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A bit of a plumbing issue here On The Ponderosa.  The toilet in the master bath runs constantly after flushing, it will stop if you repeatedly jiggle the handle a gazillion times (the only scientific repair in my arsenal).  The King is not disturbed by the nightly noise echoing from our bathroom, in fact, as I mentioned before, his sleep is rarely disturbed.  Since insanity or maiming of plumbing fixtures is just around the bend I decided to approach The King for his expertise in home repair.  Before I go on, let me say The King personally built our home with his own two hands and those of family and friends bribed with grilled red meat and alcohol.  It is a beautiful home.  I treasure it.  I am in awe of his dedication to our family to provide this shelter. 

Okay, had to mention that as not to appear an ungrateful spouse.  Back to the incessant noise in my master bath.  For background information I will note that The King never enters this bathroom, it is a long story involving the collection of health and beauty aids required to support the females On The Ponderosa.  When I presented my concern to The King, he offered some insight that you may not have considered if you suffer this plight in your own home.

THE POTTY TALK:

Queen:  The toilet in the master bath is running constantly.

King:  Go catch it then.

Queen:  You are so funny that I have decided to let you live.

King:  Did you jiggle the handle?

Queen:  Your life expectancy is decreasing by the minute.

King:  (innocent look)

Queen:  Yes I jiggled but it needs your expert attention.

King:  I will check it.

Three weeks later……

Queen:  The toilet is still running.

King:  Oh yeah, I checked it and there is nothing wrong with it.

Queen:  But it is running constantly and keeping me awake.

King:  Don’t flush it before you go to sleep.

Queen:  Do you want to eat actual cooked food again?

King:  No really, I know what the problem is.

Queen:  Want to share?

King:  Yes, you are flushing it TOO HARD.

Queen:  (no response but seething glare)

The King goes in to lengthy dialogue of appropriate amount of pressure required on handle to effectively flush toilet and not tangle the chain connected to the flapper.  He then proceeds to demonstrate on the toilet in his bathroom to educate me on the correct method. 

Then I shot him right there next to the tub and his non-running toilet.

Fortunately for The King our firearms are kept in a closet far from his bathroom.  While I expressed my thanks for his in-depth physics experiment and I reminded him this was not my first rodeo with flushing.  In fact, I have had an license to operate a toilet for 39 years.  Clearly outlined in our marriage vows and contract was his personal responsibility for plumbing concerns.  That’s the problem with those marriage contracts that disappearing ink, enforcing the terms can be difficult.  Sometimes tough negotiation is required.  I will lay odds that when he repeatedly cannot locate toilet tissue in his bathroom that my toilet will receive miraculous repair.

That my friends is marital relations in the bathroom here On The Ponderosa.

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Okay, let me just admit I had a great laugh at The King’s expense last week.  Having feasted on his favorite meal, with fresh jalapenos and margaritas he was preparing to retire.  For the King, this includes removing his daily wear contacts.  He returned from removing his contacts declaring he had a Public Service Announcement for all contact lens wearers.  Since he tends to be a bit on the sarcastic side, I waited for the punch line.  There was none.  His advice “if you have jalapenos for supper and tasted a few directly from your fingers, do not, he repeats, do not ever remove your contacts after your meal.”  He adds that washing your hands prior to removal, which is his habit, will not help in the least.

Being the Guru of All Things Spicy and having intimate knowledge of food preparation, I exclaim boastfully that, of course, you should not touch any orifice after handling hot peppers.  Even though his eyes resembled something from a great horror movie, he gave me an Oscar worthy eye roll.  Ever self-righteous, I added that if he were genetically blessed, like me, he could wear overnight lenses.  Then he would be able to handle all the peppers his stomach desired and never need to consider optical aid removal.  This of course warranted unnecessary sign language from The King for my inspirational words of comfort for his plight.  

On any given month I can wear my contacts without so much as a drop of rewetting solution.  Nor do I normally feel the need to rinse my contacts (I hope that my opthamalogist never reads that sentence.)  Remember me, aforementioned Queen of the ocular blessing?  Reality slap is coming.

This week while mowing the lawn, some insect of The Ponderosa had the audacity to land on my contact.  Rushing to the bathroom I grabbed the bottle of contact rinse solution and flushed the eye under attack.  Did I notice I grabbed the bottle with the clearly marked RED CAP?  Oh no, I will add here that Karma is a great equalizer.  My right eye was no longer concerned with the offending particle, it was consumed by the feeling of battery acid burning out my cornea.  In my haste, I had picked up The King’s contact solution, which clearly is not a lens rinse.  It is disinfectant used to soak his contacts nightly.

Now, I might have escaped HRH’s jokes at my expense had my eye lid not swelled to the size of an egg and my sinus passages not tried to escape my body.  His parting remarks, purely for his enjoyment…he who laughs last laughs the loudest.

One night a week, The Queen indulges in girls night out with her best friend.  Basically, this is a torrid affair of attempting to enjoy a quiet meal in a restaurant and catching up on gossip.  My idea of a good time does not include the following tale of parents gone stupid accompanied by an 8 year old child that would scare Stephen King. 

Crosby (yes, that is his name) spends the majority of the meal throwing utensils, food, condiments all over the place and smacking me in the back of my head at every opportunity.   Every time he did this, his idiot mother would say, in a voice barely above a whisper, “Crosby, stop that, please.”  At this point, we should have asked to move away from Crosby, but my interest was peaked as to Crosby’s fate.  Granted I have nearly grown children, but if I recall correctly, when they were 8 years old this behavior would have warranted a trip to the restroom where they would have received the knowledge of a come to Jesus meeting. 

This melee continues for 20 minutes and finally I believe the mom is about to discipline her child.  Did you know the word discipline comes from the word disciple (to teach)?  Crosby’s mother is not aware of that…keep reading.  She tells him, “Crosby, if you don’t stop that right now, we are not going to get  the new Power Ranger.”  I wish at this point I could add an exclaimation point or bold typed those words, but her voice was incapable of being strong and authoritative. Ever optimistic, I thought she was finally going to take charge.

Does the threat of no action figure strike fear into his heart?  No, it does not.  He continues his utensil and condiment juggling, adding throwing ice cubes at the waitress to his act .  Finally, mom announces that he will not be receiving his action figure for his continued silliness.  I kid you not, she called it silliness.  With that proclamation his bottom lip trembled, and tears almost filled his eyes.  This child should receive an Academy Award for Best Manipulation of Person Posing As A Parent.  Take a bow, Crosby.  You are about to win the prize.

Mom spots the tear, this is where my best friend had to hold my legs to keep me from climbing over the booth and striking the mom in the head with the ketchup bottle.  Mom pulls Crosby in to her loving arms to comfort his toy deprivation act.  She tells him, “oh, don’t cry, honey, we’ll still go get the Power Ranger.  Don’t cry.”

Let’s see, what has Crosby learned today? There are no consequences for my actions.  I suspect he knew this before fate landed him in the booth next to mine in this restaurant.  Really, there are parents that I must restrain myself from smacking the shit out of, see now I have degenerated to bad language.  You might say this is one of my pet peeves.  No really, this makes my head want to imploded or become an advocate of corporal punishment, purely to make me feel better.  So when I see brats, like Crosby, I feel completely justified in blaming the parent. Blame this mom, I will.  Gladly.

Parents like these are afraid of being the bad guy, not being liked or actually daring to say NO to these children.  Let me say it again, you are not their friend, you are their parent.  For some, apparently from a biological aspect only.  After 18 years these overindulged selfish brats will be unleashed into adult society, we should be afraid, very afraid. 

Now if you want an example of a parenting hero, read here.  She is totally, my parental heroChris, I bow at your parental superiority.

The mind is an enigma.  As I go through life minding my own business, my brain has the temerity to produce, without encouragement or suggestion from me a song that I find on repeat for the remainder of the day.  Every. Five. Minutes.  Seriously, the hook from this song becomes wedged so deep in your psyche that you may be tempted to either start dancing, god forbid singing or kill the next person who looks in your direction.

My current cerebral playlist includes the following, oh please click on these songs, I want to share the love of music.  This list obviously speaks volumes about my taste in music.  Thanks to an insightful and hilarious blogger that I read religiously, I have also added Amy Winehouse to my musical brain shuffle.   

  KUNG FU FIGHTING  I feel the need to break out in to a Jet Li fighting stance.

  SAVE A HORSE RIDE A COWBOY  Don’t ask, fantastic beat.

  MONEY MAKER  For anyone who has seen me dance, be afraid.

It is just wrong for these to be stuck in your mental playback, if you clicked YOU ARE SO WELCOME.  If you hate me now, I understand, I accepted that you would but am having a great laugh at your expense.  Really, forgive me, it was necessary to share my pain.  Feel free to share the love, pass it on to those you love.

Research has enlightened me that this particular disorder is caused by ear worms, catchy tunes stuck in the auditory cortex.  Great now I need a brain enema!  Prayerfully, and The Princess does pray that I do not bust a move at any moment.

In the grocery store, minding my own business, preparing myself to hand over large sums of cash for my love of carbohydrates, my eye strays to a tabloid headline…”VA Tech Massacre part of Gay Agenda”.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  I typed that in large caps to resist the urge to type WTF?  Okay, I have degenerated to swearing but hand to God, I could have screamed right there in the checkout line.  I knew the finger pointing parade would navigate all points on the compass, but, seriously people.

The media, politicians, religious leaders, bloggers and just plain folk blame those of homosexual orientation for a degeneration in family values, rising divorce rate, decline of public morals, destruction of the world and probably the rising cost of oil.  They need  a scapegoat to make their hate appear legitimate, they need to make you afraid and tell you who you must fear, after all homosexuality certainly is the root of all evil.

The Gay Agenda is a twisted concept.  Those of homosexual orientation are individuals that come from a broad diversity of backgrounds, religious faiths, politicial views, genders, race, not to mention various geographic locations worldwide.  They want to participate in society and contribute to their communities, well they can contribute as long as they dare not to benefit or expect equal rights under the law.  Their agenda is to live, love, worry, rejoice and rest just like everyone else.  The challenges our society places in their paths based on their sexual orientation amounts to pure discrimination.  Can you even begin to imagine the struggle to accept yourself in a civilization filled with mockery, hate and condemnation for what others categorize as an “alternative lifestyle”?  My perspective is that it is certainly not alternative, it is merely not common.  

It is appalling that members of the religious right continue to blame homosexuals for a range of disasters from AIDS to child abuse to hurricaines to terrorism to under the cloak of “God’s retribution”.  They theorize that homosexuality leads to misery and is completely repugnant, however, it is so appealing that when it becomes acceptable many will be tempted to switch sexual orientation, developing a life long addiction.  Seriously, homosexuality is not a disease, a mental illness or a cartoon sponge that lives in a pineapple at the bottom of the sea.  You cannot be infected with homosexuality, they will not convert you, in fact, they do not want you.  Nor will they steal your children, pedophillia does not have the same definition as homosexuality.  

Of course, we cannot leave out the manacial Reverend Fred Phelps who proudly waves signs “God Hates Fags, Fags Die & God Laughs.”  We express outrage at his behavior and  feel proud of ourselves for not buying in to his particular brand of crazy, failing to realize that his lingering stench of hate permeates our world.  Although I am not prepared to put restrictions on freedom of speech, I would fully support a decree that anyone espousing such crazy crap should be sedated and sent directly to an insane asylum.  Karma is a wonderful equalizer, just imagine the turnout at his funeral.

In the United States we have laws banning discimination on the basis of race, gender or religion, we would never tolerate a headline like this directed toward feminism or a specific race.  Sexual orientation is viewed as exempt from equal protection because it is deemed a behavior or a choice.  My sexual orientation is heterosexual, although I do not recall ever having made that decision.  To those who still believe it at choice, why would any person choose a sexual orientation that would subject them to a destiny of inequity, prejudice and stigma?  Left unchecked this bigotry will lead to a specific group of people to be regarded as worthy of persecution.  This is how prejudice and paranoia are born and we are all bearing witness, some silently. 

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”  Pogo by Walt Kelly

Has anyone has bypassed this route on your road to parenting?  Let me familiarize you with my current Highway to Hell. It is located in the city of Math, still don’t know it?  Try exit Algebra II Honors.  There exists a land of polynomials, with a few exponents and radicals with stupid algebraic expressions on their faces, all debating the quadratic function of life. 

The Princess is an excellent student, A’s in Civics, Bible and English II Honors, however she is failing Algebra II Honors.  We have been battling traffic on this highway for the past four months and have now found ourselves at the Ninth Circle of Math Hell.  She has declared she now hates Math, loved it in the previous ten years, but nope, this year she just doesn’t relate to the concept. 

There are many possible explanations to her struggle this year.  The teacher, the less than interesting subject matter, The Princess lack of effort and discipline to use available resources, the school system structure, etc.  We have instilled the importance of learning and education to two completely different children.  The Prince is an intellectually oriented young man and The Princess a socially oriented young lady.  They possess identical senses of humor and opposite styles of learning information, he learns for the love of learning and she learns what she loves.

Unfortunately, educational systems in American today are geared not to individual learning methods, but a focus on the grade versus actually instructing the student in an intelligent and engaging manner.  A manner that results in the student actually comprehending the subject versus suffering total defeat.  Our local school system seems content to inspire learning through daily routine that is cycled adnausem to be repeated on a paper exam.  Conventional teaching methods seem to hinder both the challenged, and the gifted in acquiring an appetite for knowledge.  

We were provided these tips for The Princess success in Algebra II Honors class from the teacher, who refuses to make eye contact when speaking to you, I have added my thoughts for additional insight.

  • Review homework each night: Okay, I can look at the homework, but I have long since lost the ability to interpret quadratic functions.
  • Make certain they get 10 hours of sleep each night: What planet do you live on?
  • Reinforce math through everyday life:  Okay, as soon as I can think of a way to work in Euclid’s axiom into our daily routine I will get right on that one.
  • I am always here to help:  It is not helpful to call my daughter a ditsy blonde, it is also not helpful to treat her with disdain when you discover she is receiving tutoring from one of your co-workers.
  • Test re-takes are always available if she does not do well on the initial test:  Did anyone else get do-overs in High School because they did not perform well on the first test? (Refer to previous comment on pressure to produce a grade)

The Princess has, under duress from the The Royal Parents, surrendered.  Her response:  “Mom, really, when will I use this in the real world?”  As much as I would like to say, you are right dear daughter, we all know there are hoops you must jump through in our educational system to arrive at the the end of the course.  This term she has failed to even apply a minimal effort to improving her understanding of the subject.  The King and I have resorted to what I like to call catalyst agents, The Princess declares they are certainly going to end her social life, I disagree, I could resort to these methods.  Pain sometimes motivates change, I would settle for a concerted attempt. 

Anyone know how I could get Matt Damon from Good Will Hunting to help tutor?  That would provide incentive.

This past weekend I attended a baby shower in our church fellowship hall, I had forgotten my camera and returned to the parking lot to retrieve it from the car.  Out of the corner of my eye I say a young girl, 12 years old push her mother in to the side of their family van and followed up with a blow to her mother’s stomach.  She the proceeded to scream “I told you I am ready to leave!”

My brain had a mini-stroke, did I just see a clip from Tweens Gone Wild?  The attack of tween continued, all the while the mother was consoling the child, begging her to listen to reason and yes, they would go to the mall for her new shoes in a few minutes.

I am not particularly a fan of corporal punishment, but remember spare the rod spoil the child?  My children are sixteen and twenty-three, I can count the spankings they had on one hand, all before the age of 10 as I remember.  By the grace and mercy of God this was not my child.  I surely would have resorted to smack-down in the church parking lot, grounds for some sort of religious retribution from the church elders I am certain. 

A couple of tips:

  • It is okay to say NO to your children
  • The earth does not revolve around your children
  • It is your responsibility to discipline your children
  • Teach consequences for actions
  • Extend and expect respect

I am not Mother of the Year material.  The Princess has seen anger, disappointment and tears in my eyes, when she crosses a line sometimes I yell.  Making certain she knows where she stands and I love her in spite of her behavior.  Sometimes I practice imprisonment; I have the nerve to ask where she is going, with whom and what time she will be home.  Sometimes I say NO, knowing that she will hate me for that moment.  Sometimes I say or do nothing, letting her reap the consequences of her actions, even when doing so breaks my heart.  The Princess will at various times allude to slavery practices when forced to do her chores.  But I do all these things, why?  Because I am her parent and advocate, I am not her friend.  Contrary to all the contemporary parenting experts, I long for a world where mothers and fathers return to parenting.

CONSIDER:

It might sound a paradoxical thing to say –for surely never has a generation of children occupied more sheer hours of parental time –but the truth is that we neglected you. We allowed you a charade of trivial freedoms in order to avoid making those impositions on you that are in the end both the training ground and proving ground for true independence. We pronounced you strong when you were still weak in order to avoid the struggles with you that would have fed your true strength. We proclaimed you sound when you were foolish in order to avoid taking part in the long, slow, slogging effort that is the only route to genuine maturity of mind and feeling. Thus, it was no small anomaly of your growing up that while you were the most indulged generation, you were also in many ways the most abandoned to your own meager devices by those into whose safe-keeping you had been givenMidge Decter