Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tippy in the Canoe

Memorial Day weekend is pretty much the last weekend in Florida that you can have people over and make them stay outside for the entire time they're at your house. After that, it's just plain mean to have an outdoor party. As it is, this is the time of year that the yellow flies feed on human flesh and there are at least four people who attended the BBQ at our house this weekend who can attest to the fact that maybe May is not the best time of year to be outdoors in Florida either. I spent much of my time at the BBQ walking around stalking yellow flies and slapping unsuspecting people on the back of the leg (or arm) (or forehead).

But I digress.

In spite of the biting flies, we had fun. On the invitation, Dez and I promised the children all sorts of water games and planned on having a water slide, but you saw in my last post how that turned out. But as you probably know, you can just fill a kiddie pool with sulphury-smelling well water and the kids will think they've been let loose at Adventure Island or something so long as they're in there together:

At one point, I think there were 7 kids in that little pool and we had to bribe them with cupcakes to get them out when it was time to eat.

And who knew that if you give grown men a backyard, a ball, and some paddle things that they will eventually end up in a tree? Actually, I guess we all knew that:

For me, though, the best part of the day was seeing everyone use the canoe and kayaks and actually get in the water that, as recently as two hours earlier in the day, we'd seen alligators in. We didn't tell them we'd seen the alligator, or that he'd been stalking our dog all day -- why spoil their fun:

Here's Alan trying to get all 12 feet of himself into the kayak that Joe built. To his credit, he did ask how he was supposed to get out if the kayak rolled over while he was in the water. Nobody answered him 'cause nobody knew -- we'd seen him put 6 feet of legs into the body of that kayak, so I don't think anyone thought that he'd really be able to get himself out if he rolled over.

My favorite part of the day was taking Sarah and her two kids, TJ and Elizabeth, for a canoe ride. Note how I am (uncharacteristically) telling everybody what to do -- just barking out orders, "Paddle left!" "Hey! Someone hit Tom on the forehead -- a yellow fly just landed on him!"

I'm so carried away with myself ("Paddle right!") that I don't notice that TJ is starting to teeter on his seat:

And down he goes -- I might as well have been 6 feet away for all the help I was to him. When he fell, it was like watching a slow motion replay of him falling. I just watched him leannnn back and when he started to tip, I couldn't really understand how he was falling because it was so slow. And then he was flat on his back and no one could do anything for him --

Because of his life jacket, he was kind of like a turtle and I couldn't get him upright and hold on to the paddle at the same time, so I just left him there:

Thankfully, (until now) Sarah didn't really know what had happened -- she just heard me laughing hysterically behind her, so she laughed too until she turned around and saw her kid flailing in the back of the canoe and me laughing too hard to help him.

This is how I never end up having to watch anyone else's kids.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Excuses, and Other Things That Only Flow in One Direction

As promised, here are the reasons why I haven't blogged for the last two weeks (with the notable exception of posting Casey's blockbuster performance):

1. As you know, I monitor the flora and fauna on our little slice of Florida pretty closely. This takes a great deal of my time and sometimes gets in the way of blogging. For example, I spied the breathtaking specimen below a week or so ago and managed to get in for a nice, close shot.

I was quite pleased with myself all day after getting this shot -- until I went outside the next morning to water those flowers and found the butterfly in exactly the same spot. It's surprisingly easy to get great nature shots when the nature is dead.

2. Instead of blogging, I've been spending a considerable amount of time getting fishing lines out of trees.

3. I also spent a fair amount of time following Mother's Day trying to decide where to send Casey to art school as he is showing such promise in portraiture these days.

You ought to be able to recognize who that is -- but in case you don't, excuse #4 should help you out. The artist's rendering of the hair in the portrait is so true to life, you might not be able to tell the difference between the photo and the portrait.

4. I gave the devotion at our church's recent Ladies Brunch and I spent several evenings diligently preparing (i.e., freaking out curled up in a fetal position).

5. I've been so busy at work the last couple of weeks I've had to employ my two year old to take care of odd jobs around the office, such as tightening the bolt securing the lampshade to the lamp on my conference table, not to mention the incredibly important task of ensuring an adequate number of tennis shoe prints are on top of the table itself.

6. I've also had to monitor the transformation of my husband from a mildly redneck Mr. Fixit into a bb-gun-toting verminator. That's all I can say about that as any more information might land him in jail, or worse, on his own reality TV show.

7. We have also spent a fair amount of time preparing for the Memorial Day Weekend Worship Arts Team BBQ (which will be the subject of a later blog entry this week). We were hoping to borrow my friend's inflatable waterslide for the event, but when we went to pick it up, my friend had been "storing" it beside a ficus tree for the last six months:

Casey is looking dejected because he had been looking forward to testing out said waterslide as often as possible prior to the BBQ. But the ficus tree had grown rather attached to the waterslide and was not willing to suffer the emotional trauma of letting go.

8. And lastly, my parents were here for about a week and were pretty much left to fend for themselves while I was dealing with excuses 1 through 7 above. However, I took time out from excuses 1 through 7 to watch my parents test out an oft-quoted scientific theory by attempting to empty out their motor home's septic tank when their camper was actually downhill from the pipe.

My father, after having been doused in the contents of the black water tank, is now willing to swear to you that crap really only flows downhill.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Big Debut

Tomorrow perhaps I will give you a list of the reasons (excuses) for why I haven't been blogging for the past two weeks, but for now, I assume you cannot wait any longer to see Casey singing an entire song by himself (okay, he had backup singers) in his kindergarten play. And I expect you to watch all 3 minutes, 22 seconds of it because it took me nearly two whole days to get the video file converted into a wmv file so that I could post it. In case you were wondering, there's a reason "freeware" is free -- it doesn't work. It's amazing how quickly you can get something to work when you spend $100 on your Amex for it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


This is how Mace has been keeping Grandma occupied for the past few days. He knows he has to keep her busy or she'll get into trouble by spending her day ironing and sewing and fetching and carrying for everyone else. So he makes sure she has something to do. Almost from the moment he wakes up he finds Grandma, grabs her hand and takes her into her laundry room where she has to get the little dustbuster vacuum off the charger for him. Then he grabs her hand again and takes her to the broom and motions for her to start sweeping.

She sweeps, he vacuums.

She sweeps some more. He vacuums.

And this goes on for quite some time until Mace spots a motorcycle (or truck, or airplane, or piece of crust) on the floor. You may think he's distracted because he's not holding the vacuum anymore, but he's not -- he leaves the vacuum running.

And after he's done with playing with (or eating) whatever he found on the floor, he gets back to work.

I'm going to teach him how to make cinnamon rolls next. I mean, I like clean floors and all, but I love cinnamon rolls.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Happy Excuse to Buy a Six Pack of Coronas Day! Trashy Cinco de Cynthia wishes you well on this joyous occasion and invites you to stop in and smell her apartments!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Parent Teacher Conference

On Thursday last week, I had to go to the school for Casey's last parent/teacher conference of the year. You may be surprised, but the conference did not revolve around how I failed miserably as a parent this year by: sending my kid in the wrong uniform on the first day of school, not sending in Valentines for the Valentine's Day party, and getting kicked out of Busch Gardens when I was chaperoning the field trip. In fact, none of that came up at all -- and I'm really really glad because I was a bit nervous. Apparently, at parent/teacher conferences you talk about the kid, not about the parent. That's a helpful tip for those you parents out there with kids not yet in kindergarten.

So, the conference focused on what a great kid I have and how he's just smart as a whip. All of these things I knew, of course, but it is nice to get outside validation sometimes. Casey's teacher mentioned how much Casey's handwriting has improved this year and showed me several examples. She talked about how much she loved the stories he wrote and his scientific mind, and how much he loves learning. And as wonderful as all of that was, my favorite item that came home from school this year was this:

My favorite part is the exclamation point.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Tilling the Marriage Soil

I'm only posting pictures of plants I haven't killed to make a point. Really. I'm not showing off. Seriously. Note how the roses pictured above appear to be thriving. And do you see those lovely petunias? Those timely died off last year at the end of their season (i.e., I killed them by not watering them enough when it got so freaking hot) and have magically reappeared this year -- granted, not due to any particular horticultural gift I happen to have, but still it says something that when I killed them last year, they chose to come back.

Once, when Flamingo Joe and I were at the first meeting of some church small group with a bunch of people we didn't know, when the time came to introduce ourselves and tell everyone what we did for a living, FJ says, "My name's Joe and I'm a forensic horticulturist." Everybody just stared at him with a blank look on their face while I fell off my chair laughing. Not everybody gets Flamingo Joe.

Anyway, back to the plants that manage to stay alive under my care -- another example:

I think these only stay alive because they are sitting outside my office door and I'm afraid that my clients will drive up and judge me by how well or poorly my doorway flowers are doing -- I'm afraid that they will decide right then, on the spot, whether or not I could represent them well in a bankruptcy proceeding. So they get lots of water and tender care (i.e., I don't let the dog dig through them looking for lizards). These plants could be characterized as the exception to the rule, probably.

These plants here, however, are the rule:

How on earth did I manage to kill only one of the petunia plants in this pot while the other appears to be flourishing, you ask? Well, that is a good question. A very good question indeed. If I had the answer to it, we would probably all be a little bit more enlightened on Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest. As it is, I'm content to take Job's approach: "The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

I know you're waiting patiently for the picture you know is coming. You're dying for an update on the tomato plants. Perhaps you are hoping for a miracle in regard to the tomatoes -- I know I am. Hope springs eternal, people, but we're all in for a disappointment.

I can't explain to you why I continue to hold on to the dream of the homegrown tomatoes -- these particular homegrown tomatoes. But I do. Flamingo Joe is encouraging me to let go of the dream of the homegrown tomatoes as it is coming between us -- it was one of the hot-button issues we dealt with this weekend at our church's Marriage Workshop:

FF: I confess that I cannot let go of the dream of the homegrown tomatoes.

FJ: That makes me feel angry, saddened, and confused.

FF: I hear that you are angry, saddened, and confused. I acknowledge your feelings in this regard. I am sorry. Will you forgive me?

FJ: I'm working on it.

FF: Well, while you are working on it, I will keep the dream alive. I'm glad we went through this exercise.

It was a good workshop. You would have enjoyed it because you would have gotten to sackrace with your spouse:

Nothing brings a couple closer than racing each other in the sack. Wait. Did I say that right?

Oh well, it was a good workshop. The Flamingos have never attended a Marriage Workshop and did not know that there is ball-throwing, bubble-blowing, bead-tossing, and fortune cookie-reading to go with the weeping and gnashing of teeth. So to sum up: it was fun and yet somehow excruciatingly painful at the same time, much like, well, nothing else in life except marriage generally.