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.

May 16, 2017

Happy Mothers' Day

So my mom. She's a shell of who she used to be. She's in a home - and I thank God for them all the time. The folks there are amazing and taking great care of her.

I spent a few hours with her, talking at her some, wheeling her around the place. Of course, it rained, so we couldn't go outside. I asked her about her childhood - that seems to be the clearest these days. I asked if they had pigs, and she answered yes. Asked about horses when we saw pictures of them. "Yes, we had two. One was a big black horse."

"Did your horses have names? Or were they just the horses?"

"We called the big black one Nigger."

Whoops. Shouldn't have asked that question. It was a different time, of course, but darn. I'm still cringing at that one.

All in all, it was a pretty good day.

But.

She wanted ANYTHING but this. Anything. She can't really talk. She can read but can't comprehend, really. I went up to see her this weekend - on Mother's Day. I took a bluetooth speaker and played all the old favorites. She had her hands tapping and strumming with Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash. She sang along with Roger Miller, Elton Brit, and Tennessee Ernie Ford. I could almost see her in there.

And then Big Rock Candy Mountain came on. And she started to sing along. And her eyes cleared. And she realized where she was. And she started to cry. Just a little. Took off her glasses and wiped her eyes then stopped singing and stared out the window.

She's a prisoner in her own body.

 She does have some control - won't take her meds if she can help it. Doesn't eat much. They think it's because she's "distracted". I think it's because she's trying to get away in the only way she can now. Course, I've always been Debbie Downer.

If I had my druthers, I'd go like my Dad. 59 years old. Good life, all in all (as John Denver said). Done in a flash, and it was nobody's fault. It was hard at the time - and it scarred some of my family members for a really long time. But people remember him as he was, and no one had to watch him suffer. No one had to feel guilty for allowing him to suffer.

Crap.

I know it's not about me. I know it isn't. But darn it, I wish I could do something. Anything. And I can't.

Happy mothers day.

February 15, 2017

Puberty Stinks

Puberty does stink! Sometimes, quite literally. And Moth is averse to showering.

So, the news in the aviary.

Stinky is a registered lifeguard and has his learning permit to drive.Yet, there is a story...

After Stinks went through the gruelling training at the Y, the trainers really liked him. They offered him a job. At the Y! He was psyched. He just had to get a drug test done within 72 hours... So, after years of telling me I don't know how to use the internets, he couldn't figure out how to make an appointment or where to go... Mom to the rescue. I made the appointment, and Dad decided to drive him as it was early morning (before school).

Of course, Mom got the wrong place, so Stinky corrected Dad... only to find out Mom was right. They rushed to the other place, got there in time, only to find that Stinky forgot to bring his photo ID.  (that Mom left on the table).

He lost the job. He can reapply in 6 months. Harsh and humbling. But he admitted it: it was totally his fault.

Moth, on the other hand, is digging himself a grave that he doesn't seem to want to get out of.

He seems to be hooked on social media - even though we don't allow it at home. His language has become roughly equivalent to a Merchant Marine with 25 years in. After Dad blocked Instagram from the chromebook, Moth wrote an email to his father calling him an unbelievably bad name. He's also called me a very Bad name. He's also been very sneaky lately, and just a misery to live with. As he's NEVER been this kind of kid, I have to hope it's the hormones.

I did, however, get a bit of unplanned revenge.  One morning, as I was prepping for work, I was watching a video on my computer. I couldn't hear the sound. I tried turning it up to max; still couldn't hear it. I stopped when I heard Moth scream yet another invective at his brother. Except his brother wasn't upstairs.

You see, the heir has a bluetooth speaker and has taken to pranking the spare... playing spooky sounds or what not. Stinks was making his breakfast, nowhere near his phone. But somehow, Tim was saying all the crap that was coming out of that speaker. I was like, "I bet Dad did it, trying to get you up." "Dad's not a prankster." "You don't know your dad."

Then, I started to realize the words Moth mentioned were ones that would probably have been on the video I was trying to play. After horsing around with Stinky the night before (I kept playing Nickelback and he kept playing Radiohead), I inadvertently linked my computer to his speaker.

So, it ended up I pranked the little dirtball into getting up 20 minutes early. He was not amused. I SO was.

Life with teenagers. Find the fun where you can!

(*)>

December 04, 2016

Smells Like Baltimore!

For myself this year, I bought tickets to 3 different Philly Pops concerts. The first was the Christmas Extravaganza, which took place today.

For my music-enjoying partner in crime? I took Moth.

Moth loves music. One time, Granny took us (the boys and me) to see South Pacific at a dinner theater. When the lead actor was singing Some Enchanted Evening, Stinky was leaning back against the wall, arms crossed, eyes rolling. Moth was leaning forward, chin on fist, eyes glued. When it was over, he turned to me and said, "that was awesome!" (and it was!)

Today featured, besides the Pops, the Pops Choir, an organist, the Philadelphia Boys Choir, a Gospel Choir, and a Feinstein/Connic Jr kinda guy.

But, to make sure we weren't late to the show, as we were taking Septa, we went a bit early. Deciding to eat lunch at Moth's pick, we walked. And walked. (Pizza? No. Max Brenner Chocolate Place? No. Sushi? No. Chinese? No. It was like the "quit it - ow" refrains from Simpsons.) At one point, Moth sniffs the air.

"It smelled like Baltimore just there."

I quickly sniffed, but all I smelled was city.

"I think that's just city, kid."

So we walked and walked some more and finally found something that appealed (Wishbone chicken which was fantastic and had the coolest sodas evah). Upon leaving, we started walking (sigh) back to the Kimmel center. Along the way, my nose had cleared enough from the spices to smell, and BOY did I smell something. Someone was toking, big time.

"There it is again! It smells like Baltimore!!"

Granny and Poppy, where have you been taking my Moth when he visits? Inquiring minds want to know.

The concert was great. Tim loved it, except when he didn't... which was only with the Gospel choir. Not a surprise. That one's a strong genetic component from the father.

He even plugged his ears until I nudged him :).

Happy Christmas season to all, and to all, a good night.

December 01, 2016

Happy Birfday to Stinky!

As is the tradition in the dusty aviary, we celebrated the recent natal day of Stinky by eating. We eat a lot - I especially eat a lot - but birthdays are a special occasion.

We went to Iron Hill - something for everyone. Interesting foods and beers for Dad (who is quite the epicurian), tasty alcohol for Mom (who, apparently, had to give up several sips in "birthday boy" tax last night. Apparently, he likes raspberry lemonade :) ), and fatty, greasy food for two gargantuan "boys."

They don't get along at all, my boys. Not sure why. I think it's spoiled child syndrome. Since I fought like a tiger with my sibs when I was little, but think the absolute WORLD of them now (really, I have the coolest family ever), I hold out hope for my two sprogs. Maybe someday they'll see that they have things in common. Maybe.

Anyway, going out for the birthday meal (we don't do presents, as, well, they're spoiled already. Don't really need anything!) we got to reminiscing about old times.

The original birthday restaurant was Chili's - called Chucks because the only time we used to see Chuck was when we'd meet up with him for dinner. As he's moved to the left side of the country, we don't even see him there anymore :(  Think of him often, though.

Is this getting old? Remembering more and doing less? Except we're not doing less... we're just remembering as we're doing. So I guess that's the middle.

And now, I have to grade before going to a meeting. It's Thursday, I'm listening to Christmas music in school, and it's a Beautiful Day In Pennsylvania! So... on this Throwback Thursday, enjoy, enjoy!



(*)>





November 24, 2016

poor little me

So, Birdman has been quite the handyman of late. He googles and youtubes and channels Bob The Builder (can he fix it? yes he can! mostly!) whenever we have something break in the dusty aviary. So, two weeks ago, the stuff, it started breaking again. He Was On It!

Broken whack job hinge that is out of warranty? Fixed! (after much swearing). Weird lights coming on in the cars? Fixed! Medicine cabinet door snaps off? Fixed!

Except, this presents a new problem for me...

See, he had to replace the medicine cabinet. And he did a fantastic job. But. The medicine cabinet is child proofed. It's waaaaay up high in the bathroom. The handle is, I crap you not, over my head.

I am the only one who in this house who has to tippytoe to open the damn thing. Sometimes, I hate living with giants. Moth has taken to calling me the imp or Tyrrrion or midget... definitely Harvey genes there. Stinky just looks down on me, gets his Larry glint in his eyes, and grins. I know what he's thinking. He knows I know what he's thinking. Point to giant.

~~~~~

Another thing John has gotten into as of late is Words With Friends - or rather frienemies. I have heard much of the might and wrath of Thundarian and his ilk. Today, Moth challenged Dad to a game of scrabble. There was much going back and forth, but with the strategically placed "hats," Moth pulled into the lead. And Dad had to go take a shower. So, Tim officially won the match. Poor Dad.

And now, we're off to the original Birdland to be birdibles (like cannibals only eating a great, big bird) and hang with the Harvey crew. (or crΓΌe, if you're from the 80's, as we are. )

Happy Thanksgiving!



November 06, 2016

Doo Dah Doo Dah

So, I was over on the Book, the FaceBook today. One of my high school fellow alumni posted from Stevensville.

Stevensville.

Now, some years ago, I got quite interested in genealogy. Of course, my interest was sparked after most (if not all) of my aunts, uncles, and grandparents had passed on, but I got bitten nonetheless. I do wish, all of the time, that I had listened to the oldsters' stories when I was a younger brat. Alas. Regrets.

Anyhow, one of the things I learned in research (knew from the stories, if I thought about it) was that my grandmother was a Stevens from Stevensville. Never quite knew if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Stevensville was named for Peter or Aden stevens... can't remember which one... who came down round about revolutionary war time to settle the area. See, NorthEastPA (how natives refer to it?) wasn't settled by whites until the early 1800's - it was still Indian territory and quite a number of settlers found that out the hard way.

Anyway, I have always wanted to take the time to track down Stevensville to see where it is. So he told me where when I asked, and I googled it. Sure enough, there it is, too small for the map, next to Camptown.

Now that's a story I remember: either Grandma or Aunt Florence telling me about Camptown - the big town next to Stevensville, and of Camptown Races fame.

30-35 years later, I'm like, yeah right. There have to be a dozen Camptowns in the US. What are the chances the fly speck on the map of PA is the one Steven Foster wrote his song about.

Guess what? I should trust Aunt Florence's stories more. It really was.

And I should have known. She's been proven disturbingly correct before. I remember back in high school, I was sitting at their kitchen table doing my homework. Aunt Florence came out to talk to me.

"Whacha doing there?" (this is my memory of her voice, though I could be making it up)

"French."

"French? Why would you study that? They don't even have running water over there."

(at this, I stopped copying my 4th copy of conversation blah blah... Philippe nage a la picine. Phillipe plonge! and looked up, quizically) "What do you mean?"

"When Jerry was there, they didn't have running water."

Now, Jerry was Aunt Florence's second husband. (As opposed to Dick Bohner, her first, much lamented, infelicitously named and short-lived husband. I shall leave it to you, dear reader, to decide if the lamentations were due to the name or the importune passing.) Jerry was much older than Aunt Florence. He had, in fact, served in the war. The Great War. World War I. In France.

So, yeah, in 1917, the war-torn area that he... visited didn't have running water. I'm sure I did the teenaged eye-roll. "I don't think many people had running water in 1917. They probably have it by now."

"Them French are dirty. Don't know why you'd study French. Heh heh." My memories of Aunt Florence are of her often laughing at strange moments. Again, I may be imagining this in retrospect, but I don't think so.

I just shook my head and studied my French. Mademoiselle Marshall was quite the taskmaster, after all.

Fast forward 20 years. Mr. Birdwoman and I went on our Big Trip Before Kids. We spent a fortnight in Britain. One of our last days there, we decided to take the new fancy-schmancy chunnel tunnel train over to Paris. One day in Paris to end out or adventures would, as Ma Bennet might say, set us up just right. 

So we got over there, and Mr. Birdwoman had to pee. And he could find nowhere to pee. Nowhere. Found a urinal at a museum, finally, but it was a few hours.

Eventually, we decided to buy a meal before heading back to London.

In the restaurant, I asked the waiter where the WC was. He smiled, gave me directions and a coin. I looked at the coin and then at him. "You need to pay to go." So I did, and I did. To open the door, you had to pay. It was a tiny litle toilet, hardly worth the fee, but I really had to go.

A minute later, John asks where the men's room is, and if he can borrow a coin. The waiter smiled and said, "Men don't pay."

Oh, I was too astonished to be angry. But as I waited for John to come back, it really started to bug me.

And then, he came back. And he was pale and looked quite disturbed.

I asked what was wrong, and he said, "later..."

So, when we were safely ensconced back in the train, heading back to England, I asked what the problem was.

"Well, men didn't have to pay for a reason. There was no urinal, no toilet, and no sink. Just a trough running down the wall. The #2's sat there waiting to be washed down by #1's. Worst thing was, while I was leaving, the cook went in. I can't believe they didn't have running water!"

Oh, my. Aunt Florence was right. Dirty birdies, real rap.

(*)<



(Of course, I'm sure this is not most of Paris. And I'm sure my brain has exaggerated this story in the last 15 years. Whatever. It's a blog and hyperbole is allowed.)

(*)>



November 03, 2016

Living in Union Town

So, we're in the middle of a transit strike here in Philly. Bad for birdwoman: I take the public transport. Sigh. This week, I've been forced to upgrade to the big trains. Moth would be in heaven. I must admit, I get a bit of a thrill taking the big trains; especially on foggy, dark mornings. It's like something out of a Bogart movie - not that I've ever seen one. However, on top of my already kinda expensive monthly transit pass, I have to pay an extra $7 a day for the privilege of going to work. In the end, it's fine, though, because I really love walking through the city, especially in the morning.

Our kids at school have it much, much worse. I'm not in a neighborhood school, I teach at what's called a magnet school. Most of our kids come in from FAR away, so attendance is in the cellar.

The first day, I had 2 kids in one class; my max class was 11. Generally, all of my classes (except last period) have 30. We have, generally, a 95%+ attendance rate for all of the students. In the city, that's pretty amazing. So, this week has been really quite strange.

The second day of the strike, my bad class almost all came. Yes, I have a bad class. I teach 9th grade this year, and some of these freshmen are so immature... like they get up and dance in the middle of class. NOTHING about my classes is exciting enough to inspire dance. I have one student who, whenever he has a question, gets up from his seat, walks over to where I am, and no matter what I'm doing, shoves his paper in my face and asks his question. I could be talking to another student. I could be lecturing. It matters not to chappie.

So, I'm like, great. My good class is empty and my headache class is full. I was at the door when I heard one boy (the dancer) talking to a girl. (no-filter girl - always says EXACTLY what she's thinking, all the time, REALLY loudly. It's like my class has a soundtrack of her thoughts.)  "Yeah, Mom made so-and-so take me to school. She had to pay and everything. But she said she couldn't stand me being home anymore."

A. Whole. Class. Full. Of. Them.

Not really - just 6 of them; 4 really obnoxious. The rest are just our regular students - awesome kids who are trying to make the best of their lives. I really love my school.

One of the interesting things about teaching in the city is trying to get the names right. At my old school, I did have a student named Shithead (that's shi-th-eed). Imagine trying to pronounce that the first time! This school has an interesting mix of city names - which are really neat and creative, cultural names (as we have lots of first gens here), and traditional names. They seem to follow patterns. Last year was the year of Destiny (3 in one grade), this year is Jaylyn/Jaylah/Jaila/Jayla. I once had 4 Jasmines in one class, all spelled differently: Jazzmyne, Jasmine, Jazmen, Jasmyn. But it's the rarity that I have more than one traditional name.

In one class this year, I have Erin and Aaron. They don't like it when I say their names and they don't know which one I'm calling on. Usually, I'll say Mr. so and so or Mademoiselle so and so. But as his last name makes the immature 9th graders giggle (eyeroll) and her name is two huge hyphenated names, this is a pain. So one day, I called on him by calling him A-a-ron. And we all laughed. Did you? If not, watch this video, stat.


 (yes, there are teachers like this in the city. they are a bit scary.)

~~~~~


Part of the coolness of not having blogged in two years is that I have stories... if I can remember them. One story is one you should thank me for.

Really.

Back when I was still posting, we had had a huge winter storm that had knocked out our power for three or so days. It was quite awful. The next year, Sandy hit, and we went another three? four? days without power. We had some tricks from the last time on keeping the ambient temp in the house not frozen. We had to bail our sump pump in the dark - egads that was awful.

So, being the lazy sods we are, we invested in a whole house generator. It's housed behind our abode and it supposedly will come on in any power interruption of longer than a minute.

We've not even had a bad snow storm since we got it, almost two years ago now. :) You're welcome.

And the bell rang. There are a total of 10 kids in the hallway. :(  Have a nice day!