Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Monday, August 23, 2004


Didn't get to sleep as long as I wanted, but more than I usually get to. Rolled out of bed and scared myself by looking in the mirror. My hair was all smooshed up on one side of my head, creating some kind of a strange, Mohawk-style ridge across my head. Except it was side-to-side. I don't know how I did that.

Got dressed, went downstairs, ate one of the blueberry muffins that Catherine had made with her very own two front paws (and with some help from Mommy). Ate one, guiltily, because despite the derangement of last week, I'm not REALLY on an all-carb diet. Yes, it was all an act. I feel so dirty. Luckily, there was laundry and housework to do.

Morning chore assignments--Oldest chose dusting, being that it requires the least effort; Boy chose bathrooms, because you get to use the Windex squirter and that's like using a squirt gun and that's fun; and Youngest got floors by default since Middle Girl was still away having fun and staying up all night. And since Cat got floor duty, it meant I got floor duty, too. The last thing this world needs is her left to her own devices with a vacuum cleaner.

She's actually pretty good. She understands the lever to make the handle go down, and the foot switch to turn it on. She's a little underdeveloped when it comes to technique, though, although I think with enough training she will get better. Upstairs, then called in Oldest to lackadaisically swipe at things in a stunningly bad facsimile of actual dusting, while I took Cat and Vac back downstairs to start on the den and dining room.

After we successfully managed to booger up all the legs of the furniture and suck some of the fringe off the rug in the foyer, I called Oldest down to complete the downstairs dusting while the final bout of floor business was done--damp mopping with the stupid Clorox "system".

Wouldn't have been so bad except we were down to the last few ounces of juice, and I was in no mood to go to the store for more. So, we made do with the amount we had. She's still not quite clear that mopping requires actual pressure to be placed upon the mop handle, nor that it requires some regularity of pattern to keep from missing spots. She's more about the overall conceptualized mopping experience as seen from a more abstract viewpoint, in which mopping is accomplished if a mop is present, and if she is able to occasionally move it hither and about in an appropriately swishy sort of manner. Sort of a Mop Art thing, I suppose.

Not much for getting the floor clean, however. Leave it to dull, square, Old Master Dad to come back and make the floor look like a floor again.

Put the stuff away and sent her to the den to watch something educational and I helped Jonathan square away the mirrors and such, asked Oldest to get the shoes and purses up out of her floor, then with nothing else to do for a while, I decided to sit down for a bit and watch a movie I've had for nearly a year now and hadn't even opened yet, Hart's War. Only got an hour into it before having to stop it and start helping Reba try to make some headway in getting the girls' room cleared away. The giant pile of toys/bits of paper/dirty socks/yarn/hairballs/etc., in their floor has reached critical mass, and it was time to start getting it cleaned up.

Time for the black plastic garbage bags again.

Cut a pretty wide swath after a couple of hour's worth of work, and then had to get dressed to go get Bec. Stopped by Oldest's room to see that in the intervening time since I had first asked her to clean up she had managed to shift position ever so slightly on the bed. Told her she needed to get her shoes and junk picked up, since it was, after all, her room. As if that should matter! Silly stupid old man.

Off to Branchville, got there to find out she and the other girls had just gotten in the pool. I am such a spoil sport. Sat and chatted with the hostess-mom while Rebecca got dried off and dressed--found out they had managed to stay up all hours giggling and watching movies after having spent half of Friday evening in the pool. Maybe I'm not such a spoil sport.

On home, where, despite my most sincere wishes, the grass had dried out enough to attempt a mowing operation. ::sigh::

Got Jonathan roused up from watching the Wire-Fu Buddhist Monk channel and got him to put on some clothes, then checked in with Miss Reba to let her know of our mission. She was a'preparing to go get her hair fixed, and casually mentioned that Ashley wanted to go, too. "Did she finish cleaning her room?"

As if I had to ask. Interesting, too, was the ploy of waiting until I left to ask to go. But it was not to be. Clean up now, or you don't get to go.

Which is SO! UN! FAIR!

Despite the fact that had she actually gone ahead and done what she was supposed to do, she would have been finished in about fifteen minutes. But there's a principle involved here, I suppose. However murky and ill-advised it might be. (Should any of you ever wonder why I have so little patience for the dimwits of Moveon.org and Democratic Underground and the DNC--well, I have an impervious-to-logic fourteen year old that I have to deal with every single day of my life. I'll take the time with her because she's family, but the rest of you are just going to have to shut up and take a number. I'll get to you after while.)

After that bit of high drama, I went to use the bathroom, flipped the flush lever and....



Trip to the hardware store for another handle before getting going on the grass. I took Boy with me so he would get some macho germs from the Marvin's down at the foot of the hill. Found a handle--this time one with a brass rod instead of plastic--paid and headed home. Got the pliers and let Jonathan be the tool-carrier, made quick work of the handle installation with a minimal amount of bad thoughts about plumbing materials, and THEN headed out to cut the grass.

What a mess.

The grass itself was fine--it doesn't seem to want to grow. The weeds, however, have never had it so good. So much to be done. The mimosa have nearly taken over the little planter area beside the back patio, the wisteria has gotten a toe hold into the maple tree, the foundation is in dire need of a good clipping, and, as mentioned before, the sidewalks and driveway all need edging.

Well, fiddle-dee-dee.

Mowing's good enough for today. So, Boy and I started to work. He grew very weary on about the fifteenth or sixteenth step, but I made him stay with it until the front was completely cut. Then we went in and drank us some generic sugar-free drink mix. I left him inside after that and let him play while I finished up the backyard.

Got finished after exhausting myself with about fourteen loads of grass clippings and fighting the humidity, put away the mower, came inside and got a cold glass of artificially flavored and sweetened water, heard from Miss Tattletale Rebecca that Oldest had been screaming while I was outside about what liars Mom and Dad were for not letting her go and not telling her she was supposed to clean up her room first. Whatever. Walked upstairs to see that Oldest had burrowed still deeper into the covers on her bed. Floor looking just as it had.

Sat on the end of the bed still dripping with sweat and stinking of gas and grass clippings. "You know, just because you didn't clean your room doesn't make your mother and I liars. You didn't clean it because you didn't want to. And it didn't matter if either one of us knew about what you wanted to do. I didn't know you wanted to go until I got back from picking up your sister, and Mom didn't know I had told you to get this mess cleaned up."

So, she stormed out of her own room and went to OUR bathroom. Gotta love that, you know. I waited for her to come back, and after a while she regally flounced her way past me and proceeded to stand at her mirror plucking her eyebrows. I leaned up against the door facing to see where this was going to go. Pluck. Pluck. Pluck. Five minutes. I'm surprised she had any left. Then she picked up a bottle of eyedrops and brushed past me going downstairs.

Whoa up.

"I'm GOING to GO PUT these in my PURSE!"

"That's fine, but when you get back you'll need to get this mess picked up. And remember, no matter what else you might think, if you had cleaned it up this morning when I first asked you to, you would have gotten to go. If you had done it the second or third time, even, you would have been finished in plenty of time. But you didn't do it. You have no one to blame but yourself. It's called responsibility, Ashley, and you know, you keep talking about 'when you get your learner's permit,' and start 'getting to learn to drive,'--look, if you're not responsible enough to be left alone to clean up your room, do you really think you would be responsible enough to be given the keys to a four thousand pound car? Show us responsibility in small things, if you want responsibility for big things. So, when you get back, clean this mess up like you were told to do."

Such fury in her face. She stomped down the stairs and disappeared then ::smack::OOWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaahhhhh WHAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaahhhh "WHY'D YOU HIT MEEEEEEEEE?!" The screaming wail of Middle Girl.


What an absolute piece of work. I stood there at the landing, Oldest made her way back around through the dining room and den and stomped her way back up the steps.

"Ashley, did you do something to your sister?"

"YES! I DID! I PUNCHED her!" The look of delight on her face was positively psychopathic.

"Ashley, why did you do that?"

"Because she has NO RIGHT to tell you ANYTHING that I SAY!"

This from the same girl who gets so upset when people as school dare to say something mean to her, yet who takes great delight in making fun of other people.

She stormed past and wheeled around in the middle of the floor.

"Ashley, do you really, in your deep down heart of hearts, REALLY think that was the right way to handle this?"


Now, before we get too carried away here, one thing you should know is that Rebecca is very good at putting herself into positions where Oldest will lash out at her, and then feign great horrid injury and despair. I noticed as I was standing there hearing Miss Congeniality's tale, the wailing and moaning from downstairs had magically stopped. I imagine Middle Girl was downstairs just waiting for the big explosion. But you know what? I was too tired for that crap. I was hot and sweaty and doggone it, I'm too smart to have to resort to grounding or a well-aimed slap across the mouth. There are, after all, much worse punishments.

I calmly noted that she has been saying for months now that she wanted to be baptized. She thinks about it a lot. "Do you really think what you did is consistent with your desire to become a Christian, Ashley?"

A "no" was forced out between gritted teeth.

"Right. And don't you think you should try to make this right?"

Another "no" was forced out between gritted teeth--"Come on--you know better than that."

"WELL, SHE came in here and started LAUGHING at me because I couldn't go, and kept ON and ON, and she HAD NO RIGHT TO..."

"Whoa. She was wrong to tattle. No question. She was wrong to come in here and try to get you mad. It was a bad thing for her to do. But you are only responsible for yourself. You can't justify doing bad because someone else did. YOU have to do what's right, even if everyone else is doing wrong. She'll make it right because I'll see to it that she does, but you have something to do, too." By this time, Mom had now returned from the beauty shop and I felt her hovering over my left shoulder.

I turned to call Rebecca upstairs. "Hey, your hair looks GREAT!" She had it colored and got it cut up to the bottom of her ears--very VERY cute sort of a swingy bob with some soft bangs. Rrrrowwwwlll!


She walked up like she was walking up a gallows. "Come out here, Ashley." They stood there facing each other like gunfighters. "Rebecca, it was wrong of you to go into Ashley's room and mess with her..." "But I didn't do anythi..." "IT WAS WRONG OF YOU TO go in her room and mess with her and you're going to apologize for it right now."


"Louder, please, and make it sound like you actually mean it."

"I'm sorry."

"Now, Ashley, what will you say?"

"I'm sorry I punched you." Not much in the way of sincerity, although it was audible.

"Okay, now you two give each other a hug."

ZING! POW! Told you there were worse things than being grounded.

They resisted vehemently until I made it very clear that there were worse things than NOT hugging when I told them to do it. So, they hugged and almost giggled.

They returned to their corners and I went and took a shower.

And then after all of the rest of them took their baths and washed their hair, we went and delivered a present to my mom for her birthday. It was nearly 8:30 when we finally managed to get home.

The kids were sent to bed, Reba went upstairs to read, and I finished watching my movie.

Boy, Saturdays are exhausting.

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