitch I'd be wearing them with no top or bra. "Clean up on isle four!" The lady in the speakers must have seen my head swell and thought brain matter was about to blow.

I grabbed those overalls, slung them over my arm and headed straight to the checkout counter. No way was I going to have a moment to talk myself out of these beauties! No way!

When Mr. Lane got home, I yelled, "Fashion show!" Normally, this is where my husband throws up a little in his mouth. Although I never ask him, "Does this make my ass look fat?" I do ask him to offer an opinion, which my old man would rather cut his own tongue out than give.

When I emerged from the bathroom, singing "too-ra-loo-ra -too-ra-loo-rye-aye" while bebopping, that man smiled at me and my overalls.

"You going topless on this trip babe?"

"Hell naw. This is just to try and stir up a little sumpin' sumpin' before we go."

He looked down at his lap area, smiled and said, "Shaken, and stirred. Let's go!"

With the tags barely torn off, I had built memories with those beauties. I should have had them immediately bronzed and left well enough alone. We packed and headed out. The first day, I wore jean shorts and froze my ass off. Mr. Lane had the air on full blast. I didn't complain. It was after all, only day one. I simply made a mental note to self to wear something warmer the next day.

Barely wrinkled from being folded in the bag, I pulled out my overalls. It was going to be a nice and comfy day. Much to my old man's chagrin, I wore a shirt and bra underneath. All seemed right with the world, until I had to pee.

On the road you don't have many options for bathrooms. You get what you find. Being out in the middle of nowhere, we stopped at the first place we saw, a rest area, which was 35 miles from where my bladder said, "pssst... I'm kinda full over here. You might want to mention something to the guy driving this bouncy ass rig."

I hopped out of the truck, walked into the building where the bathrooms were. I got in the stall and realized that I would have to practically get naked just to pee. Why the thought of that never dawned on me before that very moment remains a mystery.

Looking at my surroundings, I was 100% sure there was no way in hell my ass was going to touch that toilet seat. I exited the stall, checked the other stalls. All were in the same or worse condition. I grabbed paper towels. Back in the stall, I pulled the end of the toilet paper off, placing it in the toilet, because you just never know whose nasty hands touched it last. I hit the flusher with my foot, because courtesy flushes are essential in making sure there is no chance of someone else's anything splashing back. Using a giant wad of paper towels, I wiped the "wetness" off of the seat, because, ewww, how the fuck do women piss on the seat? I even put one of those toilet seat protectors on, just in case. And in slow motion, my sunglasses, that were tucked neatly away by the arm in my cleavage, slid out... bounce, bounce, as they hit one side of the toilet seat bouncing to the other like Ricochet Rabbit, ping.. ping... ping. "Nooo!"

Thankfully the final ping, caused them to fall to the floor. On the verge of pissing myself, I unlatched each strap, flinging them over my shoulders, when, "plop!" Fuck! One of my straps landed smack-dab in the pot. "Oh, my God! Now what? Sonofabitch!" There was no more time to converse with myself, I needed to pee. Badly. I reeled the strap out of the toilet and slid my precious overalls down just enough to do my business and the mother fuckers slid all the way down to the nasty floor. And guess what. The floor was wet. "Oh wonderful!" Anyone else in the bathroom at that moment probably thought I was cheering on a giant log.

I emerged holding my sunglasses with my index finger and thumb at arm's length. I threw them in the sink. I put the hot water on, soaped my hands and the glasses. Once rinsed and dry, I tucked them back into the top of my shirt.

When I walked out of the restroom I had one strap of my overalls latched and the other hanging behind me like one of those crappy little Kris Kross'll make ya jump, jump, rappers. I even had the rapper wannabe, bowlegged walk going because the entire crotch area of my overalls was soaking wet from landing in who knows what on the floor.

Approaching the truck, I was greeted by my loving family, who, incidentally, were all laughing so hard, they needed a turn in the restroom.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Heat Of The Moment

As mentioned at the end of my post from yesterday, history repeated itself two decades later.

My mom's trip down memory lane about the time I passed out in a hot car, triggered another memory for me. A few years ago, my kids were with their babysitter while I was at work. The babysitter decided a 100 degree day was the perfect weather to shop for a new car. She took her children inside of the car dealership and left my kids inside of her car.

Parked in the sun, on the asphalt, no air conditioning and the windows were closed.

Like me, they were older, not in car seats. Unlike me, they were smart enough to say, "It's too hot in here."

They tried to open the windows but they were power windows and the car was turned off. They tried to open the door to get out but the child locks were on.

The two of them began to feel weak and their breathing became labored. They talked about crawling over the seat to get out of the driver or passenger side doors but were "afraid to step on the seat and get it dirty."

A while later a salesman walked by the car. Dripping in sweat, Lane 1 waved his hands at him. Lane 2 warned Lane 1 that they weren't supposed to talk to strangers. Lane 1 convinced Lane 2 that they needed to take their chances.

The salesman opened the car door, took them both by the hand, brought them into the dealership, bought them cold drinks and candy from the vending machine. He asked them all sorts of questions but neither would answer. They didn't want to "talk to a stranger and get in trouble."

The babysitter never saw them with the salesman because she was in another salesman's office. After they finished their drinks and candy, the man told them to stay in the showroom near the exit and wait for their babysitter. They nodded.

When the babysitter came out and saw them, she yelled at them for getting out of the car. Neither said a word as they were scolded. When she asked how they got out of the car and they said the stranger opened the door, she said, "Do you realize he could have kidnapped you or killed you?"

When they got back to her house, she grounded them. Lane 1 tried to plead their case, saying how hot they became and how breathing was difficult. She told him to "shut up" and "pray to God your mother doesn't find out about this because she is going to be really mad at you guys."

That night, after I picked them up and brought them home, we sat down for dinner. Normally dinnertime in our house is when we do all of our talking. We share our day. That day neither of them had much to say. I asked them why they were so quiet and didn't get much of a response. Neither ate well that night, both were lethargic.

I continued to pry about their day. Lane 2 started tearing up Lane 1 followed. As they told me what happened, I could tell that they were more worried that I was going to be angry at them. They worried about telling me they'd gone with a stranger, taken candy from a stranger, and accepted a drink from a stranger.

You teach your kids to listen to the adult in charge but you never imagine that it can cause harm to them. You tell them to respect adults and do what they are told. But what if they listen and behave to a fault? I imagine this day and age we have to warn them a different way than our parents did. We need to let them know if they feel in danger, even if the adult in charge told them something specifically, it's okay to be defiant.

That night I had to explain to them the difference.

They learned quickly that the disgust on my face was directed toward their babysitter and not them. To this day I get a lump in my throat just thinking that they believed I would be angry at them.

That night, after the kids were tucked safely away in their beds, I called the county sheriff. I explained what happened and said I wanted to press charges. The law is a fucked up thing. Because my children were not "hospitalized" or "killed", no charges could be filed against her.

It isn't often that I've felt the urge to kill someone. This was one of those times.

I was mad at her for neglecting my children. I was mad that she was stupid enough to leave them in a hot car for an hour while she went shopping in an air-conditioned place. I was mad that she only took her kids inside. I was mad at the police because they couldn't do anything about her obvious neglect. I was mad at myself for choosing her as the caretaker of my children. I was mad at myself for being so hard on my kids that they would actually think they did wrong by being "defiant" that day.


I was happy because that salesman, Sam, walked by that car and saved my kids. I was happy that I worked at a newspaper and could warn other parents. I was happy because the power of the press was in my hands.

I wrote a story about what happened to my children. I highlighted Sam the hero for his good deed. The babysitter was well known and I didn't even have to mention her name. Everyone knew it was her. Funny but she moved out of town a couple weeks later. Hmmm... was it something I said?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Hot Child In The City

You ever have so much shit going on you just don't know where to start a post? That's where I am today. I told you guys I had more stories from the road trip to share. And I really do. It's just that I have been getting new writing and blogging material faster than I can type. During every phone call or visit with friends and family, my mind is in writing mode. Essentially what that means is, "Anything you say can and will be blogged about in a court of Lois."

My mom has gotten wise to me. If we are on the phone and she hears the click, click, clicking of my nails hitting the keys as fast as she is talking, she'll ask, "What are you doing? Are you typing what I'm saying? Lois! Answer me damn it!" She's so cute when she's angry.

With someone like my mother, there is so much material spewing out of her mouth that I have a file saved on my desktop just for our phone calls.

One day we were talking about the many babies who are dying from being left in hot cars. I read of another case this morning. It seemed to me that this is a new age danger. I just don't remember hearing about these kinds of things years ago. I imagine parents today are more rushed than those of yesteryear. I also think many parents are lazier and more careless than back in the day.

My mom reminded me of a time when she thought one of her kids died from the same. She and my dad were shopping and their defiant child wanted to stay in the car. I guess it was a memory that I set way back into my mind. Maybe because I was the defiant child.

I was tired, hot and cranky, and the last thing I wanted was to go into another store with my parents. I was older than the kids you read about. Old enough for my mom to back hand and make go. I guess she was just "being nice" that day and let me have my way.

When my parents got back to the car I was passed out, eyes open and rolled back, sweat pouring off of me. I can't imagine the feeling they must have had looking at me, trying to wake me. Mom is thankful of course that I turned out fine, virtually unscathed except for that "baked brain" of mine. Yeah, she's really loving. Isn't she?

To save this from being obnoxiously long like my last story, tomorrow, I'll tell you about how history repeats itself.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Stranger In My House

I may have gotten more hits and interested readers from the last part of this three part series had I named it "Lois Searches For The Perfect Pussy". I appreciate those of you who are hanging in there for every long drawn-out word. Your concern for my daughter and her safety is also greatly appreciated. For those of you who are new to Home Fires, welcome! You have just landed smack dab in the middle of what I did over my 4th of July holiday weekend. For those of you who have been absent for a few days, start reading at the post below called "The Stranger". Or better yet, read the one below that "The Gift That Keeps On Giving" because that also was part of my weekend insanity.

I headed back home quickly knowing the police were on the way. The officer was talking to Mr. Lane and my scared little girl when I walked in the house. She gave him her list of details, he shook her hand and told her what a wonderful job she did. She shyly looked at the floor. I knew the officer looked familiar but I just couldn't place him.

Based on the description of the car, the officer had a pretty good idea who the driver was. Finding out who the passenger was also was important because he is the one who actually spoke to Lane 2.

My mind wandered off with thoughts of the driver. "If the cop is pretty sure he knows him. He must be pretty dangerous or at least someone who finds himself in trouble often."

I decided asking him outright was the only way to slow my racing mind. He told me the car sounds like the one his teenage neighbor's boyfriend drives.

Mr. Lane asked the officer how far away he lived. When he said two and a half blocks away, I said, "That's where I've seen you. I knew you looked familiar."

The officer continued to put Lane 2's mind at ease telling her she did the right thing. He also let her know he would be having a little talk with the "boys" who stopped to talk to her.

Mr. Lane's mind must have also been going a mile a minute because he blurted out, "So does the little sonofabitch speak English or not?"

The officer said, "Of course he does. He just didn't want to talk to you."

As the officer and Mr. Lane wrapped up their discussion the phone rang and Lane 1 picked it up. "Charlie? Wow man! Long time! How'd you get my number? It's Lane man! Didn't you know who you were calling? My mom? Chip? Dude that cat's been gone a year. Okay hang on."

Lane 1 handed me the phone with a very puzzled look on his face. It was Colombo. "There's a lot of black cats around here but I'm going to keep looking and asking people and I gave a couple other kids your phone number. I hope you don't mind because they want to help too."

"Listen buddy, don't worry yourself. It has been a year and as much as I would like to find him, I really don't want you or any of your little friends going door-to-door looking for him okay?"

"I could just tell how much you missed it. And, well, I kinda wanted to help and maybe find your cat."

"You are a sweetheart. How about you keep your eye out. Don't talk to anymore strangers and if you think you found him, call me and I'll come and talk to the people. Okay?"

"Okay. Hey, can I talk to Lane again?"

"Sure buddy, thanks for all of your help."

Lane 1 knew Charlie, AKA Colombo from his old school. Charlie used to be in Lane 1's science class. As I handed the phone back to Lane 1, I quickly explained why Charlie thought I was looking for Chip. He gave me a thumbs up and took the phone.

The officer left and Mr. Lane drew Lane 2 a bath. She was stressed. He even put bubbles in it for her. Okay, so they weren't really bubbles, it was my shower gel from Ginny. The kind that smelled so good. The one I got for my birthday. I reminded myself that he was doing something nice for our daughter and not washing his truck with it and I smiled, not saying a word.

The phone rang again. It was my mother. When I started telling her what had gone on, I started with, "The cops just left." Not really a good way to tell a story, to my mom at least. The more I told, the more she freaked out. I tried calming her but there is no such thing. Messing with her grandbabies is like reaching into a lions mouth to get your steak back. Don't. Do. It.

My other line rang and I tried to ask her to hold but she was like friggin' butter, on a roll. I quickly answered the other line anyhow.

A nervous, Hispanic sounding child was on the other line. "Um, are you the people looking for the black cat?"

Oh fuck, here we go. I wondered how many people Charlie gave my phone number to. "Yes."

"I think I know who has your cat."

"You do? Okay, how about you call me in the morning and I'll come tomorrow because it's getting late."

"No these aren't good people. They don't even take care of their cats. Please come."

I put the little girl on hold and clicked back to my mom. I told her and Mr. Lane what was going on. They both told me to blow the kid off but I just didn't have the heart. I clicked back over and asked her what street she was on and said I'd be there in a little bit. I lied and told my mom I was going to blow the kid off and then said I needed to get off of the phone, make some coffee and call her back later.

Off to the bad neighborhood again, this time in my car and without a knife in my pocket. I saw a little girl jumping up and down waving her hands in the air. Rather than pulling up to talk to a little girl in the road like some people, I parked, got out and walked over to her. She told me to wait and ran in to get her sister and mom. They agreed that the people weren't real animal lovers and I should hurry.

The four of us walked to the house where the black cat was. The people who lived there were outside listening to music out of their pickup truck. They had a small bonfire and a few friends over. Each of them held a beer. They had cats all over their porch and on their parked cars.

I approached the lady who slid off of the tailgate as we got closer. I asked about a black cat. She said she had a couple but assured me they weren't mine. She sent her husband into their house to bring them out to show me. They were cute and all black, but they were not Chip.

I thanked the lady and her daughters for trying to help me and they headed back toward home. I stuck around talking cats with the lady, Edna. She seemed to really like cats but I knew she didn't have mine and I even doubted she wasn't good to animals. From the looks of things, she feeds all the strays. She may not take them to the vet or get them fixed but she makes sure they don't starve, which is probably the best Edna can do for them financially.

One of her friends, Claire walked over and joined the conversation. Edna said, "You guys have a black cat too, don't you?"

"Yeah we got a few of 'em."

I told them about my cat. How he went missing and described everything about him from his looks, his love of jumping to catch bugs in midair, to his love for people food and the little bend at the end of his tail.

"Shit! I think I do have your cat!" Claire said. "Derek, come over here! You know Jasper? I think that he's this lady's cat."

"No, can't be. He's been with us for at least a year."

"Hers gone missin' a year ago tomorrow."

"Well what does your cat look like? Is it a boy or girl, fixed or not? Declawed or not? How big is it?"

I looked at Derek. I could tell he was in protective mode. This was his cat. I told him all of the answers to his questions, which seemed to bother him quite a bit.

Derek looked at his hands and said, "Sounds just like Jasper."

Claire offered to take me to their house so I could see Jasper. My mind was going crazy as I silently talked to my dad again. "If you got any pull up there Pops, now'd be the time to use it."

I got in my car and followed them. We pulled up to a singlewide trailer, cats all over the place. Claire kept her headlights on and pointed where the cats usually hang out underneath her home. The trailer had a hole in the skirt and as we approached, most of the cats darted in.

Claire said, "Jasper doesn't like strangers."

"Neither did Chip."

"Well he might not come out, is all I'm sayin'."

I crouched down to call him. "Chip."

Derek corrected, "He goes by Jas..." before he could finish, a black cat ran out of the hole and into my arms. It was dark and he was black but he did come to me. I wanted him to be Chip so badly. At the same time I started thinking about Derek. I knew how he felt.

"How 'bout we bring him in the house so you can take a good look at him. He seems to like you a lot and he answered to 'Chip', very well could be him." Claire didn't seem as attached to Jasper as Derek was.

We entered their home, Derek now holding the cat. Claire told him to put him down so he could get used to being inside for a minute. I began telling Derek the story about how Chip came to me and about the day he died and was brought back. I wanted this guy to know I wasn't just some crazy bitch who wanted to take his cat. I was merely a crazy bitch who was looking for bad guys, which I confessed to him and Claire also.

"You guys, if this turns out to be Chip, there's a damn good reason why I was in your neighborhood twice today."

I watched the cat wander around the house. I noticed the way his tail whipped nervously back and forth and how it had a little hook-shaped bend at the end. When he meowed, it was almost like hearing your newborn baby cry in a nursery full of babies. You know without seeing when it's your baby crying. I know it sounds crazy but that cat had Chip's "voice" too. In the light I got a much better look at the cat. I was pretty sure it was him. When I looked into his eyes, I just knew.

"I am pretty sure it is him. I know you don't want to give him up and a year ago, I didn't either. Let's try something. Do you have any cat treats?"

Claire went into the cabinet, grabbed the treats and handed them to me. I shook the can to get his attention, I walked over to the light switch, opened the can, took out one treat, turned the switch on, rested the treat on the switch, put the cap on the treats, the cat never took his eyes off of me. I tapped my fingernail above the switch, stepped back and the cat jumped up, turned off the light and got his treat.

In unison they said, "Damn!"

Derek said he never saw a cat do that and knew as soon as "Jasper" came when I called him "Chip" from under the trailer that it was him. The light switch trick just was the icing on the cake.

I asked them to follow me home so I could show them pictures of Chip. When I came in the house, with two strangers, after the day we just had, Mr. Lane and the kids all gave me the what the fuck look. When Derek, who was last to walk into my house set Chip down on the floor, my kids went ape shits. It was the first time I saw a smile on Derek's face.

After we looked at pictures and they saw how quickly Chip adjusted to being home, they motioned to get up to leave. I thanked them profusely and offered them a reward, which they refused. Mr. Lane chimed in begging them to take the money. He told them about all of the tears over that cat and said it was the least we could do for them taking such good care of him. Claire looked at Derek, you know, the wife look. I reached out one more time and he took the money.

I told them they could come back and see him and we laughed about weekend visitation and kitty support payments.

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Chip still loves to lay in my lap, he just doesn't fit as well as he used to.

In the morning, I went back to that neighborhood and stopped to talk to my little Colombo. He was the one who really deserved a reward. He was nearly as happy as I was that Chip was found. I told him to ask his parents if he could go swimming and then to see a movie with Lane 1, sometime next week. My treat of course.

He said, "I'm sure my mom won't mind but you don't have to do that."

I said, "I want to."

I wanted to reward the little girl and her mom and sister and Edna and the entire group of kids who listened during story time in da hood and you guys for reading all of this and my dad who prayed like crazy in life and led me to him in death.

Monday evening our neighbor Officer Friendly stopped by. He was wearing regular clothes. He wanted to let us know the boys who stopped to talk to Lane 2 were found and talked to. They said they only stopped long enough to tell her to get away from the street. When he asked them why they spoke to her in Spanish they just said, "I don't know."

Mr. Lane asked if he found out why the one guy ran from him and the police officer said, "He told me he ran because 'The loco gringo was going to kill me.' I told the kid he was probably right."

After he left, I talked silently to my dad again, "I know you did this. Thank you so much! I know I don't talk to you everyday, but I do miss you every single day and I love you. But Dad, if you ever want to show off again, how about not scaring the shit out of me, making me think my daughter was going to get kidnapped."

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Eyes Of A Stranger

If you are a new visitor welcome to Home Fires, please see part one The Stranger, below.

My cell phone in one pocket, a knife in the other and adrenaline flowing through my veins, my feet hit the ground with the force of an elephant. My mind tried to calm me. I tried telling myself going to jail would not be beneficial to my kids. I decided the knife wouldn't leave my pocket. If I saw them, I wouldn't approach, I'd just keep an eye on them while calling Mr. Lane and his posse. Seemed safer, more reasonable anyhow.

I got to the shitty part of town where the "blue and white jersey guy" was last seen. The weather was beautiful and everyone and their brother was out. Looking a little suspicious, I thought, I can blend. Obviously looking for something, and trying to be a little inconspicuous, I started asking random people who made eye contact with me if they had seen a cat. I said mine ran off a year ago tomorrow and I check all the neighborhoods when I have time.

I wasn't lying entirely. I did have a cat that ran away on the Fourth of July last year and I still did call out to every black cat I saw, hoping it was mine.

Little kids approached me, a stranger in their neighborhood. Some of them rambling on and on, a few in Spanish, some in English. I thought, "Don't these kids know not to approach strangers?" A couple of the kids were little enough to be in diapers, some of them were barefoot, of the few adults I saw, none seemed to be parents of the many kids approaching me. I stuck with the lost cat story as I walked block by block. Mr. Lane called my cell phone. He was getting worried. I told him to go ahead and call the police. I let him know I had calmed down, had yet to see the strangers and that I was perfectly safe.

News of the stranger lady looking for a black cat spread quickly through the neighborhood. More kids approached asking for a description of the cat. I must have looked like the Pied Piper with all of those little rugrats following me down the street. I described my long lost pet to them.

One of the kids, an older boy, who really should know better than to be talking to a stranger, asked, "Lady, how come you're looking all this time later?"

Trying not to get caught lying by an 11-year-old Colombo, I told him about Chip, my cat.

Chip was the best cat ever. When his stray cat mom came to me she brought me six babies. I don't know where she gave birth but she decided my house was a good place to live. It was 4 a.m. on a Saturday during harvest (Mr. Lane was farming then, and we had to be up that early). She came to my patio door with something in her mouth. I walked over to the door and saw the something was a kitten, day old maybe. I opened the door, reached down, and she dropped the baby in my hand and took off.

I thought, "What the hell do I do now?" She stayed gone for an hour and a half and came back with another. It took her four days to bring all six to me. She came in to feed the ones in my house and then scratched at my door to get out to feed the others. I tried following her to help transport them, but the bitch ditched me under some shrubs every time.

Chip was the last one she brought. He was the runt and looked like he was starving. I later found homes for her and all of her babies, except Chip. He was sick, scrawny and needed to be handfed every two hours. Who wants a sick baby? So my kids and I became kind of attached since we were "mothering" him.

One day Chip became extremely lethargic. I planned to get meds from the vet after I dropped my kids off at school. I didn't drive in the direction of the vet, instead, I went home and in a hurry. I kind of just felt worried about him. I got home and he wasn't breathing and had no heartbeat. I CPRed him (SHUT UP!) I'm talking mouth to cat mouth, "puff, puff, puff - breathe damn it!" And two finger chest compressions "pump, pump - beat damn it!" The whole nine. Husband over my shoulder saying, "Give it up Lois, the damn thing's dead." I wanted to kill him. Refrained, but I shot a look to him, the if looks could kill look, and the damn kitten started breathing.

I got about eight breaths per minute from him. So in a very mature loving fashion, I said to my husband, "Haha fuckhead!" And off Chip and I went to the vet, him in my lap 95 miles per hour, er, I mean, slightly over the posted speed limit I drove him to the vet.

Asshole doctor wasn't any better than my old man. He said, "It'll be dead in an hour."


Then he said something about me leaving the kitten with him and he would just send me a bill.

"A bill for a dead kitten?!" So after I "what the fuck"ed him, I told him which meds I wanted him to have and made him put him on an IV and oxygen. Thank God for the animal medical training I had years before as a volunteer at a shelter in California. Funny, but the vet only charged me for the meds. Prick! Anyhow he made it.

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Chip went everywhere with me. He slept in a basket on my desk in the newsroom and rode in my over-sized pocket in my shirt to visit my folks. He was constantly held.

Even after telling the 11-year-old Colombo, the long story of how I became so attached to Chip, that I would still look for him a year later, he wanted to know more. All of the kids stood there in the street listening like it was story time in da hood.

Colombo said, "I can see why you're still lookin' for it. So how'd he get away?"

It was the Fourth of July and I was having a barbeque. Chip was skittish around strangers and big groups of people, so he mostly stayed hidden under one of the beds. The fireworks had him pretty freaked out too. Our neighbor Jim (the guy with the blue pickup truck mentioned in the first part of this story) went outside and left the door open. He even saw Chip run out. He didn't think much of it until later when I asked if anyone had seen him.

Jim has been on my shit list ever since. We scoured the neighborhood for days and days. I put ads in the newspapers describing everything from his long sleek black coat, to the little hook at the end of his tail. It's hard to describe an all-black cat so I even included some of his weird mannerisms and tricks I'd taught him, like jumping up and turning off light switches, carrying items in his mouth like a dog, playing fetch, you name it.

The kids and I made fliers with his picture and posted them all over town.

Soon after he ran off, I got the call about my dad. Cancer. Stage 4. I packed our bags and the kids and I went to stay with my folks an hour and a half away. We asked neighbors to keep their eye out for him but we had to go and didn't know when we would be back. There was no time to change our ads in the newspaper, offering my parents number or anything else.

Knocking on Heaven's door, dad turned to his faith more than ever. I drove him to church every single morning, where he prayed for everything and everyone, even Chip. Especially Chip. I don't think anyone, besides me, not even my kids were as upset about Chip as my dad.

Little Colombo really wanted to find my cat and said he was going to go talk to everyone in his neighborhood for me. He asked me to write down my phone number so he could call if he found him.

Although he stood talking and listening to a stranger for a really long time, I could tell he was a good kid. I scribbled my number down, said goodbye and went back to look for the bad guys.

I felt much calmer. Silently talking to my dad in my head as I walked through the rest of that neighborhood. I looked between houses, in yards, hoping to find at least one of the bad guys. My cell phone rang. It was Mr. Lane again. He said he could see the police coming and said I should head back home.

Don't get mad, part three is coming Friday morning. It may seem like I am dragging this out but to really grasp all that went on here this past weekend, I have to tell you the whole story. Lane 2 isn't scared anymore and is doing great, which I'll get back to tomorrow. I promise. Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Stranger

Sunday afternoon Lane 2 was riding her bike and a car with two men (late teens) stopped and tried talking to her. In Spanish. She didn't know what they said and wasn't able to repeat it back to me for translation but she was scared. Out of breath, her little heart pounding through her shirt, she held on to me and described the car, men and said which way they went.

I asked all of the other questions you might be thinking as you read this. She told me she thinks whatever was said "was a question because the end of it had a tone, which sounded higher pitched than the first part."

She really paid attention as scared as she was. "A green car, with a dent on the passenger side, some bondo patch work on the back door, two men, maybe around 19-years-old both Mexican, one tall and skinny, the other fat and tall. The skinny one had a long goat tee beard and a light blue and white jersey with the number 63 on it but I couldn't get the license Mommy because I was too busy speeding away on my bike."

I told her she did a great job coming home and telling right away. Mr. Lane came in the house half way through the insanity. I asked her if they maybe just asked what time it was, or were they asking how she was doing or if they were offering her a ride and before the kid could explain it was all in Spanish and she had no idea, Mr. Lane was scooping her up, putting her into his truck and telling me that he is going to find "these mother fuckers". I thought calling the police was the best bet.

Regardless of if they were asking the time or anything else, two guys in a car should not be stopping little kids who don't know them. I was worried and pissed off. I had the phone in my hand and was getting ready to call the police and then out of my front door I saw Spike (the guy down the street) in his red truck, Mr. Lane in his white truck and Jim (another neighbor friend) in his blue truck, tearing through our neighborhood.

Mr. Lane called his little posse together quite quickly, I was impressed. However, I still couldn't help but think, "There goes the pissed off American red white and blue pickup truck dads." It was very redneck and thankfully we were able to laugh about it later.

As it turns out, Mr. Lane spotted both Jim and Spike and called to them on the CB. Tell me that's not redneck law right there?! So I thought, "If I call the police, chances are, my old man is gonna wind up in the pokey with his two best neighborhood buddies and my life will officially become a country and western song." I tossed the phone onto the couch and kept watch out the door.

It seemed like forever before they returned. None of them had blood on their clothes so I felt I could ask questions. They did see one of the guys walking through a nearby neighborhood and when three big ol' pickup trucks approached him and Mr. Lane hung out of his window and started asking questions, and the guy responded with, "No speak Englais." Not exactly the answer the trucker boys wanted to hear and Mr. Lane began getting out of his truck, the guy ran.

Sure, he could have ran because he was afraid and really didn't understand English. But the fact that he ran just pissed Mr. Lane off more. Not wanting to freak our daughter out anymore, he thought it best to call the police. She was still in tears when they got back. I comforted her and told her to write down everything she remembered, all the stuff she told me, just so she would have all the details for the officer.

But then something in me snapped. I went on my own hunt, pissed off mama bear, no one fucks with my babies. Mr. Lane tried stopping me halfway down the block, and when he realized he couldn't, he handed me a knife, "You know just in case the guy pulls one on you." I slid it in my pocket, he handed me my cell phone and asked me to call him if I found them or if I was in trouble.

Blood boiling, I left on foot, hoping to blow off the anger, not wanting my daughter to see me sweat, I had to go.

At home Lane 1 comforted his sister and helped her write down descriptions for the police, the guys talked about waiting to call them so I didn't wind up in jail, which again, we were fortunate enough to laugh about later.

As much as I hate to do this two part crap, it's a have to. It's after 1 a.m. and I have barely scratched the surface. Just know Lane 1 is safe, and I will pick up on this long story Thursday morning.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

My baby is home! Yay! Okay, so maybe at the age of 13, Lane 1 is no longer a baby. But, I am thrilled to have him home anyhow. I swear he grew at least three inches while he was on the road with his father. He looks so big now it's almost scary.

It was really hard being away from my son for so long. It was even more difficult not having him home on his first birthday as a teen. His homecoming made up for all of that and then some.

Lane 1 was in dire need of a new bike. He somehow made his other bike last for six and a half years, which is virtually unheard of. He really took care of that old bike. He learned how to fix certain things, oiled the chain and kept it clean. He wasn't much different than how his father is with his truck, constantly "working on it" even when nothing is officially broken.

I realized that this is probably the very last bike my son will have before he is driving a car. The thought of that freaks me out, plus it made me sad, really sad. I decided it was time the boy got a very cool bike for his birthday. I just didn't tell him the news.

A couple of weeks ago, when Mr. Lane's father was in town, he and I talked about Lane 1 driving in three short years. I told him my plans to get a really cool bike for the boy, which he thought was a great idea, "a) because he is a good boy, b) because he helps his dad with work, c) because he did so well in school, d) because he does all of his chores way better than his dad did as a child, e) because he took such good care of his last bike and f) because I am Grandpa and I can spoil him by helping you pay for it."

He gave me $100 toward Lane 1's birthday gift. Can you say bonus?

I was so excited that my father in-law jumped on the bandwagon for my son that I called my mom. Mom has given $50 for every birthday for all (19) of her grandchildren, which for years we've all told her that was way too much. She doesn't listen very well. I was calling to tell her how happy I was and to tell her about the cool bike I'd been eyeballing.

Not to be outdone by any California grandparent, my mother said, "I'll give you a hundred for the kid toward his bike too."

"No Mom. That's not necessary. You always give the kids way too much as it is. Mr. Lane's dad is rarely around come birthday time. This is more like five years worth of birthdays he is catching up for. Really."

"Make that $101," she said with an evil giggle in her voice.

A few days ago, when I was at my mother's visiting, she gave me exactly $101. We laughed about her outbidding for rank as favorite grandparent. Lane 2 chimed in. She was asking a million questions.

"What kind of bike? What color? Who makes it? How much is it? Will you need more than $201?"

Just as I was getting ready to tell her and my mom about the type of bike I'd already looked at, she said, "Mom, I'll pick up the rest, no matter how much it costs. I want him to have a really cool bike too."

I absolutely melted. My sweet baby girl wanted to help buy her brother a topnotch bike. How cool is that? I did try talking her out of helping buy the bike and said it could be another $100. Her response was, "That's okay, I got it covered."

Here is the child who claims to hate her "smelly brother," offering to pitch in a hundred bucks. I was amazed and damn proud of her.

I let her think I took her portion out of the bank and we went and bought the coolest bike ever. When we got it home, Lane 2 asked if she could decorate the bike. I thought, "Sure, what harm can that cause?" She went into the garage and came out with rainbow streamers and the purple and pink basket that was on her bike. She talked the salesman at the bike shop into giving her a set of rainbow streamers as a gag gift for her brother. Yes my little bargain shopper managed to get them for free and without me knowing.

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Lane 2 was beside herself giggling as she decorated her brother's bike with girly doodads.

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When Mr. Lane and Lane 1 finally made it home Saturday, we were ready and waiting to surprise him.

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After checking out the bike for a second, he ran up to me, arms outstretched and said, "Oh my God Mom! Thank you! Holy cow a Haro?! Man I can't believe you got this for me. Oh man!" and he hugged me with all his might. I squeezed back, breathing him in as we stood cheek to cheek. He really did get taller. A lot taller.

I told him all about his grandpa, grandma and sister chipping in to make his 13th birthday so special.

He looked at Lane 2 and said, "You really did that for me Sis?"

She shyly smiled back at him and said, "Yeah."

"Oh man that was so cool of you. And you know what? I already know what I am getting you for your birthday."


He said, "I can't tell you but it has something to do with something you have been wanting to get fixed for a really long time."

"The desktop? You're going to pay to get that fixed? Just for me?"

He smiled at her and said, "Maybe."

As the evening wound down I asked Lane 1 if that was the bike he wanted and he said, "Mom, you know how when you are looking for something, and you see something that is so insanely cool and think, 'That's so out of my league'? That's what this bike is. I couldn't have ever dreamed you would get me this bike. It's so much better and cooler than the one I was going to ask for."

I smiled at that teenager.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Prairie Dog Town

Not much time to post today. I thought maybe some pictures might be better than me rambling a bunch of nonsensical bullshit today. Feel free to leave your silly captions in the comments. Below you will see the fine animals mentioned in this post from our family road trip from hell. Happy 4th to all of you! And happy birthday to my very best friend in the whole wide world. I love ya Honey! One of these days, I will blog about that Honey bullshit, and maybe spoonin'.

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"Come on baby. Give Papa Prairie Dawg some backdoor lovin'."

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"Can I keep him Mom? Please!"

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"If I didn't have these two extra legs growing out of my ass, I would get up and stick that camera where the sun don't shine!"

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"Crickey, look at this baby goat I captured with my bare hands. Ain't it amazin'?"

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This two headed calf, which we originally thought was a goat or a pig, smells so bad they put an air freshener up next to it. Lane 2 says, "Two heads aren't better than one."

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Rosco the minature donkey said, "Fucking people! And they call me a jackass! Puh-lease!"