"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com

"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com
Still available on Amazon for Nook and Kindle, hard copy booklett to re-print November 2013

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Herding the gophers next door; payback after all these years!

Happy to be home!  It took one hour on a bumpy plane to get from Phoenix to Burbank and then 20 min on the freeway to get back home.  Nothing had changed, it was nice to sleep in my great memory foam bed.  We bought a topper for the lumpy monster they put into the bedroom at the Chandler Apartment, but it was not the same.  You see I am a bit like the princess and the pea, and must have smooth sheets with a very very soft mattress.  Also since Patrick found a scorpion in the Chandler apartment dishwasher and a cockroach as big as a Volkswagen in the bedroom...I'm glad to be home with lizards...and some mice... but I think we have driven the gophers into the neighbors yard.

Now how fair is that. Oh, payback is sweet...you will soon understand, just stay with me.  I bought these thumpers like in the movie Dune.  In that movie the thumper attracted huge worms.  These thumpers seem to bother the gophers and send them elsewhere.  So where do they go???
I figure next door right under the fence.  That's not nice but I am tired of having my lawn ruined.  It's the neighbors' turn to figure out how to get rid of them...

I tried to be kind to the critters...filling the holes with water (one time the hole never filled up...It went to china)  I put burning negatives inside...my dad said the toxic smoke would drive them away...Not so!  It didn't work...Then I put a week's worth of dog poop in the holes...and drove it deeper into the hole with a little water...guess they ate the poop.  Maybe they thought it was chocolate.  It was embarrassing when my daughter found me wearing gloves on my hands and knees with a bucket of dog dooty carefully snaking those long turds down the many holes in the lawn.

"What are you doing!"  When I told her my plan she scornfully said I was nuts and walked away, not even offering to help.  WELL I NEVER!   Soon after that I got the battery powered thumping things. 

Now here's where the pay back comes...Ever since we got married my husband has never mowed the lawn.  Why you ask?  He gets severe attacks of hay fever and asthma.  His behavior for the next few hours after an attack is like a bear awakened from his winter nap...not fun!   So it was not worth it to even ask. 

At first we had a push mower. (It was all we could afford)  As a strong 20 something young woman it was good exercise...that lasted for a while and the neighbors always asked, (Especially when I was pregnant,)  "Where is your husband."  I took to mowing in the dark.

Then we got a power mower...I think for "Mother's Day", how thoughtful.   The first one was a push power mover, and when that thing gave it's last gasp, we finally got one that self-propelled...that one was scary because it mowed over anything in it's path and I continued to mow at night because I was afraid one of the kids would run in front of it and get hurt.

My worst nightmare came true when one day I heard the thing fire-up and soon after heard a yell.  Colleen must have been about ten and ran up the stairs yelling that little Pat hurt his leg on the lawn mower.  I heard screaming and loud yelling from outside.  I looked out the upstairs window to see little Pat rolling on the lawn clutching his leg with blood everywhere.  My worst nightmare had happened.

I ran down the stairs across the kitchen and through the sliding glass doors like lightning.  BUT, the second I rounded the corner where I could clearly see little Pat my medical brain processed the fact that the blood, was not blood...at least it wasn't the right color...it looked like (and was) a mixture of ketchup and bar-b-q sauce.

The second I realized it was a hoax and had begun to react, a bucket of water hit me from above where Rebecca was perched on the roof and then the full stream from the hose hit me squarely in the chest, of course it was directed by my dear husband. The incident escalated with water from buckets, bowls and three active hoses.  The battle somehow moved inside the house without even a blink from dad-Patrick or me.  It was war!  I ended up with the girl team Colleen, Rebecca and Megan with the boys on the dad side.  Somehow that seemed quite even and we ladies held our own.  Then after an hour or so we called it a tie and declared a truce. 

Our neighbors looked on with amazement cheering on their favorite team and taking a few wayward buckets of water themselves.  In fact the third hose was contributed over the fence with the water coming from next door.  We girls called foul, but no one paid us any attention.  It took a day or two for the carpet to dry out, and we got the flood off the floor in the kitchen before the linoleum rolled and curled up at the edges, Thank goodness it was a very warm day.  

Hmmm.  Then I realized I've finally paid back the neighbors for the extra hose they passed over the fence to the boy team all those years ago...and no matter it's not the same neighbors living there...they get the gophers! 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Packin' heat in Wallmart...enter Arizona at your own risk!

(This is the "No Firearms" sign was on the door of the Italian restaurant where we had dinner...in upper state Az.)
Arizona is very different from other states we discovered last weekend.  We went to a little town in Northern Arizona to get away from the heat...it was only 92 in the daytime, instead of 115, and went down to 69 at night.  Even the water from the tap was cool...not cold mind you...but at least cool. There were a few pines and mountains which is a change from the flat around here in Chandler near Phoenix.  Flat, flat, flat....
We went out to dinner the first night we were in Payson.  I noticed on the door was a sign warning to not carry a weapon inside. Since neither of us had ever seen such a sign we decided it must be on all restaurants in Arizona.  But then as we drove back to the motel, I looked at the numerous fast food places...every fast food place I had ever seen was present within the space of two blocks...(except In-n-out) Anyway, none of them had the special sign.
It wasn't until the next night when we went to get a burger we figured out how the law must work.  The burger place had a small bar area in the corner of the establishment.  And there again was the sign...no firearms.  I came to the conclusion that any place where they serve alcohol you are not allowed to carry a loaded firearm...into the establishment. (See photo above) 
We recently discovered the State of Arizona has a state gun...the Colt 45.  An interesting and cool fact I thought, until I went into Wall-mart and saw a young man with a gun strapped to his hip in the check out line.  
It was out there for everyone to see, so it wasn't a concealed weapon.  (I wanted to get a concealed carry license for my Glock, here in Arizona, but guess it's okay if I just wear it hanging from my purse.) I know you need a permit to carry a concealed weapon, like in a shoulder holster under your coat...but this was in the open! 
I mentioned the semantics to Patrick..."It wasn't concealed...right out there in the open like when we were on a train in Italy and a bunch of guys came on with Uzi's over their shoulders."  That experience was intimidating and a bit scary.  But then again the military men were in uniform and you knew they had at least trained to use their weapon, quite different from feeling confident about a dad shopping for bananas packing a gun on his hip!  

After we got home our son Patrick shared and article he read about a guy in Chandler who shot his penis by having his gun in his waist band in Fry's groceries...the same store where we shop...I'm not sure if I would offer first aid help to a guy so stupid he didn't have on the safety...but most likely my nurse self would take over...Or NOT!

After seeing the Wallmart packin' dad, I thought...what if a guy was drinking at a bar without his gun...then went down the street to Safeway fully drunk...but he could have his gun in there!  Maybe that's what happened to the guy in Fry's

I'm using Helvecta type, sans serif (without curly cues)...the kind required at a book submission I recently sent off....(Still working on the "Chiasmus Cipher"), the deadline was close so after changing from my Times Roman, all my spacing was off...I quickly went through my 111,000 word novel...Ha! and it was sent in with many problems in spacing among other things I have found..so I don't have a rat's chance of anyone reading it...DARN!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"Mom, , Shut up! Muskrat"

Does anyone else have the problem of language accent copycat disease?  Gosh! OCD confirmation and now I admit my other problem, all my warts are hanging out!...Oh well...
It seems, or so I'm told that no matter what language I hear, or accent in particular, it doesn't take long for me to begin to talk like the other person who is talking.  It can't stay in my head...it just comes out my lips and lands most likely on unappreciative ears.

This ability is good for an actress, but not so good in our diverse society where everyone is oversensitive and the language police are ready to sue you.

This "talent" became a problem one time when I visited Rebecca.  It was January and I was there to help with the birth of her second son, Zachary.  (He came during a huge snow an ice storm on Jan 18)   It so happened that Becca and her husband were living in Upper Marlboro in a home owned by Harris's Aunt Carolyn.  She happened to be working in Japan teaching nursing at a university and asked Harris and Becca to house sit.

This town home was almost new and in a lovely area not too far from Washington D.C. where Harris worked so it was perfect for them to save money to buy their own home.

The issue came up that it was located in a predominately black area.  The people living there were business men and women and very friendly and generous.  During winter storms they would often shovel each others driveway at the same time they cleared their own.  It had a very neighborly feeling there.  Harris and Becca were one of the only white families living in this tight knit neighborhood.. 

So...back to my problem...The last thing Becca wanted to do was offend anyone she knew or even a stranger, so being aware of my little malady, she said..."Mom when we are around our neighbors, or any black people in stores or the mall...just don't talk.  If you forget, I'll remind you by saying Muskrat...and that means to shut up because you are imitating the black way of speech!"

"I don't do that on purpose!" I defended myself,  "but I'll try to not do it, it just comes out...It wouldn't matter if they were Irish, English or German, or from the south..it makes no difference...all of a sudden I become a native ...or whatever...speaking English with an accent.  I don't know what to do...the accent comes into my head and automatically come out...like a boomerang.  But I'll try to remember the magic word because I certainly don't want to offend anyone."

It was several days before Becca went into labor so i had the opportunity to go with her to the store several times.  We were standing in front of the frozen food section looking at the ice cream and trying to decide on the flavor to  buy when a huge black woman said in a friendly and kind way.  "Honey chile, see that there sign...you can get two for the price of one, and from the looks of you with that big tummy, you need some cheerin up, so ges get all the flavors you want, en yll feel better in a few days wehn it's all over...say...when you due...today? hehe..."

Becca responded..."Muskrat, muskrat...shut up mom"...under her breath, then louder in response to the woman, "Oh thanks, I didn't know it was on sale, I'm due in a few days and can hardly wait."

"I know how you feel, I got six of my own and they are the joy of ma life, a blessing and a curse...nice you got yer mama here to help."

I opened my mouth to respond, but Rebecca stepped hard on my foot and said, "yes, I'm glad she's here, thanks."

The woman continued on down the isle and Becca picked up two gallons of ice cream.

"I was good wasn't I?"  I questioned her while rubbing my throbbing foot.

"Mom, you almost blew it.  I could see it in your face, you were about to say something like mmmmum Honey chile, and sound like the south in a bottle.  I couldn't chance it.  You'll go home and I'll be left unable to shop here because they'll  think your a racist making fun of them....Look!, all the cash register ladies are black tool."

The next day, we went to a place near D.C. famous for ribs...they have bars on the front of the store and you stand in a line with others waiting for your turn to see the woman inside covered with barbeque sauce hold up on a hook, different racks of ribs for your perusal for you to decide which rack you want.  "Mom stay in the car with Jamie, I'll get the ribs."

It took a while but she returned and said in a perfect black immitation..."Had to wait for more ribs, those ones was too dri, not enough meat, or too much fat...so it took a while."

"Hey how come it's okay for you and not for me?" I asked. 

"The difference is, I do it on purpose, out of hearing distance of the folks it may offend, you on the other hand, have no idea it's emerging from your mouth, and the longer you talk the thicker and worse the accent becomes...so it's best for you...to Muskrat and not talk."

So I simply nodded and kept any words that came to mind...deep inside.  And if you ever hear anyone in the family say Muskrat around me...you'll know I'm about to say something with an accent or something out of place...I'm not sure how they know it's about to happen, maybe it's family telepathy or something, but I've discovered...they know, oh they know alright...and I need to listen for the magic words...Muskrat...and shut my trap.