Maybe We Talk About Harry Potter a Little Too Much?

Tonight at bedtime, Spuds, who has a cold, came to me and said, “Mom, we should get a deluminator.”

“You mean like the one Quinn has?” I asked, because Quinn does, in fact, have a deluminator which turns a little lantern off and on.”

“Yeah,” said Spuds, “but a real one. ”

“Ummm . . . a real one?” I asked tentatively and with a little surprise.  I thought the boy already knew those things aren’t real (in the sense that they don’t work on any and every light built by mankind).

“You know,” he said.  “A real one.  Not one that’s like a cow or a lizard or anything.”

“You want a deluminator but not a cow deluminator?” I asked in complete confusion.  “I’m afraid I have no idea what you’re talking about.  I’ve never seen, let alone heard of, a cow deluminator.”

The mind boggles.  What would be the purpose of a cow deluminator?  For the love . . . please don’t tell me it would be to turn cows on (and off, obviously).  I mean, I used to know someone who collected bull semen for a living, so maybe it would have come in handy in his line of work, but that seems like a lot of magical inventing for a very limited use, no?  Anyway, back to the conversation . . . 

“You know,” he persisted.  “Like the one we took out of Quinn’s room when we were cleaning it”

At this point we were walking up the stairs toward the boys’ bedrooms.

“We took a cow deluminator out of Quinn’s room???  I really don’t know what you’re talking . . .”

And there, at the top of the stairs, was the trusty husband waiting for us next to:

“Do you mean the cow humidifier?”

“Oh, yeah.  That’s what I meant!”

Thank the stars!  Because I did not want my kid asking Santa for a magical device that does nothing more and nothing less than get our bovine population’s hopes up only to profoundly disappoint them moments later, over and over, with the flick of a switch.  We live in the country.  We buy local beef.  I’m thinking that would have to affect the meat in some way.

Tewt the Newt would like to clarify that he is not a lizard.

Swimming in a Bowl of Fruit Loops

When you contact an adjacent land/homeowner to ask if he/she would be interested in selling his/her property to you, and said land/homeowner says he/she will think about it and get back to you, you generally expect one of three things to happen:

  1. The land/homeowner will eventually get back to you with a, “No, I’m not interested in selling.”
  2.  The land/homeowner will eventually get back to you with a, “Yes, I’m interested.  Let’s sit down and talk details and see if we can figure something out.”
  3. The land/homeowner will never get back to you at all.

What you don’t expect, though, what you really don’t expect, is for the land/homeowner to get back to you and say things like:

  1. I feel like I’m being forced out of my home, but I want to retire here.
  2. But then you’d own two houses.  What would you do with two houses?
  3. That seems like an expensive thing to do for your horses.

You don’t expect any of these responses because:

  1. You merely asked, “Would you be interested in selling?”  You did not go over to his/her house with jack-booted thugs and tommy guns, extinguish a cigarette on your forehead in a show of threatening intimidation, and say with a growl, “You want to sell your property to me, don’t you???”
  2. Pretty much anybody who owns a second house, especially one adjacent to the one in which they already live, uses it as a rental property.  It’s an investment.  It’s not a vacation home in Aspen or something (though that could also be used as a rental and still be an investment).
  3. Yes, yes it is expensive for us to buy an entirely new house and piece of property to keep our horses on, but boarding isn’t cheap.  We can pay hundreds of dollars a month to board the beasts (and rarely see them because they’d be miles away and we don’t have time to just drive over and hang out at somebody else’s barn every day), or we can pay close to the same hundreds of dollars a month on a house payment, rent the house out, recoup that money, and still have our horses on the land adjacent to ours.  And all that aside?  Our money is ours.  I know that’s a foreign concept to a lot of people, but it is ours.  If we feel like we can afford to buy a house and let it sit empty and rot, that is entirely our business.

When we first moved here to Canada South, we really liked it.  It was much better than Little Town, or so we thought.  But in the six years we’ve been here?  It’s just been one crazy thing after another.  Crazy church, crazy school, crazy neighbors (this one and another one who threatened to shoot our horses).

We boarded the horses when we first moved here, but then we spoke to the land/homeowner adjacent to us who owns the land that is properly zoned for horses, (ours is not)  (unless we had a lot more of it), and he/she was happy to lease us some acreage.  The land/homeowner said he/she loved horses and was glad he/she would be able to see horses on his/her walks through the property.

We said, “Great!  Name your price.”  The land/homeowner did, and we did not haggle, did not dither, did not bargain, wrangle, quibble, or deal.  We just happily wrote a check and signed a contract.  For five years, we have been doing this, and for five years it has been a win-win, or so we thought.

A few months ago, when the contract was up for renewal, the land/homeowner informed us that he/she would renew for one more year, but this would be the last time.

  1. “Your horses need to be on 10-20 acres to run,” he/she said.
  2. “Sometimes I see them standing in mud,” he/she said.
  3. “I feel like I’ve been taken advantage of,” he/she said.

Three horses don’t need 10-20 acres.  In fact, many horses are stall boarded and stand in confining little rooms for most of their lives, so the couple acres we do have them on are really sufficient.  And?  We feed them.  They aren’t dependent upon the grass on those couple of acres.

Horses stand in mud sometimes, especially if it has been rainy or the snow has recently melted.  They stand in their own waste if they are stall boarded.  They don’t have to stand in the muddy area of their pasture.  They choose to do it.  I don’t pretend to understand why.  I’m not a horse.

We have been paying the exact price that was asked.  How have we taken advantage of anyone?

I really shouldn’t be shocked by any of this at this point.  We’ve been here long enough that I should know better.  Crazy church, crazy schools, crazy neighbors.  That’s just how it is.  I can’t decide if we’re in Wonderland or The Twilight Zone.

“I feel like I’m living in a bowl of fruit loops,” I told my husband last night.

“I almost expect Rod Serling to show up at our door,” he said.

“That would be the first thing to happen around here that actually makes sense,” I replied.

Tewt the Newt agrees.



After Fifteen Years . . .

This morning when I checked Facebook, the first thing I saw in my news feed was that a friend had changed her profile picture to one of her and her fiancee.  The new profile picture had to have been taken at least 15 years ago.  Instantly, the tears came.  I know the picture is at least 15 years old because she lost him 15 years ago today.

Like everyone else, I remember where I was.  I remember getting a phone call, from my mother I think, telling me to turn on the t.v. and watch the news.  Then I called one of my best friends and told her to do the same.  Then I sat on the floor in front of my television, tears streaming down my face, as I watched the morning news, watched a tower smoke and burn behind the anchor, imagined the agony and terror of those trapped above the impact zone,  and then, unexpectedly, watched the second plane hit the second tower on live television.  A~ and L~ were just weeks away from their 4th and 2nd birthdays, respectively, and they still remember their mom watching t.v. and crying.

I remember going to Sam’s Club the next day.  I felt the need to add some things — any things — to our rather limited food storage.  I remember walking up and down the aisles amazed that there weren’t more people stocking up on food, all things considered, and equally amazed that, after what had just happened, I could still walk into a store and buy food.  While the dust in Manhattan and elsewhere was literally still settling, while thousands of people were mourning and searching and hoping, I was able to buy food and take it home.  It felt . . . eerie.  And wrong.  And comforting.  The mood in the store was so somber.  It was like buying groceries at a funeral.  It kind of was buying groceries at a funeral.

Every year I remember 9/11.  Every year I think of my friend, who I didn’t “meet” until about five or six years later.  I have to put “meet” in quotes because we’ve never actually met in real life.  I “met” her through our Vietnam adoption process, and when we realized at the last minute that we needed to get visas in order to enter China to catch a connecting flight to Vietnam, and we weren’t sure if we needed to go to the Chinese consulate in Chicago or the one in New York to get the visas, she was right there, in my email in-box, offering to help in whatever way she could if we had to go to NYC.  I was so touched by her willingness to sacrifice and to serve when she’d never actually met us.  I was so touched by her humanity.  And today, when I saw that picture, I was touched again by a sense of both tragedy and humanity.

I have always taken time to remember 9/11, to talk about it with my kids, to watch with them portions of a documentary I bought years ago.  It’s been 15 years now, and?  I know for so many, especially those younger than about 17 or 18, it’s just a blip on the radar of history, one of the newer hash marks on the timeline.  Even for me, the magnitude of the tragedy of that day was starting to fade just a bit.  Seeing her picture this morning put faces on 9/11 — the face of one who was lost and the face of one who survived that loss, and it reminded me . . . it reminded me of the horror of that day and of the outpouring of humanity in the days following.  It reminded me that, no matter how awful things are, sacrifice and service — humanity — are the solution.  We didn’t sustain our humanity as a nation for very long because we forgot.  We say we’ll never forget, the tragedy will never fade, but look how we behaved as a nation then and how we behave as a nation now.  It’s sad.  It’s tragic.  But it’s not too late.  If we, many of us, most of us, could live lives of sacrifice, service, and selflessness –lives of humanity — on the family level, eventually it would spread and enculturate our nation.  It all starts at home.  Good or bad, everything starts at home.

Fifteen years ago today, I had two children who were watching me cry as I stared at a television screen on a Tuesday morning.  This morning, in the privacy of my bedroom, none of my six children saw me cry as I stared at my cell phone screen.  I’ll talk about it with them in a bit, after our dinner company comes and goes.  I’m sure they’ll see me cry then.  We have to move on, but I don’t want to forget.  I know most of my children can’t remember — they weren’t born yet, so there is nothing for them to remember — but I want them to understand.  I want them to understand the importance of being good people, living good lives, and contributing to society not only by not detracting from it, but by serving it and sacrificing for it.  I want them to understand just how far down the wrong path a lack of humanity can take us, and I want them to resolve, or strengthen their resolve, to stand for and perpetuate all that is good and humane.  And I want them to understand that all of the sacrifice, service and selflessness — it all starts at home.

Tewt the Newt wants the same.

Tomorrow, maybe, I’ll share a talk I gave in church on the first Sunday following the Sept. 11 attacks.  I had been asked weeks before to speak that Sunday on the topic of preparedness.