Today I would like to talk about chain reactions. Cause and effect. Night before last, I woke up around 3am because I heard a noise and it dawned on me, something was missing. What was missing? The cat. I panicked. I went outside and called his merry little name several 1000 times. Okay, about 25 times.
Then, I remembered, earlier in the day I had followed a trail of toys to the spare room, to the spare room closet, to the attic door which was wide open and letting hot air in. I immediately went to beat the children. Farkus did not come out of the attic when I screamed at the top of my lungs. Nor did he appear later in the day when a friend and I heard weird noises from the ceiling. So yesterday evening as I watched a coyote cross Watters Road, I figured it was a sign that poor Farkus had ventured out of the backyard and been eaten.
Fast forward to 4am this morning. I hear another noise. I get up and go to the bathroom where I distinctly hear faint meows coming through the wall. I go outside. I hear Mr. Farkus on the roof. Wait no, that is Mr. Farkus, inside the roof. In a part of the attic there is no hope of ever getting to. Have I mentioned we have a big fucking attic. When you walk into our attic it is a giant space that would make a super bad ass studio apartment, with apparently very small openings leading to places that only a cat could get to. At 4am John and I are sweet talking the little vents along the eaves of our roof trying to coax the cat back to freedom. We put a bowl of tunafish at the furthest corner of the attic we can get to. Thank God for the internet and their stinky solutions. It didn't lure the cat out but there is a bit of our attic that will always smell like white albacore.
After an hour of John talking to the roof and me squatting in insulation doing my best cat in distress imitation, we give up. We try to go back to bed but Mr. Farkus is now in the attic above our bedroom meowing his own distress call, pissed as hell at our failed rescue attempts. We lay in bed wide awake coming up with Plan B. Which does in fact include living in a house where the final resting place of Mr. Farkus happens to be, right above our bed.
After getting the kids to school I discover,
A. The Fire Department draws the line at kittens in trees.
B. Animal Rescue does not open until 11am (by noon the attic will be 400 degrees and the cat mummified).
C. The a/c people will not come undo their work to rescue a cat, they will only come repair the damage once I break it. Thank you and have a nice day.
In desperation I call the only person I have been able to trust since we bought our house, the guy who actually built our house and did the walk through with us. He is no longer working for Darling homes but he is still a rock star. He gives me the name of a General Contractor who happens to be about 3 minutes from my house. I take this as another sign, although a better one than the coyote. Rock star number 2 shows up at my house 10 minutes after I call him. He arrives at the scene with the promising sounds of trapped kitty squawking from the return air duct chamber. After we discuss a few options, he cuts a nice manageable hole and said kitty picks this moment to go silent, underground, vanish. Shit balls. Okay, so now the entire.....whatever that big silver squishy thing is that takes the air away is completely sawed off so that Rock Star man can through some crazy builder magic, fit his sizable frame through a hole my 7 year old could barely fit through. Up he goes, into the inferno, and he spots Mr. Farkus.
"Farkus, it is your savor, a hero who has gone above and beyond to save your skinny little kitty ass. What, no!!! Do not run from your rescuer!!" And he disappears. Shit balls.
After several attempts to locate ninja kitty, we just give up. This is why people hate cats. Dogs, dogs would not do this shit. They would roll over, wag their tails, "Thank you, thank you for saving me! I am an idiot, how did I get myself in this predicament. Can I lick you? Worship you like a God? Seriously, I will love you forever for this." It is a happy touchy feely moment with the photo finish.
Cats, not so much. Mr. Farkus was all, "Okay, the hole was exactly what I would have done. But coming up here? You idiot! Go away!!! I can handle things from here. Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out."
20 minutes after Mr. Rock Star left, Mr. Farkus came down. Of course he will be back this afternoon to patch the hole. At which point Mr. Farkus will hide in the closet and spit at him if he tries to get a look at the good deed he did before 9am.
So, cause and effect. I am the cause. All of this and more would have been avoided had I just locked the attic door. Had I just thought ahead to what the effect might be with a seven year old imp and cat adventurer in the house. At least I can hope whatever chain reaction goes off next will not involve sitting in insulation or waking up at 3am.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
One of the things FB has done for me, aside from being a delightful diversion and my own personal time sucker; it has made me aware of my pettiness, hot spots and happiness triggers. For example, a daily post about a run use to bother me. I know, I know, this is completely stupid. I never posted on FB, “I am so over seeing people post about their run.” The reason being, I knew from the start, this was something defective in me, not them. And of course it was, I figured out that I am a lazy slug who should be doing something. The daily reminder was making me feel bad about myself, not happy for them. It is weird, but once I looked that demon in the face, I was able to be happy for people getting up and doing something.
The food picture phenomenon, it bothers a lot of people, that one has never really phased me. I look at some stuff and think yum, especially vacation food or special occasion food. Every day food is more mundane but I am not offended.
Game invites, how someone has leveled up in their Candy saga, yes honestly, this stuff annoys me, but I never responded to any of it and apparently this pleased the FB Gods because all that crap has mostly disappeared.
Things that are a real hot spot for me, things that simply make me angry, I use that fabulous little button in the right corner of the post. Please do not show any more articles from Iamapinhead.com. This has upped my enjoyment of Fb by about a 1000% . After all, this really is just Social Media, a very personalized People magazine of the people we know or slightly know. It is fluff. If it is not fluff, I want it to resonate and bring clarity, not raise my blood pressure.
Friday, August 15, 2014
I have been reading a book and I am almost done. This will come as a complete shock to people who know me. It is the second this summer. I read so slow and infrequently I do well to finish one a year. It is actually one of the things about myself that I find quite embarrassing. Most of my friends are avid readers. It makes them interesting, well informed, it keeps their vocabulary sharp where they can throw out words other than “right?” every five seconds. So for me, this is a huge success.
Which lands me on the word I am concerned with, success. The book I am reading is by someone who lives life constantly in the raw. Raw is the place most of us visit from time to time but hell no! I would not even consider taking up full time residence there. My Mom spent time in the raw when my Grandmother was dying of cancer. Pregnancy is time spent in the raw. To me, these are places where life and death are sitting in my lap. My brain shifts under the weight and processes differently. Everything seems to be in Technicolor.
The man who wrote this book functions under these conditions pretty much full time. He is a Jesuit priest and has lived in the middle of the largest gang area in the world for over 25 years. To me, this in and of itself is a huge success. People do not stay in hard jobs. When the book was written, he had buried 168 young people in his community. Most of them he knew or knew of. He has been the guy who knocks on the door of the loved one most of those times and watches them crumble. It doesn’t get much harder than that. When that much death and sadness pervade in a community, how do you measure success?
One of the stories he told was about a woman who raised four sons in the projects. Her son Ronnie evaded joining a gang, success; graduated high school, success. He went into the military and served in Afghanistan, success. He came home and was shot because he did not give the code answer for not being in a gang. He said he was a marine. Fail.
Eventually her son Angel pulled her from her grief, just in time for her to be happy and then devastated when Angel was shot and killed in his front yard. A gang lost the guy they were chasing but figured Angel would do.
As luck would have it, this woman ended up in the ER, right next to one of the kids in the gang who killed her boys and was possibly involved. He had been shot himself and was fighting for his life. Pause here: how many times on the news, on FB, in front of the school have we heard of a situation where a good person has been wronged and we form our own little revenge gang. “Let that heartless no good so and so die. He deserves it.” I have done it. I have sat right here on my little couch throne and wished another person dead because my third hand perspective knows everything.
This woman prayed with all her heart that he would live because when she looked at him, blood spurting from everywhere she did not want his mother to endure her pain. She could never wish that on another person. Success.
I was so mad when I read her second son had died. I was so angry when this boy ended up beside her. I was instantly diffused and left in awe of her grace, so much more powerful than the first tendency for revenge and punishment.
There is a reason the Mother Teresa’s and Gandhi’s and Father G’s of the world are so revered. They reject what the rest of us think of as success. They walk a path where the undesirables of this world are embraced. Where others would lock their doors and put a gun by their bed, the holy of the world leave their doors open and invite everyone in. They do not let fear and hate drive them. They succeed living in the raw because even there, they find love and compassion.
Sunday, August 10, 2014
For my entire life, but especially when I was a kid, we would go to “the river” for catfish. This was something I always looked forward to. Possibly because it was delicious but also because my father is so tight, eating out literally makes him turn red, then purple, he grabs his heart , rolls his eyes and says (as Mom crawls under the table), “Virginia, they are coming to get me!” Growing up I remember eating out being a HUGE thing that happened maybe 3 times a year. We would go sometimes to York Steak house at the mall, the Candlelight Inn or Mansfield Chinese restaurant. This is why even to this day really nice restaurants make me nervous, I might as well be taking a trip to the moon.
At any rate, The River was my favorite. It had the added benefit of including OTHER people!!!! My Grandparents, aunt, uncle, cousins, this was the coolest thing. We would load up in a couple of cars and take a road trip from Bowie, through vast empty land with nothing but barbed wire and train tracks until trees started to rise up and we hit the Red River. I had a fantasy that my parents would say, “today before supper we are going down to play in the river and build red sand castles. “ Of course this was never going to happen but a kid can dream.
The minute we crossed the bridge and rounded the bend, there was The River on the left. My mouth would start to salivate as I stepped onto the pea gravel parking lot and crunched my way to the front door. I loved how everything changed the moment you stepped inside. It was always blistering hot outside, the sun so white I could barely keep my eyes open. But the minute the door shut behind us, we were enveloped in a cool smoky darkness. Lots of cowboy looking fellas, standing at a bar I couldn’t see over. When I was very young I didn’t even hold my breath. Back then most kids had a built up tolerance level to large amounts of cigarette smoke.
I would stand marveling at the beer signs with waterfalls that seemed to move and pulse with light. But this was short lived, we were only passing through, I was quickly shuffled into the back room, a much brighter space with white cinder block walls, unforgiving florescent light and more glowing mountainous beer signs. There were no windows, which is a puzzlement because I seem to remember the distinct sound of a window unit and the feel of that type of air blowing on me. There was nothing at all attractive about this room except the beer signs so I spent a lot of time staring at them. (You might have guessed that this is the type of place one would typically avoid these days. Solid brick building, no windows, mostly a bar only slightly a restaurant with fellas well on their way to a hangover by noon).
Someone would come take our order. I can only imagine what these early waitress would have thought of Starbucks. I can hear one now, “Shit, we serve one thing honey, catfish. Fried. With white bread, pickles, onions and hushpuppies. Fried. It comes in a little plastic basket on paper. We got your standard iced tea, soft drinks and beer. And, we got the best God damned tarter sauce in the world. Right here.”
Which brings me to the core of my story. It has been a loooong set up just to get to the best God damned tarter sauce in the world. Yesterday my cousin had a fish fry at his house. Everything was delicious. But the moment I tasted the tarter sauce I knew, “Mom!!!! They got The River’s” recipe!! Oh my God!" Mom smiles, “It isn’t the River’s recipe, it is the River’s tarter sauce. Pat bought a gallon for the party.”
Some families talk about the weather. We have actually had entire conversations centered around The River’s tarter sauce. If there is an awkward moment where none of us has seen each other in awhile someone will lead in, “You know, Babe’s has really good fish but their tarter sauce sucks.” And everyone is instantly talking, our brains in the same place, discussing the fine details of a perfected recipe, is it the extra onions or the pickles that make it so good?
I find my Aunt Pat and try to convey that she has just made me the happiest person at the party, in Denton, perhaps Texas. And it gets better, she sends me home with several jars. They are in my refrigerator at this very moment. Jars of happiness that with each bite send me traveling back to summers in Bowie, Margaret trying to keep her mouth closed tightly as she laughs with her mouth full, Pat leaning over to tell me something nice that makes me feel important, hands reaching into the center of the table for more bread, Kyle saying something funny and making Margaret laugh again. Edison smiling his big toothy grin, Rhenda and I giggling, big cowboy belt buckles with big cowboy guts hanging over them when people at other tables have eaten their fill.
And now there is new memory to add to the mix, one with 3 cousins, all grown, 4 parents really grown, still enjoying life, kids, family, laughter, and the best God damned tarter sauce in the world.