Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fall, Brain Damage and Flies

Some of the better things about fall are that it is no longer necessary to mow the lawn, unless you are my husband. He continues to mow even though no one can tell. I think it’s a man thing because all the men in our neighborhood continue to mow. I think you get some kind of man prize for being the last mower. 

Another perk about autumn is that flies fly slower and I can actually swat some of them. The ones that I keep missing die soon anyway. Recently I had a medical condition that has left me a little unbalanced, forgetful, screwed up my depth perception, and messed with my hand-eye coordination. In other words I have a bit of brain damage, which, actually serves as a handy excuse in most situations, although it has not served me well when I am trying to swat flies.

Thirty five years ago this would not have been a problem because I was an anti-fly swatting, pest loving, tree hugging kind of girl. In other words I was weird. Okay, I probably had brain damage back then too.

Once in the third grade when I went out for recess on a cold fall day, I noticed that the flies could not fly. They stuck to the walls, poor things. Lucky they had me around. I scooped them up with my bare hands, which I’m sure I didn’t wash afterwards and this was long before hand sanitizer came on the market, and put them in my pencil box, which I put inside my desk when recess was over. Once inside, the flies warmed up. Of course I cracked the lid of the pencil box open not wanting them to suffocate. One by one they began to fly out of the box. They swarmed around my teacher’s head, who yelled, “Where are all these flies coming from?” She then got the fly swatter and killed them all in cold blood.

Traumatized and devastated, I came home from school and told my mom the whole sad story. Turns out she had done the exact same thing in elementary school. What are the odds? Anybody else out there have a similar experience?

Unfortunately or fortunately, my fly loving days are over. I am now an avid killer of flies and most of the time spiders. Sometimes, however I trap spiders under a cup and take them outside to freeze to death. At least I don’t have their blood directly on my hands, right?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Trouble With Boys

            When I was 4 months pregnant with our seventh child, my husband and I watched intently as I received the all telling which gender will the baby be, ultrasound. We left the kids home this time after our son last time, upon learning that he would have yet another sister, did the shouty-pouty routine accompanied with the stink-eye for the bad-news-bearer.  It was high drama I tell you. 
            As the technician slid the slimy probe across my belly, he asked about the brood we’d left at home.  “Five girls, one boy,” I told him.  “I’m pretty sure it’s a girl,” I said.   My mother-in-law, who has great intuition also thought “it” was a girl. 
            “Well, I have to tell you,” the technician said in long drawn out words, as we all ogled the monitor which looked like a bad Etch a Sketch drawing, “that you are definitely having another. . .boy.” My heart stopped.  The husband gasped.  We did a mental high five because with five daughters we had been experiencing a lot of horror-mones lately.
            This euphoric state lasted about 30 seconds, when it was quickly followed by a dark, troubling, horrific thought, PINEWOOD DERBY CAR!!!  How are two people who barely remember to have the oil changed in their car supposed to make a Pinewood Derby car?  How are two people that only carve turkey on Thanksgiving and pumpkins at Halloween, neither of which end up resembling a race car, supposed to take a block of wood and make it look like a vehicle???? 
            When we faced this terrifying dilemma with our first son, I had bachelor brothers who were easily amused and easily persuaded to participate in activities such as this.  These were the same brothers who just for fun choreographed a synchronized swimming routine in our above ground swimming pool to Carmina Burana, who ran naked through golf courses and who would spend entire days making marble runs out of old vhs cassette tape holders.  So you can imagine how thrilled they were at the time to have a Pinewood Derby project.
            My youngest brother actually participated in a pinewood derby as an adult.  Okay, as a young adult.  There is a difference.  This brother put a rocket engine on his car and rigged it so that it would ignite when the starting gate went down.  This would have worked great if the race track was outdoors.  After a few horrible seconds when everyone thought the church was going to blow up, the bishop turned to him as the smoke cleared and said, “I think that’s against the rules.” 
            Under the tutelage of these brothers, my son actually won first place one year.  Okay, it wasn’t tutelage it was more like complete and total take over and domination of an eight year old.  However, these selfish brothers don’t think about me as much anymore as they are occupied with things like law school, wives, children and jobs.  Too bad for me.
            So, we bought the Pinewood Derby car kit a month before the event and stared at it  on the desk.  We thought the kit would inspire us.  Instead, it gave us nightmares.  Finally, the week of the derby we took it out of the box.  My son drew the shape and my husband cut it out with some kind of hand saw that you power with your hand as opposed to a motor.  He managed to do this without swearing, cutting off his finger, or cutting into the kitchen chair that the block of wood was fastened too. 
            This was followed by a 9:55 p.m. run on a school night to Home Depot to get sandpaper.  The son sanded.  The mom (me) got on-line to see how much you could buy cars for.  Ninety-nine dollars!!  Can you believe that?  What a racket.  The mom (me) told the boy to keep sanding!  The mom (me) then Googles paint designs for Pinewood Derby Cars.  She finds a cool easy one with wild eyes and a fangy looking mouth.  But Son has his own ideas which are not nearly as cool as the mother’s. 
            Pinewood Derby night arrives.  The most important thing is “the speech.” “It’s not about winning or losing,” we tell him, “it’s about having fun.”  After the speech, the husband and I pray that the wheels won’t fall off the car and that he won’t come in last every heat. 
            The night was a success.  We, I mean he, got a second a few thirds and a fourth (out of four).  There were no raging horror-mones (as in the testosterone variety) or shouty-pouty tantrums by the son, the dad or the mom.  He had fun.  We held together.  Our wheels did not fall off and we stayed on the track.
            One year down, one to go.  Anybody want to buy a Pinewood Derby Car?  It’s a real steal at only $49.99.

My son, the one on the end with the "tire" shaped mouth--his car, the fourth from the left on the back row.  Notice the brilliant Hershey car front row third from the left.  Now that's my kind of car.  Okay, so you can't really see it, but it's a block of wood with a Hershey candy-bar label.  LOVE IT!

Okay, so I stopped being lazy and did a bigger picture of the Hershey car.  Wasn't that nice of me?  I hope it helps somebody out.