The Horrible Hot Tub Story

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Is this thing still on?

Spent the weekend with dear friends which always does my soul good. Maybe not my waistline, but certainly my soul. At the close of the weekend, OldNFO admonished me to “throw something up on the blog once in a while.” One shouldn’t ignore such things, and it just so happens that I realized I have story often told in person that has yet to be told here.

One of the *cough* amenities that was included when we purchased our house was a hot tub. Said hot tub promptly shelled its pump a few months after we signed the mortgage and became a large, fiberglass tub of misery, gook, and breeding mosquitoes. Sure we drained it and kept it covered, but somehow rain and detritus would find its way in so I made it a practice to thrown in chlorine tabs and some bleach from time to time in an attempt to keep the mosquitoes and mystery odors under control. My brother promised that one day, he was coming to get the thing and fix it up just as soon as he had a place to put it.

Fast forward to a lovely Saturday in early fall. A perfect day for a cookout. The weather guessers had predicted it and so we had invited everyone over to partake in some grilled goodness in our backyard. Hubby went off to gather the meat, and I headed out to the backyard to make it ready for the festivities.

That’s when the smell hit me. Assuming the storms had created some sort of unholy concoction in the hot tub, I grabbed a gallon of bleach and poured it in without lifting more than just the very corner of the hot tub cover.

I swear to you, the tub belched out a green, putrid cloud of evil. It then laughed at my attempt to sterilize whatever was hidden inside and have a nice, normal gathering of my parents, grandparents, in-laws, and their parents. The trees recoiled in disgust. That’s when I knew.

I had to open the tub.

Horror. Pure horror awaited inside.

Starlings. 21 nasty, dirty, garbage eating starlings had apparently sought shelter from the storm inside the hot tub, where they drowned. I found 21 dead and rotting starlings. They were bloated and most of the feathers had fallen off.

What to do? I’ve got people coming over and a tub of rotting death to greet them. It’s not like I could just throw them in the trash.

So I did the only rational thing, I dug a hole. A large hole.

Remember how I told you that hubby had gone for supplies and meat? This is the point in the story where he returns triumphantly only to find his mud-coated wife standing in a 3 foot deep hole with a crazed look on her face and holding a shovel.

“Honey?” he inquired.

“I have to bury the bodies.”

In that moment, he knew I’d snapped. Had our guests arrived too early? Or was it the neighbors with the yippy dog?

I muttered something about the f*ing birds and proceeded to ladle Satan’s chicken soup out of the hot tub and into the hole. Hubby, wisely, went back into the house.

With the birds neatly buried, we went on to have a lovely picnic with the family, but I couldn’t eat chicken for months. The hot tub has since been cut into pieces and left out for large trash pick up. I took special glee in watching the garbage truck crush its remains.

How’s The View From That High Horse?

Because I think you’re missing the details. While you throw accusations of insensitivity at me you’re stomping on sacred ground.

And don’t you dare try to offer me your comfort and sympathy now. You don’t deserve the warm and fuzzy feelings of that. Yes, I dared to state that pets aren’t the same as children. That was so very harsh of me. Do you need a safe space?

That’s cute. You’re going to lecture me on how hard Mother’s Day is for some people. Did it ever occur to you that I may be one of those people? Oh that’s right, you can’t see past your sanctimony. You can trot right on out on that high horse of yours.

Complicated. Yeah. I’m supposed to play your silly games and pretend that your love for your dog is equal to my grief for the child I lost before they ever took a breath. On Mother’s Day, I might add.

I hear you, just scroll past and ignore it if it bothers you that much. I see how well that worked out for you. No, you decided I must need to be informed and educated and put in my place. Here’s your freaking medal.

As if I could compare stroking my cat’s fur as he breathed his last to my friend that held her child’s hand as she lost her battle to cancer. That would monstrous. I’d be a terrible human being for even hinting at such.

Right. I’m insensitive. I’m a horrible person.

Why don’t you go ahead and explain how insensitive I am to the 85-year-old woman I held as she made the heart-wrenching decision to turn off her daughter’s life support? Indeed, she took great solace in caring for the cats her daughter left behind, but she’d trade them all for another moment with her daughter.

Go on. I’ll wait.

Emerson, the cat, came into our lives during a period of intense turmoil, and he was and still is a source of tremendous comfort. I needed to nurture something. I needed the unconditional love in return and he gave it and then some. He continues to do so today. He has been there for more of my ugly sobbing than I care to get into. It would be doing him an injustice to treat him as a replacement for a child. He’s no surrogate. He’s far more sensitive than you, actually.

Some day, far sooner than I’ll be ready, he’ll be gone. It’s my job and responsibility to make sure that process goes as peacefully and painlessly as possible. I will weep. The grief will be intense and include more of those ugly sobs.

Trust me, I get it that our pets can bring great comfort and solace in the face of pain and difficulty. That relationship is wonderful, special, and not the same as parenthood. Funny how no one seems to have noticed that I didn’t even say it was less. I only said it was different.

Am I a good person? Well my dog thinks so, anyway. My real friends do to. Me? Well, I try to be. Really, I think that’s all any of us can do.

KaBoom! A Place for Play

Today seems the right day to tell this story, the one year anniversary of Amy’s overcoming.

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I’m not wearing that bracelet anymore. I wanted it to do something more. Something different than just becoming a thing that I wore or a keepsake in my jewelry box. Her memory deserves something special.

The answer started with a huge puddle of mud.

Which would soon become a playground, but we had a long way to go and a lot of work to get there.

There was a mountain of mulch

This hole seemed like a good spot

Mud and all

A little help from some friends.

And a swing-set is born.

Add some concrete

And a little on your host.

The overcomer bracelet became a permanent part of a place built for laughter and joy. It rests in the concrete at the base of the swing-set.

I’d like to think Amy would approve.

My Brother is a Grandpa

But I got to hold his granddaughter before he did. It’s what bratty little sisters have to do.

Grace Marie

I don’t know when my brother got old enough to be a grandpa, but there you have it. Hilariously, he’s going to be a daddy again in about 9 weeks. But we all know it’s the aunties that are the favorites anyway 😉

Grace Marie entered the world on Saturday, April 9th weighing in at a mere 5 pounds and 6 ounces. Haven’t held a baby that small in just over 17 years.

He’s grown a bit since then, but Teenbot was only 5 pounds 12 ounces when he came into the world. Sometimes it seems like just yesterday.

She even wiggled out a tiny foot just like her big cousin used to do.

Just wait until she figures out that her great uncle is actually the EvylRobot.

Life moves forward into new adventures.

Life is Crazy and Beautiful

So as you may have seen elsewhere around the interwebs, we spent our weekend with our tribe. Our chosen family. Phlegmfest.

Saturday night sitting in OldNFO‘s living room, I was reminiscing with Christina.  I remarked that here in this room sit some of my very favorite people on the planet and it all started with a little shindig she threw some years back. We’d never met, but since Jim suggested she invite us, she did. I think he may have left out the part where he hadn’t met the Evylrobot and me.

But we figured, what the hell. Let’s take a road trip. What could possibly go wrong? I went to my boss to request the time off. He granted it and conversationally asked, “So what do you have planned?”

“Oh, erm. We’re going out of state to meet people from the internet. With guns.”

He gave me the look. You know the one.

Best crazy idea ever.

Never in a million years would I have thought that party would lead all the wild places that it has. Because of that weekend, I have since found myself dressed in a vinyl catsuit standing in a room cheering on the waxing of a friend. We’ve presented a pink gorilla to none other than Lawdog, himself, and we’ve traded puns with Peter and Dot. We’ve killed and eaten some of FarmDad‘s chickens. We’ve spent our lives south of the Mason Dixon, but it took GayCynic to make grits we actually enjoy. I’ve had my intoxication levels evaluated by Matt G, and gone antiquing with the divine miss Phlegmmy.

It was a pleasure, as always, to spend the weekend with this ragtag group of mischief makers. My soul is replenished by the laughter of my friends. Those of the tribe that didn’t make it, know that you were missed, and we look forward to being in your company soon. Hopefully no one will wind up in the emergency room next time.

Uncluttering

My life has been over-cluttered, not just with the things I’ve collected that are scattered about my house (although that’s certainly an issue), but with too many distractions and influences that aren’t really adding to my quality of life. It’s time I do something about it.

No, I’m not about to do some mass Facebook unfriending, but there will be some. If you are reading this, you aren’t likely to be on the chopping block, particularly if we interact on a regular basis. Quite honestly, that paring down process has already begun, but I seriously doubt those that have been cut have noticed.

I’m simplifying my feedreader. I just don’t have the time or inclination to read each and every blog currently listed there. I find more and more often that I am hitting the mark as read button anyway. Again, those that will be removed aren’t likely to notice as I probably haven’t been interacting with them already.

And yeah, stuff. I have books that I haven’t gotten around to reading that I probably never will. I have half-finished projects that I should really be honest about and pass on. I have too many “things that may come in handy someday.” So many, in fact, that if someday ever came, I’d never find them.

I want my house to a place where I can welcome my friends. I can’t do that today. And I want my relationships to be real and interactive. I have no need for drama and gossip in my life. It doesn’t enrich my life or make me a better person.

Why should I even tell you this? I don’t know. Few, if any, of you will even be affected. If I suddenly vanish from your friends list and you miss me, message me. I probably cut you off by mistake. That is not my intent.

My intent is a refocus on what is really important. I saw so many people who I really care about this weekend, most of whom had fallen out of touch. I met their children that I didn’t even know existed. I saw the devastation on the other side of my city where people lost their homes and all their stuff. Nobody cared about the stuff. They were just glad to be alright and able to be together.

I want more of that and less clutter. I want to shoot more, both firearms and photographs. And I want to share it all with the people who really matter. People that are a real part of my life, both online and off.

Am I going to stop blogging? Fat chance, you aren’t getting rid of me that easily! Hopefully, I’ll blog more. I want the conversation. The real conversations rather than the drive by kind. And hey! We’ve made some tasty food that I need to share with you all.

She Has Overcome

 

10296634_765089633525106_5060874179762599544_nI have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

That’s the verse printed on the inside of this bracelet. It’s been on my wrist almost constantly for the last year. I took that picture April 30th of 2014. It’s in support of Amy. I’ve told you about Amy.

Early this morning, she ran out of tomorrows. She is cancer free now, and she has overcome this world. And this world is a colder, darker place today.

She leaves behind a devoted husband, 2 young girls, two siblings, her mother, father, and countless friends whose lives she enriched.

 

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Her daughters brought her this flower. I understand she held it until the end.

Amy,

You were truly a gift from God. A light that shone too brightly for this world. I am blessed to have been a part of your life and heartbroken that your role in mine has come to an end. I know, my tears will dry and I will be left with only the blessing, but today is not that day.

Claim your crown and your new body. Rest in the peace you so richly deserve.

An Open Letter

But not from me.

As for the fear, I will face that head on. I will not allow the victim mentality to win.

You see, living in fear is a choice. You can choose to tremble in the dark, or you can choose to face it head on. Also, making the decision to equip yourself with a lethal weapon does not come from a place of hate. Sometimes you even pray for the bad guys. Go read the whole thing.