Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fire Pit of Reasons....#8-10

By now I'm sure you've read parts 1-4 & 5-7 in my previous two posts, so I'm not going to repeat my disclaimer/warning...

This next portion involves more 'chores' I was commissioned by my father or papa to do, as opposed to just reckless childhood things. See, my Dad was deathly afraid of heights, there was a tree incident that I mentioned here. Then there was another incident involving a radio tower that I don't remember all the details about, so I can't tell that story, I just remember something about a metal radio tower & him & it being one of his reasons he wouldn't willingly climb a ladder. I'm sure your imagination can figure something out. It's because of his passing that I even started blogging. I cherished the stories my dad would tell about his life and it saddens me that I can't remember all the stories or all the details of the stories and doubly saddens me that he's not around to retell the stories to my kids or even help me tell some of my own stories.

My PaPa (dad's dad) was an over the road truck driver so was often gone for weeks at a time. My Granny, whom we moved in with when I was 12, was diabetic and had her right leg amputated when I was about 10 years old. They lived out on a 10 acre farm, in Oklahoma, we would travel out there every other weekend to help out - it was a 2 hour drive one way - but after my dad's brother got married and moved closer to where he worked there was no one right there to help Granny out in case she needed anything. My folks made the decision to move out there, my mom & Granny didn't get greatly along, but it was better than my mom's relationship with her mom & brother who lived on the same dirt road that we did in Arkansas.

I HATED living there! Not because of being on Granny & PaPa's farm but because of the school & 'town' that we lived near. See, in Arkansas we lived outside of the WalMart capital of the world, there was 500 students in my elementary school alone & there were (then) around 10 elementary schools. Plus I was going to be moving up into Junior High & taking advanced courses, it was all mapped out that by my senior year of high school I was going to be taking most, if not all of my college freshman courses. In Oklahoma I don't think there was 500 people in the whole one cop town. There was 14 students in my 7th & 8th grade classes and you had to travel into the next town, 20 miles away, to go to high school, where there was only 64 students in my graduating class. SIXTY FOUR! Where had we not moved I would have been a part of my cousin's graduating class that consisted of 2400 some odd students. I'm not terribly keen on being in the city, we didn't live in the city in Arkansas, we lived in outskirts, in the woods, but there was a variety of PEOPLE. I'm not keen on feeling pigeonholed to have to like just a certain set of people - I have to have a variety of people to mingle with. I like being surrounded by people who have differences in everything. It helps give me options & at least learning capabilities.

To say the least I didn't have a big social life. I went to church, school, and later to work after I got my license to drive. Plus, we lived on a farm, chores are a big part of living on a farm. Chores made easier by the fact that here at Granny & Papa's they had plumbing & running water. I mentioned being dirt poor previously, but didn't mention the fact that part of that included the fact that because of where our house sat we lived too far out to have city water - Grandma had it at the top of the hill, but that was all the further it went...and between being on the side of a hill that was rock and Mom & Dad not having the money to hire someone to dig a well on our property we made due. We had a spring fed pond that was used to water the garden & the animals, we took baths on a regular basis at Grandma's house, and my folks also had a mountain of 5 gallon buckets in the dining room that were filled with water every week. Our house was kept clean, we always had clean clothes to wear, outside of the lack of faucets & the way the bathroom facilities were set up for use it wasn't all that obvious that we didn't have a normal working household. The folks that bought our house after we moved to Oklahoma went to put a well in & it was discovered that the house sits on a huge natural gas pocket, so a water well would not have been an option afterall...the city put in a huge water tower at the top of the hill, in the field across from Grandma's house & they ran water to all the houses out there, (by this time MANY houses & small neighborhoods had started popping up out there as some of the older folks were moved to nursing homes or passed away and the younger generations didn't want the farm lands anymore) at no charge, in exchange for the rights to the natural gas...

Soooo....yea, this post is supposed to be a continuation of reasons why I don't do heights, but I've ventured off course, kinda...I don't know, I think some/most of that information is pertinent to know because this next section isn't necessarily things that any 'normal' kid would be exposed to, but it was part of my teenagehood.

Stick #8....
I was about 14 years old & the barn was needing to be tarred & sealed. My dad, being the type to not do heights, gave us (my brother & I) instructions on how to go about painting on the tar...every nail had to be recovered as well as any holes we found. By this time puberty has taken full hold of me, hormones & my weight do not work well together, & I was TALL...I was about 5'8" and weighed about 180 lbs, give or take some. But I'm mostly legs. Even now, at a 6ft tall adult my legs account for over 1/2 my height, my inseam for pants that actually cover my socks with shoes on is 38", this is the reason I mostly wear boots or heels with my jeans, it's not as obvious that my pants are too short for me.

So, when climbing a ladder to get onto something, such as the barn roof, my feet can be 5 or 6 rungs from the actual top of the ladder and still be able to put stuff on the roof. The tricky part comes into play when I try to actually get all of my body (legs included) onto said roof. Especially when it's a pitched tin roof. Getting off of said roof, via ladder, is 900 times trickier, especially when you're still just as graceful as you have ever been and not terribly fond of being up in the air on 100 year old tin, 30 feet in the air at the peak, painting on tar. See, tar is sticky and thick and the only way to clean it off of anything is to use gasoline, so just wiping your hands off on your pants does absolutely no good, just smears it across your hands even more. However, because the tar is sticky it becomes a bit easier to maneuver back & forth across the pitched tin roof without sliding too terribly far & having to work your way back up to the top, fighting gravity. I was an absolute pro at doing the tarring. I didn't dump my bucket over the edge like my brother 'on accident', I didn't make a complete mess of myself either. I didn't wear glasses before that day, because I had perfect vision, so there was no tar smudges all over my face & hair from pushing them up on my face, like there would be now, but with paint, because I can't seem to think to put the paint brush down before I push my glasses back up my nose...

After a few hours the barn roof was no longer in the shade of the trees & it was lunch hot tin roof + tar + quitting time meant get down off the roof, will start back again in the evening & finish the next morning. Nothing to it. Just use the slant of the roof as a slide, you're not going to go too terribly quickly because your shoes have tar globs on the bottom of them & your hands are tarred as well, so it was a safe enough descent. You dismount from a roof opposite of the way you get on the roof...body first going up, feet first going down...but also the same way as you came up, belly towards the roof. Coming down from the roof your belly is up because you're basically crab walking when you get close to the ladder you have to flip over and crawl the rest of the way down, backwards.

Daniel made it down before me because he's like a freaking spider monkey when it comes to climbing. Back then he was also about 5' tall, even though he was 13, and scrawny. He also wasn't fighting with a freaking bucket of tar because he'd 'dropped' his. My fear of falling was well established so I had a healthy respect for being that high up. I was also prone to freaking minor panic attacks under various circumstances. Daniel is also a freaking practical joker.

He gets down the ladder without issue and starts his taunt of me. The adults are all somewhere besides right there, so there's no one to hold the ladder besides Daniel...and well, he was more interested in taunting than doing anything to reassure me of where the ladder was exactly. I finally am able to get my first foot on the ladder and because of my angle looking down I miscalculated where to put my second foot...I'd gotten it on the outer edge of the ladder, on a hook, instead of between the edges of the ladder. Now, I had to go down at least 4 rungs of the ladder before I could actually hold onto the ladder itself. Thinking that I had both my feet on the same rung I move my first foot down to the second rung. I had relaxed a bit because I was finally on the ladder, making my descent. And then it happened. The rung, that was actually part of a hook, tore through the edge of the tin, and there I was with no feet on the ladder...

I landed on the trailer of hay bales that was sitting there waiting to be packed into the barn, so I didn't fall that whole 15 feet to the ground, only about 8 of it, onto hay bales. Slightly more give to them than the ground would have been, but not by much, but also, because of the way I fell my body was able to get enough reaction in to help prepare for the fall. Over the course of my life at that point I'd learned how to fall 'gracefully'...There was no apparent injury and I wasn't made to finish the tarring, but there was an adult out there at all times after that, keeping an eye on Daniel finish it up. I think my Granny had a bit of say in that tidbit.

Within a few weeks though it was noticed that I wasn't able to see as well and had severe migraine like headaches quite often, so Mom took me in to have my eyes checked right before my Freshman year of high school & I ended up walking out with my lovely prescription eye glasses that I've had ever since. I can not sit here at my laptop and see anything written on the screen.

Lesson learned: ALWAYS have a responsible spotter standing at the bottom of the ladder who is able to hold the ladder in case it should slip. Also? NEVER get on a freaking ladder again, they're just not agreeable to giraffe legs!

Stick #9 & 10
I'm 19 now & living with my cousins' grandma, helping care for her & her 5 indoor cats....

I have since then only been on a ladder twice in the last 15 years. Once because my grandma's cat got outside through an upstairs window and was yowling from the very peak of her roof. Her full two story house. This feat, since she was about 70 at the time, involved me having to take a ladder to the upstairs room, work it out the window & onto the roof of the porch. I then I had to lay that ladder up the peak of the roof, towards the cat....use the ladder to climb up the peak, where it still stopped about 8 feet short of where the beloved cat was sitting, yowling. I didn't make it past the point of positioning the ladder before I was puking from panic. Thankfully my 13 year old cousin was there and I was able to move & hold the ladder further up the roof so he could be as close as possible to the cat, directed him on how to safely climb up there then grab the cat, then make his way back down the ladder & into the window. Stupid fracking indoor cat!

A few weeks later that cat tried to reward me by attempting to kill me. See, I worked three different jobs back then. I did some freelance work as an HTML writer for a few companies, so I had an old 1998 model of a laptop, a few notebooks, & the like - so the laptop bag was heavy. I also worked as a waitress at Ruby Tuesday, so I was carrying my work clothes because I had a shift this day, after work. It was also Sunday, so I had church that morning. Despite being quite tall I've always been greatly fond of heels & the pair I was wearing this particular day was of very nice height, I was also wearing a straight pencil skirt. It was cold & snowy outside, so I had my big heavy winter coat on. I had another change of clothes to change into after I finished my shift at the restaurant to wear to a friends' house. Because I'm running a touch late I arrange all of this stuff, including two extra pairs of shoes, my church bag that had my song book & Bible in it, my drawing pad, and a few miscellaneous things. I also had my purse.

I was living in the upstairs portion of my grandmother's 200 year old house....where the staircase was STEEP. Fourteen total steps from the top to the bottom, but from the top I could potentially reach out to paint the wall portion that was above the door to the bottom of the stairs with a broom handle extension to the roller without issue.

Because I'm carrying all this stuff down the stairs in one trip my hands are too full for me to hold onto the rail, besides I'd lived here for a few months and had tons of practice going up and down these stairs. There's another portion of this story that I won't mention just yet because it deserves it's own post, I'll link it back in when I get it written. Just know that there was another big factor into this bit.**

But, remember that cat, that I had just saved from the peak of the roof? He decides after that day that he likes to be upstairs because he can see more of the world. Prior to me moving in he'd not been allowed upstairs. Also, since the roof incident I made sure to keep my door closed since I liked to have a window open from time to time and there were no screens on the windows upstairs.

I get down on the first step and turn just slightly enough to grab the door to close it. Smacking the cat with the door, which in turns causes him to shriek out, which startles me because I have no clue that the cat was even there.

I go to take the next step down this flight of stairs and that's when that blasted cat runs between my feet & I land at the bottom of the staircase. My aunt Deb came out to take me to the ER because it HURT to stand, BADLY. That hospital x-rayed my leg, where the scrape was, said it wasn't broken, sent me on my way...I went to work later that evening. I never wore heels down a flight of stairs again and I ALWAYS hold onto the railing. If I'm unable to hold the rail then I'm often on the very edge of a panic attack. I have to count my breaths, the steps, and have a clear sight of the stairs. Going down stairs is 900 times worse than going up stairs, but it's still not great. What sucks now is I have a house where the kids' play room is upstairs and my washer & dryer are downstairs....and folks wonder why I don't do laundry on a daily basis!

**That missing bit is included in this blog post.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fire Pit of Reasons....#5-7

Stories #1-4 can be found here, as well as the reason for this series of posts....

Again I repeat my disclaimer & warning, after all this is a new post...and not everyone reads part 1 before moving onto part 2....

Instead of ending this post with a disclaimer or other such 'you shouldn't pay attention to this tale' I'm going to start with a list of warnings & disclaimer:

* If you are severely scared of heights you probably shouldn't read any further.
* If you have children you may not wish to continue.
* If you have a tendency to take someone else's mishaps and apply them as possibilities in your own life and react accordingly you probably shouldn't proceed either.
* Please advance with caution if you have a heart condition, are pregnant, or other known or unknown health issues that may be direly afflicted by reading these highlights.

All stories you are about to read are the complete truth by my knowledge, my mother can back up at least 75% of these stories, medical records & child services reports can back up almost as many...and the rest, NEVER tell my mother about, she'd KILL me. ((Okay, so if you read my entry that was a Tribute to my Father you'd likely be close to right in your guess that by now my mom likely already knows all these stories, but lets not remind her of them, that would be best for my health.))

Now that that's out of the way I'm hoping you did take me seriously with my warnings...these tales of "Reasons Stephanie Does NOT do Heights" is not for the faint, weak stomached, or otherwise paranoid type persons.

Disclaimer: *I* have never broken a bone, NOR have I ever received a single stitch (outside of ones necessary to deliver my children via cesarean) siblings on the other hand, well....Lets just say I can learn from the mistakes of others.


Stick #5
**stage set** I'm now age 10...siblings aged 8, 7, & was just past my birthday and my birthday is the first one of the year, hence the reason it seems like the ages are a bit off here...Mom & Dad take us to the city park.

Again, this story involves a set of monkey bars, but it's your generic run of the mill metal monkey bars. I'm tall enough by this time that I can pretty much touch the ground and the monkey bars at the same time....pretty much meaning on tippy toes & with the tips of my fingers. So I'm safe from the wrath of monkey bars.

I had also mastered the concept of how to go across the monkey bars without issue. I'm also not quite the toothpick I had been a few years before...thank you stupid hormones. So, when my mom instructed me to help keep an eye on my sister while on the monkey bars it's no big deal. She's almost gotten the hang of it, I just have to help catch her if she slips.

But I'm 10 and the last thing I really want to do is have to hang out and watch my younger sister who was/is the spoiled brat of the litter. But I oblige because I'm the helpful type & I do what I'm told.

So Samantha is going across the monkey bars, falling & crying & whining every time she falls off because she can't make it past the 2nd rung of the bars...and anyone knows that holding someone's legs as they attempt the monkey bars does not do much in the way of actually helping them learn how to do the monkey bars since you need to be able to swing your legs.

After a few rounds of this I decide I'm going to go across the monkey bars WITH her, with my legs wrapped around her torso to help keep her on the bars & give her some room to fall, but while holding onto me.

I'm not terribly sure how many of you are aware of this, but when it's summer & you're going across metal monkey bars the bars are HOT and you naturally develop blisters on your hands if you're not accustomed to swinging across the monkey bars. BAD combination.

So here I am, legs wrapped around my 7 year old sister's chest, swinging across the monkey bars. We make it all the way across successfully the first time. The whiny little brat is insistent on doing it again, despite the fact that both of our hands are blistered & the bars are hot. We get almost halfway across when I decide I'm done, my hands are on FIRE from popped blisters & the hot metal bars.

I inform my sister of my intentions to let go of her and be done. She was NOT okay with this. The spoiled little brat reared her head & let go, with both hands, to grab my legs that were still wrapped around her body. The sudden addition of her 70 pounds of dead weight caused quite the catastrophic fall to the ground. I hit square on my butt, essentially breaking her fall...and her elbow.

For the rest of the summer, since it was my fault she fell & broke her elbow, I was entrusted with the chore of doing everything for her. Yea, because even then I was my sister's biggest fan, now I have to wait on her, hand & foot, for weeks that never wanted to end. Lesson learned: just ignore the whiny brat as much as possible if she wants help, she'll just screw you over in the end anyways...I've relearned this lesson a few dozen times since then. Some folks just never change.

I never did the monkey bars again until I had my own kids, but by then I could hold onto the bars & nearly drag my knees on the ground.

Stick #6
*stage set* Autumn, after my sister's cast is finally off & life has moved on, I'm still 10. We acquired a young pair of Belguim horses. The male, King, is about 18 months old, has never had a saddle put on him, the female, Queenie is about 15 months old, still a few months shy of when my dad wants to start breaking her for riding. See, when my dad was a kid they rode horses, broke horses, and my dad was known, very well, across the area as being a 'horse whisperer'. He had a great knack for breaking even wild horses for riding. This was the main reason we ended up with this pair of horses, the other reason being that the owners, folks my folks had gone to school with, were getting divorced & had to sell the horses & split the cost. I think my dad paid $2 for the horses. His buddy's wife wasn't terribly happy about it from what I remember, but whatever....

Since you've likely already read my post that was a tribute to my father you know that I was a daddy's girl. I wanted to be like my dad in all possible ways...well, all ways that it's possible for a girl to be like her daddy. So it was only natural that I was out with him as he worked this pair of horses. Queenie was EASY. At least in the eyes of my 10 year old self. She was very calm, gentle, no issues, took to having a bareback rider like it was completely natural. Likely the reason my dad let that be the first horse I ever got onto the back of. I was a 'natural' just like my daddy. ♥

I was out there every day with him working with the horses. I only ever got on the back of Queenie the one time to get a 'feel' for being on a horse. He didn't want to stress her too much with having a rider since she was still quite young, but he stood there by my side & walked us around the platform he stood on.

We worked King to the point of he finally being willing to stand there and let me climb on his back. Do keep in mind that my dad does the whole ease the horse into accepting riders with no saddle, then learn them the saddle later. We did have the bit & reigns on him, so I had something to hold onto & guide with.

After about a month of getting him used to me sitting on his back, my dad being right there, able to touch me the whole time, & with a hand on the reign he decided it was time for my first 'real' riding lesson. He gave me both reigns, talked me through MANY different scenarios, not failing to mention the fact that I'd heard maybe EVERY horror story of his & his brothers, including the time a snake spooked my uncle's horse, making it rear back, and the saddle horn embedding into my uncle's thigh. But I'm a chip off my dad's hip, I've got this, I'm a NATURAL....

Except I'm not. Once we got away from the safety of the platform & King realized that my dad had no control of him he BOLTED. He ran me straight to the woods, through the woods, then back again. It was that back again that got me. I was a bit scared & disorientated with the sudden bolt and this being my first time alone on a horse that I didn't react perfectly. I did great on the first run through the woods, I'd remembered my dad's & uncle's stories of such mishaps & knew to keep my body as close to the horse's body as possible & to just hang onto the reigns. Remember, I have no saddle....

King took a hard right, I looked up out of shock as I knew the pond fed stream & a small ravine were in that direction & I wanted to see just where we were headed. Somewhere in that same split second King jumped that ravine (which is only about 2 feet across, about 6 feet deep). So here I was, completely upright due to lifting up to see where we were headed, combined with that whole stupid inertia law of Newton's, and then I stopped suddenly. I was by my waist, hanging from a tree limb, over this ravine.

Belgium horses are not small or even typical sized horses by any stretch of the imagination...they are HUGE. So when one leaps into the air you're guaranteed to be at least 10 feet off the ground. Add in a deep (okay, 6ft deep) ravine below you and you're looking at hanging from a tree limb roughly 20 feet in the air - that's two whole floors of an average office building. Add in a healthy respect for heights and being only 10 years old, unable to catch your breath, and well, a full blown panic attack likely going to be your best friend. Stupid gravity brought me to the ground during that panic attack. I couldn't get my legs to cooperate into wrapping around the limb so I could make a safer descent down the tree.

I did walk away from the incident, I did have a touch of arthritis settle into my hip after that & it gives me fits when the weather isn't perfect, but I didn't break anything. The horses were sold at the auction the following weekend...we never did ever own another horse. Mom just knows the part where the horse ran threw the fence, tearing out a few 4x4 wooden fence posts on his way.

I've since been on a few horses, mainly the carnival type that are hooked to a set of bars that they then walk in a circle. I still haven't mastered dismounting from a saddle & stirrups without getting one foot hung up in the stirrup and landing on my butt, hanging by one foot. I don't have a fear of horses...I have a fear of hanging 20 feet in the air and the gravity induced fall that follows, therefore I no longer get on a horse unless I HAVE to...have to meaning to show my kids that there's nothing wrong with getting on a horse. Riding horseback on the beach, at sunset, is absolutely NOT on my 'bucket list'.

Stick #7
*stage set* I'm 11 now, in 6th grade, and it's winter. What you don't know yet is that since 1st grade and I started school full time (because back then kindergarten was still only a half day) I rode the bus too and from school. You also don't know that because we lived 1/4 of a mile out of city limits, down a steep dirt road hill, the bus did not come down our road, much less stop in front of our house. We had to WALK that 1/4 mile up hill, at 6am, to catch the bus. It did not matter what the weather was like. Mom & Dad both worked from 6am to 4pm, leaving the house around 5:30am, getting home around 4:30pm. I was awakened everyday at 4:30 am to start my chores. I had two goats I had to milk before & after school, chickens, rabbits, dogs, & pigs to feed & water every single day, eggs to also gather after school. I was in 2nd grade when I started milking the goats. So here we are, 6th Arkansas, it snowed. A very DEEP snow (ok, about 2 feet, but we NEVER saw that much snow, EVER) we ended up with a few snow days until the roads the buses took were able to pass without putting kids into too much of harm's way....

Now, remember, we had to walk UP the hill to catch the bus, this meant walking back DOWN the hill to go home. Our road is one of those more or less extended driveways that a few people live down - mainly crotchedly older folks who have no kids living at home and rarely has grandkids that come visit.

Now, the typical thing for any 11 & 10 year old child to want to do under such circumstances is to want to go sledding! There's actually enough snow to be able to do so still on the road, no trees in the road to crash into. Except, when you're 11 you don't take into consideration that the road takes a sharp turn at the bottom of the first crest in the road, where the hill kinda levels out, where the houses curves sharply because if you continue straight you go clear to the bottom of the hill where that spring/pond fed ravine is. This is also a dirt road that about 8 people drive up and down on a daily basis, it's not gotten yet warm enough for the road to be anything but a solid sheet of ice. Walking up the hill with the road that way involved basically walking in the weeds & using the brush along the sides of the road to haul yourself UP the hill.

After being let off the bus my brother Daniel & I got the bright idea to sled down the hill, using our coats and book laden backpacks as the sleds. Remember gravity & inertia? Yea, that thing that says an object in motion will continue to be in motion until an outside force stops it. You gain speed as you go downhill, especially on ice. We think of this fact about the time we get where the road takes a sharp turn...and there's a truck coming UP the hill. Natural reaction says to move, QUICKLY out of the way of this truck that is trying to keep up enough speed to make it both around the curve and then UP the hill in one attempt. We turn our bodies in the direction opposite of the curve. And wind up at the bottom of the hill, at the edge of the ravine.

If you doubly remember there's a creek that runs through this ravine & there are many trees around, so there's ice ...lots of ice. And I'm still a graceful baby giraffe that's learning to walk for the first time on the side of a rocky mountain. It's a good 40 feet from the bottom of this hill back to the road. An hour or so later we still haven't made it back up the hill. The bus dropped us off around 4pm...Mom & Dad get home around 4:30pm. We're also the realllllly super poor kids... To say our folks weren't terribly happy about us using our school books, backpacks, & only winter coats for sleds was an understatement. ((We made it back up the hill by walking the edge of the ravine to the edge of our property line - 10 acres across - where there was a fence, then used the barb wire fence to hold onto to get up the hill.)) Add in the fact we didn't make it to the house until almost 6pm...long story short I still can't go sledding...not just because my folks grounded me for LIFE, but because I've never seen a good sledding hill that doesn't have a road across the bottom of the hill and I know ice plus inertia plus gravity plus moving vehicles just don't go well together.

After that incident (that also involved some police officers) my folks went to the school transportation board & within a week we tore down & rebuilt the fence around our house, cut down a few trees, and the bus started using our driveway to pull into, turn around in, and pick us up/drop us off from school. We then moved to Oklahoma that summer & the bus since hasn't had to go down that road...

I'll conclude this installment for the time being.

The next installment I'll include the instances of my teenagehood where ladders & roofs were involved....

Fire Pit of Reasons....#1-4

...for my giraffe legs staying firmly on the ground. ☺ (I'd add pictures, but Blogger isn't cooperating at this time.)

Inspired by the Lovely JC of The Animated Woman (@LittleAnimation) & my comment on her Thrill Ride Adventures. :)

From a young age, VERY young age I learned that being off the ground can have some very dire consequences....Since then there have been many events that have only worked to help ingrain that into my brain, just as I think I'm starting to get brave enough to leave the comfy Earth.

Instead of ending this post with a disclaimer or other such 'you shouldn't pay attention to this tale' I'm going to start with a list of warnings & disclaimer:

* If you are severely scared of heights you probably shouldn't read any further.
* If you have children you may not wish to continue.
* If you have a tendency to take someone else's mishaps and apply them as possibilities in your own life and react accordingly you probably shouldn't proceed either.
* Please advance with caution if you have a heart condition, are pregnant, or other known or unknown health issues that may be direly afflicted by reading these highlights.

All stories you are about to read are the complete truth by my knowledge, my mother can back up at least 75% of these stories, medical records & child services reports can back up almost as many...and the rest, NEVER tell my mother about, she'd KILL me. ((Okay, so if you read my entry that was a Tribute to my Father you'd likely be close to right in your guess that by now my mom likely already knows all these stories, but lets not remind her of them, that would be best for my health.))

Now that that's out of the way I'm hoping you did take me seriously with my warnings...these tales of "Reasons Stephanie Does NOT do Heights" is not for the faint, weak stomached, or otherwise paranoid type persons.

Disclaimer: *I* have never broken a bone, NOR have I ever received a single stitch (outside of ones necessary to deliver my children via cesarean) siblings on the other hand, well....Lets just say I can learn from the mistakes of others.

Stick in the FirePit #1:
*Setting the stage* I am 2 1/2 years old. My brother, Daniel, is 15 months old. My mother is 8 1/2 months pregnant with my sister, Samantha. We are living in a trailer house, on a Navy base 1200+ miles from family, in South Carolina - family is in Arkansas. The year is 1984.

It's a bright, beautiful day in September and after a long day of doing some near last minute shopping, preparations for the new baby sister, and hours waiting on Daddy to get back to land (he's out on the submarine, had been gone for about 6 months and was supposed to be in that day, ended up being delayed by a few hours) Mom decides to take her two toddlers home for an afternoon nap and to take a nap herself.

She gets her two blonde haired blue eyed angles in their beds in the room they share, checks to ensure they have actually settled down for their afternoon nap, then retires to the couch in the living room. If her darling angels should happen to get up from their nap before Mom gets up from hers she'll be able to hear them and also be easily found in case they need her.

*cue Jaws theme music*

The darling, angel faced toddlers decide that they're too excited to fully take a nap, lay there for a few minutes or so, then decide they want to go outside to go play, naptime is over for them! They go out of the bedroom, down the hall, through the kitchen, but what do they find, but their mother snoring soundly on the couch! The door is locked and upon disturbing the slumbering mama find that she's resistant to the pleas to go play outside. So these darling children look for something to occupy themselves with...they enter the forbidden bedroom. The room is bare outside of a few pieces of furniture for the new baby - the perfect room to play in.

After a small fraction of time has passed by it is discovered that the window is open! ahhh! Fresh air! AND??? An escape route. See, the slumber mama is in the other room and has not yet caught onto the fact that her sweet angels are even in this room - now is the PERFECT time to go play outside.

Being the awesome big sister that she is the eldest of the two children is able to reach & see out the window - green grass & yard toys are just on the other side - she pushes the screen out of the window, easy peasy!

Now, everyone knows that if you go first the younger siblings are always bound to tattle tale, so being the concientious big sister that she is, she gave her little brother a boost so that he too could go outside, seeing as he's not able to reach the window by himself just yet and there's no handy climbing apparatuses available. She lifts him up, pushes him up by his feet, and out he goes - KERPLUNK! Head first into the...remember we're in a trailer house...hitch of the trailer. Now it's the elder sister's turn to go outside...except she realizes a few moments later that she may be tall enough to reach & see out the window she's completely unable to actually climb out the window itself.

The big sister does what any noble sibling does when faced with such a catastrophe - she runs and tells Mom: DANIEL IS OUTSIDE!!! I WANNNA GO OUTSIDE! IT'S NOT FAIR!

This rouses the slumbering mama - she's up!!! SUCCESS!!! Outside we go. And I think that's likely the first time I really remember getting in what could be considered a "shitton" of trouble for helping out one of my siblings. Daniel ended up needing 62 stitches to close the gash in his head - 27 years or so later he still lives...

BUT I learned a VALUABLE lesson that day - Windows are not good substitutes for doors, especially if they're up off the ground.

((You REALLY don't wanna know how over the next few weeks his eyes also ended up in bandages because that same older sister thought she'd be helpful & give him a bath - with liquid laundry detergent while also helping Mom & Dad bring in the groceries...or how a few days after that, while not only was his head still bandaged, his eyes bandaged, and his hands basically taped & bandaged so he didn't tear off the other bandages, his sister helped him out the front door, resulting in him falling down the concrete steps, thus busting his nose & knee....HEY, we were in a hurry that day - Mom was in labor & Dad was finally home!!))

See, all that was PROOF that from an early age I was a VERY helpful big sister and despite all my great intentions I got into a LOT of trouble all because of my younger siblings.

Stick in the Fire Pit #2:
*Scene Set* A few years have gone by, Dad is no longer in the Navy, we're in the middle of building our first house. There are three children now, a fourth is on his way. Children are ages 5, 3, 2, & 6 months gestation. We're living at Grandma's house, just up the hill from where our house is being built by my Dad, my Godfather & some high school buddies of Dad's. Mom is working 40 hours a week at a night shift job, so we're left in the care of Grandma, her husband, and our Schizophrenic Bi-polar Aunt (before medications worked to actually HELP someone with schizophrenia/bi-polar live a normal life). Daniel & I were both in Head Start just down the road, by the airport.

It was a BEAUTIFUL spring day - my 5th birthday in fact. My last year at the Head Start, I was moving up to Kindergarten in the Fall! It was an EXCITING day - FINALLY 5! Like every 5 year old who is told she can do/have anything she wanted I completely believed all these adults, I trusted that when they said that they meant it. So of course, during recess reading hour, with the huge monkey bar thing that 20 some off kids could climb all on at the same time even, I knew that day was going to be the day I could climb up to the very top & sit in the lovely pockets created by the tarp that had been draped over it to discourage climbing & create shade underneath. I enlisted the company of some of my classmates, because really, who wants to hang out alone at the top of such an awesome device! We head up there.

First to the top wins! We (my two buddies & I) were almost halfway up, just to the edge of the tarp when the teachers caught sight of us and instructed us to get down RIGHT NOW! I obliged, I wasn't one for breaking rules, even if it was my birthday. I climbed down & slipped myself back into the group that was sitting, quietly, under the tarp, on the grass. Friend K & A continued the quest, because you know, first to the top wins! A few rungs later & another warning scold from the teacher Friend A comes back down, tearing a small rip in the tarp as she does so. Friend K continues...she's one to do this every day, she's not going to let a little bit of trouble stand in her way of winning this race to the top.

She makes it. Chooses the square she wishes to recline in, nothing the teachers can do about it until she's ready to come back down, they have 40 some off other preschoolers to keep in line and there's only 5 or 6 of them, total, and sits there in the hammock of the tarp.

If I were to guess I'd say these squares ((err, rectangles)) are roughly 2 foot by 18 inches. That day we got to tour a fire truck in the playground. See, the tarp finished ripping as she was laying in the square hammock...the top of this jungle gym/monkey bar thing was roughly 10 feet in the air...and there hung Friend one knee and holding on by one hand. Forget any desire I EVER had of EVER even THINKING about attempting to beat anyone up that thing! The panic & screams & utter chaos just did me in. I learned something very valuable that day as well - I don't care for the limelight all that much and thankfully I had the good sense to listen to the teacher & get down from there or it could have been me...and I was a toothpick kid back then I don't think I would have been so lucky.

((My dad, since he was one of the main parent volunteers, took down the upper portion of that thing over the weekend. My punishment for being one of the ones who'd attempted that climb, besides being the daughter of the guy who tore down the most awesome playground toy ever, was I had to pick up all the nails I could find out of the yard around the house that the guys were done putting the shingles on.))

Stick in the Fire Pit #3 & #4:

*Stage set* We're a bit older now, Mom is no longer pregnant, I'm about 8 years old, Daniel is about 7, Samantha 6, Duke is 3. My mom has a younger half-brother who is only about 6 years older than me, so he was in that weird early teenager phase of life. He was into skate boards, had an awesome bike, the works! He even had a water bed! WAAAAAAYY COOOL! ((Have I ever mentioned that I was a COMPLETE tomboy when I was a kid? No? Ok, well, I'll mention that now, I was QUITE the tomboy growing up.)) Other useful tidbit for this story:
My parents were absolutely into skating, we were at the roller rink at least once a week - they met at the skating rink, they were AWESOME skaters, but by this time (mid-80s) roller skating was something old people did - you know, folks my parents' age (25 & 27 at the time) and I ABSOLUTELY SUCKED at roller skating. My toothpick, giraffe like, one day I'm going to be a basketball star, everyone knew it, legs just REFUSED to coordinate well enough to be able to operate rollerskates, so I spent most of my time on my butt and being ran over (stick #3).

I thought my Uncle S was the COOLEST person EVER. He had all these awesome things and he lived in town, which meant the road was paved & basically flat, as opposed to the dirt road hill we lived halfway down. He had a skateboard, which was the coolest of the coolest things EVER. It was a skateBOARD - absolutely totally different than individual rollerskates, where my feet would go three different directions, on a skateboard though, my feet would be together, on the same flat surface, with one occasionally even touching the ground, not under the power of the wheels. Despite MANY pairs of ripped jeans, knees, elbows, and the occasional face plant I was determined to conquer this cool thing. ((What the hell are these helmets, knee pans, & elbow pads that you're thinking of?!))

Ok, horrible thoughts about my parents not caring enough about our safety to ensure that their children, who owned neither bikes nor skateboards, and this was like 1990, parents, at least mine, hadn't started the whole hovering movement yet, and onto the reason why this warrants mention in my 'fire pit of reasons'....

It has already been established that I have giraffe legs. At this point in time I've not yet hit puberty, so they're still toothpick giraffe legs. I was 8 and stood 5'2" tall and weighed maybe a whole 60 pounds. By this time it is well documented & known that I have the grace of a newborn giraffe, on the side of a mountain, even if the surface is flat. I think it has also been established that I have an uncanny desire to help other folks and I rarely do anything all by myself. What you don't know yet is that directly across the street from my grandfather's house there is some construction going on. This construction is work to put in a rain runoff ditch for that part of town - basically a manmade concrete & railroad tie creek, roughly 5 feet deep.

Remember too that I am only about 8 years uncle was 'keeping an eye on us' playing in the street, folks & grandparents are inside doing whatever adults do when they're only having to really entertain a 3 year old and the other 4 kids (ages 14, 8, 7, & 6) are outside, playing in the street, that is under construction, with no construction workers out there, because it's the weekend and we have a skateboard and a 10 speed bike.

Now, this is before 'extreme sports' was televised or even popular...more one of those things 'punk inner city kids' who were into things like drugs and causing trouble were into, not your typical suburban or country farm kids. So there's no reason to assume that because there are ramps, etc laying around from the construction going on that these kids would ever dream of even attempting such stunts. This is my testament that kids really don't have to be influenced by the television to think of things....

We constructed our own ramps & created dares to go with our obstacle courses. The bike is really too big for anyone to operate even remotely correctly except for the 14 year old uncle and he determines that it would be best that we (the younger kids) should use the skateboard. Since he lives right here he's practiced these jumps and such. I still haven't managed to figure out how to keep my butt or knees off the ground, but I'm POSITIVE I can stand on the board while going down a ramp into a 5 foot deep hole in the ground, it's really not that far.

I get the momentum up...things are going great. I hit the ramp. No, seriously, I hit the edge of the ramp, the board stops. I do not. Stupid inertia & gravity combination! But because I have such WONDERFUL control over what my feet & legs do I see the imminent fall & possible injuries coming towards me, so I pull a stunning move to get off the board in the same moment that it crashed. Then, in super slow motion, it might have taken me AT LEAST 15 minutes to make that fall, my foot gets tangled in one of the cinder blocks laying there that we had moved to help build our ramp. I am dangling there, foot in the block above, my head roughly a foot above the concrete floor of this new drainage ditch. After a bit of 'creative ingenuity' my uncle & siblings are able to get me back up to the street level. Nothing broken!

Lesson I learned that day: I can't do anything that entails wheels under my feet. My reasoning is that my legs are just too long, lanky, & just are unable to coordinate cooperation with the rest of my body to keep me upright. Even into my adult years now I am retaught this lesson, except I've not bothered with roller skates, blades, or skateboards...I can face plant to the ground by just walking across flat, clean surfaces while barefoot & sober.

So, this is installment number one in my series of fire-pitted reasons my giraffe legs & I just don't shouldn't leave the safety of the Earth. You can also read here about how even my bouncing blue eyed 3 year old has even jumped on the bandwagon of reconfirmation of my stand to stay, well, standing, on the ground.

I'm only up to age 8 in this installment. Age 10 & 11 are real winners, but I won't put them in this post. I'm sure your health & sanity thank me.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

EPIC Conspiracy Thingy

So I went to bed, with Brian...Laid there, tossed a bit, turned some, laid there, WILLING myself to go to sleep...after sometime I decided I needed to write this blog post so that I could go to sleep, so this is what I'm doing - writing this post.

See, we recently got all new windows for the house, thanks to our awesome landlords, cause we rent and all that & they're just awesome folks. Anyways, I'd asked the dudes putting in the new windows to just leave all the windows here that they did not happen to break while removing them - trust me there are SEVERAL! Okay, when I say several I mean at least 25, if not more, but they're taking up a whole closet I have down in the basement, under the staircase...and I do mean the WHOLE closet under there.

Anyways, I was drawing out a stained glass panel design for my landlady, because her mother in law makes stained glass panels and occasionally people want something custom done, then they turn to me to draw it out - mainly just names - and I came up with this awesome thing I could use the old windows for that are taking up this space in my basement.

I could PAINT pretty pictures (or whatever) on these windows..then do something with them, maybe even sell them in the shop downtown or in craft shows or things like that, like I do with the other stuff I've done in the past. PURE GENIUS!

Now, I don't have the first clue what I'd charge for such masterpieces things I suppose a lot will depend on how much work I actually put into drawing & painting and all that jazz, but who knows? Maybe it'll profit me enough that I can have some extra Christmas money or something...whatever.

But then I got to thinking about just painting them up for Christmas presents themselves - AWESOME!

Then my brain shifted towards the costs and hassle of shipping such things - 24" square piece of glass in 80+year old wood frame - through the postal system...I'd be a complete nervous wreck.

But then the more I thought about it the more I was sure that I really could get enough bubble wrap and such to make it fairly safe...right? RIGHT!!!???

Then my brain went into thinking about the COST of shipping - fuck, I'm screwed...

But then (and you wonder why I'm having trouble getting to sleep!?) I figured if I did something REALLY EPIC with one of these panels then it'd be absolutely, totally worth it. That pressed me into thinking about WHO I'd feel worthy of such...and I thought of two persons...the first being my baby brother & his wife - BOTH of whom are Marines, with not one, but TWO children (ok, the second one is still not here yet, she's due August 1st, the older one his birthday is August 10 - as in his FIRST birthday is just NINE DAYS AFTER his baby sister is due to make her entrance into this world - O.o - yikes! But I know they're going to totally rock it because, well, they're Marines and Marines just rock! ((Yes, I'm biased, get over it, besides one or two of her sisters live with them to help care for the wee one(s), so it's not COMPLETE chaos!))

But the other person, she's a bit trickier. She reads my blog, so if I'm going to do this as a surprise then I can't share about it...BUT I only know her on social media sites. I know that it's so totally going to rock if it goes according to the plan in my head of what to do, but I'm absolutely CLUELESS how to go about 1-getting her address or 2-actually being able to pay to ship this huge heavy, fragile item to lets just hope that I'm awesome enough over the next few weeks/months to 1 - actually draw out & paint what it is I'm wanting to draw & paint out & it not look like absolute crapola; 2 - I'm able to draw, paint, & sell enough to be able to pay for the shipping of this item; and 3 - shipping it from here to there doesn't cause it to shatter - cause then I'd cry - big, huge, sloppy tears.

So yes, this is what is keeping me up tonight - the worry that I won't be able to do this epic thing that I have in my head to do and that if I do manage to pull it off that it'll be completely destroyed before it makes it to its intended destination.

Woe is me, I know. But now you know what keeps me up at night....weird random stuff.

oh...and might I also add that as I was scraping off old caulking & smoothing out the layers of paint wiht my handy scraper I slipped & sliced my wrist. Yea, it sounds fairly dramatic: "Stephi was scraping caulk remnants from a window pane and sliced her wrist" or "While removing excess caulk from the glass Stephi sliced her wrist"....ok, I'm getting tired now and I don't remember exactly how I phrased it the first time that made a TON of people suddenly @ message me or DM me on Twitter, worried about my mental well being, but I know it was close to one of those lines...But seriously, this is all I did, with the tools & window pictured in the background...a piddly little flesh wound that BURNS like a freaking papercut! OH...and there was almost enough blood on the bandaid to warrant the need for a bandaid - almost.


**You'll have to check out this post to see what all the blood, sweat, & tears ended up being about**

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sales Solicitation

I had a sales solicitor call. I told them, politely, that I wasn't interested & asked that they take me off their calling list. The bitch actually told me that in order to be removed from the calling list I HAD TO PAY A FEE!

Before you ask, yes, I'm on the no call list...but wait, the story gets better still. I'm also presenting a challenge....

I call back the number from my house phone...dude answers, says his name is "Justin Case". I ask for the name of the company. He tells me CBS then goes into his sales pitch/line of questioning.

I interrupt him and tell him that I had some questions first that I would like to have answered. I repeat my question, asking what the CBS stood for.

He hangs up on me.

I try calling back...get a busy from my cell & the phone just rings & rings.

So I wait a moment & call back again.

This time I get an answer. Mr. "Justin Case" answers again, this time asking me, by name, what I needed/wanted. I again repeat my question, asking what the CBS stood for...he puts me on hold & then disconnects me.

He's trying to sell a Work At Home "Profit sharing" part of Visa/Mastercard - so long as I give my card numbers....

I wait a bit longer, then call again from my cell phone. This time I get "Steven" who sounds JUST like "Justin Case" ....I of course change my name for him, get into the 3rd or 4th question of his & he figures out it's me, most likely, and hangs up on me again.

Fracking loser.

So my challenge is to you, my awesome readers, Please, call this number (US phone number) 1-520-455-3710...and tell me about your experiences in the comments below. ☺

DO NOT give these folks your real information!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

First Family Vacation (TONS of pics)

Brian and I have been married now since 2007, we've dated on and off since 2003, so one would think that we've taken at least one vacation during that time. Granted we have gone to visit family, moved significant distances, and the like during this time, but we've never fully taken what would be considered a vacation. Most of our trips have been on the fly - have a spare dollar in our pocket and just go or they've been pared with things like court hearings - such as the first trip Brian ever made with me to Oklahoma where my ex-MIL was trying to convince the courts to let her, a multiple times over felon, system mooching, child abandoning bitch to give her custody of my son, simply because I'd moved out of state. But I digress.

Earlier this month we took an actual planned out vacation. Planning started in January, we were going to Gatlinburg, TN with 4 other families. Three families of which we're quite close with, the other family being a friend of one of the other families. Anyways, it really was great fun...after you get past the drama associated with traveling & staying in a cabin, in the woods, with no internet, while finals are due for your online classes, and there are 22 people staying in said cabin. Oh...and of those 22 people you have 10 adults - one drunk, one recovering from surgery, one antisocial, one flat out lazy/uber-politically conservative/holier than thou Christian, one who crosses lines drawn lines, a few trying to maintain peace by avoidance, and me - the Liberal who spent much of her cabin time drinking casually, so she could maintain the appearance that she was having a great time; and we had 12 children - boys aged 17, 16, 15, 13, 11, 8, & 7 and girls aged 11, 7, 6, 4, & 3. Oh, no, not the least bit of chances of things going haywire there!

To keep costs down myself and the moms of two of the families I'm close with all went grocery shopping - we'd worked for a few months to build a good menu, broke it down, price checked, and got everything under our $500 budget for the week, at least for the initial grocery trip - I think our total on that trip, if you don't count taxes or the beer, was $498 - that was food & snacks for 22 people, for 7 days, 8 planned cooked meals, sandwich meats, cereal breakfasts, cookies, chips, soda, tea, you name it....three buggies to the check out line. Of course there were extra trips to the grocery store during the week for things like milk, more sugar, more cookies, but we didn't do too badly, especially when we went through almost 3 gallons of milk, a DAY!

The dishwasher ran a MINIMUM of 5 times a day - once after each meal, once in the morning before breakfast from the dishes accumulated after the kitchen was cleaned from dinner, and again before dinner. The floors of the kitchen & dining room were swept multiple times a day. And after the 2nd day the washer & dryer never stopped unless everyone was gone or were sleeping. Everyone pitched in, at least to some degree....except for the previously mentioned lazy person...but I won't go there, afterall she only had two kids there that were older and should have been able to clean up after themselves...yea right. But I digress, again. One is a bold faced LIAR when his mom was around, because her kids are PERFECT, so he had to maintain that in front of his mom, even if there are adult witnesses to his lies, the adults became the liars "because her child would never do such a thing" and the other child was just out there, between her tantrum over having to switch rooms with an ADULT! Heaven forbid she should have to give up the only extra room with a queen bed for one with just a full sized bed! Heck, many of us had to share a room with our younger children so that they'd at least sleep at night! The boys of course all had the bunks in the game room or the couches, chairs, recliners, or floor in the living room - wherever it was they decided to sleep - they had that option.

But outside of the drama bullshit, which is what it was, just bullshit we did have some fun. We went to Obergatlinburg, where I made the solid decision to NEVER AGAIN ride on the sky lift with my charming 3year old, who is not only NOT afraid of heights, but doesn't have a healthy respect for being 100 feet in the air! Anytime our meager car would stop for someone to get off/on safety she'd sit there and bounce & wiggle and scream GOOOOOO COME ON, LETS GOOOOOOOO!!! Then it got REALLY dicey for me when she decided she did NOT want me to even touch her! It was a big fight for me to attempt to hold her hand than it was to just keep my hand on the guard and pray she didn't decide to get out of the car, at 100 feet in the air. We survived, my nerves are still on that mountain somewhere, but we did survive. Did I mention that I don't do heights terribly well? I stick by the notion that God gave me giraffe legs for a reason - that reason being that I don't have to use things like a step stool very often. Of course we rode a number of other rides, the water slides & swing being some of the favorites!

We also went to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I think that was my favorite thing to do - just walking the trails, the kids playing in the ice cold creek - I really could have spent the whole week there and had an absolute blast (and saved tons of money).

We did go to the Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum, there were a ton of cool things to see and all that, but really? Not worth the money. The TV show is MUCH more interesting (and free)! But the exit dumped us out into the lobby of an arcade, where Brian was able to get his Guitar Hero fix.

We went to an indoor waterpark - nothing spectacular about it, but the younger kids GREATLY enjoyed it, plus it's an indoor waterpark - very few doors in and out & the water in the deepest pool was only 3 feet deep. Strap some floaties on the non-great swimmers & let them run, splash, play, keep an eye on them, of course, but there was no great need to be consistently holding onto them, denying them a turn on a ride, making them wait for their turn - absolutely PERFECT for younger kids. No worrying about sun screen application. It was great (again, for someone like me who has a 3 year old girl & an 8 year old boy.)

There were several cool places to stop and eat at on the strip in Gatlinburg - we ended up eating at Bubba Gump's Shrimp Co. twice - once with the kids and again later as just a group of adults (and the older teen boys). It was pretty cool! You had little signs you'd flip up saying "Stop, Forrest, Stop" if you needed your server, or "Run, Forest, Run" if you didn't need anything. Our server also had a Forrest Gump trivia - no prize, just a chance for the guys to show off how much they knew/didn't know about Forrest Gump - I've only seen part of the movie, once. I'm the outcast of the group. OH, and the food - OMG hands down THE best shrimp I have EVER ate!

I took TONS of pictures - ones on the strip, others at the cabin, even more just out the window of the car. Sadly of the 1000+ pictures I have of the trip there's only one or two that I'm actually in, and not a single one of just the 4 of us together. I have ones of the sunrises, sunsets, moon, and even rain...I really think we need a vacation do-over. This time, without the drama.

We even found shit creek...and we still didn't have any paddles.

And there was quite a bit of daddy/daughter bonding time going on. ♥ ((She even sleeps like him, *giggle*))

BlackBerry Cobbler


2 1/2 cups fresh (or frozen, thawed & drained) blackberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking POWDER - not soda!
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter
Ice cream


In a medium bowl stir together the blackberries & sugar.

Set aside for roughly 20 minutes, until it starts to get juicy with the blackberry syrup.

In a large bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, & milk - GENTLY stir in the melted butter until all is blended.

Spread the batter mixture into the bottom of an 8x8 (preferably glass) baking pan.

Spoon the blackberries over the top of the batter.

Bake 45-55 minutes in a 375° oven - the key to knowing when it's ready is the dough will be on top & a lovely golden color.

Serve warm with the ice cream (or whipped cream if you so desire!) (Yea, I'm out of ice cream & wasn't going to wait on any to get here, it was still yummy!)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Four Steps to Putting Away Laundry

Step #1 : Get little sister on your shoulders. Make sure she has a hanger of clothes between her teeth, so she can hold on to your head...

Step #2 : Stand & steady little sister on the shoulders....

Step #3 : Walk to the closet, closer, closer, closer....Hold steady. Little Sister gets the hanger on the bar. Declare Victory!!!!

Step #4 : Repeat until all closet clothes are off the bed & in the closet...

How do you get the laundry put away at your house?

Take note, Please!

Due to the fact *someone* insists that she has nothing to do with anyone in my family, wants to know nothing, whatever, but still finds herself HAVING to check my blog, comment on it, start bullshit drama, I have changed the url. Maybe this will work, maybe it won't....but you'll notice that my url has changed, so you may wish to update your bookmarks.

I'll take more drastic measures if I have to.

It's still really sad that I left junior high more than 15 years ago yet still have to put up with such levels of immaturity on a semi-regular basis even, from persons that claim to be MUCH more mature than I and even have at least half a decade on me where life is concerned.

So, please, take note. This is my blog, I'll write things as I perceive them, if it happens to be off by a touch of hearsay I really don't care. Just consider my blog to be of the Faux News variety - I write things as I see them, bottomline, end of the story. I don't get paid to write facts, I do this to unload, it's my brain dumping ground and I'll write what I damned well please, if you don't like it, don't read it. I share my blog with others because sometimes folks read things that help them, give them a laugh, make them cry, or I'm needing encouragement or to laugh about something.

Have a great day!

Monday, June 20, 2011

I believe I'm on the Crazy Train

Crazy Train Incident #1

Earlier last week I got a friend request on Facebook from a chick I had never heard about...come to find out she's one of my husband's ex girlfriends. As in they dated for a few weeks, he decided she was utterly psycho, dumped her, all well over 10 years ago. Anyways, he can't say he didn't warn me, because he did. repeatedly.

I responded to her friend request, with a message. I simply asked her if I knew her.

She responded that yes, I did know her, that I knew her from when I lived in Virginia.

I responded back to her and told her that I haven't lived in Virginia since I was maybe just 2 years old, when my daddy was stationed there in the Navy, not been back since. I also added in that I spent much of my childhood living in Arkansas & Oklahoma.

So her next response was "oh, that's right, I knew you in Oklahoma, we lived on the same street".

At this point my jaw is just DROPPING. When I lived in Oklahoma I lived on a "street" if you'd call it that, backwoods barely paved road more like it, where maybe 10 families lived & I knew every one of them....the only folks remotely close to my age lived right down the road & were named Tania & Andrew, they were brother & sister - neither one named Stacie.

So I respond back to her, I ask her what city it was we'd lived in together.

Her immediate response was Tulsa.

Now my eyebrows are REALLY raised, seeing as I only spent maybe 6 months, total, of my life actually living in Tulsa...and that was when I was in my early 20s.

This chick is absolutely blatantly LYING to me and thinking that I'm stupid enough to go along with it and actually want to accept her friend request, on my Facebook? WTH!

So I keep up my end of the charade. I respond back and ask her which street or what year even...make it simple.

Some time goes by and she finally responds back...tells me that she was really young back then so doesn't remember and is sorry to have bothered me.

By this time I've completely had it with the lies and bullshit. I'm nearly 30 years old, I'm not fucking stupid and this chick is at least 5 years older than me and it's just absolutely RIDICULOUS to lie, period.

So I sent her a message that read:

I never lived in Tulsa until I was in my early 20s, you're 5 years older than me, so if you were really young when you lived in Tulsa, on the same street as I then I don't know who you think you're trying to play games with.

Look, I know you're one of my husband's psycho-ex girlfriends, by his words. By your profile you live in Alabama. I also know that you were only in Virginia for 3 weeks, well over 10 years ago. So at this point I'm going to have to agree with my husband on his "you're a psycho" opinion, primarily because at 30+ years old your wall statuses read like a 12 year old's and you, for some childish psycho reason feel the need to lie to me.

So if you have a legitimate reason for trying to friend me or Brian then grow up and state it.

She's not responded back to me and I don't expect her to.

Crazy Train Incident #2

Mother-in-law calls.

This particular event sends me into a spiral of mixed irritation & annoyance...maybe I've blogged about that particular history...if I have I'll find the link & post it here tomorrow, after I search for it...but the short story is that we don't talk to her or brother-in-law & his wife because they're, for lack of a better phrase "Jerry Springer types".

Anyways...apparently mother-in-law had talked to brother-in-law a few days ago and BIL told her that Brian & I had divorced; I'd kicked Brian & the kids out of the house & they were living at father-in-law's house. This was based solely on the fact that Brian took the kids to see his dad for almost a week while I worked to paint the living room. He had the time off, we had the spare change, it's not a far drive, & FIL is wonderful to spend time with. We weren't fighting, it was just merely opportunity was afforded for things to work out that way, no big deal.

Apparently in BIL's & SIL's world if one spouse isn't up the other's ass 24/7 it means they've separated and are getting a divorce. I'm absolutely comfortable & secure enough in my relationship with my husband to let him out of my sight for hours, or even days at a time.

I think this makes at least the 4th time that Brian and I have gotten divorced in our 3 1/2 years of marriage. MAN! Our divorce lawyers are making a KILLING off of us, no wonder we're broke! ROFLMMFAO

Since MIL, BIL, etc are all on Brian's Facebook (I have them all blocked) I'm considering having Brian change his relationship status to 'complicated' just to fuck with their heads...I think it'll be a blast...just fuel their stupidity!

Whatcha think?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tribute to my Father, on Father's Day

July 4, 1962 - March 26, 2007 .... The span of my Father's life....warning you'll cry, laugh, and bawl - or at least I have while typing this out.

He was born, and died, Donald Linn Pierson. He was the 3rd child of my grandparents, Alma Jean Lake (Granny)& Edwin Lee Pierson(PaPa), out of 5, being preceded in death by a younger sister who passed during birth, as well as his parents who respectively died in Jan 2002 and Dec 2002.

He was born in Storm Lake, Iowa, where he lived as a young child, before moving to Bentonville, Arkansas, where he met my mother. He joined the Navy in early 1981. Married my mother, in October of 1981...I was born 7 months later, in May 1982. My siblings followed suit in the years 1983, 1984, & 1987.

I don't remember a lot about my daddy from those days. I remember being completely enamored with him and truly lived up to being a "Daddy's Girl"...even to this day. I remember clearest the times after we moved into our "first, real" house, I was not quite 5, my mom was pregnant with my baby brother, and the house was still under construction, just down the hill from my grandmother, on my mother's side, in Rogers, Arkansas.

It has been incredibly difficult for me to write this blog post. In all honesty I started this particular post on July 3, 2009, I've come back to it a number of times, fully intending on finishing it and then publishing it. This is all the further I have gotten so far.

I loved my father. He was a great man, now I'm not so wrapped up in my opinion of him to not see his faults, but he did try. We never had the latest or greatest of anything; rarely did we even have anything that was new. We never had the money to go to fancy places like Disney or Six Flags; most of our vacations were taken only a few hours from home, often paired with a family reunion in Iowa, just north of Kansas City and we'd go to the amusement park there - Worlds of Fun to be exact. We'd spend weeks in a tent on the river down the mountain from Eureka Springs, Arkansas, just two hours from where we lived. I looked forward to those trips every year. I finally did have an opportunity, that I took, when I was 18 to go to DisneyLand - it wasn't what I thought it was cracked up to be. My folks weren't there, neither were my siblings, and frankly I felt like it sucked simply for those reasons. Later that summer I also went to Italy, Greece, the Philippines, India, New Zealand, and Australia - the sites were great, I wholly appreciated the experience, don't get me wrong, but I'd had a falling out with my folks not long before then and it sucked. My dad had always wanted to go to Australia and never got the opportunity.

My dad had wonderful stories he'd tell about his life growing up. One of my favorite ones was of when he and his brother found a pair of abandoned baby raccoons, took them home, and then raised them. He'd tell about how when they'd get ready to leave for school in the morning they'd climb on the roof of the house & then drop down on his & his brother's shoulders when they walked out the door to catch the bus. They said that the raccoons pleaded in such a way that'd make you think they didn't want them to go to school, they were lonely on school days & would cause trouble on their own. My Granny & Papa confirmed the stories, so I'm confident there's no father falsities there. Granny wouldn't allow the raccoons in the house due to the mess they'd create so they were basically wild, but tame.

I still get a giggle out of remembering a story he and my uncle told about the time they'd raced up a HUGE tree that they'd been forbidden from climbing...only for one of the branches to break under the weight of my father, causing him to go crashing down the tree towards the ground. The only thing that saved his neck then was mere feet from the ground a forked branch broke his fall, hanging him there by his knees. My uncle then raced down the tree, then doctored his scratches and scrapes up, in the barn, because Granny was home. I was roughly 10 years old when I heard that story. My dad & his brother were telling the story - so they were 30 & 33 years old - we were all sitting in Granny's living room and the look on her face said she was going to beat the fire out of both of them with a belt, right then and there. One for lying to her almost 20 years ago about all those scrapes & scratches, two for climbing that tree, repeatedly, by admission, after being forbidden, and my uncle was bound to get an extra beating for putting his younger brother in harm's way, since he should have known better, being the older sibling. The looks on my dad's & my uncle's faces at that particular moment also said that they knew they were in TROUBLE. It was like watching the faces of two young kids immediately upon realizing that they just told on themselves for doing something seriously wrong that they'd lied about - pride in bragging about the conquest, immediately followed by the horror of realizing that their mother was sitting right there, listening to them brag about their conquest. Nearly 15 years later I did the same thing with my mother, when recounting the details of a car wreck I'd had, when I was 16, that she never knew about until I was telling the story of it. I'm a lot like my father - it may take me a while to come clean, but I really can't keep my secrets or lies for too long....I often forget that I'd lied or kept something secret at some point and tell on myself.

My favorite thing about my father is he always insisted on us playing board & card games. At an early age I learned how to play games like Risk, Monopoly, Cribbage, Chess, and countless different card games. My dad wasn't the type of father though that 'let' his kids win. You had to beat him at his own games through practice (and sheer luck); I have his competitive edge when it comes to such. I'm quite the shark when it comes to each of these games, but I also suck at them. I never fully paid attention to some of the moves he'd play in chess, so I still haven't completely mastered how to put a person out in less than three moves, nor how to block that particular set of moves. But it was countless hours of fun. Absolutely NOTHING got in the way of playing games when he wanted to play; homework could wait until later, same thing for chores. But heaven forbid you didn't have your chores & homework done before dinner was served!

Every meal was to be ate at the dinner table, unless of course there was a show on that dad wanted to watch or we were watching a movie, together. We were rarely - to the point of almost never - allowed to go to friends' houses for sleepovers. We weren't allowed to go to friends' houses if their parents and my parents didn't get along. At the time I thought it to be wholly unfair - as a parent I find it to be a great idea - Mikeal has only spent the night at friends' houses where I know, trust, & love the parents of his friends - it helps me sleep easy those nights.

We, meaning Brian, the kids, and myself, just got back from our first 'family vacation' the other day. We went out to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. All I could think about was how my dad would have LOVED spending the week out there in a cabin in the woods - ok, truth be told he likely would have preferred a leaky tent - but surrounded by the mountains, varmints that'd knock over the trash cans - because apparently some city folks don't understand that there IS a reason the trash cans all had locking lids - the hiking through the woods, hanging out on the deck just talking, watching the sunset, the moonrise, and getting up early enough to watch the sun then rise through the trees.

The whole week we were there I could feel my daddy smiling, laughing occasionally, and just having a blast. I miss him.

I won't go in depth with all the details of the last few years of his life, but I will say this: PLEASE don't be a bullheaded man about seeing a doctor and getting your check-ups! My daddy wasn't yet 45 when he passed away. To say he was stubborn about seeing a doctor is a complete understatement. He had a massive heart attack and heat stroke when he was 32, there was evidence of him having a heart condition when he had his physicals for the Navy, but he passed the physical the second time around, so never looked further into it. He was in great health where his cholesterol, etc was concerned, wasn't overweight, nada, to look at him & his blood work you'd think he was in perfect health. After his heart attack all his tests came back clean...until my mom insisted that the doc put him under the stress test until it acted up. It took 3 hours of him being hooked up to machines, laying on his back, pedaling a stationary bike before they saw his heart hiccup, cutting off the blood supply to his brain, causing him to have what seemed to be a sudden burst of complete anger then a mild stroke, before his heart would restart and he go back to everything being normal. I do give credit to my dad for changing his diet - removing all caffeine from his diet, he was QUITE the AVID Mountain Dew & unsweetened tea drinker. He cut back on the type of manual labor he'd always done, to a job less physically demanding, etc. He had his first open heart surgery at age 40 to repair the defective valve. After the surgery he backslid on his caffeine free diet, feeling like he was 'cured' and really wanted to enjoy his Mountain Dew & caffeinated tea again. The surgery did leave his immune system a bit compromised for a little while. Three years later he had to have another open heart surgery. His health went quickly downhill after that. A man who never got sick, never had the flu, man colds, nothing, was losing weight at an alarming rate, had a chronic sore/raspy throat, and stomach issues, all the time. Almost a year of this went by before he agreed to see the doctor for it and mention these extra 'annoyances'. His doctor assumed it to be something related to the heart surgeries and sent him back to the cardiologist. The scans done by the cardiologist showed some severe abnormalities, they ended up decided to go with opening him up again...and that's when it was found. See, my dad had been a tobacco chewer since he was a teenager, anytime anyone would say something to him about it he'd defend his choice to chew tobacco by saying that if he's really poisoning anyone's body it's just his own, he's not poisoning folks with secondhand smoke, yada yada.

He'd quit the chewing tobacco before his first heart surgery and hadn't picked it back up, but between 20 years of chewing and refusing to get check-ups or seeing the doctor when he was sick he was screwed. When the cardiologist opened him up for his 4th and final heart surgery they found the cause of the abnormalities that showed on the scan - cancerous tumors, large ones. After a complete, thorough work-up, from head to toe, it was discovered that he had cancerous tumors from his mouth to his colon & every digestive organ in between. Later it was determined that he had a severely aggressive form of cancer that in combination with the repeated heart surgeries his body had become too weak to even attempt to fight it and the early warning signs of cancer were overlooked as being symptoms of his heart condition. Less than 3 weeks after telling me of the diagnosis I was given the news that he had passed away of a heart attack....I was really counting on him being around for at least another 6 months as I hadn't gotten to physically see him since I was newly pregnant with Mikeal, who was almost 5 at the time of his death. He never got to meet any of his grandchildren, yes, I'd send pictures & updates about Mikeal & my siblings & their kids, but he never did get to touch a single one of them. They never got to hear his stories, play games with him, nothing.

As I previously mentioned it's taken me almost two years to write out this post without becoming extremely angry over the details of the last decade of his life by rehashing them, maybe sometime in the future I'll be able to tell the whole story here, but not at this time. Those emotions are much too raw, even now, for me to even begin to attempt to tell, but I really needed this post to be posted, so that I can start moving forward.

I love you Daddy and if fate deems it to be so I look forward to seeing you again in the future. ♥ Happy Father's Day!!!