The tortoise and the hair loss

Author: admin  //  Category: From me to you

My trusty canine sidekick, Scooter, is getting on up in years and is perfectly content to quietly watch the world go by from close proximity to my feet.  So, when he gets excited over something and alerts with a bark and rapid tail wag I know I need to investigate.

Last weekend while enjoying some serene moments before the rest of the household was out of bed, he went berserk at the back door. Knowing it must be something quite novel to stir such a response, good judgment overrode my desire to fling the door open and unleash my beast.

At that very same moment, ground-level movement caught my eye.

It took me a moment to focus, and another few to make sense out of what my eyes were trying to relay to my brain: a rapidly moving turtle with a shell about the size of a soccer ball cut in half.

Living in close proximity to Cedar Bayou, I wasn’t totally shocked by its presence and imagined it dug under the fence to gain entry. I was more puzzled by its speed.

I plopped down on the floor next to Scooter and together we observed our backyard oddity.

Suddenly reminded of Aesop’s tortoise and hare, I was amazed by the not-so-slow and steady creature. And then, in my strange fashion, I felt a kinship with our visitor.

It was clearly on a mission, neck stuck way out pointing the way. It was even opening and closing its mouth in a snapping fashion as it traveled.

I explained to Scooter that was why he couldn’t go out and “get it”. Not sure he understood, but his nose surely would if I’d let him loose.

But I also knew that in a flash it could halt and disappear into an inner world with no room for company . . . invited or not. Ah, a true introvert much like me.  I envied the shell. Mine is not as apparent to others.

I’m slow, methodical, and basically over-think every thought that comes into my mind. Distraction during those thought processes make me snappy. And hares hopping around me all over-anxious-like. . . enough to make this girl SNAP!

And I can guarantee that if I’m physically in the middle of a swirl of activity, I’m in my shell.

It’s comfy in there. I have it decorated and full of all my favorite people and things.

But on a quiet morning, sitting at the back door with one of my dearest friends, watching the world go by from his feet I was fully outside my shell and happy to see my animal kingdom counterpart in action.

And getting back around to said reptile making its way across my yard: Scooter was quite distressed over my not allowing him to handle the intruder that was apparently too close to me for his liking. And when my poor doggie gets upset, he pulls the hair off his backside with his teeth. That paints a visual, doesn’t it?

But he loves me in spite of my snappy-turtle ways, so I’ll tell you he’s still top dog in my book . . . even with a bald backside and hair in his teeth.

© 2012 Natalie Whatley

Take it to the bank, Dads

Author: admin  //  Category: Holidays, Life with children, National

While assisting my kiddos in finding the perfect Father’s Day greetings for the paternal figures in their lives I ran across a few that were quite funny. Others—with a giggle and grin—touched on the cold, hard truth that Dads often get second billing in the grand theatrics of getting offspring to adulthood.

Of course what now constitutes “adulthood” has Dad on the hook even longer than in times past, but we’ll not go there today. In my mind that’s no cause for celebration, and I’d be on my soapbox far too long.

Anyway, one card in particular hinted that the origin of June’s Father’s Day came about after menfolk caught on to the major celebration May’s Mother’s Day turned into. The card showed a disheveled man standing, arms out and palms facing upward exclaiming, “Hey!?”  He’s clearly thinking, “What about me?”

While clearly not of the male persuasion, I see his point.

We girls tend to get a lion’s share of the credit having to go through the whole pregnancy and birthing process.  It’s worth mentioning that mothers get a bit of a head start and a hefty helping of biology to bond them to their babies.

The following nifty little quote from illustrates my point: “Your child, at birth, already has a deeply complicated relationship with his mother, and, for the first year, you are only a curiosity. For a couple of years after that, an amusement-park ride. Then, a referee. And finally, a bank.”

I laughed at that truth, and I’m sure you guys are grinning, too. Although my own little cherubs’ dad swears the banking part pretty much runs start to way after finish. (Jeff and I are still operating under the potential illusion that there will be a “finish”. Please don’t burst our bubble.)

But as I look around at today’s fathers their job has become just as complex as mom’s.

Women bemoan having to juggle all of life’s demands, but as motherhood changed with en masse female entry into the workforce, the guys had to evolve, too.

All the dads I know work, take the kiddos to activities, help around the house . . . pretty much do it all. And they’re far calmer doing it.

When I consider how much they’ve had to change in such a short evolutionary period, I’m impressed beyond words.

For all the strides that have been made on the female side of life’s equation, it would have been impossible had they not stepped up to the plate . . . and hit it out of the park.

To all the Dads on your special day: I suspect you often feel unnoticed and unappreciated, but your massive contribution and continual hard work does not go unnoticed. You are first-rate and far more than a monetary institution. You can take that to the bank. Happy Father’s Day!

© 2012 Natalie Whatley

You can lead a foal to dishwater . . .

Author: natalie  //  Category: Life with children

Every generation spends some time thinking the next doesn’t have what it takes to properly get through life. 

Of course we older folks have to take some of the blame, but I refuse to take it all because I led my foals to the dishwater.  But you know how the saying goes. I wasn’t successful at making them drink, either.

When school let out last week, I began yet another summer with offspring who have the time—minus the inclination—to help more with the running of a five-member-plus-animals household.  I’m no different in thinking they are doomed to an unkempt existence once they fly the family coop.

Shoot, at this point in life with three teenagers under my roof this momma bird is not at all averse to kicking them out of the nest entirely since they pretty much know how to fly. Ask them, they’ll tell you how they know it all. If they’re not careful, I won’t let them take any of the feathers currently lining the twigs upon which they balance so precariously.

I estimate that over the span of their lifetimes I have done roughly 10.7 trillion loads of their laundry. I understand it takes that many repetitions before the process of sorting loads and operating the washer and dryer becomes fully engrained in one’s nature. So, I think it’s time they seriously increase their training.

I’m also trying to help them understand that they too can brandish a toilet brush. A sparkling bowl is good for the soul. At least it is for mine. And if momma is happy . . .

A broom: not difficult to operate and truly doesn’t require any special instruction. I know it’s a little bristly, but I’ve assured them it doesn’t bite.

They see no need for such an archaic piece of equipment since their great grandmother gifted me with a nifty little robot that sweeps and mops, but I feel I’m not doing my parental job if I don’t at least make them aware cleanliness can be achieved without the modern-day technology they probably won’t be able to initially afford for their own nest.

And I still can’t get them to comprehend the rationale behind dusting after sweeping and vacuuming instead of before.  I’ve hurt cherubic feelings by questioning their work order, and I know I should be thrilled to receive help at all, but is help that’s not really help helpful?

Maybe I need a whole different kind of help . . . in the form of a long couch and possible prescription drugs. Tranquilizers would probably do the job nicely. 

Cooking, I only have four words: Ramen noodles don’t count. But the mess does, so, uh, how hard is it to rinse out those dishes and place them in the dishwasher?

Which is a grand segue into: Little elves don’t show up and put the clean dishes away. If you know where you got a fork from in the kitchen, surely you can find your way back with a fistful of clean ones.

This old mare is tired of draggin’ young’uns to the watering hole.  But I imagine if I “accidentally” kicked one into the water . . . they’d sink or swim. And if I had to bet, I’d wager on the swimming. Lord knows they won’t touch a sink!

© 2012 Natalie Whatley

Too hot to mishandle

Author: natalie  //  Category: It's all about me

I spend an inordinate amount of time here being silly, but this week I’ll temper it—part antics of a possibly brain-damaged, middle-aged woman and part summer-season public-service announcement.

If you’re the stunning Linda Rowe—aka Mom to me—put the paper down and walk away. There are some things you don’t want to know.

OK, Mom. I know you’re still with us. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

As I have confessed before, I have a long-standing, serious relationship with Mr. Sun. He lifts my spirits with his brightness and warmth and makes me glow. After all, he is the “glorious lamp of heaven”.

Dermatologists surely bristle.  

I practice what I consider moderation realizing any exposure is unacceptable these days. I can’t help it. A slightly rebellious gal could partake of far worse in my estimation.

Anyway, Memorial Day weekend Sunny and I had a hot date.

I usually limit our time to one hour—30 minutes each front and back. But as the late spring/early summer season progresses I additionally “cook” the left and right sides of my body causing my exposure window to be slightly longer. Hour and a half tops.

I followed my rotisserie-like rotation while reading a great book, sipping water, and sweating profusely—more than usual in fact, and that made sense in 20/20 hindsight.

When our time was up, I bid Sunny good-bye and started my short trek to the indoors.

Freshly bronzed, I stepped through the back door and the room began to swirl. Shaky legs carried me on to the kitchen where I promptly found a chair. Mere seconds later my condition drastically worsened: severe nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps, loss of coordination . . . the not-so-good works.

Through tunnel-like vision I saw my life flashing and bananas on the nearby island. Minimal brain function told me I’d become overheated and that the potassium-laden fruit would save me, so I stood to  get one . . .only to find I didn’t have the strength to break one free from the bunch. Odd.

A loud CRACK preceded “lights out”.

Somewhere between one and three minutes later I “came to” slightly confused over my ground-level location.

With sputtering cerebral synapses firing, I realized the crack I heard, but didn’t feel, was my noggin crashing into the hard kitchen floor. 

As clearer vision returned, I looked up, saw the full knife block I apparently raked across the counter-top on the way down teetering precariously over my head  – half on, half off the counter.  Gravity was being defied.  Maybe I even saw a little angel—wings furiously fluttering—holding it up. 

I sat up, pushed the knives back, and for the most part felt perfectly fine. Suppose I just needed a re-boot.

But the point of all this is to tell you: I’m a seasoned, frequently-exerts-herself-through-all-seasons-in-the-outdoor-climate kind of girl . . . and I surely suffered heat exhaustion. It came on quickly and without warning (the heavier than usual sweating was a sign). I’d never experienced it before.

I hadn’t eaten in several hours and was not taking in nearly enough fluids. Neither of those things seemed significant before the heated incident. I should have known better.

I felt a little weak and had a headache the rest of the day—still sporting a nice goose egg on the back of my head among other minor bodily contusions, but otherwise I’m fine. Maybe it knocked some sense into me. Scared me for sure.

Don’t follow in my stupid footsteps. The heat is already too hot to mishandle.

© 2012 Natalie Whatley