Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Forgotten

When Kirk was in the military there was a great deal I never thought about. I really never considered the support systems that were in place for family when a military member is sent on an unaccompanied tour - mostly because I never really had to use them. When Kirk was in the army it was our friend's unit that was called up to the first Gulf War, not Kirk's. In the Air Force he had only one longish tour (in Italy during the Kosovo engagement) and that was unexpected. Certainly I never felt that I had to use any of the resources that were out there. I was always aware, however, that they were there.

When Kirk went missing as a contractor I became excruciatingly aware of how different it is as a civilian. There was no base counseling, no chain of command to assign someone to help us out. There was no reliable plan of action, no one to assure me that they had done this before, that everyone knew what should happen. When things were difficult for us there was no one to call; when our claims in Kirk's name were ignored there was no established precedence to refer to. He and thousands of other contractors were serving, but the government hadn't even done the little that was required of them.

How much worse, how much more horrific is it then for the contractors who are not American - for the Iraqis who are daily serving our military, daily risking their lives? They are not only in danger from the violence in their country, they are at constant risk simply because they are associating with the occupying forces.

Dan Hardie, a British blogger, has written about three Iraqi contractors who worked extensively with the British military and are now trying desperately to get asylum. Read... please.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Learning the Important Stuff

The effort goes on to properly introduce my children to the really vital things they need to be aware of. I've mentioned before that they were taught quite early how to quote from prominent philosophers like M. Python and B. Bunny (esq) but I realize this is hardly enough. A few months ago we were reading a multiple choice survival quiz, and one option (for the "what would you do if your plane crashed in the high and snowy mountains" question) was "MacGyver a set of telemark skis." My children - MY Children - looked at me in dewy innocence and actually asked "What is a MacGyver?"

I know.

But! Netflix! Thank goodness for Netflix. So for the past two weeks we have been working our way through season one. So far we have learned the following:

1. Duct tape. Nuff said.
2. A man can be extremely intelligent and resourceful and yet constantly find himself surprised when the Blonde De Jour suddenly lip-locks him during the last five minutes of the Count Down To Doom.
3. A handy metal cutting device can be made from rust and a bicycle. If the bicycle is magnesium that is. (confirmed by my very own father!)
4. Never hand top secret information to a sandy-haired man in a leather jacket. Death is sure to follow.
5. Bad guys wear very evil looking shoes. Also they usually have facial hair.
6. Never discuss your escape plans - the ants are listening.
7. There is, so far, still no legitimate use for the little toothpick thingy on a Swiss Army Knife.
8. Candlesticks make a handy and tasteful defibrillator.
9. Cringeworthy acting was not invented by CSI.
10. Richard Dean Anderson crosses generations surprisingly well (judged "cute" by two out of three Children); the rest of the 80's does not.

And they say that television is a waste of time.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Panic Stations

At what point, as a parent, is one supposed to panic?

My mother was (is) a prime panicker with a toleration of about... nil. She was, poor woman, cursed with me as a daughter - inevitably late, consistently inconsiderate about little things like telephoning and asking for permission. It was a terrible combination as I would drag in an hour... or more... after curfew to find her, bathrobe clad and hand-wringing, pacing the halls. I was, she was always sure, dead somewhere in a ditch and the fact that I always turned up irritatingly healthy and (unfortunately) only moderately and temporarily repentant never seemed to ease her mind.

Now me, I'm not terribly good at the Doom Assumption thing which makes me feel vaguely that I'm not really doing the whole parenting thing right somehow.

Take yesterday for example.

One of the children phones from school and leaves a message starting with "Mom, Child is an idiot. You know this already, but [it] is" only later getting to the part where Child was currently in the nurse's office gushing impressive amounts of blood. Almost at once a second message arrives saying airily "No problem, we're going back to class now." Should I, at that point have leapt into the car to come to the rescue of my poor desanguinated baby? Or do I calmly phone the school nurse (who comes on saying "I know who this is! And my goodness, your child is so amusing..."), listen, resigned to the story that involved Child and a cut-down fence pole, and assure her that Child's tetanus shot is indeed up to date and should Child continue to bleed copiously I would get it seen somewhere. Guess, just guess what I did.

It's not that I don't love my Children - I do, deeply, truly and often madly (or angrily depending on the state of the kitchen) - but if I allow every nerve to hum with dread each time one of them bashes, breaks, or bleeds life will be intolerable. So I walk that careful line between protecting them and letting them learn, knowing that we will all frequently be hurt in the process, but believing (usually) that somehow we'll survive. And when I hear, yet again, that Child is bleeding somewhere I just sigh and reach for the bandages.

Monday, November 26, 2007


A whole week. A. Whole. Week. That's how long that darn cold lasted. Granted, I was only prone-and-incompetent for... what... about four days, but STILL. That was a lot of whining (wasn't it kids?)

BUT I'm much better now. The problem is that last time I was sick I still had internet access at home so, in between sniffles and bouts of unconsciousness, I could still check email and keep in touch with all the important things in life (ie the list of blogs I read, the Very Important Design forums I lurk in and... oh... well, now and then the news). Now we have a house with all sorts of lovely things about it (like water! and... um... lights!) but no internet. Which means that although I came in unbelievably early this morning so I could start catching up on the... lemme check a minute... ooooh, way too many emails in just ONE of the email accounts I have to peek carefully into, I now realize that I should have woken up at two or something (well, I did actually, I always wake up at 2, but I am not fool enough to GET up at 2) because whooo nelly no one else in the entire world took off a whole week.

Normally I really like having lots of lovely blog posts to read, but honestly people, I told you I was sick.

Stupid world still revolving without me.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Dode Mide Be, I'b Fide

I have a cold. Something has happened since we moved back here from California, something very strange in the cold department. First, I get them which I didn't used to do and second when I do get them things go a little pie-wise.

First (and I know all the internets is fascinated at the progress of my cold so yes, I am going to spell it all out for you. I've told you before - I'm a giver) I get itchy ears. Strangest thing really, my ears itch when I swallow. I have no idea what that means, so naturally I swallow a lot just to confirm that yes, my ears get all tickly inside every time.

Then there's the more traditional phase where the throat coats up so I spend half my time doing the nerve-grating hmmmmAHEMMMMggggmmmmhhhmmmmm thing because it doesn't seem to be enough to bother with a full effort cough. I'm sure the folks in my hallway are thrilled about this as I vary the program with a whole range of sniffs. Yes, I am terribly attractive it's true.

But the final phase which (as will become apparent) has just now hit is the most interesting because out of the blue with no warning whatever my brain suddenly and completely turns off. It simply isn't there. It goes all woolly and grey and when I try to access it there's some tinkly holding music and a gentle voice assuring me that the problem is being worked on.

The last time it happened fortunately I was at home and close to a reasonably soft surface. I did however spend a happy few minutes gazing earnestly at my alarm clock and trying to work out what a five was and whether it came before or after seven. I finally decided that since I didn't know what seven meant either it wasn't all that essential to figure it out right at that moment.

Today I have spent most of my time ferrying Children from one spot to another (Drop Child 1 off, return; pack up Child 3 and deliver it, return; start Child 2 on dressing etc leave again for Child 3; stuff Children 2 and 3 into car, launch Child 3 out while simultaneously acquiring Child 1; take Children 1 and 2 and shove in two different directions then collapse in front of computer for several deep breaths) and everything was going reasonably well, if increasingly slowly, right up until the moment when I opened the car door and found myself trying really, really hard to remember the difference between locked and unlocked.

So, if you don't mind I'm going to take my itchy eared, phlegm infested fuzzy head and I'm going to bed.

It's just safer that way.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


We've become a noisier house since Kirk went missing. It's not connected - at least not directly, although being a single parent isn't always the smoothest path. Having Children turn into Teenagers probably has a lot to do with it as well (and let's face it, we've never been exactly restrained when it comes to the laughing and the talking).

I'd like to blame it on the Male Child because... whoo boy is that one noisy piece of humanity. It's not just the usual male stupid-body-part-noises, it's the clap that he perfected (nearly capitalized that but realized that made it look like a disease... heck it almost is one!) where he cups his hands just right and... I shudder just thinking about it. Reactions have been increasingly negative though and he's starting to catch himself after just one explosive percussion.

However, I have to admit that at least some of the noise is me, and honestly? It's simply that there are moments when a little shoutiness is the fastest, easiest way to get something across.

For example:

I stroll one evening last week into the living room after an exhausting hour creating Very Important Digital Graphic Art. I have been giving loving guidance (also shouted, but because it's the only way to be heard above conversation mingled with Child 3's Atreyu CD) about dishes, homework, sweeping and decrumbing-counters because I'm a really involved and loving mother. I emerge though (blinking a little - dark room for to better see the screen; v bad for eyes I know) to find a. no Children in sight and b. the sort of scattered detritus that gives me facial tics. I could, of course, go into each respective bedroom and calmly alert each Child to its impending doom. Instead I stand in the middle of the whole mess and make a sort of AAAUUUGHHHHRRRRGGGGLLLLLEAUGH!!!!! noise at top voice.

There must have been a slightly sociopathic edge to it though because there was an instant scuttling out of bedrooms and some obsequious fawning around my dainty ankles as they gathered up socks (clean AND dirty just for variety), books, homework, dishes etc and hurriedly hustled them out of sight.

So, do I feel guilty for shouting at the Children in that sort of bestial way? Or do I note it down as an excellent technique, probably best used sparingly so as not to wear off the effectiveness? Personally I'm going for the latter.

I love you Children! But pick up your damn socks...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Off We Go...

The two ROTC Children (who are also the Civil Air Patrol Children) went flying on Sunday. No, really flying, in an airplane where the kind man with a pilot's license let them actually turn the turny thing and do things with flaps for an hour each. I know this technical stuff because Kirk was studying for a pilot's license and I helped so I can say things like Bernoulli Effect with a casual air of competence.

I am not a panicky type of mother so I not only agreed to let them go without a second thought I also did not spend the afternoon breathing deeply into a paper bag and imagining my offspring plummeting to earth in a fiery ball of destruction. It's okay though, I'm pretty sure my mother took care of that for me - she's very good with the Grim Imagination of Death stuff. I did meet the CAP instructor who was taking them up though and gave him a five minute interview to see if he was worthy of being entrusted with the safety of my prayshus babies. Based on this I decided that, although choosing to allow teenagers to take the controls of a plane he was in seems evidence to the contrary, he was an intelligent man.

When the Children returned last night this impression was confirmed.

One Child: ... and he said that we were naturals!

Other Child: Yes! And that I was the best!

First Child: He did not! He said we were equal. Exactly equal.

That, my friends, is a wise, wise man.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Pending Post

Sorry... thought I was going to be able to post something today but then my I-have-everything-under-control week was hit this morning with a didn't-I-tell-you-about-this-major-ad project that (why not) just happens to have had a deadline a week ago. But hey! They kindly extended the deadline waaaaaay out until tomorrow afternoon.

Oh, and the other stuff you already did that should relate to this project? Well, the size is totally different, and the content won't work and of course we don't have any high-res photos - what were you thinking?

No problem at all.

Maybe more tomorrow... if there is one.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Where I work we often have Local Band Wednesdays out in one of the open areas (near the most recent very expensive "art" that honestly looks like the "artist" was taking the mickey). Some of them are quite good but even those are generally belting away (and often twitching meaningfully as the music "takes them") while the world walks by apparently unconcerned. I usually feel rather sorry for these earnest young folks - not enough to stop and actually listen mind, just enough to feel that I'm a really, really good person what with all the sensitivity and that - and I thought there was no fate worse than having your most deeply held emotions completely ignored.

Until yesterday, when I learned it can be much, much worse.

See, there's this guy. He likes to put on his headphones, crank up some 80's bubble-pop and then howl out the lyrics at top voice completely off key. He doesn't seem to panhandle or anything, he just apparently really, really likes Bananarama and prefers to share this love with the world. Ah, but yesterday's band apparently struck a deep chord with this man because he was standing maybe three feet in front of the band, very short and squat, and WAILING away on his air guitar.

Bless 'em, those band member were really trying to work that 1,000 yard stare thing, and still playing their hearts out but you could see that under the black hairspray and the slightly smudged eyeliner those boys were crying inside.