396 Months Old Today (That’s Mom-Speak for 33 Years)

http://linkus.flamingtext.com/

http://linkus.flamingtext.com/

Daily Foglifter:  On this day in history, these famous people were born:

  • 1978 Me (Of course)
  • 1976 Ewan McGregor  (Help me Obi Wan, you’re my only hope.)
  • 1959 Angus Young, guitarist for AC/DC  (Oh, I hope he’s the one in the suit coat, tie, and short pants)
  • 1948 Al Gore (An Inconvenient Coincidence)
  • 1948 Rhea Perlman (Love Cheers.  Love Carla)
  • 1943 Christopher Walken  (This list just got a whole lot cooler)
  • 1939 Liz Claiborne  (And more stylish, too)
  • 1929 Liz Claiborne (And weirder.  Both dates are listed.  No matter, I loved her perfume in 8th grade and wore enough of it to make anyone within 300 ft. gag)
  • 1732 Franz Joseph Haydn, Austrian Composer (The Surprise Symphony is charming)
  • 1596 Rene Descartes, Philosopher (He thought, therefore he was)

In honor of my birthday I’m taking Friday off from dear old Momfog.  Actually, I’m writing this Wednesday night so I don’t have to write anything on Thursday either.    I am suffering from blogger’s remorse and am grateful for the break.  In all honesty, I don’t have anything meaningful to say.  If it wasn’t my birthday, I don’t know what I would’ve written about.   But I digress.  Let’s get back to the birthday!

I got my first little cake Wednesday night and, because my saint-of-a-mother-in-law knows me so well, a key lime pie.  She has also agreed to take the kids Friday night so me and the hubby can go get some chow alone.  First, it’s to the Starbuck’s to redeem my FREE birthday drink certificate while they try to convince me to buy Howard Schultz’s book , then to the Carrabbas to have the fabulous Chicken Bryan (grilled chicken, goat cheese, lemon butter sauce with sun-dried tomatoes)  and then it’s off to the Cinnabon for a large, succulent roll with extra icing (in lieu of birthday cake).  It’s going to be fantastic!

I’m going to try and convince my husband to watch “Letters to Juliet” with me, but I’m not holding my breath.  I convinced him to watch “Bed of Roses” with me 15 years ago and he has never let me forget it.  I think I might be able to guilt him into it, though. ( I watched “The Expendables” which is FAR, FAR worse torture.)  After all, he also gets to eat Carrabbas, drink Starbuck’s coffee, and eat a Cinnabon, so where’s the “gift” in that?  We’ll see.

I’ve received two gifts already.  The first, the $25 check my dear sweet grandmother gives everyone on their birthday.  Second, a glamorous “Happy Birthday” bracelet made from aluminum foil by my budding fashionista daughter, Molly.  It’s tres chic.   Add those to the 10 pounds I’m going to gain, and it’s already looking to be a fantabulous birthday!

An Original Creation from the House of Molly

Hope you guys have a great weekend!

“Every now and then, um, everybody’s entitled to too much perfection.”  ~Line from the movie “Bed of Roses.”

 

Last Friday, I started a little project.  I’m taking an unscientific survey about the music preferences of those who visit this site, be it regular readers or search engine misdirects.  I need the information for a future post.  It’s only 3 quick and easy questions.  If you don’t mind helping me out, click here.  Thanks so much!

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Julie, Julia, and Me

Cover of "Julie & Julia"
Cover of Julie & Julia
Daily Foglifter: It takes about 21 pounds of whole milk to make 1 pound of butter.
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I’m watching Julie & Julia and it is quite possibly one of my favorite movies.  Meryl Streep is absolutely fantastic as Julia Child!  I have to admit though, right now,  it’s making me very uncomfortable.  It just got to the part where Julie has a fight with her husband over her obsession with her blog.  He complains about her obsession with her readers.  He gets mad at her because she constantly refers to him as a “saint” in her blog and then yells at her not to write about their fight.  Then comes this exchange:
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Eric:
I mean, what’s gonna happen when you’re no longer the center of the universe?
Julie: That’s just great.  I am finally totally engaged in something.  Okay, maybe I’m being a little narcissistic.
Eric: A little? On a scale of 10?
Julie: Okay, a 9.3. But what do you think a blog is?  It’s me, me, me day after day.
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Then there were words like “totally,” “self-absorbed,” and “person” used together in a sentence that is completely unrelated to me in any way.
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On that note, I’m going to go do something for someone else.  If at all possible, something that is uncomfortable, inconvenient, and possibly painful.
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“Is there anything better than butter? Think it over, any time you taste something that’s delicious beyond imagining and you say ‘what’s in this?’ the answer is always going to be butter. The day there is a meteorite rushing toward Earth and we have thirty days to live, I am going to spend it eating butter. Here is my final word on the subject, you can never have too much butter.”
– Julie Powell, Julie & Julie
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My first “unself-absorbed” action, while being extremely low-effort on my part, is to help out a friend by asking a small favor of you.
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There is a young lady who suffers from a chronic illness and does so with grace, faith, and humor.  She writes a very interesting blog called “The Abundant Life.”  She needs your vote.  If you follow the link http://forblogs.blogspot.com/ you will see a Vote for the Blog of the Month box.  It would be great if you would vote for “The Abundant Life.”  Thanks so much!
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The link to the actual blog is http://theabundantlifeblog.com/

A Child’s Wish

You can learn a lot from a child’s essay…

I have a dream that everyone will be happy in this world.  Nobody would have disabilities.  Nobody would have hunger problems.  So nobody would have any problem on the planet.  My true wish would be that this planet would be happy.

This is an essay written by my son, Mikey.  It’s a lovely sentiment and I’m proud that my son is able to think enough about others to envision such a world.  A funny thing about this essay, though.  That second sentence is not one I would expect to find in an essay by a 10-year-old boy.  Hunger, yes, but disabilities?  Well, my 10-year-old is special.  He knows all about disabilities.  Mikey has autism.

Mikey was diagnosed with autism when he was three years old.  I had seen the signs–loss of acquired language, a refusal to walk barefoot on carpet, clinging to DVD cases as if his life depended on them, repetitive hand movements.  Oddly enough, the suggestion of autism didn’t come from my pediatrician, it came from a women’s magazine in an article sandwiched between health and beauty tips and 30 recipes for 30-minute dinners.  I remember reading it aloud to my mother-in-law in her car as we were driving down Highway 17 while Mikey stared out the window, laughing at nothing.  I could tell she wasn’t surprised.  She had suspected something was wrong for a while.  Moms are different.  I didn’t want to see it, even though it was painfully obvious.  If I ignored it, it might go away.  That article prompted me to make an appointment with a pediatric neurologist.

The visit was a nightmare.  I was sitting in a waiting room reading the posters on the wall boasting the creative geniuses that were most likely autistic–Vincent Van Gogh, Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  Was this list supposed to make me feel better?  A penniless, insane painter who cut off part of his own ear and died by suicide at age 37?  Two brilliant composers known for their violent mood swings or inability to function like normal people?  Beethoven was an angry, intolerant man who suffered from depression his entire life.  And Mozart was a sickly, dissolute genius who died at the age of 35.  I was not encouraged.

It got worse when the doctor came in.  The first thing she did was get right in Mikey’s face and try to make him look her in the eye.  Then she handed him this spiky toy that vibrated like crazy and when he immediately dropped it, thrust it into his hands again.  Mikey was in agony.  I told myself that she was trying to get honest reactions out of him.  When she held him tight against her and started rocking him violently back and forth, I felt the hair on the back of my neck rise.  The final straw came when she grabbed him by the ankles and hung him upside down.  He freaked and I jumped up and grabbed him and started rubbing his back with as much pressure as I could muster, as it was one of the few kinds of physical touches he could endure.  At the time, I didn’t know that this was yet another sign of his autism.  It wouldn’t be the long before I realized the “quirks” I noticed in his interactions with people all pointed to the same baffling disorder.

The doctor didn’t say anything for at least 5 minutes.  She sat scribbling away on Mikey’s chart while I tried to calm him down.  When she finally finished writing, she had the nerve to get in Mikey’s face and say, in a stern voice, “We don’t scream like that.  You have to calm down or I’m going to make you sit at the table I have in the corner over there.”  I was livid.  I didn’t care that it worked and Mikey got very quiet and very still.  All I could think of was his terrified little face while he was hanging upside down.  How dare she reprimand my son when it was her fault he was upset in the first place!  My anger didn’t last long once she started to speak.  I was too shocked.

She apologized for putting Mikey through the “examination.”  Examination, I thought.  Yeah, right.  Then she explained that normal functioning children enjoy hanging upside down and have no problem holding on to vibrating spiky balls.  It was a baby’s toy, after all, and Mikey is hardly a baby.  I conceded the point, albeit grudgingly.  The she started throwing words around like autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder, echolalia, hyper/hypo-responsiveness, stimming, and idiosyncratic language. Now I was just scared.  By this time, Mikey had made his way to the little table in the corner to look at the DVD case (yet again) that he had brought with him.  I looked at him and he held it up for me to see.  I smiled.  He didn’t.

When I looked back at the doctor she was headlong into a list of tests that would have to be run on my baby.  EEG, EKG, MRI, CAT scan, Genetic testing (i.e. blood work) and a hearing test (finally one that didn’t involve hooking my baby up to wires and electrodes or poking him with a needle).  The hearing test is mandatory as a lot of symptoms of autism coincide with deafness, but we both knew Mikey could hear just fine.  I would also have to fill out a bunch of questionnaires and see speech and occupational therapists.   Because of his age, he would be getting these services in the public school system, which had a special autism class.  He was barely three, for God’s sake, and he would be going to school.   I was also told to put him on a regimen of high dosage vitamins, including fish oil.  The child already had a particular gift for vomiting if anything remotely displeasing to him got near his lips (another symptom).  The next thing I know, I have a stack of copied handouts, a list of phone numbers, a laundry list of prescriptions, and a piece of paper that said “Autism spectrum disorder” in exactly that color ink, and I’m leading Mikey out the door.

I strapped him in his car seat and handed him his DVD.  He looked out the window and smiled.  Not at me.  At nothing.  I broke down in tears.

That was almost 8 years ago.  I don’t think about that day very often because Mikey has done well.  He’s on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum and early intervention (speech, sensory, and occupational therapy) worked wonders.  Fortunately, in the early years, all the pain and worry about the disorder rests in the hands of the parents.  Small children are more accepting of others and less aware of their own “quirks.”  Unfortunately, it can’t last.

Now, as Mikey gets older he’s beginning to understand that he’s not like everyone else.  There have been heart-breaking conversations about girls and marriage.  Exclusion from an advanced learning class, not because he wasn’t smart enough, but because he couldn’t pass the “creativity” section.  Apologies for “melting down” when he was eliminated from a spelling bee.  The pain of autism is no longer mine alone.

And now the essay.  Maybe I’m reading too much into it.  He’s smart and very observant.  Maybe he’s talking about a severely handicapped child he knows in school.  I want that to be true, but all I can think about is Nobody will have disabilities….this planet would be happy.

A child’s wish. MY child’s wish.

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.”   ~Henry David Thoreau 1817-1862

writers' week

Oh Canada!

After just over 2 months of back-breaking, emotionally draining writing and shameless self-promotion, I’ve reached the 3000 mark.

Thank You!

Daily Foglifter:  Canada is a major producer and consumer of cheese. In 1997, Canadians produced 350,000 tons of at least 32 varieties of cheese and ate an average of 23.4 pounds per person, with cheddar being the most popular.

First, I want to point out the translate feature in the sidebar.  You click on that link and this blog can be translated into any of the languages listed.  Go ahead.  Try it.  I spent a good 10 or 15 minutes translating just so I could see what different languages looked like.  Yeah, I have no life.

Also, just for funsies, I went to alexa.com to see where Momfog was ranking.  Worldwide, I am the ranked

7,544,520!

That’s right.  There are only 7, 544, 519 people who are more interesting than me in the wide, wide world of blogging.  Jealous?

On a much more encouraging note, I am considerably more endearing in Canada.  Momfog is ranked

103,763!

What’s that all aboot, eh?  (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)  I suspect Canadians can sense the mutual love of cheese that exudes from my very being.  Seriously, isn’t cheese the greatest thing EVER?  (Note: For all I know, there may only be 103,763 blogs being read in Canada.  But, compared to 7,544,520, it looks WAY more impressive.)

Despite my overall good will for Canada right now, I am not going to talk about hockey or curling.  This weekend it was all about basketball and T-ball.  Friday night saw my beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats advancing to the Elite 8 over the number one seed, the Ohio State Buckeyes in the NCAA Tournament.  It was awesome.

Saturday, my son had his first T-ball game of the season and, despite the sand gants, it was great.  There isn’t anything cuter than a bunch of five year-olds simultaneously converging on a hit ball or dramatically sliding into home.  The added bonus was Billy hitting last.  When hitting last, players run around all the bases so every hit is a homerun.  It’s a coveted position in the line-up.  Then, my saint of a mother-in-law (her official name on Momfog) took us to Jumping Jacks, an arcade and indoor bouncy house mecca and then to the Hardee’s for dinner.  The kids were occupied and fight-free AND I didn’t even have to cook.

Then Sunday there was more NCAA basketball and my Cats win over the much-despised North Carolina Tar Heels to make an appearance in the Final Four.  My considerate hubby picked up dinner and I didn’t have to cook.  AGAIN!  The kids went to bed and we watched a really good movie together.

Life is sweet.

You know you’re from Canada if…

  • You think sexy lingerie is tube-socks and a flannel nightie with only 8 buttons
  • The trunk of your car doubles as a deep freeze
  • You only know three spices:  Salt, Pepper, and Ketchup

Last Friday, I started a little project.  I’m taking an unscientific survey about the music preferences of those who visit this site, be it regular readers or search engine misdirects.  I need the information for a future post.  It’s only 3 quick and easy questions.  If you don’t mind helping me out, click here.  Thanks so much!

What’s On Your Playlist?

Image via stock.xchange.comDaily Foglifter:  There are an average of 50 albums released per week  in the United States and United Kingdom.  That’s 2500 per year.

I’m always interested in what kind of music people listen to.  Many times, it’s not what I would expect at all.  I get an average of about 60 visitors to Momfog every day.  A lot of those are regular visitors and we exchange comments and have mini-conversations here, as well as in forums or other blogs.  We have a certain degree of “relationship” and I think we form opinions about each other based on the limited information we exchange.  For instance, one “regular” said the other day that she liked fantasy literature.  I was surprised for some reason.  It just didn’t seem to fit.  That’s ridiculous, of course.  I couldn’t tell you my best friend’s favorite literary genre.  Someone who resembles me in age, marital status, number of children, backgrounds, and religious affiliation is not likely to share my taste in books or music.  It’s a completely individual thing.  I want to put together a little report about the different kinds of music people like.  It’s sort of my own personal research project so….

Help a girl out and answer a few very easy and quick questions!

What are you listening to?

I want to know the favorite genres of music or the favorite group/singer/composer of the people who read this blog.  Include your age, gender, and nationality when responding.

http://www.photoxpress.com/Info/RFLicense

Instructions

  1. Name your current favorite song(s) or group(s) or musical genre.  Include your reason for liking if you want to share or persuade.

  2. Give your age and gender.  (Ladies–feel free to leave an -ish answer if you prefer.)

  3. State your nationality.

I’ll start.

  1. I’m on a Mumford and Sons kick at the moment.  I think it’s the “bluegrass” kind of feel I get in the songs.  It reminds me of Kentucky, my home state.  Also, the lyrics are heavily influenced by literature.  LOVE that!
  2. Female, age 32.
  3. American

Now it’s your turn.  Hit the comment button and make my day!  Thanks!

Savannah: The Scourge and The Solace

 

Early azaleas on a fence in my neighborhood

Daily Foglifter:  When General Sherman marched through Savannah during the Civil War, he was so impressed by her beauty that he sent a telegraph to President Lincoln, offering Savannah to him as a Christmas present.

 

 
 

Close-up of Red Azaleas

I’m sitting here looking out the window basking in the splendor of the a perfect day.  Spring has sprung in Savannah and it’s a beautiful time of year.  The temperature is in the 80’s, the days are longer, and the aroma of blooming flowers permeates the air.  The azaleas are in blossom and the roadsides, fences, and lawns of Savannah are saturated in pinks, reds, and whites.  It’s truly a stunning sight to behold.

The price of living on the beautiful Atlantic Coast is the insects.  The absolute worst specimen being the sand gnat of the family Ceratopogonidae.  They bite, they swarm, they love landing in your hair.  They present themselves in the spring and stay until the weather turns cold, which sometimes doesn’t happen until late November or early December.  They make life miserable.

J.F. Gregory Park

Not even the bouquet of magnolias and gardenias can compete with the stench of insect repellent one is required to apply before setting foot out of doors.  Not that it will do any good.  One must pray for continuous gusting winds to blow the little suckers away for the tiniest bit of respite.  Another somewhat effective repellent is incense.  Baseball games smell like Catholic or Eastern Orthodox worship services.  I guess in a way, it’s a similar notion.  The prayers of the Saints, rising up to God, to please, please,please smite the unholy sand gnats.  Every summer my fellow church members claim that one of the questions they are going to ask God is, “What was the purpose of sand gnats?”  I suspect they’re the prelude to the Fifth Trumpet that releases the demonic locusts from the bottomless pit–just to give us a tiny taste of what’s coming.

Azalea Row

Unfortunately, sand gnats aren’t the only problem.  There are marshes (a more polite and genteel way of saying “swamps”) everywhere in and around Savannah.  Aside from the pungent aroma of marsh gases (a more polite and genteel way of saying “rotten boiled egg stench”), these marshes breed mosquitos.  Millions of mosquitos.  The city tries to combat the number of mosquitos by spraying frequently, but they’re still a nuisance.  The worst part of the spraying is that it also kills lightning bugs.  I remember fondly the summer nights of capturing lightning bugs in glass jars in my childhood and it saddens me that my children will not have similar memories when they are grown.

Noon Sun Through the Spanish Moss

Completing the unholy trinity is the fire ant.  These little buggers build giant sand mounds in lawns and dare anyone to walk through it.  The unsuspecting visitor will immediately be covered in large red biting ants that have a special knack for infiltrating shoes and socks.  The poor victim wildly removes said footwear, only to discover he’s too late.  The feet are already covered in bites that will burn and itch for days and leave large unsightly scabs that will last for weeks.

Red and Pink Azaleas

Spanish Moss and Water

Ogeechee Boat Dock at King's Ferry

While the bugs and nearly unbearable heat and humidity are awful, they pale in comparison to the charm and beauty of Savannah.  It’s a lovely city with a rich heritage.  The people are models in southern hospitality, slow and long in their speech, and quick to offer tall glasses of sweet iced tea.  The lazy rivers, tranquil coastlines, and the live oaks and towering pines draped in spanish moss evoke the same sombre and romantic notions in Savannah’s residents that inspired writers like Johnny Mercer and Flannery O’Connor.   It’s a bewitching and glorious city and one that I’m honored to call home.

“Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one.”  ~Flannery O’Connor

         

         

        

 

    

 

                   

Linking up to The Lightning and The Lightning Bug today.

A Return To Reading: Elegance and Ecology

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http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/Daily Foglifter:  Hedgehogs swim, climb walls and trees, and can run with a speed of 4.5 mph.

I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t been reading very much lately.  I have three library books out and I’ve already had to renew them once.  That gives me four more weeks to finish them before they’re due.  I have also borrowed two books that I need to read and return.  I hope to get all five done in a month’s time.  It’s my Return to Reading challenge. 

Reading is a habit, but, unfortunately, it’s one that is easily broken.  I forget for a few days and suddenly it’s two weeks later and I haven’t read a thing.  It’s bad for my brain and it’s especially bad for my writing.  No one writes well who doesn’t read well.  Fortunately for me I have chosen two spectacular books to read first.  I don’t usually start one book before I’m done with another, but it was by happy accident that I discovered a book while at my in-laws’ house.  My extremely well-read father-in-law had checked a book out and I was intrigued by the title and picked it up.  I was hooked by the end of 10 pages.  So, it’s two books this week.

The book I picked up is Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Jannise Ray.  Ray is a Georgia gal from the small town of Baxley, located about 78 miles from where I live.  The book is about her quest to save the longleaf pine ecosystem.  The subject hits close to home.  In the last month I’ve seen acres of pine trees cut down around my home for, I assume, another neighborhood of houses no one can afford to buy.  I normally wouldn’t read an “environmental” book because, quite frankly, they’re preachy, elitist, and dry as dust.  Ray is different.  It’s a book about conservation, yes, but it’s so much more.  It’s about her hard childhood and her effort to escape the embarrassment of living in a junkyard in the poor South.  It’s about her family and her connection to the land.  The story of her life and the history of the longleaf pine are woven together in a beautiful tale of loss and hope.

The creation ends in south Georgia, at the very edge of the sweet earth.  Only the sky, widest of the wide, goes on, flatness against flatness.  The sky appears so close that, with a long-enough extension ladder, you think you could touch it, and sometimes you do, when clouds descend in the night to set a fine pelt of dew on the grasses, leaving behind white trails of fog and mist. 

At night the stars are thick and bright as a pint jar of fireflies, the moon at full a pearly orb, sailing through them like an egret.  By day the sun, close in a paper sky, laps moisture from the land, then gives it back, always an exchange.  Even in drought, when each dawn a parched sun cracks against the horizon’s griddle, the air is thick with water.  (pg.3, Introduction to Ecology of a Cracker Childhood)

The other book I’m reading is The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.  I’m only halfway through this one but I absolutely love it so far.  I have a feeling it might end tragically but it will be a pleasurable pain.  With writing this sublime, how could it not be?  It was translated from French, and I can only imagine how much better it would be read in its original language.  The story is told by super-intelligent 12-year-old Paloma and Renee, a concierge in an elegant Parisian hotel.  I’m not going to go into the plot.  I’d rather you discover that for yourself. 

 

So, we mustn’t forget any of this, absolutely not. We have to live with the certainty that we’ll get old and that it won’t look nice or be good or feel happy.  And tell ourselves that it’s now that matters: to build something, now, at any price, using all our strength.  Always remember that there’s a retirement home waiting somewhere and so we have to surpass ourselves every day, make every day undying.  Climb our own personal Everest and do it in such a way that every step is a little bit of eternity.

That’s what the future is for: to build the present, with real plans, made by living people.  (pg. 129, final paragraph of Profound Thought No. 8 )

 

Note:  Both these books are available at thriftbooks.com