Thursday, November 19, 2009

Excused Absence

Once again, I've been neglecting my blog.   *SIGH*   What can I say?  I've been distracted by all the usual insanity here at the asylum . . . again.  
Not only have I been busy tearing down and storing our yard haunt, but my youngest, my baby,  turned thirteen last week.  UGH, a teenager!  If things were crazy before, they are about to become completely out of control now.   I know this from experience.  Of course, this is the first time that I will be dealing with TWO teens at the same time.  In the past, due to the number of years between my children, I've always been fortunate enough to get one through the teen years before the next one reached the magic (or is it really a cursed number?) age of 13.  Silly me, my last two kids are only two years apart in age.  Of course, Jake and Heather are so close, they do everything together.  For the most part, that has been a blessing; I'll have to wait and see if I still feel the same way in the coming years.

Anyway, for Heather's thirteenth birthday she wanted to have a slumber party with 7 of her closest girlfriends.  Normally, that wouldn't be a huge problem;  except for the past several months, our little asylum has been running at full occupancy with Nick, Jenn, and the baby living with us.  Of course, I knew it would be total chaos ( as well as a probable violation of several city codes for maxium occupancy of a four bedroom duplex)  with that many teenage girls in the house.  But after all, it's just for one night . . .   The biggest issue was, where to bed down that many people.  Not that I expected them to do much sleeping, at least not until the wee hours of the morning.  It was finally decided that the only possible availible space was -  the garage.  The problem with that?  Heather's birthday is only 11 days after Halloween.  Not only was the garage still set up as a mad doctor's laboratory from Halloween, but on November 1st, everything from the front yard cemetery gets shoved into the garage until I can get it all packed away. (which normally happens over a span of months) So yeah, I've been extremely busy these past few days, tranforming our garage from a laboratory/storage space, to a party room for teens - all in less than a weeks time.
And because my husband has no idea what it takes to preform the sort of magic that I do on a daily basis, he scheduled Pete's neutering for the morning after the Slumber party !  Of course, we had Pheonix neutered the week before Halloween, and that made me a nervous wreck. Not only was I all strung out over the emotional guilt of abandoning my baby overnight at a strange place,  but I have to admit that dealing with a post-surgery animal was a bit more stressful than I had anticipated.  Not only are they unable to tell you if they're in pain, or if something isn't right, but they could care less about things like . . . surgical incision care, and infection.  They're just dogs, they aren't equiped with survival instincts that cover human situations like surgery.  I was actually amazed at how co-operative Pheonix turned out to be - the perfect patient.  In fact, as the days have passed, I am only sorry that we didn't have him neutered earlier.  I'm starting to think that most of his anxiety and bad behavior was testosterone induced.  He's just a happier, more relaxed, and contented dog.  He has actually become more playful and puppy like.

However, in comparison, Pete . . .   To put it as tactfully as possible, Pete is well, uh . . . psychotic as hell.  He has more issues than LIFE magazine.  Not only is he stubborn and willful, but he has separation anxiety, he's a fence climber with a wandering spirit, he's absolutely frantic when it comes to his fear of thunderstorms, and when it comes to licking and chewing . . . OCD doesn't even BEGIN to describe it !  He has done everything in his power to make his recovery time difficult for everyone; and as a result, it's taking longer for him to heal.  He refuses to leave his incision alone and he worries over it day and night.  We've had to put one of those goofy Elizabethian collars on him, keep him separated from the other dogs, and still, we have to watch him constantly. ALL he does is whinge and cry like a baby.  Once again, I've had to redecorate the garage, this time into a makeshift dog kennel.  Actually, it's more like a canine presidential suite!  And does he appreciate all that I've done for him?  Hell NO!  When I named our home haunt Howling Hollow Asylum, I had no idea that it would become so prophetic.  Pete's constant crying and howling is making everyone insane!!!  Every night when I go to bed, I pray that the hormones will work themselves out of his body quickly, and that the lack of testosterone will have the same effect on Pete as it's had on pheonix.  This really is our last hope.  If neutering him doesn't curb his dominance and his desire to fight with Pheonix, I have to find him another home.  It's going to break my heart, but I can't have that kind of violence and tension in my home.

In other news . . . I've decided to start looking for a job.  Roy has been laid off from his job (which really didn't supply him with enough hours or pay anyway)  and with the kids getting older, and the Holidays and the economy  being such a financial stress - well, I think it's just time for me to go back to work.  I've sent out a few resumes with my optical experience and I seem to be getting pretty good responses.  I know that over the past 20 years that I've been at home there have been a lot of changes (new equipment and products, computers, and worst bof all, insurance)  but the basics never really change much.  Besides, all the changes are really kind of unique specific to each office, so I would probably have to learn it anyway.  But I think I would much rather return to optics, than find work in my other area of training - teaching preschool. Not only is the pay and benefits better, but I think I've had enough of dealing with children. (or grown ups that BEHAVE like children)  Still, I'm really nervous and anxious about the whole thing - it just seems weird to imagine not being at home all the time, and I know that there will have to be new rules, and a lot of  restructuring at home  if I'm not here all day. ( my family doesn't exactly embrace change very well)   I know that in the long run, it will be a good thing, I just don't look forward to the short term stress.  So wish me luck, and keep my family in your prayers, please.
I'm still working on getting the Halloween photos uploaded to my other blog.  My stupid computer has been SO slow lately, I can only do a few each evening.  Hopefully, I'll have it done by the end of this weekend - I'll let you know.

Well, it's late and I need to sleep.  I'll try not to be so long between posts next time.
Good night  all.

*p.s. dog photo credits: my very talented daughter, Heather !

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween 2009

Well, it's November 3rd, and I'm still trying to come up with words that would aptly describe this year's Halloween at Howling Hollow Insane Asylum. Mostly because I'm still trying to get over the trauma and shock of it all. The words that keep coming to mind are: spooky and . . . chaotic? I'm sure it was a year that we'll always remember, but maybe not for the best reasons.

The weather was surprisingly good, although we didn't have as pre-dusk trick or treaters this year, so things got off to a slow start. In fact, things didn't really get rolling until about 6:30PM. That's about when all hell broke lose.

At 6:45 the sound of sirens filled the neighborhood and we were shocked to find that they were headed straight towards our little asylum. We all gathered in the drive as an Olathe med-act truck pulled up in front of the duplex next door. We have a passing acquaintance with the folks living there. I have spoken with Joyce, the wife, occasionally as I walked my dogs; and last summer, my oldest son, Nick, spent a few evenings at their house with a gentleman who lived with them for a few months. However since he moved out, things have been fairly quiet with Joyce caring for Jimmy, her bedridden husband. I knew that Joyce had a history of strokes and I was afraid that she might be having another. However, when the paramedic jumped out of the van, Joyce came frantically rushing into the front yard screaming at him to "Hurry!" Several fire trucks rolled onto the scene, followed by police cars. Nick and my husband went to see if they could be any help. Joyce was hysterical and crying incoherently about her husband needing help right away. As firemen rushed in and back out yelling for "Water! Now!", smoke started drifting out the door. Eventually, she was able to explain that her husband, who is dependant upon some sort of respiratory system, had been sitting on the couch smoking a cigarette when something went terribly wrong. She rushed down stairs to find him engulfed in flames! She tried, but was unable to do anything to help him. As everyone tried to comfort her, the flames were extinguished and her husband was brought out on a stretcher and rushed to the local burn unit with over 90% of his body burnt. A second med-act took Joyce to the same hospital and she was treated for smoke inhalation. For the next 45 minutes our street was blocked off with emergency vehicles and reporters. My son, who just happened to be dressed up as a Catholic Cardinal, was interviewed by a television crew who asked to shoot additional footage of our home haunt.

It was all very sad and almost surreal. By 8PM, as suddenly as they had arrived, all the fire trucks, ambulances, police, and reporters just seemed to have vanished, and our street was left looking as if a tragedy had never occurred. No one really knew what to say, or think. No one had time to even assess what we had just witnessed.
Within minutes, groups of trick or treaters, who had no idea that anything unusual had happened, began arriving again. By 10:30, when our visitors trickled down to nothing, we had almost 50 people through our haunt. The largest group of a dozen kids was brought by a woman who had seen my blog on line and emailed for directions.
Everyone was too exhausted to tear anything down Saturday night, so we just ate some cold pizza and went to bed.

We woke Sunday morning to discover that Jimmy had died from his burns shortly after Midnight. Before Noon, another reporter, from a different station was knocking at my door, trying to "follow up on the story." They were shooting film of the burnt up couch that was (and still is) sitting at the curb. At first, she was saying how tragic the situation was, and wanted to know if I knew Joyce and Jimmy very well. I told her "not really" then, she started saying things like, she "had heard that this wasn't the first time that something like this had happened." When she asked me if I'd be willing to be interviewed, I said, "No." My opinion of the media has never been very good, and this incident hasn't changed it. So instead of tearing down the haunt, like I usually do, I spent most of the day indoors. Maybe I was being paranoid, but it seemed to me that we had an unusual amount of slow moving traffic on our street that day and I just didn't really want to talk to anyone.

Sunday night, I was able to get a few more photos of the yard by moon light without distractions. I spent most of today packing up the props in the garage, and I'll probably get the yard stuff packed away tomorrow. And hopefully, I'll have time this weekend to sit down and sort through photos and get them posted on my blog.

Right now, I'm exhausted and I'm going to bed.
Good night all.