Tag Archives: TLR

Bee Ess En.

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So about eight years ago I made the decision to go to nursing school.

I made this decision because I was at a kind of a crossroads, and I needed a profession that would support me and my daughter.  And also one that I found interesting and satisfying.  And?  It had to be fast.  Because the crossroads wasn’t somewhere I could stay for long.

I applied to an associate’s degree program in nursing at Clark College, which takes so many prerequisite courses that it really ought to be a bachelor’s program.  I didn’t have to take that many prerequisites because of all the math and chemistry I’d taken for my first degree.  I got into the program fairly readily and I did well there.  In December of 2009 I graduated, and a few weeks later passed my NCLEX.

Voila!  Registered Nurse.

Along the way I met The Lovely Rhonda.  She was one quarter ahead of me and graduated in June of 2009.

A year and  a half ago Rhonda got this wild hair and decided it was time to go back and get the BSN.  I was reluctant.  There was a lot of heavy shit going down in our lives, particularly mine, and I didn’t really want to go back to school.  But I did.  Because Rhonda made me.

It hasn’t been easy.  It turns out that I suck at saying, But honey.  We can’t go do the fun thing.  We have to stay home and do the schooling. 

Instead I say, DO ALL THE FUN THINGS!  Until a month before I have to wrap the term up, and then I say SHIT I HAVE SO MUCH TO DO!  YOU DID THIS TO ME!  And I make Rhonda feel terrible about making us go back to school.

A couple of days ago I turned in my practicum paper, which is the final project for the BSN.  And then I commenced with the hourly checking of the computer.  Did they grade it?  Did I pass?  Would it need revision?

I sent my mentor an email this afternoon.  Still no results.  Am losing mind.

Hang in there, she emailed back. They’re grading it right now.

We went to a concert this evening and afterward I checked again.  I fully expected it to say, This paper sucks and you’re bad and you should feel bad.

Or at least the dreaded Needs Revision. 

But what it said was, MEETS REQUIREMENT.

MEETS CRITERIA

So I have my BSN.

And I’m sorry I made Rhonda feel bad.  It was the right thing to do, going back to school.

You were right, darling.  And I was wrong.

Thanks for being right!

 

Moving is Such Joy

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So last weekend we moved into the new house.

Actually we moved on Friday, but I was absent because payroll was due and then there was a training that nobody else could do.   So The Lovely Rhonda was forced to begin the move without me.

We hired some thugs and a truck because a) we have a lot of crap, b) some of it is very heavy, and c) I have these terrible feet.

I have new orthotics but they only help so much.  The last time I saw the podiatrist I told her that I had accepted the fact that even with good shoes and orthotics I still have only so much foot-time on any given day.  She told me that it was good that I had accepted this because it was true.

Pretty much from this point forward, this is my new reality.  Trips to Disneyland will always involve a rented scooter.  Big projects in the house or yard will always involve painkillers and more than likely, hired help as well.  The temporary parking pass may become permanent.

At the end of a typical day, my feet might be a little tired but I don’t require pain medication.

But, moving house is not typical.

So the hired thugs stuffed our crap into the truck and moved it and then they went back for more crap.  They worked hard and they didn’t slack off at all, and we tipped them pretty generously.  At the end of the day, most of our crap was in the new house, and anything that wasn’t a piece of furniture was piled in the garage.

You really get to know who your friends are when you’re moving.  Kimberly came over on multiple occasions and helped us pack, which was so enormously helpful I can’t even form words around the concept.  My mouth just hangs open when I try.  Another friend, Jerry, came and helped us paint the kids’ bedrooms in the new house and hung curtain rods and such, and then helped paint the old house (which is now a rental).  He won’t accept any money for this.  When we posted on FB that we needed a plumber and couldn’t get anyone to call us back, he came over and fixed a leaky sink at the new house as well.

The day after the main move we had a bunch of friends and family volunteer to come over and help with various things.  Heather helped me unpack a lot of boxes.  Anhata and Frank and their kids came and packed up the last of the junk at the old house, along with friends Sarah and Joni and my cousins Carmen and Emily.  Between Frank, Jerry and my Dad, we got all the appliances hooked up.

And of course our Best Handyman Kenny is in the house (literally), installing the baseboards and the new dishwasher in the rental.  He’s not a volunteer but he’s family anyway.

At the end of the weekend we had the basics sort of unpacked — unfortunately, since I wasn’t there to grab the last-minute essentials (hair product, Minecraft game disc, etc) we have all been without a few of our Favorite Things for a solid week.  I’ve had to find other methods of taming my hair, and the kids have been forced to entertain themselves by going to the park, unpacking boxes in their rooms, and playing on alternate electronic platforms, but somehow we all survived.

Essentially I’ve been on my feet about three times as much as usual in the past week with painting/packing/moving/unpacking, and some of that time I’ve been shifting boxes around, so the moral of this story is rapidly becoming the following statement:  codeine is my friend.  The temporary disabled parking permit has gotten a workout, because any step saved is a blessing to me right now.

Also?  The new house is nice, and I think we will all like it here.

Home Rearranged

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So we here at The Swamp are pretty much packed in like cordwood, and so The Lovely Rhonda and I have been discussing the merits of moving house.

Three years ago the conversation went thusly:

TLR: I think we should look into buying a bigger house and moving.

Me:  NO I HATE THAT IDEA IT STINKS WE ONLY JUST GOT COMFORTABLE HERE WHY DO YOU HATE AMERICA.

Two years ago, it was more along these lines:

TLR: I think we should look into buying a bigger house and moving.

Me: YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH RIGHT NOW.

A year ago:

TLR: I think we should look into buying a bigger house and moving.

Me:  DAMMIT WOMAN WHY YOU GOTTA DO ME LIKE THIS OMG.

A few weeks ago we were coming home some random Sunday afternoon and noticed an Open House sign three doors down and totally on a whim went and had a look.

Oh, internets.  The.  House.  Was.  Beautiful.  Gourmet kitchen!  Travertine in the bathroom!  Open floor plan!

Also: no back yard to speak of, so definitely unsuitable for us.  We have dirt farmers for children, and we have dogs and cats, and everything about this house was grown-up and polished and lovely.  We are not Those People who could live in such a house.  We would live in constant anxiety about the carpets and so forth.

But, we went home and babbled incessantly at one another about the whole thing, and then we had this conversation:

TLR: I think we should look into buying a bigger house and moving.

Me:  WHY DID YOU WAIT SO LONG TO SUGGEST THIS AMAZING IDEA.

The next house we looked at was so shabby in comparison that we couldn’t stomach it at all, but the third house was gorgeous.  But we couldn’t get it because mortgage blah blah blah FHA blah blah blah no.  The fourth house was pretty awesome except a) giant lake in basement, b) yard a complete bog, c) backed up to busy street, d) funky cobblestoned driveway unsuitable for motorcycle enthusiasts.

By the way, always look at houses when it’s raining if there is a basement involved.  Pro tip.

Then we went back and looked at the second house again.  It wasn’t really shabby, just not drop-dead beautiful.  It was like meeting Mary Ann right after you’ve met Ginger.  Or Rhoda, after Mary.  It had everything we wanted, the yard was good, and it was nicely situated to the school and a park and blah blah blah new roof blah blah blah new water heater blah blah blah basically perfect for us.

So we put down an offer and the inspection was yesterday and we move in a month.

The End.  And also The Beginning.

 

Room-cleaning day: a comedy in three parts

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So The Lovely Rhonda and I give the children an allowance every couple of weeks, allegedly for chores that they do.  There are assigned chores (cleaning the catbox, taking out the recycling, etc) and there are “other duties as assigned,” such as filling the cat food dish or picking stuff up in the living room so I can vacuum.

Also a large part of allowance is cleaning your room, which we are dismal at enforcing and the spawn are equally, if not more, dismal at actually doing.

This morning TLR announced that rooms would need to be cleaned in order to receive the blessed allowances, and thus began our Morning of Travail.

As luck would have it, the eldest spawn cleaned her room yesterday at my behest, so she’s happily playing CADsoftwarewithastorylinecraftTM while the other girls toil away.

A sampling of the day’s activities thus far:

Madeline, the youngest at age 6, approaches clutching a calendar.  (We often refer to her in shorthand as M2 and Molly, age 8, as M1, denoting birth order)

M2: Mama, can we pwease put this up?

TLR: Yes, just put it on your desk for now.

M2: But my homewowk is on my desk and I can’t put this on top of my homewowk because my homewowk has to be on the top

TLR: Okay, so put this underneath your homework, on your desk.

M2: ‘K.  (races off)

Shortly thereafter Molly, the middle child, comes showing something else that must be looked upon immediately.  I can’t remember what because frankly it was so mind-bogglingly trivial that it barely registered in the first place.  TLR, a paragon of patience for reasons that I still cannot fathom, acknowledges the item and gently bids the child return to her room.

Approximately 90 seconds passes, after which Madeline returns announcing that she has cleaned her entire room.

TLR: That seemed kind of quick.  Did you clean the whole thing?

M2:  Yes.

TLR: So, everything is up off the floor?  Like, under your desk, and back by your toybox, and in front of your closet?

M2:  Well, no.  Not in fwont of my cwoset.  Because I never go there.

TLR:  You need to clean in front of the closet.

M2:  WHY?!

TLR (calmly): Because I said so.  Now go clean in front of the closet like I said.

M2 sighs heavily and trudges down the hall.

A moment later Molly appears.

M1: Mama?  I think Madeline is whining about something in her room.

TLR:  Oh?

M1: Yeah.  It sounds like she’s saying, like, “But I didn’t even do it,” or something.

TLR:  Well, why don’t you just not worry about it.

M1: But, it’s really hard to clean my room with her groans distracting me —

Me (at this point I cannot help myself): SO CLOSE YOUR DOOR.

At this point all of the rooms are reasonably clean and the youngest has bathed.  She emerges wearing a pair of jeans and complains to TLR that they are too big.  See?  And the jeans are touching my socks and I don’t like it when my jeans are touching my socks —

There is a beer-and-wine-thing tonight in downtown Bedroom Community, and TLR’s favorite vintner will be represented at a local independent theater we like to go to.  I think it’s safe to say we’ll be going.

 

Let the festivities begin!

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So this morning we ventured forth into the 22 degree weather to get our annual Christmas tree.  This marks the fifth straight year that we have done so as a family, going to the same tree farm each year.  We like this tree farm because although the trees are somewhat more expensive than the ones at the gas station, they have a petting zoo and free cocoa and they drill a hole in the end of your tree and stick it on a patented “Marriage Saving Tree Stand” so that when you get it home you just stand it up and it’s ready to decorate.

Note: feeding farm animals a handful of oats for 25 cents — thereby transforming a fifteen dollar bag of oats into a veritable gold mine for the farm (note to self: THIS IS WHERE THE MONEY IS EARNED, THE TREES ARE JUST TO LURE YOU IN) is a major draw for the children, but it’s the tree stand that brings The Lovely Rhonda and I back year after expensive year.  No price is too high to pay to get out of having to apply a rickety pot-metal stand to the nether regions of a majestic fir tree, and furthermore get it to stand up straight.   It’s a miserable hobby that nobody enjoys, least of all me, the designated spider-killer, lawn-mower and tree-erector of the household.

Each year we have also had to find our way to the tree farm as though we had never been there before, because we can only remember the vaguest details about it — “it’s the one with the goats, and I think there was a guy in suspenders?” — and certainly can’t be bothered to recall useful information such as, for instance, its name?  Or perhaps general location?

And so it was that we once again this year performed the traditional Festive Annual U-Turn when we realized we were, as with the previous three years, on the right road but going the wrong way.

Within moments of embarking from the Minivan of Justice we found a worthwhile adversary and, as always, I was elected to dispatch the thing.  We dragged its gory remains back to the van:

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Then as we drove it up to the barn for embalming shaking and baling, TLR said, Um, guys?  Look out the back window?  What is that?

And there was a llama being walked around the estate, all splay footed and knobbly kneed, and we had to pile out and meet it.

Her name was Shania Twain and we dutifully had a photo op.

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Once we’d exhausted the possibilities of the llama-tree-farm juxtaposition absurdity factor, we crept onwards to the barn.  We allowed the children to ride sans belts, on the floor if desired, and the eldest enjoyed a heretofore unprecedented joyride in the forbidden front seat.  Such is our carefree existence that this relaxation of protocol made them all giddy and unmanageable.

At the tiny guard hut where you pay for your kill tree, the cashier informed us jubilantly that the car ahead of us had gotten their tree for free.  One of the local credit unions was handing out envelopes with coupons in them for varying amounts off of the purchase price of the trees, and these lucky bastards fortunate holiday shoppers had received a fifty dollar coupon.  Ours was for twenty dollars for which we were pretty stoked, right up until we heard that.  THANKS FOR THE BUZZKILL, CASHIER LADY.

I kid.  The whole thing was pretty magical.  We had no idea they were doing that today and it was a really nice bonus to get the tree for basically one-third off.

We had that sucker shaken, baled and stuffed in to the MOJ in no time and proceeded on, as is customary, to the petting zoo.

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Then we piled into the MOJ and drove our trophy home, to display it in all its grisly splendor until the day after Christmas, at which point I will become physically unable to stand the disruption for ONE. MORE. SECOND. and strip it of ornaments and lights and dump it in the side yard.  The end.

Neville Stinkybottom

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So we adopted this cat a little while ago.  We had been discussing such things and then some friends posted a plea on Teh Book of Face about a stray who needed a home.  So it was that we arrived at the house of total strangers and collected him from them.  They couldn’t keep him because their stodgy adult cats were lodging complaints about the whippersnapper in their midst.  We could relate: we wanted another young cat to occupy the attentions of our kitten who was righteously pissing off our old lady cat, the Traditionally Built Hermione.

He’s a lynx-point Siamese, or looks like one.  He’s stripey and has Siamese markings and coloration, and the end of his tail is kinked like a fishhook.  His dazzling blue eyes are ever so slightly crossed.  He’s about half grown by now, and we’ve had him a couple of months.  We friended his interim-caretakers so they can see the pictures we post of him.

Nev

He’s an odd little thing.  He will allow you to cradle him in your arms like a baby.  He licks your hands too.  I once had a cat who did this and she was bottle-fed, so I have to wonder about Neville.

A conversation was had this evening about him.  The Lovely Rhonda and I were remarking to one another about the cradling and the licking.  He was in front of me on the desk licking my hands.

“Why is his butt always so stinky?” I asked, and TLR replied, “Well, it’s not just his butt.  Have you smelled his fur?  He stinks all over.”

“Now he’s licking my sweater.  It’s sticking to his tongue like Velcro.”

“And he’s not smart,” said TLR.

This is not an unusual conversation for us to have.

This thing which happened, part 4

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So anyway, at last the day arrived.  Dad and I had spent Friday afternoon (before shopping for helmets etc) frantically cleaning out the adorable miniature garage.  This used to be a normal two-car garage, provided the cars were small and didn’t mind being very close to one another, but we had built a bedroom out of half of it.  The back half.  So you open the big rolling overhead garage door and are met with a space that only goes back half as far as it used to.

Coincidentally, this depth exactly accommodates a motorcycle front to back.  Or two, if it comes to that.

It’s amazing what you can accomplish in an hour and a half given a bit of assistance and a great deal of motivation.  I’ve been moaning about that filthy garage for months but BAM!  It was reasonably tidy by dinnertime.  Dad even installed a rubber flange-thing across the bottom to keep the worst of the leaves and dirt from blowing in as they have for all the years we’ve lived here.  One cannot subject one’s brand-new motorcycles to such tawdry conditions.

Finally after breakfast when we were just starting to wonder if we’d dreamt the whole thing up, the man with the trailer phoned ahead to make sure we were home to take delivery.  And half an hour later, here came a truck with a big enclosed trailer behind it, and then a very nice fellow unloaded two of the shiniest, most ridiculously clean and bright motorcycles to the curb.  IMG_0488

We ooh’ed and aah’ed and took photos, and then Dad and the delivery guy stood around and swapped stories and lies for a little while.  Finally off the guy went and we were left in the street with two shiny, perfect motorcycles.  Two shiny, perfect motorcycles that I was terrified to touch.  They looked bigger than I remembered.  Also?  They were completely unspoiled.  Who was I to smudge them all up and very possibly damage them in some way?

Luckily Dad was perfectly willing to garage them for us, because not long after delivery we had to run off to some errand or another.  When we returned, we prevailed upon the neighbor lady to watch the kids for a short while so that we could go on a ride.  Dad rides a Gold Wing so he took The Lovely Rhonda with him while I rode my own bike.  The one with twelve miles on it, eight of which I had put there myself on the test ride.

I managed not to embarrass myself too much, and re-learned an important lesson.  We hadn’t gotten the mesh jackets yet and it was just as hot as hell, so I rode in a t-shirt.  (Yes, after all that discussion about safety gear, I rode in a t-shirt.  It really was hot as blazes and it was a short ride.  Don’t judge.)

At around forty miles per hour, a t-shirt will ride up in the back.  Like, all the way up.  Like, Hi there fellow highway travelers, please check out my foundation undergarments.  I rode most of the way back with my left hand on my hip, holding my t-shirt in a death grip.

This thing which happened, part 3

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So it was that we signed papers on two brand-new motorcycles.  It turns out that if  you buy two brand-new motorcycles, the dealership will trailer them right to you even if you live across the river in another state.  We eagerly awaited the delivery day, which was Saturday.  We signed on Wednesday.  We had to wait Three. Whole. Days. for delivery.

I am of the opinion that they were perhaps the three longest days in recorded history.

My dad happened to call on Thursday night.  He was in town and unexpectedly free and wondered if this was a good time to visit maybe?  He lives about five hours away.  It is of note that he has ridden motorcycles pretty much all his life and once toured parts of Europe on — wait for it — a Triumph Bonneville, in about 1970 or so.  My mother rode on the back, having stashed us wee children in the care of total strangers another Navy family for a MONTH in Rota, Spain, where we were stationed at the time.

I kid.  I’m a kidder.  I have no memory of this because I was a tiny tot but we probably stayed with their best friends who had kids a little older than us.  Probably I should ask her.

So I told him, “You know, it’s funny you should call just now.  I have to work tomorrow but then the next morning a trailer is going to pull up to my house and deliver two shiny new motorcycles!”  Not surprisingly, he opted to stay and enjoy the show.

We went out to a shop on Friday night and bought new helmets and jackets, and also gloves for The Lovely Rhonda. Gloves are important.  I knew this already, but it was really made clear when I had patient during clinicals for nursing school who had dumped a bike while wearing no gloves.  I think he was wearing a helmet but little else in the way of protective gear.  Anyway the skin on his palms was essentially torn off, like to the dermis.  Wear your gloves, people!  This kid was facing months of extremely limited use of his hands, if not skin grafts or some other kind of reconstructive surgery.  Ugh.

Helmets have come a long way in ten years.  My first helmet was an open-faced half lid, which I had to augment with a face shield.  I was riding first a crusty old Honda with no fairing and then later a BMW that had a little cafe-style fairing on it, but because the rest of the bike didn’t really put me in a cafe-style riding position, the mini-fairing served only to funnel the wind directly between my eyeballs, necessitating supernatural neck strength to prevent my head from being torn straight off.  This is probably what led to the degenerating disks in my neck, come to think of it.

Then I had this one girlfriend who insisted that I get a full-face helmet, which made my head feel like it was in a packing crate.  This definitely kept the wind out of my eyes but was hot in summer, fogged up if it was damp, and prevented verbal communication.  Nowadays they have these modular helmets where the front part can be flipped up so you can expose your face, say when stopped at a light so other riders can hear you, or if it’s really effing hot out like is now and you’re riding at low speeds.  And!  They have a little flip-down tinted sun visor inside the helmet, like a little pair of sunglasses, so you don’t have to try to cram your sunglasses into the helmet — especially useful for people like me who wear glasses.  I do have prescription sunglasses but it’s nice not to have to wrestle with them or even carry them around.  Plus as a bonus you look like you’re going to pilot an F-15.  Srsly.

We got jackets as well, three-quarter length ones with zip-out linings and armor in the sleeves and shoulders.  It’s been so hot that we then had to go get mesh jackets, similarly armored but made of a heavy mesh that allows the breeze to filter through admirably.  The thought of putting the heavy jackets on and riding around in the ninety-degree sun was unbearable.  The mesh jackets are still pretty warm in the sun if you’re not moving, but it’s the price you pay for protection.  Motorcycling in the summer is a sweaty affair.

TLR felt it was important to also order a communication system, which arrived today.  I have spent the past hour installing half of it into my helmet, and presumably the next hour will be spent similarly installing the other half into hers.  This thing is crazy — you can play music, talk on the phone, communicate with other riders in your party.   I’m not sure I need most of this but it will be nice to have a better way of signalling that I need to pee, which happens rather more than I’d like to admit.  Generally you ride up alongside your fellow motorcyclist on the freeway and tap your tank to indicate that you need gas, rub your belly to let them know you are hungry, or just make a broad sweeping gesture toward the right with your left hand to say, “Hey, let’s take a little break at that truck stop, I need to drink some spectacularly shitty coffee,” — but if you have to pee, it’s expected that you humiliate yourself by pointing at your junk.  Oddly enough, all my “let’s go drink coffee” stops include a stop at the restroom, sometimes a stop at each end of the break just to be safe.  I am fairly convinced that many of your more antiquated motorcycle enthusiasts take up smoking just to have an excuse to get off the road and pee every hour.

Jump Start

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So today The Lovely Rhonda and I went to a motorcycle dealership.

I have my endorsement but TLR does not, and having never ridden a motorcycle before, not even a dirt bike or scooter in her misspent youth, she will need to learn to ride.

We are familiar with a local dealership that has a “JumpStart” device, rather like a bicycle trainer, where a motorcycle is mounted onto a trailer with a roller for the back wheel.  Essentially it becomes stationary.

The tricky part of learning to ride is working the shifting.  Your left hand operates the clutch, your right hand the front brake and the throttle.  You shift with your left toe, and your right foot works the rear brake.  It’s exactly like shifting gears in a car with a manual transmission, but everything is in different locations than you are used to.  Muscle memory has to be learned.

A person with a crappy old motorcycle at their disposal has a lot less to lose than, say, a person who will be facing learning to ride on a brand new Triumph Bonneville.

Did I mention that I have anxiety?  I’m really quite surprised that I myself ever learned to ride, I have such anxiety.

So we wandered down to the dealership and requested that Rhonda be given some time on the JumpStart.

The nicest, goofiest, most affable old duffer in the world was paged and once he understood what we wanted, he went off to get it set up.  From the way he talked, it became apparent that it would be set up in front of the dealership where customers were browsing motorcycles or sitting at umbrella’d picnic tables awaiting repair or service work.  Multiple customers.  Mostly Harley riders.  Crusty, black-leathered, vest-wearing, bandanna’ed Harley riders.

TLR paled.  “Uh, it’s out front?  I kind of thought it would be, um, somewhere inside.”

“Oh no!” says the duffer, “You’ll get to ride in front of the entire store, and they’ll all be staring at you!”

Then he cracked a grin and said, “You see all these guys?  They were all just like you once.  They’ve all been there.”  And then told us how he’d bought his first motorcycle,  a Honda 90, when he was in the military, in Nashville TN, and had an hour to ride it fifteen miles back to base before curfew.  Oh, and he didn’t know how to ride, and he had a friend along who didn’t know how to ride either.

So yeah, compared to that she had it kind of easy I guess you could say.

So we went outside and he offered to put a Bonneville on it, which didn’t fit because the Bonneville has a shorter wheelbase than apparently any Harley.  The JumpStart device is made for Harleys.

Then they got a different Triumph which fit.  “It’s the first time we’ve ever put a Triumph on it,” says the old duffer,  “so we’re making history here.”

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By this time TLR was about ready to give it up out of embarrassment, but with encouragement from the duffer she pressed on.  As luck would have it, a large number of the shop rats and dreamers had wandered off to the strip club or strip mall, respectively, and there were relatively few onlookers.

Despite the fact that the bike is stationary, the owner of the dealership has a rule that anyone on the premises who sits on a running motorcycle and puts it in gear must wear a helmet.  So the old duffer set her up with a loaner helmet and onto the thing she climbed.  I stood by helpfully holding her Coach purse and taking photos.  photo(4)

She was absolutely convinced that she would kill it, but she didn’t.  And although the clutch was difficult to get a feel for because there was no real resistance on the rear wheel, she did awfully well at shifting.

She gets her permit on Wednesday.  Stay off the sidewalks!

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This thing that happened today

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So this evening I took it upon myself to finish the project I started yesterday.

Yesterday evening I got a wild hair to clean the minivan, Moby Titanic.  It had been a while and the filth level was teetering on the brink of acceptable levels of sloth.  It’s one thing to say, “Oh dear, sorry about the mess, you know how it is with kids” to the poor co-worker who has been forced to hitch a ride to lunch with you, as you toss a few library books and a stray sandal into the back seat.  It’s quite another to say, “Oh, you’re riding with me?  Give me about ten minutes to stuff all the crap into the stow-and-go compartments and hang half a dozen Little Tree air fresheners to hide the smell of moldering graham crackers and despair.”

And so it came to pass that I spent a carefree ninety minutes clearing away various bits of domestic detritus from the van’s interior,  vacuuming every last crevice and cleaning various of the grimier bits with spray cleaner.

It was during this time that I spied something between the front passenger seat and the mini-console next to it, something that I had long since given up for lost: my car keys.  They disappeared around New Year’s, because the last few days before you get married are obviously the ideal time for your keys to come up missing.  Evidently they had fallen there at some point during the frenzy of preparation or possibly the night we went to the drag show where I had a certain number of adult beverages, numbering perhaps three.  For me this is something like depravity.  Don’t judge.  Anyway, a stray Home Depot receipt or similar had then fallen atop them, concealing them completely from view in the narrow dark little space.

So this means that for seven months we drove my keys around, wondering all the while where they could possible have gotten away to.

I didn’t have time to wash the van’s exterior what with all the OCD detailing and lost-keyring-finding exultation going on, so this evening I fired up the garden hose and went to town on that thing.  It turns out that beneath the crusty layer of filth, it’s a fairly nice white minivan that we have.

My nine-year-old joined me in this which is to say that she pranced around with a soapy washrag taking swipes here and there at random locations on the van and then entreating me to spray her with the hose.  I enthusiastically reluctantly agreed  and thus was she soaked to the point of drippy saturation.  When she wanted to go in the house a bit later I got her a towel and brought her around to the back door so she could strip down out of view of the neighbors.  If we let her drip all over the newly-installed floors our handyman would probably kill me on sight.

My kid is what you could call an enthusiastic nudist, charmingly free of self-consciousness and all too ready to get naked whenever the occasion calls for it.  In another year or two this might become cause for alarm but for now it’s just the exuberant innocence of youth and I for one applaud it.

The Lovely Rhonda might have applauded it also up to tonight, but maybe not so much any longer.

I am not sure what in the world caused me to say it but my mouth opened and words came out:  “Hey Delia, I dare you to go over and press your naked butt up to the patio door.”

Perhaps it was that I remembered seeing a perfect print of her nose and mouth to the glass surface of one of the French doors a couple of days ago, and perhaps also it was that I possessed the knowledge that TLR was seated at her desk just on the other side of the doors.

Very possibly it was just the whispered voice of mischief keeping me from getting too close to sainthood.  Nobody likes a goody-goody.

My child doth not disappoint.  She raced over to the door and gave it the full moon, laughing and grinning like the juvenile delinquent that I am evidently raising her to be.

I am sorry to say that I then dared her to wave it back and forth, which she did.  At this point TLR came over to the doors and under pretense of unlocking them,  lowered the blinds in each one without a word and then yelled through the closed doors that she would never be able to get that sight out of her mind.

I laughed until I cried.  Eventually she let us in.

I am still laughing.  I am a terrible person.