Frankly, the telephone call at one in the morning should have tipped me off that my day or dentist appointment would hold a glitch.  Yes, one after midnight calling from a restricted number.

If the call to my cell had not been from a restricted number, I might have thought twice about answering.

If the young lady had not sounded so very professional when saying the words ‘to confirm your appointment’ I might not have listened further.

If I did not have an appointment that had not yet been confirmed, the one at eight in the morning for my dental work, I might not have listened.

If the message had not been so well timed with the punch line toward the end of the professional notice, I might not have listened.

If the message was about anything other than an appointment verification for dog poo clearing, I might not have laughed later.  The Dog Poo Company confirming a three in the afternoon schedule to clean up all the dog poo in my yard.

If I had thought it was at all funny in the moment, I might not have dialed in her ear. Next time I will use my megaphone siren.

So I lost sleep, then had to get up and go to the dentist appointment.

Wrong day, right time.

If I had not skipped the Renee Zellweger movie after the holiday dinner the night before in order to get to sleep early enough.

If the appointment did not require rising at four thirty in the morning on the fourth to the shortest day of the year.

If it had not been snowing little icy flakes for three days.

If I had not chosen the wrong door for my drop off and had to cross the icy parking lot to the right building.

If Hubby had not gone on many errands so I had to await his return.

If the staff scheduler, who was willing to work me in the dentist’s schedule, had not said it would take one to three hours to maybe get me in a chair.

If only one person in that waiting room had empathy with my predicament.  You know how it is when a herd of cows are grazing and one falls over dead? Well, maybe you don’t.  The rest of the herd just keeps doing what they were doing even though they lived their entire lives with the now deceased cow. That is how detached a waiting room of patients can act when someone just might get in front of them in schedule, especially if the intruder is there on the wrong day.

If I had not skipped my coffee and breakfast and had to sit there for an hour. 

If I had not arranged my entire day to spend the wrong morning with the dentist.

If hubby were not on three to eleven shift.

If we did not have to do this again the next morning…..

Then perhaps acceptance would be easier to come by.  Right?

My daughter was discussing acceptance with me a few days ago. Just accepting that, for example, the eggs are over hard instead of over easy when over easy and dippy was the way I ordered them. Enjoy and really accept over hard eggs with no runny yolk. Fake it until you make it.

But if one has enough days like this one of being on time for the dentist on the wrong day – and has been served dozens and dozens of over hard eggs in their life, then acceptance is an elusive, difficult choice. Especially when age fifty-three and rising.

Now, my daughter is wise.  But because she is less than half my age she is also still wide-eyed as she teaches me to accept just like I tried to teach her to accept life. I taught her that this too shall pass, that keep it simple silly was the best thing she could do, that when one door closes then another one opens. I taught her that acceptance is a key to all life’s problems.

So now that I am buggered with irritation and racked with should’ve, would’ve, could haves… now she will remind me.  Then one day, when she has had enough over hard eggs with no runny yolk for her toast, and when finally I, on the other hand, have given up entirely in trying to get anything to be my way – especially my eggs – then I will remind her of the ease of a life with complete and total acceptance.

I will remember then the sunshine that does come out of days like this.

If I had not had a morning of being on time for a dentist appointment I did not have then I would not have had a wonderful breakfast with Hubby and his sister, she who rescued me from the dentist office. I would never have had time for five cups of holiday coffee or to enjoy her Christmas tree with all the unique ornaments.

I know I have probably said this far too often, but once again, this blog would not have been so easy to write, if I had been at the dentist on the right day.

Essa Adams is the author of ‘A Breath Floats By‘ a.k.a. penname Thayne Hudson. She writes Women’s Fiction Blog, Pet Skunk Medicine and authors ESSA Natural.

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The Fake Ladybug in My Window

Freezing winter short story by the Women’s Fiction blog.

Feel good winter humor, really….A feel-good holiday story. Sort of....

Fake ladybugs are not to be confused with holiday ornaments either.

Did it move just now? The fake ladybug in my office window behind the plastic film? The thing is right in line with my view of the winter snow garden. Really bugging me.

One of those fake ladybugs.  An imported Asian lady beetle, orange-red with nineteen black dots on its back. The kind that pinches hard.  Pees in your mouth vile liquorish poison that makes you wail and spit for ten minutes.

How do they get in your mouth? They drink from water glasses. Crawl into salads, mixing with grape tomatoes quite nicely.

See how they would fit right in?

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My office has wonderful walls of windows, so we purchased an EdenPure Heater, just to keep me warm.  Now our pets sleep in baskets by me where I spin them like rotisserie chickens.

Ask the ladybugs.  Winters are rough in the Great Lakes region. So hubby applied lovely plastic film to the windows to give them one more layer of insulation. Since I refuse to use drapes or blinds because I don’t want to lose my view of the winter garden, the film is a compromise.

The problem with this bug-thing staring in at me is that hubby is very protective of the plastic film. The technique is in the airlock. He spends the winter accusing me of pushing stacks of books, the lamp shade, and my purse into the film but these do leave dents. I cannot deny evidence.

One must understand the dynamics of our relationship, of him bringing me sustenance of coffee, c ocoa and soup while I create my prose in the frozen office. Autumn onward, I would don gloves, many sweaters with hoods, scarves, jackets, then coats and boots, frozen fingers typing numbly.

Stubborn me with my walls of vintage windows on my vintage office-porch I would not change for the world, freezing to death.  Like the bug.

Fake ladybugs are not to be confused with holiday ornaments either.

What a lovely winter garden though. Birds, wildlife, a tiny lacy cedar tree tipped in ice beads dancing beneath the grey skeleton of the high bush cranberry. I love my trees. My blue wind chimes.

Hubby loves me. So he contours the film, trims the edges within a sixteenth of an inch from the two-sided tape so I never know it is there. Then he uses hair dryer heat to coax the film to completely disappear as it spreads tighter and tighter.

Who would mess with the airlock? Not me. I’m not even touching it.

But the poor fake ladybug got caught between the windows and the plastic film.

Day before yesterday, the bug was lively. Being the coldest day of the year, I felt sorry for it, doubting its survival for more than a few more hours.  I know, I am a heartless fake ladybug hater. That evening when I turned out the lights, I do not remember noticing Fake Ladybug. She had probably frozen to death quite painlessly… right?

She? Yes, she. Aren’t all ladybugs feminine in fairytales?

Yesterday was more spring-like. Fake Ladybug was not flying around but she was still there, behind the plastic, mulling how to escape her winter wonderland aquarium. Then she disappeared for several hours. Before I turned off the lights, I checked for Fakie and she was not between the windows, not in cracks as far as I could see.

Fakie? Yes, Fakie. Just as Gracie is a cutesy name for Grace. Fakie. Using ‘ladybug’ in her name is too good for her.

Gracie, still as a nailhead on the iced windowsill.

Today I come in here to work, five essays exploding in my mind. There is Fakie, still as a nailhead on the white windowsill, staring at me through the plastic film. Eh.

I’m trying to work. And she is either dead or dying.

To my defense, these fake ladybugs can live through the winter. They hide in our insulated homes – all of us – between the drywall and outside wall, then come out in droves in the spring.

Summers they spend in alfalfa fields and when that is harvested, they fly into communities like yours to bite  – or pinch – you and your children, stick in your fresh deck stain, pee on your windows, until they settle down and crawl into your house to stink and hibernate – those that are not rolled into the bales to be fed to the poor cows. I wonder if the cows can taste that poisonous vile they spray. Uck.

To my defense, some environmentalist from some agricultural improvement agency decided the United States farmers would be better off with these cold-weather resistant Asian lady beetles instead of old tried-and-true, gentle North American ladybugs who die off in the winter, it seems, and were a bit more sluggish in cold summers ( huh? ) when they were supposed to be eating aphids, I guess, and they say our native ladybugs were not as aggressive on the aphids.

Please. Have you ever seen the close-up images of what North American ladybugs do to a smorgasbord of aphids?

To my defense, once upon a time I always scooped them up to take them outside and make a nice plot of leaves and stones for them to live under far from the house, just like I do for the mice.

To my defense, I used to take my hanging lamps apart to get the fake ladybugs out before they fried their little feet on the bulbs. And when they fry they stink too.

Then one day, hubby got out the shop vac. Who would win? Me, the defender, or him, the warrior?

But too many times the nasty creatures got in my salad.

Sagie, I should have video taped him after he ate the fake ladybug.

Once my pet skunk  tried to eat one and vomited around the house ten times over, me following with paper towels and the vinegar spray bottle while he squeaked and spit and gagged all over the hardwood floors. You laugh, but it could well be your dogs and cats eating them.

Oh!! Then I drank one of those poisonous devil bugs, so drank ipecac as a chaser to get it out of me.

I let hubby shop vac a gallon of them a week from there on out.

I couldn’t watch, couldn’t stand to hear their little screams as they were suctioned at high power into blackness like a tornado before one is in the center. Could not imagine their little faces when they were left in the stillness of the contractor strength garbage bag he dumped them into everyday.

But within a few weeks of hubby shop vacuuming fake Asian ladybugs, we had no more. And spring after spring our droves were lessened until we gave a sigh.

But now I am staring at Gracie…. I mean Fakie. And I think she was in a different position a few minutes ago. She could still be alive in there.

Not to be confused with iced berries.

But where would I keep her? What could I possibly do with her? A pet? Humor me. But fake ladybugs are not pet material.

Reminds me of when my daughter kept a slew of horned tomato worms from my garden for pets. But that is another story. Or is it? She, too, named them. Wouldn’t let me toss them in the coffee can of turpentine. Yes, that is what old-time gardeners did with tomato worms, we didn’t want to squish them… it was too gross. Couldn’t let them loose in the woods… they would fly back as a moth and recycle. Tough I should have because they reincarnate as good moths that pollinate vegetable plants.  But what is more vicious to tomato plants than horned worms, I ask?  as I transgress…..

So how do I explain the hole in the plastic film to hubby? Took him hours to contour the film to the window so I would forget it was there.

I can’t stand it. I can tape the hole with clear duct tape. If you don’t know it yet, clear duct tape and plastic wireties really are a woman’s best friend. If you take nothing from this blog, that is what I bestow on you and your life from here on out. May you be blessed with an abundance of clear duct tape and your plastic wireties be all sizes and colours.

Fakie is so still.

I just took out the tiny knife I use for graphics. Sliced a tiny opening, like surgery on Grey’s Anatomy. Put the end of the knife through the narrow hole to pull Fakie out.

And she took off running the other way.

I sliced the hole larger to stop her, but she has quite a bit of life left even if she gave up flying.

I wanted to slice the entire bottom edge of the film along the sill to stop her. I wanted to. But that would be a lot of explaining to do.

I know you wanted me to save her. But get a grip, will you. This is not Tinker Bell. We’re talking Fakie, the fake Asian lady beetle that pees in your mouth when you try to eat her, bites you when you mow the lawn, stinks up the insulation between your walls. Has no natural predators in North America. Apparently not even the freezing winters of the Great Lakes.

So just get a grip.

Gracie freezing in the shade.

There she is. Hiding around the corner of the window, a little alcove only Fakie can fit into. I feel bad now. At least before I bothered her, Fakie was sunning herself on the windowsill. Now she is plastered to a piece of metal in the shade.

Okay, I need advice here. What would you do? And don’t tell me to spray bug poison through the hole to put her out of her misery. Really, what would you do?

Hours later… Fakie is on the move…. waddles past the slice in the film, to the other side of my window. I try to pull the plastic loose on the other side of the window but hubby has it down to a science, there is no place for leverage without cutting in.

Wait, Fakie comes back by the hole. Thinking fast, I stick the curved end of my bifocals through and scoop her out the hole. She falls on her back on my open journal. Did I mention they spray that noxious poison too and stink up your stuff and hands and when you are trying to get them out of your hair, they spray so you need to shampoo three times? I forgot they do this. My journal, windowsill and bifocals now need washed.

Fakie is playing dead. I forgot they do this too. With no natural predators, one would think that they would not need to play dead here in North America. Do you suppose it will take a few more generations, or could they be thousands of years here before they lose the natural instinct to play dead? I do know they will become even more cold resistant. Good to know for managing winter happy aphids in the winter garden here in the Great Lakes region.

What to do with her? I never did decide. No, I’m not keeping her in a jar until Spring. Get a grip.

I let her fall onto a soft tissue, then tuck her into an old envelope from my office trash basket, fold the envelope securely so she will not get out. Put her into the trash right on top so I can think about what to do with her. Don’t worry, I won’t leave her there. She wanted to hibernate in peace and warmth anyway. While I think where she will hibernate, I will write my next essay.

Obnoxious little fake ladybug.

Read Gracie’s Freezing Little Sister next. Oh yes, and hubby’s response to the airlock issue.

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Essa Adams is the author of a spiritual fiction romance novel.   A Breath Floats By: An Illusion for the Soul. Penname Thayne Hudson.  “What would you do if you realized you married your best friend’s soulmate?”   Yes, attitude and all, she is a writer of spirituality, really. Excerpts and Chapter One are at ESSA Books.

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She also writes essays on her pet skunks and other fur children, both in blogs and her book, Skunk Medicine: There’s A Skunk In the House! and Other Tail-raising Stories. Pet skunks and Newfoundland dog excerpts are at ESSA Books.

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This blog is entitled ” Women’s Fiction ” because it is about life as a woman. ‘Write what you know.’  ‘Make sure you have suffered enough first.’ Myths, dense observations and the lies we have been told.

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© Copyright December 2008.

Contact author for details on permission to reprint.

ESSA Books

Some people just can’t stand to eat off the same plates as a skunk.

Frankly, I don’t see the problem. It’s not like the plate remains unwashed.

"Really, are they are going through the wash next?" asks Sagie who is washing dishes for Mama.

Unless the skunkie fools you into thinking it is washed. They will lick a plate for ten minutes and it will shine when it has not been into a sudsy dishwater bath. But we skunk people know that and we wash everything.

My family though, my dad namely, has issue. And I can see the point. But these are not dogs or cats doing what dogs are cats do. They are tidy, polite little domestic skunkies.

One Thanksgiving we had everyone to the cabin. One of the last years we were all together, we meaning all of us in the family and both my pet skunks, Jeronimo and Sequoia.

After dinner, I made a feast plate for my skunkies. Brought them out to the kitchen to eat their dinner where everyone could enjoy how cute and sweet and cuddley. Skunk people are like new parents, they never get over the pride and bragging.

Sequoia and Jeronimo usually ate off stompable, unbreakable plastic plates. But all skunk holiday feasts are served on white antique stoneware china from England. Remember the lead in antique china is real, so don’t do this often. But we humans had antique china, so did they, the skunkies. Dining with all but the candles that might set ablaze their little tail feathers.

The next holiday my sister admitted how cute they were. But Dad had a problem. She politely, diplomatically asked if I have plates for the people from which the skunks did not eat.

Since those are their special plates and I have modern day white stoneware for everyone else, rest assured, Dad did not eat from a skunk plate.

But really, only skunk people know. These are special creatures. Intelligent. Resourceful with their surroundings…..

Skunks wipe like people. Skunks do not lick their hineys. They might scoot on the nearest rug to wipe…. but they do not lick. So the plan is to place right by the litter pan the washable rug you want them to use for wiping. But no, skunks do not lick. They wipe and everyday they brush themselves and brush their teeth too. They sit on their fat flat haunches and groom their hiney fluff with their little hands. So cute.

"Can I have your bean?" "No."

Skunks do not eat gucky stuff. Unless of course, we are feeding them crickets and grubs. That more real version of skunk dining is not happening in my house, I kiss my skunks. They must be content with steak and chicken, shrimp and salmon. Proteins that I, too, am willing to eat.

Thanksgiving dinner, skunks eat turkey (no ham or pork, please) and stuffing and yams without sugar. They eat corn on the cob, French bean casserole, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. They should never eat too much sugar at once but they will eat all you give to them.

Want the Thanksgiving dishes from prep-cooking to be pre-washed before they hit the dishwasher or after they are inside said dishwasher? Skunks can handle it. Just don’t put in knives or fork tines facing up.

Turn a flock of skunks loose on a huge bowl where pumpkin pie filling was mixed, fifteen minutes of licking and it is good to go. Yes, you will want to consider sugar, salt and seasoning intake. No raisin cookies or mock mince meat, since the raisins in those cause renal failure in animals. No asparagus which causes grand mal seizures.

But these domestic skunks, they are thorough if nothing else.

Skunkie moral of the story: I’ve got nothing. Except you want a dish washed right, give it to a skunk.

Thirty pet skunks stories, all about the boys.

 

I HAD SWINE FLU BEFORE THEY CALLED IT

I take this very seriously though I am a tongue-in-cheek communicator.

In early February 2009, I got sick.  We are talking really really not well.

swine-flu-freezing-fever-swollen-glandsIt started as tired.  I remember thinking, ‘Why am I so tired every morning?’  I could not think of getting up before ten or eleven even though hubby was home on vacation.  Then my body started to fill with fluid and I wondered if I had congestive heart failure.

Then the Swine Flu permeated my body so I could no longer stay in denial.  I did not know it was H1N1 until long after recovery.  Which was a long way off.  I am pretty convinced it came to me through a Chicago connection who works with hundreds of people each day.  Now that we hear what people experience with the H1N1 virus, I am certain I encountered this way back then.  It was unlike any other flu and I am fifty-two.

FLU PERSONALITIES

Each flu virus is different.  Then, in each person it takes a new approach.  The same but different.  Fever, chills, aches, nausea, loss of appetite.

Yes, intestinal aggravations and vomiting can be a complication of the flu.  But the intestinal symptoms on their own are not really flu because the way I see it….  flu is about a raging infection of the very glands whose job it is to grab the infection and fight it…. with copious discharge of the glands, ultimate bronchial congestion, endless cough to dislodge infectious phlegm from body, consequent breathing difficulty, and even fluid in the lungs.

That is why intestinal complications are referred to as ‘intestinal flu’.  And these are serious as they can cause dehydration and that is most serious of all.  Dehydration is when the body dries up and the infection rages higher.

MY FLU PERSONALITY

My Swine Flu was all about the throat.  Like strep only without the crown-to-the-floor-nailing headache I always used to get with strep before I kicked it for good using my own special home remedy. Perhaps I did not feel the other symptoms at first, except the tired part, because of my natural remedies, I don’t know, can’t call it.  For me, it was the throat.

With this flu, February 2009, my throat was on fire, I could not begin to want to drink water but I forced myself.

THEN THE PHLEGM AND COUGH

Then came the phlegm drainage of the swollen glands in my neck which brought the constant cough.  I wanted to not cough but the cough was never-ending, day and night.  And coughing is to protect us from taking the phlegm into our bodies even deeper, coughing purpose is to get it out.  So I tried to never take anything to stop the cough.  In short, I worked with it.  Drank as much as water as possible to keep the bronchial loose and phlegm thin so I could cough it out.

Not pretty, but the phlegm and undulating infection is what the plague was all about.   If they got through that, the pneumonia was next.

AFTER FLU WATCH FOR PNEUMONIA – THE KILLER KIND

Me, I could not breathe at one point, but we are not there yet. I was at the point of pneumonia when I called the doctor though.

I went to a stupid doctor who could get me in before the weekend.  What is it with me and doctors anyway?  He told me I had a cold.  If I had strep, he did not test.  Just gave me antibiotics which I did not take.  Could he not see I was grey as cement, no air, no oxygen, no nothing left to give to this flu fight.

Recovery

I left the stupid doctor’s office and went to the natural health store.  Should have gone there first, I realize.   Got more blackberry syrup as an effective phlegm expectorant.  Some cranberry concentrate for the bronchial and breathing, and that helped some but I was in rought shape by then.  Got some teas for nutrition.  Some homeopathics to continue to follow my other symptoms.  Home to try to live.  But I really was having a hard time breathing.

That night during a snowstorm while hubby was at work on midnight shift – yes, he should not have gone that night, we know – I could not breathe well.  I realized the suck-the-life-out-of-me energy going into the cough was taking my air, it was closing in, I was getting less and less air every time, coughing more sporadically.  Asthma like.

I was ready to call an ambulance.  Found a bottle of homeopathic remedy for asthma in my ‘cold and asthma’ tupperware box, thank goodness for organization.  Took four pellets and the cough stopped in twenty seconds.  Done, gone.  Breathing normal.

My throat still hurt like hell.  But I could breathe.  Because now is was all about the oxygen.

I had to use the asthma homeopathic remedy a few more times.  This was a combination I had purchased four years before on a whim, even though I do not clinically have asthma.

RECOVERY – OR NOT

Then it was all about the recovery.  I was wrung out like an old washrag.

Sage 6 mo

Could not walk across the house without gasping.  Dishes wore me out, I was exhausted.  I continued to sleep lengthy hours, forced myself to shower, it was so hard.  That’s what walking pneumonia can do.  I didn’t even have that.

Sage two days after rescue  snooorrreeeee  (6 mo)

The men from hubby’s work got this too, said they could not walk half a block without sitting down, it was the most debilitating they ever experienced.  It was the most extreme I ever experienced too.

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Hubby, not so much.  He got it and with the homeopathics he used he was able to not feel so much, stay strong and think he was infallible.  When he went in to work with it the guys tried to kill him.

SELF SHIELD – SELF PRESERVE – SELF RESPONSIBILITY

There are many ways to protect yourself from flu, any flu.  I wish I had started earlier, not been wondering so long what was wrong.

1) Colloidal silver – look up Natural Health Solutions Nanosilver and others.  Colloidal silver smothers the bad bacteria, leaving the good bacteria to fight for you.

2) Homeopathic choices are another way, they make the symptoms more subtle while the virus passes through the system… they do not make you well, just stronger.  Get a good homeopath ahead of time.  Homeopathic choices can be given prior to being exposed too, and at first onset if that is what is called for.  Every person is a different candidate for a different choice, homeopaths understand.

3) Keep hydrated.

4)  Do not dry up your cough either.

5) Keep a good asthmatic combination on hand for emergency.  These are available at health stores and online shops.

FLU SHOT

Nope, I did not say do not get a flu shot.  I absolutely will not say that.  Though I will say I would rather go through what I did than risk a flu shot or the new vaccine that is untested.  I did not say do not go to a medical practitioner.  Though I would say I wish my very own practitioner had been around that week.  I will never say what you can take, as I am not a medical practitioner.  I will say this – plan ahead.

Yes, I am just saying….

Be prepared.

Have a plan prior.

Self shield.

Godspeed.

Stay strong.

WOMEN’S FICTION OR MYTH — We must never use dog poop to take out our frustrations on anyone.

A LADY-LIKE ESSAY

ladylike-essay-on-dog-poopFirst, what to do with the neighbor’s dog poop?

  1. Recycle coffee cans for neighborly gifts.   Fill them with dog poop destined for the dump where it acts as compost heat. Of course, when the sun beats down on a coffee can with a plastic lid, the ripeness is overwhelming and you might want to think twice about that lid ever coming off while in your yard.  Deliver it to proper owner.
  2. Keep composted cans for our hydrangeas, mix with coffee grinds and cottonseed meal.  Wear an oxygen mask.  Cover fertilizer with decorative gravel or woodchips.
  3. Wing dog pile at side of neighbor’s garage. When it sticks you know they might get the idea.

An explanation may be in order. I will try to advocate this fine idea without giving away my brother’s identity.

  • When the dog poop does not belong to your dog – that means we can all recognize what comes out of our dog and we find a dog pile in our yard that is not like the other.  This usually happens in a pattern. Neighbor’s dog visits, does business, goes home. Neighbor does not wonder why his dog is constipated. They know full well dog is fine, they can see piles over the fence rotting in your backyard.
  • But that’s okay, the neighbors know it will all come back to them. That is because when you go out and scoop your own dog piles you throw their dog piles back over the fence. You used to gingerly drop them over the side into a polite little mountain. But then you just started winging the pile to randomly fall where they may, after all that is the way you find them. One day you have had enough shit and give it a whirl off the shovel. Splat. On the side of the garage it sticks. Oops.
  • What would you do? Scrape it off with a long stick? Use your power washer? Leave it? My brother smeared it with the stick, not intentionally, he did feel badly. Then he left it there all summer, seems the neighbors never came to that side of the garage to notice, never missed that pile at all. Finally, I want to belive with all my heart, that my sister-in-law, dear long-suffering woman, wearied of looking at it every evening when she retired to an iced tea on the patio.  Perhaps she hosed it off.  Perhaps bro did.

Garth and SusannaWhat to do with your own dog’s poop?

  1. Pick up before the lawn crew arrives. We only have the giant-sized to worry about.  Nice tidy poop from eating highly digestible dog food.  We always tred to get every bit, especially before the lawn crew comes to mow.  Still, there was once a pile missed and the youngest guy mowed it.  He’s mowing with a potentially deadly machine, for crying out loud.  How can he miss a rock?  Would he mow a rock?  A Newfie dogpile is not boulder-size, but definitely noticeable.  The lawn crew owner complained because his tractor and trailer and inside his truck was tracked up with dog poop.  Don’t look at me.  I wouldn’t have done it.  If the kid had mowed a rock, he would have worse problems than smeary dog poop.   Now we mow our own lawn.
  2. Install a second septic system just for the dogs. This is for townspeople with Newfoundland-sized dogs.
  3. Little plastic baggies, turn wrong side out, pick up stuff, turn right side out and zip closed. This is for city dwellers who walk dogs in the street while wearing their career threads.  Biodegradeable plastic is environmentally-correct.
  4. Country dwellers. Some fill wheelbarrows and actually use their dog poop on the compost piles that feed the fruit trees. I wouldn’t want it on my vegetable garden, but this is ponderable use of fine energy, at the very least.  Very eco-friendly.   farm
  5. Country dwellers. Throw it onto the farmer’s field at the roadside without the plastic holding bag.  Extremely eco-friendly.  But the farmer might have an opinion.
  6. Wait until it freezes then rake it into piles and pick up.  Beginning of September is when it starts at our house.  Hubby tried it a few times.   Oh yes.  The one in charge of these piles is usually identifiable as a husband or teenage son-in-training to be a husband.  Picker-upper must have unfailing hope anda positive attitude.  a)  Must hope for no rain.  stars mom and daughterb)  Must hope for no leaves on the piles of poop so the unaware woman of the house will not skate through the poop.  c)  Must hope for no leaves on the piles so the woman’s young children will not dive into the leaves and dog poop.  No, we would not want that.  d)  Finally, the person in charge of the piles who decided to let them freeze before scooping must hope for a very short autumn to pull this off.    This only works once a decade really.  Once the visualization of the wife skating free-form through a pile of wet leaves over a few piles of dog poop, well there is no getting that out of your mind.   So the person in charge keeps seeing it happen and there is no hope of it never happening again.  Even in this rare form, it is still the power of attraction.  The Law of Victimization.  The Power of Humour.  Or whatever you want to call it, it’s still your ass.

Essa Adams is a publisher and writer, her latest novel … with two Newfoundland dogs and a second septic for the house …  is published under the penname Thayne Hudson.   A Breath Floats By is available from Amazon, with more information at ESSA Books.   She is author of pet memoirs,  Skunk Medicine: There’s a Skunk in the House! and Other Tail-Raising Stories.  She publishes the Women’s Fiction Blog and Pet Skunk Medicine blog where one will find excerpts, short pet stories, a bright array of essays and rants.

The toll booth –

What was it our parents always said about having quarters for phone calls? Well, you know where this going. 

Right up there with the problems in the United States economy is the unmanned tollbooth. I do not like them, they too are eating away at our economy, just like computerized checkouts. I will not use an unmanned anything. Give me a person with a job.

Let’s talk how insane this is on the personal level, really.

My story — Driving from Wisconsin along the west side of Chicago, alongside suburbia-something is all I know. An icy evening, dark at four o’clock…… 

Speed passage lanes – confusing as they are – pull me off the speedway and get me lost. Keep me from paying my tolls.  Bad enough there was construction and narrow winding lanes along cement walls for forty miles. By the fourth toll booth, I had it figured out, just keep driving, pay later. I wanted to go home.

But I knew that because I missed tollbooth number one so I stopped at the second tollbooth, paid for that toll and said, “I missed a toll back there.” He wouldn’t take my extra fare. Simple enough arrangement, but no, I was given a pink slip with instructions to pay online. I played dumb. “What does pay online mean? Put my credit card out there online?” His eyes rolled. No way, he wasn’t taking the money.

I have to pay online. So I try but the form wants to know what tollbooth. I don’t know. There were three, no less. Maybe five. It was a long happy retreat, I was tired and snowed upon and cold. Hungry, homesick, and confused. The night was dark. So I do not know nor can I figure out using the map just where I missed those tolls.

Besides, the state in question wants my license plate number and driver’s license number and social security and credit card information. I’m afraid to go back to Illinois. Hell, I’m afraid to drive around Indiana, it’s too close to Chicago. And I’m afraid to drive in my home state of Michigan because they know how to find me here. I have become a recluse because I missed three or five tolls for what?? Fifty cents each in Illinois. But you know what I am more afraid to do, that’s send my social security and credit card and address and date of birth and driver’s license number and license plate number over the internet to pay Illinois a couple bucks in tolls.

Gets worse! I get off at a toll booth in Indiana to visit my brother.

pines-blog

The scenery on the tollbooth exit tonight. Not so romantic.

I have always loved the toll booth scenery there because it is like landing from the speedway into the silent pine forest. I remember just a few months ago telling the man that he had a lovely quiet job there in the middle of nowhere.

I remember thinking how he could sit and read or sing all day, play his guitar between semis and cars stopping to pay.

And I remember thinking how desolate he was there in the pine forest right off the edge of insanity with civilization howling past. Thinking how I wouldn’t want his job for anything.

Anyway…… I get off the speedway to go to my brother’s home, a not-so-late black-out evening, a halfway point over-nighter on my way home.

The toll booth was closed. Except I still have to pay. The nice man is gone? I think this is not cool. Was he on vacation, laid off?

A computer was doing his job. Gate is down and this time I must pay.

I am expected to pay seventy-five cents into a jackpot slot. I was going to give the nice man a dollar bill. The single dollar bills were in my wallet, the ones I had been attempting to use to pay the Illinois tolls.

But the computer only accepted nickels, dimes, quarters, or credit cards.

My purse is in the back.

My credit card is not a credit card, it is a debit card anyway. And would the computer confiscate it because I had no other money to pay?

Really, I had no other money to pay. Just my dollar bills, a fifty or two, no coins of silver. I dig through my wallet and find a nickel and a dime with many pennies, then drag my purse to the front and dig out two more silver coins.  Still need fifty-five cents. But I’m getting somewhere.

You know what though?  I’m scared. I am really scared. And ticked off. This dilemma was a perfect enraging spice of energy for an otherwise perfect day.

I am somewhere between a college campus with no people and a prison five miles away.  Where would an escapee head to get the heck out of Dodge but the nearest tollbooth where someone has to stop thus can be carjacked or even killed for the car. That is not a question.

Then there are the speedway people who pull up behind me, like the one who did. It’s him and me. Him waiting, me trying to get my money in the slot and go. Me with my window down watching all sides of my vehicle. Please don’t get out and try to help me, mister, I will definitely crack the gate off with my Denali, don’t think I can’t. But he waited. A nice man I am sure, but I was scared.

I dig through the pockets of my coat and find a quarter. I dig through the dark recesses of the cup holders filled with pennies and finally find silver, one looks Canadian.

In the end the little computer booth doesn’t want the last two coins, it must have taken me too long and my time expired. I was bashing the front of the machine with my hand to get the coins to make a difference in its silver-consumed little computer brain. Several bashes and it worked. The gate went up. I went on.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels sold the Indiana Tollway to a consortium, the firms Cintra of Spain and Macquarie of Australia, which gave Indiana $3.8 billion. Funds the state uses for roads.  Funds that impress the state voters to reelect him for his audacious ability to keep the state in the black.  He is getting a copy of this experience. Online, in print and through every congressperson and council person he has working with him.

One speed pass lane on a speedway is enough, we are supposed to conserve fuel, driving faster is not cutting it. Autos do not need to thrust through at six and ten lanes wide.

A tollbooth needs a toll person.  A security guard would be a nice touch. Two or more jobs right there, depending on location and time of night.

People need the jobs. Travelers need the people.

I thought I was unacceptable then.

I thought I was unacceptable then.

Digging through photos, I found one of me when… Dang!  I looked pretty good. Follow the sequence of photos as I age, you will see what I mean. Young women, take it and run. Understand that we live in the shadow of Barbie. Don’t hide from the camera, no matter your size.

Allowing more photos to be taken of me is only one little resolution though. Being the self-starter, perfectionistic-type, it seems that a more influential plan is in rounding out this one intention with other important goals I know I will meet. And why not write them down? I’ll do them, I will. Really.
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Christmas kiss

Christmas kiss

2009 New Year Resolutions

Essa Adams a.k.a. Thayne Hudson

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  • More photos taken of me. Check out this progression over the years. I well remember how discontented I was when the photo was taken. Now I like the picture. If that’s my reaction at fifty-ish, what do I think I will be saying when I’m seventy-something?
  • Eat more soup, vegetables, salads. Honestly, my favorite foods.
  • Plant a winter garden on the sleeping porch tables and shelves in January. Use garden lights.
  • Have a load of horse and chicken manure dumped in my back yard. Top with soil and organic compost. In late-March, plant garden.
  • Read all my books on the Essenes.
  • Write A Walk-in Illusion during February-March in six weeks or less, then don’t look for several months.
  • Publish Forever, Moore in June 2009.

Do I have to have ten?

Earliest in series

Second in my aging series

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  • Dance every day. One song makes me happier.
  • Bicycle often.
  • Read two novels a month. Review, promote for other authors to reach their dreams. Believe the same will happen for me.

That’s ten. One more…

When I started to really hide from the camera.

When I started to really hide from the camera, eighteen years ago.

  • Spend more time with all the people and fur children I love. If not time, then be closer to them, call them, connect.

Eleven has always been a special number for me. So we have eleven.

Good luck with yours, if you are gullible enough to make any.

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The last photo is from four years ago. Though I look younger now, since then, since I was in my teens even, I have hidden behind the camera. But this is a new year. I may hold my granddaughter and pet skunks in front of me, but I will be seen and remembered.

We all want a glow of pleasure from our memories. Let’s not be encouraged us to hide in shame and humiliation of our appearance – to hide from the means for our families to also have those memories after we are gone. Let’s learn to make friends with the camera.

camera not my friend

Camera not my friend, can you tell? Seven years ago.

I wanted to burn this. Now I am okay.

I wanted to burn this. Now I'm okay, really.

that happy bloated pms feeling

Feeling a little heavy?  PMS make you want to crush someone’s lovely ornaments this holiday?  No, it’s not always a pretty picture. Thank goodness for all the extra sacred chocolate hanging around.

My sister concluded that menstrual cycles seem to flow with the holidays, though this may seem improbable. But then, it is the Winter Solstice, and even I have cramps though I have been menopausal for a few years…. again…oooi.

Sometimes we need to recycle laughs. Here’s one I would read every year of my life and enjoy. Pass it on to a woman – or man – who needs a reality check. This too shall pass. No, really.

—An actual letter from an Austin woman sent to an American company, ******* and ******, regarding their feminine products.  She really gets rolling after the first paragraph. It’s PC Magazine’s 2007 editors’ choice for best webmail-award-winning-letter. I’m just glad these days are done for me.


Dear Mr. Thatcher,

I have been a loyal user of your ‘A*****’ m*** pads for over 20 years and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the LeakGuard Core or Dri-Weave absorbency, I’d probably never go horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I’d certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts. But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic. I can’t tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there’s a little F-16 in my pants.

Have you ever had a menstrual period, Mr. Thatcher? Ever suffered
from The
curse’? I’m guessing you haven’t. Well, my time of the month is
starting
right now. As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces violently
surging through my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body will adjust
and I’ll be transformed into what my husband likes to call ‘an inbred
hillbilly with
knife skills.’ Isn’t the human body amazing?

As Brand Manager in the Feminine-Hygiene Division, you’ve no doubt seen quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your customers monthly visits from ‘Aunt Flo’. Therefore, you must know about the bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our intense mood swings, crying jags, and out-of-control behavior. You surely realize it’s a tough time for most women. In fact, only last week, my friend Jennifer fought the violent urge to shove her boyfriend’s testicles into a George Foreman Grill just because he told her he thought Grey’s Anatomy was written by drunken chimps. Crazy!

The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in Capri pants… Which brings me to the reason for my letter. Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi-pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words: ‘Have a Happy Period.’

Are you kidding me? What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness – actual smiling, laughing happiness is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well, did it, James?  FYI, unless you’re some kind of sick S&M freak girl, there will never be anything ‘happy’ about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and Kahlua and lock yourself in your house just so you don’t march down to the local Walgreen’s armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to end Your life in a blaze of glory.

For the love of God, pull your head out, man! If you just have to slap a moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn’t it make more sense to say
something that’s actually pertinent, like ‘Put Down the Hammer’ or ‘Vehicular Manslaughter is Wrong’ — or are you just picking on us?

Sir, please inform your Accounting Department that, effective immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits, for I have chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though I will certainly miss your Flex-Wings, I will not for one minute miss your brand of condescending bull sh*t. And that’s a promise I will keep.  Always.

Best,
Wendi A******
Texas

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The Freezing Fake Christmas Ladybug

Gracie: The Freezing Fake Christmas Ladybug

Read Gracie: The Freezing Fake Christmas Ladybug and enter the book-giveaway for December!