Watermelon Roses

A collection of random thoughts, commentaries, and journaling. There is a lot to explore here, including links to other sites of mine. These are mostly for my own benefit, but guests are welcome to browse and explore as much or as little as they like.

Monday, August 28, 2006

You're welcome, DFW.

The DFW (Dallas/Ft. Worth for all you non-locals) area thanks us. We had to load and unload a U-haul this past weekend as we continue emptying the Grand Prairie house, and any time we move, the heavens open and the rain comes down. If we had only started moving months ago and continued to work on it every week or two, perhaps this drought could have been avoided. We're really very grateful for the rain and the cooler temperatures, though I do wish it could have been either a day sooner or a day later.

After a long 14 hour day of packing, cleaning, loading and unloading yesterday, I had a comparatively easy day today. My job today was to work on getting phone service and utilities transferred over. I had a very frustrating afternoon trying to deal with TXU, our electric provider only because they tricked me into switching without providing any of the benefits they promised. I cancelled my service with them and will be going back to Direct Energy. K learned from SBC, and now I have learned from TXU, that incentives offered by telemarketers and door-to-door "representatives" are not always honored, and we'll never switch services by either of those means again.

Tomorrow it's back to Grand Prairie to do some more packing, vacuuming, and baseboard cleaning before the painters come bright and early on Wednesday. Somehow I'm supposed to get the house we're living in packed up, too, since we're supposed to be moving this weekend into the third of our juggled houses. How I'm going to get everything done while playing mommy to three small children, I'm not yet sure. We'll just carry on and do what we can. I'll keep you posted!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Blessed Respite

As anyone who has the misfortune to live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area knows, we have been suffering quite the drought and heat wave this summer. We've had well over a month of very little rain and temperatures over 100 degrees (that's 38 degrees to all you celsius people out there.) I was so happy a couple of days ago when a welcome thunderstorm swept through town. When I went into the grocery store around 5:30pm, it was 102 degrees outside. When I came out, it was 84 degrees, windy, and just starting to sprinkle. By the time I got home around 7pm, it was 74 degrees outside. A drop of nearly 30 degrees in only an hour and a half! As I drove through the torrential rain, I could almost feel how happy my lawn must be, and I started fantasizing about the onset of autumn and the wetter, cooler weather that comes with it. I was so disappointed when I got home to find that the rain hadn't even touched my house, even though it came within a few miles of it, and the high temperatures were back the next day. Still, I was happy with the weather for a brief time, and it was a welcome diversion from the searing heat that we are becoming accustomed to here.

In other news, we are now juggling three houses and a myriad of housy chores as we continue to get the old house ready to sell, prepare to move out of the current rental, and prepare to sign a new lease and move into yet another rental. There are storage areas to rent, movers, painters, and landscapers to hire, packing and cleaning to be done, and of course, the impending move. Ideally, we will be finished with all of this by the end of September, but the realization of all that we need to accomplish within the next month can be very overwhelming if I dwell on it too long. Instead, I am compartmentalizing all housiness, setting timelines and relying on lists to allow me to spend only a small amount of time every day thinking about and doing what needs to be done. Note: I know "housy" and "housiness" aren't real words, so all you English Lit majors out there can relax. They're just my words because I like them!

Finding the newest rental has been quite a challenge. Every house we've looked at has fallen short of our expectations in one area or another. Too expensive, too small, no ceiling fans, no gas cooktop, dirty carpets and/or walls, no tile in bathrooms, too many stairs, etc. We applied for one house that was very nice, but a little small, and ended up backing out of it at the last minute on the advice of our agent. It turns out that the landlord was young, inexperienced, and in the opinion of our agent, not very bright. He wanted an extra deposit just because our last name was Indian, and wanted to come inspect our current house to see how we lived before letting us into his home. Our agent was afraid, and probably rightly so, that this guy would be inspecting our house and lawn three times a week looking for any excuse to keep our deposit. Last night I dreamed that I found the perfect house, and today we did! Well, nearly perfect, and nothing like the pale blue Victorian house in my dream. (I don't really want a pale blue Victorian house. I just loved it in my dream.) The house we finally fell in love with has only three minor faults: too many stairs (we prefer single-story homes,) no ceiling fans (easily remedied,) and a young, dead tree in the front yard (I'm trying to talk the landlord into removing or replacing it.) On the bright side, it does have a gas cooktop, a lovely kitchen, nice ironwork on the stair railings, a fenced balcony, a cupboard under the stairs, a big yard on a corner lot, lots of room for the children to play, a laundry room big enough for my oversized washer and dryer, and it's brand new, never lived in. These things make us so happy! I especially don't like moving in and having to deal with the previous tenants' dirt, and the new house smell is great!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

9 Lives

That would be me, not the cat. After nearly electrocuting myself this past weekend, I decided to compile a list of all the lives I've used up, just for the fun of it.

1973 - 3 years old
Yes, I really can remember this. My great grandmother gave me a razor to take downstairs to my grandmother. Halfway down the stairs, I decided to sit down and shave my leg like a big girl. Finding no joy in the process, I proceeded down the stairs and was surprised by the horror on my grandmother's face when she saw the blood pouring from my leg. I hadn't even realized I was cut. The worst part of the whole incident was the talk of stitches and the ripping off of bandages at bandage changing time. Since the stitches never happened, I still have the scar to show for it.

1977 - 7 years old
I was fanning a candle on top of my grandmother's television with a paper fan. The fan caught on fire, so I promptly dropped it on the carpeted floor. The carpet caught on fire, and after a brief hesitation (I was afraid of getting in trouble,) I called my Nana in, who beat the fire out with her slipper. The carpet bore that scorch mark for many more years before it was finally replaced.

1978 - 8 years old
During a third grade field trip to a community swimming pool, I decided to go down the waterslide with my friends despite the fact that I couldn't swim. My plan was to flip around and grab the wall as I came off the end of the slide. Had I paid more attention to the other sliders, I'd have realized that one flies off of the end of the slide much too fast and too far to have a chance to grab the wall. I remember the panic and disorientation as I tried unsuccessfully to find the wall and get my head above water. (I've thought about that feeling a lot since the girls were lost in the drowning accident.) I remember feeling strong arms finally lifting me out of the pool and getting me to the side, where I coughed up a lot of water. The lifeguard was still in her chair across the pool, looking at me with some concern, while my teacher was the one hovering over me. This was also the first time I heard the term "sunbathe," when my teacher invited me to sunbathe with her and I couldn't figure out what she meant.

1980, 1982 - 10 and 12 years old
Minor electric shocks, from a short in my mother's large metal fan in 1980 and from a short in my grandmother's patio lamp in 1982. Hardly worth mentioning, but they could have been worse, I suppose.

1984 - 14 years old
During my drama class's field trip to the Texas State Fair, I was standing in line with my friends outside the haunted house. It had been raining, so I was standing in a puddle, and I was holding on to the metal guide rails on either side of me as we stood in line. I was watching the faces of the people as they rode out of the haunted house in the little cars, when I suddenly felt a strong shock that jolted both arms. Letting go of the bars, I remember thinking that shocking people in line was going too far, haunted house or not, when I realized I was surrounded by people escorting me to a chair and asking if I was ok. Apparently there had been a bright flash right behind me at the time, and the lightning had somehow caused the shock. My theory is that it had to do with both the metal rails and the puddle I was standing in. Since both arms were involved, it could have traversed the heart.

1985 - 15 years old
I was approached for directions by two strange men in a car while walking to the dentist from my high school. Rather than tell me what street they were looking for, they insisted that I come look at the address written on a small piece of paper. Fortunately, I knew better than that, and when I insisted they just tell me the street, they made rude gestures and sped away.

1987 - 17 years old
For graduation, I got my first car. It was a used blue Chevrolet Citation which still looked new, and which we didn't discover (until after we bought it) was considered by Consumer Reports to be the X car that no one should ever buy due to all kinds of mechanical failures. Still, it was my first car, so I loved it. I was driving home from college, I think, and had just gotten into Cleburne when I had to cross a set of train tracks. I could see a train approaching from my right, but it was moving slow and was some distance away. Either there were no crossing gates or they hadn't come down yet. I floored the accelerator even as I thought about several of my classmates who had been killed the previous summer when their car stalled on the tracks, sure I had plenty of time to get out of the way of the slow-moving train. Unfortunately, flooring the accelerator caused my car to stall and it rolled to a stop right on the tracks. I had always wondered how cars managed to stall right on the tracks, of all places, and why people didn't just get out of their cars. Now I know. When it's your car, you can't help thinking that you have to hurry and get it off of the tracks. You can't just leave it there to be destroyed! I remember the rushing adrenaline as I tried several times to restart the car, the uncertainty of whether I should keep trying or get out, and the sense of relief when I finally got it off the tracks.

1988 - 18 years old
Trying to exit a parking lot with a blind intersection, I didn't know what to do other than gauge the traffic by the traffic lights I could see down the street. I decided to wait just a tad after the lights turned red, so that there would be no more oncoming traffic and the turning traffic would only just be starting. It didn't work, and the front of the car was hit. Had I pulled out much more before being hit, we'd have been broadsided on my side.

1989 - 19 years old
I worked the late shift at a Texaco station. The manager kept our first names and phone numbers tacked to a board that could be seen by anyone who made an effort to look. I received an obscene phone call at home one night from a man who knew my name, said he could see me in my living room and that if I didn't comply or if I called the police, he would kill my husband and baby. Terrified, I humored him for about 10 minutes, then closed the blinds and called the police when he hung up. They said they had received several similar complaints that night, which made me feel stupid for humoring him and a little less like a specific target, but I quit my job at Texaco, just in case.

1995 - 25 years old
I flew alone to England to meet K, whom I had only known online up to that point. I was sure I knew what I was doing (as young people usually are,) but hindsight and many bad outcomes for similar stories in the news have shown what a risk that was. I was lucky that K turned out to be such a good man, but I wouldn't want my daughter being so foolish!

2004 - 34 years old
Guillain-Barre Syndrome. 4 days in the ICU, 6 weeks in the hospital, 6 weeks of outpatient physical therapy, and still battling a few lingering muscle weaknesses on my right side.

A few months later, mostly recovered and pregnant with Maya, I was visiting my grandparents in Virginia. I woke early one morning and thought it would be nice to sit on the balcony and watch the sun rise over the mountains. Just as I was about to sit down, I noticed that an unusual spider with a spiky abdomen had built a web between the chair and a window. I debated whether or not to dislodge the spider, decided I didn't really need to sit outside anyway, came back in, closed the door, and sat on the couch. As I glanced outside, my blood ran cold when I saw that there was a large wasp's nest teeming with wasps attached to the underside of the very chair I had been planning to sit in. Had I sat down, my left calf would have touched the nest. To this day, I still get chills thinking about it. Thank God for scary-looking spiky-abdomen spiders!

I have a very bad habit of driving while sleep-deprived that started when I was in college in 1987. Since reading several articles like this one that compare sleep-deprivation driving to drunk driving, I've been trying not to do it anymore.

And finally, this past weekend, I noticed that the wire on the remote control of one of Layth's cars had gone behind the nightlight plugged into the wall. Thinking that this could be dangerous for the children, but not thinking that it was already touching the metal prongs of the nightlight, despite the fact that I had just gone out to reset a fuse that was inexplicably tripped, I tried to nudge the wire away from the socket with my bare foot. Sparks flew, the lights went out as the fuse tripped again, I yelped and fell (flew?) back against the opposite wall. The wire melted and broke apart, there are scorch marks on the partially melted faceplate and ex-nightlight, and there is a burn on my foot. I felt strange heart palpitations and shoulder pain for an hour or two afterward, but I felt too silly to see a doctor, in case it was all in my head.

I think I'm well beyond the 9-life limit now. I'm a lucky woman indeed.

Edit: In September of 2006, we moved into a new house with a gas fireplace unlike any I've used before. When we had someone over to fix the dishwasher, I asked him how to light the fireplace. He cut some notches in a pipe in the fireplace and told me to turn on the gas and light it with a long match or lighter. Ok ... about a week later when there were no children nearby I did just that. The sound of the rushing gas was very loud, and it seemed to be coming very fast, so I thought I'd better light it fast before it built up too much. Too late. I stuck my long lighter in there and clicked it, and my head was immediately enveloped in a fireball. I screamed, of course. I could hear the crackling of my hair all around my head and started swatting at my hair unsure of whether I was still on fire or not. I remember swatting, then standing there, heart racing, waiting to see if I felt any pain or if there was any sign that I was still on fire. I didn't feel anything but I still heard some crackling, so I swatted again for good measure, this time noticing the stench and flurry of singed and broken hair showering down around me. The fire was still raging in the fireplace, and I mean raging. I gathered my wits about me enough to turn off the gas, noted the smoke pouring out of the fireplace, and threw open some windows before going to the bathroom to tentatively peek at myself in the mirror. I looked like a crazy professor who had just had a lab accident. My hair was a singed and frizzy halo around my head. My eyebrows were singed, wild and curly. My eyelashes were singed and bits of them were breaking off every time I blinked. I had a little bit of a burning sensation on my scalp, my upper lip, and my right eyelid, but no visible burns.

I washed and conditioned my hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes repeatedly until the stench was gone and very little was breaking off. Surprisingly, there was very little noticable damage after my shower. The eyelashes of my right eye are less than half their original length, but if I don't wear mascara to call attention to it, I don't think anyone will notice. I'm haunted by what could have been. What if I had caught fire and couldn't put it out? I quizzed Layth later and he couldn't remember 911. We have childproof locks on all the doors and he can't reach window latches. It hurts to think about it. The same man came back to show me how to light the fireplace properly, and I was too scared to even stand in the same room. I stood way back in the kitchen and watched. Apparently by "turn on the gas and light it" he meant "hold the lighter under the pipe and then - barely - turn on the gas." Live and learn, this time at least. Lucky, blessed, or a bit of both.