10 Steps to Great Parenting


Haha.  Not really.  I just called it that because it’s funny.  I have no idea how to be a great parent.  I’m still constantly surprised that someone let me bring two babies home from the hospital with no adult in charge.

At 19, my daughter is more the parent in the house.  She was most likely the parent at 9. That’s just her nature. My observation is that we do the best we can to teach kids to be good and kind, keep them from setting expensive stuff on fire and keep them safe.  They really come fully programmed from the factory to be who they are. It’s just our job to guide them.

I had someone tell me not too long ago that I was too much a friend, not enough parent.  I am good at listening politely and then laughing when I hang up and so I did.  This from a parent whose child would rather die than spend time at home.  A self righteous parent who has no idea what their child is up to, doesn’t want to know, and is parenting by the “do not” method.  If there is a surefire way to produce a rebellious kid, it’s by the “do not” method.

So I’m a friend, so what?  My kids, at 17 and 19, choose to spend time with me, their friends hang out here and in that way, I can be a real parent, keeping them safe and knowing what’s what.  They have both survived, so far, as good and lovely humans, even with a parent like me.  They are lucky The Goose came with an adult gene to keep us all in line.  So, to other happy hippie parents everywhere, these are my ten observations:

  1. Don’t keep Sharpies within reach until kids get a driver’s license and then only with limited access.  No amount of Kilz will make this go away. Once applied in indelible ink, a hallway will still say “poop” 16 years later no matter how many coats of “Creme No. 5644” have been applied.Image
  2. Cultivate a “nothing” face, so when your kids tell you who among their friends is getting into trouble and being generally stupid you can make them think you are non-plussed by this while you cultivate a plan.  I have heard volumes of information from both of my kids, who think I”m cool enough to handle it, and in this way, I have steered them from harm.  I should be used by the FBI as a secret weapon.
  3. Don’t brag about your kids to other parents.  They don’t care.  If your child cures cancer, another parent will still find her child more fascinating because she got the the spirit stick at cheer.  Everyone thinks their kid is the best.  That’s the beauty of being a parent.  No matter how fat, skinny, tall, short, smelly, freckled, wart covered, glittery or down right stupid a child might be, to Mom and Dad, they’re da bomb.  Just keep their vibrant glory to yourself, no one else is interested, especially at parties. Nothing harshes my party mellow than pictures of someone else’s kid. Especially when I know mine are the best.Image
  4. Any time a child is expected to be quiet or respectful, like at church or at their grandparent’s anniversary party, they will inevitably belt out something rude or toot loudly and fall down laughing.  Be prepared to explain that they have had a recent concussion and come armed with medical terms.Image
  5. A child will rat you out to grandparents every chance they get.  They will tell them you didn’t actually go to church but, instead, stayed in your jammies all day watching tv, with your door closed, while expecting the kids to eat reheated Bagel Bites.  They will pull up the hems of their skirts to show the clever way their mom uses duct tape. They will tell their teachers and Sunday school teachers every infraction you commit.  They will supply the answer “wine” when their Kindergarten teacher asks what their mother’s favorite thing to make for dinner is.  They will pull on your coat and say “nuh-uh, Mommy, you quit your job!” when you tell their teacher you can’t help with field day because you’re working.  This is their revenge.  Expect it.  Stay ahead of the curve and occupy them with something, anything, when trying to speak to another adult.Image
  6. Be the “fun” house.  Always let kids come over and have fun.  Be a little bit nicer than other moms and in this way you can covertly eavesdrop and know all.  Yes, it’s messy, yes, kids want to eat constantly, but, of all the things I did right, this was one of them. I know lots more than I really want to, but at least I’m not in denial. My kids’ friends have confided in me, my kids have told all and I think I’ve had a grasp on the real situation out there.  High school is a super scary place.  It’s good to be aware.


  7. Your 11 year old travel baseball player?  Probably not going pro.  Your daughter who spends 6 days a week at dance class?  Yeah, most likely not going to be doing that at 25.  All these things are fantastic if the kids love it.  Many times, though, it’s the parents’ dream.  For crying out loud, let the kid have a day off to catch salamanders and get dirty.  Lock up the xbox and send that little precious outside to play.  A kid that has to be stripped in the garage and carried to the tub because he’s encrusted in mud is a happy kid.  It’s like a secret recipe.  Kid + water + sunshine = kid that doesn’t wear black and listen to death music.  Imagination is an awesome thing.Image
  8. Don’t try to make kids be who they’re not.  I saw a video once, called The Animal School and it changed me.  I highly recommend looking it up if you have kids in school. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wN7QfjIcVvA or, look up “Raising Small Souls” and find it there. It is the most beautifully done video for understanding individual children I’ve ever seen.) If your kid is really NOT a math kid, quit shoving it down his throat.  Chances are, he’ll do something with his real talents that don’t involve solving for X. Let kids explore their talents and abilities.  If they spend all their time trying to be good at something they’re not, they never get to be really good at what they naturally tend towards.  Kids today are over scheduled, stressed and confused.  Teach them real skills like how to balance a checkbook, how to use the front loading washer with 42 settings and how to say “yes ma’am” and “I’m sorry”.   It’ll take them a long way.
  9. Be flexible.  Kids are going to try stuff.  Be ready to keep them safe through it all.  My 16 year old called me from a party and said “I drank some beers, come get me”.  I wasn’t happy about the drinking, less happy about driving 30 miles in my jammies, in hair curlers (not really, but my hair was almost as embarrassing) but I was so happy he’d called me.  When I got there, he seemed perfectly fine.  When I commented on this he said, “yeah, I had two beers four hours ago but I promised you I’d never drive after having a sip”.  How can I be mad at that?  Kids are going to experiment, better to be able to talk about it and hope they learn.Image
  10. Teach kindness.  I raised vegetarian kids. I told them that God loves all his creation, two footed, four footed, swimming or crawling.  The one thing I’ve stressed is goodness and kindness to animals and others.  I see this deep within them, no matter what phase we’ve been in, and there have been plenty.  Sometimes teenagers aren’t happy creatures with whom to share a home.  Still, there is a carefulness for the feelings of others, a swerving for squirrels, a moving of turtles, a scooting outside of spiders that lives in them that thrills me. Show me a person who has compassion for animals and I’ll show you a person who is good to the core and won’t grow up to keep human heads in their refrigerator.

Enjoy it.  I spent years worrying over the cleanliness of my floors and the dust on my tables instead of sitting down and coloring.  Now, when it’s late in the game and I’ve seen the loss of several of my kids’ friends, I sit when they want to, I go when they ask me along and I enjoy every minute until they move out and I have to call them several times a day.  It does go by fast, even though those preschool years seem to go by in long sleepless dog years.  Young mothers, it gets better.  It gets fun.

I’m no model parent.  I am silly, can’t stick to the rules, cannot help with math.  I have been described by my son as a pushover and, sadly, by my daughter as “shrinking” (surely not, I still say I am just slumping). I see all these parents with ten million rules, expectations and demands and think they might just be missing the point.  I’m not saying my kids will invent a new source of power, but they might.  They may not make billions, but they could.  They may not change the world, but they have changed my world, and I have changed theirs.  That’s pretty cool in itself.

What is Normal? (or Yes, my Baby is Periwinkle, Thank You)

My great friend, The Trophy Wife, called me today to see what’s up.  Even though we are just two doors away, sometimes we go weeks without actually setting eyes on each other due to the fact that our families make unfair demands upon our time.  We talk every day, though, and our kids are as intertwined as a nest of snakes.

I’m sad to say that she might have been a more normal person if she’d moved somewhere else.  I feel sure that our “otherness” has been the tool that shaped her kids into absolute freaks.


(Note:  I am including this picture of an elephant with a prosthetic leg because there was no other picture that could go with this story that includes that words”prosthetic leg” that wouldn’t have been just tacky, and also because this picture restores my faith in humanity.  When someone will make an elephant a new leg AND give her a pink princess collar, all is not lost)

Once, a while back, the TW and I were lounging around on her sofa, discussing economics or string theory probably, and her stepson (who, incidentally dates my daughter, how inbred is that?) came walking in saying “hey, there’s an ambulance pulling a dead guy out of one of your rental houses”.  Within 4 seconds, her kids had strapped themselves into their car seats and were displaying a decidedly Jack Nicholson gleam in their eyes.

Upon driving the two miles away to this ramshackle house we own, complete with chicken coops in the back and dogs tied to trees, we discovered that truly, one of our tenants had passed away.  We sat for a moment in reverence and then a paramedic came out carrying the deceased man’s prosthetic leg.

I know, we’re wrong.  We should have left it alone but my friend has a great haunted house in her basement every Halloween and I could see her mind turning about what was going to happen to the leg now that it was no longer needed.  I’m just going to leave the conversations that followed to your imagination as those who were involved in it, besides the TW and me, seemed shocked by it.  TuTu, her stepson, was so disgusted by us that he shook his head all the way home. Suffice it to say, after some rational pleadings on our part against the deaf wall of understanding that often comes with people in authority, we left without the leg.

Now, some might say this is not normal. But who, really, can say what’s normal?

Take religion, for example.  I’m surely not going to get up on a religious high horse here as I find my whole grasp of organized religion changes daily.  Although I grew up with what I though was a pretty good understanding of the whole thing, as I’ve gotten older, I find I am pretty darn tolerant of most things.  As long as I’m happy where I am, I really don’t care what you believe unless you try to argue with me.  My dad got the greatest pleasure in life from Jehovah’s Witnesses who came to the door.  He would usher them inside with gusto and they would leave, an hour later, dazed and stumbling while my dad would be in the kitchen making a celebratory sandwich to chalk up another win.

I do find it sad when people say they have no belief at all.  I turn things over in my head all the time, disregarding what doesn’t make sense, including what does. I talk to God a lot, a hundred times a day, describing how happy the new plants shooting up make me feel and telling him of my disgust at WalMart for buying animals that have been raised in horrifying circumstances.  (Truly, if you’re buying meat at WalMart, shame on you for being both cruel for supporting this way of farming and tacky for buying meat, or almost anything else at WalMart.)  God might get a little tired of all my chatter, frankly. I feel that if there is a god, and I fully believe there is, he (or she, if it makes you happier) is pretty pissed about the whole state of things.  Let’s think about it, I’m confident he’s not hung up on marijuana, which he made, and who marries whom, but I’ll bet he’s really scratching his head about the fact that we cage up his wonderful creatures and then eat them.

God: “How’s that sweet little Marybelle doing, Gabriel?”

Gabriel: “Um, she’s standing right behind you already, God.  Some idiot grilled her.”


I’ll bet he might be confused about grass mowing as well.  Every time I cut the grass I picture God saying “well, hmmm, I never considered they’d do THAT with it.  Seems a little redundant, but…”

Cricket and I have the same thoughts about Native American Indians.  What if an Indian from 200 years ago could time travel and spend a day with us.

Indian: “Let’s see, you are wearing shoes that don’t allow you to run fast, don’t allow you to climb trees and make you feel like you’re running downhill at all times. It just doesn’t seem, well, normal.”

I do think both God and Indians would appreciate the joyous ingenuity behind roller coasters and water skiing though.

(I tried desperately here to find a picture of either God or an Indian on either a roller coster OR water skis.  Couldn’t find one.  Go figure.)

Normal isn’t all that important as I see it.  Except for the time someone in my neighborhood painted their 20,000 square foot house pink, I really can’t think of a time when a little deviance bothered me. I even got used to that. In fact, wacky honestly delights me.  This morning, on Facebook, for example, one of my online friends was looking for non-toxic baby paint.  I have spent all day deeply regretting that I never thought of it.  Pastel babies at Easter, neon babies in the summer.  Glow in the dark for when they catch fireflies in the yard, orange at Halloween.  The possibilities are endless.


Once people can start choosing their color for the day, racism might be out the window and wackiness will skyrocket.  I’m thinking that this would greatly please the God in whom I believe.  From what I’ve read and believe, probably God is just wishing we were a little nicer and a whole lot more tolerant.  I think being periwinkle would just be a bonus.

ImageIn a quick aside, I would like to say that my new brother-in-law, despite being a brilliant mind and a fantastic father and husband, will henceforth be referred to, both in my blog and in real life, only as “Handsome”. Make a note.

Never Too Old To Party


Last Sunday we had a really rockin’ sermon on finding time.  I say rockin’ because we now go to “church lite” which comes complete with a rock band and disco lights.  I can’t complain about the content because our pastor delivers the most loving, funny, informative sermons I’ve ever heard.  I just miss the old hymns with all four stanzas in three quarter time, with the music director making those Baptist music gang signs as we sing.

This message pertained to how we live our lives and use our time.  In it he quoted a book by a woman who has worked in hospice for years.  The book is all about the regrets of the dying.  Of course, everyone wishes they’d lived their lives differently and used their time for different things other than work.  This caused the Goose to roll his eyes a bit and ask who would have paid for things if he hadn’t worked so hard, but the rest of us got a lot out of it.

I had already been thinking of this and have been trying to have more fun and less stress.  The Goose will be really be rolling when he gets to this line because, apparently, I have a stress free life anyway.  I am less stressed because I’m made that way.  I am optimistic, usually see the bright side (except for those sad dark weeks of January) and know things will usually turn out okay.  Still, it’s easy to slide into the drudgery of everyday life.  Most mornings, my friend the Trophy Wife will call to see what i’m up to.  Every day, I mean every single solitary day, we say the same dialogue:

Good morning!

What’s up?

Nothing, cleaning up the kitchen, you?


How does this happen?

Because no one knows where anything goes but me.

Same here, or to paraphrase, word to your mutha.

It’s said by every woman everywhere at exactly the same time.  While men in other countries are simultaneously bowing toward Mecca, woman are muttering “why can’t anyone put anything where it goes?”. Someone really should work on getting us synchronized and it’d be a lot more fun.  Maybe someone could add music like they did for that guy who said “hide yo kids, hide yo wife”. .

One of my favorite movie lines is from the Addams Family where someone asks Morticia how things are going.  She replies, shrugging her shoulders, “oh, you know, I just wish I had more time to seek out the dark forces and join their hellish brigade”.  I feel her pain.  There is just no time for anything it seems.  I am not half as busy as I was 10 years ago, but seem to get nothing done.  Saturday night we had three delightful invitations, all would have been great, but 8:00 saw both the Goose and me, in our jammies, in the bed, watching mindless tv.  This just is not right.

This sermon has made me renew my efforts for fun with great devotion.  I’m really not sure what he was going for was that we try to party more, but that’s what I’m taking from it.  This year, I’m going to have more fun whether my house is straight or not.  While I am going to continue to berate my children into cleaning up their mess, I’m not going to restrict them from having friends over until a 24 hour “clean quarantine” period has passed after maid day.  I’m going to sit in my yard, drink more wine and watch my animal kingdom cavort.  I may or may not pull out old prom dresses, or I might try something new.  This might be the year for big hats. I’m going to go OUT, into the big world, after 8:00 on some weekend nights. I’m going to wear my good shoes in the rain and not save them until my dog chews them up.  I will use my grandmother’s crystal every time I have a pretty drink and sometimes just when I’m having water.  I will visit friend’s houses and not look at the clock, feeling the need to pull a “homing pigeon” and run home to see that a stray crumb has not fallen on my floor.  There might be days when I don’t make my bed, but most likely not as I want to enjoy life, not live like someone from 16 and Pregnant.

I am NOT going to lie around, in my lovely lavender bed jacket from Neiman Marcus (take heed, Cricket, the one that matches my purple earrings) and not have any (more) wild secrets to tell my hospice nurse.  I want her scandalized enough to be unable to look me in the eyes.

World beware, I’m pulling out some stops.



I’m not a huge whiner.  I said whiner, not winer.  That’s a whole different issue.  I am a person who, usually, sees the glass as half full.  Again, not the wine glass, that’s a different issue.

I get sad in the winter, though.  I am NOT a Christmas lover.  I loathe it.  I hate the mess, the drama, the sugary foods, tacky sweaters and the color red in general.  It just makes me grouchy.  The gloomy weather, though, makes me downright sad.

I’ve always been this way.  My mother, the True Southern Lady, recognized this and used to take me out of school to ride through the country on a sunny day so I could absorb a sliver of vitamin D.  Today, I take more than 35,000 units of D and still can’t stay on top of the blahs.  A week like this last one leaves me clinging to the Goose as he leaves for work, begging him to stay in bed and watch sappy movies. It forces me to rest my head on my children and expect them to tell me I am the center of their world.  It prompts me and my dog, Matilda, to gaze balefully at each other and sigh.  She gets it.

I know that exercise is a great remedy for what ails me so, considering the rain today, I dragged myself to the gym and listened to inappropriate music designed to further damage my aged ears.  I felt better.  Much better!  Then I came home.

Home should be a clean and serene place.  An oasis.  Today I came home to two bored dogs and a pig loose in the house.  Babette has rounded a corner to become a friendly and sweet pig.  She’s a jumping pig and launches herself onto my white sofa several times a day.  I have an entire stack of snout cleaning towels in my laundry room.  She had rooted up most of the yard, removed all my pansies and decorative cabbages and turned over two garden statues. Still, I love that little swine.

The thing about pigs is, they are hungry, and they are smart.  They oink about it about once every three seconds, rhythmically, loudly and with a passion.  They hear the most covert opening of a Kit Kat bar in the kitchen, no matter how hard one hides.  In all the years my dogs have lived with me they have never entertained the notion that they could find food in the house and feed themselves. Today, Babette learned to open the cabinets and serve herself.  She then helped out her friends, the dogs, and together, they devoured some Apple Jacks, several Kit Kat bars, chips, drink mix, pet treats (which I am thinking were pork flavored and I shudder at the cannibalistic implications), some oatmeal pies, unpopped popcorn and some straws. She even gnawed through the prune container.  That’s dedication.  She was straining the elastic on her pink harness when I arrived home, fat and swollen, but is even now trying other cabinets to see what treasures they hold.  The dogs have named her their messiah and are in awe of her ingenuity.

So, I no longer have time to be sad and gloomy. This house looks like a set for a scary movie.  The Goose says I love any emergency in which something must be cleaned or repaired.  He once dropped a can of latex paint in the kitchen and just stood there and said “Go to it!  You know you love it.” and it’s true. I just need a mission, no matter how lame.  We all do.  So I’ll get to it now, turn on all the lights, turn up some of the kids loud music with lyrics that make me blush and clean up for when my family comes back in from the world and tracks mud right back across the floor. Days like today cause me to want to sniff my coconut oil furniture polish and dream of summer.  Image

Thanksgiving Schmanksgiving

ImageI need everyone to know just how normally we began.  I keep saying this! I mean, my family was NORMAL! I grew up normal, the Goose and I were normal when we married.  When I had babies, I was a really good mom.  They had schedules, both slept all the way through the night before three weeks, ate right, took baths.  I read a story every night, we listened to Wee Bible Songs in the car.  They had my parents as the best grandparents who ever lived.  I believe this could the at the heart of the issue. 

When my parents passed away, we just went to hell in a monogrammed handbag.  

Also, my house might have something to do with it.  We moved out here in the sticks before the wave arrived.  The house, ugly and sprawling, sat for two years without anyone making an offer.  Thank goodness one of the only three talents I possess is design.  I was in the business and the Goose has “an eye” as well (oh, I’m going to catch hell for saying this) and we saw through all it’s scary bluster and blue carpet.  That said, it has been a monster of a house that my mother in law said I would never be able to keep clean.  I refuse to make a snide posthumous remark here. It would just be too easy and those of you with monster-in-laws can fill in the blanks. 

If it were just us four, we might have held it together.  But no, living with us we’ve had one snarky foster child, one bi-polar uncle, two hospice patients, Shep’s traveling circus of friends, Cricket’s boyfriends, 25 fawns, numerous opossums, snakes, squirrels, two house rabbits, two house pigs, multiple dogs and cats, way too many housekeepers with personal issues, visiting relatives, oh and a frog that escaped and was seen for years just sitting in the sun in various rooms. We have played thousands of games of sardines in the dark and have managed to retrieve each and every person without much damage to their soul or body. There has been more covert smooching in my basement than anywhere in the county, I shudder to think. Kids have ridden mattresses down the stairs. At least one million drinks have been spilled by probably one million kids. There have been so many bonfires that the smell of woodsmoke is ingrained in our very hearts. Things have been launched, set afire, catapulted and a coconut bra was thrown through a new giant tv.  A sheep has run through my house on more than one occasion,  not to mention the craziness that goes on in my barn. It is insane.  


I’m planning for Thanksgiving now.  Growing up, I only ate downtown at beautiful hotel buffets for Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, the ones with omelet makers in tall hats ready to jump to satisfy my gastronomical desires.  Just my little family, well behaved and nicely dressed (I was an only child). There was always a harp playing, artichoke salad, little tarts for dessert.  As an adult, I’ve run the half marathon most years downtown.  This year, though, I am lazy and out of shape and so we are having a “bastards” dinner here for those of us without families in town, or whose loved ones have gone.  The diversity in our group is enormous.  I would have never imagined that my “family” would grow to be what we are but I love it.  Stop asking yourself what I’ll do about cooking.  With heartfelt apologies to the two turkeys, Arlo 2 and Marlin, and two pigs, Orson and Babette, in my family, you know I’ll order in for the carnivores at my table.  Kids will be drinking Kool-aid from my grandmother’s crystal and that will be okay.  Adults will be telling stories, exaggerating, and loosening their belts. There will be laborious cocktails in silver shakers, wine will flow and things will get broken. Some will take walks.  Sheep will graze on the lawn and all will be right with the world.  

Judging by television, maybe families aren’t the same normal they were when we were growing up.  When I look at my list of guests, I feel so blessed that, even though my everyday group of friends are with their families, there is always room for other friendships to grow and become closer and we can fill in for those who we miss so much it hurts, like my mother and dad. I am so excited and hoping to add anyone else who wants to come. I don’t care if people have to eat on the stairs, I want a real Thanksgiving, because sometimes I think we all forget to be thankful. This year, I am going to stop and be thankful in the moment that anyone loves me and that I have all of these people to love right back. 

Everyone is invited. I can tell you this, there will be lots of non-poisonous food not made by me, barrels of wine, tons of laughter, music playing in the background (probably Jerry Garcia, not a harp, but anyway…) and time to be thankful for all the love for which this creaky, lovely old house with hidden rooms and uneven floors has had the room. Ya’ll come on, ya hear, and bring a casserole! 



ImageSo I’m lying here, enjoying Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin and relishing the fact that I’m not out walking little kids around door to door, freezing and trying to balance a flashlight, a two grubby little hands and a wine glass.  Really, I’m just happy about the missing the cold.  It’s a little sad to see that my mommy Halloween packed up it’s candy bag and left years ago.  (This is where I’ll thank you, Cricket, not to bring up the fact that I sometimes let your dad take you and I stayed home to man the door with my friends and cocktails!)

I don’t understand those folks who claim to hate Halloween.  I can’t even begin to address those who believe it’s evil.  I grew up Baptist, my mother was perfect and thought Halloween was just fine and I’m sure she got that information directly from God.  I went to Christian school and I know that NOWHERE does it say “thou shalt not dress as a Power Ranger and collect candy”.  

Why, in the world, would anyone not want to put on a costume?  I’ve frequently been known to whip on an old prom dress or glittery majorette costume just for Friday night cocktail hour.  It just makes things more fun.  The other day I had on a gown with a 6 ft. train and walked several times around the kitchen and considered it a good floor cleaning. 

The Goose refuses to dress up.  Twice, I’ve had him in a Halloween costume.  When we were first married and he still could be moved by “a look”, I made him a Jolly Green Giant costume by dying a pair of long underwear green and making him a leaf dress to wear over it.  I then covered him with green paint and went with him as Sprout.  We went to a party at his boss’ house.  Just this weekend I was reminiscing with his boss and he had the audacity to bring up the fact that there were parts of his house with traces of green paint, on carpets and walls for years.  I am assuming he was commenting on our exuberant dancing and the Goose’s “nap” on the carpet sometime in the wee hours.  I wish I still had a picture of it. 

Several years ago, when he had become immune to “the look”, Cricket asked him to dress up and he did, briefly, wear a pair of fairy wings while downing some beers.  Fifteen minutes, tops. I DO have a picture of this, but am not allowed to post it lest the Goose’s business associates realize he has a fun side and a family.  

When the kids were little, we would become so overcome in the costume isle that I couldn’t say no and we would go home with a 2nd mortgage’s worth of costumes that required a change every hour.  As Shep wore his for some part of everyday for two years, I felt I got my money’s worth. The child wore a batman cape and frog boots for two solid years, ever day.  Everywhere.  The costumes, the pumpkin candy holders, the nip in the air, neighbors, wine.  I loved Halloween with little kids. I loved Halloween as a child.  I really liked it as a teenager (except for the two month’s worth of trouble I was in afterwards…sorry, Mom and sorry to my date for all the throw up in his car.  I mean, really, you make a drink that tastes like peppermint schnapps and expect kids to know when to say when? Seems like some kind of conspiracy to me!)

You know what else is great about Halloween?  Parties.  Parties where everyone dresses up, there’s lots of good stuff to eat and drink and, best of all, NO GIFTS!  There is absolutely no stress about what to take and give.  No wrapping, shopping, guessing if what you’ve brought is adequate.  I love that.  You just throw back a shot or two, put on a wig and, voila, good times.  My love, the Trophy Wife and her husband, Big Poppy have a party that beats all others.  In years past I have misbehaved to the extent that my children and husband have chastised me greatly for weeks.  This year, I was SO good that I remember all parts of it and it was fantastic.  

Wrapping up, Halloween is good and bad.  On the surface, it’s fun, but  it’s the sneaky little holiday that makes us think the oncoming winter is going to be okay.  By Black Friday, most of us realize we’ve been duped and are already longing for spring.  So it’s a good thing to give this scary night it’s homage.  Now, it’s November, though, and I can’t help but think of the ugly woman with her make-up off on the morning after.  Things just look bleak and scary with just the cold and the talk of the election.  Ugh!  Somebody hand me a fluffy dress, quick!


My Darling Clementine

ImageWhen I finally moved to the country 15 years ago, we built a barn.  Not having anything to put in it, I set about changing that.  During my years as a designer, I sold many English paintings with sheep.  I had come to love anything with sheep in it, paintings, prints, etchings, lamps with porcelain sheep, sweaters with sheep (yes, you know the one, 24 white sheep, one black one, a fashion embarrassment if there ever was one) and sheep “doodads and geegaws”, including sheep soap.  One day, I saw an add for sheep in the paper.  The Golden Goose and I loaded up our small children and took off to claim our sweet, wooly little lamb.  When I got there, there were no lambs to be had, but a field of muddy, hairy, smelly sheep, crying and running from the farmer like he was Satan.  (Turns out he was.) We had driven 92 miles with a daughter who had gotten carsick and thrown up in her brother’s hat.  This caused her brother to cry because it was his favorite hat and he wanted it back, barf or not.  Also, I have to stop a lot to go to the bathroom.  I don’t know what it is about getting into the car with the Goose that makes me have to pee, but he says it is to counteract the skill with which he passes every car and a deep seated need to undermine his dominancy on the road.  Whatever it was, we weren’t leaving without a sheep. 

The farmer told me I could “pick me out one” and I chose one that looked exactly like every other sheep in the pasture.  He then told me she would probably not like me for a while and that sheep weren’t all that smart or friendly.  When I asked when and how she should be sheared, he just laughed and said “lady, these ain’t wool sheep, these is EATIN sheep”.  As a vegetarian with veg kids, I almost passed out.  Suddenly, all these sheep in the pasture needed to be saved.  I cried, the kids cried, but the Goose steadfastly refused to buy all 300.  So, we folded our large sheep into a dog crate made for a small dog.  She none too happy about this.  We put her in the back of the Goose’s truck for men who want to seem manly but really want a luxury car inside and she baaaahhed and cried all the way home.  Upon stopping at a Dairy Queen to use the loo, she startled the entire ice cream eating crowd.  After she was unloaded, though, she defied the evil sheep eating farmer by looking at me with love and commencing to follow me everywhere.  She was lovely! That was 12 years ago.  Clementine is still with me and is, by far, the most intelligent animal I’ve ever come across.  This includes labs, all other dogs, small children, and my in-laws. 

Many know my problem with animals wanting to come into the house.  I’ve been described as the lady with animals in her house.  This is not true!  As a designer, I must say I have a great house.  It’s clean and normal and really pretty.  Things do get in from time to time though and one night when chaos was happening with my kids, kids’ friends, and adults with  cocktails, Clementine got in.  She doesn’t really look for me but goes straight to the pantry for cookies.  She has a terrible sweet tooth.  The Goose’s way of dealing with her is to herd her by standing behind her and bumping her towards the door, muttering and swearing (both of them).  On this particular evening, the pizza delivery man arrived at our glass door just as the Goose, bent over Clementine, bumping her on the behind to move was trying to exit through our mud room.  The man gaped while the Goose stammered an explanation for why he had a sheep in a scandalous rear chokehold, but the man didn’t want to know.  He just took the cash and left in haste.  


Last Valentine’s Day the Goose was forced to give me real little lamb.  (Forced because we saw one gamboling on the side of the road on the way home from dinner and a man who has FORGOTTEN all the accouterment of Valentine’s Day really can’t argue with a seething wife.)  Clarence is not intelligent.  He is needy.  This is because I allowed him to stay inside (it was cold!) for a few days provided he wear a diaper which I firmly affixed with damask duct tape.  Yes, I know, it’s wrong, but he, like every other animal, is affronted that he cannot come in and lie by the bed.  

I don’t really have a zingy wrap up here, only to say that sheep are individuals, just like people.  The fact that people eat lamb, one of the cruelest things I’ve ever heard (what they do to those babies before they hit your plate is unthinkable) makes me sad.  Imagine your yellow lab cut into bits and covered in mint sauce and order a salad next time!