Here it is, in no particular order.
- In the state of Maryland, squatters have legal rights to a property if they have been occupying it for a minimum of 5 days. Whether they have a lease, or not. So check this out: say you go to Maryland to visit your old college roommate and you stay there for 5 days – that’s all you need in that house to call it your own. The owner has to give you 30 days written notice to vacate – he can’t just throw you out. Imagine that – driving around Green Spring Valley and happening upon some big beautiful mansion that you felt had your name on it. Find a way to move in for 5 days…. and the owners will have to spend a few hundred dollars to have you legally removed. But that’s after 30 days. Meanwhile, you can live it up for free in the poshest house you’ll ever see the inside of and even get a daily swim in the backyard pool.
- Coinciding with the above revelation is the reinforced knowledge that police have a job to do and it isn’t always what you think it is. It’s no secret that I have had a particularly difficult year past – and there were a few disappointing incidents where I really felt like the police weren’t willing to help me. Fact is – get the facts. Once you know exactly what an officer can and cannot do, and your expectations are reasonable, it’ll be a hell of a lot easier to keep your cool – and it will definitely make them more willing to work with you. The officer I met this week was more than a little agitated when the investigation into the squatters in Todd’s house began, but by the time he left he’d gone above and beyond what he was required to do and left us (at least me) feeling like he really did care.
- My klutzy-ness is wearing off on my husband, who slipped off the back of a truck and subsequently heard a “pop” in his ankle that swelled like the Goodyear Blimp and landed us in the emergency room hours later. I also learned that there are still people left in this world with genuine manners when a woman accidentally pushed her sister’s wheelchair into Todd’s wheelchair, the blow to his already blackening ankle and foot causing a crisp intake of air. She apologized and kept going. HOWEVER, she came back later and made a sincere and heartfelt apology – and she waited for him to accept it.
- Emergency rooms can actually be very entertaining, assuming you’re not there in some life-threatening condition. We made friends with the people in our little “holding cell” and shared stories of previous ugly injuries, watched hospital staff working like ants in an anthill, Todd played Angry Birds on his laptop and provided real-time information on his condition on Facebook, and I noticed two men in matching Karate gi’s come in – one holding a very bloody gauze-wrapped finger – and the hilarity of it struck the inappropriate laughter button on my interior. It was all I could do not to giggle, and then Todd kept staring at them and I knew he was dying to ask them what happened. He suggested we make friends with people in the ER and post pics of their injuries on Facebook, inviting amateur diagnoses in a sort of name-that-injury kind of game. At least it kept my mind from wandering back to the last time I was in that ER.
- Fleas are really hard to get rid of. My poor cat has been attacked by fleas. We have bombed the house twice, I vacuum every single God-forsaken day, I comb his fur every morning for the little bastards, I have applied Frontline monthly for the last 3 months on my indoor cat, and bathed him three times with flea shampoo – during which time I also learned that my cat can actually meow his own name. They say everything is worse this year – bugs, allergies, pollen – because of the mild winter we had. I hope that’s it – because I have never seen anything like it. I grew up in a house with three cats and a dog – all of whom went in and out several times a day and we never had fleas. During my first marriage, we had two long-haired cats that never went outside and never got Frontine and then the dog came. The Himalayan that was still living at the time never had a flea on him. Neither did the dog, for that matter. So, WTH is going on?
- I have to remember to always trust my first instincts about people. I am seldom wrong. But giving people a chance, because I am just that kind of person and just naïve enough to want to be friends with everyone, should only be done once. There’s that old saying, “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Can’t blame anyone but yourself for getting burned twice. You’d think I’d have learned that lesson with the first loser I attached myself to, but unfortunately there are several “lessons” still hovering around my peripherals.
- I’m sick of drama. I’ve had enough drama in the last two years to at least earn me a free pass from bullshit for a while. No one is immune, I realize. But Todd and I had this mutual revelation this week that we are staying far and away from unnecessary joy-squashers and parasites. We didn’t fight our way out of the dark lives we were separately living just to have some idiot cast shadows over the joy we’ve found together.
- I need to teach my daughter about the conversation “filter.” My friend Chris and I were talking about this some time ago… she was telling me how blunt her 5-year-old daughter can be when she tells her she looks “fat in that dress.” She said both her kids “need a filter.” Now I get it. Ava is two years older, but she is beginning to say things without regard for personal feeling that I find unnerving. She’s always been a spitfire, but nowadays it’s going beyond the usual reporting of things I’m sure the other household would prefer I didn’t hear about to stuff like telling me her other grandmother is drunk, or throwing insults at me or her brother, or making fun of old people in public. She’s NOT learning this stuff from me.
- My kids never complain about my mom’s food. Her Wine Pairing menu at her restaurant is awesome – and with 6 different courses for me, my kids get to sample a plethora of things they wouldn’t ordinarily eat. If I made Hawaiian butter fish or roasted pork braciole at home, the whining that accompanied it would likely blow out my creative cooking motivator pilot light. But, not to be deterred, I woke up this morning feeling inspired to try cooking some new things.
- The Hunger Games is being released on DVD on August 18. Ever since he finished reading it, Owen has been waiting for me to pick it up. So yesterday I brought it to the pool with me and when he saw it he said, “yay!” and then, “uh oh, ” because he suddenly realized I won’t be available for anything once I start. “You won’t be able to put that book down, mom.” How right he was. I have only put the book down long enough to cool off in the pool, have dinner, and sleep. Cannot WAIT to see the movie, and hopeful it won’t disappoint the literary version.
- Penn State is still a hot topic. I imagine it will continue to be for a long time to come. I still can’t believe Penn State still gets more Facebook time than the tragic shootings in Colorado; even Christian Bale’s visits to the victims have gotten more attention than the events and the psycho that precipitated it. I learned that I’m sick of hearing about Joe Paterno and his tarnished legacy, and that it would be best if I kept all of my opinions on that particular subject off of Facebook.
- My children’s father – who disposed of the family dog and threw my cat outside in the rain last fall because they were "smelling up the house" – apparently is now sharing residence with not only his girlfriend, but her 3 cats and – as of last week – her new German Shepherd puppy. I find this hilariously funny.
- Red wine and champagne burn a lot more coming back out than going in. I believe I have forgotten the age-old warning of minimizing alcohol consumption on 95 degree days by the pool, and most especially if one plans to sit in a hot tub. Red wine also looks very much like blood under the right conditions.
And finally, a little trivia I couldn’t resist.
- The ASPCA estimated that there are as many as 2000 new cases of animal hoarding every year. This includes cats, dogs, reptiles, birds, rodents, even farm animals. One woman who appeared on Animal Planet’s Animal Hoarders show had 260 cats in her home. Two hundred… and… sixty…. cats. Imagine what that smells like. Unfortunately, I can. The little old lady who lives two doors down doesn’t appear to have any pets, and yet – the inside of her house smells positively noxious. I must remember to ask the neighbors the next time I see them.