Sunday, April 30, 2006


.................. about a month ago (and I can't believe I haven't put this up here sooner), the hubby and I were in the bedroom (don't worry, this is G rated). It was about 8:15pm. The little punkin was in bed, I was watching television, and the husband was looking at some of his school assignments. He got up to go to the kitchen... turned the doorknob... turned the doorknob again... turned the doorknob again while muttering curses under his breath. Guess what?

The door wouldn't open.

Now, this particular doorknob has given us problems since we bought the house (almost 8 years ago), and I'd been asking the husband (for about a month) to put some WD-40 on it, which usually takes care of the problem (but he didn't). The inevitable had finally happened. The latch on this thing was completely sprung and would not move a millimeter. My husband, God love him, was trying with all his might to get the door open... turning and twisting the knob and pulling as hard as he could and cussing the whole time, but nothing was happening.

Husband's idea #1: Take the doorknob off and pop the latch. A great idea but... 1) we don't keep a screwdriver in the bedroom (silly me) and 2) the screw for the doorknob is on the other side of the door.

Husband's idea #2: He'll crawl out the window and come in the front door and open the door from the outside. Another great idea but... we're settled in for the evening, so the front door is locked. Neither one of us has our keys with us. Mine are on the dining room table. His are in a basket by the front door.

Husband's idea #3: Try to jimmy the door open using a plastic card from his wallet. Although the problem was not that the door was locked, he gave it his all, but to no avail. And now his library card is ruined.

Notice that, yes, all these ideas are coming from the husband. I wasn't in the background panicking. There are times when it's best for me just to step back and let my husband do his 'man-thing', and I try my best to oblige him whenever these situations come up. Plus, it was a Tuesday and House was about to come on.

Husband's idea #4: Call his brother, who lives about 10 minutes from us, to ask if he still has the key we gave him when he house-sat for us about 4 years ago while we were on vacation.

I'm sure it doesn't come as a shock that I don't really care for my brother-in-law all that much. He has a very irritating personality. He is constantly trying to impress my father-in-law. For the first 18 months of my son's life, he would pretend to offer the boy a beer and a cigarette whenever he was over to play cards. Apparently, this was supposed to be amusing. Several times, he compared caring for our child to he and his wife caring for their dogs... "Well, when one of the dogs acts up/won't stop whining/whatever, we smack it on the nose with a rolled up newspaper." This was supposed to be amusing, also, but one night I'd had my fill, snapped at him after one of these comments, stormed out of the room and slammed the bedroom door so hard that (I'm not kidding) a picture fell off the wall. At that point, my father-in-law looked at my husband and said "She doesn't really think that he thinks the boy is a dog, does she?"

Oh my God.

But here we were, stuck in our bedroom, the boy asleep across the hall in his crib, and our best option for getting out of this alive is calling the brother-in-law that makes my eyes roll back in my head. Couldn't we call 9-1-1 instead? Isn't this an emergency? I can feel the oxygen supply decreasing rapidly, and too me that makes it an emergency.

But not really.

So the husband calls...

"Hi M, it's K. Is E home?"
"Can you ask him to call me when he's done?"
"Okay, thanks. Hey, do you know if he still has the key we gave him when he house-sat for us a few years ago?"
"No... we're not locked out of the house. There's something wrong with the latch on our bedroom door, and we can't get the door open."
(It was at this moment that our humiliation became etched in the family history books. Did I hear laughter coming through the phone? I hung my head in shame.)
"Yeah, just have him come over whenever he's done. And can you ask him to be kind of quiet when he comes in? W's already asleep."

Twenty or so minutes later, we heard the front door quietly open and close. Then the doorknob rattled as E tried to open the door from the hallway. Then, a quiet knocking on the door. Did he think he'd be interrupting something?

"K? It's E." Would there be anyone else standing in our hallway at this moment? "I'm going to have to take the doorknob off. Where are your screwdrivers?"

They worked for over an hour, first getting the doorknob off, then prying apart the latch. It was as if the latch had fused itself into the door frame, and the only way to get it out was to completely destroy it with a screwdriver and a hammer. I got a very dirty look when I helpfully said (still annoyed that we were in this situation in the first place, and convinced that we would not be if he'd listened to me and oiled-up the door like I'd been asking him too) "Hopefully the house won't catch on fire while we're stuck in here", so I laid on the bed and watched House. I think my brother-in-law could sense that it was best not to make any comments on the situation once we were freed, but I could tell by the look in his eyes that he was storing away all sorts of smart-ass comments that he would unleash on K the next time they play cards. Like he needs any ammunition for his 7th-grade sense of humor.

And, of course, our son slept through the whole thing.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I am not sure we rewrite history when we think about those we love that have died or if we just forgive them their humanness and remember their spirit.
I've been thinking a lot, not surprisingly, about my dad lately. Two weeks from Wednesday will be the first anniversary of his death, which I just cannot believe. I hate that time seems to move so much faster now that I have a child.
I ran across the quote above on another blog I was looking at, about 2am Saturday when I couldn't sleep. I read it and suddenly many things that have rattled around in my head this past year came into sharp focus.
My father was not a perfect man, or father, by any means. I think I've said on here before that I don't think he ever truly wanted to be a father, but rather accommodated my mother by agreeing to adopt 2 children since she could not bear any of her own. He worked hard as a civilian fork-lift operator at the Air Force base we live close to, up at 5am Monday thru Friday for 10-12 hour days. He wasn't overly affectionate, and when he was angry he could be mean. I don't remember him ever playing games with us, or helping us with our homework, or reading us a book. That's what Mom did when her health permitted. I'm sure he was overly-strict, especially with my older brother. Their relationship was never good, and when my brother left for college he didn't look back. Rejection, plain and simple. He seemed to want to forget where he came from. To the day he died, my father was so proud of my brother, of the fact that he followed our grandfather's example and became a minister, of his first two grandchildren that he rarely got to see. Both of my parents understood that he had his own life to lead and family to take care of, so they gave him his space to do so and didn't interfere, never complained that they rarel got a visit or even so much as a phone call from their oldest child.
No, he was not the ideal father, but I can't say he had much of an example to learn from. My father was the son of Presbyterian missionaries. He was born in Toledo, OH in 1920. He lived with my grandparents in the French Cameroons in west-central Africa until he was old enough to go to school, then was sent back to the U.S. to either attend boarding school, or live with a family willing to board a missionary's child and attend whatever school the family was in the district of. He moved almost yearly, and didn't graduate from high school until he was 22. The visits to him and his two older brothers from their parents were few and far between until they retired from mission work in the early 1960's and settled in Florida.
My father and I became very close after my mother died. I was amazed, because my relationship with him had never been wonderful... not as bad as his relationship with my brother, but we had our share of knock-down, drag-out fights. He opened up about things that I don't think he'd talked about in 30 years. He told me about his experiences in WWII. He told me about his first wife and that it was she that left him for another man, which I'd never known before. He was a special person and I miss him very, very much (some of you reading this may be gasping with shock, but it's true!).
No one's childhood is perfect. Some are far worse than others, yes, but ours was not that bad when you get right down to it. We didn't have excess, but we never lacked for anything. My mother was manic-depressive, for God's sake. Pile that on top of two kids, and it's amazing that my dad stayed the course. I realized as a young adult that they did the best they could, and that's all that should matter. I wish my brother could see that... I've tried to make him see that... but I don't think he ever will. And that's a shame.

Friday, April 21, 2006

I'm quite certain they're going to take away my blogging privileges soon. I've just blinked my eyes and the month of April is almost gone. It's almost as if I can hear time whooshing past me. Work, eat, sleep... work, eat sleep... work, eat, sleep... you get the idea. Nothing new here. It all feels very tedious.

4 weeks into it and I'm already wishing I hadn't taken this new job. The new supe still has not found a desk for me in the new department. The guy I replaced is still sitting in his 'old' desk, as he still works for the Casa de Insurance but now reports directly to our corporate office instead of to anyone locally. Another desk/space/whatever you want to call the blue-fabric lined cubicles we sit in was found for him, but he refuses to move to it because it's too small for him. A step down from what he has now. It is a smaller desk area, but 1) it's temporary until another area of the building is renovated and 2) stop whining, you big baby, the supervisor has told you have to move so I can have your seat, so move! My former supe has already filled my spot in his department, and will soon need the desk that I still occupy. I have a feeling I'll be pushing my belongings around in a Walmart shopping cart before the end of next week.

Perhaps this weekend I'll be inspired with some witty prose to post on here...

Friday, April 07, 2006

Toto, I don't think we're in Ohio anymore...

An important anniversary slipped quietly by me this past Monday. I can't believe I didn't think about it until several days later. If you're curious, or just don't have anything better to do some afternoon, Google '1974 Xenia tornado'.

April 3, 1974... during a 24 hour period, 148 tornados hit the South and Midwest. The Super Outbreak. As far as I know, it's still the worst outbreak in history. The theory is that several smaller tornados came together to form the monster F5, one of six F5 tornados that day, that hit Xenia, OH. That's a picture of it up there, as it was coming into town. It was on the ground for over 9 minutes, and the path it cut through the town was almost a mile wide. It killed 33 people and destroyed over 1300 homes & buildings. The city was declared a national disaster area, and the National Guard was called in. It took nearly 3 months to haul all of the rubble and debris out of the city.

But hey, Richard Nixon came to visit.

I grew up in Xenia. Lived there until I got married at 27 and moved to where I live now, about 20 minutes or so away. I was 4 when the tornado hit. It's sounds very cliche, but I do remember it quite vividly. I was in pre-school with about 100 other kids at the Nazarene church. I'd gone out to the drinking fountain and was going back to my classroom when the fire alarm in the church went off. Being the polite child that I was, I tried to push past the teacher so I could get into the room and get at the back of the line, but she grabbed me and shoved me in front, then started marching us down the hall. We huddled there for what seemed like forever. The electricity went out pretty quickly, but what I remember most is the noise. It was just incredible, this deafening roar of wind. I can still hear it in my mind.

Then it was over. No one in the church was hurt, although as I was looking back over news stories of the day, I read for the first time that a man who'd helped the teachers get the kids to the basement was killed near the church as he was trying to get back to his home. We sang songs, and the teachers gave us Cheez-its and cold tomato soup for supper. The memory of it gets fuzzy at that point. The church above us was destroyed. I'm sure there was considerable debris removal that had to be done before they could get us out of the basement. Pardon me for waxing religious for a moment, but it truly was a miracle that none of us were hurt.

I was one of the last kids to have someone come for them. My dad had tried to drive through town to get me, but the roads were blocked so he had to take the car home, then walk from our house to the church, about a mile I think. It was still raining. Somebody gave him a scarf to put around my head, and he carried me home. I remember looking back over his shoulder at the church, or, I should say, the enormous pile of bricks and boards that used to be the church. When I think about it now, the first thing that comes to mind is that I can't imagine what my dad must have felt when he first saw where the building I was supposed to be in used to be standing. My mom was fine, sitting at home with a friend that had been visiting that afternoon. My brother was fine. Our house sustained very little damage - we were at the very edge of the path the tornado cut through town. Some shingles blew off, and a tree in our yard was uprooted. My mom had refused to go down into our storm cellar, which as it turned out was a smart move. The storm cellar was tiny, maybe big enough for 3-4 average size adults to stand shoulder to shoulder but not bigger. The top of the tree in our backyard that fell landed directly on the storm cellar door. Had they been down there, there's no telling how long it would've taken someone to find them, and I can't imagine they would've made it very long, considering how small the space was.

Maybe it's silly after all this time... strong winds and bad storms still give me an anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach, and I always breath a little easier when the month of April is over. K thinks I'm silly, but everytime there's a tornado warning in our area, I remind him what the plan is if one is spotted and we need to take cover (he grabs the boy, I grab blankets and pillows, and we jump into the tub in the bathroom that's in the middle of our house, him on one end, me on the other and the boy in between). At the same time, though, movies like Twister and programs about storm chasers just fascinate me.

In 1990, another tornado swept through Xenia. Not nearly as big, but it still left its mark. I wasn't in town that night (although I was supposed to have been), but it brought all those old feelings back. It's almost like my hometown has some kind of curse on it.

Friday Grab Bag

On February 7, 1964, the day The Beatles arrived at New York's Kennedy Airport, Baskin-Robbins introduced a new flavor of ice cream called Beatle Nut to commemorate their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The flavor consisted of pistachio ice cream with chocolate ribbons and walnuts.

Martial arts legend Bruce Lee, who starred in as Kato in the Green Hornet series and then in his own martial arts classics like Enter the Dragon was a cha-cha instructor in Hong Kong, and in 1958 at the age of 18 won the Hong Kong cha-cha championship.

The skull of 18th-century Austrian musical genius Joseph Haydn was stolen from his coffin a few days after his burial in 1809. The thief, a student of phrenology, passed it on to his friends. Eventually, the skull found its way to the Anatomical Museum in Vienna, where it remains today.