Too early for such great music…

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Mornin’ all.

My resident coffee pro is back! Right now I’m sipping on an iced coffee and it’s delicious. Things just run better when my boy’s here. What in the hell am I going to do when he goes to college?!

Time to start training the others!

*sip* Ahhh.

Music this morning, too. The kids sacked out in the living room to watch a movie last night. It’s summer, so why not? They left the tv on one of the music channels. We get cable, and in the 400s there are music stations, all different kinds. They fell asleep to “Classic 90’s.” Boo yeah! My childhood memories. Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin'” is on. The only drawback is that you cannot, CAN NOT listen to that song without singing, and most of the kiddies are still sleeping.

Must…fight…urge to sing…

“I’m gonna free fall…out into nothin’…”

I tell you what, folks. This is some epic self control. And I’m not usually big on that.

I finally wrapped up a short story book I’ve been working on for what feels like forever. There’s so much to do in the nice weather that I’ve relegated my writing to certain slots. That’s fine, it just drags it out. In the winter there’s nothing TO do but sit and write. Well, I mean, I suppose I *could* play in the snow.

*snort*

Write and shovel and shovel and write. Not a bad way to pass the winter, actually. And boy, did I get a lot written.

Short stories are fun, but in some ways, far more difficult to write than a book. In a book, you’ve got plenty of time to nail the details. You can let the intricacies of character personalities unfold slowly, emerge in a gradual adventure of discovery. In a short story, you’ve got a few pages to make the reader get the picture.

OH MY GOD! “I Would Do Anything for Love” just came on!!! This not-singing torture just kicked up another notch. Why you gotta torture me, Meatloaf??

I sent the short stories to be edited, and started cleaning up the second book in my Mother series. Now that’s the kind of stuff I cruise through. Because I put more into novel-length stories, it’s so much easier to let my fingers fly. I spend so much time with those characters, in those worlds, that I don’t have to think about what this person would say or what that person would do in a situation. I’ve got time to make the characters friends, and you always know what your good friends are going to do.

“And I would do any-thing for looooove….”

I’m not going to get to do much writing today. Our floor pans for the rust we lovingly call a station wagon are on the docket to be installed today. I spent the other day making a body panel out of sheet metal with those fancy new hammers, then yesterday welding it in place, fiberglassing, and sanding. I must say, while initially daunting, this body work stuff is actually pretty fun. And my right arm is starting to give Popeye a run for his money. Screw spinach…you want strong arms, hammer, angle grinder, and sander. Surefire method.

Meatloaf, you’re killin’ me, man…

My kids always sleep with the radio on. I could never do that, to the dismay of my older sister. We shared a room, and she liked the radio at night. We compromised and listened until the top twenty count down on the local station was done. After the top song, the tunes went off. I just can’t shut my mind off and go to sleep if a good song comes on. And I get the weirdest damn dreams if a song I don’t like plays.

My boys love it, though. Studies have shown that listening to music in your sleep is a good thing, that it’s kind of a passive stimulant that helps neurons keep firing without making you tired. I don’t know how much validity those studies carry, but I do know that all four of my kids are smart cookies.

GOO GOO DOLLS!!! Holy smokes. Haven’t heard “Iris” in forever! I’m going to have to put this channel on more often.

I’ve mentioned that my kids are LARPers and gamers. They’re also very creative. Perhaps the music at night really does help. I’m sorry to their future loves. I hope they can find people who also like listening to the radio at night.

Shoot. Maybe I’m screwing them up. Maybe I’m making it harder for them in the future.

Bah. If the biggest relationship hurdle any of them has is a “to radio or not to radio” debate, I’d say they’d be doing pretty darn good.

Now that they’ve had the first week off from school, I’m going to institute the summer electronics rule. I don’t think I’m going to be very popular for a couple days. No electronics, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, unless it’s rainy or too dangerously hot to go outside. While I do allow them their gaming, I’ve also got to be a mom, not just a competitor. We can game Tuesday, Thursday, and the weekends.

At my boy’s oncology check up last week, the doc talked about screen limits. “Two hours a day for children. That includes tv, video games, computers, cell phones…”

I’ve heard this before. And I’ve ignored it before, so that’s nothing new. I don’t think pediatricians understand how much technology is in the life of a kid these days. My boys use their tablets, computers, and smart phones at school. AT school. The school knows the benefits of the amazing little hand-held screens.

HOLY SHIT is my resolve being tested right now. “Pump Up the Jam” just came on. No way I’m keeping quiet through this whole song!

…what was I saying? Oh, right. Screen time.

After the kids come home from a school day filled with screens, they have to do homework. Research and typing must be done on a computer. So does any of this count in the “screen time rule”?

See, even if we weren’t a gaming family, the kids would get three times the amount of time in front of a screen just doing what we adults have set before them to get accomplished. We’re then supposed to tell them the only thing they can do on these fantastic little gadgets is work? Sorry. I can’t do it.

Or, more accurately, I won’t.

One of my kids wants to be a programmer. Another wants to be an app designer, and the third teen wants to join a game house and create the next huge franchise. These career choices are not only interesting to the kids, they are very wise decisions in this day and age. The technology path is one of the most secure paths they could take. If they have the skills to program, create apps, code games, then they’ve got a wide variety of choices open to them when they get into the work force.

But, to do a job you love, you have to love the job. Right now is the time for them to fall in love with the careers they want. Now, before they realize the hard work involved. They won’t love all this great tech if all they ever use it for is looking up facts and typing papers.

I didn’t tell the doctor that I was going to once again blow off her recommendations. I know what she’s trying to avoid. She’s trying to avoid the kids becoming fat little shut-ins who can’t function outside the nest of empty Mt. Dew bottles and Cheetos bags that surround their screens in the safety of my basement. Trust me, Doc, I don’t want that, either. But the medical community is once again going about things the wrong way.

“You Learn”. Ah, Alanis. What a great song for this discussion! Timely indeed, tv radio…

The doctors are still focusing on an old statistic, on a number, as if the issue is as simple as a two hour guideline. By doing that, they are not saying the important part of the equation: involvement. Maybe it’s uncomfortable for a doctor to have to look at a parent and say, “Do you know what your son’s favorite book is? Who are his teachers? What subjects is he struggling with? What’s his favorite type of humor?” THAT’S what they should be saying. And there’s no way anyone can answer that if they let the electronics raise their kids.

Screw the two hours. I’m having them disconnect and play, but in a time table that works for them, for us. I’ll let them play their games all day. But the next, they’re going to get up and join me in the world outside the digital realm. Get yer eyeballs off the screen and make stuff. Do things. Help me outside. Take a walk. Realize that life is a balance between the fun little gadgets and everything else. There are so many great things in the world, and digital geekery is just part of that.

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Sunday, June 29, 2014. I made it through without waking any kids up! I think that means I deserve a reward for my efforts. I’ll take cash. Pass around the hat. Thanks.

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Turbine or not turbine, that is the question….

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Hey, all.

My resident baristo is up to his dad’s house for the weak and this coffee is NASTY. It’s cheap coffee to begin with, and I put way too much of it in the filter. I didn’t have high hopes when I poured it and the ceramic of the mug sizzled and shrank away. I’m still drinking it, though. Good thing I’ve got a bottle of Tums.

The dissolved metal bits of the spoon will just give me an added mineral boost, right?

It’s been a busy week, hence the radio silence. Sunday was our Family Holiday, then there was some unexpected car work, even less-expected computer repair, a trip to the hospital for an oncology check up for one of our kids…

“Hey, Bethie…what’s Family Holiday?

Many years ago, when the kids were tiny and one of them wasn’t even around yet, we tried to blend families. Have you ever done this? His kid, my kids, one house that’s actually very small… It went well, by most standards, but there were times when it still felt forced. So one day my husband came home from work with a sack of toys. They were on clearance at work, and he couldn’t pass up the bargain. We got pizza, played games to win the toys, and declared the day, “Family Holiday,” with the reasoning that other people make holidays up, so we can, too.

That was nine years ago. Every June, we take one Sunday to ourselves and have Family Holiday. The initial batch of kids are much taller and hairier now, but they’re still not too “cool” to really get into it. So that was Sunday.

Oncology check up. Everything there went great, it’s just such an emotionally taxing trip. Plus, I live in NH…the hospital is an hour and a half away, which, to us, is a huge deal. You even have to use the interstate to get there. Whoa.

I got some hammers in the mail yesterday! No, not randomly, though that would be wicked awesome. I’d love it if someone just mailed me some hammers. The Great Hammer Mystery of ’14.

No, sillies. These were intentional hammers. Bodywork hammers, more specifically. They’re for doing the metal sheet work on the cars. They’ve got different shaped heads, and rounded and curved bits to place behind the metal you’re going to whack the shit out of to create just the right bends and shapes. So I’m going to be a great neighbor again later today and drown out the rooster.

Did I tell you about the rooster?

Someone that lives up on the hill behind our house has a rooster. That’s fine, many people do around here. But the damn thing never got the memo that it’s supposed to crow in the morning. It crows all day long.

All.

Day.

Long.

Now, my husband put the kibosh on my chicken-raising idea years ago, so I don’t have much personal knowledge on the lives and habit of chickens. However, I did watch plenty of cartoons as a kid, so I feel that makes me an expert. Roosters are supposed to crow in the morning, then shut the hell up.

By early afternoon, the poor thing sounds like he’s being strangled. It gets painful. I cringe and think, “Oh, buddy. That’s just sad.” And yet, he keeps going. I wonder how the owners can stand it?

Roosters and barking dogs. Our neighbor has a dog that barks. I mean, that bugger BARKS. Every time they hook it up outside to do it’s thing, it barks from the moment they walk away until they come back to get him. Sometimes they only leave him for a few minutes. Sometimes they leave him out there all day. Can’t they hear it? Can’t they hear the dog going absolutely ape shit?

A classy neighbor a few doors down stood on her porch and screamed, “SHUT THAT F**KIN’ DOG UP BEFORE I COME OVER THERE AND DO IT MYSELF!” While her methods were, admittedly, a little rough around the edges, the offensive dog owners did, indeed, bring in the Beast of Misery.

I wonder if I could talk the Miss NH contender into standing on my deck and trying that same method on the preschool?

…KIDDING. Sheesh.

I’d have her say “freaking” instead.

Just read an interesting article. There are a lot of them today, actually. Most of them are serious, and I’m not really in that serious of a mood. So I’ll pick the one about the eagles, and let the bad news fall to the wayside for the moment.

A court has just ruled that wind farms in California will not be charged for the deaths of eagles that get chopped to bits by the large turbines. They must, however, take measures to deter the eagles. Some of the proposed safety measures are large nets and electric rods. So they can’t chop the eagles to bits, but they can catch and fry them.

This whole thing makes me shake my head.

Look, folks. We need energy. We need it cleaner and cheaper than how we’re getting it now. I don’t care what side of the coin you fall on, that’s just plain old fact. Would you like to breathe better in the great outdoors? Would you like to pay less for your electric bill? Would you like to create more US jobs and not be so reliant on foreign countries? Then it’s a no-brainer. We need more wind farms. Solar farms. Hydroelectric collectors and all that jazz.

And yet, every single time a new one is constructed, there’s trumped up drama. SOMEONE will complain.

“It looks ugly.” That’s actually a biggie here in New England. Awhile back, there was a proposed wind farm that would be built off the coast of Massachusetts. The thinking was to harness the ocean winds, and boy howdy was that a great idea! The project was shot down, though. All those people with the million dollar beach homes turned their noses up at the thought have having ghastly turbines barely in their vision. The small farm would have supplied all of Nantucket and a good chunk beyond, and it got shot down because people didn’t think it looked pretty enough.

“It’s disruptive to the environment.” This one, this slays me. The whole fricken reason we’re trying to find clean energy solutions is because it’s good for the environment! So there’s a big tall thing constructed where it never was before. Big whoop. We do that all the time, only we stuff the structure with apartments and people. Nature will adapt. I didn’t see you picketing the cell phone tower. Oh, that’s right. Because you use the cell phones to document your picketing of the wind farm construction. Got it.

This eagle bullshit is just the same deal. People making a fuss just to have a “cause”.

In 2013, it was estimated that domestic cats were responsible for the deaths of 3.7 billion birds annually. Cars wipe out between 60-80 million. Hell, windows kill over 100 million, and they just sit still!

So how many birds do the turbines kill? Approximately 100,000 a year, across the entire US.

Why are we so resistant to these alternative energies? People are grasping at straws to keep us using the same old methods. And people can blame the government all they want. And people do! People say it’s the government that’s in OPEC’s pocket and all that jazz.

But it’s not. It’s people bringing lawsuits to bar the wind farms. It’s people who don’t want to look at the “ugly” structures. It’s common citizens who think one eagle is worth more than the benefit to hundreds of thousands a wind farm can provide, just so they can then tell their friends they did something good and call themselves activists. It’s average people blocking and banning and barring.

I’m glad to see that the court shot this crap lawsuit down. I hope it builds the confidence of the wind farm companies to keep trying. I’d love to have a wind farm here in town. Too bad roosters can’t fly…

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Friday, June 27, 2014. I’m off to do some laundry before I work on the cars. Blech. I hate laundry. Nudists have it right, man. …except when it comes time to fry bacon…

Lions and ‘ginas and bears, oh my!

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Mornin’ everyone.

Is it bad that I’m hoping for rain today?

Don’t get me wrong, I love the perfect weather we’ve been having. It’s been in the high seventies to low eighties, dry, light breeze to keep it from feeling too hot, and a sky filled with happy little puff balls of clouds. When I say “perfect”, I mean it.

But that also means there’s a ton to get done outside. That means I don’t have an excuse to sit at my computer all day and pound the keys. I try. I try real hard. And then I catch sight of something outside and I can see the bushes that need trimming, or the cars that need work, or the lawn that’s already gotten to where it needs ANOTHER fricken’ mow… Mother Nature is giving me a guilt trip.

I’ve got auto paint freckles right now. They’re all up my arms. I tried a new technique on smoothing out paint drips yesterday that involved a razor blade and about two hours’ patience. It worked way better than I expected, but it shaves teeny tiny bits of paint off, which end up sticking to skin. Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was because the paint hadn’t fully cured…whatever the reason, the bits would not wash off. They wouldn’t scrub off. The power washer didn’t touch them, and the only thing I can think of is paint thinner, which makes me break out in a rash. The paint is red, with a light metallic flake to it. I have speckled, glittery arms, and they’re just going to have to stay that way until the pieces finally rub off.

Is it bad that I kinda like them?

I’ve got to take a kid to a check-up tomorrow at a large hospital in the area. Maybe I’ll sit there and scratch at my arms the whole time just to freak the doctor out.

I was reading the news this morning. Seems we’ve got two cases of people going where they don’t belong. First, a tourist in a German town got himself stuck in some art. I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that if it’s a “tourist” that got stuck somewhere he didn’t belong, it was an American. So what was the sculpture, what was the grand work of art the man simply could not stop himself from climbing in to?

A vagina.

…whoa, chill. Not a REAL one. Sheesh. A giant carved rock vagina. Just sitting there, in the middle of the town.

Now, should he have climbed in it? No. Of course not. I mean, it’s art. You don’t climb on art. But, in his defense, it was art left outside, in the middle of a town, just sitting there.

And, you know, IT’S A TEN FOOT TALL VAGINA.

Who does that? Who looks at a giant slab of rock and says, “You know what? There’s a vagina trapped in there somewhere, and it’s up to me to let it out…” ?? I love art, all different kinds. I even like to try my hand at creating my own. And I’m not a prude. But a giant public vagina…uh…statue (?) is just plain weird.

And who lets it be on display in the middle of the town? Could you imagine that flying in any city here in the US? I wonder if they would let any body part statues be erected. Like a, oh, I dunno…penis. Is there a complimentary penile statue.

…stop groaning. I could not say “erect” without “penis” in this Musing. Face it, you’d be disappointed in me if I let that one slip by and you know it.

I want to see a giant elbow statue. Or jaw line. Not the whole thing, not like a Georgia O’Keeffe painting or anything. Just the part under the ear. Just that little bit. I mean, if we’re going to make statues of close up body parts, why not pick some boring ones?

Ah, there ya go. Ten bucks says the German artist who made the sculpture and the town that approved it for display are beside themselves that their little shock creation got international press. The only reason to display a ten foot tall vagina is for the hype, the reaction. It’s not even actually a very good statue. The carving is so-so, the overall look isn’t exactly interesting. It’s the most boring vagina statue I’ve ever seen. The ONLY thing it’s got going for it is that it’s a giant vagina standing in the middle of a town. It’s the idea that’s shocking, and that’s what the artist and the town board wanted.

When you look at it like that, the idiot did the town a favor by climbing into their most treasured gigantic body part. It is literally a tourist trap, just how the town and artist planned.

The other news tidbit was a story about a woman who sneaked into a lion enclosure at a zoo to feed them. She dressed herself all in brown, like lion-fur brown, and somehow got inside the display. She was unharmed, the workers removed her and took her photo and banned her for life. But, wanna know the scary part? This wasn’t the first time she’s done this. And there’s speculation that she may have done it in other zoos. And if that’s not enough to make you shake your head, she was feeding the lions cookies.

My god what’s wrong with people? Lions don’t eat cookies!! Sneaking in there, spoiling their dinner…SHE MUST BE STOPPED.

You know, I have mixed feelings about this. Either this lady needs serious mental help, or she just legitimately wants to be in the cage with lions.

“But Bethie! No one who is mentally fit and sound would actually want to be around dangerous creatures!”

Bullshit. There are thousands of morons who flirt with danger by playing with lethal animals. The only difference between this woman and Steve Irwin or Jack Hannah is that she doesn’t have a tv show. Maybe she’s like those tv show hosts, hm? Maybe the “molest nature for advertising dollars” culture has given her the impression that personally interacting with wild beasts is a good idea. Maybe she is crazy, but maybe she is just a product of modern culture.

And she’s not alone. Every year hundreds of people break into animal enclosures at zoos. It’s a global issue, too, so it’s not simply another case of entitled Americans. Sometimes the people are drunk and want to screw around with the monkeys. Sometimes they’re not drunk and want to cuddle the polar bears because they look so soft and fluffy-wuffy. Sometimes they do it on a dare. But often, the people who hop the fences and climb into the enclosures with what should be wild animals simply think they can help.

Let’s face it, zoos suck. Even if you like zoos, you have to admit that it’s got to be hard to be a wild animal stuck inside a 20×20 pen. I don’t see how anyone could argue that, even though there are plenty who will. The vast majority of people who climb into the animal enclosures at zoos are doing it to try and help the creatures they see as suffering.

Is that crazy? Really?

Misguided, sure. Impotent, definitely. The owners of the zoo are not suddenly going to say, “Gee, you know what, Fred? Maybe we shouldn’t take a creature that’s used to having a fifty square mile range to travel and stick him in a tiny box for the rest of his life. That hippie really made me think.” That is just not going to happen. But the intentions are to ease animal suffering.

Not crazy.

Not smart, either. There are ways to go about effecting change, and they don’t really involve handing out cookies to creatures with five inch fangs. I mean, sheesh, lady…LIONS. At least the dude who slithered through the stone vagina wasn’t really in any physical danger. If there weren’t cameras, he probably wouldn’t have gotten in any trouble, either. He could just say he was trying to become a “born again”.

*ducks rotten tomato*

Really? That’s where you’re drawing the bad joke line? *sigh* Fine. *grumble* I’m sorry for the pun so early in the morning.

You know what? Now that I’m thinking about it, I bet this woman really could help the lions. These beasts, these glorious wild cats have to live every aspect of their lives in forced opposition to their natural instincts. This woman wants to help? I say, let her! Don’t ban her from the zoo. Give her a key to the lion enclosure after hours and let her work her magic.

Why, I bet it’s been ages since those lions have had themselves a good hunt.

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Tuesday, June 24, 2014. Boy that took an unexpectedly dark turn at the end there, eh? Maybe I’ll go write a short story where I kill some people off. Seems to me I’m in that kind of mood. Muahaha….

Let’s test my relationship with my neighbors…

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Mornin’ folks.

And what a great one it is, too! Beautiful weather. The kind of weather that takes away the sting of winter, and makes you forget that a NH August is right around the corner with its leaf-drooping oppression. Sunny, gentle breeze, happy fluffy clouds that promise a lazy day.

Ahhhh.

Only, it’s not a lazy day. I don’t have lazy days right now. If the weather is nice, that means I’ve got to be outside working on the cars, or the garden, or the lawn, or the house, or….

And let’s not even talk about writing. I’m trying to get a short story book out. I’m on the last story, but keep getting interrupted by swirly thoughts. The busier I get, the less I can concentrate. I’m like a monkey…bright lights and shiny object distract me.

“But Bethie, you’re writing right now.”

Nah. I’m just chatting while waiting for it to be light enough and loud enough to go work outside. This isn’t real writing. It’s just checking in with friends. I don’t have a plot line to remember. I don’t have to flip back in my notes to make sure I didn’t accidentally off a major character, or call the same lady five different names, or destroy all plausibility by tearing a plot hole in the very fabric of the work. This is just chit chat. No stress. No worries.

At least I’ve got some tall people hanging around all summer that can give me a hand. Yep, the teens’ vacation starts today. So far so good. They’re playing video games and texting friends who are also too excited about not having to be up this early to actually sleep in. I’m tiptoeing around them, so as not to disturb the calm. One of them will lose at a game and shatter the peaceful morning. I mean, it’s bound to happen. They’ll lose, say the game cheated, and that’ll start the same old debate on whether or not games have the sentience and morality needed to cheat.

Now, I’m not challenging the educational value in the mind-expanding exercise of anthropomorphizing computer programs in a lively debate. However, I have the feeling this one would turn the way it usually does, and I just don’t feel like hearing perfectly intelligent honor roll students resort to, “nuh-uh”, “yessuh”…or worse, “You just suck.”

Because seriously, when you lose at a video game, it really is your own damn fault, no matter how many times I’ve argued against that myself while a controller was haplessly flying through the room towards the handiest wall.

So we’ll just tiptoe around the teens and let them play quietly until we can escape outside and create a forcefield around us by working hard. No teen on summer break would intentionally get sucked into the work zone. I’ll rope them in when I have to, but otherwise, I’m sure they’d be happy to keep their video game arguments well out of my range lest they remind me they exist.

Can we make there be 36 hours in a day during the summer? Time is arbitrary. Let’s put that law to work for us. I certainly could use the extra time to get everything done.

I’ve got body work to do today on two of our cars. We have two old diesels that we’ve mechanically restored. Now it’s time to fix all the rust. We dabbled in body work last year, but we’re working out of our driveway and everyone always made it sound so damn hard. However, the cars gave us no choice at all. One winter on these NH roads and that salt works like anti-matter on any little crack or chip in the paint like you wouldn’t believe. If we don’t fix it now, we’ll be Fred Flinstoning it next year. While that’s an amazing mental image, I question both the legality and the practicality.

…though, I suppose we could use poles to push ourselves along. Like an Italian gondola. Hmm. I do know a bit opera….

Anyway, I had been scared of really getting into body work. You talk to another shade tree mechanic and they’ll tell you it’s too hard, as if you’re talking about performing brain surgery instead of repairing a rust out.

I think it’s a lot like the food industry. No, now hang on. This isn’t a, “Oooh…shiny…” brain track jump. It’s a legitimate comparison, thank you very much.

I love cooking. I also am one of those rare cooks who also truly enjoys baking. I love it. I even make fancy cake for probably too little money. However, most cheffy types are dead set against trying to bake. They think it’s too complex, treat it like a different animal. Watch any cooking competition and you’ll see what I mean. “Bake? You want me to try and BAKE? *gulp* I’m going home for sure.” Mechanics vs. body work is a lot like that.

However, I like crafts. And what I’ve recently realized is that body work is just extreme crafting.

And I have the added bonus of literally not being able to make it any worse than it is. Right now, there are rust outs all over the place. Air and water have chemically bonded with the iron of the steel and a plague has begun to spread. The metal is being eaten away. If I do nothing, the molecules will continue to be broken down into their base components and separate, leaving air in its place. It’s actually a liberating revelation. I can’t make it any worse.

So I gave it a go. I have to say, while there really is a huge learning curve, and it will take me a long time to master, it turns out that it’s not as scary as it seemed. The work could not in any way pass for professional. But, it is stopping the rust. And it follows my husband’s “20 20” rule: Any body work has to look good from 20 feet away or going 20 miles an hour down the road.

Bondo is a lot like cake icing. Fiberglass filler is like fondant or clay. Sticky, sticky clay. Welding is like using a glue gun, as long as you remember it’s actually nothing like that and far more dangerous. Though I totally think if I timed it right I could throw some glitter at the fresh bead of molten metal it and make it stick…

The neighborhood daycare center is open and the kiddies are out and yelling. Though I normally wait to start work in the summer until I hear someone else use loud machinery, one of the kids is upset and bawling. I can’t believe a side grinder would be less grating than either the crying toddler or the frustrated daycare worker who’s trying to sing to calm the kid down. In fact, some of my neighbors will probably be happy I blotted out that cacophony.

When you look at it like that, I’m doing everyone a favor. *whine of the side grinder* See? You can’t even hear that kid anymore, can you?

…What did you say??

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Friday, June 20, 2014. I think I’m going to consider that bawling little kid my work alarm clock for the summer. When he’s out screaming, I can be out doing my part to drown out the noise. I’m sure I’ll have neighbors knocking on my door to thank me.

I really don’t care how many hit points your dragon can withstand…

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Mornin’ everyone.

My herd of teenagers has gathered on the couch before school, their hands attached to various electronic equipment and their booming (and sometimes cracking) voices are droning on about Pokemon or Dragon Quest or some other turn based game I just can’t get into. They’ve got five more minutes before they head out the door to catch the bus, and I’m just counting the seconds. I love ’em, but boy howdy do I get sick of the talk about this attack, or that strategy, or blah*blah *Pikachu* blah*blah.

Yep, folks. I’ve got me a passel of gamers.

They’ve started to LARP, too.

If you’re scratching your head, you’re not alone. We live in a very small NH town where the vast majority of kids their age are thinkin’ ’bout muddin’, huntin’, or hangin’ out with that wicked hot girl from up the way. But, they happen to have a mother that’s a geek and a nerd. I can’t count how many hours of my life have been spent playing video games and correcting grammar. Blame my dad for getting us an Atari, and my mom for being a librarian. I don’t do the RPGs, unless they’re action. My personal favorites are racers and FPSers. Those who get it, fist bump. Those who don’t, just know that my “gaming” and theirs are two totally different beasts. Meaning, my favorite video games are fun, while theirs make me WISH I was watching paint dry.

My first husband was also a gamer, one who gets into the boring stuff, too. He’s a great guy, and our split was quite possibly the friendliest in the history of break-ups. So, I can’t rip on him for much. But I WILL blame him for getting the kids into the mind-numbingly dull world of turn based role playing games. HE SCARRED THEM FOR LIFE. That bastard. My rest-of-my-life husband is definitely more toward the nerdy-geek side of things. He’s got a fancy paper proving he’s a linguist, but he also works on computer hardware. And cars. Yeah, we kind of blur the lines. My stepson’s mum is way into things like Dr. Who and Marvel (c’mon…who isn’t?!) and is very much into the modern social media world. In a nutshell, in the home and family stratosphere, our kids are utterly surrounded by all aspects of nerd and geek life.

So basically, our kids are doomed.

Electronics, gadgets, video games…that’s the gamer side of things. LARP, that just takes it to a whole new level. For those unfamiliar with the term, it stands for Live Action Role Play. Hm, how to explain?

Okay. You know those people who put on elaborate costumes for no apparent reason, gather in some misty field, and then speak in a hybrid language of Olde English and Nerdese while they beat the tar out of each other with Nerf swords? Yeah. That’s LARPing. Those are LARPers. And I’ve got some. An infestation, really. One thought the swords looked cool, and, being the oldest, set the trend for the others. It snowballed from there.

Honestly, only two of them seem like they could go hardcore with it. Though the eight year old has been trying to join the fray…

Okay, three. Three out of four. I’m not sure if anyone has compiled a list of LARPing stats amongst teenagers, so I don’t know if those are right on par. My bet would be no.

They’ve gone now. The herd packed up and stormed their way out the door leaving empty cereal bowls and dirty socks in their wake. The bus has whisked them off to a large regional high school where they actually found other people from outside the confines of this little town who share their gaming and geek culture. They’ve only got a few more days of school, then summer break. And then I have a bunch of teens home. All. Summer. Long.

I think I’m going to get them into making their own weaponry for their LARP hobby. I’ve got tons of materials, tools, spray paint. And duct tape. Can’t forget the duct tape. It’s the backbone of every LARPer’s workshop.

Why would I support such a bizarre habit? Because while I roll my eyes and shake my head when it gets to be just a little too much to listen to, I really do encourage it. Somehow they found something they’re really excited about, really get in to. It doesn’t hurt anyone. They’re not going out and causing trouble like so many other bored kids end up doing around this small town just to have something to do on the weekend. Nothing’s gotten pierced or tattooed, they don’t drink or smoke, and so far, none of them have added to the alarmingly high teen parent rate.

What?

Oh come on. I’m not going to pretend that’s not a distinct possibility. Have you driven by a high school these days? There’s a whole lot of boob and camel toe, no matter what the dress code might be. Add to that all the instant-access social media where people are usually half naked, and the world is now a very suggestive place.

But, like I said, they are into LARPing. Video games. Magic the Gathering card game and all that terrific geek culture that is the last bastion of childhood. And they aren’t alone. Over the past decade, geek culture has really been embraced and accepted, more than it ever has been in the past. The very fact that they haven’t gotten their asses kicked for their hobbies speaks to that.

I remember when I was in school, you kept your love of gaming and geekery to yourself or you got laughed at. Or worse. And while my boys did face some of that in elementary school and middle school, now that they’re in a large high school, they have found enough acceptance to embrace their geekiness, not hide from it. Not pretend. Not live someone else’s idea of “cool”.

God, I love my boys.

They are who they are and that is that. I don’t know how in the hell I’ve managed to raise kids with that healthy attitude. My own high school days were…let’s just say they weren’t filled with confidence, that’s for sure. While some of it is probably because they are boys and their new, sad little mustaches and pit hair make them feel invincible, there has to be more to it than that. I know plenty of insecure men.

Maybe it’s just the fact that they found something to do that they really like and do it, and that we let them.

Whatever the reasons, they are who they are. And in just a couple more days, I’ll have a house full of tall, endlessly hungry, slightly smelly geeks all summer long. They just downloaded a bunch of new games, even though I’ve got limits on video game time in the summer. We’ve got supplies, many, many supplies…

You know, hang on. I just have to say something here. Everyone rags on hoarding. But sometimes, it comes in handy.

*calming breath*

Sorry, that had to be said. We “rapid acquirers”, as one of my kids has kindly renamed us, DO have some redeeming qualities. You need it? No matter what “it” might be, chances are, I have it. Um…somewhere. Hoarding is not all dead cats under a pile of molded newspapers, ya know.

ANYWAY…. I’ll set them loose on the pile and see what they come up with. That should keep them busy!

Er, I guess for the first week. But…but…there are seven more after that to fill.

*gulp*

WHAT ABOUT THE REST???

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Tuesday, June 17, 2014. I’m off to scramble up a list of activities that’ll keep the horde entertained. Boy do I miss the days when a $3 sprinkler and a sack of freezer pops was all it took to keep the kiddies happy all summer…

I’ll take the Father’s Day playlist, Gaston.

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Mornin’ all.

I’m listening to “Ventura Highway” on my headphones right now. Remember that old song? By the band America. It’s easy listening, 70’s style. It’s a pleasant enough way to start the day, but it’s the next song I really want to listen to. “A Horse With No Name”.

At this point, I understand the majority of you will be slowly sipping your coffee and wondering, “What the hell?” Well quite simply, it’s Father’s Day, sillies. And “A Horse With No Name” to me means Dad.

We used to have this large room that had a terrible green shag rug in it for a few years before it was finally stripped out. Dad had a stereo set up at one end. And when I say “stereo”, I don’t mean these modern teeny iPods sitting on a three inch speaker dock. I mean old school stereo, with the multi media receptacles you’d actually have to physically load with a tape or record, and enormous speakers connected with the pimp-tastic, gold-flecked wires. Nothing was digital. There were no downloads yet. Real music from a real stereo.

He loved music. Loved it. He’d sit in front of the stereo on the floor flanked by his speaker sentinels and close his eyes and bop his hands in the air to the tunes. And he never played music we’d expect, either. He had tastes all over the board, from Madonna to Burl Ives (You younger ones, better google Burl Ives. You even younger ones, I suppose you best go on and google Madonna as well.) and everything in between. He was a very mood-driven musical connoisseur. If he was feeling good, he’d bop around the house singing our favorites from modern music. If he was feeling melancholy, it was “Nights in White Satin”, eyes closed and head forward the whole time, really feeling the music.

I’ve got all his favorites on my playlist. Digital, but whatcha gonna do, huh? I simply don’t have enough room in my house for that old type stereo set up, or the massive space to store all the tapes and CDs. That takes commitment. That takes work. You have to organize and dust and…forget that. I’ll settle for the digital versions.

We’ve moved past America, and right now “A Land Down Under” by Men At Work is keeping me company while I babble about the past. I always write to music. I suppose I get that from my dad. Like him, the songs I play are an extension of my mood. If I want to write a happy story, it’s “A Land Down Under” and other peppy songs. If I want to kill someone in the tale, clearly it’s time to break out some Rage Against the Machine.

Oooh! “Rocky Raccoon” just came on. Nice.

I haven’t listened to this particular playlist in quite some time, so the songs are kind of a surprise. I took it directly from his iPod after he died. He had loaded the songs into his new player to take on the plane with him for the vacation he said he felt he’d planned his whole life. He called me the night his plane left. Of course he waited till the last minute to pack, because that was the kind of guy he was. He’d plan everything right down to the second, then procrastinate on the stupid stuff and have to race out the door.

He called me while shoving everything in his bags to tell me a few changes to his plans and to have a little company through the mundane task of shoving underwear and tee-shirts into a suitcase. During the call, he bumped a candle he had lit in his room and it tipped over. He said, “Oops! Knocked over a candle. I don’t want to set the house on fire.”

Then we had an amazing moment. I keep that moment and I still think of it almost every day.

At the same time, we both spontaneously broke out in the same song. An old one. And when I say old, I mean so old that there’s no reason in the world we both knew the lyrics.

I don’t want to set the world on fire.
I just want to start a flame in your heart.
In my heart I have but one desire,
And that one is you. No other will do!

You know it? If not, you should look it up. The Ink Spots did the most notable version, though they did it as a cover. It’s one of those old songs you listen to and imagine rowing down a lazy stream under a parasol during the Sunday Social on a languid summer afternoon. You can find it on youtube if you don’t happen to have an old phonograph and your grandpa’s record collection lying around.

We got through the whole chorus before cracking up. We both said, “Wow, that was weird.” And then he said he had to get going, that he had about a half hour left he had to try and cram two hours’ of packing into. I told him I loved him and that I hoped he had the vacation of a lifetime. He told me he loved me, said he’d get me the cheesiest souvenirs he could find. He said, “Mmmuuuaa. Oxox.” It was our sign off when we chatted online, and he was kooky and would say that kind of stuff out loud. I returned, we ended the call.

As far as final conversations with people go, I’ve got to think that rates right up there with the best.

It’s Father’s Day. We plan on working on the car restorations for a bit this morning, then making the dad of our house sit down while we cook him a fancy meal. It’s not much, but I couldn’t get him to agree to more. And the boys will all give him hugs and tell him they love him, even the teenagers. And we’ll probably crack out some margaritas (for the adults, not the kids. Jeez. Relax. What kind of operation do you think I’m running here?), and definitely fire up the tunes. We’ll make a toast to my dad, and then we’ll honor him properly by singing off key to music all night long.

I was a very lucky girl to have the daddy I did. I know it. And no matter what day it is, I never forget that.

Happy Father’s Day, to all the great dads out there. You don’t even know how many good memories you are creating just by being your goofy selves!

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Sunday, June 15, 2014. Oh shit. “Danny Boy” just started playing. Dang it. I got through remembering and writing without tears, the first time in four years. I will not be brought down by Irish sap! I’m skipping ahead. “And She Was” by Talking Heads? That works!

Snooze on the couch like nothing happened, you little fur ball….

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Morning, all.

Ha! You doubted I’d do it two days in a row, didn’t you? It’s okay, you can admit it. I won’t take offense. Truth be told, if this coffee wasn’t strong enough to stand my hair on end, I probably would have lingered in bed until the last possible second.

I didn’t sleep well last night. It was just one of those nights where the brain spins and the eyeballs won’t stay shut. Of course, it didn’t really help that for some reason the cat decided she wanted to lick my toes.

Lick. My. Toes. *shudder*

Since it’s never happened before, and I did not step in kitty food before going to bed, I have no idea what the hell that was all about. Cats are weird, no matter what their aloof air would have you believe. And now after such a long night of oddity, she’s sacked out on the couch, sleeping, catching those Zs she readily denied me. Did I mention that cats are often bitchy as well as weird?

At least the coffee’s strong. My eldest now makes the coffee because I’m terrible at it. He actually measures the grounds…like that matters or something. I just dump some in. Really, I only drink it to open the eyeballs and get moving. I don’t honestly care what it tastes like. I think the fact that he’ll step in and take over is a good indicator of which child will wipe up my drool and find my lost teeth when I’m old and decrepit.

I was looking in the news for something to talk about, and everything’s making me annoyed. Rick Perry’s on some odd mission to “cure” gay people. That article was underneath one about “The Best Photo Yet Of Kim K’s Wedding Dress”. Best photo yet? ONE was too many! And that took precedence over Perry’s perplexing proposal? Then there’s the story of the soldier returned home. Hoo baby is that one causing a lot of stink, huh? My two cents is that we don’t know the truth yet, we haven’t heard his side, but even once we do, he’s ours. If he’s a deserting screw up, so be it. He’s still OUR deserting screw up, and it’s OUR call how to punish him. I can’t believe the same people who argued for his release years ago are now blasting those who brokered the deal to bring him home to deal with.

See, I think what I’m really annoyed about is that everyone wants a fight. Everyone wants something to argue about. Everyone wants to find fault in every little thing and pick it apart just to…what? That’s the thing I don’t understand. So they yell and scream and troll the comments sections of news articles. What does that accomplish?

“They’ve been heard. Their voices matter. People care about their opinions.”

No. The thing is, that’s just not true. They yell too loudly to be heard. They throw mud in the ring and it heaps up with all the rest until the issue is lost in the cacophony. If everyone is yelling their opinion, then no one actually gets heard. The modern debate arena does not host an exchange of different points of view, it’s a nursery where one crying baby sets the others off.

Guns. Abortion. Starting war. Stopping war. Whaling. Starving children. Poverty. Homosexuality.

All hot button issues, even when some of them shouldn’t be. Stopping war, pulling troops out of a failing mission, is considered controversial. What’s the controversy? There’s an opportunity to stop people from dying, while simultaneously saving heaps of money and resources. Where’s the downside??

And yet, there is always someone ready to scream and yell and whip people up over the decision to keep people alive.

Homosexuality is another hot button issue that’s just ridiculous. Make a law that says people can marry whoever they want and be done. Move on. Someone loving someone else has zero impact on your life, it does not “invalidate the meaning” of anything. It’s a non issue. It’s a made up “problem”. Sign it into law, then free yourself from the burden of persecuting innocent people for no damn reason. I bet if Rick Perry said these words, “I don’t understand, I’ll never understand, but that’s okay. I don’t have to,” he’d get a whole lot more done. Because the plain truth is, if people are lucky enough to fall in love and be loved back, how is that a bad thing?

But if you said these simple truths to the people screaming for more war and less love, they wouldn’t understand. Right now the pot is so frothy that there’s just no room for a calm head.

I have a theory of life. I fully believe that everything swings on an invisible pendulum. When an idea begins, it’s dropped into the world, hurtling forward and picking up supporters along the way. At the center it reaches the good zone, where everything is balanced. But it has to keep going. The momentum of the new concept scares people, makes them push it away to the other side. It has to keep going until it goes too far the other way before people try to bring it back. It’s a cycle, and with each pass, people slowly get a better look at it, understanding that it’s not scary, that it’s not a threat, and as the process continues, it slowly loses some of the extreme height and hype.

Eventually the back and forth will settle. Eventually the pendulum will come to rest where it belongs, in the center, in the neutral zone where it’s not too much one way or the other, but is just right. Eventually calm heads will prevail and the issue will be forgotten. It’s not fun or challenging to sit and watch a pendulum that doesn’t move. Eventually people will realize they’ve been being ridiculous, accept the fact of the stoic pendulum, and move on to start a new one swinging.

I dunno. Maybe I’ve already missed the latest pendulum.

What was that about some wedding dress?

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Friday, June 13, 2014. Holy smokes, I didn’t even realize it was Friday the 13th. And it’s a full moon? And I’m running on way too much caffeine?? Should be an interesting day after all.