A hatless wonder…

Oddly enough (again waiting for the other shoe to drop,) J has been completely cooperative when it comes to the sans hat portions of the day. There has been very little anxiety involved, and hardly any egg-timer watching.  This is highly suspicious, wouldn’t you agree?  In spite of the potential for disaster involved in each new thing we try to implement, I can definitely admire the shape of my son’s head and the wonderful head of hair he has.  I could get used to this bare-headed person we see around the house now…

Today, in the midst of all the container gardening, bathroom cleaning, closet and garage organizing, J was hatless for a whole half hour…and, oh miracle of miracles and wonder of wonders, he wasn’t even in the same room where the hats were left.  For half an hour, J helped me sweep the garage, stow away large bins full of winter gear and clothes, and not a single peep regarding his hats.  When he finally came back to where the hats were and realized the timer had rung in his absence, he politely asked for his hat back rather than snatch it as he would have in the past.

I’m so happy I’m about to cry…

For a while now, the boxing gloves stay behind when we go out.  We no longer look like the posse of a dude who’s itching for a fight and willing to equip his opponent.  I would credit the medication completely if I didn’t think that, ahem and pat on the back, WE have a lot to do with this…and, of course, J is the one who deserves the most credit.

I remember being told (mainly by my siblings and sometimes by my peers and my mother) “oh, GROW UP!”  I was trying to do it as fast as I could, but -important lesson learned in hindsight- those things take time…for some people they take longer than for others.  TGG, bless him, has taken his sweet time to divest himself of the layers of youth and immaturity to slowly reach the core of grown-up that we all -eventually- reach.  He’s got a ways to go…I hope he takes his time because I like TGG even if he tries my patience (and sanity) on a nearly daily basis.  The same thing can be said about J.  I love him as he is, with every quirk and hiccup, but I can see he’s starting to change.

Babies negotiate by crying, and they don’t even know they’re negotiating.  The loud siren of a baby that wants to be fed at 2 a.m. trains the parent, not the child, and it is up to us to reciprocate the training with some of our own.  We use the word NO and they learn to use it, too.  For some of us the word NO has been around longer and louder than for others.  With TGG I used to sit him down and say “NO” while looking him in the eye, and then I’d explain why he couldn’t do the harebrained thing, have the snack, eat the cookie, cut his own hair (YES, I KNOW I did the same thing to my hair…this does not escape me,) and so forth.  The “look him in the eye” part has always been iffy with J…until now.

There is pausing involved in our exchanges these days.  J actually asks for things, looks at me (with eye to eye contact and full attention) and waits for my answer.  I can now sit him down and say “we’re putting the timer on so we can not wear the hat while it’s ticking,” and J accepts this with less and less trepidation each time, even as the time without the hat gets longer and longer.   (Hey, we went from ten minutes to half an hour in a matter of one day…I’m not cackling like a hen that’s just laid the biggest egg in Christendom, but I’m pretty happy about this.)  Our J…the kid who used to walk around wearing a boxing helmet and wouldn’t take it off without screaming because it was, to him, almost a part of his body, is now calmly walking around without his “security blankets.”  He doesn’t even blink, and he doesn’t run for them when the time is up…

If we can pull this off, I will feel more comfortable about giving him less medication.  If I can negotiate this with him and take away that particularly sweaty and smelly emotional crutch, I’ll head into summer with greater confidence in our ability to help J as he matures.  The red scrum cap perhaps will end up hanging on the Hat Rack of Fame along with the furry hat, the black scrum caps that have seen better days, the Rasta hats…  I might even make a special display case for all these things and put a bronze plaque next to them: Here hang the formerly beloved accessories that J wore to boost his self-assuredness, his emotional well-being.  Together (at times in layers) they made his parents fear his head would shrink.  Individually, they served the purpose of deflating, very slowly, an already ailing bank account.  They are gone, but not forgotten…or missed.

I know, I know.  I am dreaming at this point.  I am hoping that I will achieve what is, around these parts, a feat of great skill…and I won’t even be the one who’s doing it; that’ll be J…the kid with the gorgeous eyes and wonderful head of hair who’s been hiding under layers of head coverings.  You should’ve seen him today…busily moving back and forth, putting together some shelves, wielding a hammer like a pro, carrying heavy things, sweeping with a shop broom, ripping his pants because they caught on something and laughing like it was the funniest thing…

And he did it all hatless…

It was quite the sight to see…



Getting ready for Friday…

Let the experiments begin…

In collaboration with the school, we are working on J spending a little less time wearing the layers of head covers; that is…we’re working on a little less hat-time and a little more “oh, is that the top of your head???” time.  He does have a lovely head of hair…it will be nice to see it from time to time or, in fact, all the time.

I have decided that we will spend, to start, three ten-minute chunks of time being hatless.  Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?  Do not be fooled by the apparent simplicity of the move.  This morning, at school, J decided this was the time to negotiate.  He took his hat off and then, because of his compliance, decided that he could determine the rest of the schedule for the day…  He was promptly disabused of the notion…

Tomorrow, the start of a long weekend, we will work on being hatless.  And we will pray.  And we might sacrifice a small animal or two (not true…we won’t do that…but we will be praying most fervently.)

The trick, I think, will be keeping him occupied and happy while the hats are off.  We are going to reorganize the garage.  Yes, that’s all I could come up with in terms of entertaining and engaging him.  I didn’t say it was perfect or fun…it’s just something that will pass the time and, hopefully, distract him from the fact that his head is bare.

We will be doing some container gardening this weekend.  We need to buy more dirt.  We need more containers.  I am now armed with a can of wasp and hornet killer because yesterday we had to capture a wasp in the hand-held vacuum cleaner and that, my friends, was another traumatic experience for the books.

So, there you have it.  I am going to attempt the second at-home ten-minute hatless chunk of time.  Wish me luck.  I’m going to need it.

Well…THAT was awkward!

Anyone who reads this and has known me for a long time will laugh and roll their eyes at the following statement: I can spend hours, days even, without talking.  I am a lot quieter than I seem.

I hope the pause has been long enough for you to expend your disbelief and your desire to roll around the floor laughing, like the monkey I got J from thinkgeek.

It is absolutely true.  I don’t talk as much as I seem to, and most of my social talking is in response to the awkwardness of silence.  Do I come across as stupid or morose when I don’t talk?  Do I seem saturnine (an expression my mother would throw at me whenever she wanted to remind me I’d never attract a man with such an attitude) or crabby?  If the person sitting or standing opposite me seems even remotely bored, I go off on what can only be described as rapid-fire conversation…and I say the STUPIDEST and most INANE things you can possibly imagine.  I walk away rolling my eyes at myself and wanting to kick my own fanny.

So…we went to the psychiatrist yesterday.  (You see where this is going, don’t you?)  We had not been since January and, on that day, my darling husband was there with me.  Our doctor, like the majority of psychiatrists, sat there asking random questions, gauging our body language and seeing if it matched what we were saying as he typed notes into his computer.  The tack, tack, tack, tack, tack of the keyboard seems to increase in speed only to, quite suddenly, stop cold (as in disbelief) and then resumes.  Yesterday was no different, except…

The last time we went in I had a full head of hair.  I’d yet to have the big hot flash crisis of February which, compounded with menopausally (I KNOW it’s not a word, but bear with me) thinning hair and my natural inclination to lose my patience with my own grooming (heaven help me were I ever to be reincarnated as a feline,) inspired me to cut all my hair off in much the same manner I shear the men in the household from time to time.  Because of the full head of hear, the one facial feature I’ve been most self-conscious about and concealing for the past…forty-seven years?…was not apparent.  Yesterday, balder and bolder, I sat across from the doctor and watched him watching us.

TGG is not the most emotionally forthcoming individual.  He also feels that psychiatrists are a waste of time because his months-long interaction with one yielded little more than uh-huh…yes…hmmmm, and left him feeling like he’d done it all for naught.  J, of course, sits silently, holding his boxing gloves and looking around the room (this time the furniture had a different placing so he was trying to commit it to memory) and I…well…I had to fill the void with my chatter.

How are things?

I HATE that question because there is no answer that will please the listener, elicit a response or make me look less over-compensating, is there????  I explained that J seems to be doing well; he has his moments when he gets angry at us and displays his discontent quite openly, stomping up the stairs and wanting to assert his will over ours, but that we don’t give in to his demands.  I also mentioned that he goes out without his boxing gloves now although he was carrying them yesterday.  I mentioned that he has had moments when he wants to be alone, or he wants to cry, but he resolves his desire for solitude and cries until he feels better…and that this doesn’t take long.  I mentioned that, more and more, we see adolescent reactions to us grown-ups and we make sure that we don’t crowd him physically or emotionally.

All this was said quickly, animatedly, with a lot of hand gestures…and I tried to imbue it with the same humor I apply to everything.

I told TGG to please interject and express whatever he thought was necessary, and -in the usual fashion- he said very little.  The doctor asked if J seemed depressed, we both said no…with varying degrees of alacrity.  The doctor asked about whether we’d want to still try reducing the dose of Risperdal over the summer and I said yes, we would, with the caveat that we would want to discuss it at the next session based on observations I was willing to take down regarding J’s behavior.  I wanted to document if there was a spike in crying, anger, tantrums or self-injury so that we could make a fact-based decision and know more of what we might encounter during the “experiment” over the summer.  I also told the doctor that, because J is very routine-centric, I’d like to continue to give him the spoonful of medicine with the usual amount of Pixy Stix once a day, and a dummy version of it at the time when the other dose would have been dispensed.

And we were almost out the door…

And as I was lifting my butt off the chair and the kids were shuffling to head out, “is there anything J might be worried about?,” the doctor said looking at my head.  “I see the haircut.  The…(he motioned towards the side of my face where my birthmark sits)…has there been any testing????”

Cue the over-compensator.

“It’s just a haircut!  I was tired of my hair and…swoosh…off with it.  My husband did it!  That’s a hemangioma…I’ve had it since I was born!  No, my health is fine!!!”

The doctor didn’t get defensive, but he seemed…doubtful?

We agreed to meet again in mid-June.  We walked out.  We scheduled the next appointment and then the boys and I walked to the car.

“He thinks I have cancer????,” I said to TGG.  “Sure sounded like it!  WHY?,” he responded, a lilt of WTF in his voice.  No idea.  We were pretty stunned that the doctor would look at my hair and assume I was not telling him there was a major situation going on that might affect J.  I, ladies and gentlemen, who chatter away and tell him things like “I know that my role in their lives is changing and I’m trying to adjust to it, but we know he realizes that he’s not the same anymore either and we respect that.”

My husband was pretty slack-jawed when we told him.  “It’s a HAIRCUT!  Did you explain?,” he asked as we navigated out of the hospital’s parking lot, driving home from picking him up at work.  I told him I did…I felt I shouldn’t have had to do it, though.  I felt it was rather…indelicate?  Wouldn’t I, who have e-mailed the doctor to tell him that J sat in a restaurant to eat!!!!!, given him a heads-up so that we could deal with a significant source of turmoil?

At three in the morning, I sat bolt upright in bed.  I woke up and realized, SHIT!!!!!!  This man thinks that’s a bruise, not a birthmark!  The doctor thinks I’m chatty and TGG is saturnine, J might be depressed and my husband wasn’t there BECAUSE HE BEATS ME!!!!!!!!!!!!

This has happened before…the misunderstanding, not the beating…at the grocery store, well over 20 years ago, a woman walked up to me and asked if I’d been beaten…I pointed to my ex-husband and said “oh, yeah…every morning…with a coffee pot!”  And I laughed.  How can anyone mistake a smooth-surfaced port-wine stain 2 inches in diameter, located over the right eye and clearly visible when I’m angry or anxious or irritated or excited or crying for a bruise?  Wouldn’t I have tried to conceal it?  Wouldn’t I have tried to cover it with makeup?  I have spent a lifetime trying to make it less visible because it made me feel ugly, and now that I am sure of myself and flaunt it…

Yeah…that was indeed quite awkward…


Not casting sticks, stones, bones, beans, coins…but smelling skunks

Miss Pipa (our youngest cat) is a bold and brave feline.  Felina Diva 2.  She wakes up every morning wanting to leap out into the vast world.  The grass, at first, was a mystery to her; she is, after all, a cat born and raised in the high desert so grass was never something she experienced up close and personally.  The spongy green thing freaked her out when we first came here; her big green eyes would get even bigger and she would tentatively put out a paw to test out the texture.  She didn’t like it until she fell in love with it, and now the rest is history. Every evening, at around six, she dashes to the kitchen balcony to poke her head out and wait for the bunnies that seems to inhabit the areas under some of the decks.  Swoosh to one side goes the tail and then, very slowly, swoosh to the other side; this goes on for a while until the bunnies appear and then it’s swooshswooshswooshswoosh as she lifts her haunches and stretches her neck farther out.  The bunnies, it seems, don’t really mind her.  Please note I’ve said “it seems” because the insistent presence of skunks marking territory at the edge of our deck in the middle of the night tells me the bunnies sent them…the smell wafted quite insistently so I think they were taking turns coming to pee.

And, without further ado, that is how we know it is officially SPRING!  The hundreds of bees that went about their business, milling around bushes while I waited for the bus, were a pretty good indication of this change in season.  The geraniums a neighbor has put in a container on her front porch were yet another hint.  The trees that are flowering pink and white in a profusion of petals that suddenly get carried by the wind are a dead giveaway.  J, with his open window and his cotton-thread Rasta hat, has joined the ranks of the believers…he’s surrendered to the warm weather.  Little by little we notice more and more leaves, and less and less of our view of the river.

Today is when we go to the psychiatrist for our follow-up visit.  I am sure we’ll broach the subject of whether to reduce J’s medication to half its dose.  I am scared.

OK…let me rephrase that, if I may.  The idea of going down to half a dose of J’s med gives me pause, I don’t know if either one of us is ready for this.  Our psych is pretty cool.  He seems a nice enough guy, and he’s shown concern for our general well-being since we started seeing him late last year.  I hope that we are ready for this conversation because, quite frankly, it needs to happen.  What we will be deciding is pretty monumental because our family’s delicate emotional balance depends on J’s emotional balance.  (I think I’m about to hyperventilate.)

Last night, in a roundabout way, I asked my husband what he wanted me to discuss with the doctor today.  He has a very important meeting this afternoon and he might not make it to the appointment.  J, TGG and I will be the ones to sit there, recapping the events since January and peering at the long road ahead.  When the roundabout question didn’t elicit the reaction I expected (that is: a point blank answer,) I decided to give the subject the degree of attention it requires, so I put the bell on the cat and opened discussion…

Trepidation is rife around here.  It’s not cowardice, it’s just that we know where we’ve been, how it’s gone and how badly we don’t want to resume our former roller-coaster ride of a family existence.  I wish Henry Kissinger could watch us talk about this because he’d surely laugh at all the euphemisms we use.  No one says “I don’t want J to go bat-shit crazy again,” but that’s what we mean.  I heard myself say “our son is mental health patient” last night and it didn’t sound as scary as if I’d been yelling it into the phone while calling 9-1-1.  I said it calmly, matter-of-factly.  It felt okay.  I didn’t want to cry and I didn’t feel like a failure because, for once, it was not attached to a tantrum, it was attached to the context of medication.  We’ve progressed, but we don’t want to take too significant a step back.

When is it that boys’ relationships with their mothers change?  I know my relationship with both J and TGG has altered somewhat, but I can’t exactly tell the one moment that defined that change.  Change, maybe, is too strong a word so I’ll use evolve because it sounds so much more enlightened.  We have moved past the point me being the center to me being on the edges, called to action when needed.  I don’t yet know what to do with this knowledge.  Last night I told my husband “I suddenly sort of understand why women suddenly go all Eat Pray Love.”  His head shot up like a rocket and his eyes were wide so I immediately explained that I wasn’t PLANNING on going Eat Pray Love…I could just understand the notion of soul searching and self-discovery a little better.  I am a dinosaur, I told him; fourteen years ago this would have made me infinitely cooler than it does now because TGG was in the throes of “I want to be a paleontologist!”

What do you mean you’re a dinosaur?, my husband asked, literally stopping his invasion of Northern Africa or Sicily or whatever area of the planet his World War II game is in at this particular moment.  “I mean I have completed the bulk of my tasks as a mother.  That role, it’s active part, is pretty much done.  This is the part where I reel in and maintain a consultant status, but I’m not running the show anymore.  They know I’m here if they need me, but they don’t need me all the time like they used to.”  So, he said, it’s not that I’m a dinosaur, it’s that I’m a consultant?  I rolled my eyes and laughed.  Yes, I guess so.

TGG says he hopes I grow to be an old lady a la Sophia Petrillo in The Golden Girls.  My husband always interjects “and you think this is NOT going to happen because?????”  I’d rather be Judi Dench’s Jean Pargeter in As Time Goes By.  Neither one has a J in their lives, but I think they’re both fairly good models.  Jean, however, is closer to who I am now…and my husband is closer to Lionel Hardcastle than to Sophia’s Salvatore.

I don’t know if the skunks last night were an omen of a rocky summer with half the medication.  I don’t know if Felina Diva 2’s enthusiasm for certain things is something I should emulate as I continue to realize that I have to shift gears where it comes to my role in my family’s life. I don’t know if I need to read Eat Pray Love again or watch the food in the movie…  I’d rather not take the skunks as an omen, thank you…it’s just sheer, unadulterated dislike of the cat, I’m sure…I hope, I hope, I hope…

The trash comes at 4:30 a.m.

One has dreams of being awakened by kind sunlight slowly seeping between curtains while a lovely spring breeze floats in, bringing with it a distant chirp here, a rustling of branches barely starting to get buds there.  The grind and creak of the garbage truck, with its metallic squeaking and its engine rumbling, is not the most pastoral sound in the world.  At the first groan from metal jaws lifting the metal container that has been overloaded with white, green and black trash bags, the thought that comes to mind is “what time is it?”  I didn’t even have to turn around and verbalize this because my handsome husband, sounding like he’d just heard someone say he had to go out and lift the truck with his bare hands, said “it’s way too early.  Another hour ’til the alarm goes off.”

Four-thirty a.m.  Clank, groan, whirr, squeak and a burst of loud thunder.  And welcome to Monday…

I fought the temptation of getting up until I realized how close the lightning was and decided to unplug the computers…TGG’s is on the third floor, mine is in the basement.  I made a quick tour of the house and found cats waiting eagerly to be let out.  One foot outside made them change their minds so in they came, fast as arrows.  By the time I got comfortable and felt ready to drift off again WHEEP WHEEP WHEEP WHEEP, and my husband leapt out of bed more out of habit than a desire to be up and about.

What is it about Monday mornings?  No single song about Mondays is happy or encourages one to embrace the beginning of the work week: Manic Monday refers to our desire to go back to Sunday; Monday, Monday tells us that every other day of the week is fine; aside from the part where Brenda Anna Spencer shoots people, we can all agree with the general sentiment of I Don’t Like Mondays.  As the adults in the household grudgingly drag their butts down the hallway, a happy giggle and the click of his bedside lamp tell us that J is, of course, finally in his element: a weekday with plenty to do.  We exchange glances and, like extras from The Walking Dead who are rehearsing before going in to have their zombie makeup done, we go in search of coffee.

Last night, as I was saying goodnight to J, I realized he’s been chewing on his right thumb.  He does this from time to time; it’s almost as if he starts chewing at a little bit of skin that bothers him and decides to keep going.  I sat with him and asked if he was worried about something and he lifted his eyes towards me while his teeth nibbled on a piece of skin.  “Please, don’t chew your thumb.  It’s not good for you.”  I cleaned the skin and put two bandaids on just to give him something to work on before going back to flesh.  When I came in again about half an hour later, the bandaids were still on and J gave me an offended look that said “you don’t trust me???”

Dada gives him his bath and shave for Sunday night.  It’s like taking a car to get detailed.  J looked fresh, handsome and shiny when he came out, and he was very proud of himself as we sat there together.  Had it not been for nibbling at flesh, it would have been a perfect moment.  I went back to the basement where the rest of the male population in our household was watching The Walking Dead.  I waited for a commercial to start right after someone got cornered in a camper and the zombies feasted on his flesh.  “That’s what J was doing when I went to say goodnight,” I said.  “He was in a camper?” TGG asked.  I rolled my eyes towards him and my husband looked at me with as much understanding of the statement as TGG had just exhibited.  I explained about the thumb-gnawing.  Oooooohh!  He does that, TGG says; he chews on his thumb.  Well, I KNOW, I said…he just seems to have turned an appetizer into a light lunch.

With the same objective tone that mothers use, TGG went through a list of questions: is there blood?  Can you see bone?  Is he enjoying it a little too much?  Has he asked for condiments?  The first two questions he got from me; whenever he used to come running with some hyperbolic reaction to a minor incident, I’d go through a similar list: is there blood?  Can you see bone?  Is the person capable of speaking?  Can they move?  Can they keep their eyes open?  I just figured, I said, I’d let you all know that while you’re down here watching zombies feast of fresh human flesh, your brother is staging a minimalistic version of your Sunday night pastime in his room.  I was miffed, but it was mostly because I had just caught myself reacting as TGG and J would have many years ago.

By this morning the bandaids were gone, and J -who had been up in the middle of the night closing his window- showed me he hadn’t nibbled on his thumb again.  We got ready for school with Kristy MacColl singing In These Shoes in the background; this is a happier way of starting the week than, say, Fairytale of New York.  J, of course, was shimmying around his room, joyfully preparing to depart this place from which the fun seems to be sucked out by the presence of parents.  All the way to school, my husband tells me, the radio is blaring and there is deep disappointment when he doesn’t get to finish whatever song he’s rocking to because they’ve arrived at school.  “It’s the half-hour of the day when he really likes me,” my husband says, “and then I go ahead and ruin it by getting to where we’re going.”  Welcome to the club, I tell him, I am dirt and rocks most of the time and I fritter away my brief popularity by speaking to him!

Between the presence of hot flashes, the children tolerating our presence, the trash truck waking us up (irreversibly, which is the worst part) at 4:30 a.m. and the fact that we now say things like “can you believe the price of butter?  This is like the 70s with the price of gas climbing so high!!!,” it’s official…  We have turned into our parents, circa the 80s.


Sunday…the weekend reels in…

And, just like that, it’s almost over.  The weekend has been used up…we managed to sneak in a walk down by the river (where, surprise surprise, people actually hang out!!!) and a trip to the drive-in fast food joint up the road where we had milkshakes.  (The lactose-intolerant mother was wanting one and is now regretting this, but we had fun so I’m ok with the consequences.)

It has been a sunny, warm weekend.  Spring is here and, wasps and all, we’re happy about it.  J even allowed me to remove all the heavy blankets from his bed and replace them with an inexpensive bed cover from the discount department store.  It’s mainly red…that makes it totally cool!  We have spent most of our time letting the air from the outside pour in through windows and open doors, and enjoying the coolness of cotton and the comfort of sandals.  In spite of the power-washing we witnessed at the Dairy Queen yesterday, we doubt that winter will make a comeback of significant proportions, but we’re ready nonetheless…

Seeds for gourds, nasturtiums, morning glories and moonflowers are at hand for when J decides he’s ready to tackle that project.  Today he was unimpressed with the flower selection at the garden center, but I told him that will change while he’s on Spring Break and the weather has proven it’s entered a new phase.  He is looking, I know, for moss roses, geraniums and petunias; he will also be looking for herbs and veggies.  I told him to be patient.

We are slowly speeding up, shaking off the slowness of winter and cold weather.  I am hoping tomorrow morning our mutual friend will want to wear his shorts to school.  The afternoon walk from the bus has turned into a sweat-fest with all the humidity and heat of the day.  At night, J wants his window open and sleeps with the covers off…the small water bottles we keep in the basement are now sought out with more enthusiasm and consumed more quickly.  By June I’m sure they will be protesting the heat, but right now it’s energizing them…TGG has been going on short bike rides around the neighborhood (we all take turns popping out to the balcony to sing the music that goes in Miss Gulch’s bike riding scenes in The Wizard of Oz.  TGG flips us and J thinks this is hilarious!)

So…there you go…we survived a no-school Friday in spite of Hercules, walked down by the river and saw the many, many ducks as well as the people rowing in their little blue boats.  We went for milkshakes and wore warm-weather clothes…

As close as it gets to springtime, isn’t it???

Of cats that won’t come in at night…and wasps that lurk in the doorway

Oh, Saturday…how we long for you from Monday through Friday and how you surprise us when you finally arrive.

Six a.m., a distant meow floats up to our open window.  I’m sure it was there all night, but for the life of me I wouldn’t have heard it over the crying baby and running parents next door.  So, on this fair Saturday when the temperature has reached 78℉, Felina Diva 2 has been profoundly offended by our neglect.  Felina Diva 1 has been tee-heeing at FD2 when she hasn’t been napping on the rocking chair by the open sliding glass door.  FD2 has hissed, meowed and tried to kill me (by tripping me down the stairs) a few times.

It is now almost 8 PM and there is no way either cat will be anywhere near the sliding glass door in the basement level.  Last night, as we watched Muriel’s Wedding, FD1 came over and made a lame attempt at getting our attention.  By the time we went to bed, at nearly 11 PM, she felt she’d done as much as could possibly be expected in the name of her “sister” and she curled up to sleep on a chair.  I am sure a great deal of time was spent sitting at the window, smiling malevolently at the other cat as it meowed and knocked on the glass.  (I’ve watched Lady and the Tramp…I know what cats are capable of, even if they’re not Siamese.)

If we thought the offended cat was a problem, that is because we had yet to try to sweep the front porch.  After J had gone for his outing in town, we came home to do the usual Saturday chores.  We filled out the larvae order form for his butterfly garden, put away the groceries and, when we were done with other menial tasks, J ran upstairs and hid in his room, listening to music.  Once he saw the bottle of window cleaner, the duster, a roll of paper towels and I put Jim Croce into the CD player he knew I meant business.  He made himself scarce.

The one thing we managed, on this fine, fine day, was to take him for a short walk…but we had to take him out the back because, regrettably, Spring has brought around The Wasps.  I don’t mean Aristophanes’ play…I mean actual, angry, very territorial wasps.  OK…it was only ONE wasp, but she meant business.  She REALLY meant business…she was fierce…she was angry…she was faster than any of us.

She was also significantly smaller than any of us, but she has a STINGER!!!!!!!  That we had no wasp-killing spray was a sad development.  Try making a wasp woozy by spraying it with Lysol Disinfectant Spray, please.  She’ll smell antiseptic, but it’s not going to deter her from her mission of taking over the porch.  Try spraying her with Suave Volumizing Hair Spray.  That doesn’t go very well either…especially with all the neighbors watching (and laughing) from behind curtains and blinds.

There is a reason why Homer came up with The Iliad…the Trojan War was actually quite rock and roll.  (I double-dog dare you to not cry, seriously.)  All those spears, all those men…all those ships…  There are no brooms involved in The Iliad.  There was a broom flying like a spear while The Wasp gave me the strangest look I’ve ever seen in such small eyes.  She flew away.  I think it was more out of frustration than fear.  Perhaps it was that she was going, as my husband said, to look for reinforcements.  Also, it could also be that she was telling her other insect friends about the crazy lady (and gentleman…my husband wanted to kill her with a copy of Bon Appétit) that chased her around while running away from her.  We suspect she actually told the whole bug world about us because, as we got ready to cook dinner, three rather large bumblebees were floating in front of the kitchen window, looking at us and laughing.

It may seem to you that bumblebees cannot possibly laugh, but these were laughing and pointing.  Even J found it entertaining to watch them staring at me through the glass.  He wouldn’t open the door, of course, because they are much smaller than he is but he IS more scared of them than they are of him.

All this begs the question: how do we know that the butterflies won’t turn against us?  We don’t.  We’re hoping they’ll be friendly butterflies.  We’re hoping J will intercede for us…he has a way with butterflies.  They will come to him and land, maybe because his hats give a rather floral impression or, perhaps, it’s the whole Ferdinand the Bull thing.

So…we are equipped with seeds for flowers, a butterfly garden, garden soil, containers for plants and, obviously, all the insects that can make anyone’s spring and summer complete.  J is enthused.  He picked packets of nasturtiums and morning glories; he carried the bag of soil; he is starting to feel animated when he sees the sunshine.

I hear a humming sound in the distance…I really hope it’s a plane heading towards the municipal airport.  The alternative, well…I don’t have enough volumizing hair spray to combat a whole horde of angry (or mocking) wasps…