The rules: Southerners must plant things

It doesn’t matter if it’s an apartment balcony of coffee can planters or a carefully rototilled and trellised garden, southerners are compelled to plant things in the spring. It can be a windowsill of Scarborough Fair herbs. It can be a wine barrel of peppers. In the spring, southerners are required to garden.

In the summer, there may only be one vegetable harvested. There might be grocery bags of produce left on the neighbors’ doorsteps. Southerners smile wryly at both results. That’s in the rules, too.

Doctor Google

My foot hurts. I’m not certain why it hurts, but it’s possible that it’s related to beginning the spring cleaning. Spring cleaning involves standing on kitchen counters to scrub the tops of cabinets, emptying the shelves from the fridge to crawl inside for scrubbing the walls and all the other stuff that is so unpleasant, it only gets done in the spring and right before Christmas. I digress. My foot has started hurting.

Like any irrational and ridiculous person, my reaction to mystery pain is to type my symptoms in a search bar. I used my zero years of medical training to narrow it down to three explanations. Either I have carpal tunnel of the foot, arthritis or my feet are flattening. The initial treatment for all three maladies is ugly orthopedic shoes. Continuing in my pattern of irrational and ridiculous behavior, I have decided my best cause of action is to wait and see if it goes away or becomes more unpleasant.

In Doug’s often uttered words, “If you’re going to be dumb, you’d better be tough.”

karma in action

No matter how carefully you scour clearance racks and sales for school Bingo night prizes, the one prize that you feel a wee bit squeamish about is the one that your 8-y-o will choose.

“I got glitter glue! Glitter glue! Isn’t it cool? I love glitter glue. I can’t wait to use it on everything.”

We don’t need no stinking printers

As I was trying to think of something optimistic to say to all of the Senior parents questioning why behemoth Balfour shows no signs of delivering the mass printed invitations for an event that is less than five weeks away, the world’s cutest handcrafted graduation announcement arrived in my mailbox.

Now, I’m considering anarchy. Everyone should demand refunds and meet at the high school with their sizzix machines!

Maybe I didn’t need that extra cup of coffee today.

a brand new tree

What do you call an extended family reunion of people who didn’t know each other existed until recently? It’s certainly not a “re”-union. I’m still working on the correct word for the occasion, but it is happening next month. People, pictures, slides, old movies and a mix of happy and anxious feelings are going to collide in a gathering that took more than 70 years to happen.

I don’t buy mascara

Once I aged out of the green and purple mascara phase, I stopped buying mascara. My mascara is now an ever changing supply of free samples, bonus gifts and giveaways. I don’t know how mascara manufacturers make any money when their product is given away like matchbooks in 1970s restaurants. Sometimes the sample is a blobby grossness that gets thrown in the trash, but most of the time, the quality is slight variations of perfectly fine. If I ever came across a mascara that was significantly better than all the others, I would add it to my shopping list. I have yet to come across a mascara that was worth giving up on the endless supply of free mascaras being distributed. When the cosmetic industry finally comes to their collective mascara senses, I hope they switch to lip gloss. I spend a fortune replacing the constantly disappearing, tiny tubes of goo that I chew off of my lips.

a visit to the DMV

Last week, I drove StacheMan to the DMV on the edge of town. That particular location is the only option for some of the most popular DMV services, including renewing the permit that StacheMan uses as his photo ID. If the services were available in downtown Knoxville, like they SHOULD be, StacheMan could have used a city bus and had a grand adventure. Instead, he had to listen to me sing along with the radio for an hour. It wasn’t pretty.

While StacheMan played the bureaucracy game, I enjoyed the warm sunshine and hummed instead of singing. A steady stream of people arriving and leaving from the building made the time pass quickly. It was fairly obvious which arrivals were there for permits as someone more child than teen would arrive with an older adult and the younger of the two would bounce into the building with unimpeded joy. Driving tests looked like two people hopping in a car for a ride, but one of them carried a clipboard and made great poker face.

The more I watched, the less variety I saw in behavior patterns. This is the way you act when you do that was the rule of the day and venue.

A teen walked to the minivan that was parked on the edge of the lot. You know, the place that you park when you don’t have the courage to park near other vehicles. The clipboard walked beside him. An angry, foul mouthed middle aged female exited the building behind me and got increasingly loud until she arrived directly beside my passenger side. She slammed her door as she got in her sedan style car.

The teen in the minivan adjusted mirrors and looked around as he went through some 100 point checklist in his head. Clipboard sat motionless. Beside me, the sedan engine roared and the tires made a slight whine as the driver slammed into and over the grassy curb between the parking rows. I turned to stare. She spun her tires briefly, then dropped off the curb with such force that the entire front frame of her car slapped the parking lot. I suddenly noticed that StacheMan was standing between the angry sedan and my car.

Before I could react, StacheMan retreated to the bumper of my car. According to my heart and stomach, he wasn’t far enough from the situation. With enough speed to perfume the air with the smell of ruined tires, the sedan backed up and squealed out of the parking lot. It was only then that I realized a clipboard with a dropped jaw sat in the angry sedan.

I turned toward the angry sedan’s path, but it was nowhere to be seen. There was only a minivan with a flashing turn signal, slowly exiting the parking lot.

My immediate reaction was befuddlement that the clipboard didn’t request that the sedan stop and let the clipboard retreat to the safety of the DMV building. After some time to replay this in my head, I am far more concerned that the angry sedan driver was allowed to continue and quite possibly, pass their driving test.

The old L&N sign

The L&N STEM Academy is housed inside an old Victorian that began as a train station in 1905. The Louisville & Nashville Railroad or L&N Station, stopped being a train station in 1975 and played a part in the 1982 World’s Fair before becoming a STEM school in 2011. The students and staff are very mindful of the building’s historic significance and beauty. Though the old L&N sign in front of the school is worn by time and weather, it is a revered reminder of Knoxville history.

A clever parent turned a picture of the sign in its’ exact current condition, into the design for this year’s spring t-shirt. The shirt is nostalgic, yet the profits from the sale of the shirt will help fund things like wet labs, podcasting studio supplies and educational travel expenses. Buy a shirt to show your pride of Knoxville’s past. Buy a shirt to show your hope for Knoxville’s future. Buy a shirt because it’s cool.

L&N STEM order form

Thank you!

L&N shirt order form

It COULD have been a Brown Recluse

A few weeks ago, Doug was in California for a week of training. Without Doug’s tech humming and his cacophony of body noises, our bedroom is eerily quiet at night. As I sat in bed wasting time on a game instead of doing something useful, I heard a bug hum. I wasn’t sure if it was wings, pinchers or legs, but it was most definitely a creepy crawly noise. Since our bedroom is the basement of our old house, we get all manner of ghastly invertebrate visitors when spring begins to arrive. Of course, if you’ve read anything I’ve written for the past decade or so, you know that nothing is worse than Brown Recluse spiders and by default, any and all spiders are probably the Brown Recluse variety. Even as you sit there now, the Brown Recluse hordes are probably evolving new camouflage that makes them look like harmless ladybugs.

I tried sitting very still and silent in the hopes that the mutant Recluse would leave. It made a bug noise again. I called the oldest boys. When I say called, I mean that I used my cell phone to call their cell phones. I don’t mean called at the top of my lungs. For one thing, I didn’t want to wake the two children who were already asleep and for another, my vocal cords were nearly paralyzed by an invisible airborne toxin that the Recluse was diffusing into my air supply.

The high school senior disrespectfully mumbled something about studying for an AP Chemistry exam and dealing with it myself. I will be revoking his trust fund as soon as I create said trust fund. The eldest son sighed and said he would bring the troops down to rescue me. I waited for the Ghostbusters.

Unfortunately, instead of proton packs, he carried a cat in each arm. One cat was asleep and the other was visibly miffed at being uprooted from whatever he was already doing. Both cats were unceremoniously dropped on the bed. The sleeping cat immediately curled up in a ball and drifted deeper asleep. The other cat gave me a blank stare as I pointed at the direction of the bug noise. “Get the bug! Get it! Good kitty. Get the bug!” Failing to respond to being addressed as though it were a dog, I picked the cat up and put his face near the sound. He hopped on the dresser, casually swatted something under the spinning storage unit for Blu-Rays and then proceeded to get himself stuck inside that spinner.

I extracted him from his self imposed trap and lifted the spinner to see what he had hidden underneath. The second it was raised, the cat who was supposed to kill the Giant Radioactive Spider, slapped the moving insect to the ground. The cat jumped in one of his secret teleporters and disappeared from the room as I looked closer at the bug.

It was a stink bug.