Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's not Hoof and Mouth

Oh, the benefits of being a public school teacher.
I think I may have been lucky my first year, not contracting weirdo illnesses everyone else gets as a child. I somehow managed to amass a large amount of sick leave; so much sick leave that I had planned to call in “sick” some day before Christmas Break, so I could go shopping guilt and child free. I even had the date picked, next Friday. Then… I caught a virus.

At first I thought I had developed a new allergy to pineapple because, when I ate a single spoonful on Sunday night, I may as well have stuck a spoonful of lye in my mouth. The burn... ouchhhh.  On Monday, my mouth was very itchy, lending support to the pineapple allergy theory. Tuesday, I woke with a blister and a general feeling that my mouth was covered in an itchy film. I thought, perhaps I had thrush because what else on Earth could it be? I made an appointment.

The Dr took one look at my mouth and told me what I had contracted. She could have said “Oh, you have the hand, foot and mouth virus” because, although that news is bad, she told me I had “herpangina.” I had no idea what herpangina was, but it sounded like two words that should not be married “herpes” and “vagina.” I left the office not knowing that herpangina was the fancy (and horrible) word for what is commonly called hand, foot and mouth disease, and it has nothing to do with herpes or vaginas. I went back to work, not realizing that I was extremely contagious. Though, I’m sure it didn't matter if I went to school contagious because, apparently, it was rampant in the area and probably already flourishing within the school.

Once home from school, I WedMDed herpangina and discovered its common name. I learned that, though I was extremely contagious, I was only really a danger to pregnant women. Apparently, I could be infectious for weeks after the symptoms disappear. Good grief. I really could not stay out of work for too long, so I just had to quarantine myself from pregnant friends until after Christmas break. 

Now, when I begin to feel this isolation is too difficult I remind myself of “Year of Wonders,” by Geraldine Brooks, a historical fiction based on the true story of the sacrifice of one community during an outbreak of the bubonic plague. I feel this is an appropriate comparison; disagree with me, and I will lick you.

This morning, my husband read an info packet on herpangina and noticed that the virus which causes this illness (having nothing to do with herpes or vaginas) is  called coxsachie. Seriously.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

No, No Nonsense Ghosts

I have sadly come to the conclusion after six years that our house is not haunted. There isn’t even a hint of unexplained activity here. Even my Ghost Reader EVP droid app doesn’t register any sensible ghostly activity.  It says crap like “patterns, whale, and mile.” Those words, in any order, make no sense to me, and I have always been good at piecing together abstract items so they are clear to me if nobody else.* This creative piecing together of weird words and symbols is how I survived all of my math classes in high school and “Math For you and Your Hamster” in college.

Pic taken in front of non-haunted house 2010.
Now, when we lived in Richmond, our house was brand new and was not haunted because we built it. As far as we knew, the house itself could not have had a dark history, but we suspected the land may have been cursed with some kind of residual something or other. We lived fairly close to the Pocahontas State Park at the time, and every once in a while, a strong odor of tobacco would fill the upstairs. I don't mean the smell of a burning cigarette but rather a fragrant scent of tobacco leaves drying in a smokehouse.  It was a bizarre phenomenon but not unpleasant. We asked our friend and HVAC guy, Don, if he had any ideas what the smell could be, after he did some work for us. He had never heard of any case like ours before.  OOooooOOOoOooOOoo
Pic taken in the front yard of famous TV/haunted land house Halloween 2005.

The house also had a way of attracting attention to itself. It was on TV twice! I have never been on TV, but my house was in a commercial for our neighborhood. If I remember correctly, there was a stand-in family, in front of the house, smiling as if it belonged to them. It makes me laugh now, but I was offended at the time. Our house was also on the Richmond news after our neighbors' home unfortunately burned to the ground.

Before we lived in the local celebrity TV house, we lived in a run-down shack of a place also in Richmond. The house was sketchy for many reasons, among them the mummified mice in the basement and mushrooms growing in the bathroom. Husband insists there was a ghost cat at this house which would occasionally jump onto the bed at night.
No pics of this house for obvious reasons.
So this house is free and clear of ghosts. Though I am thankful to not have any worries of spooks and demonic spirits, I do kind of wish we had a ghost cat or two.

* I was having a difficult time remembering some of the words the Ghost Radar said the past, so I turned it on to get some examples of random nonsensical words to put in this blog entry. The radar said the following words… “find, take, all,” which does kind of make sense and is a bit creepy, but then it said “dog.”

Monday, October 24, 2011

No Such Thing As "Mostly Dead"

The ghost squirrels didn’t get me. I’m writing this because you seemed nervous.
Anyone get The Princess Bride reference?

No, there are no ghost squirrels; however, real squirrels have wreaked havoc on our pumpkins this year. The pumpkins were not sitting on the porch for 30 minutes before something chowed down on the jack-o-lantern’s tooth. If it wasn’t a squirrel, it was definitely the tailless chipmunk which has moved into a formally snake infested crevasse under our front porch.

October is my favorite month. I love everything about it sans mention of zombies. Give me crispy leaves, smelly pumpkin guts, muddy apple orchards, and crisp drizzly air. Just leave out the zombies.

Clarification on zombies: Half skeletal zombies with black ooze don’t scare me. If one was actually approaching me, I would likely pee my pants, but as fictional creatures I am immune to their gory gazes, jerking body movements, and wispy white hair. The zombies that scare me are the “mostly deads,” or “recently deads;” the creatures that were formally your aunt, uncle, bff, or parent just a couple of hours ago but have now suddenly gone rigid and have developed a taste for brains. THEY FREAK ME OUT! If you’ve been mostly dead all day, stay that way…. weirdo.

The pumpkin is starting to get that “mostly dead”  look about  it and is giving me the creeps. You should see it on my porch at night. :<

Here is a video from my past of a squirrel devouring one of our pumpkins. Look at that fatty fat go to work! He is the honey badger of the rodent kingdom. He just doesn't give a poop and gets right in that pumpkin. Sorry for the sideways vid and the poor quality. This video was taken in the early days when I did not know any better. I would have buried it away in my "I had nothing to do with these" files but it seemed appropriate to place here.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lotsa Little Legs in my Apple

The fam and I went apple picking in a nearby orchard last week. Whenever I go to these local orchards, I feel like I've ripped off the owners. Not only do we get boat loads of apples for practically nothing, not to mention the nine apples that were eaten while the three of us picked, we also get an eensy bit of protein tossed in for free.

Here's hoping Poopsie #1 checked this one for squiggles before using her mouth as an extra hand.

Apparently, the land my house currently sits upon was once a very large orchard. I do wish they had not removed every single apple tree. Perhaps they (the construction and land development people) thought I would rather have a brambly brushy hillside perfect for blueberry bushes.  Poopsie #2 seems to think that having your own apple tree is the key to ending poverty.

I do wish for a single tree, but I think the deer would ruin all chances of our actually consuming an apple we have picked. I guess we'll continue to visit the orchard once a year and get gazillions of apples for nearly nothing.

Pie was thoroughly inspected for unwelcome leggy protein...

photos by Ctmom
*for the extra observant... we did use cat litter containers as apple picking baskets 'cause I'm low maintenance like that....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bad Mom Move #2455

Husband is obsessed with the hottest of the hot. Husband's coworker brings him Thai chilies. I proceed to find uses for said chilies every night for about a week while keeping the children's portions of the same meal chili free. This method of food preparation takes finesse.

The Meal:
Stir-fry Szechuan beef over rice with pre-made store bought veggie egg rolls. I know.. one day I'll have time to learn to make my own eggrolls.. maybe.

The Whining:
Usually Holly does not like homemade Chinese inspired dishes. She mopes and pushes the food around the plate until she has successfully thinned the food out enough to make it appear as if she has eaten some. Strangely, she ate this meal without complaints until she took a bite of the egg roll.
Her: 'This is hot, so hot."
Me: "Blow on it."
Her: "No! It's spicy hot."
Me: "Oh Holly, it is not. Just eat it."
Her (extra whiny): "It really IS hot."
Me (getting annoyed: "You only have a half of an egg roll to eat. EAT it!"
Holly (drama queen): "But it's burning my mouth!"
Me (getting annoyed): "Stop whining and eat your food!"
She ate the egg roll as dramatically as she could manage, waving her hand at her tongue and chugging her milk. She also managed a couple of deep shivering breaths with body trembles, but she ate it.

The Foul:
When cleaning the kitchen later that night I realized that I used the same knife to cut the egg roll in half that I used to cut the chilies for the adult portions of the beef stir-fry. Doh!

Here is a picture of a pair of the chilies from that offending bunch.
photo by CTMom

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I haiku, can you?

Even my Poopsie #2, Holly, can write a lovely haiku.
On this voice thread, Holly recites her haiku which accompanies her painting of a conch shell. She is the second student featured.

Art and Poetry

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Blueberry Love and Loathing

Blueberries were everywhere this summer... everywhere. Sadly, I do not love them. Blueberries are among those foods with magical health maintaining properties and they are simply lovely. How many natural blue things does one get to eat anyway? Why can't I love them? I do wish that I did.
And so, I wrote haiku after haiku to deal with my conflicted feelings. I took some pictures too.

Pigment is vivid.
I see how pretty you are.
Taste should match the look.

I get it, you grow
wild and free in my backyard.
I will still snub you.

I keep you around
Because my kids think you're fab.
Look at that fun face.
Wish I could enjoy.
I watch them nom nom away.
I haz a jealous.

Guess you’re not all bad.
I enjoy you in smoothies
and namesake muffins.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sinkhole: Friend or Foe?

A few weeks ago, I posted on Fbook that one of my new greatest fears is of the sinkhole and its ability to randomly appear and dispel the idea that there is such a thing as “solid ground.” 

I never used to be afraid of sinkholes. As a teen, I used to work as a tour guide in a cave where a sinkhole was responsible for a set of skeletal remains found 100 or so years ago. The theory was that the body had been buried (as in purposely placed underground by someone who intended it to be UNDERGROUND) and the bones simply oozed down further into the soil with the rain water. I imagine this descent as a slow, completely non- violent action with absolutely no rushing water or sudden falling. Also, at that time, I was already underground most of the time. The idea of ending up someplace where I already was did not seem frightening. To me, the cave had a bottom… and that bottom was the bottom of everything.. ever… like that’s it… solid all the way to the core.

My fear was born after the images of the freaky holes in Guatemala popped up all over the interwebs.  Why do they appear all of a sudden? I wondered. Why are they so deep? And, why are they sooooo round? Really, so many of the sinkholes in Central and South America are bizarre in their circular uniformity. Now, I’m not one for conspiracy theories but HmmHmmmHmmm…. Circle shapes that appear randomly and without warning seem unnatural. So, naturally, I developed the unreasonable fear that the earth could just disappear below my feet and, provided I am not too big around to fit down the whole, I could be sucked down thousands of feet to the Earth’s core.  Here is a video that explains a theory on the horrifying formation of sinkholes.  This theory seems plausible but I can’t help but imagine that giant alien round worms just need to surface from time to time to make contact with their mother-ship.

Strangely, when the video narrator discusses the erosion of the bedrock, the bedrock itself resembles the Shroud of Turin, which may be irrelevant but I still think it’s suspicious and weird.  

Recent events have led me to rethink my position on sinkholes. Thanks to the tremendous amount of rain we have had in the area recently, a sinkhole appeared in the entrance to our school causing schools to close for the day. No one was sucked into the hole. Though there were rumors started about crocodiles, the sinkhole was not creepy or deep nor was it perfectly round. Thanks to the sinkhole, I got to sleep until 6:30 and visit my kids at school for lunch. I also got to have coffee with a friend and spend a day pretending to be a stay-at-home mom. The day was nice and relaxing. All the while, the sinkhole was being repaired and I had nothing to be afraid of.

Update: Turns out though, the sinkhole was not really a sinkhole to begin with. The “sinkhole” was a leaking culvert under the road. Because this sinkhole was not really a sinkhole, and it was not perfectly round, I do not suspect alien round worms. All I need is an explanation ya’ll.
Here is a link to more terrible sinkholes (mostly round in shape and located in Guatemala).

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Interpreting EVPs is a self-serving science...

Somehow, boredom found me sitting on the couch and browsing free Amazon apps for my phone. Ghost Radar caught my attention at once mostly because I tried to invent this app a couple of years ago but was unable to due to my total lack of app development knowledge and any real understanding of paranormal sciences.
Anyway, I decided it’s free and I have space so I then allowed myself have this tool. Immediately upon installing the app, the Ghost Radar evp thingy began speaking. It said… “suit.” Hmmmmm…  Then little dots appeared on the radar and the phone said “need” followed quickly by the word “dark.” I immediately interpreted this to mean that an entity knows I need a new dark swimsuit since I noticed this very morning that my current dark suit has been somewhat eaten by chlorine.
The ghost radar fell silent after this proclamation and it really hasn’t had much to say since that moment.  Later that night I showed the app to my husband who immediately said “Hey! Someone stole your idea!” Yes, (heavy sigh) yes they did. You see I often invent brilliant things but have no means for bringing them to the marketplace as tangible money making products.  We tried the app again and the phone said “Sir,” “Purpose,” and “Charles.”  State your purpose Sir Charles? Meh…..
Occasionally, I will remember that I have this app on my phone and will use it. If responses are clear and easy to interpret like the one which assured me that I must stop what I am doing and shop for a new bathing suit, I will pay close attention and keep you informed.

Monday, September 5, 2011

More Empty Promises?

What have I been doing the last year? Not procrastinating that's for sure!
I was actually hired to teach children things, managed to finish my thesis, graduated, ran a half marathon and joined the swim team. I also met billions, or perhaps merely dozens, of new friends and have not spent much time at all in front of the computer. It has been a wonderful and productive year.* These achievements have greatly reduced the speed of any novel writing but at least one of my side bar goals has been met. ***Less time in front of the computer doing mindless things.*** I have spent an overwhelming amount of time doing things on a computer which some might consider meaningful, so I feel no guilt.
Readerless blog be damned, I will visit and publish more! I promise.
Still working on the other goals listed. Strangely, the crazy exercise has only helped increase my appetite for delicious treats; however, I hope to lessen the glutinous intake as soon as the new school year starts on Monday.

Here is a pic of the weird:

This is a portrait of me! It is obviously a vanity shot taken with my Droid which has one of those reverse camera thingies. I have decided that photos taken straight on are less vain then the bathroom mirror shots. I post this picture now because I want you to note the mirrored unicorn wall hanging in the background. I spent the a weekend with it three weeks ago. It has been hanging on my bedroom wall in my parents home for about ummm 25 years. The unicorn witnessed the transition of pink marbled carpet to berber, waterbed to brass headboard, press board filigreed furniture to a honey oak mission dresser set. The unicorn mirror also has, trapped within some kind of multifaceted creepy refraction prism, all my teenage idealistic hopes and dreams. Most of them can stay right where they are... I have nothing more to say about the mirrored unicorn wall hanging except that I think it bizarre my mom has changed EVERYTHING about that room except that creepy old county fair prize unicorn wall hanging. I suspect something bad might happen to anyone who tries to remove it...Carnival curse? I also suspect my mother knows this.

*'cept for the food poisoning. That sucked.