Monthly Archives: October 2008


Crickets come in bags blown up with air. You get 15 at once, 10 cents a bug. I bring the bag home, get a scissor, the container into which they will be put, and the frog, and go outside. We sit on the front step, all of us. I cut a corner off the blown-up bag and insert it into the peeled-back edge of the container cover. The crickets drop down, with shaking, and fly in obediently. I shake two remaining bugs directly into Skipper’s house. He eats them. The Siamese cat comes around to watch. We go back inside and resume our respective activities. Easy enough.

Today, it will be hard. I will need to figure out how to retrieve one bug from the box without letting his eleven buddies jump out. 

Meantime, Twyla and I go out back. And, lo and behold, the mouse is no more. Eradicated from the spot, without a remnant. Poof. I am feeling good about the cycle of life. Best not to interrupt sometimes, at least when shovels are in the offing. 

So, there we are. A clean slate. 


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I did not sign up for “Zookeeper,” on the form. But today, and by 8am, I had the job. I do not like certain animals. Reptiles, mainly, of all varieties. And certain mammals, the mean ones.

I woke up anticipating the morning’s extra chore: the feeding of the crickets. My 6th grader brought home a frog from last week’s Science Fair. It is my office mate. Skipper. He is in a plastic tank which sits in the same spot where the gerbils sat, but that is a long and traumatic story, best for another morning. At least Skip is quiet. The rodents used to interrupt telephone interviews. Anyway, Skipper is to eat six crickets every six days. Today is the day. We retrieved the container of insects only to discover that they had died. Maybe it was a better demise than being chomped by an amphibian. Maybe they were victims of suicide. Who knows. 

I suggested we just feed the six dead crickets to Skipper anyway. My daughter instructed me, though, that he wouldn’t eat dead ones. And, if he doesn’t get the live ones soon, he would expire himself. Okay, I will go to the pet store, because I have a lot of free time, and purchase living bugs for our new pet. And, I will do this every week, because I have a lot of free time every week. End of Skipper story.

So, I let Twyla out back for her morning hygiene…Twyla is our nearly 19 year old bijon-poodle mix, also an exceedingly long story, given the years on the calendar, meant for another time, too…and take the trash out to the alley along the way. I see something dark laying in the grass that has not been cut because I keep neglecting to call Senor Tamez. It has a long thing attached at the end. It is a mouse. I call these creatures mice, not the other more common term, because the word makes the thing so much worse.

This is a moment when I wish there were a boy in the house. Any age would do. There are not many instances when I wish for this, but this morning at 7:45, having handled dead crickets, hosed off my geriatric dog’s privates, for various understandable reasons, and discovered a flopped over rodent that isn’t a guinea pig in the yard…I really wished there was a boy in the house. I thought about borrowing the boy from the next house, but that wouldn’t have been neighborly.

Now, of course, I am left with a dilemma. A personal one, as well as a logistical one. The mouse is still laying in the grass. There is a cat who comes around, a Siamese, who could be helpful with this situation, but I cannot rely on her. There is a shovel in the shed, which the boy would use. I do not know if I can do the shovel. What if I can’t slip the metal under the body? What if it only gets half-way on? What if it falls off on the way to the trash can? An exterminator would pick up the thing in a bag, which, of course, I am not even considering. I could not touch the gerbils, even through a yellow rubber glove. I bet Senor Tamez would pick it up in a bag, if he didn’t mow it into smitherenes by accident.

The mouse thing is the worst part of single motherhood. 

For now, I will do nothing…let the cycle of life take care of itself, let Mommy Nature weave her web. Meanwhile, I better get the crickets.

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Work it Out…Likeasinglemom

Today is an exciting blog day. It is the launch of Work it Out. You explain the dilemma, likeasinglemom offers solutions.

There are no boundaries on the types of issues we can talk about….we face them all, from parenting, time management, career, friends, finance and love life, to fashion, changing fan bulbs, repairing small electronic devices and playing football. I think that single moms approach challenges in a way that is streamlined, analytical and efficient. Whether you begin this way or not, you will wind up here, which is a good thing. A good thing that married moms and dads and kids and uncles can learn from, too. 

So…ask away. I will do my best to answer. 

Oh, no questions about large electronic devices, which include car engines and carburetors, and lawn mowers. Can do washing machines and leaf blowers. 

Carry on.

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“Serious” Journalism

So, a magazine is shut down and one of its editors thinks she can go online and request donations from people so that she can go fly on John McCain’s campaign plane during the last week it will be airborne. The gaul of that. As a reporter, to think that you are so critical to coverage, when, surprise!, a planeful of people is covering the campaign without you, is so excruciatingly  pompous. The news, or non-news of the McCain story, is already being over-covered. The news…and here’s the news alert…is not about you, the reporter, but about the news. There’s a fresh idea.

How embarrassing for the editor, Ana Marie Cox (I think that’s her name), who so clearly wants to be the story rather than report it. Serious shtick, methinks. Wouldn’t it be more useful to request donations for cancer research? 

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Greater Good

Last night, my nearly thirteen year old wanted to know when she should have an idea about which college she wanted to go to. We know some kids who are juniors, so the subject seems fascinating to her on several levels….how could they be old enough? How could I ever be old enough? Then, she wanted to know what was important, besides grades and test scores, to be accepted.

We talked about being well-rounded and showing commitment over time to the pursuits she would choose, both personal ones and worldly ones. She mentioned a Community Service elective she would select the next time she could. 

This reminded me of a woman I know (Click here) …for any adults looking to get involved….

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Protect and Serve

In an earlier post, Held Up, I mentioned a story I was writing about a single mom who was murdered by her ex-husband, with a baseball bat, at her office in Dallas early one morning in May. On Wednesday, the man, who had admitted to the crime, was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. The judge also recommended that he not be eligible for parole in 30 years, at age 68, as would be typical of the sentence. Betty, the grandmother of the three young children left in the wake, will be 90, then. The youngest will be 33. When it comes time for the judges in 2038 to review his case, assuming he is still living, they will read this judge’s note and make a determination.

Betty was pleased that the judicial system “got it right” this time, as it had failed her daughter for months prior to her death. Protective orders that limited contact were in place, but because police officers have to be present for actual infractions, rather than called on the phone afterwards, they don’t protect very well when you need them. These requirements need to be revised. Victims of stalking and harassment need to be taken more seriously, especially when they provide documentation with photographs, taped messages, written logs. Police departments need to be trained to recognize the difference between harassers and violent criminals, whether they’ve displayed violent tendencies in the past or not, and pick them up rather than put them on probation. Not all jealous husbands are killers, obviously. But the ones who might be should identified and treated aggressively.

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What $150,000 Would Do For My Closet

A few weeks ago, it was decided in our house that we would play the “What Not To Wear” game. For those of you who haven’t watched the show, here is the general idea: Every episode, Stacy and Clinton, two of my favorite TV people, ambush a person who has bad clothes, throw them all out, and send her on a shopping spree…with $5,000 and a crash course in hems, waistbands and necklines. My kids decided to be Stacy and Clinton. I would be the person with the bad clothes. It is important to note, however, that my clothes are not bad. They are just old, which might make them bad, but does not take away from their original good.

I’ve always been a pretty zippy gal, I think, when it comes to fashion, daring, current, clever. I’ve got the knack, yes I do. Lately, though, say for about fifteen years, I just haven’t put the knack in play, much. Working at home provides little enthusiasm for a witty wardrobe. So, we turned on the music and hauled out the goods. Betsey Johnson numbers, with peplums. Blazers with shoulder pads that could support file cabinets. Skirts with panels that resembled those felt car wash strips. 

I agreed to part with most of the stash, since we had planned a tag sale for the next morning. “Mommy, no one is going to buy your clothes,” they said. “They are worse than we thought.” Critics, at 11 and 12. And they went on, with the demographics,  “Grown ups won’t fit into these things, and younger people would be too embarrassed.” Meanies.

We woke up early and hung the entire repertoire on the iron gate. It was quite an assemblage, like a time line, my own outdoor museum of style. The kids were right. No one bought anything. Well, a sweater, but that was it. 

I donated the rest. Now, with the extra room on my closet poles, I could use a few things. If I had $150,000, I would probably start a clothing company, let alone buy a jacket with silly bracelet sleeves. Those must tickle. I certainly wouldn’t start buying Valentino when I typically wear jeans and T-shirts. I don’t think I’d even buy those $200 jeans when I usually get them from the Gap. I’d probably just buy a lot from the Gap. I don’t know. Actually, I’d probably get a mix of nice things with some of the money and save the rest. 

Do they really think people aren’t insulted by the hypocrisy?

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