Life and adventures in The Hedge. Because you NEED an alligator in the backyard

The Power of Song

Ever have that moment where something that should have been obvious just smacks you upside the head? I had it yesterday. The realization of what one simple change had done to our lives. I was inspired by http://www.goodmorninggirls.org to go ahead and write this story today because it has been knocking around since yesterday.

It has been about 2 ½ years now since that fateful day. It was simple & silly. I was driving my daughter. I can even remember the intersection we were sitting in – which is a miracle since I can’t tell you what I ate for dinner last night. My sweet daughter was in 2nd grade; she looked at me & said: “Mom, I’m tired of all the songs on the radio being about love. Can we try the ‘little ears station’? ”

My first reaction was of course to flip the channel to the station she was asking for Z88.3 (www.zradio.org). My daughter was happy & we continued on the drive. What was happening inside me was a whole other struggle.

I am a child of the 70’s raised on rock & roll and then I moved on to country in my 20’s after a failed relationship tore up my world. Music had defined me in some ways. How was I going to cope with my child listening to the Christian radio station? Ugh. I had tried on my own before to tune into this station and had given up after like 3 songs. Was I just going to have to grit my teeth while I drove with my daughter? What was I going to do without my country music fix?? But next to me sat a precious child recognizing a song from Vacation Bible School or church – and she was happily singing along. Game over, I was just going to have to put up with listening.

Then the strangest little miracle happened. The DJ came on and I was stunned. It was my favorite morning DJ that I had adored listening to on two country stations. They had replaced him & I had yet to find a morning show I actually enjoyed. There on the dial was Ellis B. Feaster. All the reservations I had were now gone. God was tapping me on the shoulder saying – look at what I have for you! We listened that day & the urge was not there to change the channel. That became our radio home, and because they are listener funded it became one of our missions.

Where our family went after the radio dial change was kind of incredible as well. I was raised Catholic – Irish Catholic in New England. Church was a place for social activities. Homilies were bland messages not strike you at the core sermons. The Bible was a book that sat on the shelf and collected dust. You didn’t pick it up and read it! That was left to priests. The church told you what to do; CCD classes explained what we believed. I was taught by my mother the Bible wasn’t true. I can recall her telling me it was stories to explain things to the people of the time, at a level they could understand. Creation was a story to explain evolution & the big bang.

With that mind set, it all didn’t matter much. The Divinci Code – so what if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead? His teachings are a nice guide to life and as long as I confess to a priest and live a good life – I’m going to heaven. I wanted to marry a man who’d been divorced. So, I just didn’t get married by the church. Religion was a dead thing. I called myself a Christian on the outside, but wasn’t really much of one and I was more of an agnostic. I went along this way for years.

The first rumblings of something needing to change happened when my children were born. They were not healthy born 3 months too soon weighing in around 2 pounds each. It was a time I wish on no one. When they were two weeks old, I got a call that my daughter might not make it to morning. I was home alone. It was late & I wasn’t cleared to drive. I wasn’t thinking clearly. I didn’t call someone to rush me to her bedside; I didn’t call my husband at work to tell him our daughter might not survive. I wrote. I wrote a long and rambling prayer to God to spare my daughter. He spared her, she survived. But the scares kept coming. My mother still a fully entrenched non-practicing Catholic insisted my son be baptized prior to a surgery. So I went through this whole ordeal of having the child baptized – because she believed he’d go to hell if he wasn’t baptized.

NO. I could not believe in that God any longer. The God in my heart would not cast aside a child because they were sick. I had no use for the Catholic Church for myself. For my mother’s sake when my son died at 6 months of age, having never left that hospital bed, we had the Catholic funeral & eventually baptized my daughter. It was all to please my mother. It had nothing to do with God in the slightest. I sought a spiritual path & abandoned all religion.

When my daughter was 3, she asked to go to church. All her friends were going. Off we went to the Presbyterian Church. I found out Bibles were for reading & studying. I heard some sermons that held value. We joined the church. I was forging a new little relationship with God, and eventually Jesus. Then the church we belonged to went through turmoil. The children’s program that brought us there fell apart. We left…but had begun listening to the Christian radio station and our souls were hungry. We NEEDED a church to call home, Jesus had grabbed our hearts.

I was stuck shopping for a new church. We only made it to about 3 before my daughter and I found home. A thriving children’s program. A Bible based church. Sermons that actually hit home, and were full of application for my real life. WOW! Where was this all my life??? My daughter accepted Jesus and asked to be baptized. I was raising a little evangelist! How on earth did that happen? Somewhere in all this transition I had become an optimist. In the middle of a terrible divorce – I had still clung to God and turned out to be an optimist??

Yesterday it struck me one of the driving forces. Changing the dial had been a powerful force. That voice inside my head is singing God’s praises, rather than singing about heartbreak, drugs, sex and other negative forces. My daughter has a shining self-confidence that I certainly did not have at 11. Because what I feed her brain constantly is that she’s a blessed child of God, that being charitable matters. I can see a difference between her and peers without faith. I am amazed at the strength and character my daughter shows. I know part of that comes from her head and heart being filled with praise for our Lord Jesus Christ. One simple change – turning the dial – lead me from doubt into truth and light. Where could a simple change lead you??

 

 

 

 

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    I cannot count the number of times my daughter has accused our big cat Edwin of wanting to attack or eat her. The crazy thing is the stupid cat loves my daughter. Edwin is fully aware of the fact this child in the only reason he lives in this house. Okay, that and the fact that he’s so demanding I could never get rid of him now.

    My daughter has been sick for 6 days now. We’re struggling with asthma along with strep & whatever other gunk. I have had the killer cough for at least 21 days now. As for me, let’s just say – I’m a woman she’s had children & over 40. You can use your imagination to fill in how much I’m enjoying this cough. But, it is worse when you’re listening to your child bark like a Sea Lion and whimper in distress.

    Yesterday, was that whimpering day. Second trip to the doctor, nothing is helping. The temperature came back. The child wouldn’t call her father to say goodnight, leave the couch or do anything normal and more whining lead to having little one sleep in my bed. I knew I was in for a long night. We sat in the bed together to letting her settle down. A ruckus arose downstairs. Edwin the cat wanted in & to be fed. Standard operating procedure in the evening with Edwin: Let in cat, cat eats, cat howls to leave, repeat 3 times until cat decides to go out for night. Unless it is cold, Edwin wants nothing to do with sleeping in the house. I let cat in, go back to tending daughter; expecting cat howling to begin momentarily.

    Instead, Edwin comes up stairs & hops right between us in bed. In case I have failed to mention this…Edwin is massive for a cat. He’s almost as tall as our Sheltie (Miniature Collie) and I think he outweighs the dog at this point. Now, there are complaints from my daughter because the cat is sitting on her. The cat is only sitting on her blanket – purring loudly trying to cuddle up to my daughter. After a few minutes, Edwin is insulted by the whining & leaves when the dog wants to go out.

    Normally, this would be the end of Edwin in the house for the night. But about an hour later, Edwin comes back. Feed cat. Expect cat to want to leave, read a few more pages in The Hunger Games to pass time. (Side note – The Hunger Games – this book is fantastic – go read it.) Cat disappears. Pets are now all upstairs, as is sick child. I hear massive coughing attack begin & can tell my daughter is struggling to breathe. Frantic mom scrambles to find one of the 6 inhalers in the house.

Inhaler in hand, I run up the stairs. Preferred cat of my daughter Kallie sleeps soundly on the only piece of black clothing in the laundry basket in my daughter’s room. Dog peers out of daughter’s room looking a bit confused – but wants nothing to do with furious barking coming from my bedroom. In my bedroom, I find daughter struggling with the coughing ready for her inhaler. The other thing I find is Edwin sitting on the chaise lounge – glaring at me. “What the heck took you so long lady? Didn’t you hear that kid?” I give daughter inhaler. Cat gets drink of water & stretches across the floor – looks at me – “This is going to be a long night.”

When I climb into bed a few minutes later, Edwin returns to the chaise lounge – next to where my daughter sleeps. His massive frame never leaves all night. He observes ever coughing fit. Making sure I do my job. The cat who hates being inside stands guard all night. This is his little human. The child who claims the cat wants to attack her, and tries to scare her – is her actual protector. The other pets have left the room and want nothing to do with the sick human.

This morning there is more peace in our home. My daughter realized when she woke up in distress it was Edwin who sat by her side & waited for help. Edwin watched over her all night. Perhaps my daughter will come to realize that the true guardian of her hedge home is Edwin. I am positive; the dead creature on the doorstep this morning is a token of Edwin’s devotion to the child who fills his bowl.

Timeline ate my post

Just quickly experimenting with my posting – because somehow my last post doesn’t appear on my timeline. Making sure my settings are okay.

Reality is…

Chaos has been in command for the last couple of months. I’m back to the real world and finally out to write something. There’s been something churning in my head the past few days. It may not be as funny as Andrea would like…but thinking once I deal with the gorilla in the room the creative juices will come back.  (and okay, now that is it written, it’s still funny)

The figures are crazy as far as divorce goes – the latest figure I heard 52% of marriages – inside the church end in divorce. Then there are those couples who never marry but have children & split up.

People seem to think that divorce or a break up is going to solve their problems. And perhaps if there are no children involved it will solve some of the issues.

But, I have had a few women approach me – thinking that as a divorced woman, I’ll be sympathetic – that they want to leave the father of their child.  “He’s just not that involved. He works too much. I can’t depend on him. We just aren’t getting along.”

I will tell them 9 times out of 10 they ought to just suck it up & figure it out…

Guess what? It doesn’t get any better if you’re not under the same roof! You have a whole pile of extra problems that come along if you try to separate your lives. Things you can’t even fathom.  My ex-husband walked out 6 years & I can tell you it solved one problem & created 100’s. I am no longer married to a an unfaithful man – that’s the only problem it solved. All the rest of them are still knocking around in wind.

My daughter still sees a man who can’t stay with one woman. He’s still a workaholic who doesn’t spend enough time with his kid…and I could go on – but I’d rather not. Because one thing remains – you see until one of the 3 of us is dead – I still have to deal with him on a regular basis.

Today, I am asking my prayer warrior friends to pray for a woman I have never met & who has made my life a living hell. Why? Because she was my husband’s final mistress before we finally divorced & became a part of my daughter’s life a couple of years ago. My daughter hasn’t seen her in almost 18 months & will never see her again. But, we have learned this woman had a stroke. My sweet child want her to recover. So, I appealed to everyone I could think of to pray for a woman I think less of than what I scraped off my shoe this morning.  Yes, that’s the reality of divorce.

Someone said to me “Oh, you’ll look forward to when it is his weekend.”  At the time, that friend had no children of her own. Today, that same friend can’t even send her child with a sitter to have dinner with her spouse. I think she’s changed her tune.  In reality, I’m ready for my daughter to come back home about 6 hours after she’s gone. That’s enough time for me to clean the house & run all my errands. Once in a while – over night is good so I can go out with the grown ups. But normally – give me the couple of hours & the pets & I are ready for her to be back.

The first time your kid leaves you feel like you’re going to rip in two. This is why they invented 24 hour WalMart because – that’s where you end up at 3am. Staying home alone makes you batty. Instead you spend $300 on toilet paper & wander the aisles until you collapse from exhaustion.  That’s the glamourous life of a newly single mom.

Then there are holidays and life events to negotiate. Who gets to do what. And remember when you and your husband argued about _______________ that you didn’t want you kid to do, but he did.  You no longer have any control. TV’s in the bedroom, poptarts for breakfast, skydiving lessons, gun cleaning, alligator wrestling, motorcylce riding, skateboarding with no pads – you guessed it – he’s doing it all the first moment he’s got your child all to himself.

Oh yeah. Divorce rocks…

First off if you have not read The Bloggess post about Beyonce the giant metal chicken, this won’t make much sense. Drink the Kool-aid read the blog.

http://thebloggess.com/2011/06/and-thats-why-you-should-learn-to-pick-your-battles/

When the fabulous Katie brought this post to my attention, I laughed until there were tears streaming down my face. An activity that doesn’t happen often enough in my life. I could hear the exchange between Jenny & Victor in my head, because it was so close the exchanges between my parents. I could totally see my mother pulling something like this but with a flamingo rather than a chicken.

After my initial laughter died down – lust set in. It was overwhelming: the need to have my very own giant metal chicken.

I have looked for my own Beyonce- but not in an overwhelming scour the malls of the state way. I’m waiting for a Saturday when I can kidnap a girlfriend and search all day. (Who is coming with me??)

I did scout around for Beyonce a bit and almost came home with a fabulous metal Pelican. It was rather fitting for a Floridian – but he just wasn’t quite obnoxious enough for me. I have calmed the need with a colorful little rooster AKA Jay-z. AND the most amazing flying pig – she’s not metal or big – but damn she has the cutest little pig butt and a total attitude.

As I was searching for my big metal chicken I stopped to think – why the hell do I want this big metal chicken?

The answer was so stunningly simple it really threw me.

Because I can.

It may sound silly at first, but there is a true logic. The Big Metal Chicken actually is all about the fact I have finally come into my own.

I couldn’t have had a big metal chicken in my 20’s. I was broke & struggling – just hoping to have enough money for a cute outfit from Ross & cocktails on the weekends.

My 30’s I was married to a cheap ass son of a bitch and struggling to raise my daughter. There is no way that I would have had the time or money to seek out and buy a giant metal chicken. (But how the hell did he manage to go on a freaking week long boys trip every year while I didn’t have enough for groceries?? )

Now I have reached my mid-forties. I am divorced from the cheap SOB.
I am control of my money again and doing fine. It took me years of hard work & ramen noodles to get here – and I’m still paying off those years!

FINALLY – I can blow a couple hundred dollars on just me and the sky will not fall.
I just never do it.

When I got divorced I did not go out and do anything crazy. No meaningless sex. No tattoo. Damn I’m boring…

I think a big metal chicken might be the type of rebellion I need. Who wouldn’t want to come sit on my back porch have a glass with Beyonce & me while looking for Herman’s friends. Plus I bet a big old metal chicken would freak out the crazed raccoons.

I need to buy that big metal chicken to have her stare me in the face daily and saying – “Get your crazy on and stop being so darn practical. Life is short.”

We all need our personal big metal chicken to remind us!

Oh and I’d love to see the look on my ex’s face when he pulled up & Beyonce was looking at him.
“Knock, Knock MF!”

Herman is dead

I have been alligator free for a week now. I must admit it feels a little weird.
The monster under my bed is gone. Okay, he was under my bedroom window – same difference.
My level of insanity has come to light.
I am not a Pet Whisperer. Nope, I am an Alligator Yeller.
Herman and I had it out more than once. I would stand in the grass and yell,
“I can see you Herman! Go away you stupid alligator! Don’t you know you’re supposed to be afraid of humans? Scram stupid alligator.”
This would be followed by a hail of rocks & confirmation that it was a good thing I never aspired to be a pitcher. Herman would slink away & hide – his feelings hurt.
Yes, I stood and yelled at an alligator 30ft away.
The trapper was shocked I’d let him stay in the yard this long. My good old boy trapper said he’d be afraid of messing with Herman. Turns out, Herman was just over 11 feet long. A full fledged scare the hell out of you monster. Cool
All along – I had been messing with Herman – chasing him off. I guess that makes me more than a little crazy.

Now this was the part of the story that cracked me up.

The pond where Herman lived has town houses along two sides. Herman hung out in a corner. That is where we trapped his scaly butt. On this corner live a couple of young guys in their 20’s. I haven’t met them yet – they moved in over the summer. (Replacing Stitch the dog & his family, dang it we should have kept Stitch and family.)

I am outside in the pouring rain. Thank you Hurricane Irene. The trapper is here and has already used the bang-stick on Herman once. Herman is mostly dead. Trapper tapes shut Herman’s massive jaw. Crooked jaw actually – Herman tried so desperately to escape the baited hook & line he was on he actually broke his jaw.

The two young guys are standing at their sliding glass widow taking pictures. They won’t come out. BANG. Trapper decided Herman needed a second bullet to the brain. The water gets bloody. Both of Herman’s eyes are closed. Herman is officially dead.

I let my 10 year old daughter photograph dead Herman – up close. I signal to the guys that Herman was dead. They still stay behind their glass, petrified of a dead alligator.
Trapper comes back. He’s been trying to get help to remove Herman from the water. The permit had said Herman was 5-6ft. I had told Fish and Wildlife he was at least 8 ft. I guess they thought I was exaggerating. Umm, nope he was bigger. Apparently all of the trapper’s co-workers had tied one on in honor of Irene. No one was answering the phone on this lovely morning. Pouring rain and gusty winds and an 11foot gator aren’t the perfect cure for a hang over? Who knew?!
Anyway the trapper & I signal the two men to come out. We frigging need help. They continue to shake in their shoes & refuse to come out.
We can’t just leave a dead alligator lying in the backyard & wait for help. Getting this alligator out is now going to be up to me, my daughter and the trapper. Their goes my video-shoot of the alligator coming out of the water. Damn it!
Instead, I’m driving the battered up pick up truck down the street. The alligator is tied by a rope to the bumper. The trapper is guiding the gator. My daughter is yelling driving instructions. Someone should have been shooting video for sure!!!

I’m thinking – stupid boys. One of you dumb asses could have been driving the full size truck instead of the short fat lady! We could have had video AND still photography.

My daughter did find it to be the thrill of her life. Having Scarlet Fever came in handy that day! One sick day she’ll never forget! Admittedly – she said the gator was still kind of scary dead, taped up & lying in the front yard. Curiosity won out though – she held the tape measure when it was time to measure the gator.

The gator was gone. I walked around to the backyard. The two wimpy guys with their cameras were standing on their porch. Still to afraid to venture forth and see the fate of the alligator. I did shout over to them: “The gator’s gone. He was dead the whole time you were taking pictures. I was signally for you to come out because we NEEDED HELP.”
Doubt I made any friends, freaking wimpy men. A 10 year old girl is braver. Go figure.
At least Herman is dead. Someone will be enjoying a beer with Herman real soon – he’ll be a fine appetizer.

Herman Needs To Die!

Herman needs to die.

Really I am fairly non-violent. I’m the only one in my family without a gun.
But Herman is an all together different thing.

Herman is really sneaking and annoying. Not great characteristics, but normally not death penalty stuff.
Except for Herman.
Because – Herman is a 7ft Alligator.
As this summer has passed I was kind of at peace with Herman.
I knew he was there in the backyard. Herman had a routine. He’d swim in around sunrise. Hang out for a little while. Back out when he w me bring out the dog. Then he’d lurk.
I could live with this routine. A predictable alligator is okay.

Then it changed. Herman started to swim toward us when we came out. This is a VERY bad sign with an alligator. It means someone around the lake has been bad very bad. They have been throwing Herman marshmallows or raw chicken. Somehow this alligator lost his fear of humans & wanted to come and visit.

Personally, I do not want to visit with a 7ft bull gator. There is nothing small about Herman. He is big and broad. He’s not one of these skinny little gators. I watch the news and they show video of gators being trapped. Half the time I’m like really?? You had to call Fish and Wildlife on that??? A skinny 3 ft gator that you’d let your kid touch after it is trapped is nothing. We have two of those & I don’t care.
Herman is the size of my couch. And he freaking crossed the line about 10 days ago. I was sick. Really sick, the I’m not sure how I’m going to get out of bed, when- did- I –last- shower – kind of sick. The last time I had been that ill it was a mono relapse. (No one knows what happened to me this time – 3 good doctors – all said umm, yeah you’re sick. Rest.)
Anyway I’m dog sick. It is midnight. Freaking Herman decides he’s coming to visit. This is not his normal time. Not his normal visit.
My windows rattle because Herman is in the backyard ROARING. My logical side was thinking: “What the hell Herman?” BUT – the primal part of me was petrified – couldn’t move, heart thumping petrified. The noise is unmistakable.
And the reptilian part of your brain surely says – that is not good. There’s a monster outside. A real live couch sized monster.
The next day Herman kept up his antics. He was out there and not leaving. I called for a trapper. Because of red-tape it takes from Saturday to Tuesday for me to hear from a trapper.
The lapse of days, the delirium of fever and lack of sleep were not a good combination. Herman came back. I got pissed off. I yelled at Herman. He didn’t leave fast enough. I bounced a rock off his nose. Herman left.
I have hurt Herman’s feelings & he’s being a jerk. He’s not showing up at normal times. I have the trapper on speed dial for whenever Herman shows up. He’s been showing up in the middle of the night. I can’t call the trapper at 3 am when Herman is lurking in the lake. I don’t know where he’s hanging out during the day.
I went to take the dog out and spent the whole time shining Herman. (In the dark gator eyes do glow red in a flashlight beam- good way to keep track of his whereabouts.)
I am tired of Herman’s antics. Herman needs to be some gator bites and a handbag.

So yes, Herman needs to die. If I can just get him to show himself, he’s history. I’m almost ready to sacrifice the bag of giant marshmallows to bring him around.
Come on already Herman. Mama needs new shoes.