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Conversation this week On The Ponderosa:

ME:  Lulu, did the Princess tell you we are going on vacation next month?

LULU:  No, she doesn’t tell me anything.  Where are you going?

This is a blatant exaggeration born of teenage angst.  When not physically attached at the hip these two BFF talk no fewer than 10 hours per week, not including text and instant messaging.

ME:  We are going Niagara Falls.  

LULU:  Cool, never been there, I never get to go anywhere.

Please note that Lulu, just last month, returned from a week long vacation at the beach with The Princess.  This was her attempt to procure an invitation to the family vacation.  As much as I love Lulu, my idea of vacation, rest and relaxtion does not include 22 road trip hours with two teenage girls.  Primarily because drinking and driving is illegal.

ME:  Since Niagara Falls is in another country and The Princess does not have a passport,  we will drop her off at the US border each day and pick her up every night after our adventures are over. 

Because, well, I just like to mess with my daughter and when her BFF is around, messing with both their heads is twice as much fun.

LULU:  When did going to Florida require a passport?  

ME:  What?  Passports are not required to go to Florida.

LULU:  I didn’t think so.  I knew Florida was in the southern US.

ME:  Yes, Florida is south from here, but.

As you can see, I was interuppted mid-sentence.  This is SOP should you dare to converse with a teenage girl.

LULU:  Well then, she shouldn’t need a passport to go there.

ME:  Um, Lulu you lost me at Florida.

I was not quick enough on the response draw because The Princess broke one of her 2 connections to the outside world (internet/cell phone) to explain her BFF’s error in vacation spot placement on the world map.

THE PRINCESS:  What?  Lulu, have you been sniffing the Sharpie too long?  Everybody knows that Niagara Falls is not in the South, it is in the northern hemisphere of North America.

LULU:  Well, exactly where is it then if you know so much?

At this point The King & I were observing the scene with parental admiration, since The Princess was about to give Lulu a much needed geography lesson.  Scoff if you will, but when you are a parent your chest will swell with pride when your child is about to display their educational prowess.

Make that your head, because pride does go before the fall…

THE PRINCESS:  Lulu, really.  It is in Mexico, dummy.

This America, are your public education tax dollars at work.  The BFF Tag Team are honors students enrolled in the AP and college bound pathways at our local high school.

The Princess would like it noted for the record that all of the family talking at the same time confused her and she was clearly talking about our last vacation which included a cruise to Mexico.  Lulu would like it noted for the record that at no time did she inhale fumes from her writing instrument.

I would like it noted for the record that, The Princess, is the only member of our family that has ever been to Niagara Falls.  Two years ago.  In fact, she did cross the Canadian border.  Two years ago.  To tour Niagara Falls.  I’m just saying. 

Perhaps Niagara Falls has been moved to South America by the United Nations.  Although I do not recall any international summits addressing the issue.  I could be wrong.  Depends on who you ask.  Because as stated before, I am intellectually challenged, tragically unhip and basically dumber than a rock

Stop the world I want to get off!  There is a reason I watch the news in small doses.  This is it, the gang rape, torture and sexual assault of a mother and sonThe words in that sentence are disturbing at the core of my soul on a multitude of levels.  A few days ago, I was not proud to be American.  Today I am ashamed to be part of this world, we are failing our collective humanity.  Failing as parents, friends, neighbors, communities, hell, we are falling short of being human.

I don’t have any answers; only questions and anger.  What was your first thought after hearing about these crimes?

Shock?  The accused are children (14-18 years old).

Overwhelmed?  At the sheer sadistic nature of the attack.

Rage?  Images of the cruel torture of the accused as payment for their crimes.

Pick one, I had them all.

In our country, the accused are entitled to trial by jury, legal representation and if found guilty, punishment to fit the crime in accordance with the laws of that jurisdiction.  The particularly heinous nature of this unspeakable violence will most likely shatter any current concept of justice you possess.  Intellectually, I know that justice should not be fueled by emotion, but based on reason.  The mother, the woman and the human being in me wants retribution.  The pure evil and perverse method in which these offenses were carried out leaves me struggling with my own belief system.

The ages of the offenders seems irrelevant when you consider the atrocities committed, but it is not, it merely makes these events more poignant in our history.  The first suspect arrested was 14 years old, in 7th grade.  Seventh Grade!  Middle School!  Plus 9 other teenagers.  This thrill violence or mob mentality is reminiscent of a Clockwork Orange scenario or Richard Ramirez, The Night Stalker.  These perpetrators were teenagers.  Children engaging in sociopathic behavior,  apparently without an ounce of empathy for their victims.  I have a teenager who is still developing the ability to understand the magnitude of consequences for her actions.  That night in Florida we had serial killers in the making.

What justice will there be for this mother and child subjected to inhumane cruelty and barbaric offenses?  How will the American justice system rehabilitate offenders (child offenders) capable of such sociopathic acts?  I cannot fathom the psychological trauma and recovery process that this family will endure.  It is heartbreaking, we have become our own worst nightmare.

The finger pointing parades will come, as they have before.  We all need someone to blame, a cause for these horrifics acts, someone to hold responsible.  There will be much speculation on what prompted this attack; mental illness, evil, environment, personal choice, abuse, genetics, racial bias, immigration issues, welfare/public housing concerns, socioeconomic factors, education obstacles, lack of parenting, the cost of the War on Iraq and probably the actions of the victims themselves on that terrible night.  I can hear them in my own head already.

We have become a society of voyeurs and bystanders.  Lengthy analysis by the media, recycling the details of the crimes adnausem robs the victims of their dignity.  Today I watched a deeply disturbing interview with the victim posted on a Florida TV website which graphically detailed the depravity of this attack.  I intentionally did not include the link and I question the rationale of airing a minute by minute account of the attacks (directly from the victim herself) when 7 suspects remain at large.  In my opinion, the media coverage bears continued culpability for their sensationalism of the crimes and efforts to report every single reprehensible violation of these victims.  The reporter’s primary goal during the interview appears to be exploit this mother; providing himself an exclusive interview, with leading politically correct questions and no emotional affect.  The headlines “Woman Forced To Have Sex With Her Son” are evidence of  journalistic manipulation, because “Sexual Assault Of Mother And Child” would not have sold as many papers or increased internet traffic.  Surely, I am guilty as well, for reading this news and ranting on my blog regarding this very subject.

How did we arrive here?  I am ashamed of myself for becoming so cyncial, jaded and desensitized to violence. Our social culture today has created an environment where heinous crimes are commonplace.  We all shake our heads and make grimaced expressions at the TV or computer screen when we hear that no one offered these victims assistance.  How could no one hear these attacks?  In fact, one resident of this neighborhood stated: “So a lady was raped.  Big deal.  There’s too much other crime happening here.”  Patriciea Matlock said with disgust.  To you Patriciea Matlock, I ask, are you an actual member of the human race?  Three hours of gang rape, torture and forced participation in sexual assault of a family member is not considered getting off easy in the crime victim arena.  To you Patriciea Matlock, I am sorry for your lot in life, your housing situation, lack of opportunity, education or whatever turned you into a body without a soul.  To you Patriciea Matlock, I pray the other 7 suspects, still at large, do not stop by your apartment for an up close and personal rendition of the true meaning of violent crime and torture.  Lastly, to you Patriciea Matlock, had I been the reporter on the day you provided that idiotic response –  I would have knocked your ignorant ass into next week and had you looking both ways for Sunday.

My last statement is proof that I clearly need a place to direct my rage.  Can we observe the violence in ourselves and become the change we want to see in this world?  Perhaps it is easier to roll over and accept things as they are  – that way, we abdicate any responsibility for mankind.  As I said in the beginning of this post, I have only questions and anger.  There appear to be no solutions at hand or answers to any questions.  What we need is a call to action, so here is mine:

Honor the survivor instinct of this mother and her son.  Help facilitate this family’s triumph over this tragedy.  I challenge you to donate to The Dunbar Village Victim’s Assistance Fund.  Do it because it is the right thing to do.  Do it because it is a strike against the pervasive evil in our world.  Do it to apologize for our collective lack of humanity.  Do it to compensate for the Patriciea Matlocks of this world.

Summertime here On The Ponderosa and school is out.  Who plans this school calendar?  No one trapped in a house will two teenage girls I can assure you.  The Princess and her best friend Lulu (read: BFF Tag Team) had dreams of the lazy days of summer with no classes.  Now four weeks since the last day of school their favorite mantras include, but not limited to the following: 

  • WE ARE SO BORED 
  • WHAT IS THERE TO EAT?
  • WE WOULD LIKE TO GO TO THE LATE MOVIE – But our curfew is too early
  • LET’S GO TO McDONALD’S –  We need some cash

After days of much whining from the BFF Ponderosa tag team, I decided a plan of action was required.  Empower your children I say, offer them choices and if those choices happen to benefit you, then all the better.  Beyond the shadow of a doubt, motherhood has granted me these inalienable rights as compensation for tolerating teenage angst.  My interpretation of the Parents Bill of Rights is broad people.  My story, I am sticking to it.

Queen: What could you two do to earn extra privileges and money?

BFF Team: We could clean the house?

Queen:  Whose version of clean?  (Note:  I have seen their rooms)

BFF Team:  We will mop floors, vacuum and dust!

Queen:  Well, that may buy you a happy meal.

BFF Team:  We will throw in cleaning bathrooms.

Queen:  Okay, well that offer will provide dinner and the late movie.

BFF Team:  (in quiet hushed tones)  We won!  With two of us we will be done in no time.  He he he…we get to stay out late!

Two hours later….

BFF Team:  We are finished!  See our list we did everything!

Queen:  Yes, you did a great job!  Thanks so much.  (hands over cash)

So here I sit On The Ponderosa with a clean house, a quiet house and the feeling that I live in a Mastercard commercial.  Why, you ask?

CLEAN FLOORS…

Cost  $10.00

CLEAN BATHS…

Cost  $10.00

WHEN LULU’S MOM CALLS AND SAYS SHE HAS TO COME HOME RIGHT NOW AND DO HER CHORES…

Priceless

The King took The Royal Canines to the veterinarian office for their yearly check up after months of polite reminding, leading to eventual screaming “we live in the woods with rabid animals dear and I will not take your for rabies shots after they bite you.”  This responsibility is clearly outlined in that marital responsibilities contract I still cannot locate. 

Mr. Frodo, who weighs in excess of 100 pounds, is hauled up on the table, receives the necessary shots and invasion of his orifices.  The vet begins the usual mantra of why on earth this animal is so large and other items that outline our canine neglect.

Mr. Frodo is 5 years old and has well, let’s say he has never gotten lucky.  The female vet grabs his “sacks” starts massaging them and indicates to The King that she could remove them.  Mr. Frodo is thrilled for all human contact, but this personal service is exceeding his expectations.  The King is speechless, very uncomfortable and unable to make eye contact with the kind lady who has cared for our animals for years.  He swears the site of our vet having foreplay with our labrador is shocking to his manhood moral compass.  Yeah right, this is the same man who volunteered Mr. Frodo’s services to a co-worker if his female lab was looking for a friend with benefits.  Now I know the love of my life has watched his share of porn, but it he swears it did not include animal fondling while discussing heartworms, dietary concerns and flea protection for a full three minutes. 

The King’s annual check-up with our family physician is in a few months, bet he has a flash black.  Especially, if a reminder is casually dropped at the right time, because clearly that is my job.  The King may now be suffering from Post Traumatic Vet Visit Disorder.  Not only because he had to witness one of our dogs getting hot action in the vet’s office, but he was graciously permitted to pay $458 for the pleasure.

The scales of justice just fell from their pedestal.  It will be a rare occurence that I climb on the political soap box.  My personal rants are normally limited to that of  parents gone stupidtweens gone wild, husbands with contemporary home repair tipsand crazy idiocracy .  When the leader of the free world hands out a Get Out Of Jail Free Card to Scooter Libby by commuting his sentence for perjury and obstruction of justice, I am ashamed to be American.

It is ironic that this turn of events occured the day before we celebrate freedom, democracy and equality under the law.  In our country defendants are innocent until proven guilty.  While this most certainly was political prosecution of a White House scapegoat, he was found guilty by a jury of his peers. 

What saddens me the most is that even here On The Ponderosa, no one was shocked.  In fact, we have become a desensitized society pervasive with abuse of power and political manuvering.  Dishonesty, corruption and lack of integrity are expected from the elected officials in this nation.  It is with deep shame that I have become so cynical.  It is embarassing that I no longer hold in high regard our system of justice or the political process. 

We, as citizens of this country, have a moral duty to demand that those to whom we have given the power to rule in our stead do so in a way that might serve the best interests of humanity and justice rather than the individual who transforms Executive Power granted by our cherished Constitution in to political expediency.   

We have been content far too long to allow the political machinery of Washington to churn on and it has brought us to this miscarriage of justice.  Remember the same man that signed Libby’s clemency order is the same man that signed the death warrant for the first woman executed in Texas since the Civil War.   He deemed Libby’s sentence of 30 months imprisonment “excessive” and Tucker’s death sentence “tough, but his job.”  Are you kidding me?

To you President Bush, I find you guilty of obstruction of justice.  Shame on you and shame on me for voting for you, twice.  Happy Independence Day America, we are the land of the free, atleast for Scooter Libby. 

Ponder no longer why adults slowly ease in to alcoholism around say their mid-forties…it is because they have teenagers.  Seriously, AA should add a 13 step to their program…..We have come to believe that we were driven to drink by our futile efforts to communicate with our teenagers and admitted that the exact nature of our wrongs were to have unprotected marital sex about 16 years ago.

In an effort to understand the misnomer Sweet 16 I have researched many parenting books, which are truly useful only to bang against your own head or toss at the backside of your teenager as they walk away in a huff mumbling under their breath. 

Karma numerical guidelines provide the most accurate insight.  Number 16 offers the test of optimism and faith; it represents the misapplication of sexual energy, adversity, secrecy and aloofness.  Not a spiritual guru myself, but these numerology folks have teenagers.

This darling little girl that jumped in your bed because the “scary” man (read: Unsolved Mysteries program) was on TV, the same one who gleefully camped in the yard catching frogs with her dad, the same one that rushed to deliver your homemade birthday card now believes you are the AntiChrist.

School is no longer an academic experience, it exists merely as a social arena to plan evening and weekend activities.  Studying 12 hours for the driver’s license exam and 12 minutes for an english test will be the educational effort example for high school.  Further evidence will be presented as a sudden aversion to math, unless calcuations are required to determine the amount of cash they need from you.  You are THE NEW HUMAN ATM.

Rooms that you spent a week turning in to a palace for a princess, now resemble a pig sty complete with food scraps and odors to keep out anyone with a sense of smell.  Cries of woe are frequently heard from this disaster area declaring that she has NO CLOTHES.  Apparently 10 pairs of jeans, 36 shirts, 6 dresses, 3 capris, 8 skirts, 15 pairs of shoes and 5 pairs of shorts now represent the equivalent of having NO CLOTHES.

The little girl who used to sneak in to your closet for fashion shows would sooner gouge out her own eye that consult your opinion on wardrode options.  Often you find yourself shouting to the driveway “you are not going anywhere dressed like that”, only to be reminded that you must be confused because she was only getting something from her car.  And yes, she always carries her purse and car keys when retrieving CD’s from her automobile.

The four major food groups are now:  pizza, dr. pepper, cookies and anything from the golden arches palace.  Sleeping is tossed aside in favor of necessary tasks like instant messaging, TV viewing and marathon cell phone sessions, unless of course you point out a chore needing her attention. 

You no longer possess a working knowledge of anything, you understand nothing and possess an IQ lower than a turtle.  It is miracle of some deity that you have lived past the age of 40 and can actually shower, consume food and operate a toilet.  (The King’s opinion on my operation of plumbing fixtures has no bearing, in fact, his genetic contribution to The Princess has probably brought us to this point.)

When you tire of choosing your battle, the aforementioned incredible raging hormonal one will do something so small and amazing your heart will melt.  Let me explain:

BATTLE FOR TODAY: Rationalizing that strapless blue satin party dress with black lace is perhaps a tad inappropriate for church service.

HEART MELTING MOMENT:  Scanning The Princess’s MySpace page and reading “The Parentals” in the spot next to My Heroes.

Contrary to rumors, my picture should not be placed in Webster’s dictionary as a photo illustration for the word stupid, I am aware these heartfelt moments are few and far between.  For the other 364.5 days of the year I have Margaritas close at hand. 

Three weeks ago I was minding my own business feeding the Royal Canines.

The Royal Canines - Mr. Frodo & Jake Man

Cute, harmless looking 200 pounds of  labradors, are they not?

Looks can be deceiving, while they are docile most of the day when afternoon arrives and they are about to reap the dog food rewards from the hard labor of The King & I, they spring in to action.  If you have small dogs this may not be a problem, but when they repeatedly demand your attention by slamming in to your backside while filling their water bucket you will turn around.  Just for a moment, only to stung repeatedly on your right hand by the lovely bees that nest On The Ponderosa.  Normally, I am honored that these bees spend their summers pollenating my lilies, hydrangeas and other floral matter.  My policy for bees is get busy on my flowers, tell your friends, but stay away from me.

Did I mention I am allergic to bee stings?  Not the take a Benadryl kind, the I stop breathing kind.  Never fear Epipen to the rescue.  Immediately after being stung I run to the house and grab the Epipen, inject myself in the thigh.  For those not familiar with Epipen medication, the side effects are similar to drinking a two liter of Red Bull energy drink in two minutes.  Jump around the kitchen, remove stingers and flail about screaming obscenities.  This is helpful to me personally.  Reminder to myself: no more dog treats for a week as this is clearly the Royal Canines fault.

Four days later, I realize something is wrong as my hand and arm clearly resemble one of those giant foam hands folks wave around as sporting events, accompanied by spreading red streaks and severe itching that makes me consider removing my limb permanently.  Clearly I needed medical attention.  Our family physician declares the diagnosis of cellulitis and provides antibiotics with a side of steroids that turn me in to one of the giant mythical characters dancing around in need on the Pepto-Bismol commercial.

Three days later my arm now resembles that of a giant, the red streaks have exceeded their inkpen boundaries designated by my physician.  It is decided hospitalization is clearly required with IV antibiotics. 

If anyone is under the delusion that you will get rest while healing in the hospital, let me enlighten you.  Hospitals are full of people whose primary job responsibility is to keep you awake.  They have secret devices that alert them when any patient has dosed off, no matter the time of day they will come in to your room and wake you up under the guise of performing some necessary treatment. 

As a public service announcement to all women who dream of spending a few days in bed away from the demands of your family while watching tv, reading a bestseller and having your meals delivered to you on a serving tray:  BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR.

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