Monday, December 26, 2011
But the crazy part is, this fearsome aggression has extended even beyond pregnancy.
Two weekends ago, the stray dog we would officially keep if she didn’t have a fetish for nibbling on little old ladies’ ankles, was attacked by our neighbor’s four sheep dogs while hunting on our land. The dog, Dingo, is about the size of a fox and has no way to defend herself against a pack that size. When my husband -- who was outside working on our well -- saw what was happening, the oldest dog out of the four had Dingo in her jaws and was shaking her back and forth, trying to crack her neck. My husband took off running and yelling, but the dog still wouldn’t release ours. He threw his drill at the dog and missed, which I was later disappointed about (see what I mean?), but the dog was spooked and released Dingo from her jaws.
I didn’t know any of this had happened until I went for my daily walk and saw that Dingo’s coat was matted with saliva and Randy explained the incident. Immediately, this empowering fury surged through my veins, and I snapped, “Well, I’m gonna go up there and give [insert neighbor’s name] a piece of my mind!”
That sentence, which I have threatened pretty often in the past trimester and a half, is always guaranteed to make my husband turn white. Randy shook his head. “That’s not going to change what happened,” he said. “Plus, it’s not like [insert neighbor’s name] can do anything about it.”
“But [insert neighbor’s name] needs to know what his [or her] dogs are capable of!” I cried. “He [or she] always told me they would never hurt a fly!”
My husband sawed off a three foot piece of PVC pipe and passed it to me. “Here,” he said, “this’ll keep them away.”
Wielding that PVC pipe like a baseball bat, I went trucking up the road with my pregnant belly swaying like a metronome monitoring my wrath. Dingo was obviously unharmed as she pricked alongside me with a drooling grin and wagging tail, but that did not matter: nobody dares lay a finger on my husband, my babies, or my strays!
As soon as I crested the hill, the four dogs came running down from the house while barking and snarling as they have every day for the past two years, but this time they did not come close enough to hit (which I would’ve only done out of self-defense, I swear). Still, one of these walks I’m hoping the mongrels will come chomping after me or Dingo when my pockets just-so-happen to be weighted down with more throwing stars and nunchucks than Le Femme Nikita.
Maybe then I’ll get lucky.
Last week, I drove to Green Hills to have lunch with some dear writer friends. While driving past Cookeville, I briefly contemplated running my Jeep through the carwash, but figured the pouring rain would surely mask the eight months’ of grime accumulated from gunning it up and down our pot-hole ridden dirt road.
Of course, the rain stopped right outside the swanky part of Nashville. I am used to driving vehicles that teeter on the brink of clunkers and even take a certain amount of pride in having driven, during college, a $500 ex-gangster Beretta with peeling tinted windows and chrome rims worth more than the car itself, but this was a nice restaurant (the kind of restaurant that has reading glasses on hand if you can’t read the menu), and I felt a little car-conscious as I circled my rattling Jeep around and around the parking lot, trying to wedge it into a space.
After wasting seconds I did not have to spare, I cried out in triumph when I saw a parking space in between a bran-spanking new BMW that was parked sideways and a champagne-colored SUV. I knew I could make it work; what I didn’t know was if I could get out of my vehicle once I had parked it. My mind briefly flashed with the image of me trying to wedge my watermelon stomach through an opening that was three inches wide, but I rationalized that Baby Girl’s gonna have to get used to those tight fits and it might be good for her to get in some practice.
I didn’t think much of it when the owner of the Beemer exited her vehicle after grabbing some Christmas presents from the backseat, but then she stood there in her clunky high heels and frizzy red hair and just watched me! Granted, I look like a kid since I can’t see very far over the steering wheel and my Jeep is a little worse for our pot-hole ridden road, but I wasn’t the one who had parked sideways!
I could feel that empowering fury surging through my veins again, which I imagine makes my skin turn green and muscles bulge beneath my stretchy-band pants, and I knew that my pregnancy aggression had taken over. Angling my rearview mirror, I watched an expression of repulsion slither across the woman’s features, and it was all I could do not to sideswipe my crusty Jeep down the length of her slick Beemer.
But I didn’t.
Instead, I unspooled my scarf from sweaty neck and whipped off my seatbelt. I pushed the button to lower my window (yes, my Jeep has automatic windows; it’s not entirely luxury-free) and leaned out. Looking that sneering woman right in her carefully made-up face, I smiled with my teeth oozing saccharine sweetness and said, “You wanna straighten your car up for me?”
The woman gestured to the truck beside her car while using the Christmas present. “I can’t,” she whined. “I’d have no room to get out.”
No room to get out! Your stomach’s not carrying a fifteen pound watermelon!
Although these two sentences roared through my head, I did not utter them. Instead, I just nodded, pushed my window back up, and surged my Jeep forward without being as careful about her BMW as I had been before.
It took three minutes to maneuver my belly through that three inch space in between her vehicle and mine. I was hoping the woman would still be there watching me whenever I finally did squeeze out through, but of course she was gone.
I think it probably had something to do with all that fire shooting from my eyes.
Monday, December 19, 2011
For days afterward, my husband and I wore shoes to avoid stepping on glass woven into the fabric of the carpet and found specks of potting soil in the oddest places: microwave, fridge, cabinets, and stove. As we put our apartment and our life back together, I found that what I mourned the most was not the mutilated kitchen table that had been a wedding gift from my in-laws or the kitchen floor that was spongy and warped from the water that had saturated too deeply into the boards to dry, but the house plants I had kept alive through four years of college and numerous week-long road trips, through attacks of spiders mites and aphids. In one fell swoop, over half of them were destroyed, so I carried the mortally wounded plants down to our store’s warehouse and unceremoniously dumped them into the industrial-sized trashcan. I was about to toss the Christmas cactus that had been a gift from my mother when I lifted the severed leaves and peered down at the plant’s base. Although the potting soil sparkled with glass and over half the plant had been squashed flat, I realized that the cactus might be salvageable. I plucked glass pieces from its leaves and soil and watered the pot in the store’s sink. I then carried it back up to our apartment and set it in front of the other 6 x 8 window pane that was not boarded up from the implosion and decided it was up to the cactus to either perish or survive . . .
To read more, visit me at Kellie Elmore's beautiful blog, Magic in the Backyard, where she graciously invited me to share my guest post.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
As the hours pass into days and no trace of the boy is found besides his red tennis shoe and toy truck, the media latches onto the theory proposed by Sam Westin’s high-profile news anchor boyfriend that the rehabilitated cougars might be responsible for Zachary’s disappearance and death. Tensions soar as hunters illegally descend upon the park to dispose of the cougars -- forcing the park rangers to choose between their continued search for the child and their maintenance of campground safety -- and a ransom note is sent to Zachary Fischer’s parents demanding fifty grand. Although the FBI captures the two high school boys the same night they pick up the ransom money, the mystery escalates as the boys reveal that they were to receive a cut of the money from a shaggy-haired man whose description closely resembles the missing boy’s father.
Frustrated by the media's hasty conclusions and her own plethora of dead-end clues, Sam Westin decides to take the boy’s disappearance into her own hands by journeying into Utah’s rugged high country completely alone--that is, until handsome FBI Agent Chase Perez destroys her solitude and her focus by choosing to accompany her.
From Sam and Chase’s moonlit hike across Rainbow Bridge, a tight-walker strip of limestone that spans the width of the canyon, to their rappelling into a crevice where “bands of pastel-colored rock rippled down like flowing curtains,” Beason draws upon her own experiences as a private investigator and wilderness adventurer to conjure forth Coyote Charlie -- a free-spirited vagabond who roams the cliff sides and howls up at the night sky along with the coyotes -- as vividly as the ancient ruins of The Anasazi:
The walls of the ruins were stacked sandstone, some still chinked with red mud mortar. A two-story town house stretched up to meet the limestone ceiling of the overhang. Tiger stripes of black desert varnish cascaded down from the arch above onto the buildings, furthering the illusion that the ruins were an overgrowth of the cliff.
Packed with as much poetic descriptions of nature as it is with suspense, Pamela Beason’s Endangered is a fast-paced mystery sure to leave readers in awe of the wilderness even as they peer into its tangled undergrowth, searching for either the cougar or kidnapper's glowing eyes.
To read more about Pamela Beason, click here.
To order Endangered, click here.
To visit with Pamela on Twitter, click here.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
“What?” he asks. “Got something on my face?”
Then I try to figure out the amalgam between Randy’s introverted personality and my own, which at times has been compared to a hyperactive golden retriever, and the same thing happens. What kind of child can be created from one parent who rates meeting new people right up there with the Apocalypse and one parent who considers the checkout girl at Wal-Mart to be a potential best friend?
Even the way my husband and I cook is polar opposite. I believe recipes are mere suggestions whereas Randy adheres to every teaspoon and pinch as if his culinary soul depends upon it. He always keeps a damp cloth handy so he can wipe down the stovetop if a speck of food dare leap from the pan to mar its shiny black surface, and every item is immediately returned to the cupboard as soon as my husband finishes uses it. The first five seconds I cook are as organized and calm as a Martha Stewart production. But when dinner hits the table fifteen minutes later, I am wearing an apron made from whatever mystery ingredients were involved and the walls around the oven resemble a Jackson Pollock canvas.
I am also slightly disheveled when it comes to home repairs. Eight years ago I traveled with my husband’s family to Bogota, Colombia, where we painted an entire floor of an orphanage. By the time we left two weeks later, my skin was coated with more sea-foam green than the walls. My husband seems to be scarred from this memory. I don’t know if he doesn’t want his wife looking like a knockoff version of the Wicked Witch of the West or if he fears for our home, but he always plugs his ears and hums whenever I bring up a project involving paint, glitter, hammers, or caulk.
I would love for Baby Girl to adore the arts like I do -- to play the cello, read Shakespeare by candlelight, and wear long prairie skirts and feathered earrings -- but as far as business smarts are concerned, I hope she takes after Daddy.
This week we drove to Knoxville to look at a new vehicle since my Jeep has been on its last tire for the past decade. As my husband pulled into the used car parking lot, I said, “You offered below the asking price, right?”
“What did he say?”
“He’d take it.”
“I knew it!” I swatted the dashboard. “We shoulda offered less. He’s obviously chomping at the bit to sell.”
Randy shook his head. “We’re already offering a thousand below the asking price, we certainly can’t ask lower now.”
I agreed, but if my husband hadn’t been there, I still would’ve tried dickering with the salesman even after coming to an agreement over the phone. As it was, that salesman just didn’t feel like giving me any more of his time when I finished looking at the car we had traveled an hour and a half to see and wanted to test drive another just for fun. I think it had something to do with how I'd pointed out every minute imperfection on the first car’s body and said -- so that the higher ups in the offices could hear -- that the vehicle looked like it had hail damage.
Hopefully, Baby Girl will take after Daddy when it comes to keeping her mouth shut, too.