"An anemone is a living creature, not a home for Clownfish!" Emma informed me, thoroughly disgusted with my exclamation of "Like Nemo!" when she mentioned that they had talked about anemones in summer school.
Yesterday was the first day. Three weeks of a thoroughly fun education for them, and peace for me. Emma is enrolled in "Wild About Animals" - they're starting in the ocean. Karl is enrolled in "The Physics of Toys" and will make a bottle rocket on the last day. I am enrolled in "Drink Diet Coke, update my blog and ignore the dishes because the kids are gone for a few precious hours."
Sunday afternoon we returned from my mom's house. She kept the kids for me while I was in Seattle. The kids had watched a movie all the way home and begged to be allowed to finish it when we pulled into the garage. I left the keys on auxiliary and headed inside for a rest. That night, after listening to Elliott sing the National Anthem on TV (swoon), I headed to the garage to retrieve my bags from the back of the van. . .
But the back hatch wouldn't open when I pushed the button because, of course, the kids had not removed the keys from the ignition after the movie. The battery was deader than a doornail. And doornails are pretty darn dead! They're stiff, solid, rusty and, as far as I know, were never alive. The only thing deader than a doornail was, well, my van battery!
I told John that we needed to jump start the van, which would require either pushing it out of the garage and down our murderously steep driveway, where it would likely careen into Julie's living room across the street, or clear out all the bikes, scooters, play huts and whatnot on his side of the garage so we could pull his car in next to the van.
We opted for the latter.
But then we couldn't find the jumper cables.
Finally John was sick of missing his basketball game and said he'd run out and buy new cables after the game and we'd jump start the van the next morning before work/summer school.
And so we did.
But it took a while. (Refer to doornail comparison above) For one, the cars were so close together that I couldn't squeeze into the drivers side door of the van, but the other doors were locked and didn't have key holes! I had to recruit Emma to crawl into the van and unlock all the doors. Then we didn't have a good connection and the van would click but wouldn't turn over. The windows wouldn't go down without power, so I found myself yelling through the closed door at John that it wouldn't start. He got out and adjusted the cables and finally the van started.
Now normally when you jump start a car the two drivers hop out at the same time to remove the cables. You're supposed to remove them in reverse order, but nobody does. One person takes off one end while the other takes off the other end.
But recall that I was stuck in the van and couldn't squeeze out between the two cars.
So John removed my cables first. His were still connected to his charged battery and his engine was running. I noticed that he wasn't doing the required "hold the cables at arms length from each other" thing, so I yelled out "Don't let those touch each other!" which made it even worse because he looked up at me and let the cables drop down next to each other. "DON'T LET THOSE CABLES TOUCH EACH OTHER!!!!" I yelled at the top of my lungs. Emma let out a shriek. She didn't know what was going on, but sensed the sheer panic in my voice.
Now what SHOULD have happened was for John to realize what I was saying, make a bit of a startled jump, immediately separate the cables, look at me with a grateful sheepish grin, and say "Whoops! Thanks!"
But John was late for a meeting.
And John had gone out late at night to buy jumper cables in the pouring down rain.
And maybe John's team didn't win the basketball game (not sure on that last one - just speculating).
So John separated the cables all right . . . but gave me an "Oh puhleeze" look instead of the "Whoops! Thanks!" look that was called for. You know - that sort of lips-pressed-together-one-side-of-the-mouth-raised-eyes-rolling-she's-so-melodramatic look.
Oh no he dih-un't?!
Oh yes, he did! And I, for one, was furious!
How dare he try to blow himself up and then not thank me for saving him!
So I crawled out of the van, stormed into the house, and demanded that he acknowledge the DANGER of his careless handling of little metal magnetic lightning rods, suggesting that killing himself in front of his family was in extremely poor taste and may have, you know, scarred the children. He begrudgingly apologized for smirking, but it was the "oh puhleeze" version of an apology.
He stomped out of the house grumbling out being late for a meeting and I stomped out of the house grumbling about being unappreciated and then fifteen minutes later the whole thing seemed rather unimportant, as silly arguments often seem once fifteen minutes have passed.
I was chatting on the phone with Ev when he came home that evening. He had called ahead to say that he'd be late, and since the kids and I had eaten a late lunch, I decided on "scrounge dinner". Scrounge dinner means anything is up for grabs - you can have cereal, waffles, a sandwich, ramen noodles, mac n' cheese, etc. But I hadn't realized how very late it was until John walked through the door. I called out "Can you make the kids some waffles?" to which he gave me a look that clearly said "Huh? You haven't fed the kids and yet you are going to continue to sit there chatting on the phone with your friend, making me, your hardworking husband, fend for myself AND the children for dinner?"
It was a long look.
But it was hard to take it seriously since he had a chocolate milk mustache, having just, grossly enough, taken a huge swig from the gallon of chocolate milk in the fridge. Ewwww! I'm so glad I don't drink chocolate milk.
In answer to his look I merely said "Hey - I saved your life!" to which he started laughing.
Ev informs me that he couldn't have actually blown himself up. Apparently you just get some sparks and a nasty jolt. One time I was vacuuming out the deep end of the swimming pool where I worked many summers as a lifeguard. The vacuum had a frayed cord and the hose was a bit leaky, but teenagers aren't really, you know, bright when it comes to electrical hazards. Consequently when I touched the metal handle of the vacuum I immediately started electrocuting myself. The current was humming through me and I couldn't let go - just like they describe on TV! Nobody seemed to notice my peril, including the Aquacise class consisting entirely of plump elderly ladies all wearing brightly colored old-fashioned rubber knobby swim caps with chin straps. They continued lifting styrofoam "weights" over their heads in a pathetic display of mock exercise in the shallow end of the pool, completely oblivious to the sparks flying off the lifeguard just 20 feet behind them. If I had vibrated my way over the edge and into the pool we would have all been killed, come to think of it.
But with an amazing will to live, I wrenched my hand off of the vacuum and sat down to cry. I came to my senses, evacuated the pool and then ran to the ball field next door to find Rick. Rick was the head maintenance guy for the Parks and Rec department. He was also my best friend's older brother and one of the finest specimens of rippling muscles and dazzling teeth ever to grace our small town. Rick was, in a word, IT! Trying to catch my breath from my mad dash, as well as wipe the tears from my grubby face (this was RICK, after all!) I explained that the vacuum was malfunctioning and that I'd almost been electrocuted!!!
Rick came back to the pool with me, where the vacuum was still humming on the side, and immediately, despite my gasps and protests, grabbed the handle! He took his hand off and said "Yeah - that is a bit of juice!" all the while flashing that dazzling smile in my direction. I, of course, looked like a codfish. Apparently I wasn't as near death as I thought. He seemed to think it was about the level of scooting across the carpet in your stocking feet and then touching your brother's ear. (Not that I've done that, mind you, just hypothetically speaking, of course.)
The rubber-headed Aquacise class didn't seem pleased with me either.
But I maintain that electricity is scary, so there!
I'd better wrap this up! I'm getting a little long-winded here. I'd meant to tell the battery story and then work my way back to Seattle, which was lovely, but then I got sidetracked on Rick (swoon) and now I'd better just summarize the trip in as few words as possible. Jennifer and her staff, as well as the customers, at Lasting Memories were FABULOUS! It was a great time. I got a chance to see my dear friends Cat, Karen Russell, and Stacy Julian. I got to sit in on Stacy's lecture, which was, naturally, life-changing. That woman is so inspiring! And such a good speaker! And such a good person! You try to make intelligent conversation, but instead it's just "babble babble kissy smoochy fumble-for-words you're-so-awesome babble babble" . . . you know . . . like that! *sigh*
Cat and I decided that we can't go on The Amazing Race if we get lost in her own hometown trying to find a restaurant that was blocks away and we had directions to.
Meanwhile, John went to see one of our favorite New Orleans bands, Better than Ezra, up in Fort Collins and promised to call me from his cell phone so I could hear a song. He did so, but all I could hear was him singing along at the top of his lungs! (It was In the Blood, from Deluxe, for all you BTE fans)
Speaking of electricity just one more time, and briefly, I seem to remember that Marlin built up an immunity to the electrical stings of jellyfish because he lived, however improbably, in an anemone.
Which brings us full circle.
TPBQOTD ("Hi Honey!" "Hi Mom." "You feeling any better?" "A little bit." "Guess what?" "What?" "Your grandfather is here!" "Mom, can't you tell him I'm sick?")