Jan 19

The Great Crabbing Adventure of ‘11

On Sunday Jack arrived back home after a shopping expedition with four crab nets and various other fishing odds and ends in hand. “I want to take Anna crabbing!” he announced. “We should all go crabbing!”

All right, I thought. I hadn’t been crabbing in decades, but I remembered it as being a very laid-back activity wherein one baited the nets with chicken parts and then threw them into the water and then waited while entertaining oneself with other activities such as fishing or looking at the water or general enjoyment of the outdoors. Anna had been dying to go fishing for quite some time, especially since winning a very nice fishing pole when she took third place in a little mini-fishing tournament during the grand opening of the local Academy Sports and Outdoors store. (It was was one those contests where they have a big vat of fish and the kids try and catch them, and the kids can win a prize according to how big a fish they can catch. Anna caught the third biggest fish, and thus won a cute little fish trophy, as well as an Ugly Stik fishing pole. She could not have been prouder if she’d won a Nobel Prize.)

Anna had gymnastics on Monday, and so it was decided that we would go late in the afternoon on Tuesday, after Anna got out of school and Jack got off work. Various plans were put into place, and at about 4:30pm we gathered everything up and loaded the car and prepared to head off to the pier at the very end of Main Street in Madisonville (which, by the way, you have to go through several miles of swamp on a narrow and rutted one lane road to get to.)

As we were piling into the car I noticed dark clouds on the horizon and I pointed out that it looked like it might rain.

“My daddy always said that rain was the best time to go crabbing!” Jack replied. Meanwhile I wondered if his daddy had an almost-seven-year-old in tow, but I declined to make further comment.

We made it to the end of Main Street and found the pier quiet and deserted. The wind was beginning to pick up a bit and the water was getting somewhat rough, and we agreed that fishing might have to wait until another time. I noticed that the grey skies seemed to be quite darker and closer, and so we untangled the nets and baited them as quickly as we could, and then Jack and Anna went and put them in the water at various spots along the pier.

While we were doing all of this, a Chevy Bronco-type vehicle came slowly into the pier area and parked near the boat landing, but no one got out. I eyed the truck as I finished tying raw chicken wings onto the nets and wished I’d thought to bring my gun, since we were in the middle of goddamn nowhere. But then the truck backed up and turned around and I saw that there was a Coast Guard emblem on the side.

“Probably wondering what kind of idiots we are to be out right now,”Jack remarked as they drove off and as the first heavy drops of rain started to hit us. The three of us scrambled back into my car (which, by the way, I bought last October, so it is still fairly new and lovely) and settled in to wait for the crabs to find the bait and for the rain to pass. The rain wasn’t too heavy, but I still noticed that the clouds were a LOT darker and closer and uglier.

About this time another car came driving through the parking lot. It proceeded to the far end near the lighthouse, and then slowly made its way back and then parked near us. No one got out, and the windows were tinted. No Coast Guard symbol on this one. After a few minutes—after I again regretted not bringing my gun–I said, “I’m going to check the nets before it gets too ugly,” since it had been about ten minutes since the first one had been put out and I wanted to get a better look at who was in the car next to us. The rain was starting to come down a bit harder now, and I flipped up the hood of my sweatshirt and went out onto the pier. As I did about six teenage boys piled out of the other car and made their way onto the pier. I gave them my best hard glare and they retreated to the other side and pretended to ignore me. I had no idea what they were up to, but they didn’t seem to be at all interested in bothering me and so I ceased to worry about them.

I pulled the first net up and saw that a cute little crab about three inches across—including legs—was in the trap. I pulled it out and held it up for Jack, who had followed me out when he saw the boys get out of their car. “Here, show this to Anna!” I said, giving him the crab. He returned to the car as I checked the rest of the nets, then I too got back into the car—quickly since the rain was getting harder.

“I dropped the crab,” he said as soon as I closed the door.

“Well, where is it??” I replied.

He gestured to the tiny space between the seat and the console. “Somewhere down there.”

Meanwhile our poor daughter, who had by this time lost all desire to fish or crab or anything, had her feet pulled up onto her seat and was NOT HAPPY at the thought of a crab roaming around willy-nilly in the car. Neither was I, but for different reasons. We made an effort to locate the crab, but we didn’t have a flashlight and it was difficult to see anything, and the rain was getting hard enough that I didn’t really want to open the door and do the maneuvering that would be required to look under the seats.

At this time I finally had a flicker of intelligence and decided to check the radar on my phone to see how much rain we were in for.

This is a close approximation of what the radar showed:

Scary radar with ugly storm

“Um, Jack, maybe we should pull the nets and try this another day.”

The rain was really starting to come down hard now and he looked at me doubtfully. “We could just leave the nets here.”

“No, that would be littering!” I responded with a remarkable lack of common sense. “And I don’t want to throw away perfectly good nets!”

Anna made a brief plea to come with me, and I shot that down fast—eyeing the dark clouds which were now ON TOP of us. I dashed out of the car and made my way down the pier—quite grateful for the railings since the storm had progressed to where gusts of wind were making it difficult to walk and maintain balance and I REALLY didn’t want to get blown into the water. Really.

By the time I had the first two untied I was soaked through, and my face was stinging from what felt like hail. The wind had risen to the point where I had to be super cautious about my footing and where I was forced to hold tightly to the rail, but I finally managed to make it back to the car with two nets.

“I can’t get the knot undone on that last one!” Jack shouted over the wind and hail as he handed me a net and we shoved the three we’d retrieved into the back of my car. I gave him my pocket knife so that he could cut through the rope, and finally we had the last net and we both made it back into the car—freezing, soaking wet, and laughing our asses off.

Anna was NOT amused by the whole thing, and I mentally added a few thousand dollars to the fund for the therapy she was surely going to require someday. I told her that she needed to look at the fun side of this, because now she could tell everyone she knew how idiotic her parents were. She continued to be unamused, and demanded that we return home NOW. We obliged—quickly, since we wanted to be sure we made it back through the swamp before the roads were covered by water.

We made it back safely home and Anna dashed inside the nice, safe, warm, dry house. Jack and I pulled the crab nets out of the car since they still had raw chicken legs tied to them, left them in the driveway and then ran inside where we proceeded to shed our thoroughly sodden clothing and continued to giggle about what morons we were. Later, after we were warmed up and the scary rain had passed we went back out to the car in an attempt to locate our runaway crab, but had no luck. We finally decided we’d pull everything out of the car in the morning and find the damn crab.

Unfortunately, even armed with flashlights and after emptying the car of everything that could be removed, we could find no sign of the crab. However, I did find a spot under the seat where a number of wires go under the carpet, and I have a sinking feeling that the crab made its way into a nice dark under-the-carpet hole. And, surely, proceeded to die, since crabs don’t exactly thrive in the air.

So, in a few days, I’m sure I’ll be able to find the crab. Or at least the general area where it decided to make a home.

And the next time Jack wants to go crabbing, I’m going to check the radar first. And we’ll be taking HIS car.

Nov 5

The magic room

At one point during all of the election hoopla I had the tv turned to MSNBC. The Kid was sitting beside me on the couch, and I was watching a segment where some female commentator stood in the middle of a set, and while she spoke she would gesture and a chart or series of graphs would rise from the floor to demonstrate her point. I knew, of course, that the appearance of the charts was just a cgi trick, and that the woman was gesturing to empty air. But The Kid was amazed, and asked where the Magic Room was. It actually took me several seconds to figure out what she was asking about, then she pointed to the tv when, once again, the woman gestured and the graphs magically appeared to rise from the floor.

To her, this was magic. And I realized that she was right. Just because I know how it works, and have become inured to how cool it is, doesn’t make it any less magic. So instead of telling her that it wasn’t magic, I tried to explain to her that the magic was performed by several people, with computers and impressive equipment. She seemed to accept that, but for the rest of the night I paid attention to the various cgi touches that we’ve all become so used to, that really are pretty impressive magics.

Apr 28

I seldom have the time to post daily entries lately, so instead my loyal readers (both of you) will get to read a long rambling post consisting of all of the various topics that I’ve meant to blog about over the past week or so. I know. You’re excited. Try to contain your glee.


The spawn of my loins turned 4 this past Saturday. In traditional ritual celebration of the event, I chose to torture myself by inviting several spawn of other people’s loins to our house in order to enjoy a house full of over-sugared and over-stimulated spawn. Fortunately, said self-torture lasted only a couple of hours. My spawn enjoyed herself tremendously, all of the various spawn enjoyed the enormous blow-up jumpy thing we’d rented, and the parents of the spawn were all pleased that the event did not last overly long.

(Jack and I have now attended enough children’s parties that we’ve learned that one of the tricks to surviving that sort of thing is to NOT wait until the kids are tired/overstimulated/oversugared to do the cake/presents stuff. We started at 2, did cake/presents at 3, and by 4 the parents were gratefully bundling their bundles of joy off to their homes.)

In other equally exciting news, I’ve been having a great deal of trouble keeping up with my running lately thanks to an extremely persistent case of plantar fasciitis in my left foot. I’ve been through all the “home remedy” options (i.e. stretching, icing, anti-inflammatories, insoles,) and thought I had it conquered—especially when I had my forced 3-week layoff from running thanks to my gallbladder issue. But it came right back with a vengeance the first time I ran again. So, in the spirit of taking it to the next level, I bought higher-quality orthotic insoles, and I’m laying off the running again until I can go across the lake to the specialty running-shoe store where I can get professionally fitted for shoes. (Yes, seeing a doctor will be the next step, but I want to see someone who actually specializes in sports medicine so I won’t get the, “Stop running, wear insoles, ice your feet,” line. Yeah, been there. Now do something for me I can’t do for myself.)

And I’ve discovered something odd about myself. I actually like running. Oh, I know, what I call running would be heartily sneered at by purists. I mean, my pace is slightly over 11 minutes/mile fer cryin’ out loud and my weekly distance almost never tops twenty miles. But I try and go out at least three times a week, I don’t stop to walk, and I keep moving for 4-5 miles (and if my feet would ever frickin’ heal up I’d like to increase that distance considerably.) But on days when I run first thing in the morning, I feel good and really charged up for the rest of the day. It also gives me about 45 minutes of brain-clearing time which has proven to be valuable when I’m stuck with something in my writing. And, I’ve started to notice that those times when I lay off of the running either due to laziness or injury, my mood suffers a noticeable downturn (and the size of my ass suffers a significant upturn!)

So, as a stopgap measure, I bought a bicycle yesterday. It’s nothing fancy—just a mid-range bike for riding around the neighborhood. I bought two headlights (since I do my exercise long before sunrise) and a semi-fancy odometer/speedometer thingy, and this morning I strapped on my helmet and biked a measly 4 miles. And I learned a few things:

1) I haven’t done any serious (or even semi-serious) bike riding for about twenty years or so, and even though it comes back to you pretty quickly, I still nearly wiped out when I attempted to signal a turn with my left hand. Never let it be said that I am coordinated.

2) When it’s really dark, I can’t see the semi-fancy odometer/speedometer thingy which renders it pretty useless.

3) I’m probably going to need to do about triple the distance of my runs to get the same effect as far as caloric burn goes.

4) I really really need to learn how to shift.

Mar 26

Things you really don’t want to hear from your kid: #351

“Mommy, can you help me finish cutting my hair?”

Fortunately, she asked for this help after cutting just one chunk off, otherwise she’d have ended up with a chin-length bob. Yeesh. I briefly debated attempting to even it out and fix it myself, but then decided I would probably only make it worse. So, she’s going to school today with uneven hair and I’ll take her to her “usual” hairdresser this afternoon. (So much for this afternoon’s writing time! Good thing my daughter is cute.)

Needless to say, we had a long conversation about how you never ever cut your own hair.


Feb 27

A reason to listen to your wife

Anna was running a fever when I picked her up from daycare on Monday, and then started throwing up on the way home. Fun. I got her fever down via Motrin and cool washcloths, and then stuck her in bed between me and Jack for the night. Yes, I knew that there was a risk that our bed would get vomitified, but there’ve been several baby deaths in the parish recently, and a common link between them all has been some sort of flu-like symptoms and/or dehydration (which can then lead to a fatal arrythmia.) Therefore, I’d rather be insanely overcautious when it comes to fever/dehydration.

So, at about 1am Tuesday morning I woke up to Anna whimpering. She felt really hot, so I tried to give her some Tylenol, which she wasn’t too keen on. Jack was awake by this point and pulled Anna close to hug her, which is when I heard her make an odd-but-familiar coughing sound.

“Jack, she’s about to throw up,” I said as I scrambled to turn on the light, jump out of bed and race to the bathroom for a towel, foolishly assuming that since he was holding her he would perform some manner of self-and-bed-preserving action as well.

He did not. When I returned mere seconds later with the towel, Anna was deep in the throes of throwing up and Jack had his eyes squeezed shut. And had vomit all over his face.

Okay, I might have laughed a bit. A little bit. He really should listen to me.

Thus the next hour or so was spent cleaning my darlings up and stripping the bed–since she’d managed to hose the bed down pretty well too–and then getting her calmed down and medicated and somewhat gatoraded. We ended up relocating to the living room and slept* on the couch and recliner, taking turns with Anna-cuddling. So, even though we did end up with a vomitified bed, I’m glad I had her there with me. (Fortunately I was able to get the bed stripped in about six seconds flat so nothing soaked through to the mattress.)

* “Slept” is a pretty strong word for what we managed. “Fitfully dozed” is probably a closer fit.

Anyway, this meant that she stayed home yesterday, and I with her. Fortunately there was no more vomiting, and even more fortunately, she was not running a fever this morning, which meant that I packed her little butt off to daycare (after giving her Motrin, just to be on the safe side!) I didn’t get a lick of writing done yesterday (I have NO idea how anyone could possibly write with a kid in the house,) however I was able to spend laundering the vomit-soaked bedding, which really is a whole new level of fun.

Dec 28

Six years ago

Yeah, I’m pretty much having the worst Holidailies ever. I’ve missed three days this month. Jeeez!

Well, six years ago today I was on my first date with the man who is now my husband. In celebration of that momentous occasion I took the day off from work, and Jack and I went into New Orleans for a lovely lunch at The Rib Room in the French Quarter. After that we came back to the northshore and basically hung out the rest of the day until it was time to go pick up The Kid. Doesn’t sound too exciting, I guess, but it was really nice to just spend time together like that.

The funny thing is that this is the anniversary that we make a big point of celebrating every year. We rarely, if ever, celebrate our wedding anniversary–usually because we both forget about it. But December 28th gets special attention every year. Personally, I think that makes far more sense, since the wedding itself was not the start of our life together. Our first date was Dec 28th, 2001, we moved in together just a couple of months later, and then got married in our living room in July. When you know it’s right there just doesn’t seem to be any point in waiting around.

If someone had come up to me on December 27th, 2001 and told me that in just a few years I would be married with a kid I would have laughed in their face. So far I’m pretty pleased with how things have turned out.

Dec 19

Closer to being ready

I raced to Target after work and managed to get about 95% of the various shopping for kids out of the way. With five grandkids between six months and six years, plus the Kid of my own, by the time I made it to the checkout line my cart was crammed to bursting with toys, games, stuffed animals, puzzles… Gah! I then felt obliged to explain to the checker that I was shopping for six kids. I didn’t want her to think I was going this overboard for just one or two kids. I may have to pick up one more toy each for the two oldest grands, but at this point I at least feel like I’ve made significant progress. Whew!

The trick then was figuring a way to pile all of the bags of toys in the back of my little Honda Fit so that Anna wouldn’t see them–since my next stop was to pick her up from daycare. Thankfully one consistent thing about my vehicle is that it’s always full of junk, so with strategic positioning of the usual crap and a leather coat, I successfully shielded the tell-tale red and white bags from her prying little eyes. But then it was back to Target to get a tree. Yes, it is less than a week until Christmas, and we have yet to get a tree. And at this late hour there’s no way I’m going to shell out the bucks for a real tree, so we got a quite modest little artificial thing and a couple of containers of cheap ball ornaments.

Anna did the majority of the decorating herself, and even managed to understand the concept of even distribution of ornaments. Of course then she wanted to “make it pretty” by putting lots of present underneath it, and promptly pulled some of her socks out of the clean laundry pile and wrapped them up. However, the coolest thing was that she wanted to sing Christmas carols while we were decorating the tree. It was charming and sweet and something I will remember for the rest of my life.

Dec 17


I’m tired and my stomach is not feeling awesome about my dinner, and so you will have to be satisfied with this picture of Anna’s gingerbread cookies. She decorated them all by herself.

Pure artistry

Dec 10

Yet another reason to adore my husband.

Last night Jack and I watched the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol, which happens to be my very most favorite version. I like this one because it shows Scrooge changing as the movie goes along, recapturing the charm and joy of his youth, and feeling true shame in how his actions have affected others. It also shows him as being more terrified and shamed at how his death is received by those who knew him (either with celebration or indifference) than at the actual thought of his eventual death. He’s a normal, lonely man who has grown cold and defensive, who just needed to be drawn out of his shell.

It seems to me that the more modern versions love to paint Scrooge as an unmitigated asshole until the very last scene where he sees his tombstone and then voila, he is a changed man because he fears death. Come on, he changes because he sees that he’s going to die? What, he really thinks that he’ll never die? That has never rung true with me, and I find Scrooge to be a far more interesting and sympathetic character when he cares about what people think.

Anyway, near the end, in the scene where Bob Cratchit and his family are talking about the death of Tiny Tim, I–of course–got a tear or three in my eye, because I AM a huge weenie and cry at damn near anything sad or emotional in a movie. But then I looked over at my husband, who was sitting with his head leaned back and his arms up by his head in a manner that was probably meant to look “casual” but instead looked just a bit too much like “hiding my face.”

“You big weenie!” I accused. “You’re crying too!”

He lowered his arms and grinned sheepishly at me. “Well, of course. It’s Tiny Tim! Yes, I’m a weenie.”

And that is yet another reason why I put up with the man–because he cries at movies darn near as much as I do. :)

Dec 5

Job descriptions for the Big J

I picked Anna up from daycare and was driving home when I heard this from the backseat: “Mommy, what does Jesus do?”

I wasn’t exactly prepared for philosophical discussions with my three-and-a-half year old, so I said something to stall for time like, “Um.”

“And not the big Jesus,” she clarified. “The baby Jesus!”

I don’t like calling myself a christian. Religion in general gets my hackles up in more ways than I can count though I was raised Episcopalian and have, in fact, been sporadically attending Episcopal services during the past year or so with Anna. (I’ll go into more detail about why I’m taking her to church in a different post.) Also, the phrase, “It’s the Christian thing to do,” drives me absolutely bat-shit crazy, because of the blatant implication that christians have some sort of monopoly on good behavior. I consider myself to be far closer to an agnostic, though I still tend to be somewhat… spiritual I guess is the closest word. I find it hard to believe that there isn’t something more out there, though I also find it hard to believe that it’s some single entity keeping an eye on us.

But I had to answer her question, and so I decided to go with what I think the “core concept” of Jesus is.

“Baby Jesus loves everyone, Anna. That’s what he does. He goes all over and shows people how to love.”

“Oh. Everyone?”

“Yep. Everyone. The whole darn world.”

“What does the big Jesus do?”

“Er, the grown-up Jesus does the same thing. He helps people remember how to love everyone else and tries to get them to not fight.”

“Oh.” Silence. “Mommy?”

“Yes, Anna?” I said, my shoulders hunching in anticipation of more questions for which I was completely unprepared about the nature of divinity.

“What do giraffes eat?”

Oh, thank you, Jesus! I thought in relief. “Leaves, sweetie. And pink cookies.”

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