July 2006 Archives

Question and answer


Said while scanning online concert listings:

"Hey, I wonder if we should take the boys to this. Do you want to go to the Wiggles' concert?"

"Um, no, because I AM A MAN."

Goodbye J.J.


This week's column concerns Liam and his bestest BFF ever, J.J., who's moving back to Texas to be with his mom during the school year. J.J.'s dad is moving from St. Louis to Florida which means J.J. won't be coming back.

The other afternoon J.J. called Liam to give him his last goodbye. Liam doesn't really understand that J.J. is gone now; my heart crumpled when he kept asking where J.J. was on Sunday. I think that if they stayed geographically close to each other that their friendship would've reached well into adulthood. Who knows what will happen now. I know that they won't likely forget each other anytime soon. I know I won't.

Crappy camera phone: Liam and J.J.





The Loesch household is now operating WiFi which means I partially wrote this entry while sitting on the toilet. Whether or not you believe that's true, I'll leave up to you. I got a new laptop the other day after saving my blogging money. A much needed laptop because my desktop's hard drive is chock full. I did not buy a Mac because I wasn't ready to drop that amount of cash and exchange speed for style. (Please don't come and kill me, Mac people.)

I am endlessly fascinated by all of the places from which I can now compute. My front porch! The bed! Places other than my house! We're treating the laptop - Jerry, Jerry the Laptop; named by Liam who told me that he wanted a dog and wanted to name it "Jerry Dog," but as his allergies won't yet allow furry pets, he's given his favorite name to the computer - like the boys' little brother. The little brother that doesn't crap his pants, pick his nose, or bite other children. I think he looks like Chris.

How to trap a man


So apparently some in mandom are mad. Not just mad but MAD! CAVEMAN MAD! I'm kidding. There were a few generally nice fellows who wrote but you've got to have those few turds in the punchbowl simply for cosmic balance. FYI:I love men and I adore my husband - hi! Have YOU READ THIS WEBSITE? Men are awesome creatures! They can open jars without even trying! Chris also wants for nothing, he wants for nothing frequently. It's funny that you can write one column joking about the differences, the scientific, documented differences between the male/female sex drive and immediately those not getting laid enough start throwing stones. Next time read more before deciding that I'm an expletive deleted. If you still think I'm an expletive deleted after that, MORE POWER TO YOU. Others just might agree with you.

What's sad is that many male, armchair psychologists wrote to caustically analyze the female mind, but 99% of them did it while denigrating females. Wait - and I'm a male-basher? I want to amend my columns on feminism and "The War Against Boys" to NOT include THOSE DUDES. One of them demonstrated (my 2c in brackets) both the reason women become "feminists" and why grammar-check was invented with this sweet talk, excerpted here:

Dana, You have proven the stereotype image of blondes [sic] being the bimbos of the female specie, to be completely untrue. Do you actually receive pay for spewing out such nonsensical sexist tripe? [Yeah I do, ain't it rad?] Humor: Women don't fart? If that were to be true; do you have any idea why this phenomena could exist? [Global warming? Are you kidding me?] Might it be that "women" don't keep their mouths shut long enough to build-up sufficient pressure? [That's actually really funny.] In my opinion (everybody has one), you are a closet feminist who has somehow lured a gullible male into marriage. And then sealed his fate by having children. [Me? A feminist? Somewhere at this point I'm positive that Jaelithe is going to jump in, in CAPS. This is also where I decide to rename this post How to Trap a Man. You know, because we can just get knocked up ALL BY OURSELVES. It's like MAGIC!]

Allow me to offer an example of just how self-holy (and tunnel-visioned) a woman can be. [Big long superfluous story about how he left some woman for shooting a snot rocket at him.]
Why is it that society, and the male populace within that mix, has grown so accepting of endless male-bashing? [Wait, you can rip on women but when I talk about men it's "male-bashing?" Whatever. Eat a fart.] It must be a truly satisfying sport for those of you who live guilt and transgression free ... I have occupied this planet long enough to remember the "women's rights" movement from early on. Women resented being characterized as citizens of some third class collectivity. It was/is called "sexist" and Chauvinistic. So much so, that the term "Chauvinist" has become a label only attributable to the male of our specie.

Why do men continue to soak up women's continual whining? I can only surmise it is because we consider trying to enlighten our "sisters" to what should be common sense, fair play, equal consideration, and cooperative effort, to be as fruitless as attempting to pump sunlight down a gopher hole. Possibly the reason you allowed you S.O. to impregnate you (and you are planning more) is the tried and provably effective rationale of making it too expensive for him to leave. [Wasn't he just talking about "chauvinism? Again, HE DONE FOUND ME OUT! Not because I want to have more kids with the man I love, but to TRAP HIM? Awesome!]
Coincidently; I am co-happily married to a wonderful woman. She is a rare example of the women of today. And THAT is why I stay. [Is she a zombie?]
Oh; and she can fart!!
Yeh; I said that.

[Uh, ok ... ?]
Raymond M. Darrow

Men like this make me appreciate my own awesome husband that much more.

It just wasn't the same without Hank


A couple of weeks ago I had my Big Fat Southern Family Reunion. I think we're losing our touch, because not only was there no beer, Hank Williams, or the few family members stumbling around the buffet in a state of perpetual semi-sobriety, there was no drama. NO DRAMA. I drove two hours for NOTHING.

The fire-starters in the family boycotted the gathering, except for my very tall aunt, who strolled up the sidewalk to watch the event from across the street on a neighbor's front porch. I did what any rational full-blood Scaggs would do, which was to take photos of her:

I seeeeee you.

The above, and one of my favorite aunts telling me how she kept a collection of baseball bats in the trunks of each of her cars for when she meets our crazy Cousin Meth, kept it interesting. To imagine my aunt angry is to imagine the reaction of an opossum which you've unsuccessfully tried to fricassee. Opossum's eyes glow like the devil, as do my aunt's.

So the younger cousins played,

a great uncle showed me how just a flick of his wrist gets his pin-up to shake it,

Audrey looked cute,

and Nana let Liam have more sweets than he was allowed.

[more family reunion shots.]

Marital relations


You'll notice that today's print features last week's column because the Print Version People suspected that I may scare the bejeebus out of the print readers with this week's column on marital relations. We haven't gotten far enough in our relationship to either discuss sex or ask each other to help the other move. I imagined the print readers choking on their biscotti over their fine china as they read "We tried, unsuccessfully, to fall asleep numerous times because the ridiculous sounds emanating through the drywall sounded as though one of my parents was loudly learning to pronounce their vowels."

I swear I am not a heathen.
Nor am I trying to smut-up a well-written publication.

I tried to be as respectful of the whole marital relating issue as possible simply because I feel it's a private matter and one of the things I don't write about; but I wanted to write about an aspect of it because the biggest gripe I hear from some of my married friends is that their husbands let slide the romance but still expect the spoils.

Also, my mother may or may not whoop me - because I may possibly deserve it - the woman whose language can be more colorful than a rainbow when she chooses.

#1 sign that you've done lost it


Race a cart stuffed with a screaming toddler and overflowing foodstuffs alongside a five-year-old with a death wish because he WON'T STOP RUNNING IN FRONT OF THE CARS to a minivan that looks exactly like your minivan EXACTLY LIKE IT, and repeatedly cram your key in the lock because the remote unlocker thingy isn't working and it's raining and the kids! They're still screaming! Then you find yourself yelling obscenities in your head because your van, YOU MUST'VE BROKE IT, and at that moment a middle-aged blond woman and her two daughters come strolling up to your van and are all "Um, what are you doing with OUR van?" And you're all, "No, I think this is my van," and then you look down and notice the "I miss my ex-husband, but my aim is improving" bumper sticker and realize that this isn't your van and that you're in Jefferson County. And then you want to die.

I've been without electric from 3p.m. yesterday to noon today. Ewan slept with his butt on my head. I am tired.

An evening in the basement


Last night a storm blew in with a frightening strength; tearing off part of the roof at the airport; toppling railway cars, semis, massive trees; and leaving much of the city without electricity - possibly the most massive blackout in St. Louis's history. Chris was leaving the studio when the storm caught him; he and the others hunkered down inside the building. He called and told me to take the boys and head to the basement.

Because I am psychotically paranoid with regards to storms, I already had my Storm Kit! ready. The Storm Kit! includes a flashlight, first aid kit, batteries, important papers, bottled water, portable radio, blankets, diapers, wipes, Liam's spare inhaler, and extra clothes for the boys. I quickly tied Ewan's little shoes and stepped outside on the porch to check the sky. It was a dark, heather gray. The trees were alive and waved frantically to and fro; the wind billowed through the woods with strength enough to shoot leaves and other debris into the air. It looked as though there was a party happening behind the clouds. Thick stalks of lightening flashed. I turned and darted back into the house.

I've been through one tornado as a child and enough bad storms that I can tell when one's coming before hearing it on the news - just by noticing how certain trees can detect the increased humidity and will turn their leaves towards the sky to soak up the maximum amount of water. One year a tree blew over and crushed our vegetable garden; I ran out into the rain and wrestled the tree off because nature was going have to FIGHT ME before it took my tomato plants. I'm not shell shocked though; I sometimes lose my crap during bad storms. Especially since we live in a sort of tornado alley, where every year a tornado tears through the country no more than a couple miles from our house.

We huddled in the corner of the basement for an hour and watched sticks fly up to hit the windows and sliding door. IT SUCKED. The lightening was so intense it looked like a strobe light. The thunder would sound and the earth shuddered in response. The house shook. Ewan being Ewan, tried to cram various objects into his mouth and repeatedly ran by the windows because what fun was it to be stuck in the basement if he couldn't at least GIVE ME A HEART ATTACK. Liam sat with his knees tucked under his chin, his hands over his ears. I told them stories, sang them songs, Liam kept his hands clamped over his ears. Because I am the world's biggest sci-fi dork, I found my box of Star Wars collectibles (goodbye, rare Mace Windu with specially-colored lightsaber) and tore them open to hand to Liam. He immediately forgot all about the storm raging outside and began reenacting "Revenge of the Sith."

The tornado warnings finally expired and the trees stopped waving. The thunder grew faint. I gathered the boys and trekked upstairs. Somehow, we missed the worst of it, especially considering how bad the storm hit elsewhere. I gave a silent thanks and put the Storm Kit! away for another time.

Marital fashion


Chris spent a few minutes longer than usual on his requisite black shirt-n-jeans outfit this morning because MTV is in town on a press junket for a forthcoming artist who's working with one of Shock City's artists. They're all meeting this afternoon. Chris got all girl and asked me which of his identical black vintage concert shirts he should wear. For a fleeting second, I felt as he probably does when I ask him to decide which heels I should wear: The beige or the taupe?

"Oh my gawd, THEY'RE BOTH BROWN."

"No, one is BEIGE and one is TAUPE. They're not entirely brown."

"You know that this whole renaming of the colors is a big fashion scheme in order to get women to buy the same stupid thing several times, right?"

"That's just blasphemous."

The bad, rotten little seed


Last weekend Chris's indecently large German family had their annual family reunion. It is not so much a reunion as it is an excuse to get together and karaoke, which they do with a reckless and terrifying abandon. Because Chris's grandparents refused to allow old age - or the risk of breaking a hip - to deter their late night action, they had a frillion children. Thus, the family is enormous.

The reunion took place at an aunt and uncle's house whose large yard accommodates an equally large pool. Because the reunion always takes place on the hottest day of the year, all of the kids - and most of the adults - swarmed the pool. There was much screaming, and shrieking, and children flying through the air everywhere. It seemed that most of the water was splashed out of the pool. Babies floated along the waves in tiny floats, like pieces of driftwood, while parents fussed over their sun block.

Liam manages himself fine on dry ground. When in the water he wears water-wings and can keep up with his older cousins, yet my eyes weigh his every move. One particular moment, while Chris had Ewan at one end of the pool, Liam swam in the middle with a group of his second cousins, one of them a 10-year-old boy. I was careful to watch but not LOOK like I was watching, because Liam is at the stage where if I LOOK like I'm watching I'm deemed Most Uncool and given a "Mom! Can you PLEASE stop watching? I'm not a baby." However, I wasn't about to turn away when one of the cousins he was swimming by was a boy with a reputation for not being particularly nice to the younger kids, especially to Liam. The boy was apparently tired of Liam swimming by him, raised his hand, placed it square on top of Liam's head, and shoved him underwater. He wasn't dunking him; he was holding him underwater HOLDING MY FIVE-YEAR-OLD SON UNDERWATER. The tops of Liam's arms were sticking out of the water, fighting laboriously to free himself. The boy wasn't letting go. There amidst all the noise and merriment, my son might've drowned and no one would've known.
I screamed the boy's name.


He gave me a blank stare not unlike a slug.


He sneered and finally let go. Liam popped up to the surface half spitting and vomiting up water. His older first cousin swooped in, grabbed him and threw the boy a death look; I pulled Liam out of the pool the rest of the way with one arm. By this time I'd gotten Chris's attention, as well as that of everyone in the pool.

"What on earth is going ..." Chris began, but stopped when he saw Liam gasping for breath. "WHAT HAPPENED."

"HIM." I said, my eyes projecting five-foot flames as I pointed right at the boy. "He held him under water and wouldn't let go."

Chris turned to the boy, red with rage.

"Yeah, well he had his arm floats on," the boy spit.

"That doesn't matter when YOU'RE HOLDING HIM UNDER WATER, GENIUS." I shot. "I want you to put these on your arms, I want to hold YOU under."

"Whatever," the boy replied, and rolled his eyes.

"HEY. What's your problem?" Chris asked. "I know your mom. You like, I'll go talk to her right now."


"NICE ATTITUDE. Do you realize that you were drowning him? You CANNOT be rough like that with these little guys. Stay away from him from now on."

And with that the boy slithered out of the pool and off into the shade somewhere. I wanted to twist his neck like a bread tie. I was all at once livid and terrified; terrified because I knew had I not been watching it was likely that Liam would've drowned. He made no noise; there were so many in the pool and so much splashing and action, no one would've noticed the little boy being held under water until his lungs filled and he stopped breathing. They wouldn't have noticed until it was all over, until he was floating, motionless. Honestly, I don't know how I would stop from killing someone if that happened.

I hugged him and dried him off with a towel. Luckily, he wasn't traumatized. Chris stayed by his side in the pool for the rest of the day; their other cousins that Liam adores immensely joined them and before long Liam was playing alongside them in the water again.

Dances with pigeons


With assistance from Dave and Hudson.

The level of fancy in this house was just raised by three. As of today I am coming to you via DSL. Many of you may be shocked to learn that I did everything I do on ... DUM DUM DUM! ... dial up. All of my posts, the massive quantities of Flickr uploads, all of it on po-dunk dial-up because for far too long the sweet, gentle goodness of DSL was denied to my area. That might have had something to do with some of my neighbors showing more interest in crushing Natty Lite cans - not to recycle, but in driveway drinking contests - than technology, but what can be said for those whose technological astuteness matches that of a cow paddy? If I sound inordinately snooty it's because they KEEP MOWING WAY OVER ON OUR SIDE OF THE LAWN.


Really, I love you. And I'm not just saying this because my picture is in the paper and it was delivered onto at least nine of the driveways in my general vicinity which means that you'll find my website now and everyone in my mother's address book called her because of it.

So if I occasionally emit tiny little typed gasps, it's not because Chris swung in for a nooner, it's because the page loaded THAT fast.

In other news, Ewan gleefully flung the contents of a soft taco all over the kitchen last night because tacos were apparently made for throwing. He also learned how to say "SHUT UP!" mimicking his big brother who mimics their older cousin. So when I rhetorically ask him if he needs a clean diaper he replies "SHUT UP!"

"Are you hungry?"


"It's time for nite-nite."


"We don't say 'shut up.'"


"Do you want to play in the street?"


The hot tar roofin' argument


Last night I had this incredible urge to take my husband outside and whoop him on our front lawn, redneck style. Every now and then we have these little arguments that married people have, arguments that are nothing about the stupid things you're arguing about so much as they are over control in the relationship. As soon as he realizes that I rule school WE WON'T HAVE ANY PROBLEMS.

We were having a semi-heated conversation that could've stemmed from a number of things: His telling me at 11 p.m. that he needs his suit cleaned and pressed for an important meeting this morning since he is allergic to taking it to the dry cleaner himself at any time before the last minute; or his suggestion that if I re-organized my time I might be able to squeeze an extra half hour out to do more household chores. Because there is NOTHING sexier than when a husband hints that the chore area of household duties might be slacking. NOTHING SEXIER. Except possibly the words that fell from Chris's mouth next.

"I don't think you realize how hard I work," I said to him, the heat rising in my cheeks. Hi! My skin is turning red from rage RUN NOW. Run! THIS IS NOT A DRILL. "I work a job at home, tend to our kids, and keep the house in working order. I work harder than anyone I know."

I realize that I was making a semi-universal statement, and also that he plugs in serious time at the studio. A studio where he doesn't chase around two children ages five and under. A studio where his work is work and his home life is his home life.

"Yeah, well have you ever tar-roofed? I know you don't work harder than a tar roofer," he retorted, citing his summer as a hot tar roofer. "That is the most physically taxing job EVER."

At this point Andi shot straight up from the couch with a bewildered look and listened intensely. This was the point in the conversation where we apparently got sucked into some odd, Dr. Who-ish third dimension - because in the real world, a man would not compare a woman's job to that of a hot tar roofer. It's not only a stupid analogy, it's dangerous.

"Excuse me?" I asked incredulously. "You mean to say that a hot tar roofer has a more physically taxing job than that of a pregnant woman or a woman in labor?"

"If I was standing with a hot tar roofer on one side and a pregnant woman on the other side, yes. I would say that the hot tar roofer has a harder job."

"RIGHT. I was in labor for 13 hours with Liam and birthing both boys nearly tore me in half. I had stitches all down my taint. But YOU still believe that it's just not physically taxing enough."

"Well, OK," Chris said, after pausing for a moment. "The labor part may be more physically taxing. But not the pregnancy. Everybody cares for you and pampers you!" He then listed a string of duties supposedly inherent to a hot tar roofer but I didn't know because I had stopped paying attention.

The final verdict is that Chris still firmly believes the unbelievable, universal notion that the state of being pregnant is not as physically taxing as the job of a hot tar roofer. A woman whose own body is depleting its own resources because it is growing another life. This even after witnessing my difficult first pregnancy - and half of my second one - the one where I threw up half my body weight, lost weight my first trimester, and was unable to hardly work because of the barfing, swelling, and fatigue.

It's too bad that I'm not a hot tar roofer (are you serious? Is it really harder than being knocked up?). See? I told you - NOTHING sexier.

That's a wrap


(L-R) Me, Amy (another local), Tony, Brandon (show host), Scott (another local).

You may have read; yesterday we wrapped filming at Milo's Bocce Garden. I've never been a big bar person because I am such an embarrassing lightweight - which Chris totally appreciates - but I can see myself visiting Milo's often. That and I am determined, some would say obsessed, with improving my skillz at Bocce ball.

The crew.

I was really apprehensive when we first started filming because I wasn't quite sure what angle the producers were going for with the show. They made a point not to be touristy and they really worked hard to take their audience off the beaten path and introduce them to not only different areas of the city, but also to the places that make those areas what they are. As a result of doing this show, I feel like I've expanded my knowledge and understanding of my own city. I appreciate it more after looking at it through the eyes of people who've never known it before. I've always said that St. Louis has such a great community spirit but after talking to Joe and witnessing the locals come out in droves for the Bocce tournament at Milo's, I was grateful to see it in action. The people who live here are devoted to cultivating and maintaining family and community ties. We're not a cow town, we're not just a few buildings flung onto the golden plains between the legs of the Arch and by the Mississippi; we're a carefully executed community. We're diverse in every way with a rich culture and history. We bridge the divide between progress and tradition and that's what gives us our spirit. Thanks to the folks at Follow and Fine Living for giving us the chance to show it.

Clicky for the photo set. Catch Brandon on the air this afternoon around 1p.m. with Scott on The Point.

I've hardly had a chance to breathe all weekend. I've taken a slew of photos, some of which I hope to finish uploading by tonight. Saturday we dove into the belly of the Ozarks for my family reunion. Yesterday's shoot took about six hours, four of which were spent at the U City Loop. I met up with the two other locals at Crown Candy Kitchen, Scott Rizzuto who deejays at The Point; and a PR woman - who looks exactly like Kristin Chenoweth - from a children's charity. We crammed into a tiny booth with the show host, Brandon, after he put makeup on Scott to make him man-pretty for the camera, and shot the opening scene for the episode. Scott and the-girl-who-looks-like-Kristin Chenoweth are used to speaking on air; me, not so much. My keyboard is my buffer between me and the world and there's a certain solace in that. I had to hurry up and turn it on to match their enthusiasm.

Later that afternoon we hit the Loop. Brandon and I were filmed traipsing up and down the sidewalks while the swanky adults, collegiate hipsters and stinky hippies stared. THERE WERE PEOPLE EVERYWHERE. At first I felt very self-conscious about the whole thing but followed Brandon's lead and got over it. We filmed at Blueberry Hill, Riddles' wine bar, and the Tivoli. Side shots without us are to include Donnaland and Vintage Vinyl, the Amoeba Records of the Midwest.

The dialogue was quasi-scripted; I was showing Brandon around my city and the content had to reflect that. Except one of my lines was "Hi, I'm Dana! And I'm going to show you a little thang called the St. Louis Loop!"

The producers actually wanted me to say "thang" which wasn't scary, the scary part is that I sometimes do say "thang." They shot Brandon and I walking into Riddles' a frillion times; we had to re-shoot many of the outside scenes because of noises from buses, huge motorcycle gangs, drunks, and outright hoosiers who would do something to disrupt the shots THANK YOU, I WAS IN HEELS.

We visited Riddles' so to give Brandon a taste of local Missouri wine because NO. We are not just beer country here. Missouri wines are traditionally uber sweet, which didn't jive too well with the dry preference of the New York crew. After the bartender poured our glasses the producer whisked them away because they had to get another shot of the wine being presented and poured but all I kept thinking was THEY TOOK THE WINE AWAY.

We filmed inside the Tivoli; the crowning scene was shot back at Blueberry Hill where we met up with Joe Edwards, the man who pretty much rebuilt Delmar. Joe was in the shot and talked a bit about the Loop's revitalization and then HE SERVED US ROOT BEER AND HAMBURGERS. Joe Edwards, the man who knows Chuck Berry, the man who, like, OWNS Delmar, served! Us! Food! Joe is one of the nicest, most unassuming people I've ever met. And looked very fit and tan.

We finish shooting at a different location tonight. It's a half-hour show and because of such there's only so much they can use. The St. Louis episode is nine of 13 total episodes, which begin airing on Fine Living this September.

Also, I have a whole new respect for cameramen and boom operators.

In a couple days a camera crew will arrive to follow me around St. Louis as I show off a few cool places in the city for a new show called "We Live Here" which will air on the Fine Living network. Out of all the reality shows that have contacted me in the past several months, this was one of two not bent on human exploitation. I'm excited about doing it because I get to show off my city - and St. Louis rocks! If you don't think so you obviously live in a city that lacks such awesome sustenance as toasted ravioli, or crab rangoon. Anybody - any Chinese person, for that matter - outside of St. Louis is all "WHAT ON EARTH IS CRAB RANGOON?"

It is heaven, my friend. Total pureed-crab-goodness-in-some-weird-fried-pastry-shell-thing heaven.

Because of our close proximity to the Ozarks, we tend to deep fry everything before putting it into our mouths.

I'm a bit nervous because of the old "the camera adds ten pounds" theory. Um, could like the camera be so kind as to possibly add five of those pounds to my butt and divide the rest between my boobs? THAT WOULD ROCK, THANKS. The Twins shrank a bit after Ewan's birth and things just ain't the same. More on that later.

In a couple days a camera crew will arrive to follow me around St. Louis as I show off a few cool places in the city for a new show called "We Live Here" which will air on the Fine Living network. Out of all the reality shows that have contacted me in the past several months, this was one of two not bent on human exploitation. I'm excited about doing it because I get to show off my city - and St. Louis rocks! If you don't think so you obviously live in a city that lacks such awesome sustenance as toasted ravioli, or crab rangoon. Anybody - any Chinese person, for that matter - outside of St. Louis is all "WHAT ON EARTH IS CRAB RANGOON?"

It is heaven, my friend. Total pureed-crab-goodness-in-some-weird-fried-pastry-shell-thing heaven.

Because of our close proximity to the Ozarks, we tend to deep fry everything before putting it into our mouths.

I'm a bit nervous because of the old "the camera adds ten pounds" theory. Um, could like the camera be so kind as to possibly add five of those pounds to my butt and divide the rest between my boobs? THAT WOULD ROCK, THANKS. The Twins shrank a bit after Ewan's birth and things just ain't the same. More on that later.

Omg straight hair


What happened when I let my cousin, Andi, straighten my hair for the first time, EVER:

Carrying on an old family tradition


A lot is happening this weekend, one I can tell you about tomorrow when I know more details, the other being that it's time once again for my kuntry family reunion, y'all! The one located in the armpit of the Ozarks. Really though, it's beautiful country out there, so long as you overlook a few lilly-white rednecks and my Aunt Paula's hair lip. This weekend we'll drive a couple hours south to spend the afternoon with extended family in a town which reveres a semi-stray, three-legged dog named Tripod as its mascot.

I am betting that the potluck buffet will include at least several buckets of fried chicken, which is the FOOD OF GODS. The whole thing is organized by one of my great aunts, a sweet but bossy woman who is the apparent strong arm of the family. Chris used to harbor a paralyzing fear of my family reunions, only because my family drama is legendary. It's like Dallas, but without the oil or money. Or ten-gallon hats. Now he sees it as entertainment. Everyone is always on their best behavior at the reunions because my family has one unspoken rule that they only follow when gathered together: Don't fight with your own. If you do choose to fight with your own, everyone takes it upon themselves to get involved because there isn't anything that anyone likes better than a good fight. Should you be an outsider and pick a fight with my family while in their Ozark stomping grounds, the entire town gets all hillbilly - mostly because my family is the biggest family in the town, about 80% of the 368 census.

It reminds me of an evening which took place years ago, related to me by my mother: My mother, my step-dad, and various aunts and uncles went to a saloon - again, no pubs or bars, taverns and saloons only - and after a few brews some stranger may or may not have made a pass at my mother's sister while my mother used the loo; when she returned she saw her sisters, brothers, and in-laws throwing chairs and fighting while Nazareth's "Hair of the Dog" blared on the jukebox.

(My step-dad would be so proud of the Hank Jr. reference.)

How to: blowed up


Yesterday we taught the boys about the great American pastime of BLOWING STUFF UP. Liam has always been a little timid around fireworks, Ewan, however, screeched with an unimaginable glee and tore off with a caveman-like wonder towards whatever direction he saw fire. Chris and I were SO PROUD. In my youth, I was known as the Queen of Bottle Rocket Warfare and Chris used to fashion makeshift bombs from different parts of firecrackers. We take pyro seriously in this family.

Step One
Spend a small fortune on consumer explosives. Acceptable choices include any package with a snarling black cat on it or anything labeled "Desert Dominator." That worth celebrating should be done so with fire:

Not content with the simple Firecracker, we got the Demolition Cracker.

Step Two
Allow your five-year-old child to participate (and light a fuse with the help of his older cousin, both of whom were TOTALLY SUPERVISED). Giggle as he charges away from the lit fuse like all hellfire is after him:

Step Three
Take photos of your exploding dollars. The only way you could make it better is by eliminating the middleman and actually setting your money on fire:

Click for more Fourth shots.

Don't try this at home


Alternate title: And the Rockets Red Glare! Tadpoles Bursting in Air!

When I was younger a cousin of mine, who later grew up to play Dungeons and Dragons while listening to the "Black Album," showed me how to jam a lit bottlerocket into the mouth of a tadpole. If the tadpole was small, the bottlerocket would shoot up a bit before exploding and taking a piece of the tadpole's head with it. If it was a big, fat tadpole, the bottlerocket barely jumped, resulting in 3rd degree tadpole burns. Where I lived, there wasn't a kid who hadn't ever tried this unbelievably cruel method of infantile frog torture. Yes, it was mean and awful, and yes, it was sadistically appealing to the wicked immaturity of a developing child which is why kids did it in the first place. But we never wore fur!

One night last week the neighbor kids were shooting bottlerockets off from their driveway at a quarter-to-ten last night and it sounded like shrieking, screaming terrorists were coming through the roof, which woke the boys. I walked to the top of my drive and shouted for them to knock it off, it was late and not July 4th yet.
It reminded me of the tadpole story and caused me to smile as I thought about how many bottlerockets I'd have to cram down the throat of one neighbor kid in order to lift him off the ground.

Disclaimer: I never myself jammed a firecracker in a tadpole's mouth. I heart tadpoles. I HEART the neighbor kids. I would never make them eat firecrackers. Do not try this at home.


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