Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kitty Time

Copied from my column at FlyingOskar.com

Miss Mom: Kitty Time

September 28, 2010
By Sylvie Galloway
I tooks this myself
What do you do when it is 8:30 on a Monday evening and you have a column due in the morning? That is my dilemma right now. I had every intention on writing about something serious and important. Ideas would spark into my brain only to spark right back out like a cheap light bulb. I did a homework marathon this weekend that involved a whole lot of writing with more pending. (Yay college!) I had thought about writing about some of the other websites I frequent, or about grand parenting, or why I could care less what hot new shows were on TV this season. But Ideas were not forthcoming. So, I wrote what was right in front of me…or right by my right hand. Yeah I know, take the easy route out Sylvie.

Chernobyll, whom I have written about before, is sitting waiting for me to reach for my mouse. That is if I could get to it. Her butt has nearly completely covered the thing. When I reach for the mouse, she will position her head so that it pushes against my hand. While her head is pushing against my mouse wielding hand, her butt is effectively blocking any clear view of my monitor. Often at least one paw is planted firmly on a key of my keyboard. This is her “pet me dammit!” position.

This is completely normal for her and a constant source of aggravation for me. Especially when I am trying to do something important, like work on a homework project, read my email or, just finish a quest in WOW before bed. Before she settles down to ensure she gets a pet, or for me to yell at her, she must, and I mean MUST make a complete round of my desk rubbing against every single object sitting on my desk, paying attention to the front side of my monitor.

Lunatic has completely different ways to annoy the crap out of me. Her getting my attention to come inside is to scratch at my kitchen window, or my dining room window, or my living room window. They all used to have complete screens. I have tried keeping her indoors, but she is too quick to scoot outside, usually causing a tripping hazard. She has claimed my yard as her personal domain. Well that and any cars in the driveway. She loves tire wells, which is why she isn’t always a pure white.
"ringing the doorbell

Then it comes to her night moves. Yeah she’s got ‘em. They involve forced petting, while she tries to knead through soft tissue, then stealing a good portion of the bed, where she’ll stay until I am supposed to wake up, according to cat time. Chernobyll makes sure of that.

So why do I put up with these two litter box filling, food bowl emptying, shedaholics? Because of when one of us is sick or sad, they are right there to offer comfort. They just seem to know that a little kitty lovin’ is just what the cat-doc ordered.

A few months ago I caught a nasty bug that gave me a high temperature and forced me to bed. I couldn’t get warm, and even with my heaviest jammies and three blankets, I was still freezing. If I got out of bed I shivered so hard I could barely walk. Luna and Nobyll kept a vigil with me. When I got under the covers, they got on either side of me and essentially pinned me down adding their body heat to mine. Neither of them moved until I needed to get up, then right back to their warmth inducing vigil they went. Only when they were right with me was I warm enough to get comfortable enough to sleep. They stayed with me till my fever broke and they determined I was healthy enough to check their food status.

For times like that, I’ll gladly put up with their more annoying qualities. Now if only Chernobyll will move her butt over just a few inches, I can submit this thing.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Adventures in Commuting

This originally appeared at http://www.flyingoskar.com

Take two college students, attending two different colleges, of which, one student holds a full time job at a third location. All three locations are several miles from each other and also several miles from the college students’ place of residence. Of the all the  locations the students need to find themselves on a daily basis, there is a scheduling conflict as to who needs to be where at what time, at least twice a week. Add to the formula one car, and you have the perfect recipe for what can easily be dubbed Adventures in Commuting.

That is the state of transportation bliss that Megan and I find ourselves in these days. My daughter used to have a car of her own. It was a 12 year old purple Neon that had been given the nickname “The Hotrod”. The Hotrod was one of those cars that usually had something really aggravating wrong with it, like a corroded battery wire, other wires deciding to quit working,  shocks and struts not performing, leaking fluids, brake issues, stuff getting stuck in tires and other issues ranging from the normal to the utterly aggravating.  ”The Hotrod “required itself to be in the shop for its annual $200 to $400 dollar checkup. It acted like it was going to shake itself apart if you took the speed over 6o MPH on the highway, bringing to light the irony of it’s nickname. On the plus side, it had less than 100,000 miles on the odometer.

This last time, the “annual, what the heck is wrong with the car this time” trip was sure to blow my miniscule budget, and would have utterly destroyed my daughters. The repair estimate reached close to the estimated worth of the car.  So we sold it so she could start saving for another car to get her through her last two semesters of college.
In the meantime we plan out our week around my work schedule, both our class schedules and any extra errands needing to be taken care of like doctor visits, and trips to the bank. As both of us are used to having complete access to a car whenever we wanted, it has been a bit of an adjustment having to share. Thankfully so far we’ve managed, asking my other daughter, Ashley to help, or in my case asking a co-worker on occasion to give me a lift to work. I have considered trying to use the bus on Fridays, but I just have yet to find myself in a situation where that is the only option. I suspect that a trip across town would take about 45 minutes on the bus, where in a car it takes about 15. So far a better way has always presented itself. If we end up replacing Megan’s car later instead of sooner, then I stand a fairly good chance of finally trying out Spartanburg’s Mass Transit system.

I thought back the other day about my parents and how they managed to transport six children around to all our various activities using only two cars. My dad always had one car at work, and so my mom was the chief transportation officer at our house. I know we all rode the bus to and from school, from first through 12th grades. I am fairly sure that carpooling with other students was a common occurrence as well. I do remember my first car, an oil leaking, mechanic’s dream come true in the form of a little Honda Civic. That car stayed in the shop more than out. When it was in working condition, my brothers often borrowed it for dates then returned it home with the gas gauge pointing to “fumes”. It finally blew out a head gasket and headed of too the junk heap. By then our family had acquired a couple of other cars, given to us by grandparents. They were ancient, but ran until something better could be afforded.

Somehow all of us managed to get where we needed to go and back home again often in time for supper. I don’t doubt that our mom was relieved when we started driving and she didn’t have to make the rounds to pick up kids (her own and often one or two extra), dry cleaning, whatever else needed to be taken care of while she was out running her own one woman mass transit system. She certainly appreciated having one of us go get some milk or a sibling when we were able.

Megan will find another little car soon, and we will return to more freedom when it comes to transportation. Our situation is hardly as crazy as it was for my parents when I was growing up, but I better appreciate the time and planning that it took to get us all to our varied destinations. I am enjoying mine and Megan’s commutes together. We get to spend time together that we otherwise wouldn’t, especially as both our schedules are rather full these days. As Megan is the last still at home, I am looking at this adventure in transportation as something to enjoy, even if it has some big inconveniences. We’ve even agreed on a commuting rule, whoever drives gets to pick the radio station.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Did You Hear?

Here is the scenario.

Jane and John who have been dating awhile, decide to break up, or at least give their relationship a break. Being the modern tech savvy people that they are, they change their relationship status on the social media site Faceplant, from “in a relationship” to “single”. Friends of both offer condolences and support on Jane and John’s comments following the status update. A couple of friends and relatives of John, who didn’t like Jane offered congratulations and offers of helping to find “the perfect girl” on John’s page.

Then a cousin of John decides to jump in to offer support and defense of John’s honor. She mentions a supposed second love interest that had taken an interest in John and he her, that he should man up about it and isn’t it a shame that Jane never knew, especially as Jane is friends with “second love interest”.

The sister of Jane wonders the reason why now is the time for this news to be revealed now, after the break-up and in such a public way. The cousin tells the sister to butt out using language best suited for a PG 13 movie. The sister again wonders why Jane was never told by the cousin about this liaison with “second love interest” and John when it was occurring and is now only letting everyone know.

The “second love interest” who in reality never was a love interest at all, just a mutual friend of both Jane and John, seconds the question. The cousin replies that “the whole family knows what you did” and then calls “supposed second love interest” a hypocrite.

Then the boyfriend of the cousin jumps in. He pretty much insults everyone and their mothers, tosses in another wild accusation or two for good measure while cousin backs him up.

For those of you who think that I just revealed the plot for the next season of Jersey Shore, I didn’t. This is a variation of an actual conversation on a social media site. The facts are simple. Jane and John broke up and there is a mutual friend that has been accused of being involved with John by some people in John’s circle. The cousin never bothered to ask John if it was ok to discuss this matter, or to check the facts with him to see if it was true. She obviously didn’t do so to Jane, as has been already pointed out. This particular exchange certainly didn’t paint John in a positive light. It made him look like a cheater, Jane look like a victim, and the friend like a player. Naturally not a word of what the cousin was saying was true, or the boyfriend of the cousin. Jane and John wisely stayed out of the whole Jerry Springeresque mess.

What is sad about that little story is that kind of scenario happens all the time. That story is a very good example of what happens when people choose to gossip and do so maliciously. I find it maddening and extremely sad that people, especially grown ups who should no better would behave in such a way. There are no winners in that type of situation. The people who have been painted poorly are hurt that someone would say such lies about them, the people who are the ones who are supposed to be helped are embarrassed by the drama, and the people doing the gossip and getting ugly when being questioned about the matter are getting angry and are not coming across as kind, caring people. Everyone is upset, hurt or angry. All of it could have been avoided.

The old saying “if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.” Is a simple rule that we all could do well to follow more diligently. Talking bad about someone else, gossiping or outright lying only causes hurt and often does a pretty good job of displaying the person saying such things as someone who is hateful and mean. None of us want to be looked at in that light.

Now that we have things like Twitter, Facebook and other outlets to share information, we should remember to make sure we have switched on our integrity when we log on. Gossip is much easier to share, but should we be partakers of the feast that is gossip? Are those things that are being said true? Are we sure? Really sure? Is it something we would want said about us? Especially if we would know that the people saying these things only have a small portion of the information they are so sure they have all the facts about? See that is often what gossip is. Someone has only a small part of the story and they decide to fill in the rest themselves. 99% of the time the filler is wrong, and most of the time that filler is consisted of stuff to make someone look bad.

Sadly people do it, and likely always will, for a variety of reasons. Maybe they think we want to hear about it, maybe they think they are trying to help, maybe they want to make themselves feel superior in some way, maybe they are just plain mean. Whatever reason it is, I wish that gossip, especially the demeaning hurtful type would vanish from the planet.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sleeping with the Toddler

Every so often Helene’ the rapidly growing toy strewing toddler, gets to spend the night with me, her Nana. I enjoy very much spending one and one time with my granddaughter. She’s funny, way too smart for her age, and full of adorable little surprises.When she sleeps, as the nap time photo demonstrates, she’s still utterly adorable, and us grownups get to catch our breaths, while we clean up after her. I love having her visit me as she is such a delight.   It is at bedtime  I know, that one of us is not going to have a whole lot of fun. Well at least not much sleep.
One would think that a little person a fraction of my size and weight (details of which will remain confidential) wouldn’t be that much of an issue when one is sharing mattress space with. Especially when that mattress is of the Queen size variety. Oh Contraire! What really happens is as follows.

Going to bed.

There is much procrastination involved. Helene’ will ask to have her teeth brushed, and then wants to know where all her animals are. She prefers a large retinue of stuffed critters. Then it’s time for prayers. Whatever grown-ups are in residence at the time must have their turn. She also has a session of “Let’s talk about it.” That is actually you singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to her. I have no idea why she calls it “Lets talk about it.” Then hopefully she’s ready to go to sleep.

Going to sleep.

Here lately that has been a problem. She is going through a phase where she doesn’t want to be alone in a darkened room to sleep. She’ll cry and sounds actually somewhat frightened. It usually takes a couple of visits to get her calmed down and into sleep zone.
This last visit, she went to bed a bit later than her usual routine. Since I was also tired, and was not exactly in the mood to hear her crying for an extended period of time. I decided just to go to bed early. I figured she’d calm right down and go to sleep, knowing a grown-up was right there.

Going to sleep, one hour later.

Yep, she’s still awake, wriggling around, kicking her feet every so often, and poking me to see if I respond. Every so often I mutter “Go to sleep.” Finally she goes to sleep as close to me as she can get having claimed her spot on the bed. Right smack in the middle.

Right smack in the middle.

A toddler usually can pick a spot in the bed, like right smack in the middle and pretty much stay there. The only downside is that they will pivot while in that spot, periodically altering which direction their feet are pointing. In my experience, a small child can do all the points of a compass in a single night while remaining essentially at the same point in the bed.  Head and feet are pointed at first vertically and can move suddenly to horizontally. Of course that changes drastically what unclaimed space remain for you. If you are like me, you may try to move the sleeping child back into a more sharing friendly setting, only to discover that sleeping children are surprisingly heavy.  Most of the time, I try to find a spot free of flailing elbows and feet and try to go back to sleep.

4:16 AM

I get a pat on the face. “I gotta go potty Nana.” Ok, a very important statement coming from a child who is still trying to master the whole going to the bathroom thing. So into the bathroom we go. She does her business and is done. While we are there, I might as well go to.  The child is now wide awake and playing with the rubber ducks left over from last night’s bath. Within seconds she is asking for breakfast. I quickly shoot down that idea as I turn off the lights and put her back into bed with me. Prolonged kicking and wriggling commences for a solid 20 minutes.

5:30 AM

“Nana, I gotta go potty, and I’m hungry.” We repeat in its entirety the sequence of events that had occurred 45 minutes previously.

6:30 AM

There is a toddler fast asleep on top of what covers she hasn’t already kicked off to the far side of the bed. I have to get up. I believe that I have gotten just enough sleep to keep me craving coffee all day long. She’ll wake up in a little while, totally refreshed and ready to face the day. I’m already wanting a nap, I know I won’t get.
I told my grandmother about my night time experience with my granddaughter. She laughed offering absolutely no sympathy. Apparently I did pretty much the same thing to her when I was a little girl. It’s “nice” to know Helene’ and I are carrying on a family tradition.