And Speaking of Dead People

A few weeks ago, my sister in law and I held a garage sale at a family beach condo. I know, rough life. But if you are going to be at the beach, I recommend you go out TO THE BEACH. An indoor garage sale didn’t afford much coastal breeze.

In deciding what to call this sale, we rejected garage sale, since it did not relate to a garage in any way. We also rejected yard sale for similar reasons. The label that came closest to defining our terms was Estate Sale, which indicates a total liquidation of contents and almost always means an indoor, walk-through-the-home sale. Perfect. Well, almost.

Two people expressed their condolences over the death of our parents. My parents are still alive. Some might even call them energetically alive. Dare I say spry? My sister in law also has living parents right here in town. I felt awkward explaining away the dead people. The sympathizers didn’t buy anything. I guess they told us.

At any rate, the end of the sale rendered more than $700 in revenue and no dead bodies. However, there were two different occasions in which we each thought the other might be dead.

And it is those dead people and their killers about whom I write.

I’ve already told you there are no actual dead people in this blog. If there were, I would hopefully take a decidedly different tone. But the fear of Death by Crazies came up twice.

The first occasion happened when an old codger named Tom wandered into our “estate.” He explained that he was a property owner and had 3 condos right there in our building. Two were in good, rentable condition. One was being renovated. Since our kitchen was ripped out and being redone, he was interested in what we were doing and willing to offer free advice. (As a side note, I cannot count the number of times people came in and said, “How much did you get for your kitchen?” “Oh, ha ha. Yes, well…we didn’t sell it. Blabety blabb blabb.” Ah, we wore that joke out.) Before the conversation with Tom was over, he had lured my sister in law, whom we’ll call Amelia upstairs to one of his units. When I agreed to let her go, I said, “Hey wait a minute! You’re not a serial killer are you, Tom?” He laughed. “Not as far as you know,” he answered. Comforting. “My wife wouldn’t go for that,” he finished. Ok. Well, that settled it. His wife wouldn’t allow murder, so Tom was safe.

So Amelia wandered off with a stranger named Tom and I was holding down the fort at the sale.

Tom and Amelia were gone for a long time.

Too long.

So I finally texted Amelia and said, “You still alive?”

She replied immediately. “Ha ha. Yes. Just finishing looking at the last condo. Back in a few.”

I thought about that for a second and said, “How do I know this isn’t Tom using Amelia’s phone to say ‘ha ha’ to me?”

She didn’t reply to that. I think she was either done with me or dead.

A few minutes later Tom and Amelia walked back in and I got invited to go tour his condos. Of course, I said yes, because no one had learned anything from all of this.

The sale went on. We sold our dining set for more than it was worth because a lady wanted it so badly. We didn’t want to sell it so we set a crazy price on it and she accepted.

The stream of people traffic that day was steady and thick. It wasn’t unusual to have 5-10 people inside at the same time.  Because of that, sometimes I would look up and not even realize who was inside shopping.

It was just such a time when Robert walked in.  I wasn’t the first to notice him.  Apparently, he marched in rather brashly and asked where the bathroom was. When Amelia pointed to the bathroom and said it was closed off and nothing was for sale in there (we’re keeping our toilets…), he went in boldly, turned on the light, and locked the door in our faces. Feel free to use the facilities, Robert. Help yourself. He did.

After relieving himself against our will, he shopped items in the kitchen and finally settled on 6 low-priced, stainless steel knives. He then walked over to a chair that nobody bought that day and plopped down in it, setting his unpurchased knives loudly down on a glass coffee table that was also for sale.  He was then sitting 3 feet from me.  Ignoring him was no longer an option.

I looked over at this man and took a moment to just absorb the outfit. His rotund, old-man body shape was stuffed awkwardly into baseball pants that were very much 20 pounds ago. Into those baseball pants, he tucked a turquoise golf shirt, and he finished off the look with loafers that a CPA might wear to work.

In the beginning, I was both entertained and amused. Even delighted. Here was a colorful character who was surely just resting up and chatting lightly before making massive and lucrative purchases. My delighted amusement lasted about 90 seconds. That’s how long it took me to figure that I wasn’t dealing with Entertaining.

I wasn’t dealing with interesting.

I was dealing with Crazy.

Amelia was in and out during my conversation with Robert. At this point, he hadn’t told me his name. From his vantage point, he thought he could see that our walls were warped. The solution was to panel them with oak from Home Depot. Amelia wasn’t taking the bait. She fought back. She doesn’t like oak and so she told him so.

“Well, then,” Robert countered…not to be deterred. “You can go to the Home Depot and sit down with the nice lady and find out what is selling. Then you go over to Lowes and sit down with the nice lady and say what is selling. Then you find the closest thing to what is selling to what you like. And that is called ESTABLISHING REALITY.”

Ok, Robert. What in the name of James Madison are you talking about?

This went on for awhile and my sister-in-law was politely responding to his crackpot advice because I was too busy taking a covert video of his crackpot advice. I did my best to blur his face so that I can’t be sued in the unlikely event that this post reaches more than 30 people. Take a moment and enjoy. Don’t miss the outfit.

There are a couple of things to note about this video. One is, I completely allowed my sister in law to handle the excruciating responses that were required at the end of all of his unnecessary and boneheaded renovation tips. But to retaliate, she threw me UNDER THE BUS and went outside and downstairs into the parking lot to “deal with the signs.” Huh.

So at this point, I was alone with Bob.  Knowing that she’d gone out to work on the signs, he took the opportunity to complain about our signs. He’d apparently passed the driveway three times.

“So what brought you here today?” I asked. “Were you shopping sales on Craigslist, or were you just out for a drive and saw our ‘bad signs?’”

And this is when weird shook hands with insane.

“Permission to speak Truth?” he asked. My eyes got buggy and I paused a long moment before answering.

“Uhhhhhh, I don’t know. Permission granted, I guess.” I mean, what am I gonna say? I had to know where this was going. At this point, I grabbed ahold of my brain and begged it to remember the next few seconds.

“I am guided by intuition,” he began. “Fueled by synchronicity, and drawn to grace.”

So, the powers of the universe led him there? I’m not quite sure what he intended me to take from that, but I am quoting.

“Well, grace is good,” I said.  Amelia was still gone. Dork.

“I am looking at that mirror,” he continued. “And feeling an attraction.” Seriously. “But I can’t quite seal the bond.” Again, I quote. Again, I have no idea what he was saying. I translated it in my mind as, ‘how much is that mirror? Maybe I will buy it.’

I needed Bob gone, so I got up, walked to the mirror, and looked at how we had priced it.

“This mirror has a price of $20 on it, but for you, right here, right now, it’s $10.” He looked at me and then looked at the coffee table.

“Will you throw in the knives for free?”

“Done,” I said.

Now get out.

Get. Out.

Now.

Here’s where the second almost-dead body came in.

Robert told me he had a bad back and needed me to carry the mirror down to his van.  What are the odds of that?

I collected his money before picking up that mirror. I’m not totally stupid. And I shot a look to my sister-in-law before walking past her with this asylum escapee. I’m not sure what I said in that look. Maybe it was a plea for help. Maybe it was a stink eye for her jaunt down into the parking lot. Maybe it was a warning to call the police if I wasn’t back up the stairs in 3 minutes.

I went down into that parking lot and I wasn’t back in 3 minutes.

After I put the mirror in his trunk, he wanted to know how he could continue our lifetime relationship. Another quote. Yeah, Bob. Sorry. That ain’t happening.  As I was trying to back away from the vehicle, he asked my name, wanted to know if it was the “name God gave me,” told me about his entire family history, explained how his own family name got truncated at Ellis Island, and asked for my dad’s phone number. I gave him my dad’s phone number. He said he wanted to rent the place. What do you say? I’m sorry. We can’t rent to you…on the basis of YOU’RE CRAZY.  Sorry, Dad.  Meanwhile, back in Room 206, Amelia had grown very concerned.  She called me but the phone rang right there in the unit. I hadn’t taken it with me. She then started looking over both balconies for his vehicle. He had parked in a blind spot. She was convinced that I was already under a concrete slab somewhere or stuffed into his trunk with the mirror and the knives when I finally walked back in.

My exhausting story about this dude ended with this:  “I’ve told you my story, but you can just call me Bob the Obscure.”

I made $10 off Bob the Obscure.

It’ll cost me $250 in therapy just to get back to where I was. Maybe we can just chalk it up to a lesson in “establishing reality.”

I’ve been in pursuit of reality for a long time. Remarkably few people are.

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When God Steps In

There are times in my life where I have been asked to do something or been confronted with a situation or have stood at the crossroads of a large decision and I’ve wondered if God is nudging me one direction or another. And there have been times where something has happened and I wonder if that was time and chance or if it was God stepping in.

Sometimes I wonder.
Sometimes I don’t.

I don’t wonder if God sent me my eldest son. He absolutely did. There were years of infertility, adoption, and then crazy super fertility. I don’t question this. He had a plan for my family. I hug them everyday with thanksgiving. Even if I was older than dirt when I got started.

I don’t wonder if my dad’s alive today by accident. Last Thursday, God stepped in. You can argue if you want to, but it won’t do you any good.

I was putting my kids in bed last Thursday night. They were mostly settled and reading upstairs when my phone rang. It was my mom calling. I almost picked up the phone in a typically obnoxious way to tell her that I had a bone to pick with her over the 4 year old Girl Scout cookies my parents had tried to pawn off on me that very day. I know I shouldn’t have eaten one. Trust me. I paid for it with the 36 hour taste of motor oil in my mouth. If you’ve ever wondered about the shelf life of a Girl Scout cookie then you should call me. Don’t keep those bad boys too long.

Anyway, I didn’t pick up the phone and pick the bone with her that I’m picking right now. I just said “Hello?” At that point she told me that my dad had been in a serious car accident. The breath I sucked in that moment took too long to let out and it took too long for her to tell me he was okay. But he was indeed okay. And that’s the part of the story worth telling.

His words are better than mine. He was there. He was saved in a very mighty way that night.
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“Oh LORD, get me through this one……”
> This will be a different kind of story this week, but the story must be told. I was following a semi truck, driving my little Mazda Miata, heading North on I-75 at about 65 mph on Thursday night. The truck braked suddenly, so I moved to the left lane to avoid his problem. He lurched to the left, started to jack-knife and almost toppled right into me. With nowhere to go, I lost control, shot under him, under the semi trailer, coming out the other side, slid to the right, across the other lanes, down an embankment and came to a stop in a ditch. As I was approaching the semi, about to crash into him, I must have bent down…and I called out to the Lord for help. The impact smashed the windshield throwing glass everywhere; I later found glass in my shoes. As the car came to a stop, it was eerily quiet…and dark. I was alone, the truck didn’t stop and no one else could be seen. Then I looked ahead about 150 yards where a lone car had pulled over. I got out of my car, could walk, in fact, I didn’t have a scratch on me. I had just had a major wreck, drove under a semi, and didn’t even have a scratch. Now you are seeing why this story must be told. I called out to the Lord for HELP!…..and got it in a dramatic way.

I walked up to the stopped car where a woman and her 9-year-old daughter were standing, looking at me as though I were a ghost. She was on the phone with 911; I told her not to send an ambulance. When off the phone, she told me that she saw the whole thing, that the semi almost rolled, apparently trying to avoid something ahead. I told her that I must have ducked, and began praying as I crashed into the truck. She said, “God is so good!” What kind of lesson that must have been for that 9-year-old daughter. And what a lesson to me….

Deputies came, followed by a trooper and a fire truck. Everyone was amazed that I was alive. I was more amazed because I had just seen and felt the impact with the underside of the semi; a major crash. The car was towed; might be totalled. The trooper took me home and I was alive and
well.

Romans 8:28 says “All things work together for good for those that love God…”

Psalm 119:65 “You have dealt well with your servant, O Lord, according to Your word. Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe your commandments. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. You are good, and do good….”
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I reflected that night on so many things. I thought about how close we came to having a funeral at Thanksgiving. I thought about the fact that I would have been the last one to have seen my dad since he brought my son home from school that day. I thought about the fact that I would have forever felt guilty for asking him to drive my son home if he’d been killed while running errands AFTER helping me. Irrational though that may be, I still would have struggled with that.

How does a car get hit by a semi, go UNDER that semi and out the other side, land in a ditch, and get completely totaled without one bruise, one scratch getting on the person driving?

That’s God.
I am thankful.

Some blogs are easier than others…

I owe a few people a pig story. I said I was going to write that up before the new year. Here it is, only January 6, and already I am a liar.

New Year’s Resolution: Stop lying so much.

It’s good to have goals.

_____________________________________

And here it is: What happened with the pig.

Many of you know that I moved to the boondocks about 6 months ago. After adjusting to the darkness, the strange crashes in the night, and the possibility of amphibians showing up in the nooks and crannies of your car at any given moment, I learned to embrace this new life. I found the best possible pest control, learned to break the zero turn mower just by walking past it, and haven’t killed the garden.  We got chickens, lost some chickens due to a hawk that I hate with a white-hot passion, and then got more chickens. We are up to 13 now. Only 3 are layers. The others are poopers and stinkers. We hope they’ll lay when the manner of hens comes upon them.

I guess all this chicken business, and the fact that people can’t understand why in the world we’d move out here, makes people think we are running a petting zoo. So we get contacted for odd things.

I received an email early in December with the subject line “Weird request.” If this had been from an unknown source, it would have given me pause. But from the writer, it seemed perfectly reasonable. Here was our initial exchange:

Hi Missy,

Hope all is going well for you and your family. I have a weird request for our school and thought maybe you could help or one of your country neighbors. We are doing a fundraiser at the school to buy livestock for impoverished communities. As an incentive, the principal has agreed to kiss a pig on the morning show. One problem…we need a pig!! Any chance you guys have a pig or you have a neighbor who does???? Let me know.

I responded with the following (baloney edited out…):

Well, hello there! i don’t have pigs, but i do have a friend with a mini pig named Daisy. I will check with her. What is the date for this? We are doing well, thanks!

Blah, blah, blah. More baloney. More texting back and forth with the pig owner…let’s call her Fribby…and then I sent this final email about the pig.

Good morning! What time is the morning show? Will 8ish work? The pig is harness-trained and Fribby can walk in with it. It’s a small(ish) black pig. Pretty cute, but I’m not sure I’d want to kiss it. Anyway, let me know if this is okay. I’ll probably meet her there, to introduce everyone and to entertain myself.

 Thanks,
Missy
In all of this emailing back and forth, the principal was never directly involved and the two people emailing really had no precise pig or principal knowledge. It was the perfect real-life example of “have your people call my people and we’ll do lunch” except that it was “have your people email my people and we’ll orchestrate televised farm animal smoochery.”
The date was set for December 19. Fribby and I parked next to each other in the school parking lot. She had her pig. I had my daughter.  My daughter was cuter than her pig, but her pig had on a nice sweater, so it was all good. It took us about 2 weeks to cross the schoolyard because of all the acorns. Did you know pigs are nuts for acorns? Sheesh. That lawn was like Golden Corral for her.
Entering the front office of my old school with Daisy the pig was the closest thing to a celebrity I’ll ever be. For some reason, I imagined that it mattered that I was there. It did not. No one looked at me. No one in the office really knew me anymore. From this point forward, it was all about the pig. You may recall from a few paragraphs up that I called this pig “smallish.” ISH leaves so much room for personal interpretation. When I said smallish, I was comparing Daisy in my head to a potbelly grampa pig and it all seemed perfectly accurate. When the kissing principal was relayed the message of “smallish pig,” she compared that to the size of a cabbage patch doll. And a soft, fluffly piggy cabbage patch doll is what she pictured in her head.
That is not what she got.
She was quite obviously flabbergasted.
“Well. That’s a BIG pig!” she said, her words just dripping in the shock. “A really big pig. I was expecting a cute little tiny pink Charlotte’s Web pig.”
Lady, that’s fiction. Those pigs only exist in Hollywood. “Not that your pig is not cute in her own way.” She continued to talk, obviously trying to pep talk herself into the task. “Can we clean her nose a bit?”
Lady, it’s a fundraiser. It’s one kiss. It wasn’t our fault the school yard was full of acorns and the animal is an animal.
It was time to go into the media center with this pig. She couldn’t drag her onto the elevator, so she lifted the pig’s fat hairy self up and hoisted her up two flights of stairs.
I did nothing. Total waste of space at this point, it seemed.
There was a lot of blah, blah, blah in the next few minutes. Tweaking this microphone. Adjusting that audio level. And Fribby put her pig up on a table so the principal could reach her smoking hot pig lips.
Lights. Camera. Action.
The cameras were rolling and the principal began to talk.
“Hello boys and girls! It’s the big day you’ve all been waiting for. I’m here with Daisy the Pig, who is waiting for her kiss. Isn’t this a BIG PIG, boys and girls? Don’t you think it would be better if I just shook her hoof?” People chuckled and then kids starting streaming into the media center as messengers from their classrooms. There was no sound in the classrooms. The kids could all see the principal, but they could not hear her. There was some confusion in the audio booth and I was hoping they were going to fix the problem.
It is at this point, that I accessed my gift to the world. It is my gift to the world to tape boring things with my cameras or cell phone. And then, as part of my extraordinary gift, when I STOP TAPING, something amazing happens. EVERY TIME. So, I guess by the transitive property of math, we could conclude that I cause most of the world’s excitement.
You’re welcome.
Send money.
So I stopped filming on my cell phone and waited for them to fix the audio. Except they didn’t stop rolling and apparently could not fix the problem on the spot.
The principal leaned down to kiss the pig. She barely touched that pig. I mean, it was hardly a kiss. If it’d been a striking King Cobra and she’d kissed it the same way, she wouldn’t have been injured in the process. But however unromantic the smooch was, it seemed to satisfy the masses and the ones gathered in the booth let out a loud “YAY” with some applause.
That’s when everything changed. (Remember my gift.)
At the sound of the hooplah, Daisy freaked out. She lunged off that table and ran toward the door like a pig in a circus race, squealing louder than anything I have ever heard in my life. Somebody must have poked her with an icepick.
I wish I had video of the sounds. Get in your shower, suck in all the air in your body, and scream like a pig. That will give you an idea.
Daisy ran out of the morning show room, through the media center, and into the Copy Room with Fribby running after her and my daughter clinging to my leg and now screaming, too.
“Grab the pig, Missy!” Fribby yelled toward me. I think I made a valient effort to grab the leash and the pig as it rushed by me. Fribby’s account of what I did is quite different. She says I hardly moved except to stick my right leg out…as if to trip the pig. I don’t think she’s calling it straight. That doesn’t sound like something I’d do. I don’t trip pigs.
It’s not my fault her pig isn’t morning-show-trained. I mean, come on.
So, all that happened right in front of my eyes and all I got was this stupid picture. Actually, I do have some boring before and after footage, but Fribby would slay me for posting it. And if she kills me, all the exciting stuff in the world will stop.
We can’t have that.
2013-02-07_09-30-03_879

Ahoy there, Mateys.

I’ve been waiting all day for my freshly-washed jeans to loosen up and stretch out a tad. They have not loosened up or stretched out. Not a tad. But I’ve been in the zone for like a week now. In the zone. Someone needs to tell the zone that it’s time for the jeans to respond to the zone. Drop 5 pounds already.

Stink.

Yesterday, we were blessed with the opportunity to spend half a day on a pontoon boat out on Lake Travis. There were 13 people on board a 15-passenger boat. Seven of those were in the 11-and-under set. I know what you’re thinking: You’re thinking the children caused some variation of a disaster. They wreaked havoc.

The children were fine.

The adults left a little something to be desired in the sea-faring community.

This was serious business from the outset. We stopped at a reputable Kwik Stop for Live Bait. We needed live bait, because we are serious fishermen. Dead bait wouldn’t cut it. We were planning on catching serious fish. We also needed 1-day fishing licenses for all of the many fish we were going to catch.

Seven blow pops, 6 fishing licenses, one bag of chicken blood, 1 box of live worms, and a precariously packed minnow bag of swimming minnows later, we pulled down a steep rocky path to an RV where a dude named Steven set us up for a maritime adventure.

One smart phone user–we’ll call her Telley–had only one concern: “Which way is Sandra Bullock’s house?” she asked.

“That way,” Steven answered. Ah, that way. That narrows it down from 250 houses to just 125. That’ll be easy.

After pointing us toward Sandra Bullock, Steven said, “Just be cautious about your weight distribution.” We stared at him blankly. “You can’t have too many on one side or in one section of the boat.”

Whatever. Whatever. Got it.

The next hour passed pleasantly. We pulled out the cooler and ate a picnic lunch. Chatted. Laughed. Looked up Sandra Bullock’s house on Google images. Began imagining how she would greet us and what she would offer us to drink once she invited us in. Etc.

When we couldn’t find Sandra, we decided to settle for a civilian. Telley’s spouse was off work and waiting for a pick up at the dock we originally departed from. So we swung by to pick him up. This was our first exercise in the science of weight distribution. One member of the party went forward to tie up to the dock and we took on the extra passenger and 30 gallons of lake water. No biggie. We tied up for a moment and then all the potty requests came in. Suffice it to say, the no-formal-restrooms potty break truly deserves its own blog. So much can be said. And yet, there are lines. Even with me, there are lines. I’m just going to leave this one alone. I’m not even really over the trauma yet.

So everyone used nature’s toilet except Telley, who came to regret that decision sorely. And we were off again. In search of large, meaty fish.

About 20 minutes later, once we had located the fish motherload on the fish finder, we decided to tie up loosely at a dock. So here’s how that process went. The fearless captain began to slow down the boat as he steered toward the dock. At that same moment, two members of the 13-member party, neither of which were me, went traipsing forward like they’d been called up on stage to retrieve an award. Traipsing. The rest of us were still sitting right were we had been for the last hour.

What was it that Steven said? We couldn’t remember. Where in the world is Sandra Bullock? Also doesn’t Matthew McConnaughey have a house around here?

As those two traipsed, the bow of the pontoon boat plunged deep into the water. Under the water. I mean it, people. That boat was a’sinking.

It was coming back to us now. That whole weight distribution thing. For a very long moment, as the waves rushed in and the boat plunged deeper toward our watery graves, I really thought we were all going spear fishing. What had started as an innocent day on the lake was going to end with the Coast Guard. And bodies. We were going in. Probably 100 gallons rushed in, wetting every last one of us to the knees.

“Hey!” The fearless captain called from the back of the boat. “What’s the deal? Everyone just starts moving without asking any questions! Back up!” And the two traipsers began to back up, along with the child who had followed them forward.

This was the moment of truth…the moment that would determine whether we lived or died. Whether the boat would resume floating or turn like Titanic toward the lake floor.

It floated.

And besides the wet, stinky socks of 13 people and the wailing of a very frightened four year old, there were no lasting effects.

Except that the fish heard us coming.

Our live bait died. The chicken blood made us all sick enough to go to the ER. And the day ended without so much as a single bob to any of the eight poles in the water.

Actually, that’s not where the day ended. My day ended in a Korean karaoke establishment in China town at 1 a.m.

But that’s another story altogether.

Spider spray

Wow. Where’ve I been lately? Oh, who’m I kidding? Nobody cares.

Life just gets busy. I never catch up on laundry. Never. This aggravates me to no end, too, because I was one of those know-it-all 20somethings who used to utter things in my mind like, “Stupid people. Why are they so domestically handicapped that they can’t catch up on laundry? Poor little hobos.”

I probably never did think, “poor little hobos” in my head, but you get the idea. I’ve turned into those people. That’s how it works. You are an authority on everything until you get to do it yourself. Then suddenly you are just as dumb, or dumber, as everyone else. Maybe not Baron Wetty. She has a pretty good laundry system going, but she doesn’t live with my boys, either. I will lean on that as my excuse.

At any rate, it doesn’t matter where I’ve been, what I’ve been doing, or which year of taxes I am working on for an October 15 deadline. And it doesn’t matter if you are normal and do your taxes in April (or January like the Informinator). And it further doesn’t matter if you are a reject like me and do your taxes in October and have done them already. I don’t care.

I really do care. Can you hear the desperation in my tone?

Well, anyway. All that matters is that I’m delaying a torture chamber in TurboTax and sitting here on WordPress. And I’m going to tell you a story about the spider I killed today.

It was a quiet Sunday afternoon following a good morning at church. The TV was off and the kids were all playing downstairs and nearby. I was in the kitchen unloading the dishwasher. I rounded the corner into the dining room, to return something to one of the kids when I saw it.

There it was. The spider I’ve been waiting to see. The one I’ve been dreading. The one that haunts my dreams at night and that makes boys cry in the corners. It was a large, brown, spider–positioned perfectly in the doorway between the family room and the dining room. There was no getting over it without risk of sending it crawling away into a place where I’d never find it. It was almost big enough to go under it, but I’m not dumb enough to entertain that thought for long.

This spider was about the size of a silver dollar. Not too fat. Not overly hairy. But big.  I froze. I do that when I see something I have to catch or kill. I freeze and its life passes before my eyes in pictures of execution methods and animal reactions. I picture the many different options I have and what could conceivably happen as I do this. For instance, if a roach is on the ceiling, you simply MUST go through this exercise to ensure that you will not have a still-living roach in your hair after a botched kill attempt. In that situation, failure is not an option. That’s why I go with the flat, heavy paperback book and the technique of a fancy waiter. Smack, smack. It’s done.

So as I froze there today, considering the life of this spider, I decided to call in the troops and go with spider spray. I would do a combination spider spray, paper towel approach. SPRAAAAAAY and smash. Done.

But the spider spray was upstairs in the kids’ bathroom and I’ve already told you I wasn’t going to step over that thing.

“Mama’s Boy?” I called out for him tentatively. He was playing on the stairs. I think he does this because it’s the only place in the house with carpet. The boy likes his carpet.

“Yes?” He answered.

“Run upstairs quickly and get me the can of spider killer in your bathroom.”

“What for?” He perked up. “What is it?”

“Just go get the spray and then we’ll talk,” I urged. He ran off. It seemed like a million years before he got back. As he was running around upstairs, I backed slowly into the kitchen to grab a paper towel for Phase 2 of Operation ArachniKill. When the boy returned, he saw the spider and said, “Whoa.”

I know. Right?

“Throw me the can carefully,” I instructed. “Toss it to me underhanded.”

“What?” He was flabberghasted. “I can’t do that!” He said. We don’t play baseball around here. Clearly it was not a good plan to start out throwing cans of spider killer around. OK. New plan.

“OK. OK. Climb up on the piano bench and hand it to me through the door.” At this point, Beloved came around the corner on Mama’s Boy’s side of the spider and wanted to know what was going on.

“STOP!” I hollered. “Big, HUGE spider. Don’t take another step!!” She stopped and her eyes got large.  Mama’s Boy was perched precariously on the piano and was reaching the can across the threshold to me.

I took the can, aimed it, and sprayed…paper towels ready.

FIZZZZZZZ.

I doused that spider good. I expected it to go crazy. That’s what they do. They hate the stuff, but it paralyzes them on a short journey to DEATH.

There was no movement. No reaction. No death. No life. Nothing.

I sprayed again, totally shocked that nothing was happening.  Then I inched forward to look. Then I nudged it with my paper towel.

The kids were now laughing.

“Mama, it’s fake. It came out of the Halloween box.”

And so it had.

I crumpled it up in the paper towel I had prepared for it and threw it away, just the same as I would have if it had been real and dead.

That’s what you get, you stupid plastic spider.

Now who’s the real loser?

(It’s still me, isn’t it?)

How smart is YOUR phone?

I promised a lighter post. Though I still feel like I could go on and on about heavy things, I’m going to tell you a little about the world of technology as it relates to me.

I have a smart phone. It is very smart. It is so smart that I almost don’t need the Informinator anymore. However, I still do need her for obscure protocols and regional trivia that even my smart phone doesn’t know.

My phone is a lot less blunt than the Informinator. It has never chastised me for my poor behavior or called me out for…oh, everything.  I need to get a set of slightly more rebellious friends so that I can be the cream of the crop and not the ear the farmer thows away after a spanking. Do farmers do that? Maybe not. We are still adjusting to life in the country.

Whatever.

When I first got my smart phone, thus breaking my verbal contract with the Informinator to remain smartphone-less until February 12, 2013, I was convinced the purpose of the phone was to make me smarter. That was supposed to be the smart part of the whole deal. Three months later, I know the truth. It is a truth of an entirely different nature. The smart phone does not make you smarter. It is simply there to point out how dumb you really are. It exists for two basic reasons:

(1)    To provide information in a lightning fast manner to dumb people.

(2)    To mock the person using it.

It doesn’t make me smarter. It points out how dumb I really am. And it laughs at me as it does so.

For instance, recently my phone—I shall call her Gladys—offered me a better way to type on the clunky little touch screen keyboard. This offer came to me in a kindly worded, “Would you like to try Swype?” kind of way. It was friendly, warm, touching. So I thought it over. Surely swype was the next best thing to superpowers if it is offering it to me in such a lovely way. So I said yes. Sure. I’ll try your way of typing. For those who don’t have such a technology, this consists of swiping your fingers from key to key instead of plunking.  My plunking is hamfisted and awkward and presents all sorts of misspellings in more than one language. Surely this new Swype is my ticket out of plunking, I said to myself. Let’s do it. This is gonna be awesome.

For awhile, it was.  And then, recently, something happened. Call it a cruel trick. A bait and switch. I’m not sure how to explain it. But somewhere in the last week, Gladys has turned on me. I blame the Informinator.

Gladys (that’s my phone again…some of you have short attention spans) likes to guess the words I’m trying to say while texting. Often, she is right. And I’ve grown accustomed to that first guess being correct. I guess you could say I’ve gotten a little lazy in allowing her to guess my thought without my proofreading over her shoulder.

So this week, I was texting back and forth with my mother in law, who was on the west coast at the time.  I was three hours ahead of her and it was after 11 my time, so I was ready to call it a night. So, to close out this conversation, I attempted to announce that I was going to bed. And here is exactly how that conversation went.

“I am going to breed more. Goodnight to you west coasters.”  And I put my phone away, happy to have closed out the conversation amicably.

Then Gladys beeped again. Another text. Hmm.

“GOING TO BREED MORE?” It said. This was still my mother in law. My eyes got large as I reread my previous message. There it was in blinky little letters. Going to breed more. Goodnight to you west coasters. Is that what you kids are calling it these days?

No no no no no no no no. Not going to breed more. Going to BED NOW.  Not going to breed at all, I said. Not even a little bit. No breeding.

That’s what u said, she typed.

Why does “breed” EVER come up in predictive texting? People with smart phone do not discuss breeding via text. I would argue that this has never come up in a texting context.

The next day—a mere 12 hours later—I was texting a friend about some things that were on her mind. We weren’t discussing details, but it was obvious to me that the situations could use a prayer or two.

“I’m sorry you’ve had some heavy stuff to deal with,” I typed on my super smart phone. “I will potty for you.”

And then I sat back in my fluffy brown chair and turned on the TV. I figured that conversation was over. My phone beeped again.

“Will you really? Will you potty for me?” She asked. I furrowed my brow, read my previous message. Yep. I had offered to potty about it.

“That’s probably the kindest gesture I’ve ever gotten” she said.

And I have laughed really hard as I cursed Gladys for her evil antics.  Since then, she has convinced me to begin playing a word game that I cannot win.  I’m an English major. I can’t beat anyone at this game.  So I thought if I let Gladys match me up with a similar opponent –a stranger of similar wordsmith skills–I would have a shot at winning. She’s a smart phone. She knows my skills and game scores.

So she found me a match.
Even Bugger39 beat me.
Bad.

I guess they have to market them as smart phones. If they called them Vindictive Phones, nobody would buy them. I just call her Gladys and I’m not letting her take dictation anymore. I’m taking back my life.

I’m Missy Snapp and I approve this message.

Clearing the air.

There are three people right now that I can think of who should have their own blogs. I will approach you all privately, only to be rejected. The Informinator is one that I will just mention publicly. There is so much I could say about her. It would never end. If I am lost and need an address or direction orientation, I call her first. If I were in jail or in surgery or trapped under something heavy, I’d call her first. Somehow, she’d know what to do.

She doesn’t have a smart phone and this is now a huge point of contention between us. Up until 2 months ago, we had a pact to stick together on the phone thing. We said we’d get smart phones together in February of 2013. But then my Dumb Phone died and my husband had a smart phone sitting unused at his office. I don’t think the Informinator is over this betrayal even now. Weeks have passed. She still won’t make eye contact with me. Maybe that’s because I’m usually sweaty when she sees me, but I think it’s the smart phone issue. I tried to console her. I said, “Informinator, if you had a smart phone, you’d be SOOOO smart that you’d want different friends. We’d all be too dumb for you. Think of it as a way to keep your relationships strong.” She just gave me the stink eye and kept on walking.

At any rate, since she doesn’t have the blog I try to get her to have, she contributes to mine by way of smartness and wry comments. If you ever read the comments section, then you’ve seen her little nuggets. The most recent one was this:

The Informinator says:

Are you ever going to tell them you never made it out of the driveway because you had a flat tire? They deserve to know.

This comment made me laugh out loud. It followed my HEY EVERYONE I’M GOING BIKING post. I did try to bike the 12 miles. I tried hard. I planned my route, packed my backpack, got dressed, pumped my tires, and got myself a large water bottle. I was ready.

Then, because I saw the Informinator’s name on AOL’s instant messenger, I messaged her about this. I mean, OBVIOUSLY, IMing the Informinator before biking is a precursor to actually biking.

(9:17:12 AM) missysnapp: Tires are pumped. Backpack secured. Lock in backpack. Publix is destination.
(9:17:34 AM) informinator: rain coat?
(9:17:35 AM) missysnapp: Must make it to Publix.
(9:17:37 AM) missysnapp: Ha
(9:17:44 AM) missysnapp: No rain in forecast till later
(9:17:50 AM) informinator: or will you be too fast for the rain to even land on you.
(9:17:58 AM) missysnapp: you are so right
(9:18:14 AM) missysnapp: much larger chance of overfilling my backpack.
(9:18:25 AM) missysnapp: Conditioner is on the list, if that scares you at all.
(9:18:33 AM) missysnapp: 😀
(9:19:11 AM) informinator: just remember the kmart debacle of 98. or whenever it was.
(9:19:44 AM) informinator: do not buy a giant jug of gatorade.
(9:19:49 AM) informinator: or a lantern
(9:22:17 AM) missysnapp: Duly noted.
(9:22:28 AM) missysnapp: To allay your fears…
(9:22:36 AM) missysnapp: I am not wearing my spandex bike shorts.
(9:22:42 AM) missysnapp: But only because I could not find them
(9:22:54 AM) missysnapp: I am off!

Immediately after this online conversation, I went outside to take pictures of myself ABOUT to go biking. They are so stupid that I will post one. Plus, besides the stupid factor, it proves that I was ready and willing to go biking.

Actually, it proves nothing except that I am a big enough loser to pose with my bike.

About 10 seconds after taking this shot, I got on my bike and pedaled three times.

Only to discover that the front tube was totally blown. Even if I had a spare tube in my possession, which I didn’t, I couldn’t have changed it. I don’t know how to change bike tires.

And that was that.

I was really mad about this. This forced me to go for a long walk, which wasn’t nearly as interesting or as exciting as my Publix adventure. Who knows what would have happened?

I have my tire ready to take in tomorrow. Maybe we’ll get another shot at this biking thing.

I’ll take pictures…