When The Mice Are Away The Cats Will Play/Dude, Where’s My Wallet?

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*When The Mice Are Away, The Cats Like To Play… And Sleep*

This week my mother-in-law Toni took Zoe and Parker, along with Toni’s niece and nephew, camping on the Oregon Coast. Last week she took Zoe, Parker and Nathan to Victoria for 3 days. I’ve been looking forward to this week ever since she told me of the summer trips she had booked this past spring.

Sunday she arrived around 10AM with a U-Haul trailer towing behind her minivan. Parker chose that moment to start looking for the plastic suction cup arrows that go with his slingshot. (Not an item I had purchased.) I asked him what he thought he was going to shoot with the arrows, but never got a straight answer. I told him to give up the hunt, and he got in the car, but still brought the slingshot.

“What are you going to slingshot without the arrows?” I asked, not sure I wanted to know the answer.

Zoe piped up from the far back seat, “You could use rocks.”

“No. Listen to me. You may not sling shot rocks. Pinecones MAYBE. No rocks.”

The look on his face told me it had never occurred to him before that very minute that he could use anything other than the arrows that came with the slingshot.

I’m sure for many parents, this would be the moment that they tearfully said goodbyes to their children, running alongside the car waving as they drove off.

I am not that parent.

I turned and waved over my shoulder without looking and said, “See ya! Have fun!” I think that’s the difference between the average parent and me, who has kids coming out of my ears, and  who has been parenting for 20 years.

I walked in the door and said out loud to no one in particular, “Oops, I forgot to send her with  a consent note in case of emergency. Oh well. I’m sure it will be fine.”

I wandered the kitchen and living room, processing that unfamiliar feeling of sudden freedom without any idea what to do with it.

Jeff came in and said, “You wanna go to the auto parts store with me?”

I weighed my options. I was about to say no, when he informed me that he was unable to locate his wallet (story to follow) so I had to go with him to pay.

Just what every mom who has found herself with kid-free time wants to do: Hang out in an auto parts store.

Being the smart man he is, he suggested we go out to lunch afterwards.

We decided to try the new Chinese restaurant that just opened in the town center near our house. It used to be a Calico Corners fabric store. I have a feeling it will be more successful as a Chinese restaurant.

The restaurant has a very chic, urban vibe- no calico in sight as far as I could see. After getting seated at a table outside, Jeff looked around and said, “they have a good hiring plan.”

That’s code for “the waitresses are attractive.” He had said that at dinner the night before as well.

“But not a single person in here is Asian,” I said. “You don’t find that odd?”

“What about the kid who brought us our water?”

“He’s not Asian. He’s Hispanic.”

I’m not saying you have to be Chinese to own and operate a Chinese restaurant. I mean, I can cook spaghetti even though I’m not Italian, but I wouldn’t open an Olive Garden, that’s all. Well, maybe Olive Garden is a poor example.

Monday I took full advantage of my open schedule to make a coffee date with my friend Lisa. We like to go to a place called “The Spotted Cow” which is like the “Central Perk” for people who go to our church. Really, it’s more like the “Cheers” of our church, because pretty much everybody knows your name, but with lattes and gelato instead of beer.

(I think Lisa is Rachel, so I suppose that would mean I’m  Monica Gellar or Cliff Claven. I’d probably have to go with Cliff, because I too have a brain filled with all sorts of useless facts that no one really wants to hear.)

We went to the counter to place our order and the young man working the register looked at Lisa and said, “Looks like trouble just showed up.”

Have I mentioned how much I adore my friend Lisa?

I ordered my coffee in a to-go cup, which means I missed out on the latte art, but probably saved myself the grief of spilling on myself. I ordered the oatmeal, and Lisa said, “Make it two.”

He said, “Do you want everything on that? Fruit? Brown Sugar? Almonds?”

“Yes please.”

“Raisins?”

“Eww. No. Who wants raisins with fresh fruit?” I scowled.

Lisa nodded in agreement. “Nobody wants raisins. Nobody.”

He said, “Nobody wants raisins- except those who do.”

Two hours of laughter and great conversation, mixed with occasional breaks to greet other church members who had sauntered in, we headed out.

I drove to my parents’ house to pick up my mom and go see the new Michael Douglas/Diane Keaton movie, “And so it goes.”

I enjoyed the movie. It was poignant and funny. I didn’t particularly enjoy the woman a few rows back to our left who cackled uproariously at nearly every line of the movie, as if it were the funniest thing she had ever heard. EVER. Sometimes she’d laugh at something that wasn’t really even funny, but more sardonic.

I kept reminding myself not to resent someone finding unmitigated delight in this film, even if it was a little annoying. There aren’t a lot of people these days who have given themselves permission to so completely enjoy life.

After the movie I dropped my mom at home and went down the street to meet some old high school friends for dinner. What I had anticipated being only an hour or so turned into 4. What a gift to be able to reconnect and laugh with these amazing women. We can go months or years without seeing each other, and it’s always as if no time has passed at all. We can be real with each other because we’ve got history.

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Why no, that’s not a Bartles and James wine cooler in my 18 year old hand. I think it must be some sort of fancy ginger ale. Or something.

This morning I slept in. I had no place to be and nothing to do. My husband came in around 830 and said, “The sun’s coming up, but I don’t see cakes on the griddle.”

I pretended not to hear him and went back to sleep for another 30 minutes.

My mice come back tomorrow. I’m sure I’ll be happy to see them, but I have had a great time playing without them.

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As mentioned earlier, my husband lost his wallet. As of this moment, it has yet to be located.

While it doesn’t come as a surprise to me that he has lost his wallet… again… we are now in day 5 of the hunt with no end in sight. This is unusual, even for him.

Last Saturday night, as a thank you for volunteering at the Richard Sherman celebrity softball charity game pre- and post game events, we were invited to go bowling at Lucky Strike.

Because my mom had also volunteered, she brought along my dad, who showed up with his 60 year old antique bowling ball in a paper grocery sack. The funny thing is, I think I have not ever seen my parents bowl in my lifetime.

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My parents bowling-Like spotting a unicorn

I don’t wanna brag, but… okay maybe I do. I WON THE GAME! (The first one, anyways) My husband thinks the fact that I took multiple pics of the scoreboard and posted them to Facebook and instagram makes me a poor sport. I would have to agree- if I ever won at ANYTHING! When you’re a perennial loser, you’ve gotta celebrate the wins when you can get them.

The second game didn’t go quite as well. I guess I’m a one hit wonder. Someone told me that just means I gave my all the first time. I like her take on it better.

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The bowling crew. I don’t think any of us are going on the tour any time soon.

After we left at about 1030, Jeff said that he was craving a Dairy Queen blizzard. I told him I knew where there were DQ’s near our house, but when I looked up their hours, they were already closed. We found one about 15 minutes away from where we were that was open until 11. We screamed into the drive-thru at about 1045. He got a blizzard, I got a peanut buster parfait. We ate them on the way home in case our kids were still awake when we got there.

That was the last time anyone saw his wallet.

We’ve looked in all the regular places. We’ve looked in all the places that don’t make sense, but have previously been the location of his missing wallet.

We sent a text to Grandma Toni asking if Parker knew where it might be. Her response was that he gave an indignant denial.

As a result of him having no credit cards, ID or cash, I have become his sugar momma. Of course, all the money I’m spending he earned, but every time the check comes, he shoves it towards me and says, “She’s buying.” He appears to get great pleasure out of doing this.

Last night I said, “I’ve gone over all the regular stupid places that make no sense for your wallet to be that you’ve put it in the past. No luck. I don’t even know where else to look.”

He said, “A while back I hid it and lost it for a day. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone.”

“You forgot where you hid it?”

“No. I forgot THAT I hid it. I kept trying to figure out where it could be, and then I remembered that I purposely hid it. When you have a bad memory every day is an adventure.”

“You shouldn’t do stuff like that.”

“When you have a bad memory, you can’t remember that you shouldn’t do stuff like that.”

The ironic thing is that his memory issues don’t extend to numbers. He can still tell you his own childhood phone number, many of his childhood friends’ numbers, and even the amount he spent on airfare for our honeymoon to Cabo. In 1997.

This morning he said, “I know you’ve hidden it. You can tell me where it is now.”

I responded, “Right. Because I wanted to spend my kid-free week ferrying you around and running errands for you instead of sitting in the sun reading a book.”

The truth is we are too old and senile to be clever when it comes to putting things away. We need to be obvious, or we will spend 3/4 of our days hunting down necessities like car keys and wallets.

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Apparently the entire 8% deficiency is  his propensity for losing his wallet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Can Take The Girl Out Of The Small Town, But You Can’t Take The Small Town Out Of The Girl

 

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My hometown

Photo Courtesy Liem Bahneman https://www.flickr.com/photos/liem/

i'm so snohomish

 

A trend has been making its way around Facebook this week. I have seen several posts saying things like, “I’m so L.A.,” “I’m so Seattle,” and “I’m so Chicago” followed by something to indicate how strong their ties are to their hometown.

It’s only a matter of time before other towns catch on, so let me be the first to start one about my hometown.

I’m so Snohomish that…

*I’ve gotten swimmer’s itch in Blackman’s Lake

*Was in a car crash at Devil’s Elbow

*Watched movies on the “non-porn” weekends at the Snohomish theater.

*Tried to cross the Ebey Slough with my best friend on bikes

*Rafted the Pilchuck

*Watched a girl lose her rat tail in a cat fight

*Waved at Crazy Ray as he compulsively and incessantly ran around town

*Watched Patrick’s paint shack burn to the ground

*For all of the 1980’s, there wasn’t a single year that either one of my sisters or I wasn’t a student at Snohomish High School

*Rode in the back of a pick-up in the Serpentine Parade (The fire trucks were reserved for the football players)

*Ate burgers at the original HUB

*Watched the river rise from the Silver King

*Lived down the hill from the mayor, who was also my sister’s history teacher

*Watched the filming of “Twin Peaks” and “Bustin’ Loose” (And even caught a glimpse of Richard Pryor from the Cabbage Patch)

*Attended more bonfires than I can count

*Got yelled at by the owners of Weeds Variety

* For years I considered crossing the trestle into Everett “going into the city”

*Bought watermelon Bubblicious at the snack bar while watching Curt Marsh, Tom Cable and Rick Fenney dominate all of Wesco under Friday night lights

And, finally,

* I can still remember 2/3 of BOTH cheerleading routines for the Panther’s fight song, “Hail to Snohomish High.”

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This past weekend I attended Snohomish’s annual festival, Kla Ha Ya Days. (In case you were unaware, Snohomish is named after the indigenous tribe who made this valley their home for thousands of years, and Kla Ha Ya means “welcome.”)

The carnival started Wednesday evening, but most of the activities were on Saturday, starting with the parade in the morning. The official opening of Seattle’s Seafair, the Kla Ha Ya Days parade is actually the largest in the Pacific Northwest, with 107 entries in 2013. Not bad for a parade route that stretches all of 7 blocks from Stewarts on first street(a biker bar) down to what used to be Chuck’s Seafood Grotto, but was recently taken over by Chuck’s son and renamed “Andy’s.”

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I don’t know what to say about this one

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A perennial favorite- The dancing horses sponsored by the local Mexican restaurant

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Another favorite- the Snohomish Sauerkraut band, formerly Schwartzmiller’s Sauerkraut band. I went to school with three Schwartzmillers. I can’t even begin to imagine how fun their band practice is.

In years past, my kids have done the ice cream eating contest,

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And every year they do the frog jumping contest. Tad the frog is the official mascot of Kla Ha Ya Days.

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2012. I always felt this photo deserved a caption, I just never figured out what it should be.

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Why yes, that does say “Weenie Wagon” in the background. Makes you wonder what happens to all the losing frogs…

Basically, you get a frog and put it in the center of the ring. Using a feather to tickle and a spray bottle to squirt the frog in the rear, the goal is to get the most distance out of three hops. Whoever can get their frog to jump the farthest in any direction wins.

This year, as Parker awaited his turn, I noticed a couple teenagers showing a man what they had in a bucket.

“Did you bring your own frog?” I asked.

The man, I assume their grandfather, answered, “They’ve had a lot of success bringing their own frogs. ”

I didn’t ask what “a lot of success” means.

I also hadn’t known bringing your own frog was an option.  I briefly considered a Rocky- style training camp for Kla Ha Ya Days frogs, but then dismissed that idea as somewhat ridiculous. Of course, many genius ideas sound ridiculous at first hearing.

Some of the other annual competitions of the festival are cherry-pit spitting, watermelon seed spitting, bed races, pie eating and baby races.

I was somewhat disappointed that the fire hose tug of war was a no-show this year. Typically, they park two fire trucks at each end and there is a high wire with a ball in the middle. Dueling fire hoses, operated by one of my favorite things in the world, firemen, shoot water at the ball and attempt to get it past the line on the opponents side of the wire.

They did have the cheerleader dunk booth, though. I walked over to my husband and the old man sitting next to him on the bench and said, “you do realize these are teenage girls and you sitting here watching is a little weird, right?”

After talking with the old man, who was wearing a Korean war veteran’s hat and explained he had come down alone on his boat from Alaska, I figured if it gave him a little thrill, who was I to judge. Shudder.

One of my favorite parts of Kla Ha Ya Days, though, has to be the hot air balloon float.

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Snohomish is the kind of place that people think only exists on TV.

But it’s real.

Quirky characters, tractors driving down 1st street, guys in pick-up trucks, generations of families deeply rooted in the town’s history; a place where you can’t go much of anywhere without running into people you know. Growing up, the whole town would show up to watch a high school football game, whether they had a student there or not. On snowy days, it seemed like the whole town showed up to go sledding on the hill by my parents’ house.

I’ve been spending a lot more time in town this summer, due to Nathan’s tennis camp at the high school and Zoe’s new soccer club.

Driving into town from my house, I come down the hill to sprawling fields of corn, the valley dotted with barns and bales of hay. Small planes fly into the tiny airport, often having just dropped off a half-dozen parachuters, now floating to the ground. 1st street is lined with restaurants that  overlook the river and quaint boutiques, not to mention the antique stores that once had Snohomish named “the antique capital of the Northwest.”

Snohomish boasts a few celebrities as well. Author Kristin Hannah is from Snohomish. Former Oakland Raiders and now Seattle Seahawks assistant coach Tom Cable is from Snohomish. We’ve had a couple other NFL stars come from here- farm boys are no joke. NBA player Jon Brockman hails from this small town, the son of my older sister’s DECA teacher.  Even John Legend’s wife Supermodel Chrissy Teigen was a Snohomish High School cheerleader, just a mere (gulp) 14 years after I was.

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My parents still live in town, in a house built in 1912. My mother has worked in the school district for nearly 35 years, and can tell you almost everything you would ever want to know about the town and the people. If I hear something on the grapevine, she’s the first person I call to verify. She’s had multiple generations come through her school, and seems to remember not only each child she’s met, but also the backstory on the entire family.

Often when I’m out with her, a child will run up and give her a hug out of nowhere. I will say, “Who was that?” and the answer will be something like, “Oh, that’s Gretta. She’s in 5th grade now. Her mom is Lisa Johnson, you know, Angela’s cousin. I drew her mother’s portrait in the first grade. She’s had a rough time of it, Lisa, her brother’s wife died two years ago from breast cancer, and then her mother was just diagnosed. Her mom owns the hair salon over on cedar…”

The downside to having a mother who knows everyone in town? There would be days I’d get home from school and she would already know what I had done to get into trouble. (not a common occurrence, I assure you.)

While progress hasn’t completely bypassed the town, and things have definitely changed, much of what was, still is.

A lot of my friends still live nearby.  Some never left, some left and came back to raise their families. They go to the weekly farmer’s market, they cheer as their kids play sports at our old (but newly remodeled) high school, they sometimes meet at Fred’s for a beer, or at Piccadilly for some karaoke.

I used to believe that getting out of that town was some sort of a victory. I went off to college, and never really came back. We lived out of state for 10 years, and I marveled when I would come home to visit and run into old friends  who had married their high school sweetheart and settled down in the area.

Now that I’m older, and I’ve lived a few places, I see the beauty of my hometown in a way I never did before. It’s a special place and I’m lucky to have come from there. I am who I am because of where I’ve come from, and all those years of trying to distance myself from it have resulted in an inevitable longing to be a part of it again.

They say you can’t go home again, but I’ve found that nothing could be further from the truth.

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Balls, Brits and Country Music

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Welcome to the official first edition of Burnt Ends! In case you missed yesterday’s post, http://kbjackson.com/welcome-to-burnt-ends/, I am trying out a new format for my blog that will hopefully be a little more reader-friendly ( and also writer-friendly.)

Let’s get down to it!

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This past week has left me seriously fried- in the brain, on my skin, and as you probably read yesterday, down to my eyeballs. I had envisioned lazy summer days, sleeping in, drinking ice tea, reading a book on a lawn chair while the kids gleefully jumped through the sprinklers.

The days of early alarms, yelling at kids to eat breakfast, brush their teeth and throw their shoes on were to go away as soon as the last bell rang in June, right?

Nope.

Reality set in last week when Nathan started tennis camp and got even more real when Parker started soccer camp this week.

Alarm going off an hour and 15 minutes earlier than during the school year, dragging Nathan and Parker out of bed, yelling for them to eat brush their teeth, get their shoes (cleats) on…

Nathan’s camp is at my old high school, my old stomping grounds.  It’s a 15- 20 minute drive down the hill into my hometown. His instructor, Andy,  grew up two blocks down the street from me. His dad was and is the tennis coach at my high school, and Andy is a tennis pro at a club in another town.

Parker’s camp is closer to our house, but starts at the same time as Nathan’s camp, so I have to drop Nathan off early to get Parker there on time.  The courts will be empty for another 20 minutes.

This morning I noticed a large group of pretty girls standing not too far from the courts.

“Look! pretty girls! I wonder if they are cheerleaders.”

“They are,  they were here yesterday. ”

“Oooh good. you can look at the pretty girls while you wait for everyone to show up!”

“I’m not going to watch them like some creeper! Seriously. You are creepier than any guy I know!”

Those were his parting words as he got out of the car.

Parker’s soccer camp is run by a bunch of players flown in from the UK for the summer, whose accents and flat out adorableness require me to put in a little more effort getting ready than I might normally make. I have, in the past, been known to roll directly from my bed to the car when having to do early morning drops-offs. Not the case this week, I can assure you.

Parker’s coach is Declan, a young lad from Scotland who can’t be more than 21. His brogue is so thick that I do a lot of smiling and nodding and hope he’s not actually asking me a question I’m supposed to answer. Have you noticed those UK accents always sound like they are asking questions even if they aren’t?

I had anticipated hearing that Parker spent the entire time grilling him on the Loch Ness Monster, but so far he has restrained himself. I asked him if he wanted to wear his Union Jack shirt to camp (You know, the Benedict Arnold shirt he wore to our 4th of July celebration?)

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He declined, and then stuck his tongue out at me for even suggesting it. He did tell me that he’s learning to “speak Scottish,” which I assume to mean he’s starting to be able to understand Declan’s instructions.

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Meanwhile, Zoe’s new obsession has arrived via UPS in the world largest box. (Someone needs to explain to me how Amazon can give free shipping on a box that would cost me a thousand dollars to mail. )

She’s been asking for a guitar for months, and finally last week her “Adam Levine acoustic guitar” arrived. Parker immediately took off with the giant box and turned it into his new home.

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At one point he was using the flap as a table for his tv remote and a cup of water.

Zoe’s never taken lessons, but that doesn’t stop her from strumming and singing at the top of her lungs.

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She told me she wants to be the female Justin Bieber, to which I replied, horrified, “No! You don’t want to be like Justin Bieber!”

She reassured me that she only meant in the way that he was discovered. Unfortunately that means posting videos on YouTube, which I find concerning in itself.

farmers and country music

I tend to be one of those people who lives my life in phases.  Earlier this year I ate a lot of pineapple and listened to Reggae in order to escape the winter doldrums. Last year I went through an “All Motown all the time” phase.  This year, in addition to binge-watching “Hart of Dixie,” crushing on Farmer Chris on “The Bachelorette,” and spending a whole lot of time in my hometown full of small town charm and attractive people selling things at the farmer’s market, it has become the summer of country music.

Nathan is not happy about this development, especially since he’s been spending about an hour a day in the car with me coming and going from tennis camp. There’s something about driving through the valley into town- the hay bales dotting the fields, the tractors hoeing the rows, the corn that’s already as tall as my waist- that makes me want to listen to country music right now. I can’t explain it.

Yesterday he was heckling me about the music.

I said, “Zoe’s been listening to it more than you, and she’s finding songs she likes,”

He responded, ” Yeah, well if you dive in a dumpster for an hour, you’re likely to find something that’s not complete trash. But you’re still in a dumpster.”

As you might imagine, I had a difficult time coming up with a rebuttal for that one.

Last Saturday night I made homemade minestrone and roasted redneck garlic bread using mostly vegetables I had bought at the farmer’s market.

My husband has inferred that a simple observation of attractive organic fruit and vegetable purveyors has influenced my organic fruit and vegetable purchases of late.

I argue that it’s merely love and care for my family that motivates me to hit the market each week. I think I should be offended by his inference. Don’t you?

After trying the soup, he smirked and said, “It tastes extra hunky.”

 

white noise

 

Jeff got a white noise machine last week to help him sleep. I was totally okay with the idea, until that night at 10 pm when he turned it on.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m going to sleep.”

“But I’m watching TV and now all I can hear is ‘shhhhhhh.'”

“I need it to help me sleep.”

I stared incredulously at him for a moment, and then a moment or two longer.

He stared back.

We had a stare-off.

“Does it at least have another setting other than ‘10,000 shushing librarians?’ Waterfall? Rain maybe?”

“Blame it on the rain,” He sang.

He reached over, but instead of turning off the machine like I hoped, I began to hear the opening melody of “Blame it on the rain,” by Milli Vanilli streaming out of his phone.

“No.” I said.

He giggled. “Blame it on the rain. Blame it on the rain.”

“This is NOT okay,”

“Blame it on the rain! Blame it on the rain!” He sang.

I gave up, turned off the TV and rolled over to the sounds of Milli Vanilli and the 10,000 librarians.

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Welcome To Burnt Ends

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Sometimes, as you drift off to sleep, you get an idea. In the still of the night, with your brain in that place where reality begins to commingle with dreamland, thoughts flow through your mind and, occasionally, inspiration strikes.

Usually, in the light of day, those ideas are revealed for what they are- nonsensical workings of a tired brain.

There are times, though, when those thoughts stick with you long after the rooster crows (or in my case, long after the crows begin cackling outside my bedroom window.)

The new title and look of my blog is the result of one of those near-slumber moments: Welcome to Burnt Ends.

Last Friday night I was the kind of tired that, even as a busy wife and mom of 4, I rarely experience.

Zoe had a three day tournament in a city 38 miles to the south of our home. On a light, no-traffic day the drive can be made in around 45 minutes. However, her first game required her to be on the pitch at 9:30am, which meant driving through morning rush hour.

It took over an hour to get to the field, and as we made the last turn I told her to put on her cleats.

It was at this moment she discovered that she had left her cleats at home. Because, of COURSE she did.

I dropped her off at the field and the very nice man directing the parking lot traffic gave me directions to a  store nearby that carried soccer shoes.  Parker and I made it back with her new shoes just 10 minutes before her first game.

We are currently experiencing unusually warm weather for our area, and by game time (just after 10am) the temperature had already reached 80 degrees.

There was a significant gap between her first and second game, but not one that justified going home and coming back. We set up camp in the corner of the field. There was talk of going across the road to the river, but all those years of hearing about the Green River serial killer killed any desire I have to put my toe in the water there. (While I’m sure the likelihood of a body part floating into my leg is extremely slim, I just don’t think I want to take that chance. )

With still 3-plus hours until her next game, and the sun beating down on us, my mother-in-law and I decided to take the kids into town for the street fair. Zoe chose to stay behind with her team, so we took Parker and two of his cousins.

Thankfully there was a fountain in the center of the festival area, so the kids were able to cool off and burn off some of the energy that had built up sitting around at the soccer field.

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We walked around the fair and their clothes were dry in mere minutes. It was a scorcher.

Ice cold lemonade, elephant ears, fresh roasted and glazed cinnamon nuts, cotton candy- we had it all.

We made our way back to the fountain where the kids soaked themselves again and then walked back to the car.

By the time we got back to the soccer tournament, it was only 20 minutes or so to the next game.  I hauled our sport tent over to the sideline, opened up a chair and sat down.

I noticed that my eyes began to water, and I feared that in the heat, sweat from my forehead was dripping sunscreen into my eyes. I attempted to wipe them, but the stinging was getting worse. Soon tears were streaming down my face, and it wasn’t from the 7-0 walloping we were taking in the game.

And then it occurred to me- my eyeballs were sunburned.

The sunglasses I was wearing, while quite pretty, do not have UV protection.

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Me with my mother at a concert the night before the tournament, wearing the lovely, yet virtually ineffective sunglasses.

Her second game ended just in time for the evening commute. I was virtually blind, and, as often happens when your eyes are injured, they kept trying to shut involuntarily.

I attempted to take Zoe and Parker to 7-11 for free Slurpee day, but the closest store’s Slurpee machines were “broken.” (They made a miraculous recovery on 7/12)

I drove further down the street and located a Burger King, because I knew they had Icees which are basically Slurpees. As my kids sucked down their drinks, I sat with my eyes closed praying that the burning would stop and I’d survive the drive home.

We loaded into the car and I closed both sunroofs to make it as dark as possible. I moved my sun visor to my side window, but because it was evening and I was headed north, the sun managed to shine directly beneath the visor into my left eye.

I am not proud of the fact that I drove for nearly 90 minutes in traffic with the partial use of one eye. I white knuckled it the whole way, praying that no one would change lanes or make sudden movements that required fast reflexes from me. Zoe said a prayer for safety, but both kids were so exhausted they passed out on the drive home and I was left to silence other than the radio.

I stumbled into the front door of my house 11 hours after having left,  in near zombie mode; my sclera the color of the geraniums dying from dehydration on the porch.

I sat down on the couch and my husband asked if I wanted a hot dog. I think I mumbled something incoherently in return. He made a snarky comment and my response was to utter some profanity at his back and then climb the steps to my bedroom. I flopped onto the bed, semi-consciously devising angry retorts to any further provocation, should it come.

I woke up about an hour later to find him sitting on the end of the bed staring at me.

“You’re lucky I feel better. The things I was thinking about you before I fell asleep weren’t nice.”

He wisely left that statement alone.

As I started dozing off again later that night, my stream of consciousness began with thinking about how tired I was, and how burnt my eyeballs were. For some reason burnt eyeballs, combined with the episode I had just watched of “Diners Drive-ins and Dives” and a near-comatose state kept producing the same phrase in my mind over and over: Burnt Ends. Burnt Ends. Burnt Ends.

I thought about how I felt like I was burning the candle at both ends. I tried to imagine how that phrase ever came to be. And then I thought about the burnt ends you can buy at Famous Dave’s because I had fallen asleep without eating dinner and was super hungry.

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Burnt ends. Those charred, overcooked chunks of goodness that most with a discerning palate would probably throw away. My guess is that burnt ends became a menu item the same way popcorn chicken did at KFC- someone was sitting around trying to figure out what to do with the leftover tidbits.

In my dreamy haze it occurred to me that burnt ends are a pretty good metaphor for my life. Sometimes burnt ends aren’t just a metaphor for my life, but the stark reality of my cooking. In the case of this past weekend, they are the metaphoric reality of my poor choices in eyewear.

And while I am typically a creature of habit, resistant to change and reinvention, Burnt Ends feels like the most natural next step for this blog; A newsletter- style recap of a week in the life of a wife and mother burning the candle at both ends, burning her dinners and burning her eyeballs while sitting for hours on the sidelines of her kids’ sporting events.

I like to think of it as the mom-blogger version of Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” and “Lake Woebegone Days.”

It’s still being formulated in my mind, but starting tomorrow I will publish my first weekly edition of “Burnt Ends.” I hope you like the new format and thanks for being patient with my somnolence-inspired experiment.

I Think My Brain Just Broke

brain-fry-o

This morning I think I broke my brain.

There I was, scrolling through Facebook on my phone, when suddenly I heard a pop! And a boing! And a kerplow!

If I had to guess, I’d say one of my brain springs came loose and ricocheted around until coming to rest in the “I can’t take it anymore” lobe. Hard to say for sure, I’m no brain doctor, you know.

I should have seen it coming. All the warning signs were there. The eye twitches. The throbbing temples. The Tourette’s-like outbursts. “Arugula!”

I’m pretty disappointed. I could have sworn my brain had a larger capacity than than that. Who could have predicted I would have used up the last of my information storage on an article about a porcupine who got rescued from a nightclub and had a miniature wheelchair made from PVC plumbing pipe?

image The article never explained why the porcupine had to be rescued from the nightclub or why it needed a wheelchair in the first place.

 

Lately it seems my Facebook feed Is saturated with information; much of it being more significant than a paraplegic porcupine. Politics. The economy. Racism. Sexism. Religion.

Article after article filled with things about which I should care, have an opinion, cry tears of joy,  have passionate diatribes. And often I do. And then I feel frazzled, drained, and sometimes a little ugly inside.

I’m old enough to remember a time when the news came from a daily paper and the nightly broadcast on one of the big 3. I grew up in a town with a weekly edition of all we needed to know.

When a topic of interest arose, I would read a book about it. Maybe two.

These days I get whiplash from the multitudes of topics vying for my attention. “You should care about this issue!” “You should care about THIS issue!” “Why don’t you care about THIS issue?!?”

And I do. Sort of. As much as I can in that moment until the next article appears in my feed.

Facebook is a unique source of information also because I have a diverse group of friends.

I have conservatives and liberals posting opposing viewpoints, comical lampoons of the ideologies of the other side.

I have vegan friends and hunters.

I have those who post scripture and those who post rants about religious fanaticism. Or worse- mocking people of faith.

I have dire warnings of global warming and those who choose to live in denial of reality simply because they don’t trust the source from which those warnings are coming and don’t like the potential compromises that must be made if accepted as fact.

I have articles about tragedies, and commenters who diminish those tragedies by comparing them to something worse. (“Well sure, 5 people died, but it’s no holocaust. ” )

There’s a continent of trash floating in the ocean. The ice caps are melting. Benghazi! Capitalism is dying. Capitalism is killing. Help the poor! Leave the rich alone! Everyone hates Obama! Everyone hates republicans! Everyone hates the Supreme Court! Gay rights! Gay agenda! Benghazi! It’s racism! Stop calling everything racism! Our food was made in a lab and we’re all poisoning ourselves! Walmart is the devil! Fox News is the devil!  Obamacare is the first sign of the apocalypse! Benghazi!

Because I find myself in the middle of most issues, some might call me a fence sitter. Maybe so, but I have found over the years that my natural instinct to pick a side and fight to the death over it has left me on the wrong side of many discussions. Truth be known, at the end of these debates I often feel there is no right side- just a lot of anger.

I have chosen in recent years to try to see the merits of both sides and look for a reasonable middle ground.

That’s not an easy task these days. News isn’t disseminated, opinions on events are mostly what we see. They are reported with great urgency, and every issue requires a response. It’s exhausting.

And today it broke my brain.

I dont think it’s permanent, but I do believe I need some recovery time. I need to read a book that lets me escape. I need to take another mind-cleansing walk. I need to play a board game with my bored kids. I need music and laughter.

The problems of the world can be dealt with another day. It’s not like they’re going anywhere anyways. And there will be a dozen new ones the next time I look.