Translation

I am assuming there is a certain “language” all toddlers have that only their parents can understand.  If I am wrong then please, do me and my son a favor and tell me.  Either way it doesn’t really matter but if any of you have been through the toddler stage with your child you might be familiar with this “language”.

Owen will try to say anything you ask him to and usually gets the syllables and the tone correct but it’s the actual pronunciation that is off.  So I have made a “Translation Key”  for Owen’s words just in case any of you get stranded on an island with him. 

Check out my awesome Microsoft Word skills here:

Translation Key

*note-these are the words that are most confusing, not the only words in his repertoire. 

I would like to mention that my lovely brother (http://www.patricksomerville.com/) taught him the word Jesus over Skype a few months back and it is one of the clearest words he says.  My brother, the author, with the immense vocabulary, taught him to say Jesus.  I can’t think of a word we use less of in this house.  Of course, I said it the other day about the number of sugar ants on my counter and he said it back to me.  It is possible that I taught him the word.  I also heard him repeat the word Dammit last week.   Time for a swear jar.

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It Bloody Well Serves You Right

The same year Elmo was stolen I  had a “freshman drunken injury”. The reason I’m telling this is because the events that took place following my fall are quite fantastic (in hindsight of course). Let’s just say that the outcome of this fiasco was me getting kicked out of the campus urgent care for being a smartass to the doctor on call which led to me not being properly treated for my broken foot.

It all started when a bunch of us girls decided to go off campus to a party at a friend’s house. We went over there to play cards and I ended up getting waaaay too intoxicated.  There was a point in the evening when I remember that every time I made a noise of any kind (talking, coughing, sniffing etc…) I had to take a drink of whatever I was drinking.

This was  obviously not the smartest thing I have ever done but college makes you do really stupid things in the name of fun. I don’t regret much in my life but I do wish I could take this night back.

After the party my roommate and I headed back to the dorms to go to bed. We both had our beds in a lofted position with one ladder that led to both. I had to cross over into her bed to get up and down the ladder.

As soon as we settled into bed and someone knocked on the door. My roommate refused to answer it so I did (this was the regret part). According to her I didn’t even make it onto the first rung of the ladder. I did however,  go down it. But not with my feet. I remember plunging to the floor taking everything I could get my hands on with me including an alarm clock a fan and some pillows.

I did land on my feet. Well, one foot actually. The side of one foot. I remember laying there thinking to myself something was wrong with my foot but all I could focus on was the broken fan spinning near my ear and how I could potentially be hurt by it.  I managed to get up and hop to the door to answer it and seeing my friend walking down the hall. I yelled to him to come back and help me but he said he was tired.

I finally convinced my roommate to get down from bed to assess the situation. She was yelling at me telling me to just go to bed but I couldn’t. She finally gets down and says “MOVE YOUR TOES”,  “SARA! MOVE YOUR TOES!”. I yelled back “I AM!!!”. I guess they weren’t moving because she said “I think we need to go to the hospital”.

I met my roommate about a week before school started.  She was from Montana and was the scariest person I had ever met (of course that’s not saying much since I grew up in green bay and the scariest person there was the lunch lady from grade school).  She was one of the top shot put and discus throwers in the state. She was also probably the strongest girl i had ever met. I say this because without her carrying me half a mile across campus on her shoulders in the middle of winter I would have been in real trouble. She even fell on the ice once and managed to not let go of me.

We get to the campus hospital around 3 am and I am sobering up a little and starting to feel the pain yet still drunk enough to be a total pain in the ass to the doctor. I don’t know why I felt the need to give him such a hard time. I take that back.  I do know why.  It’s because I was obviously drunk and he asked me how much I had to drink that night. I was annoyed because I assumed it was obvious by my behavior that I had more than I should have. I became so obnoxious at one point that he had to separate me from the rest of the patients that were staying there. He left the room at one point and when he came back in I yelled “what’s up fucker!” as loud as I could. Of course my roommate and I thought it was hilarious.  He definitely punished me for it.

Fed up and obviously not concerned with my overall health the doctor sent me home with a very tight ace bandage wrapped around my foot. He told me there was nothing he could do and since I had so much to drink he couldn’t give me any pain medication.  When we got back to the dorms it was about 4 in the morning and I remember a bunch of people in our room trying to figure out how they were going to get me up into my lofted bed.  Even out 4 foot tall RA was there adding her words of wisdom.  I can’t remember how I got up there but someone must have hoisted me in. 

It’s always difficult waking up in the morning after a long night of drinking. Even more difficult with an untreated broken foot. The doctor had wrapped my foot so tightly that it had swelled around the bandage. I took the bandage off and my entire foot was blue. Not. Good.

We decided it was probably a good idea to go to the ER and have it x-rayed. I knew it was broken. I think I have broken at least 10 bones in my body and I know the look of a broken bone and certainly know the feeling.

I ended up with a walking cast and crutches for the next 8 weeks. Did I mention it was the middle of winter? Crutches on ice are incredibly embarrassing not to mention useless. I recall some “friends” enjoying stealing my crutches and throwing snowballs at me.

The worst part was having to fly home for Thanksgiving and having to explain to my entire family what happened. I thought about making up a nicer story but I’ve never been very good at lying so I just stuck with the truth. Most of the family thought it was pretty funny except for my mother.  My mother, with her English accent, said something to the effect of,  “it bloody well serves you right” and still says that to me when I bring it up.  I bet she will say it when she reads this.

Hostage Crisis

I was in college when the whole “Tickle Me Elmo” craze happened. I remember it being sold out everywhere and almost impossible to get. Why I had to have one I don’t quite remember but I do remember Santa managing to find one for me for Christmas.

It was my freshman year at the University of Montana in Missoula and my whole floor and all my friends knew about my new present. They also knew about how insistent I was about finding one. It was kind of silly really but I was so happy I got him! He was so cute! And the laughing was actually pretty funny.

One day I couldn’t find Elmo anywhere. I spent hours asking everyone I knew if they had seen him. No one seemed to know anything about it. I received “the letter” the next day.

Elmo had been taken hostage. It was a ransom letter with red fur taped to it and magazine letters cut out to make up the words “bring me 20 black ball point pens and a 5 packs of Juicy Fruit gum or the doll dies.” I received a few letters just like this but with different demands. Mostly demands for various office supplies like pens, pencils, paper clips, and some gum. Not only did I receive the letters but I also received phone calls from Elmo laughing which always made me cry a little. This went on for weeks with the letters and phone calls.

I finally gave in to the demands and decided to bring the box of pens and pack of gum to an undisclosed area to do a hand off. My roommate told me she would drive me there and stand guard in case anything went wrong. I had no idea who took Elmo and apparently nobody else did either.

I have to admit I was a little nervous pulling up to this strange house and still not knowing who took him. I thought that maybe someone would have confessed by now but I guess they really needed the pens and gum. We pulled up to the house and knocked on the door and a large Native American woman answered and asked if I had the pens and gum. I said I did and she closed the door and we waited outside for her. She opened the door again and grabbed the stuff from me and handed me Elmo and slammed the door again. I looked over at my roommate and she was rolling on the ground laughing. I can just imagine the look of terror on my face after the exchange and not knowing who the hell this woman was.

My roommate finally stopped laughing and knocked on the door again and the woman came out laughing. It was her sister! AND it turned out my roommate didn’t even know she had done it until the day before. I guess her sister had come to see our dorm when we moved in (I was not there to meet her but remember her telling me she had come).  How she managed to come up with a plan to steal Elmo and send me ransom demands without even knowing me was pretty awesome. 

When I started writing this post I had to email my friend Melanie from college to ask her if she had any other memories of Elmo’s disappearance.  She told me she actually just did a podcast about the incident (\”When Pranks Go Waaay to Far by Melanie Hamlet\” Hilarious). She lived in the dorms with me and also lived with me and three other girls in a house the year after. She reminded me that on occasion, after I got Elmo back,  I would come home to find him handcuffed to the stove and  in all sorts of different, dangerous and hurtful situations. Poor Elmo. He didn’t have a very long life but I would say the short time he was here on Earth with us he definitely lived life dangerously.

RIP Tickle Me Elmo 1996-1998

Peace Update

I think from time to time I will have to update my Peace blog.  There seems to be never-ending amaziningness over there.  I was about to start a new post when I came across this gem:

Here you see 3 piles of dirt. Must be doing some landscaping which I appreciate. But you see, instead of having it dumped in the driveway, they had it dumped on the street. I understand that this sometimes has to happen but what really kills me is that it was dumped over a drain hole (notice the lake forming behind it). This happened about 2 hours ago and it has barely rained at all (in Oregon the term “barely rained at all” means about an inch) and already this lake is forming.

What I also forgot to mention in my original post is that on Sunday, one of Peace’s’ roommates decided to organize the trash. She meant well but the only problem is that the garbage came the day before (note the 300 garbage cans behind the river). 

I am assuming the dirt and gravel will be going in the backyard. I like to think I have common sense and with that said, common sense for me, would be to put the GIANT piles of dirt as close and you can get them to their final resting point.  But that’s just me.

I am very interested to see what happens with this situation. If it rains really hard tonight the giant piles will be very very small.  And the lake will be a dirt lake.  I’m tempted to go over and get some for myself before it all washes away.   Nick told me to wait until someone else takes some first. He’s right.

The Game of Mouse Trap

October, 2008, I was having some friends over for some pumpkin carving and drinks. We were having a good time carving in the basement and a few of us had come upstairs to have a snack. We were chit chatting away and I turned my back for a second and I heard some yelling and screaming and I turn around and my friends said a mouse had just run across the kitchen floor and into the hallway.

I had never, ever, seen any signs of mice in this house. Until that day. I knew something was up a few days earlier because I was dog sitting Nana and Poppy’s dog Oliver (we call him Uncle Oliver cuz he’s Grizwald’s uncle. And Owens now too). Uncle Oliver is a terrier so his acute senses pick up the tiniest scent. Just the other day Nana and Poppy told me he was barking at their fireplace all day and eventually went all the way in to the fireplace to catch this beast that he was after. It turned out to be a fly.

Anyway, Uncle Oliver had been sniffing around in our pantry (we don’t keep food in it, mostly pots and pans) and was a little obsessive about it so I had gone in there a few times to see if I could see anything but I couldn’t.

My friends told me that they watched it scurry around the corner and into a tiny hole in the built-in cabinet. He came from the pantry which, as I found out in the days coming, that it shared a wall with the back of the built-in and there was about a 6 inch space between the wall and where the backs of the drawers stopped. A mini highway.

Feeling slightly embarrassed about the mouse episode I decided to wait until the next day to start my search. When I looked in the pantry the next day I found a lot of mouse poop and it seemed like one mouse couldn’t have possibly pooped that much in the week since I had originally looked with Oliver.

I did some online research about how to catch mice and ways to stop them from getting in the house. Did you know that mice can fit through a hole the size of a quarter? I also read that there is always either one mouse, or a hundred. It’s never anything in between. I guess it’s because of the short amount of time it takes for them to mature to reproductive age (it’s something like 4 weeks). They also are very good at finding ideal places to nest where there are lots of nesting supplies (i.e. Candles, yarn, dog food, towels, sheets).

I read a few blog-like stories about mice problems (mind you I had no idea the severity of my problem yet). There was a lady that had become so obsessed with catching the mice in her house that she stayed up all night crouched in a corner with a broom that she had sharpened on one end so she could impale the mice as they ran across the floor. I guess she had been doing this for weeks. There were many others with similar stories and I thought they were insane! How many could there be?

I went to the hardware store the next day, bought one of the classic snap traps and put it in the pantry. Nick and I had gone out that night and when we got home the trap had a little mouse in it (I can’t remember if he threw it in the yard or not). Ok. Problem solved. I filled all the little cracks and crevices that shared an outside wall with steel wool (another thing I learned on the wonderful internet).

A few days later I was in one of the drawers in the built-in getting a towel and came across some more mouse poop. So I started moving some linens around and found it everywhere. EVERYWHERE! In between sheets, underneath towels, entwined in all my yarn, on my late grandmothers table cloths. Oh, and I forgot to mention the NESTS OF BABY MICE huddled up together all warm and cozy living it up with shredded candle wax all over the place.

Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!

1. How in the hell did they get in the drawers.
2. How in the hell did they get to the cabinet above and chew a hole through the Tupperware container to get to Grizwald’s food?
3. SHIT
4.Why did I have all those stupid candles in that drawer?
5. I am totally going to become that woman with the stabbing broom.

The Mouse House

So I turned the house into a haz-mat zone. Threw everything into the garbage, went to the hardware store, bought 9 more traps (the hardcore ones where they get lured into a box and poison themselves and die a slow painful death). Emptied the pantry, emptied the built-in, got my mask (it was a T-shirt actually) and gloves on and got to work cleaning. I couldn’t do any CSI work unless I knew my risk of getting the Haunta Virus was out of the way. I would also like to note I missed a Packer game for this. I remember swearing and screaming at some guys who were over watching the game because they were laughing at me for being such a freak show. I did have a t-shirt tied around my face. They also hadn’t read any of the stuff I had so they didn’t know how far into this I had gotten.

Once I got everything cleaned I started my investigation. How were they getting back and forth and up and down and side to side? How did they manage to breed so quickly? How many were there? How did Grizwald not know what was happening? How did I not know this was happening?

I never figured out the answer to any of those questions. I also only caught that one mouse at the beginning (I’m not counting the 300 babies I threw in the garbage because I didn’t really catch them).

I have never seen a mouse since either. So maybe a few escaped and told their friends not to bother me anymore since I took about 10 years off my life freaking out about it. I don’t get grossed out very easily but it still creeps me out thinking about it.

I am going to stop talking about gross things that happen in and around this house for now. I love this house but I can’t seem to think of anything nice to say about it at the moment. I do love it though.

That one time I dug up a body in my backyard

We live in a house that was built in 1904 and I believe the fig tree in the back yard was planted around the same time. It is huge and out of control and grows like a weed.

I decided to tackle it a few years ago (at the time I didn’t know I would have to tackle it every year) by cutting back all the under growth and the thousands of volunteers to make a nice little shaded area to sit. It sounded nice at the time but I was quickly distracted with some other “issues” in that area.

I had gotten all the brush and debris out from underneath and was going to put a border around it using one of those black plastic edging things. So I started digging a little trench to place the edging.

During the few days I was back there Grizwald had found a few bones that I didn’t think anything of. I thought they were maybe old dog bones or something. They looked old but were on the surface which seemed odd.

As I started digging my trench I found a few more little bones. And then a few more, and a few more. I was also finding a lot of shredded plastic and little rocks in the same area.

Naturally I decided to stop what I was doing and focus on the bones. It was much more exciting anyway. I moved away from the trench area slightly and starting digging again. The bones were everywhere and were also in a familiar pattern. A pattern of a body. I had just uncovered the femur when I thought maybe this wasn’t someone’s dead dog they buried here. I have seen human bones and many other bones of different animals and I knew it was human. Or I guess it could have been Bigfoot but either way, a homo sapien.

The other weird thing was that the bones weren’t even that far down in the ground. Almost at the surface. My theory is that the roots of the fig tree slowly moved the body upwards to the surface and whoever murdered this person stuck them in a bag, buried them and poured rocks over them and didn’t, at the time, realize the tiny fig tree would get so big. Of course the story I made up in my head was most likely not even close to being true but it made it a little more exciting.

I continued to dig up almost every bone except for the skull (I am convinced it’s there but under the shed). I laid all the bones out on the deck to get a good look at it before I called the police. I didn’t want to just throw somebody(hehe)  in the garbage and thought there was probably someone who dealt with these things.

Nick was not thrilled about the body on the deck. I had forgotten we were having some people over for a BBQ that night. He said it would be nice if our backyard didn’t look like a crime scene. I told him I was doing a historical survey of the area.

So I called the non emergency line and a very funny cop came to check out the “crime scene”. He asked where the skull was and I told him I hadn’t found it yet. He said “you know people used to cut the heads off victims and bury them away from the body so you couldn’t ID them”. Perfect. My theory was starting to sound like reality.

He told me he needed to call the medical examiner and have her come out to take pictures. This was turning into the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me.

When she got there she asked me some questions and got her camera out. It was just like the creepy one from Silence of the Lambs with the high-pitched humming sound. I wish I still had the picture I took of the medical examiner taking pictures of the body. She probably thought it was really creepy having some person standing behind her taking pictures. The only non blurry shot I got is pretty much her butt. You would never even know what was going on. Of course I can’t find the picture.

When she was done she said she couldn’t do anything until I found the skull but she would take the rest of the body for now.

The cop told me I should get to work finding the skull and I told him where I thought it was and he said “you better move that shed or you’re never gonna know what happened back here”.

I was reminded of this story last week when a house on the corner of our street had a pile of bones sitting next to the fence. They had also been doing some landscaping it looked like.

I think I stopped looking because I really did need to move the shed if I wanted to continue with my new job as a CSI agent. I still find bones occasionally when I’m weeding in various areas of the back yard. I don’t really think there was a murder since there are lots of bones all around our block. The medical examiner said she thought the bones were more than 50 years old. I’m not sure why there are so many around but I do know that I want to find the skull.  That would be cool.  I gotta move that shed!

Peace

Our neighbors across the street put their house up for sale a few months ago. The main reason they said was because the train had gotten so loud they just couldn’t handle it anymore (it is really bad). They were really good neighbors. Nice people. The condo sold and my other neighbors and I were very interested to see who was moving in. We are all pretty friendly and all around the same age so I was hoping it would at least be someone who would “fit” the neighborhood profile.

The first week of move in I saw who our new potential friend would be. A twenty something “trustafarian” dude looking very hippy-ish yet had a nice Audi with an even nicer sound system (I’ll get to the later).

I commented to my neighbor that this guy “wasn’t going to go over well”.  She agreed.  I was polite when I saw him, waved and smiled all the while secretly judging him and waiting for him to do something to piss me off. I am not neighborhood watch by any means (I retired from that job after the crack heads with Kujo moved out next door), but there always seems to be weird stuff going on.  Or maybe it’s just me that weird stuff happens to. 

New neighbor guy (I’ll refer to him as Peace because I never bothered to get his name) was setting up some sort of operation in the garage that looked a little suspicious but I wasn’t sure what it was. I had an idea but was waiting to see if my assumptions were correct.  And while he was unpacking he was blaring music from his car. And by blaring I don’t mean it was kinda loud. I mean I heard it in my car, a block away, with the windows rolled up. Not just an underlying beat but clear rapping. I parked the car, got Owen out and look over and he sees me and gives me the peace sign. What? Really? By doing that does he mean “hey my music is awesome and you have to listen to it too” or “this is cool that I do this right?” Strike one for Peace.

We have a pretty steep and generally difficult driveway and it takes some good maneuvering to get both cars in and out of it. We literally have to use every inch of concrete that was given to us.  We also have a problem of people blocking the driveway on a fairly regular basis. So much so that I have the phone number for the parking police in my contacts. They are really good at their job. I love them. I love them especially because when some dickhead blocks my driveway, gets out of his car and looks, then walks across the street obviously making the decision to not care, and goes in to Peace’s house, I can be sure they will be there promptly.  I didn’t call right away. I took the animals for a walk first and told myself I would give him 20 minutes since people are always “stopping in quickly” over there. I know exactly what he is doing and it annoys the hell out of me that he is so obvious about it.  Strike two. 

So I get home from my walk and the car is still there. I call my pals at the parking bureau and wait. The meter maid shows up about 10 minutes later and starts writing a ticket and the guy comes running out to see what’s going on. So I open the window of course. I have to put Grizwald outside because I am in stealth mode now and that means no distractions. 

The guy is actually arguing with the meter maid about his parking job. Like real arguing. What could he possibly be saying to defend himself you ask? Well, he says, “Yada yada yada…If I would have known these guys were such sticklers I would have never parked there”!  That earned him a visit from me,  but not before he gets into his car, moves it into Peace’s driveway, blocks the sidewalk, and gets another ticket. I decided that would be a good time to go over talk to him about the stickler comment.  Before I even open my mouth Meter Maid looks at me and says “you know you should have just backed your car up to the end of the driveway and you could have blocked him completely in. Then I could have had his car towed”. I told him I would do that next time. I asked the guy if he really thought I was a stickler and he said “yeah man, I’m, like, barely in your driveway, but we’re cool right?”  I had Owen with me so I made the motherly decision not to beat the shit out of the guy for being such an idiot.  It’s probably best not let your child see you do something like that. 

Anyway, I can’t say Peace is necessarily a bad neighbor (but he does leave his garbage cans out all week and I know it’s because he doesn’t know what day it comes. Strike 3-refer to feelings about garbage in Garbage Day post) but he just rubs me the wrong  way. I can’t stand the peace sign crap.  Why can’t he just wave or say hi?  I feel like he is doing it to make me less of a “stickler”.  My new favorite word.