Lops

Fruit and vegetable stands are a big, let’s say cottage industry, in my patch of PA. Because many of the proprietors have more farm smarts than book learning there are often interesting interpretations of the English language on the hand-lettered signs they display to promote their produce.
I lived in the greater DC area for four years after college. Upon returning to Pennsylvania as an adult, I found the presence of these stands comforting. They were just part of the backdrop of my childhood and adolescence when my world was small, and it didn’t occur to me that it wasn’t the same everywhere. As an adult, after living in a more urban area, I appreciated more the culture of the simple grow, sell, eat these stands are part of.
On my new commute, I passed a stand run by an older gentleman. The plywood and black paint sign boldly and cheerfully let all passing cars know that there were Lops for sale. That would be lopes or cantaloupes if you need an interpretation.
Every day, I would pass this man and just dream of sneaking back in the dark and adding the “e”. And possibly an apostrophe. He became the lops guy in our house. He was a consistency to both my and John’s drives to work. I think I stopped once or twice for some produce, but not really all that often. Mostly because he only took cash, and I never remembered to stop at the ATM. His stand was on the edge of a very large field of weeds and wild flowers. It was the last green before a long strip of trucking industry based around the intersection of three major highways. I kinda grew to love the Lops guy.

Then one summer, he wasn’t back. Hm. There were vague rumors that he was sick. He wasn’t back the next summer either, and without being told, I knew what had happened. The sultry summer drive became a little less interesting. The field faded into the backdrop having lost its little splash of color.
Lops guy must have owned the lot where his stand was located. And a couple years after he was gone, the heirs or whoever sold the land. Now it is townhouses. They are better than another huge trucking depot or gas station. But still, it’s less green, more human being. More backdrop than stand out.
I wish I had remembered to stop at the ATM more.
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Jedi Mom

I was solo for bedtime last night, and it was Friday. I have a tendency to be a little more lax on Fridays, so I didn’t push sleepy time too hard. Leila was out by nine, and CJ held on until nine thirty. John got home, and we were in bed around ten thirty.
At eleven, CJ started fussing. I waited. Fussing turn to crying. I got up and got him back to sleep. I started to nod off. Leila starts fussing. I waited. A little more fussing. In my half stupor I start thinking I can comfort her from where I am. I start imagining waves of motherly comfort exuding from my body, riding currents of air, permeating the walls and crashing over my children like the surf on the sand.
Leila stopped fussing. I hold my breath. I have to breath again and still quiet.
I am a Jedi! I can control the moods of children who I can’t even see. I shall be honored and teach other parents how to Jedi parent. Yoda would bow to me. It will be a parenting revolution.
Then Leila started screaming. Loudly.
On a sigh, I get up and go to physically parent.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Where earrings are swallowed and barbaric yawlps are heard

I’m cross-posting this over at Daddy Runs a Lot.

It had been a very, very long day. For the most part, the kids had been good – they woke up in a foreign house (we spent Saturday night in northern Virginia with friends), spent several hours in the car, got fun & sun in Grandy’s pool1, and we were hitting the “home stretch” for bedtime.

I’m not a stickler for routine. I have some friends who have the bedtime process working like a well-oiled machine, and I envy these friends . . . except when something goes astray. When the routine is broken, the meltdowns are truly epic. And, I’m pretty sure that these kids are being set up to be drug addicts. But, I digress. I don’t have a bedtime routine. Sometime between 7 & 8, it’s time to gauge the situation. If one kid is over-tired and throwing a fit, I’ll place said kid in a death grip and fall asleep cuddle until the kid’s fight to stay awake dies. If the kid is truly off the walls, I’ll throw said kid in a stroller and walk around the block. But, for the most part, I’ll simply let the kids play until they’re showing signs of imminent sleep.

When both Duffy & I are in the room, and sleep appears imminent, both kids have the same pattern. They’ll start with one of us, and we’ll feed them milk, but when they realize that they’re falling asleep, suddenly they need the other parent to hold them. Not uncommonly in this exchange, they’ll find a second wind. Last night was no different.

Duffy had Leila, and I had CJ, and things were going pretty good. I thought CJ was about asleep when Duffy took out her earrings because Leila was tugging on them. I did something stupid & CJ awoke with a bolt. He walked over to Duffy because, obviously, I was using some sort of black magic to nearly have him asleep, and he wanted none of it.

Duffy now had both babies, Leila nearly asleep, when CJ saw something on the floor that had to be investigated. So, Duffy put him down, but he then saw the earrings sitting on the snack table.

He grabbed one.

As toddlers are wont to do, he put it in his mouth.

I sprang into action.

I saw the earring in his mouth, and then put my finger into his mouth to sweep it out.

He bit my finger.

I recoiled.

I put my finger back in his mouth, and the earring was not there.

He bit my finger again.

There was but a split second that he could have spit the earring out, and I still hold hope that he did just that, but I think it’s safe to say that a bead, dangling on 14k wire is in a toddler’s digestive system.

This was not something I was used to. And I had no idea what to do. I have medical professionals that I’m “close to” via Twitter. My mother is a retired operating room nurse. My father-in-law (he of the pool) is a physician’s assistant. We made the decision to call my father-in-law, and he basically told us that, if he really swallowed it, there isn’t much to do but wait for it to pass.

Yeah, through the other end.

An emergency room visit would only yield an x-ray, to confirm what we already knew. For now, we just needed to wait.

Duffy hung up the phone after talking to her dad, and the two of us scoured the room, trying to figure out if, maybe, he did spit things. It’s safe to say we were freaking out, though not nearly as badly as we might. It was a bad situation, but it wasn’t horrible.

In the middle of all of this, Leila, who had been sitting in the middle of the commotion, playing with a set of blocks, decides to up & stand on her own two feet. The commotion stops as Duffy & I stare, slack-jawed, at our daughter.

Because she must be the center of attention, she started babbling at a volume that only she can reach. After her little nonsensical monologue, she sat back down and resumed the block playing.

You know that scene in Dead Poets Society where they’re reading Whitman? “I sound my barbaric yawp”? Well, this certainly felt like Leila sounding her barbaric yawp.

In the aftermath, diaper changing ought to be fun today. I’m very hopeful that things will pass without incident, though I fear that the earring will never be worn again. And, I think we’re nearing the “two toddler” stage, despite very clear instructions to my little girl that she’s done enough growing up already.


1 Duffy’s father’s name is Randall. Grandfather + Randy = Grandy

Is That a Pink Plus Sign?

I never thought I would see that little symbol. But there it was on a day late in October 2009, five weeks before our adoptive son was due to be born. Well, it ended up being two weeks before Coltrane’s arrival that Leila made her presence known. So nothing has really gone according to plan, but when does it ever?

Approximately nine months later, I was numbed from the chest down, holding John’s hand when we heard our daughter for the first time. I spent the rest of the day attempting to breastfeed. Because of the anesthesia, every time I tried to look down at her, I threw up, so I was feeding her with my head tilted back. I must have been a pale, clammy mess because the next day everyone just kept saying how much better I looked. So apparently, it was a rough day. I never noticed.
Happy Birthday, Leila. You are my wonderful drama queen of a Little Miss. Thanks for being my daughter.

Perspective

John and I had a lovely evening out this last Saturday. It was an adult evening playing games, snacking and drinking with some friends. It was one of those evenings on which I laughed to the point of tears and sore cheek muscles. Brilliant. Also thank you to my sister and brother-in-law, the awesomest babysitters ever. Driving home, I was ready to hug the kids. I missed their little faces, and I was ready to feel their sleepy weight against my shoulder. And that all happened. We managed to transfer from pack-n-plays to car seats to cribs without any major fuss. (This I also want to thank their uncle for because he spend the majority of the evening tiring them out with couch jumping.) I went to sleep with my adult tank refilled, and my mom tank at a healthy level as well.
And then my mom engine flooded. 6:30 AM hit. And they were awake. I took them downstairs to let John get a little more sleep, in theory, before he had a work thing to take care of. What transpired next was one of those things that non-parents do not believe and will just make parents nod in understanding. It involved a diaper blow out whose extent I did not realize until after both children found the evidence before me. Clean up involved floor cleaner, bleach, and baths for the kids.
This is not why anyone chooses to become a parent. This is something that you don’t really think happens. They exaggerate this stuff for movies. Even if you have been around kids before, if they aren’t yours, chances are you haven’t had to really deal with anything like this until you have kids of your own. Yes there are exceptions. I am aware.
Then there is the flip side. I remember when we started talking about having kids and then it wasn’t happening, I would watch some kid run across say the church’s gym floor into his or her mother’s arms. They could be laughing, crying, or just running, but they wanted nothing more than their mother’s arms. I would be holding a child, and he or she would reach for Mom. This situation was a snapshot of what I wanted as a parent. To love and need and be loved and needed on the most basic of human levels. And the yearning I felt and the way I thought that would feel is, just like the diaper incident, nothing to what it is really like. I am the one run to. I am the one reached for. Sometimes that hug is not necessarily a sanitary moment. Sometimes it takes all the strength I have left to left a child into my arms and comfort or laugh. But each time, I remember how much I wanted it.
It’s all about perspective.

Suck It, Disney and your Prom

Fuck this Prom movie. The commercials make me all stabby. I want to get up on the roof of my local middle schools with a bullhorn and scream at the top of my lungs, “If prom is the end all and be all of your high school years, you have don’t something WRONG!” Seriously, is there anyone for whom prom was the highlight of your four years of high school? At most it was a fun time, maybe even a romantic time for some, but it ain’t never magical. Heck even if you are the cliche and had sex for the first time in some hotel or limo or wherever on prom night, it wasn’t magical. If it was, then I bow to you and your partner because at most the first time is pleasant with a hint of how it might make your toes curl in the future. And the only way prom changes your life is if you got knocked up.
I mean, it’s a gym with Christmas lights. OK, maybe your school sprung for a ballroom or even a cruise but still. I can’t for the life of me remember anything about junior prom. I don’t think I went…. Fuck, I seriously can’t remember. Senior prom was in a gym, not even our gym. For some reason they thought the local Catholic school gym was a better venue. Maybe it was some desperate attempt to keep the drinking down, I don’t know. Whatever. We didn’t have the money for a dress, so I wore my cousin’s hand-me-down bridesmaid’s dress circa 1988, puffy sleeves, blue taffeta, black lace and all. I will say I think my legs looked fantastic because I had the skirt shortened and got a pair of cheap dyable four inch heels. Oh and I had super huge tits, so I imagine they were smokin’ too. Not sure. I don’t think anyone took a picture of me….
I went by myself. All my friends were paired up. No one was doing the group dinner. So I drove straight to the dance by myself. It was a dance which is fun, but seriously, I did not step out on the floor, an ugly duckling transformed, and turn the head of some popular jock. Has that ever REALLY happened? Why have we brainwashed generations of nerdy girls with that delusion? Why would they want the jock anyway? He’s never really going to be the sensitive guy underneath. He’s always gonna want the cheerleader who puts out more than the nerd who does. I went to an after party with some acquaintances. It was on an army post, so no drinking. I didn’t know these people that well, so I fell asleep and heard about for DAYS.
And I think my experience was way more normal than what Disney’s formulaic bullshit and every other movie that has tried to make preteens think prom will make or break their high school careers are selling.
I’m not saying don’t have proms. Dances are fun. Just be realistic about it. Don’t make girls especially build up ridiculous expectations for one simple dance until there is no way it is ever going to be anything but a disappointment.
Not that I wanted a magical night anyway.

Oops, Said God Part 2

God was still standing looking out the window when the trio entered. Adam and Eve sat down in the two chairs that were placed before the desk. Adam lounged back and put his feet up on the desk. Lassie went to God’s side and licked his hand. He patted her on the head.

“It looks like Peter is going to get his chance. The golds are about to pull ahead. Mary Magdalene just joined the team, and she has a killer serve.”

“Among other talents,” Adam replied. Eve crossed her arms and raised her eyebrow at him. He added, “Or so I have hear, Darling. Jesus will run at the mouth if you get enough tequila into him.”

God cleared his throat as he turned. He coughed a touch and glowered at Adam’s cigarette. “On to business.” The window behind him darkened and the battle scenes God had been watching before the volleyball game had distracted him appeared again. “What are you are looking at is New York City for alternative history date April 27th, 1938.”

Adam sat up and dropped his feet to the floor, leaving scuffmarks on the desk. Eve’s eyes widen, “Who in the world is attacking the United States in 1938? Did something change to give the Austrian twit a head start and advantage?”

As this God blushed, shook his head a little, and mumbled something.

Adam leaned back again, took a long drawl on his smoke, and said, “Sorry, didn’t catch that.”

“It’s Canada, alright?” God exploded. “Canada.”

A laugh burst from Adam’s lips. “How did you manage to let anything between the U.S. of A and Canada get bad enough to lead to war? That’s like getting Tony Blaire to disagree with George Bush.”

God’s eye’s narrowed. “Well, it was such a round-about cause that the computer could not compute the outcome before it happened. You see, it’s all about a girl.”

“It always is,” Eve sighed. “I am really tired of getting the blame for these things.”

“Dearest, no one is blaming you,” Adam comforted her. “At least no one in this room.”

There was a pause. Adam looked up at God, who jumped a little and replied, “Of course not.”

Eve smoothed her skirt with her hands. “Anyway, proceed.”

“It all really starts at a ball in 1910,” God continued, and the picture changed to a huge ballroom light by massive chandeliers, with a band and people in fancy dress dancing a waltz. Then the image zoomed in on a group of young men surrounding a particular young woman. She was talking animatedly which made her elaborately styled, shiny brown curls dance. When she laughed her violet eyes twinkled. She was definitely a beauty, especially decked out in a dazzling cream colored dress patterned with golden embroidery, showing off a tantalizing shoulder and the hint of cleavage.

“You are looking at Mademoiselle Annabella Dione, the belle of Montreal. Now here are the young men we are interested in.” The picture zoomed in on the two young men who were the closest to Annabella, and obviously the most rapt. “The blonde is Gregory Finch. He is an up and coming American. Currently he is working on the staff of the American ambassador. Eventually he will be an adviser to Herbert Hoover. The dark haired fellow is Jonathan Goodling. He is a member of the Canadian Parliament.” Eve walked closer to the screen and tilted her head as she studied the two boys. Men, she corrected herself. She always had trouble calling males around this age men. To her, Gregory Finch looked like a twelve-year-old dressed up in his father’s suit. His hair was curly, almost ringlets, and his nose and cheeks were speckled with faint freckles. His face had an earnest, serious expression as if Miss Dione’s conversation carried the weight of the world. Which, Eve reminded herself, it did in a round about way. Adam came up next to her and turned the attention toward Jonathan. While he shared Gregory’s fair skin, Jonathan had very dark hair, cut in a very straight, severe fashion. His eyes were a very dark blue that seemed to change shade with his mood, which seemed to jump rather quickly. They watch him change from laughing to smoldering rage as Annabella touched the lapel of Gregory’s jacket and then to adoration and passion as her should brushed his when she turned to gesture at the painting behind her. Both men wore very stylish tuxedoes that were tailored to perfection.

God said, “Originally, Jonathan did not make it to the party. It all starts with a feather.”

“Oh this is the part of the story I love,” Adam declared as he plopped himself down in God’s chair. “Let me get comfortable. So what random series of events has led to this catastrophe?”

God squinted at him, but continued. “Well it starts with Goodling’s tailor. He’s rather fond of the seedier side of town, mostly underground, bare-knuckled fighting. He’s a big gambler. Anyway, we have to go back to a round of fights the night before he made the tux Goodling is wearing. Originally, the fights broke up early as no one would come forward to challenge the champion.” The image on the wall turned to a smoke filled basement filled with sweaty and cheering men. In the middle was a human mountain with a shaved head and a face like a bull. He snorted and Adam could have sworn he saw steam leave the nostrils. He gave a long, low whistle. “I can see why.” The man also looked like he hadn’t bathe in a, well, ever.

“Yes, well, in the alternative, a short man with a feather in his hat, walks by a taller man. The feather tickles the taller man’s nose, making him sneeze. As he sneezes he stumbles into the ring, and the challenger immediately pounces.” Again the scene played out in front of them. A tall, thin man was doing his best to stay out of the monster’s grasp, trying to get out of the ring, but the men surrounding kept pushing him back in, shouting and laughing. Money was quickly changing hands. “Now, if only this unfortunate man had just gotten knocked out, and everyone gone home, but alas, no.” For a few panicked moments, the tall thin man scrambled around, barely dodging punches, then suddenly his defense seemed to become more structured. He focused on his opponent and got his defense up. His strategy seemed to be, don’t get hit. This went on for fifteen minutes. The champion was wearing down. Slowly his punches got sloppier, and his defenses were lowering. Suddenly the tall thin man threw one punch right at the champions jaw. The champion blocked it with a forearm and his other fist took the tall thin man in the gut throwing him up in the air and across the ring. He didn’t get up, though a small groan escaped his lips before he lost consciousness. A few of the other men, picked him up and carried him away.

With a grimace on her face Eve said, “That was unfortunate.”

“Yes,” God replied. “Especially in that it set this whole sequence of events in motion. See the old man in the back that looks like he is made out of toothpicks and sandpaper?” Both Adam and Eve nodded, and Lassie gave a little affirmative woof. “That is the tailor.” He was jumping up and down and giggling. “He just won a lot of money. This will cause him to spent the rest of the evening spending his winnings getting himself and several mates drunk.” The picture changed to a pub and a raucous group of men surrounding the tailor who was obviously a shot away from passing out, but still had a huge grin on his withered, old face.

“This night of partying leaves him tired the next day, but he is on a deadline to finish the tuxedo for Mr. Goodling.” Now the old man was sitting cross-legged in his shop, desperately trying to keep his eyes open as he put in the hem of a pant leg. He still had the grin on his face. “Right here, during this yawn, he is going to drop a stitch.” The audience in God’s office watched it happen. Then in fast forward, a delivery boy picked up the suit and took it to the Goodling residence. They watched Jonathan Goodling meticulously prep himself for the ball. “What a girl,” Adam muttered under his breath. Lassie growled as him. Finally Goodling was coming out of his dressing room and heading for the staircase in his home when God slowed back to normal speed. “Here is where the feather, the winning bet, and the missed stitch become significant. Right before he reached the first stair, Goodling stopped and leaned down to pick at the string hanging from his cuff. As he did that a cat came streaking across the top stair. God paused the picture and pointed at the cat, saying, “In the original time line there was no string. Goodling kept going and ended up tripping over the cat, taking a spill down the stairs and breaking a leg. Instead he ends up as we saw him at first.” The wall was back to Annabella and her suitors.

Finally Adam said, “Not to spoil a perfectly good story, but why don’t we just go and steal the short man’s hat, or stop him or the tall thin man from going to the fights?”

God shook his head, “Somehow a change in the original code for Earth’s history happened. It is very tiny, within an acceptable margin of error. A glitch, if you will. No matter what scenarios I run, that fight ends up happening. One way or another the tailor ends up drunk and missing that stitch. Even sneaking into Goodling’s room and cutting the thread can’t work. He doesn’t leave the suit from the time it arrives until he dresses, and he won’t no matter what happens in the house. I even tried pushing him down the stairs or a trip wire, and it always ends worse than the broken leg. I even briefly contemplated setting a small kitchen fire, but that leads to a changes well outside parameters.”

“I didn’t think a glitch like that was possible,” Eve commented.

“Neither did I,” God said in a troubled tone. “We will be working on that while you are on the ground.”

The room was silent for a moment as Adam, Eve, and Lassie absorbed the information and watched the characters in their latest drama interact.

“Well, they both have the look of men who would rather draw pistols at dawn than share a beer,” Adam quipped as he turned from the screen back to God. “So, we are looking at the beginning of a jealousy. Which of them gets the girl and which starts a war?”

“Neither of them and both.”

God and Adam started when Eve spoke. God replied quizzically, “That’s right. How did you know?”

“Because our Mdm. Dione has been doing her best to make this young waiter, here, jealous. She is laughing a little too loudly, and every time she touches one of her admirers, she glances at him. And he has been carrying around those canapés on his tray for an hour without serving one of them. He looks more like he would like to see them dumped on the floor as he bashed Mr. Goodling over the head with the tray.”

Adam and God turned their attention to the servant as well.

Adam whistled lowly and said, “My goodness, Danielle Steele couldn’t have created a better boy for her cover art fodder.”

He was an intense fellow with eyes that Danielle Steele often described as dark and smoldering. His black hair was wavy and had a perpetual swept back look as if he had just dismounted from a galloping horse. And he didn’t so much walk, as stalk.

God sighed, “Dear Eve, you have excellent perception. If only you could have developed if before the apple.”

“It’s not her fault you made the damned nodes to your planet computer edible, my dear creator,” Adam retorted. He took one last puff on the cigarette, then dropped it to the floor where he stamped it out. “I’d say that makes us all even.”

“Well, I couldn’t have…”

There was a whine from behind him, and Lassie butted her head against his knees. God cleared his throat, “Right, well, no use going over that territory again.”

God smiled, a little sadly, at Eve. “Very perceptive, my dear. In three days, Annabella will be running away with the dashing waiter, Henri.”

Adam clapped God on the shoulder, “You know you have to be thankful for one thing.”

God arched an eyeball at him, “And that would be?”

“At least when the planet computer went crazy, it only spewed out a finite amount of basic human predicaments.”

God folded his arms across his chest, “Yes, I suppose that is something, but they do excel at making them all tangled messes.”

Lassie reached up to the screen and scratched at the feet of Gregory and Jonathan and a low whine escaped her lips.

“I agree, Lassie,” Adam said nodding and giving the dog a quick scratch behind the ears. “And instead of commiserating over my suggested plethora of beers, they choose to blame each other?”

After a thoughtful pause, God replied, “Well, I suppose it is something more along the lines of hurt pride. You see, as these stories often go, Annabella’s family would never approve of the waiter. To keep everyone from finding out before the elopement, Annabella is leading both men around by the nose hairs, rather publicly. Then to add to the confusion, she accepts both of their marriage proposals the evening before she and Henri make their escape. Again, this wouldn’t have happened originally as Goodling was convalescing at the time. One Finch was given the chance to proposed and consequently was the only one spurned.” At this point the screen started flipping through the various scenes of the drama as God explained them. It should Gregory and then Jonathan both down on one knee in front of a flushed and giddy Annabella, followed by Annabella climbing down a ladder from a bedroom window with Henri waiting at the bottom, looking around anxiously. “Once the truth is discovered, both men are humiliated, naturally. The only target to take that humiliation out on is each other as Annabella and Henri are happily on a ship to France with all of her and most of her mother’s jewels.” Here an image of Annabella and Henri in a stateroom, half clothed, laughing, surrounded by a scatter of excessively large and gaudy jewelry.

“Hm, you have to give the eloping couple credit for style and out and out, well, balls,” Adam said. Both Lassie and Eve nodded in agreement.

“More than you may realize. Annabella and Henri will open a hotel and dance hall when they get to Paris. It will become rather well known. Come World War Two, it will be a favorite of the Nazis.” Again the screen flicked. Henri and Annabella change into a middle-aged, well-dressed couple welcoming men in SS uniforms with French ladies on their arms. “However, they are also high ranking members of the French resistance. Thanks to their free flowing liquor and charisma, they become a top source of crucial information that will be used against the Nazis. Their elopement and presence in Paris is essential.” The classy middle aged couple was shown going through the pockets and luggage of one of the officers while he was passed out on the bed, snoring. A half-clad young lady was aiding them.

“The Nazis certainly knew how to appreciate a nice set of bosoms,” Adam commented as the prostitute turned freedom fighter leaned over, giving her unknown audience a view of nicely spaced breasts.

Eve glared at him, “You know, for someone who was never a baby or breast feed, your breast obsession is rather disturbing.”

“It comes from having access to the very first pair ever made, darling,” Adam replied to appease her. He wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her close, making sure to notice the objects of conversation in the process, for a quick peck on the lips. They pulled apart at the slam of a desk drawer and turned their attention back to God, in time to seem him plop two Alka-Seltzers into a glass of water that had appeared on the desk in front of him.

“So run along to Montreal, keep Misters Finch and Goodling from becoming bitter enemies while making sure the future of the object of their shared love or hatred, however you choose to look at it, is not changed.”

Adam and Eve exchanged a glance. Lassie emitted a series of short barks and then whined inquiringly.

The screen changed to a chart. “Well, Lassie, that area of concern should make you feel a little better,” God directed to the dog as he changed to screen one more time. This time it was covered with complicated looking equations and charts. “After calculating it out, I think that you can get away with a relatively large margin of change for these two young men’s lives. We should be safe if we stay within 7.4354 and 10 percent.”

Eve let out a long breath. “Well, that is greater than usual, I suppose.”

“Yes, they lead rather boring lives as moderate level bureaucrats in the original timeline, so changing that a little either way isn’t too terribly complicated. It shouldn’t be enough to bring the COBC down on us. As long as they don’t manage to get anyone killed.”

“But bureaucrats are so good at that,” Adam commented.

“Yes, well, your job is to keep them from doing what they are good at.” God paused. “Or something like that. Anyway, Lassie will be your researcher and point of contact. Tech has wings waiting for you. And Peter will have all of your luggage at his desk.”

Water Babies

Tonight we went to our first Parent and Me swimming lesson. It. Was. A. Blast.
At first CJ was a little tentative. He was clinging baby chimp tight to John’s neck. Little Miss Leila? She started splashing and giggling the minute she was wet. Don’t worry about CJ. He eventually warmed up to the experience and was just as excited as his sister by the end. He even put his face under the water with no prompting
It’s a pretty simple half hour class that just allows the kids to get comfortable in the water so that they can someday have the independence they need to take an actual parentless swimming class. We sang songs that got them moving, most of which we do at the Mother Goose Time at the library, so the kids felt comfortable with them. They really liked using Humpty Dumpty. We sat them on the side of the pool and when Humpty takes his great fall, lifted them high in air then into the pool.
By the end of the half hour they were blue lips and a little shiver-y, but they were smiling.
It was a great family experience, and I know all four of us are looking forward to next week. I gotta get someone to come and take some pictures.

Hotel Sex

I am, and have been since the first time, a huge fan of hotel sex. There is something so free about hotel sex. Only one job in my life has ever sent me on a business trip, so I am only in a hotel for social trips, more often than not, weddings. Let’s face it. Weddings already lean the braincells toward sex. And often we end up having a good bit of time to fill waiting for whatever scheduled events in which we are at the hotel to participate. The hotel room is really a place to forget about most outside stuff that stresses us out on a daily basis. And in your home bedroom, no matter how much you try, that stuff leaks in. Not in a hotel room. It has no personality. No history for me. We am really in that room to do nothing but use the bed for everything we can possibly think of. So the sex is varied and often.
And just when I didn’t think hotel sex could get better, we became parents.
All the cliches about parenthood and sex are pretty much true. The presents of children in a household do not make for much time or energy for the romance. So hotel sex? Yeah, it takes on a whole new level of fun. It can become the priority it once was. There is no chance of the cockblocking screams from the nursery. There will be the chance to sleep before and/or after. We could have morning sex again! And then go back to sleep!
It is easy to lose the importance of sex in a relationship when it leads to the existence of beings who are way more needy than either of the parents are. Hotel rooms are a great way to remind ourselves.

Oops, Said God

This is the beginning of my favorite piece of fiction I have going. I posted it a while back, but no one was reading my blog then. Now I thought the three of you might like it, and maybe it would encourage me to keep working on it in all my free time.

God stood with his hands clasped behind his back, watching the scene that was playing across his office window. He gave a long sigh and the image disappeared. God closed his eyes briefly then opened them, trying to let the beautiful visage of clouds and sky that had replaced the violent escapades calm his nerves. His shoulders slumped. It hadn’t worked. Rubbing his temples he said out loud, “Peter, could you please send Adam and Eve along with Lassie the First to my office, please?”

“Of course, sir,” Peter’s efficient voice replied.

For the hundredth googolplex time, God wondered why he had created humans. Zox made having sentient beings in his universe look like so much fun. Zox, Fum, Tob, Rog, and God had spent hours watching their antics and laughing. And Zox had more populated planets than even he could count. God could barely handle the one. He knew it made him Infinity’s joke, but really. No one had bothered to explain independent thought and free will to him. Zox just snorted and told him he should have gone for his masters in Deitism before populating his world. He said they spent a millennium alone on creating pre-destination and fate. To give himself some credit, God had been in the middle of a correspondence course and had really only created Adam and Eve as a model for what he was reading. It wasn’t his fault if while he took a nap between cramming sessions they had gone and eaten a node from one of the Earth’s computer antennas. He had never even fathomed that they might find it eatable. Another lesson he had apparently not reached in his course, sentient beings will try anything once. He had had to change his whole ecosystem after that. Zox still got a kick out of having computer parts delivered by the pizza guy.

Once that “apple” as Adam and Eve had coined it (language was another thing that had gotten out of hand) had been damaged, the whole system had gotten skewed. The computer started spewing out a whole history for the planet complete with natural disasters, genocides, and TV evangelists. At first God was just annoyed. It looked like it was going to take a lot of programming to undo the problem, but there was too much. Change one line of code, and everything fell apart. So he had tried a new hard drive, and the damned system wouldn’t recognize it. Finally, he had gone to the Central Omniscient Beings Office for help. They had dumped a huge ancient book in his lap. It was the Laws of Creation. The clerk had highlighted one subparagraph on the last page for him. It stated, “Once an Omniscient Being has decided to become a deity and create a planet that includes sentient life, said life can not be destroy. It would damage the structure of the multi-universes and all that. Plus, it’s really messy. The planet and its contents must play out the original course laid out until its conclusion. Such actions will be closely monitored and regularly audited by the COBC.”

So God was stuck with the Earth and the damned smart yet determined-to-be-ignorant Homo Sapiens. He had tried to make things better. He had bent the rules and tweaked history a little and inserted a nice and enthusiastic carpenter to try and explain to everyone how much better the world would be if everyone lightened up and loved each other more. The death toll from that had been so large that the COBC police force had come along asking questions about his intentions for this small planet. They had threatened an audit of his galactic taxes to make sure he wasn’t trying to somehow use his planet for fraud.

And each time he tried to make things better, something else was made even worse. The trials over religion verse evolution had given God the worst headaches. Therefore he had to content himself with just keeping things on track until the end of what his humans called “time”. (It was their problem if they wanted to make that time as miserable as possible.) With all of that free thought and whatnot, they kept trying to screw it up themselves and make changes for, what they were always sure, was the better.

God had done one thing right. He had created Heaven. Thankfully he had read the chapter on mortality before making Adam and Eve. So each time one of those things stopped breathing, the computer grabbed the essential signal, or “soul”, and put it into service helping to keep everything running smoothly. Adam and Eve had been the first in this mission, as they were the first in everything. And they were among the best, along with Lassie the First. He should have stopped when he had created the dog, God thought, not for the first time. The dolphins were OK too. Animals often made the best recruits. Their sense of right and wrong was much less complicated. Anything based on smell usually was.

* * *

As these thoughts ran through God’s head, Adam and Eve and Lassie were in an elevator on their way to his office, as ordered. Eve smoothed her skirt a bit, even though it wasn’t wrinkled. There were no wrinkles in Heaven. That did not pertain to noses though, and she wrinkled hers as Adam light up a cigarette. Lassie thumped her agreement to Eve.

“Must you?” She asked Adam.

“Well, it’s not like it is going to kill me, is it?” He replied threw a stream of smoke. He slipped his lighter back into the inside pocket of his flannel double-breasted, navy blue, pin striped suit jacket. If there was one thing Adam and Eve were, it was well dressed. Lassie figured it was a subconscious reaction to running around in fig leaves for a lifetime. Along with the impeccably tailored suit (Adam could talk Versace into anything) his wingtips were shined to within an inch of their lives. Eve had on a suit as well, but it was gray silk, also highly tailored without any flare. She had on chunky blue heels, and her still very long light brown hair was pulled into an artful bun at the nap of her neck. Eve always favored the look of the forties.

“You would think he would get rid of the smell, though.”

Adam gave her a sidelong glance and a crooked grin. “You would think. Suits me though. It covers up the smell of his office. I hate going up there.”

“You need to get over it already,” Eve replied.

“Look, I haven’t eaten an apple in, what, well, since The Apple, and just the smell of them is enough to put me in a foul mood.”

“It’s not like he makes his office smell that way on purpose. It’s the computer system. You just smoke to annoy him.”

Adam took a long draw on the cigarette and considered Eve’s comment. “True, I suppose. But do you really think it was necessary to make his desk out of The Tree?”

Eve frowned a little and said, “Well, I suppose even God needs a bit of old fashioned vengeance therapy. It could have been worse. We could be his dining room centerpieces instead of the snake.”

Adam just humphed in reply. Lassie felt a headache coming on. This was the usual reaction to working with humans. She rubbed up against Eve’s leg, and Eve reached down and scratched behind Lassie’s large, pointed eyes. That was better. They were good for some pampering at least.

The elevator door opened and the original couple looked out into God’s reception lobby. The floors and wall were all clear, except the right side where there was a door and opaque brown wall, giving the occupants a spectacular view of the clouds and sky of Heaven. There were several people sitting around in the brightly colored overstuffed chairs that sat around the perimeter of the perfectly circular room, reading any number of magazines. Straight ahead of the elevator was a large brown lacquered desk where Peter stay with his back to the room, looking out of the wall behind him. Lassie moved to the right and lay down in front of the door to God’s office. Eve and Adam walked to the front of Peter’s desk. They glanced out of the window to see what had the usually diligent Peter distracted. There was a volleyball game going on outside. In Heaven, this was always an interesting sport, as the players would play with wings attached. It made for some very exciting spikes. Adam cleared his throat. Peter jumped and turned quickly around.

“Oh, sorry about that,” he said as he shuffled some papers around his desk. “This is a big game. Gabriel and I have a bet on.”

“Really? Do tell,” Adam said.

Peter went slightly pink and cleared his throat. “Well if the gold halos win, I do as well. Gab’s got his bet on the silvers.”

“And what, pray tell, does the winner get?”

At this Peter blushed even more and cleared his throat. “The winner gets to be god.”

As seriously as he got, Adam replied, “Don’t we have more than enough of those around here?”

“Oh, not God, but god,” Peter said in a rush. “Whoever wins gets to go down to Earth and put on the show next time some fanatic gets into an overzealous and/or drunken state. I really hope I win, because I really want to outdo Gab’s Joseph Smith performance. It’s legendary.”

“It should be,” Eve said. “It’s caused enough problems.”

“Yes, well, be that as it may…you are, naturally, expected.” And with that Peter went back to the papers on his desk. “Mr. Nixon, I will now hear your appeal for entrance into Heaven. Do you have all the necessary paperwork?”

* * *