Green's Hill-Amy Lane's Home - News

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Bra-O'clock

A super quick story tonight--but a good one.

So, was making dinner when Squish got home from practice. Her dad had to go run an errand, so there I was, finishing dishes and stirring the pot, when she starts a series of complicated maneuvers that most women will recognize from some point in their lives: the taking off of a sports bra without actually taking off the shirt that went over it.

I watched this, wide-eyed.

"So, uh, was that bothering you, Squish?"

"No. It was just time for it to go."

"So, uh, bra-o'clock then?"

She nodded seriously. "Uh-huh. What time is bra-o'clock for YOU, Mom?"

"About two hours after you're in bed."

"Man, that's rough."

"Yeah. Tell me about it. Uh, go put that in the wash, okay?"

"Sure. What's for dinner?"

"Spaghetti."

"Awesome! Happy bra-o'clock!"

"Yeah. To you too."

*sigh* ftr? As I blog? I'm still wearing my bra. Lucky little Squisher.

A Brief Story About the Eclipse

So, this morning ZoomBoy woke me up and said, "Guess what, Mom! I made you a cereal box viewer!"

And I got to my desk, and there it was, a stunning replica of the two he and Squish had made the day before.

I was very touched.

I could now view the little sunspot of the eclipse without frying my eyes and my fragile brain.

It was very considerate.

I grabbed the cereal box and took it with me as I dropped Squish off, so I could look at it in the park, when I was done walking the dogs.

But Squish assumed it was HER viewer, so she decided to keep it.

I told her she was mistaken, and she begged me to use the one she'd left at home and I said yes, because she's Squish.

At the park, I poked a hole in a business card and looked at the shadow on my phone case. Because low tech is low tech.  While I was there three women gathered on the soccer field and passed their own viewer around like a joint at a beer bach, and a guy driving a taxi cab parked in the upper parking lot so he could check it out on his phone.

Still, the eclipse didn't peak until I got home, with my coffee.  I tried to use the viewer, but it was really sort of anticlimactic.

So I came inside to sit and drink my coffee and watch it on the computer like a civilized person.

And I looked outside and made a remarkable discovery.  The hole in the patio table where the umbrella was supposed to go made a very fine eclipse viewer, and I didn't have to move much but a hose.

So I watched the eclipse on my computer and out the door.

And drank my coffee.

And read this hilarious meme that made me glad the eclipse only lasted for a few short hours.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Scuse me, gotta pee...

So, developed a UTI this weekend--which, since the AZO seems to be working seems to stand for "irritation" rather than "infection"--thank Goddess.

But besides wanting nothing more than to read on the toilet and be left alone, I managed to be a lot of places!

* Friday, Chicken and I went to see Logan Lucky. Now, I have to admit-- The Italian Job, Ocean's 11, Leverage-- we are FANS of heist movies and conmen as a whole. Put this trope in the hands of a bunch of high energy young people--playing slow and careful southerners-- was just about as awesome as you think it was. Also, hearing Channing Tatum speak with what we think was his natural accent was actually a knee-melting experience. (For her, it was watching Adam Driver. For me, it was seeing Mr. Tatum being a good parent. *sniffle* Every time.)  Anyway--it was fun. Go see it.

* Saturday, we went to Opening Day for soccer. Now this year, it was a little different--it's the first time in 9 years we only had one kid playing.  Squish's team was coached by Mate this year, and I as sort of nostalgic as I saw them walk across the field. Not nostalgic enough to feel bad when we got to leave at 1:00 pm instead of 4:00 pm, but a little nostalgic. I mean, once upon a time, we had three kids in this league.

*  ZoomBoy was a little sad--all his old player friends were still playing.  He's the first to acknowledge--they're all taller than he is and more mature, and although none of us said it, he would have gotten the crap beaten out of him this year. But still. He was sad. So in an attempt to get him to cheer up, I said, "Hey, kid! Go get a selfie with that cow!"  Of course, I didn't realize it was the Chik Fil-a cow until ZoomBoy got back with the picture (I saw the head of the cow, not the T-shirt when I sent him off on his quest) --so I apologize for not boycotting the cow in the middle of the soccer field, but he made ZoomBoy laugh, and we didn't buy any chicken, so I think we're karmically safe.

* We left Mate to continue Opening Day and came back to eat lunch and, in my case, to nap fiercely for an hour, because we had another thing to do. My lovely friend Ambrosia is having a baby, and I crocheted all through Squish's games to have her blanket ready on time. Now the blanket is not enough--just isn't--so I stopped at Target to get some more stuff.  Now one of my problems with buying ANYTHING these days is that unless you're at the grocery store where everyone knows your name, there are a thousand bits of paperwork at the end. "Do you have a rewards card? Do you want one? Do you remember your number? That's not your number, can we enroll you? Do you want to use it now? If you buy two of these items you can get a ten dollar gift certificate and a free baby!"  I mean, not to sound like the "Get off my lawn!" guy, but in the old days, they didn't gouge you in prices, and you just gave them your card and checked out. Was easy. But no-- we were all dressed, I had makeup on (!) and I had to pee. (Cause see the opening item on my agenda.)  And the clerk was like, "If you go back and get another one of these you can get both items and a ten dollar card back and--"

"That's sweet. The baby shower is in ten minutes and we just spent fifteen minutes in a three person line."

"Okay then."

She got us out pretty quickly after that--and Squish did one of the best backseat wrapping jobs I've ever seen, and huzzah! We made it.

But whew!

* Once there of course, we enjoyed ourselves immensely. I tired--and actively engaged in a wonderful conversation with the father of the baby's aunt--so I didn't get any pictures of Ambrosia which is too bad. She was beautiful.  But I DID have ZB get a picture of their hilarious and delicious cake, and that's a plus.

Oh!

So, one of the shower games was "How It's Made"--or, as you've seen it on YouTube, the "balloon humping game."  Of course the fun is in the title, and telling Squish and ZoomBoy to "go inside with your mother" didn't keep them from getting the joke. So this morning, the following conversation happened.

"Uh, what are you doing with that water balloon, son?"

"I"m putting it in the back of my shorts and then seeing what happens when it pops."

"I'm going to assume you'll get wet."

"Excellent!"

God love thirteen YO boys!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Cooking Filet of Soul

* Note-- short ficlet, drabble maybe, involving Jackson and Ellery from Fish Out of Water and Red Fish, Dead Fish 

Jackson started out Thanksgiving morning curled up on the corner of the gigantic white couch in Ellery's mother's sitting room. Ellery had woken him up in time for a brisk walk around the block, then they'd gotten back to the absurdly large house in the prestigious Boston neighborhood and showered.

Not together.

Because Ellery's entire family was sleeping somewhere in this giant old rabbit warren of a house, and Jackson wasn't sure if his dick would ever work again. Instead, Jackson had sent Ellery ahead and told him to start breakfast, but Jackson wasn't feeling hungry.

He hadn't felt hungry, in fact, since he'd gotten out of the hospital, really. Food--one of his most favorite things in the world had lost its appeal in the last two weeks, and given that he'd gotten out right before Thanksgiving, his life had turned into a long boring game of pushing food around the plate and trying to convince people he was stuffed.

He wasn't stuffed. He didn't want to be stuffed. He was afraid. There was a feeling in the hospital, of the entire concrete building pressing against his chest, of being trapped underneath it and not being able to breathe.  He was afraid if he ate too much, he'd feel like that.

He'd eaten while he was there and enjoyed it. But food or no food, that oppression would squash him against the bed, so he might as well eat.

But out of the hospital...

It was irrational.

Jackson knew it.

He didn't want to tell anybody.

Ellery and his entire family were rational as fuck. It was almost creepy. Ellery's sister Rebekah was there, along with her husband Ira and their two adorable, terrifyingly well-behaved children. They sat at the breakfast table and weighed the pros and cons of going out to play in the cold, or staying inside and getting a beneficial amount of exercise from the video game their grandmother provided, or, possibly, having an obliging adult drive them to the mall so they could all the corridors of the mall which, they'd estimated, were a full mile, if walked front to back, twice.

And those were the children.

Ellery's mother and father actually discussed the sodium content of turkey and the amount of water that was necessary to preclude any bloating in the extremities after that much salt.

Jackson couldn't face them. He told Ellery he'd meet him downstairs, put on his sweats, and found the sitting room, which was sort of out of the way.  Jackson found the remote and would have clicked for a game, figuring nobody in this household would actually watch football, but it was too early. He found the parade instead, mildly surprised that he was watching it in real time. He was there, ducking his head below the back of the couch, when Ellery's father found him.

Mr. Cramer (Jackson wasn't sure what his first name was. Everybody but Jackson called him "Dad" or "Daddy",) was a lanky man with thinking gray hair wet combed back from a widow's peak. He had a knife-blade nose much like his son's, and lower cheekbones, with a firm chin and sort of an average jawline. He didn't look like a Marine or a scientist or someone who led armies.

He looked like a lawyer--which he was--and a father.  The father thing seemed to be his favorite.

"Oh! The parade! How wonderful!"

Jackson gave him a sideways look and nodded. "I enjoy it," he said quietly. He and Jade and Kaden used to wake up early on Thanksgiving to see it. Jackson kept memories like that to himself, though. He wasn't sure how much Ellery's parents and family knew about him. He was used to wearing his past on his sleeve, proudly, almost offensively so.

But these were Ellery's parents. He couldn't offend them. He was terrified of that happening.

"Well excellent. I'll be right back then."

Mr. Cramer disappeared, and Jackson let himself be absorbed back into the couch.

*  *  *

"Well?" Ellery demanded when his father came into the kitchen.

"Let me bring out some food," Sid Cramer said patiently. "We'll just sit and eat together. No pressure."

"Can the kids come and watch the parade?" Rebekah asked, looking at her perfect children to make sure that was all right. Both kids nodded back soberly, and Ellery grimaced at his dad.

Jackson had put on a good face about the kids, but Ellery could tell--sometimes he'd open his mouth to be real, to finally say something not excruciatingly nice and terrifyingly polite in front of Ellery's family, and one of the kids would come in. Jackson's eyes would get big and he'd clamp his mouth shut.

It was silly--Jackson had a niece and nephew back home. Diamond and River, Kaden and Rhonda's children, bless them. Ellery had seen him--not a week ago!--playing, razzing, wrestling with River, telling Diamond firmly that nobody had better try to kiss her without her permission. He was great with kids.

But Rebekah's kids seemed to scare him shitless.

Sid looked at them assessingly. "Hm... one at a time, I think. Sarah, you come in about five minutes after I set up. Simon, wait here for another five minutes. Come in, sit quietly at my feet, don't say anything. We're going to let him pretend we're alone."

"Can we eat?" Simon asked practically. "I know dinner is at four, but I'm starving!"

"Of course we can eat!" Sid ruffled Simon's curls--much like Ellery's, before Ellery had learned the trick of straightening his hair and gelling it back.

"But he never eats!" Simon hissed. "It's rude to eat in front of a guest who's not eating!"

Ellery sighed. "Well, we won't get him to eat if we don't eat, so I need you to be rude while he's here, is that okay?"

"What's wrong with him?" Sarah asked bluntly, grabbing a pita square from the basket Sid was making. "He looks like he's afraid we're going to bite."

Ellery grunted. "He's had sort of a bad--" month, year, lifetime "--time. He's was sick in the hospital and it wasn't easy on him."

"Should we bring him flowers?"  Rebekah's daughter had wide, limpid brown eyes, and Ellery had a hard time looking at her and telling her no to anything.  But Jackson, hardened PI and tomcat, was not really the flower loving--

"I think that would be a lovely idea!" Sid said happily. "You think of the best ways to cheer people up!"

Ellery did a slow pan. "Dad?"

"So how is this for a plan. I take the snacks out for the table, Simon comes out five minutes later, and Sarah goes out to the side of the house and cuts the last few mums to put in water for Jackson. Is that a deal!"

"But wait!" Simon wailed. "What can I give Jackson! I want him to like me too!"

Ellery sighed. "He likes you very much," he said, pretty sure it was true. Jackson was usually great with kids. Kids, small animals, women with a pulse, gay men with eyes--Jackson was sweet to those people. Cops, doctors, bosses, bullies, authority figures of any kind, and lawyers with sticks up their asses not so much.

Ellery fit into a strange gray area-- he should have been Jackson's least favorite life form, but somehow he'd become one of the few creatures Jackson cared about unequivocally. Which possibly explained why poor Jackson was so freaked out about Ellery's family.

"You will sit on his lap," Sid decided. "You will give him a reason to stay in the same room. How's that?"

"That's a good job, zayde," Simon approved, and Ellery's father took the tray of pita bread, hummus, and vegetables that he'd been saving for h'ors d'oevres that afternoon into the living room at nine-thirty in the morning.

Ellery watched him go and fought the urge to call after him, "What do I do, Dad? C'mon, I want a job!"  He hadn't realized that taming his feral boyfriend had become a family enterprise.

Sarah said, "I'm going to go get flowers. Make sure Simon doesn't go early," and then she disappeared out the back entrance to behind the house before Ellery could so much as remind her to wear her scarf and gloves.

"Is it time yet?" Simon asked, like he was a spy about to run the op.

"No," Ellery said, trying not to be short with his nephew. "Just wait a minute, okay?"

"What are we waiting for?" Ellery's mother asked, walking into the kitchen cradling an empty coffee mug. "And where did the tray of appetizers go?"  Unlike the other times when Jackson had seen her, Taylor Cramer's holiday attire consisted of soft cream colored leggings and long cream colored tunic sweaters that hung gracefully past her hips.  For Jackson, seeing her in her casual clothes must have been like seeing his cat shave itself while dancing to pop hits. Ellery totally understood why the poor man had been dodging out of rooms the minute she'd entered for the past two days.

"Isn't it exciting, Nonni?" Simon asked, looking at his grandmother with wide eyes. "We're trying to get Ellery's boyfriend to stay in the room and eat!"

Ellery grimaced and Simon tugged his sleeve. "Now?"

"Yeah. Sure. Go ahead."

His mother cocked her head while venturing to the coffee maker. "Is this what we're doing?" Taylor asked, pouring her generously sized mug and adding sugar.

Rebekah looked over the windowsill to outside. "Well, it's why Sarah is on the side of the house, butchering the last of the mums."

Crap. "It was all Dad's idea," Ellery mumbled, cheerfully consigning his father to the bus.  "Now hush, or he'll think we're talking about him."

"Ellery!" Sarah called breathlessly, running back into the kitchen. She had a passable handful of bright purple mums in her hand, that she shoved into his grasp.  "You have to prepare them. I can't just give them to him--they need rinsing, and wrapping and--"

"Yeah, yeah," Ellery mumbled, his heart beating every second of Jackson's exile in the TV room as slow as it could. He rinsed of the flowers, recut the stems, and put them in one of his mother's plainer ceramic vases. "Here, Sarah. Go in, set this on the end table by Jackson, and then sit between him and grandpa."

"This is more thoroughly planned than my dinner," Taylor mused. "Is Jackson just sitting there, waiting to be smothered in your relatives, or did you drug him and he'll wake up later?"

"He's watching the parade," Ellery told her shortly. "And after that, I'm pretty sure there's a football game. We're anesthetizing him with pop culture and children, do you mind?"

Taylor lifted an elegant eyebrow. "I don't mind in the least. Whose idea was it?"

"Dad's," Ellery mumbled, and Rebekah -- who looked most like their father, with a sweet round face and little point chin laughed quietly.

"Of course it was. Dad can charm anybody. Are the flowers done yet, Ellery? We need Sarah to go play her part before Jackson skitters off like a stray cat."

Ellery put the vase firmly in Sarah's hands and shooed her off. "You say that like it's not a possibility, Bek."

Rebekah snorted. "That man is devoted to you. I saw the way he looked at you last night at dinner. You were talking about some case he'd solved with a couple of good questions somewhere and he just... his mouth dropped open. It was like you were standing at the portal of heaven and gesturing him in."

Ellery shuddered. "Sure," he mumbled. His mother knew the story, but he wasn't sure how much she'd told the rest of the family. "He was probably wishing for death."

Bek laughed and Taylor said kindly, "Or he could just love you, and be feeling vulnerable right now, Ellery. Don't be dramatic."

Ellery grunted and looked at the clock. "So, how long do we have before I go in?" he murmured.

"Now is good," Rebekah said softly. "You shouldn't be timed, Ellery."

"Go," Taylor told him. "Rebekah and I will bring more food in a little while."

"But won't he spoils his dinner?" Bek asked, and it was all Ellery could do not to hiss, "suck up!" in her general direction.

"Mmm..."  Taylor shook her head. "Let us see. We may have to... change our idea of what dinner should be," she said.  "Let's just see how things feel, shall we?"

Ellery raised his eyebrows. "See how things feel?"

"Mmhm."

HIs mother, the woman who had planned his and Bek's every last moment as children had just announced that during a major holiday--one, for which, he knew for a fact, his father had been cooking for two days--would now be served according to how "things feel".

He was almost afraid to go take his place next to Jackson.

But only almost. His palms actually itched with the need to go sit at his feet, wrap his hand around Jackson's calf reassuringly.

He cast a look over his shoulder at his mother and grimly hoped she knew what they were doing.

*  *  *

Ellery came in and sat on the ground in front of the couch, leaning his head against Jackson's knee, and Jackson was so comfortable he managed to bury his hands in Ellery's non-moussed hair and stroke his head once or twice before  just resting it on his shoulder. The little boy, Simon sat on his lap, head back against his shoulder, snoring softly.  He'd just clambered up there before Jackson could complain, and Jackson wondered if the late night card games he'd hear the boy having with his sister had finally caught up with him.

The girl had walked in on the other side of the couch.

"Here, Jackson. I brought you flowers. Is that okay?"

And seriously-- what kind of asshole scared a little girl about bringing in flowers, right?

She'd set the flowers down on the end table and then scooted to the middle of the couch, between Jackson and Ellery's father.  Sid Cramer had wrapped an arm around her shoulders and was pointing out the giant Snoopy balloon going down 5th Avenue.

So there Jackson was, surrounded by the sweetest people with big brown eyes, just like Ellery and nothing to do but watch the parade-- what was he supposed to do?

"Here, Jackson--I'll take him."

The parade was almost over and Ellery's sister--who looked spookily like their old man-- pulled the little boy off his lap--and then sat down in the space between Jackson and her daughter, Simon curled upon her arms.

He tapped Ellery on the shoulder. "It's a good thing I don't have to pee," he mumbled.

"Do you?" Ellery asked, all solicitousness.

"No. But I'm sort of all squished in if I did."

Ellery shrugged. "I could move and let you out."

"I'll let you know."

So peaceful, there, in the press of bodies, the quiet conversation between the adults and the children. The parade ended, Jackson got up to go to the bathroom, and when he got back, there was a cup of coffee and a tray of food by the flowers on the end table. Rebekah had laid Simon in the adjoining love seat, and he was awake now, playing quietly on a tablet,  while his father drank coffee next to him. Somebody--Ellery's father?--had pulled up the pregame coverage for the Niners game.

Lucy Satan, Ellery's mother, was nowhere to be seen.

 Ellery had pulled up to the coffee table and was munching on his own plate of appetizers. He looked at Jackson incuriously as Jackson sat down.

"The game's going to start," he said softly. "Want some rolls or oatmeal or something?"

Jackson shook his head and grabbed the plate  next to him. "Won't I wreck my appetite?" he asked.

"Frittata and fruit, Jackson. It's hardly a chocolate covered lead pipe."

Jackson grunted and started eating, lulled into submission by the peace in the room.

* * *

Ellery very carefully didn't watch him eat. When Ellery himself was done with pita bread and hummus in front of him, he crawled into Simon's vacant position on the couch and leaned his head against Jackson's arm, pretending to watch the game, and he stayed there until Jackson closed his eyes in sleep.

His father got up quietly, holding his fingers to his lips, and his mother sat down the same way.

"Asleep?" she asked, voice low.

"Yes."

"He ate," she said.

"Yes."

"Should we bring Thanksgiving in here for him?"

Ellery looked at her, curious and aghast. "You'd do that for him?"

She looked back, biting her lip in an uncharacteristic display of vulnerability. "That young man would die for you."

Ellery shuddered. He almost had. Twice. "Yeah."

"Small rituals are a small price to pay," she concluded. "Your father started the preparations already. Let us know."

She got up, leaving Ellery leaning on his sleeping boyfriend.

Jackson didn't eat enough. He hardly slept. Ellery thought it would take a miracle to get him to do either thing without an excess of nagging.

Not a miracle.  Just the combined force of his incredibly reasonable family.

Ellery listened to Jackson's breathing and wondered if his father's Thanksgiving dinner tasted more or less wonderful when it was eaten on the couch, next to Jackson. He just might have to find out.




Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Short Takes

Just a few observations made by me and mine during the day:

 First of all, ZoomBoy got his his first student picture ID today, and this is what he had to say about it.

I told him I'd put it on social media so everybody else could share the laughter.

You all were most accommodating, thank you ;-)

Next, I had to go grocery shopping so Squish could make lunch. I said, "I mean, honey. How bad could your lunches be?"

"They're bad mom. Today we had chicken and waffles."

"But I LOVE chicken and waffles."

"Eggos and nuggets, Mom!"

"Oh. That's just cruel. Shopping now."

And also today--

ZoomBoy: What do you call a country of criminal genitalia?

Me: Got nothin'

ZoomBoy: A penile colony!

Me: Or Trump Tower.

ZoomBoy: How did the triangle stop getting hy-on-pot-(en)-use?

Me: Do tell?

ZoomBoy: He had Pythagorean Therapy!

Me: Math nerd jokes!

ZoomBoy: And stoner humor-it's fusion!

And of course Chicken sent me this picture of her cat. I added the captions.

And now for a brief political rant:

For those people saying, "He won! Get over it!"-- no he didn't.

Saying that thing in the White House "won" the presidency is like saying a meth addict who had his buddy roofie a girl in a bar so he could sexually assault her in the back of her car and then steal the car "won" a Mercedes. He used nefarious means to gain unfair advantage over an unsuspecting electorate, abused the electorate, and then took something of value that didn't belong to him because his "date" was chemically (or electronically) impaired.

Way to go, Cletus--that stolen Mercedes with the unconscious victim in the back is quite a prize--the family would way rather have that thing than a college diploma anyway.

He didn't win. He had his wingman help incapacitate his victim and he stole.

And the girl in the back will NEVER get over it.

And now, for a moment of faith...

As I was grocery shopping (for Squish's sandwich fixings) there were about three people with only one or two things who got called from one line to the other.

One was black, the other was white, and the white guy had a shaved bald head and a hockey jersey. Yes--given the events in Charlottesville today, I was a little leery. The clerk called them over, and the white guy said, "You can go ahead."

The black guy said, "No--no. You were in front of me. No worries."

"Thanks, man."  

And then the white guy hung out and waited for the other  guy's groceries to be rung up--and he paid for them.

"You don't have to--"

"No. Today, on me."

Now I know that was awkward--and probably socially wrong in some way and people will find a thousand things wrong with it.

But I saw a guy who looked like the enemy, desperately trying to prove that he was a friend. An ally. And he didn't get to go first because he was white. And the rest of the world deserved kindness.

I hope I'm right. I know the man with the free dinner fixings was grateful. Yes--he could have paid for his own groceries, but God. It must have been a relief to know the stranger was a friend.

So there you go. A little faith. Goddess knows we need it.



Monday, August 14, 2017

Middle-aged Women in the Pool

Yes, I had that conversation many of us dreaded today.

The, "There is no two sides to Naziism," conversation.

I got to the pool ten minutes late (nobody is surprised by this ever) and was staying an extra ten minutes to just sort of run in place and make up the time, and I got into a conversation with another woman there.

And I heard it.

The reason media is so important.

First, the woman asked me what "catfishing" was, and I told her, which was fine--she was grateful, she didn't understand.

Then, the conversation spun into politics--bots, hacking, false identities inevitably lead to the hacked election.

Which led to Charlottesville.

Which led to someone with a limited electronic sophistication buying into what the media had served her. "Well, the president did apologize. I liked that he said 'many sides'."

"Wait," I said. "There's really only one side to white supremacy, and it's all bad."

"But no--it's important to hear both sides."

"I had four grandparents (out of six, actually) who fought in WWII because white supremacy was the ultimate evil," I said. "I'm pretty sure they weren't interested in the other side."

"But the president said--"

"He's not my president. And there is only one side to good and evil. Peaceful protesters were hurt, a woman died, because the evil guy got into a car and drove them over.  By saying there's two sides, the shitstain in the White House says the victims deserved it. That's not the country I want my children to live in."

And she just looked at me, mouth working, like she'd never heard this line of reasoning before.

Well, she probably hadn't.

I have my rarefied Twitter bubble, my comfortable FB world, where these opinions are everybody's opinions. But this woman had no idea what "catfishing" was, and she wouldn't know those places.

She would know what the fascist government is trying to feed her.

We parted pleasantly enough--but I wondered. Did it make a difference to have a real person say, "No, I reject what you've been told. This is a bad thing."

I didn't yell or scream or say she was stupid--or say she was a Nazi. Did I alienate her further? Did I maybe change her mind?  Did she maybe look at things differently?

Now, I do know my rarefied bubble--a lot of people would say this one woman, late middle age, not too up on her tech, is not worth it. Her opinion can't be changed, and even if it could be, who cares? Middle aged white woman. Move on.

But she voted--or, in this case, refused to vote because the only media she'd registered was "but her emails", and I don't know if one other person she knew personally would give her a different opinion. An appalling number of middle-aged white women voted for the shitstain in the White House--what if they'd talked to someone, just once, without their husband's point of view?

I know that there are a surprising number of women in that pool who are liberal as hell. But they talk to each other sotto voce, because they don't want to offend the conservatives. They don't want to start anything.

I also know there are other women who think I'm loud, obnoxious, and crazy as a tuna fish, as well.

Well, that hasn't changed from pretty much the rest of my life. I've finally come to terms with it, made my peace as it were. Hopefully I can do some good as a crazy tunafish. It would certainly be a comfort the next time I have to talk about Nazis in the pool.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Things to Do

So,

When I used to teach high school, we went through a couple of severely shitty principals.

There was the one guy who was talking at commencement--badly. I was sitting with the students, having had mostly seniors that year, and one of the kids leaned over and asked, all big eyes, "Who... is... that?"

"That's your principal."

"No he's not."

"I swear!"

"No! Dr. H is our principal!"

"No, he's one of the VP's."

"No!"

"Yes!"

"I shit you not, Ms. Lane, I've never seen that guy before in my life!"

Yeah.  Not a great leader.

There was the asswipe (and he shows up in a lot of stories as the guy who wrote me up for calling him 'Dude'. Which I did instead of calling him 'Asshole', or 'Vainglorious Prickweenie') who took over my class once when I got stuck in traffic. I'd forgotten my keys and I was outside my classroom (which was right next to the locked gate) pitching rocks against my window trying to get one of the kids to come let me in, and he wouldn't let the kid go.

I finally got in, and he'd apparently been lecturing them for forty-five minutes about what total worthless losers they were and how they'd never survive after high school. I heard part of this lecture. It was exactly what they said it was.

The list of this guy's sins as a leader was long and distinguished, but mostly he was just a shitty asshole and he hated his job and he hated his students and he hated us for sometimes needing him to deal with his students.

A great leader he was not.

And I think it was during that guy's reign of mediocrity (or another guy's--we had some complete hosers there, trust me) that we almost had a riot at our school.

Between fifth and sixth period those of us in outlying classrooms heard a roar and we could see a gathering in the quad. We hustled kids into our rooms and made them NOT gather at whatever the hell was going on in the quad, kept as many kids in the room as possible and hoped for the best.

Our other option was to leave our students and go charging through the campus to see what that mass of violence was, and that didn't sound awesome either.

It turned out that one of the teachers was trying to break up a fight--and ended up protecting one of the two kids who'd been involved while surrounded by a hundred screaming students threatening to make things go from bad to worse.

This teacher was one of the good ones. He'd been coopted as drama teacher and had done his credential work while teaching. He loved his kids, loved the school, loved the job.

He wanted to make a difference, so after he survived that, he went and got his admin credential and became a VP and then principal--one of the best I ever had.

Because he believed his school was better than that angry, seething mass of hatred, and even though the current leader was a shit-encrusted-butthole, he thought that with some hard work, the school could be better than that, so he tucked in to do the work.

I admit--I was pretty disaffected by this point. Those assholes--the long run of them--had all been the type of guy who picked the goofy woman who stood out from the crowd and used her as target practice.  Women in general were not their favorite--for a variety of reasons.  (The level of misogyny at a high school campus still boggles me. I could go on.)

But this guy--he'd worked with us in the trenches. We respected the holy fuck out of him. He was respectful toward ME. When my department made me feel like slime, this guy was the one who took me aside and said, "Your test scores were as high or higher than anyone else in your department. Don't let them do that to you."

It was the first time in my career besides the AP test (that one of the other assholes had taken away from me) in which someone referenced my test scores and even admitted I was doing a competent job.

Hell--that guy was responsible for my first job observation in six years.

So what's my point?

My point is we're afraid and there are riots.

There are idiots--terrible terrible people--doing terrible, terrifying things to our country and our leader is a shit-encrusted-asshole who not only doesn't know how to stop it, is actually initiating policy that helps to encourage it.

And we are afraid.  For those of us far away, we are gathering our families together and making sure they don't go out into the danger--and don't become part of it. But we're well aware (or we should be) that "far away" could be in our backyard any day. We could be the one standing in the middle of the shouting assholes, trying to protect someone because that's just our fucking job.

And no amount of complaining is going to get the shit-encrusted-asshole out of the place of leadership any sooner (although I have faith he's got to go) and when he goes, we don't have any reassurance the next guy is anything less than just "not so psychotic".

So what do we do?

Well, here's the thing. I DIDN'T have a job review in six years. None of us did. We could have been teaching the kids how to put condoms on bananas (except that would have been useful AND gotten us fired) for all anybody knew.

But we weren't.

We were all teaching them the California state standards.

Maybe not as a cohesive whole--and using shitty textbooks--but dammit, that's what we were teaching. We were fighting for the AP program and grading them on their essays and making them comprehend and even love the literature and helping them get into college.

WE NEVER STOPPED DOING OUR JOBS.

We were there for the kids. We were there for the community.

The shit-encrusted-asshole in the office was the last person we aimed to please. (DUUUUUUUUUUUDE....)

Because he really wasn't worth our attention. We could only control what was going on in our classrooms--and plan and hope and educate ourselves to train up a better leader in the future.

I know this situation is scarier. There is no guarantee a "Jimmy Eick" (which is what I called him in Bonfires) will arise, and if he did, well, we already watched the shit-encrusted-asshole betray his country to cheat his way into power.

But that doesn't change the fact that we never STOPPED TEACHING.

None of us.

We never stopped doing what was right to the best of our ability. We never stopped trying to protect our students. We never stopped trying to get them into college.

Was it easier with good leadership? Oh hell yes.

But you don't get a teaching credential and then go to a school district with a 98% free and reduced lunch rate because you're looking for easy.

So what do we do?

Same sitch, bigger stakes.

We ignore the shitty leader. We take steps to remove him, sure. But everything that comes out of his mouth is a shit-scented lie--document the lie, take appropriate steps, and let him rot from the inside out, as he appears to be doing.

And then we keep teaching. We keep NOT buying the racist rhetoric, we keep making our own communities as inclusive and as kind as we can, and when we're able, we take the leadership roles that make us feel like we're making a difference.

Mate is soccer registrar this year. One of the things he's had to deal with is helping coaches deal with children with disabilities. For example, NOT giving up on the neuro-atypical kids because a coach wants his U8 kids to be "winners!"

Such a small thing, to give someone the tools to be a better volunteer, a better mentor, a better coach. Such a small thing to try to stand up for the kid who (much like our kid) is not always on pace with the other knot of seven year olds running around in circles.

Such an important thing, trying to create a world in which everybody--EVERYBODY-- is accepted and cared for and given a chance to succeed.

And we don't need the shit-encrusted traitor who betrayed his country to vomit fascism all over our most deeply held values to tell us how to hold on to the center of those values through bile and hellfire.

Most of us already know.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A List of Wierdness

* First of all--I write as a profession. I have yet to be able to spell the word "weird" right without electronic help.  Thought that worth mentioning.

* Isn't it odd, how, every year, sometime in August, just when you think you won't be able to live with your progeny for one more minute if you have to hear them arguing about video games again, this marvelous institution opens up, and they are expected to attend for part of the day. And this happens several days a week! It's... it's amazing. It's practically magical. I wish this institution on every parent. I mean, I understand that there's a growing malignancy in our government that wishes to keep its citizens as stupid as possible and is gradually cutting money to this institution, but in the meantime, before it disappears completely, I'm going to take advantage of it.

In fact, it just might save my sanity.

*  Another magical place is Starbucks. They make both caffeinated beverages and high-calorie sugary snacks, and when you didn't get a lot of sleep the night before because you had to shuttle children to their institutions, well, Starbucks too is a magical place.

*  Tomorrow, we are taking children (and Big T!) to Lake SugarPine with my parents. For those of you who have read Rampant, yes, THAT Lake SugarPine. I'm actually looking forward to swimming in it--it's cold A.F., but there's something about swimming around in a real lake that makes me feel like all that time spent in aqua aerobics--which has not lost me a single pound, mind you--is at least IN TRAINING for something larger. Like swimming for an hour without touching in a mostly clean lake.

*  Of course, this leads to one of my biggest irrational fears--and this is where I conquer it. I do it every so often--I go swimming in water dark enough to not be able to see my feet-- or the bottom.

I've told this story a lot (and recently I asked a bunch of people about it on the blog tour for Red Fish, Dead Fish,) but I once thought I'd try to write this little phobia out of my system by putting a scene about it in Vulnerable. Cory goes swimming in Folsom Lake and a hidden vampire grabs her ankle.

Ha! Take that, hidden fear! Take that! My heroine shall rise above you!  Right?

Uh, no. Now I'm REALLY freaked out about what's under my feet when I can't see. Imagine all those old Nordic woodcuts about sea monsters that will eat you, except make them three times as ugly with too many pointy teeth-- THA'TS what's under the water, waiting to nibble on my toes.

So yeah. Going swimming in the lake? If I can hold my shit together, it makes me really damned empowered.

And if I can't, my family gets a good laugh out of that too.

*  The adolescent children are exhausted after the first day of school. This means I get to write a little earlier. This means I might go to bed a little earlier.

Wow.

The magic does not stop giving, does it?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Twas the Night Before School Starting

T'was the night before school starting
And all through the house
All the children were crying--
Or at least sad and morose.

The new shoes were nestled
All snug in their boxes
While mom double checked
For knickers and socks

While the cats in disdain
And the dogs in their need
Wondered, with the kids gone,
Who's job was to feed!

And Mate with his e-mails
And me with my yarn
Both gave boring lectures
On avoiding school harm.

Don't bait the mean bullies,
Don't forget to brush teeth
Be nice to your teachers
And get enough sleep.

Remember your pencils,
Remember your meds,
Write down all your homework
Remember your heads.

Don't forget your homeroom,
Your schedule, your lunch--
A protein bar for breakfast
The granola kind with crunch.

I'll get you up early
And help with your hair,
So we can make it to the car
With no need to swear.

I'll be up when you get ready
I'll kiss you goodbye
You're all grown up in high school
You're ready to fly

Be nice to your brother,
He's nervous enough
Yeah, I know there'll be shopping
There's always more stuff.

But now here it is bedtime
Oh so early at ten
I know you're excited
Close your eyes in pretend.

And next week when you're tired
Sleep'll be real as heck
So Mom and Dad won't stay up
Til 2 a.m. for the sex!
(Which made us cranky all summer,
And totally sleep-wrecked.)

But for now, close your eyes
Mom and Dad'll say prayers,
That they'll see all you're awesomeness
That we'll always be there
To wish you luck on the first day
When things are brand new
And give you love on the worst days
When life gets so cruel
And we'll party on the last day
Cause you've survived school.

Night kids--

I hope the next year is wonderful.




Morphology-Based Phylogeny

So folks-- it's been a while since I delved into ficlet and fan fiction land. I'm not even sure I have enough for an ENTIRE ficlet about Dex and Kane--but I have just enough time before I fall asleep to give it a try.

This was initially inspired by a meme about morphology-based phylogeny.  I swear, somebody in my FB group posted it, and I showed it to Kim Fielding who said it should be made into a ficlet.

And I live to serve.

*  *  *

Dex watched as Kane squinted at his homework over the kitchen table.

"Unca Kane has a headache," Frances announced. She put down her crayon to pat his hand and then resumed coloring. The deal had been she could do her work with her Uncle Kane while Dex made dinner--but she had to be very quiet.

Kane muttered, "Uncle Kane is looking at some damned weird words. Hey, Dexter--come over here and read this for me."

He didn't ask often, so Dex left the chicken he was simmering for dinner, washed his hands and came around the table.

"Morphology," Dex said.

"Yeah--I know that one. It means body type, right? We learned the root words. So, physical thing. Does it have hair, does it have skin-- that stuff."

Dex smiled at him, damned proud. "Yeah. Good. So you know that one. Do you know the other one?"

"Phylogeny-- that's like phylum. Like type. Like classification and stuff."

"So..." Dex waited for him to put it together.

"No--I get it," Kane said. "I just don't get it."

Frances squinted at him. "Get what?"

"Well, it's classifying stuff. Like, you know, are we all mammals. But it's based on the body things."

Dex nodded, not sure where he was going with this.  "Yeah..."

"But that's confusing. It's like... like, saying if it has hair, it's gotta be a mammal. But Frances has stuffed animals that have hair, and they're just stuffed animals."

Oh. "It's gotta be alive, silly!" Frances laughed gaily, and Kane grimaced.

He obviously wasn't done with this idea yet.

"Okay then--what about hairless cats. They're mammals, but they don't have hair, right?"

"Well that's not all true." Dex had visited the vet part of Tommy's Pet Smart a few times, trying to figure out if he and John could own part of that franchise. It didn't seem to make sense, but he knew a lot of his guys would be happier leaving porn if there was a job dealing with animals that they could get somehow.  "I've petted a hairless cat before--they actually have hair, but super short hair. It's like bristles on a pig, but his skin is softer."

Frances had a "bullshit" line between her brown eyes that activated when she was skeptical about how the world worked. "Kitties have pig skin?"

"No," Dex said, wondering how to explain this better. "Pigs have tough skin, and this kitty has a soft skin, but pigs have short hairs that bristle when you rub them backwards and hairless cats have short hairs that bristle when you rub them back."

The bullshit line got deeper. "When why are they called hairless kitties? Why aren't they called bristly kitties?"

"I do not know that," Dex told her, "and my chicken needs tending."

"Do chickens have bristles?" Frances asked, pretty much harrying him on his way to the kitchen.

"No--well, yeah. Their feathers are like bristles close to the skin."

"Do we eat those?" Frances asked, and Dex foresaw a future in which no chicken was served in their household for many many years. They'd have to resort to tofu, and Kane would rebel and leave him with all the animals and Dex's life would be over.

"We do not eat the feathers," Dex said carefully. "There are no chicken bristles in the food." Oh please don't let her ask where the meat comes from. Please don't let her ask where the meat comes from.

"But do we eat the chickens that bach-bach and lay eggs?"  Frances asked suspiciously. Kane suddenly shot upright, looking panicked. Oh yeah--it occurred to him too that if Frances decided she didn't want to eat the nice birds, with or without feathers, they were in for some long damned meals in the future.

Dex felt time telescoping down to a small dark bubble, where plucked chickens danced to taunt him and people brushed their hair with hairless cats. "Yes, bunny. Those are the chickens we eat."

"Oh." Frances nodded and went back to her coloring.  But Kane couldn't leave it alone.

"Oh? That's all you got, bunny? Oh?"

Frances looked at him, bullshit line appearing between her eyes. "Well, they're the special kind of chickens, right? The ones born without heads and feathers? So they must be for us to eat."

"Uh..."  Kane looked at him, panicked.

"Yeah," Dex said, lying his ass off to an innocent child. "Those are the special kind of chickens. We don't eat the other kind."

"Cause those are like people," Frances said.

"Sure," Kane told her, sounding stunned.

"Like coconuts. They have hair too."

Kane let out a little moan and laid his head in his arms. "I get it now," he mumbled. "Dexter, make it stop."

Dex distracted her by telling her to go wash her hands and clean up her color crayons and books.  She ran off to do just that, and Kane let out a sigh of relief.

"Oh my God, Dexter!"

"I know!" Dex hissed, turning the chicken one more time. "One false word and we're eating tofu for the rest of our lives!"

"I know, right!" Kane scrubbed his face with his hands. "I'll tell you one thing--knowing all those long words might be part of being smart, but making a category for things that depends on just a couple of body parts is hella stupid."

"Morphology based phylogeny," Dex said in wonder. "I mean, you never know what's going to cook your chicken, but you don't think it's going to be that."