Greeting, friends and family!
Our septic tank overflowed, the dogs almost killed Little Dude (cat), and we were skunked. Tomato juice does nothing but make you mad. After my big important interview with Homeland Security, I looked down to see that my pants zipper was down. My novel about small-town Texas, White Trash, while in the hands of an important someone, has still not panned out. But when Tommy was asked by one of his teachers what his mother writes, he responded, “Oh, some white trash stuff.”
We try to keep things low key for Robb, but it’s difficult. Channel 8 contacted us for a story on the environment, and we obliged. Prior to that, I’d been caught by a news crew as I was coming out of City Hall. I was asked if I had an opinion on pedophiles. What could I say? No? So I was on the news, offering my opinion on pedophiles. A week later, another news agency called for yet another story on the environment. Despite Robb’s belief that I lurk around film crews for the thrill of being on the news, the truth is that I just feel strongly about doing my part for the environment. So they mic-ed up Tommy in hopes of hearing him wheeze as he ran at soccer practice. The good news is that his asthma has really improved. The bad news – for the crew – was that Tommy had great lung capacity and was talking to the cameraman throughout soccer practice. He kept saying, “Hey, hey … can you hear me?” And as he was dribbling the ball down the field, “Hey, are you getting this?” When some of his teammates squirted him with water, he warned, “Hey, don’t get me wet. I’ve got electronics on.” Then he told his teammates, “See that guy over there? He can hear every word we’re saying. Watch this. Hey, mister, if you can hear me, raise your hand.” The cameraman obliged.
During Spring Break, we re-enacted the death of Julius Caesar (class project) with a group of kids in togas, wreaths, and knight’s armor. Later, for other class projects, we also re-enacted the Civil War and Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo. Tommy has become obsessed with Napoleon, so we’ve all been subjected to hours of war between our friends, the Brits and the Frogs. During one of our most recent trips to the Cowboy Church (where they also have a rodeo – I mean, if you can praise God, good for you, but if you can praise God AND rope a calf, now we’re talkin’), we zipped around to the back parking lot filled with large pick-up trucks and horse trailers. We – in our electric blue van and Tommy’s huge, homemade British flag streaming some five feet above the van. Here come the Allreds who of course only eat freedom fries!
Robb went on his annual elk-hunting trip but did not get anything because of a freak snowstorm. Almost two weeks later, we had another friend go. He didn’t get anything because of a freak heat wave. But there isn’t any global warming.
Kerri made the high school soccer team despite a pulled hamstring; Katie made the cross country team but kept vomiting during the meets and, at the last one, tripped and fell, knocking out her tooth. She was able to suction the tooth against her tongue and finish out the mile, talking to other competitors all the while. Tommy got thrown out of the Christmas play for turning his “toy soldier” part into his (rather dramatic) take on Napoleon. He was eventually allowed back in. And I rescued two dogs off the highway only to discover once they leapt into my van that one of us had been sprayed in the last 24 hours by a skunk, and I was pretty sure it wasn’t me! The front of our house flooded, the cats won’t stop killing and bringing home dead bunnies, and Robb still shares my workspace. While I’m studiously working on a piece about water conservation or a POW from WWII, Robb will turn in his chair to face me and say, “Wow, Goldie Hawn was found dead in her bedroom.”
“What?” This is shocking news! I’m a Goldie fan.
“Oh, sorry. It says she’s redoing her bedroom for the next issue of Good Housekeeping!” Or, he’ll say, “Barack Obama was just arrested for solicitation.”
“Oh, no. Sorry. It says here …”
Truly, it is one of the worst aspects of sharing an office space with an infant.
I asked Robb what it is that he and his brother Pat do while waiting for wild pigs to show themselves at the hunting ground. Frankly, it is difficult for me to envision deep, philosophical conversations between the two. He said, “Well, we have a breath-holding contest.” That’s it? You guys sit there and hold your breath? “Hey, it’s pertinent information. We [Pat and Robb] could accidentally drive into a lake. When rescuers come, you [Alex] could say, ‘Hey, they’ve been down there in the water for over a minute! Robb can hold his breath for 1 minute and 47 seconds, but Pat can only hold his for one minute and 13 seconds!” Ahh. Note to self: Have them rescue Pat first in the event those two idiots drive into a lake. This is pertinent information.
Speaking of pigs, we have neighbors who have named their free-roaming pet hogs Porkchop and Petunia.
Tommy has taken to having “estate sales,” only he keeps taking my things and insisting that I buy them back. And, of course, I passed out while getting stitches in my leg, which was highly embarrassing. When I came to, I tried to deny that I’d passed out but couldn’t really explain why my doctor was holding my feet up and why there was suddenly a nurse I didn’t recognize standing next to me.
Katie began calling me Loverpants. And, somehow, that evolved into “Pantless lover.” I tried to embarrass Katie by calling out to her in front of the entire 6th, 7th, and 8th grade UIL team. She beat me to it, screaming, “I love you, pantless lover!” This was just as the assistant principal was walking by. I was stunned into silence as he walked by and mouthed the words, “Pantless lover? Wow.” How embarrassing. I had the overwhelming desire to shout, “I do have on pants!” but that didn’t seem appropriate.
At 2:40 a.m. – with Robb out of town – there was an officer from the Ellis County sheriff’s department at my door. “Do you own a Shetland pony?” Um… no?
As it turns out, the Shetland (named Rebel) had broken free of his corral. Not knowing what else to do, the Sheriff began knocking on doors of people with horses; naturally, he came to my house. It was an early Christmas present for Star: we put Rebel in our corral to be terrorized.
Tommy is taking wrestling (“wrastling”) but cares very little about technique. He just wants to wrastle … everyone. This would include Katie who only has about five pounds on the little feller, and I can’t get Tommy to understand that this is NOT the time to wrestle the hormonally imbalanced Katie. While Kerri continues with her classical training (violin), Katie has become disturbingly good at Hip Hop dance moves. I do, however, draw the line at my skinny albino baby throwing gang signs.
Sadly, I had to put Star, my 23-year-old quarter horse, to sleep. His knee was blown out, but he had a great life. When he first came to me, he was terrified of lightning and fireworks, but in the last years, confident with us, he actually grazed under an umbrella of fireworks. Suffice to say, it is far easier to bury a small pet than a horse!
I tried to offer fresh cucumbers from my garden to my kickbox class, but they’ve become so fearful of my “ideas” – no one would accept. They tentatively asked, “What’s a cucumber?” What’s a cucumber? They thought it was some horrible exercise routine. I suspect my Starbucks addiction may have contributed to their growing fear of me first thing in the morning.
One saving grace in all of this has been my new job as the editor of a community magazine (NOW magazine) which I LOVE. I got to meet actor/artist Buck Taylor (‘Newly’ from “Gunsmoke”), and I’m pretty sure my zipper was down. Dang it! I swear, it’s the pants! What other job could or would allow me to step in beefalo poop (cow and buffalo crossbreed), don a dog attack training suit, drag a weighted dummy in a time test, challenge a mounted police officer to a run-off against his horse, fall off a stage, and have an iguana pee-pee on my shoe and then turn around and interview a funeral home director and scale down a ladder into an archeological dig of an 1872 Bismarck saloon?
So, friends, as we close yet another year, there is some information that we want to impart to you – things that we learned the hard way. They are as follows: Persistence pays off. The quality of a zipper does matter. Shetland ponies can actually scream in terror when penned in with large, aggressive quarter horses. Karma is real … so be thoughtful. It’s really in bad taste to name a pig Porkchop.
It’s either laugh or cry. We recommend the former. And remember, screaming as you run away from a skunk does not improve your odds. Apparently, high-pitched noises are upsetting to the little creatures. Oh, and tomato juice won’t do a dang thing for you.