Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves

One of our first nights here in Orange Beach, the kids and I were down at the pool. I sat in a chair reading while the kids were having fun swimming. Cole met up with a little girlfriend.  She told him her name was Michelle but people called her Shelly. He started to say he had a crush on her.

We would see Shelly at the pool nearly every day. She started to come to our unit and play with both kids. Shelly introduced us to her two sisters, the oldest is 13 and the other is 11; Shelly is 8.  When Luke came down that weekend, Ila and Shelly decided to plan an overnight sleepover. Ila wanted to spend the night at Shelly’s. I told her we would talk about it. Shortly, Shelly’s father came down and introduced himself to us to let us know it was ok if  Ila wanted to stay. Her father was around our age, if not a little younger. He and Luke talked shop about his job. The family had only been at Back Bay for the last month but were living here. The father travels back to Huntsville for his job with a roofing contractor. He is working on the tornado damaged homes in that area and said he works from 7am to 10pm daily. He also mentioned his 19 year old twin nephews that were currently living with them. One travels with him working while the other is here looking for a job. Apparently, they were having troubles at home and he offered to take them in and make them work.

Luke and I decided we would let Ila go for the night. After the dad left, I told Luke something just seemed strange. Luke of course thought I was nuts.  I went up the next morning around 11am to retrieve Ila. Their mother was vacuuming and the girls were on the master bed watching a kid movie. In the living room, another woman and man were sitting on the sofa. I told Ila to come home when the movie was over.

Luke went home after the 4th of July weekend and my Aunt Carol Ann and Kim arrived the same day he left. These girls from upstairs were coming and going on a regular basis at this point. Oddly, the older two girls would rather spend their time chatting with the adults than playing with my kids. So one night while Carol Ann, Kim and I were sitting in the living room, Carol Ann began to pick the 11 yr old for information. We discovered that they’d already lived in three other places (since April) down here. They’ve lived at The Caribe, Phoenix on the Bay, and the RV park prior to Back Bay. The girls never live anywhere long enough to make friends or play any organized sports. Their mother has a job in Mobile “collecting checks for charities” and the other man and woman that were on their sofa are the mother’s sister (Aunt Ashley) and her fiance (Uncle Willy). The twin boys are Chris and Alex.

You never see the mother out by the pool but the twins are out and so are the aunt and uncle. I saw the aunt and uncle out with the kids one evening and the uncle seemed to get very angry about something and started running the oldest girl inside. The next day, Jessica (the oldest) came down and said she didn’t want to go back upstairs because her mother was at work and her aunt and uncle were mean to her. I asked what she meant by mean and she told me they had hog tied her and put her in a closet yesterday for dunking her sister Reagan (the 11 yr old) in the pool.

Well, these people have a total of 9 permanent people living there with an occasional 18 on weekends when everyone is home. I wondered if our condo association knew about all this. Seems they do. They are trying to get them out of here because they are flicking cigarette butts from the balcony and abusing rules around the place. I noticed the girls coming down to the pool one day with sunflower seeds in a big bag. They had a cup to spit the shells in but the elevators were both littered with shells. It is my mission to help get these trashy people out of here as well.

I contacted a board member to let him know all the information I knew from picking the 11 year old. The board was meeting a few nights ago to determine what could be done. Apparently, they will terminate their lease and ask them to leave by Aug 3rd.

The girls have been down since and told story of moving to unit 404 and another unit on the second floor. Their mother met a man at the Flora Bama the other night named David who they are calling their “savior”. He is letting them move into unit 404. I immediately let my board contact know this information. He soon called me back letting me know that the David in 404 was in the process of trying to get his current lady friend to move out so  he could move in this mom from 901. I noticed on Facebook that the mom no longer has the dad on her friends list. Hmmm…so she met this man at the Flora Bama and is moving her kids in with him? The daughters tell too that the mother has two other daughters in South Carolina. Very interesting mess.


Bye bye, Bitch!

I am down in Orange Beach for my summer pilgrimage. About two weeks after I got here, Luke called with some scoop from home. As we suspected, that bitch next door has put her house up for sale! There could be no better news to hit Lake Crest! We suspected something was up because they have been painting doors, trimming up hedges, pressure washing, etc.  I hope that shit sells in a week!

What I hope for more is that I get a cool neighbor. Can you imagine if I got another housewife next door that also enjoyed an afternoon cocktail? Holy crap. My house would never be clean again nor would there ever be dinner made. It would soon end in counseling and later in divorce. Then I would have to get a full time job and move so the fun would be over. Hmmmm.

Just glad that bitch will be gone! I think I will go help her pack.

“Hey sugar!”

Two years ago tonight, I was at home. My sister was at my house to see my mother who was ill with cancer. My mother was no longer coherent or speaking. About 8pm, my sister called on me telling me my mother’s breathing had changed. I went up to check on her and indeed her respiratory functions were much slower. She was already on a catheter at this point and had not been out of the bed in a month or more. I immediately called the hospice nurse line. The return call I received was from a nurse we’d never dealt with and was filled with lots of questions about how my mother was breathing, etc. The nurse had just gotten out of the shower at home but said she would be over as soon as she could. My mom had only been on hospice care for about one month.

The nurse arrived shortly after 9pm. Tracy and I were in the room with my mother and luckily, both children were already asleep in the basement. Luke showed the nurse up to the room where my mother was.  She came in and took my mother’s pulse and listened to her breathing with her stethoscope. She then looked at Tracy and me and said, “You have about three minutes.”

I had read all the brochures and information the hospice group had to offer about the different signs of death and preparing for the end. One of the most important things was to let your loved one know it was ok to let go. I didn’t want my mother to continue to suffer so I bent over to her and told her in her ear that I loved her and that it was ok for her to let go. Within three minutes, just as the nurse said, she gasped for her last breath.

Two years have passed and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think she might come through the door at any minute and say, “Hey sugar!” like she always did with open arms for that hug and with her big smile.  I miss her.

Saying Goodbye

I remember oh so well when I was young and we would visit grandparents. When we would visit my Ma Cook, it was nearly impossible to get away because she kept talking and my mother would be driving away waving and rolling up the windows of the car while Ma Cook was still on the porch just talking away to us all.  And when visiting my Nanny in North Carolina, we would be leaving while she stood on her front porch crying…every single time. At the time, I never understood why she would cry. I mean, we would be back in just a few months!

Recently, we did our semi-annual pilgrimage to Leesville, LA to visit Luke’s parents. They are divorced but both live in the same town. Until just the last couple of visits, they seemed to get along remarkably well. I’ve noticed the last two times in being around Luke’s mother, she’s developed a great disdain for his dad. She can’t help but remark IN FRONT OF HIM about any comments he makes or things he does. It’s quite uncomfortable.

My mother was just getting to the stage in her life where she no longer held back and would let you know EXACTLY how she felt at the drop of a hat right before she got sick. She would do the very things her mother did that drove her nuts like poking you in the side with her pointy fingernail when someone was not behaving as she thought they should or just out right saying out loud for everyone to hear something that was getting on her nerves…no matter how embarrassing.

Nonetheless, these are Luke’s parents and the closest thing to parents I have left. His dad has never been in great health since I met him. He has Lupus, diabetes, and heart problems. And I only know of Luke’s dad what I’ve known since I met him. Luke has his issues with his father stemming from his childhood and his father leaving the marriage when he was young, but the Pop I know is a sweet man that loves seeing his grandchildren. And he is now getting to an age that he can’t keep his house in order because he can’t get around that well and he doesn’t see that well. Poor man.

When we left Leesville, Luke’s mom as always follows us out to the driveway and can’t seem to get us in the car fast enough. She’s a very active woman and has stuff to do! But we went to see his dad after on our way out of town. He chatted with all of us and Luke pushed the kids and me to get into the car. He kept Luke for a long while talking about normal everyday things. When Luke finally broke away and got in the car, Pop told the kids goodbye again and continued to talk…as my Ma Cook used to do. Luke just started the car and began to pull away. My eyes filled with tears as we left because I know he’s a lonely man with lots of regrets and he’s unhealthy. It saddens me because I don’t ever know if we’ll see him again.

Women’s Intuition

At what point will I finally trust my intuition? Intuition never seems to fail me; mine has rarely been wrong. Quite frankly, I cannot remember a time when it was wrong. Yet, I don’t always listen to it. It’s time. It is time to start going with my gut instinct; my first impression. Kind of like using common sense. I looked up some quotes about intuition and would like to share them:

A man’s women folk, whatever their outward show of respect for his merit and authority, always regard him secretly as an ass, and with something akin to pity. His most gaudy sayings and doings seldom deceive them; they see the actual man within, and know him for a shallow and pathetic fellow. In this fact, perhaps, lies one of the best proofs of feminine intelligence, or, as the common phrase makes it, feminine intuition.
H. L. Mencken

Modern man’s besetting temptation is to sacrifice his direct perceptions and spontaneous feelings to his reasoned reflections; to prefer in all circumstances the verdict of his intellect to that of his immediate intuitions.
Aldous Huxley

To see life from the perspective of intuition is to have vision. To see life from the perspective of intuition is to see life from the perspective of wholeness. It is to understand that life is basically one and that we are part of life. While the intellect can only see the details, intuition sees the whole. To see life from the perspective of intuition is like looking at life from the summit of the mountain, whereas seeing life only from the perspective of intellect is like looking at life from the foot of the mountain. Through learning to listen to our intuition, we learn to be in contact with the Whole.
Swami Dhyan Giten

The moment of truth, the sudden emergence of a new insight, is an act of intuition. Such intuitions give the appearance of miraculous flushes, or short-circuits of reasoning. In fact they may be likened to an immersed chain, of which only the beginning and the end are visible above the surface of consciousness. The diver vanishes at one end of the chain and comes up at the other end, guided by invisible links.
Arthur Koestler

I’m reaching the other end of that chain. And having taken the long route to examine each link before believing the other end was indeed attached, I now realize I could have saved myself much trouble and time if I had gone with my initial intuition.

Random interactions with my children and Luke

01/25/12  Sometimes at bedtime, I will lean over and whisper to Ila, “Do you know what?” to which she says, “What?” and I tell her, “You’re my FAVORITE daughter! Shhhhh! Don’t tell anybody!” She thinks that is a huge secret!

01/25/12  My funny (but sad) story for today is… Cole came home from school, did his homework and went upstairs. As soon as he reaches the top of the stairs he says, “WHOA!!! Look at this carpet!!! It looks so pretty! MOOOOM?? Did you vacuum today? Wow! Look at my carpet in my room! It’s beautiful! Man!!!”

You think I need to vacuum more often? Don’t judge.

01/16/12  Cole:  ‎”I guess ALL Mondays really ARE bad! Even if they are a holiday.” – while under house arrest today. My kids were acting out today and have caused me to cancel my lunch; therefore, I am canceling their everything. We’re doing school work all day.  Later as we sat in silence, Cole says, “Everything is so calm.” To which I replied, “Except me.” Cole said, “Ummm…I mean quiet.”

10/15/11  Ila: Mom…would you buy some figs next time you go to the store? Cole: OH! I love Fig Neuters!!!

8/10/11  Ila discovered a pair of Cole’s underwear in my bathroom floor. She called out, “HEY COLE! Did you know your undies have a pocket???”

7/29/11  Cole asked me today if I was alive before the internet.  *o*

7/2/11  Luke: Do you know what I’ve noticed about y’all being gone? Me: You’re happy??!?!

7/2/11  Me: You must REALLY be on vacation! You’re not watching news or sports. You’re watching Food TV! Luke: Giada’s having a pool party.

6/6/11 Last night upon entering our hotel room, Cole exclaimed, “I love fancy knockers!” He was playing with the metal door knocker. Luke said, “Me too, son. Me too!’

5/17/11 Fed my kids FAKE chicken tonight. Morning Star Farms chicken starters. Cole ate his in no time flat. Ila tasted one and said, “Mom…this doesn’t taste like our chicken. It tastes like paper.”

5/15/11 So I’m putting Ila in bed and she says, “Mom, I wish there were no weekends.” I replied, “Me too, honey. Me too!” She said, “Why Mom? So we could learn everyday?” “Yeah, baby. Every day.”

5/13/11 Cole has been rather emotional lately. Luke was worried about hormones so he asked Cole if he had anything going on he needed to talk about. Cole replied, “Dad. I’ve been having these urges.” Luke hesitated then asked what kind. Cole started jumping up and down and screamed, “The urge to do JUMPING JACKS, DAD!!!”

May 2011 Last Friday, I single-handedly managed to move my GINORMOUS sectional sofa out of my living room, roll up and turn my 9×12 rug. I then got one part of the sofa back on it but the rug was not straight and I couldn’t pull hard enough to fix it. Had to wait for Luke to help. When the kids got home from school, they wanted to know if we were having company. 😀

Winter 2011 Ila was home sick from school. She was on the sofa and felt so bad. She looked at me and said, “I just want to be happy again.”

Shit, shit, everywhere!!!

When I signed on as a stay at home mom, I went to it full force! Cole was just an infant in his bassinet and I would be running the vacuum cleaner all around him. I mopped the floors, cleaned the toilets, and dusted weekly.  As Cole grew and began to fling toys all over, I would pick them all up at his nap time and put them in a basket. Things were neat and orderly. Then Ila came along. I couldn’t seem to clean it all up because they didn’t nap at the same times and if I put one thing up, one of them got something else out. It became overwhelming. One day, I decided that if they both napped at the same time, I would claim that as “ME” time. I spent it on the internet, reading email, or doing whatever I wanted to do even if it was not productive. I deserved it.

Over time, that has morphed into all “me” time and trying to force myself to occasionally pick up and clean. I find I am mostly putting away things that SOMEONE else has left lying around. And that irks me. And certain areas of my house have just become a dumping zone. *WARNING* I’m about to reveal things about my house I am not proud of. And I realize it makes me look bad. And if you decide to judge me….OH HELL! I don’t care! It is what it is. I do what I can and I’m happy. That’s really what matters. So, off we go!!! Hold on!!!

My Dining Room: This is the most useless room in my house. If I could convert it into a bigger laundry room and butler’s pantry, I would but that might mess up our resale someday. My kids come in from school and throw their backpacks on the dining room table along with their jackets and whatever else they are carrying. I often unpack their backpacks right there. School papers stack up, jackets are still on chairs, etc. Also, when I have something that should go in my kitchen but I don’t have room for it, GUILTY! I put it on the dining room table. Let’s take a look:

Holy CRAP! Right??? And this is the first thing people see when they enter my foyer. I hate it. But I hate going through all this shit and finding somewhere to put it even worse. So there lies artwork of my kids that needs to be framed, a stack of my mother’s cookbooks, an electric skillet, a broken lamp Luke put there for some ungodly reason, and my decorative candle centerpiece to “class it up”. And over in the corner of the dining room sits a window unit air conditioner and it’s box covered by the cushions that belong on our outdoor furniture. The cushions do go outside when it is not raining or people are coming over.

Yep. From two summers ago when our air conditioner went out. Don’t fault ME on that one because that bitch is too heavy for me to get back into the box and take to the basement. Moving on…

The Master Bath: How many times do I have to clean off Luke’s side of the counter? And the shit comes right back. I give up. Let it be all junked up and filthy. I can’t clean around all that shit! Observe:

Ok. I understand the hair product being there. I can even understand the bottle of Advil since he’s taking it pretty much every other day. But can he not empty the paper bag from the dentist visit two months ago? It only has one toothbrush, a sample of toothpaste, and one tiny sample of dental floss in it! Jiminy Cricket!!! His shaving kit is there from the trip he took a week and a half ago along with the open box of ALL his meds, two bags of Halls cough drops he hasn’t used in months, a stack of magazines he’s finished reading, a lint roller that is used up, and some hotel shampoos . Nope. Not gonna tackle that any time soon.

The Master Bedroom: Nothing sets the mood like a bunch of shit on your dresser! That’s what I always say.

Yes. Some of that is my doing. There are two cases of candy cigarettes I have moved and moved since my Birmingham Bombshell’s photo shoot on my 40th birthday. Who wants some candy cigarettes?!?!? I felt they were inappropriate to give to my kids. People might think ill of me. Like I care. And a couple of kids’ clothing items…brand new…that I couldn’t stomach giving to charity. Then there’s Luke’s shorts he only wore for a couple of hours after work one day and the military hat he brought home from his last sales meeting (week and a half ago)…you remember, the one he used his shaving kit for. And our family photos, again…to “class it up”.

The Kitchen Island: A constant mess. Every time I clean everything off, it stays that way for only a matter of hours.

Kids papers, magazines I will never have time to read, toys that have somehow made it into the kitchen, coupons I’ve clipped, huggies for our beer, the headphones that belong in the car but need batteries, a jelly belly tin, the squirt bottle to get after the cats when they try to get on the counter… If you can’t find something, it’s probably on here. If you need some workspace for your cooking endeavors, there is about a 12 inch square space on the other side. Great use of a kitchen island, huh?

And finally, The Living Room: This is only a small example. I really can’t show my whole living room and it varies from day to day. But today, there’s going to be tea at high noon.

Ila always has SOMETHING set up in the living room whether it’s a tea party or a fort for her stuffed animals built out of pillows. It’s a constant work of art. And there on the other end table is the glue stick cause you never know when you’re going to need to glue something pronto! Flash cards, reading glasses, the nail tool basket, some bracelets and the remnant of a pipe cleaner. It’s all there and ready!

So again, don’t judge! And please don’t call the producers of Hoarders. I know it’s a mess. But I’m happy, damn it!!!

The Old Boyfriend Search

I love using Facebook to look up old boyfriends and crushes and see what they are up to these days. For the most part, I’m no longer interested in any of them but I’m nosy and I like to know other people’s business. It’s just plain fun to me.

So, about a year or more ago, I began searching for a boy I dated my senior year of college. I met him at a freshman orientation party. Several of my sorority sisters and I decided to go to this party because they had a great band playing. While I was there, this cool, long-haired boy caught my eye. I was fresh out of a short, tumultuous relationship and was ready to find someone to make the previous fella jealous. BINGO! Off I went through the crowd and introduced myself to this boy. He was sweet as can be and very interesting. He came to Auburn from Tampa and was enrolled in summer school instead of waiting until the fall to start. Soon, my friends came looking for me as it was time to go get another beer. I went with them, kicking myself for not getting his number. On our way back home, low and behold…there he was walking down the street with his friend. I made my roommate stop and pick them up. We took them back to their dorm and I gave him my number. Thus began a year long romance with this 19 year old boy.

I graduated that summer and moved back home until I found a job several months later in Birmingham. We continued to date long distance though. My friend Angela was still living in Auburn working so I could go visit and see him quite often and after I moved to Birmingham, he would come see me every weekend…knocking on my door with flowers he’d pulled up out of somebody’s yard. Somehow, my friend Angela managed to work her way into my brain and began to encourage me to break it off with him. She would pick apart his every action and had me believing I could do better. So one night, I managed to pick a fight with him and told him it was over. It broke the poor boy’s heart, I tell you. The next thing I know, he’s smoking weed all the time, doing a bunch of acid and hanging around a crowd of losers. I heard after several months that he’d quit school and was doing “odd jobs”.  Then, I lost touch with him.

When I got really into Facebook, I started looking for him on there. Never could find him or his brother and sister. Then one day as I searched his name, a group popped up called “Where in the world is Jav???” Apparently a group of his high school classmates were searching for him. I added myself to the group. Someone posted a siting one day…saw him on a bike at the 7-11 in Tampa. Then another person was going to contact his brother. This guy did reach his brother who said Javier was living in Alabama and was married with 5 kids…all girls. Then nothing.

Yesterday, I decided to go check in on the group. The very first post on the list was from Jav! So I pulled up his profile. So exciting!!! Well, let me show you what I found…

HOLY CRAP! Is that his trailer??? And gee…he looks so happy.  On to more photos…I found one with his lovely wife…

Is that a stain on her shirt??? Did he suffer a brain injury from all that acid??? One last one…

Could he be any happier? I bet I know why. I’m still FLOORED by all this! And I will use this as a lesson to my children! THIS is why you don’t do drugs AND stay in school!!

You better get that checked!

So this morning, Luke was not very motivated to get going. He has to go have his annual mole check with his dermatologist. And his dermatologist happens to be a woman. As he left to go take his shower he said, “I have to go to the dermatologist this morning.” I replied, “Oh! Gotta go have all your moles checked?” By this time he was already wandering toward our bathroom. Casually I added, “You better have her look at that one on your scrotum.” He got this look of horror on his face and started walking back toward me cradling his little sack quite delicately. “What are you talking about??!?”, he asked to which I replied, “Just kidding.”

Such is life with me.

Oh, Peggy Lee! Sing it sister!

I bought the Peggy Lee’s Greatest Hits cd back in my early 20’s….which is great to do housework to, by the way…but I remember this song being such a hit with me and my friends. We thought it was great she sang, “Break out the booze and have a ball.” Well, doesn’t this song take on a whole new meaning now that I’m in my 40’s??!??

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