flightless hag

A chronicle of the adventures of birdwoman: a lonely, talentless freak who wanders the internet in search of entertainment.

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Location: Philly

I'm a 40-something married white female, survivor of weight watchers, avid reader of pulp. Dogs (not cats), extreme right (handed, not politics), ENTJ, alto, wanna-be knitter.

October 12, 2014

They Mysteries of Mothman

Tim continues to confound us.

A few weeks ago, he missed his bus home from school. To be clear, his school is about 2 miles from home. But it's horrific miles with highly trafficked roads and no sidewalks.

So, I got the call but had my phone off (on a precious day off, I had gone to the movies with a friend). For some reason, toward the end of the movie, I turned on my phone to check the time and saw the missed phone calls and texts. This was about 3:15. He missed the bus at 2:45.

I "rushed" home through Friday afternoon traffic, but the fastest I could get to the school was 4.

He didn't wait.

I looked for well over an hour: at the school and through its grounds, on the most likely route home, through our neighborhood. No moth. I was now completely freaked out and had been texting/calling John. We decided to call the police. I headed back toward the school with the idea of "one more try" and there he was, stomping down the road, crying.

He'd gotten lost trying to find his way home.

We came up with a plan if this ever happened again. The key component to the plan is "stay.,"

Fast forward a week. John is late picking him up from soccer. He didn't wait. He walked home. John freaked out because he couldn't find him. Lather rinse repeat except this time, Moth didn't get lost. So we gave the "hug a tree" lecture again.

Last night, when I had the boys out, we stopped at a rest stop and hit the bathrooms first. Our adventure had left us grimy and I wanted them to wash up before we got food. Well, I said wait outside the bathrooms. I come out, and he's nowhere to be found.


He likes to flutter. What can I say? He's a moth.

Last night's adventure was a local spook-fest called Field Of Screams. I took Stinky and the Moth and a friend of Mothy's as this is a part of his birthday present late. (we like to go places or do things instead of giving presents). Anyhow, we went through the Den of Darkness which was creeptastic. Then we went through the Asylum which was also terrorlicious. The boys were sufficiently startled, scared, and just plain excited. We stopped for a snack so it could get dark enough to do the outdoor activities. There were a bunch of yellow jackets at the picnic tables.

I think that the swarming bees scared them more than anything else last night.

Speaking of scary, Sean is now almost 14. He's actively talking about driving. Crazy, right? He's a good kid, pretty responsible and respectful. I think he'll be a decent driver -better than I am anyway. Not saying much. But he has a bit of an appearances issue.

He is totally embarrassed by his parents and our circumstances. In fact, he won't go to the eighth grade dance - the big social fest for his peers - because I said he could only go if I took him.

Now, if I were my mother, I'd be upset that I embarrass him. Instead, I like to use it. Oh, yes, I'm Sean's weird mother. Embrace it.

But it's not just my strangeness that embarrasses him. It's the house we have. The clothes we wear. (though this is the child who has 3 shirts he likes, and he wears them over and over again.) The cars we drive.

So, anyhow, he's talking about how, when it's time for junior prom, he'll be old enough to date (16 in our house). I said, "yeah, and you'll be driving, too! I won't need to take you!" He smiled. I then added the sauce to the pudding:  "And you can drive the Prius to pick up your date. It's a total chick-magnet kind of car."

Smile erased. Instantly.

Poor stinky. He's going to have to swallow the idea that he's not going to be Prince Charming. He's just an average joe, and trying to be something you aren't is a key ingredient to being miserable. But I guess he'll learn that in time. Don't we all?

I'd love to add a picture of the big galoot here, but he has become allergic to getting his picture taken. If I sneak one in, maybe I'll edit. Instead, picture what he used to look like, only 6 feet tall now. :)

August 05, 2014

Give it all to charity?

I am a selfish person. I know this. I am also judgmental. These are two of my major flaws, and I do try to work on them. (Laziness, I just accept and go with).

A friend posted a link to this video - of course it's only on Facebook, so I can't put a link here. The summary: a dude goes through a rich, suburban foodcourt asking for food. He's clean, polite, and everybody says no. Cut to a park where a homeless guy is sleeping. Dudes 2 and 3 offer said homeless guy a bag of food - not a huge amount, but a good sized meal. Dude 1, from the food court, comes along and asks homeless dude for some food, which homeless dude happily shares.

Lessons?  I guess there are a lot of them. Mostly, though, I think, is that having stuff makes you afraid of losing stuff. We're afraid to share with the beggar because we're afraid he has an ulterior motive and will try to take us for more. That's usually the reason people say no to beggars. It's not usually judgment, though sometimes it is. It's fear.

I have three examples in my past that I remember where I tried to be generous.

The first was when I was accompanying some of my dorm-mates to the Owl's Nest. I went to Temple in the height of the crack epidemic. It was a rather... interesting time to live on a middle-class island in the middle of North Philadelphia. So, crossing Broad Street at night in winter to go to a pizza joint was not something this farm-raised girl was used to. Also, please note, I was just going. I had no money to spend on pizza.

So, we're jay-walking across the 4 lane road. On the median, there was a woman, shivering and crying. Her heat had been turned off. Her kids were cold. She needed help.

I had no money, but I gave her my only scarf and gloves.

The next night, I was coming back from the library, or someplace... I don't remember where. But she was on a different corner, shivering, crying, scarfless, gloveless, begging for money. I was also shivering, scarfless, and gloveless. And I felt like a complete rube. It was the last time I gave anything away when I was in college. I remember feeling justified in this selfishness when I was walking down broad street to my home in South Philly (LOOOOONG walk, but saved me the SEPTA token) and I saw the woman who begged for quarters at the SEPTA stop getting into her car. Her car.

Years later, I was in the UK with my husband. It was our trip for ourselves - we had saved, we hadn't had kids yet. One of the things we did was stay in Birmingham (a total pit) because it was a train hub and we got trailpasses. Next to the train station was a Burger King. Outside the BK was a girl - probably my age at the time, maybe 5 years younger. She had a dog with her. She was hungry, wanted a milk shake. Now, I had been burned before. But the dog looked hungry. So I said, yeah, I'll get you a meal. What do you want? Fish sandwich and a milkshake, please, she replied. So, I went in and got her a fish sandwich and a bottle of water. Because I figured the dog could drink the water, but milkshakes are bad for dogs.

She yelled at me that I couldn't even take an order, then tried to go in and exchange what I had gotten for a milkshake. The BK manager gave me a very dirty look, as though it was my fault this woman was making a scene because I had purchased food and given it to her.

The last incident was the only time I did direct charity was through my church. We have this thing going with a bunch of other churches. Interfaith Hospitality. One of the churches donates the building - a former rectory. The rest of us provide chaperones and food. They invite families who are down on their luck. Missed a rent payment, had an unexpected bill, whatever the situation. They are families with young children who are temporarily homeless. We provide food and shelter for a few weeks until they get on their feet.

So, we volunteered to do a meal. It was December,  and it was really, really cold. I remember being pregnant for Tim. Sean was 2 years old. He "helped" me make cookies and homemade bread. John made a huge lasagne and a big salad. The lady from church who had done this before and was going to show us the ropes made a big ham and green beans. It was a good spread for the 2 or 3 families who were in residence.

We got there, and the one mother proceed to sneer at our food, saying she was Muslim and didn't eat no pork products. She then went over to the thermostat and turned up the heat to a very high temperature, saying she was cold. Except, it was at least 75 degrees in there already, because it was a lot warmer than my house.

The families eventually all came in, ate the lasagne (it had sausage in it, but the other two families were ok with that), the first family heated up frozen entrees in the microwave since they didn't eat no pork, then they took all the cookies, took the bread, and left the room. We were told we were supposed to encourage socialization - eat with them, watch television or play games - but they didn't want anything from us. Not really. And they really, really didn't like us much. I guess they felt we were judging them, and to be truthful, I was. I didn't fault them for bad economic luck. I faulted them for bad manners and lack of respect for what they had been given. I was mostly angry because they had been so rude to that little old lady from my church.

I guess what it comes down to is that these folks all acted as though they were owed a certain something, and when I tried to give them something, they were angry - not necessarily with me, but just angry. I took it personally.

Mostly, now, I've stopped giving directly to people because I don't like feeling foolish. I don't like feeling that I've been somebody's mark. I'll take being called a selfish white bitch (that happened twice this school year alone) because you know what? I am.

Sadly, I'm more okay with being called that than feeling like I've been used. Sadly, I am surprised when I say hello or good morning to the folks in the soup kitchen or free breakfast line say hi back, with no ulterior motive. Sadly, I feel like I have to justify to myself that I do give away blah blah blah as I sit in my nice house on my personal computer with wifi.

Guess I have some more work to do.

July 28, 2014

My Dog, the Nut

My dog is nuts. He wants to play ball or frisbee ALL THE TIME. Yes, he's a Border Collie.

I think they're all nuts.
But he's so sweet, such a nice little thing. Doesn't bark (unless he wants to play ball and you don't... err....), doesn't run away, doesn't jump on people, and is house trained.

Or so I thought.

You see, we have a basketball net at the end of our yard, on the street. It's kid bait. Most of the kids on our side of the block, at one point or another in the week, come over to shoot hoops. Sometimes with my kids, sometimes without. It's all good.

But not for Loki the Dog.

See, they're all playing ball. Yes, it's a really big ball that he can't catch. Could probably get really hurt if he played with them. But it DOESN'T MATTER. They're Playing Ball. Without Him!!

No matter that this has been happening for the better part of 2 years now, he still, as my husband says so eloquently, "loses his shit:" every time kids are ballin, he's bawling.

Cut to yesterday. I chased him out of our side room - we used to have a useless garage; we turned it into a suite for my mom when she stayed with us. Now John mostly uses it, in his big-honking chair next to the windows he reads the internets. The windows look over our driveway, toward the street court. I got home from my Long March of the day and wanted to sit and play video games there. It's a comfy chair! Loki was in there - I usually don't let him be in there because his hair stands out even worse in there than in the rest of the house. AND he'd been in John's chair. Sheesh.

So I sit down, and I notice a wet spot on the arm of John's chair. The chair Loki had been sitting in. And the wet spot on the carpet, next to the window. Great. Now, he's peed in the house.

Benefit of the doubt, I call John in. Were  you drinking in here, and your glass either condensed on or spilled on the chair and floor? No, he says. And he looks at the chair arm in disgust. Then Loki comes into the room and stands at the window, crying.

While I'm down sniffing at the stain, figuring out it's NOT pee, Loki's going nuts at the window - and drooling on the spot on the floor at his feet. The boys playing ball got him so excited, he DROOLED enough to leave big marks on the floor and the chair.

Now, that's what I call obsession.

He's a good dog, truly. But don't get between him and spherical objects. The results aren't pretty.

June 22, 2014

This was some week

So, this week was a crazy one. I thought since grades went in last week, it'd be easy peasy fresh and breezy....

except, I'm no cover girl.

Monday, I decided to try to update my OS on my mac, since I could no longer run ANYTHING. Firefox and such wouldn't update, so I couldn't even get in to my gradebook anymore... sigh. So, I ended up having to go to the Geniuses, because I wasn't about to let the tech at school wipe my computer.

So, Apple wiped my computer.

I spent all of Tuesday making sure all of my apps still work (thank god for time machine, and wow, upgrading was time consuming but EASY. Not like the old days where you'd have to reinstall everything. To note: My OS was from early 2008. And all my stuff still works after a wipe. LOVE it.)

Wednesday was Moth's graduation from Elementary School. Yes. I said that right. Graduation. From Elementary school. Whatever.

I went, because he's a sentimental sap, and he wanted me to. (rewind 2 years - stinky wanted me far, far away from the festivities. Mom embarrasses him by her very existence.)

Wednesday was also our school's very first National Honors Society induction. I was on the committee. We selected 24 kids from the 60 or so that qualified by GPA. (not bad in a school of 500). School had closed at noon due to heat, and we still had a good turn out for the ceremony.

Thursday was graduation, and I left 2 hours in. They hadn't e'en started handing out diplomas yet. I remember at good old TAHS we had a separate "senior awards night" and now I know why. As my students are wont to say, "it's too much, miss".

Friday, I got up to go running, fell off my stairs, and hit my head/neck on the corner of my couch. Hard. Really, really hard. Gave myself a minor concussion. Scared the poop out of me, I tell ya. Having blood run from your ear is not cool. I had to go to school because it was close out day, but I spent the whole day wondering, why do athletes do it? Especially football players? I mean, I felt like I was gonna boot all day. And mine was MINOR. How do those guys - more WHY do those guys - put themselves at risk like that? Weird.

Yesterday, I delivered Stinky to my sister, who will show him what a nice mom is like. One he wouldn't be embarrassed of by her very existence. Alas. He'll find out that she hugs, and he'll be glad to return to me!

That was my week. Somewhere in there, Comcast came and FINALLY (after 2+ weeks) turned the phone and internet back on. And now I can blog away! Right.


June 17, 2014

What a Fiasco


So, I've been a complete Basket Case lately. I missed Father's Day. I even missed my kid's piano recital. How did I get the video above? Well...

I was 4 minutes late. FOUR. She had him go first, I suppose to reinforce to me that I ought to get to things on time. Shoot. If my mom didn't get that in my head, no piano teacher will succeed. And, generally, I'm on time. Even early. But, I was doing soccer mom x4 duty on Saturday. And, I've been a complete Basket Case lately.

So, I walk in while he's playing his second song. I waited til the end of the recital, when everyone else left, and asked if he could play this one again. So, it's staged. And it's here because I can't mail it because it's Too Darn Big.

In other news, um... there is no other news. I haven't had internet or phone service at home for 2 weeks now. Comcast customer service is a JOKE. When I called to reschedule an appointment after they failed to show, the rep had the utter gall to COMPLAIN about my cell phone line quality. I started talking like I was dealing with a foreign, mentally-challenged child. "THAT'S... BECAUSE... MY... REAL... PHONE... HAS... BEEN... OUT... FOR... A... WEEK." By the time I was giving my cell phone as a call back number (they apparently tried to confirm our appointment on the phone that is out... morons), practically yelling each number distinctly, Stinky was in stitches at my antics.

Summer is rapidly approaching. We've got plans, though not evil ones. Unfortunately. And school police just ran down the hall - a NEVER occurrence at this school - so I have to go be newsy. Have a nice day, and pass it on.


May 18, 2014

60's hits for 60's folks

Today, I went to see the Philly Pops. I've always wanted to go see them, and it was a fun show. They had 4 dudes from Jersey Boys (not Jersey Shore) who call themselves the Midtown Men. They were jammin. They sang all sorts of stuff from the 60's, backed by the Philly Pops orchestra. I couldn't help but wonder if some of those orchestral dudes weren't cursing at fate: they studied at Curtis to perform Rachmaninoff and Schoenberg, now they play Robinson and Spector. On the stage where the Philadelphia Orchestra plays, but still...


As I was saying, it was a lot of fun. As I looked at the audience, I saw a lot of hair a bit greyer than mine, hips a lot stickier than mine. I saw one couple who was TOTALLY into the show, much to the chagrin of their stuck-up seat neighbors. That was quite a lot of fun to watch, actually. But still, I suppose that music is for the generation above mine - specifically that of my oldest siblings and cousins.

I remember, as a kid, those cousins making fun of my Aunt Fannie and Uncle Don listening to muzak-type stuff: pops orchestras, like Arthur Feidler and the Boston Pops, performing radio hits. And now, those kids are paying for the privilege of watching what they used to dis. I think that's ironic, but ever since people started making fun of that song, I've never been certain what irony really is.

Speaking of, I wonder, will Alanis will ever be muzaked? (you-you-you outta know; tune carried out by the french horn.) Will Smells Like Teen Spirit will ever be carried over into "pops" territory? Probably not, but some of my kid music, like Come On Eileen or We Got The Beat, seems to be custom-made. When I'm in the crowd listening, as an oldster, will I be the dancer across the way, or the stuck-up seat neighbor? I hope I'll be the dancer, but find myself rather empathetic with the snob.

Maybe I should stick with Rachmaninoff!


May 11, 2014

the opiate of the masses

Today was a Big Day for the boys.

They got confirmed.

The Bishop raised hands over them, and lightning Did Not Hit The Church. I think this is headline worthy.

So as you may or may not know, John and I decided on a middle-of-the-road Episcopal church when we moved to the current aviary. I was raised Methodist; John is a recovering Catholic. We figured the Anglican church was a happy medium.

We generally like our church. They mostly leave us alone and we do the same. We're not huggers; we're not joiners. Our church is okay with that. But in the last few years, our boys have been asked to acolyte. Our boys. Our little pyromaniacs.  Carrying fire through the church.

Still, there are so few kids their age the priest was stuck. And acolytes have to wear dresses, also known as robes. Humiliations galore, which fits in with our parenting style. So, we agreed. It, unfortunately, has the side effect of forcing John to go to the smells and bells service at least once a month.

Anyhow, these confirmation classes started sometime this spring and have been going on for a while. This confirmation mass, which would be longer than the normal 1.5 hour mass, was looming over us like a cumulonimbus. We knew this service was going to be a doozy, with the bishop presiding over 3 confirmations and 2 baptisms (thank god Bishop Windbag retired a few years back... We still shudder about the 2 hour service that jabbermouth presided over a decade ago.) We knew we'd get through it, though. After all, it's all on the kids at this point.

But on Thursday, the priest sends an email reminding us that our boys had to be in coat and tie.

Our boys. Formal.

Great. Did I know this? I did not. It's Thursday, I am in the last crazy quarter at school, and we're having company all day on Saturday. What's a hag to do?

So, I walked to Burlington Coat Factory after school. Thank God For Burlington Coat Factory (ha). I get home and say, "Boys, I have presents for you!"

They were all jazzed. Then they saw suits. And dress shirts in bright colors. And ties. They whined. They grumbled.

They acted like I do when I'm told I have to wear a dress.

But once I got the suits ON them this morning, and they saw the mirror? Straightening of jackets. Squaring of shoulders.

"Hey, I look pretty good!" Stinky says in amazement. (of course he does. He looks like his dad.)

So Moth puts his on and says "Hey, I like suits!"

Still, they act like ratfinks:


Now, they're confirmed. My job is done. I think I'm going to become a wiccan: they have better holidays. They have holidays like every 1.5 months. There's equinoxes and solstices and samhain (halloween) and beltane (may day) and some crazy ones I've never heard of and are nigh impronouncable: imbolc and lughnasadh. Who doesn't want to celebrate St. Bridget's day? Or Walpurgis? It's gotta be better than Groundhog's day, even if it is the same time.

Anyway, now that I've got my religious jealousy under control, I'm signing off. I have all of 3 hours before I turn into a pumpkin and the weekly cycle of insanity begins again.

Later, gaters.