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.

Goodbye, My Friend

Kristy,

Thank you. Thank you for allowing me to share your burden for a time. The only thing worse than watching your tender heart crushed under the weight of so much would have been to think you’d carried it all alone. I’m so sorry it wasn’t enough.

These last few days, I’ve sat and reread years of conversations with you over text and instant messages. Yes, even the one from 5am on a Saturday. You shared your heart with me and trusted me with struggles I can’t begin to comprehend. I’ve always been far more comfortable in my skin than you ever were in yours. But I loved you just the same.

We shared a love of shooting stuff, both with guns and cameras. We shared random Dr. Who references and discussed deep philosophical concepts. I knew of your heartaches and your moments of joy. You spent so much time caring about everyone else, that I think you forgot to care about yourself.

I lied to you. I said, “Love you too. I think you’re going to be just fine.”

I didn’t think you’d be fine. I hoped beyond hope that you would, but I was so very afraid that you wouldn’t be. Sometimes, I hate being right. I wish you could have seen yourself through my eyes. Maybe, in some moments, you did. Compassionate and funny, smart and creative.  And most of all, my friend. I don’t waste my time with worthless people.

Thank you for being a part of my story and allowing me to be a part of yours.  Thank you for reaching out to me when you were hurting and giving me the chance to speak love into your life. I had hoped to share more chapters in our stories, but it wasn’t meant to be. Even knowing how the story ends, I wouldn’t trade our time together to be spared the pain of your loss.

Goodbye, my friend.

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.

Something You Should Know

If I choose to engage in a debate with you*, take it as a compliment. I have already decided that I respect you enough to honestly consider your point of view. Sure, I disagree and even believe you are wrong. But I do not believe you are an idiot. Misguided, maybe. Or maybe I am.

You see, although I believe I have taken the best possible stance based on what I know to be true and the experiences I have had, I am always willing to increase the dataset I am working with. Provide enough information and/or a perspective I hadn’t considered, and you might even change my mind. It’s happened before. Even if you don’t, you will increase my understanding of your point of view provided we can have an actual conversation coming from a place of mutual respect.

I do not engage idiots. I have, and it only ends in frustration. It often descends into name calling and adds nothing to the overall discourse. I have no desire to add to the animosity and division in the world. I want to come away from debates enlightened, not angry. I think we’ve all spent too much time getting angry at the image we hold of various people, and too often we forget that it’s a person behind the beliefs they may hold.

I believe you are better than that. I believe you are capable of considering my point of view as well. I may not change your mind, and that’s okay. We can still be friends even if we disagree.

*I bet you think this post is about you, don’t you? Don’t you? Naw, you’re not vain. It might be. You aren’t alone. Please tell me you’re singing now.

An Open Letter the Guy At the Pool

I’m sure you’re a super nice guy, and yes, your kid* is freaking adorable with those bright blue eyes and long camel eyelashes, but your game could use a bit of work. For one, although I’m sure the family pool at the Y is a great place to get to know some local ladies, you should probably steer clear of the ones with rocks on their hands. Particularly when the guy with the matching ring is just a few feet away.

Also, I don’t know how it’s possible that I could smell your body spray from 3 feet away in a chlorinated pool. That’s some serious dedication. At least we all know you aren’t afraid of commitment, but you and that bottle might need some time apart. Honestly, I’m kind of fascinated. Does that require a brining process to get the full saturation? Hmm, maybe I don’t really want to know. I suppose it could be related to amazingly well-manicured stubble.

And by the way, the cute little lifeguard is probably younger than your swim trunks.

*I assume it’s your kid. I suppose that could be your nephew or just some random toddler you picked up on the way. Either way, he’s got that flirtation game down.