Reptile beguile

Author: natalie  //  Category: From me to you

The Discovery Channel has Shark Week, and not to be outdone, I’m going to host and review my own little Reptile Week here today. I’m pretty sure my version won’t be nearly as riveting, but you know I’m going on with the show anyway.

First episode begins with a slightly frightening letter I received from Gladys “Granny” Adcox of Highlands. She reported a snake sighting inside the confines of her home.  I’ll go ahead and quote her verbatim, because it’s funnier to hear her tell it. We’ll paint some visuals together.

“Wish me luck. I’ve got a snake in the house. My lady that works for me came in about 9 o’clock yesterday and found it. She didn’t know what to do. So, she got some insect spray and sprayed it on its head.”

Ok, that’s not the end, but I must interrupt the programming to say that made me laugh right out loud! I can just see tiny, in her-mid-nineties Granny and another lady hovering over a serpent with a can of Raid.

“It started crawling off and we watched it go into a front bedroom. We closed the door, so it wouldn’t get out. My neighbor came over and brought his flashlight and a little hoe, but failed to find it.”

I don’t know why, but I see Inspector Clouseau complete with the detective hat and magnifying glass. I hope the kind, un-bumbling neighbor helping Granny gets a chuckle out of that.

“My granddaughter and her husband came today and searched that room for about 2 hours. They didn’t find it.”

I tell you, that Granny is tough as nails to remain in that home. A lesser woman (me) would have vacated those premises until the slitherin’, bug-spray-smellin’, forked-tongue intruder was captured.

“A friend of mine is going to come over tomorrow with her little dog. We hope the dog will be able to find the snake.”

Now, in proper TV fashion I’m going to leave you all hanging. Queue the ominous music, and cut!

Man it’s fun clapping that black-and-white director thingy shut. I feel so powerful having you all perched on the edge of your seats.

If my writer (ahem, Granny…) provides another installment, I’ll be sure to share.

Episode two involves my being a total sucker for those pop-psychology questionnaires, “Are you (fill in the blank)?”

I get a kick out of studying me. Not that I’m all that interesting, but because I’m my own guinea pig. No one else would put up with my shenanigans or the constant questioning.

The one that caught my eye this past week dealt with “social connectors” or people who can connect with virtually anyone, and maybe anything.

According to the in-depth, four-question quiz I am one, with a bit of an oddity (go figure) in that I’m introverted. But I’m also a “social chameleon”. Ooh.

On some level I’ve always known that and I was glad to confirm and see the slant that painted us environmental color-changers in a positive light.

You know I looked it all up and like everything else there is a dark side: Some “chameleons” are not as sweet as me and use their skill for nefarious (that’s wicked times a hundred) purposes.

Anyway, I sure hope Granny found that sneaky snake. If not, I may have to pay her home a visit . . . cross over to the dark side and use some cunning and trickery to coax it out of her life.

I may need a few of you to assist. Somebody needs to hold the dog, I’ll need another to hide the bug spray and the rest, please distract Clouseau with the hoe!

© 2012 Natalie Whatley

Gonna keep on truckin’

Author: natalie  //  Category: Life with children

Nearly four years ago you were all with me when my oldest began driving.

Since that time I— and thankfully everyone else peripherally involved— endured the first moving violation with ensuing fine, first traffic accident and the super silly burning off of tires and destroying the rear-end of a car in aforementioned burning of tires.

It all aged me a great deal, but I stand today not only older, more wrinkly and grayer, but wiser and proudly more calm about the whole business of cherub number two taking to the roads.

You may also recall that my choice of vehicle for my first baby was a giant wad of bubble wrap on wheels. That didn’t fly with a 16-year-old male prepared to take the world by its proverbial tail. And the story repeats with yet another similarly situated male still under my care and tutelage. Imagine that.

Adding to this old but new experience is that Jeremy, aka second cherub, has worked very hard, saved his pennies and amassed an impressive fund. The young man has automobile options far beyond my choice of the air-filled plastic stuff and he is putting me through my shopping paces. Maybe you also recall that I don’t like to shop.

To speak in today’s hip vernacular: He blows up my phone regularly with photos of the truck du jour. See, he falls in love anew each day he and his computer let his fingers do the walking.

I get all the views—front, back, sides, interior, stereo and the all-important tires and wheels. Oh, and it’s extra special if it’s “lifted”.

I do believe he has settled on red. And I must admit they’re all starting to look the same, but he can point to some nuance that makes each day’s choice better than the one before. Clueless to so much of what goes on outside his own noggin (not sure where he gets that from) he becomes a man of details.

Then Mr. Detail gets annoyed when I point out a very major one by responding to shiny-truck-photo messages with, “Have you worked on your driver’s-education stuff today?”

It’s all requiring me to reverse previous training: In this instance he needs to put the cart before horsepower. Shoot, I want that cart sitting up front right now. We’re not done filling it! Close, but not done, yet.

Rest assured to you, the motoring public, we won’t turn him loose until he has been fully blessed by an officer of the Texas Department of Public Safety.  (As a side note: DPS has resumed actual driving tests for new drivers. They stopped doing said tests for a while. Someone saw the folly in that and reversed course. I, for one, appreciate that.)

And Jeremy’s a good egg and will be a responsible driver. I want all (ok, maybe not ALL, but most) of his auto dreams to come true.

The truth is that I, too, get hung up in the trappings of how incredibly handsome he will look perched behind the wheel of his vessel to greater independence.

That’s it, really. Kids grow up and do grown-up things like work hard, save money, make large purchases and drive away in them. I’m very blessed and proud to call such a young man my own.

Mom has to keep on truckin’. And she will.

© 2012 Natalie Whatley

Depending on independence

Author: natalie  //  Category: From me to you, Holidays

Being that I’m sitting down in the late evening of the Independence Day holiday to work on what I surely should have done before, I have independence on the brain. Not necessarily the red, white and blue variety even though I’m listening to the bombs bursting air as I type. Procrastination always makes for a few personal fireworks —requiring me to light a match so to speak—but I’ll get on with it.

Independence: The condition of being independent; freedom from control or influence of others; self-governing; self-reliant.

That brings up a whole swirl of thoughts for me on both the small and large scales of life here on this big rock.

When I think big and beyond my mostly petty grievances, I get pretty perturbed over where things currently stand given some folks labored hard to give birth to this nation, but my blood pressure can’t withstand even my own political rants, so I’ll not go there.

Pondering on the much smaller and what affects me directly, I wonder if true personal independence is even possible when considering the dictionary definition—especially the “freedom from control or influence of others”.

Freedom from control or influence?  Think about it. Even the most independent among us can’t claim it entirely.

Yeah, I know, it’s probably not what normal folks thought about while sitting at Baytown’s Bicentennial Park watching the Fourth of July parade. But as I waited for my youngest little cherub to make an appearance with her cheerleading team, that’s exactly what crossed my mind.

I’m externally controlled every day by a whole lot, some of it by choice, some if it not. (That was me channeling the great Theodore Seuss Geisel, otherwise known as Dr. Seuss.)

And as I held that thought I realized the red, white, and blue which surrounded me was pretty fitting: I’ve turned red in anger and embarrassment, white with fear, and have nursed my fair share of blue bruises while struggling to stake out my own ground.

That metaphor further begged the question: Is having so much choice really liberating or a grand invitation to step in what the parade horses dropped in the route?

Make no mistake: I’m not for the removal of any freedoms we presently enjoy, just wondering if this centaur would function any better with high, possibly electrified fences. Probably not.

I need to roam freely. And while that roaming may appear to have no particular purpose to a single other soul, it bears repeating words of the legendary J.R.R. Tolkien of Lord of the Rings fame: “Not all those who wander are lost.”

And so it all came full circle in my mind as I sat on the curb watching the parade come around the bend.

I’m dependent on independence.

Without it I’d surely wither and die. But to live in and celebrate a country that (mostly) allows it . . . it was enough to make this girl cry.

© 2012 Natalie Whatley

Some days you’re cracked

Author: natalie  //  Category: From me to you

Sometimes life —and 18-wheeled trucks—throws things unexpectedly in our direction. Some of those things crack us up, others leave a crack.

And that reminds me of a cute saying, “Some days you’re the windshield and some days you’re the bug.”

It’s not hard to discern the meaning: Sometimes we cruise through life pushing through all things in our path, and other times . . . SPLAT! I only wish that splattering could be as painlessly instantaneous as those unfortunate bugs.  But I’m going off on a tangent.

This past week, while driving on Interstate 10, enjoying some catchy tune and absolutely minding my own business a big truck ahead threw a rock from one of its tires. My sporty ride and I tried to move from its rapid trajectory, to no avail.

I feel pretty lucky to have gone almost two years without a chink in my new car’s windshield, but DANG!

Isn’t that moment you hear it hit a most special cruddy one? I was all alone, but I think I muttered a string of gosh-darn-its and other things befitting all shades of the rainbow.

That out of my system I tried assessing the damage while still traveling at or below the posted speed limit. (I would never speed, and especially not while aggravated because I learned in Defensive Driving Class after my last speed-moving violation that not following traffic rules while emotionally charged is not a good combination. It is my civic duty to take care of me and those motorists around me. I’ll pat myself on the back for paying such careful attention while being punished for slightly breaking the law.)

I knew it broke the glass, but I couldn’t find it. Mere seconds later I saw what looked like a spider right below the driver’s side windshield wiper. Thanks to the extreme heat we experienced, it started to splinter within the minute.

I suppose I could’ve lived with a chip in an area just below where my eyes rest while driving, but no, it had to travel on up right where I have to look at it each and every time I sit behind the wheel.

Now I know in the grand scheme of all that life entails, this is truly a mere annoyance.  Far worse can and does occur to kind folks the world over every day. But still, it hurt.

And it’s going to be expensive to replace should I decide to do so.

I never knew how much I’d enjoy and grow dependent upon the heads-up display technology that allows my car to project all sorts of information onto the windshield so that my eyes never have to leave the road. Turns out that’s some special glass that can do that, but it’s no better at taking a rock than its not-so-special counterparts.

So now I’m left to decide. Do I live out my drive time with that blight always in front of my face? Or replace the windshield knowing all too well it’s only a matter of time before it’s my turn again in the rock meets windshield barrel? Decisions, decisions.

While I’m grateful I wasn’t the bug that day, being the windshield isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be either.

© 2012 Natalie Whatley