Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Our Wedding Anniversary

Mr. Lucky and I were married twenty-one years ago today on July 23, 1987, at the town hall in Odense, Denmark, birthplace of fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen.

At the time we were both in the Air Force, stationed in Germany, where getting married was a drawn out, complicated process that took months.
Getting married in Denmark required only our birth certificates, our military ID cards, and a three day waiting period. We were both due for reassignment back to the States the following year, and we had to get married by that fall if we wanted to be eligible for joint assignment at the same base. So off to Denmark we went.

We took the overnight train from Frankfurt up to Hamburg on the previous Sunday night. Being in Europe, we shared a sleeping compartment with several golden-haired, luscious looking, scantily clad Rhineland sirens who surely must’ve given Mr. Lucky some second thoughts. We changed trains in Hamburg and arrived in Odense the following Monday afternoon, where we found the
town hall and applied to get hitched. We were told we’d be married that Thursday at 9 am.

We weren’t the only Americans getting married there that day; there were at least three other couples that I recall, all U.S. military personnel from Germany. We were the second couple in line. It took less than five minutes. I couldn’t get Mr. Lucky’s ring to fit on his ring finger, so I shoved it onto his pinky finger instead.

Our marriage certificate is in four languages, Danish, English, French and German.

We got married again four and a half months later in Mr. Lucky’s home town of Valdosta, Georgia—not because we had to, as the Danish marriage was quite legal--but because I still wanted a traditional church wedding with the white gown and veil and cake, etc.

Neither of my parents—who divorced less than amicably after twenty years—thought I was cut out for marriage and motherhood. I’ve now been married longer than they were married to each other. At the very least, I think they were wrong about the marriage part.

Now to see if Mr. Lucky remembers what day this is!

Friday, July 18, 2008

What Is That Horrible Noise?

I was in my office, type-type-tapping away on my laptop when I heard it from the next room, where Baby Bear was hanging out with the dogs: An explosively loud, very wet, razzy-whoopee noise that sounded as if a team of professional steam cleaners would be required to clean up the result.

As I got up to investigate, I heard it again—noisy, ominously spluttering, certainly messy. I didn’t know if it was Bear or Beagle, and I wasn’t sure which I preferred.

I entered the family room to find the dogs quietly curled up on the sofa. Bear was on the adjacent leather loveseat. I saw nothing, and smelled nothing. Bewildered, I asked Bear if he needed “to go.”

He responded by leaning over, pressing his open mouth against the arm of the leather loveseat, and blowing a slobbery raspberry on it.

That was the noise I’d heard. He sat up and repeated the procedure on his leg.

What do you call this act? I've done it to all three of my children--in fact, all I ever had to do was open my mouth wide, and they'd come running over hiking up their shirts. Mr. Lucky did it to me shortly after we were married, and I remember how it cracked him up fit to die. (No, he hasn’t done it lately; in fact, he hasn’t done it—well, since shortly after we were married. He hasn’t brought me any chocolate lately, either.) I could have sworn he called it a “belly buster”, but when I googled the phrase, all I got were sites related to weight loss. For some reason I thought of “belly blossom” but a search on that only led to expectant mother sites.

So I posed the question on the
TARA message board, clearinghouse for “what do you call it when . . .” questions, describing it as: “The playful act of pressing your open mouth against another person’s flesh to create a sort of suctioning seal, and then you blow to make a sort of razzy whoopee noise.”

If they thought I needed this information for a steamy, spicy love scene I was writing for my latest historical romance, I wasn’t about to disabuse them of that notion.

Most considered it blowing a raspberry, which I thought applied only when you made the noise without touching another person or object with your spluttering mouth. Then new member Beth came up with a word I’d never heard before:
zerbit. I googled that and was amazed to find it in the Urban Dictionary, where it also cited “belly bubbles” as a synonym (I just knew it was also called “belly something” but couldn’t nail it.)

Baby Bear was making zerbits on his leg and on the arm of the leather loveseat. I’m relieved that’s all he was doing.

Tonight we start a week of full moon, accompanied by low pressure systems. Please keep me in your mind while I lose my own.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

He Did It Again!

For the second time in as many weeks, Baby Bear burned himself on the stove.

This time he waited exactly five minutes after I turned off the burner—I know because I timed what I was cooking, and when he popped out of nowhere to slap the burner again, I looked at the digital clock on the range to see how long it had been since I turned it off. Five minutes—and it was still hot enough to burn him.

You’d think he would have learned after the last time.

And you’d think I would have remembered to cover that burner with the teakettle after turning it off. I’m usually a fiend about it.

On the upside, he showed more initiative in giving himself first aid. He willingly dipped his paw into the bowl of ice water I set out for him—I didn’t need to dip a washcloth in it and press it to his burn like I did last time. And even if I was dumber about the teakettle this time, at least I was a little smarter about where I put the bowl—in the sink. He’d take a dip, run around the house flapping his hand, then come back to the sink for another dip.

Eventually he wanted to run water over his burn. Then came the splashing, and the spraying, leading to puddles all over the kitchen counter and floor, which needed a good mopping anyway.

Maybe he did learn something from the last time: Burning himself results in the pursuit of his favorite pastime—turning the house into his own personal wild water adventure park. It’s a wonder we don’t have mildew.

Perhaps we should change his name to Aquaboy.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Different Kind of Picky Eater

Our smaller beagle, Jasper, isn’t really finicky about what he eats. He’s only finicky about where he eats, to the extreme that he’ll refuse to eat until we set the bowl exactly where he wants it. We can’t just set the bowl down somewhere and leave it until he gets hungry enough to stop being such a prima doggie; otherwise the other dog—who’s bigger and finicky about nothing—will gobble it down.

To make matters more interesting, Jasper insists on a different spot every time, and we never know from one meal to the next where in the house he wants to eat today. Just because he ate in one spot this morning, doesn’t mean he wants to eat in that same spot come evening. He always appreciates—nay, demands—a change in scenery. Lately his favorite dining areas have included the following:

1. Underneath the end table between the living room window and the sofa. I don’t like him eating in my living room, because I worry about ants. (While stationed at an Air Force base in California, we lived in a house under constant siege from ants, so I have this complex.) Nothing ruins my day like sitting on my sofa, only to glimpse an ant crawling along the sofa’s arm; or worse, to feel one climbing up my leg. And since there’s no such thing as a single ant, I have to get up and find out where his million and one friends are.

2. In my office. I don’t like this either, because I’m afraid of ants conducting maneuvers in the hundreds of books I keep in there.

3. Out on the patio. I’d be happy if the dog food bowls could be out here all the time. But Mr. Lucky won’t allow it, mainly because the ants would be all over the bowls all the time. When Jasper is in the mood for dining alfresco (once in the rain), we keep it out there just long enough for him to eat, then the bowl comes back into the house. Still I worry a few ants might sneak into the house by hiding under the bowl and clinging to the bottom like escapees beneath a truck leaving a prison camp. Sure, I can always check the bowl before bringing it back into the house. But will Mr. Lucky?

4. Mr. Lucky’s office. No chance of ants coming in here. It’s so cluttered, they wouldn’t be able to find the bowl.

5. Inside Jasper’s crate. If he doesn’t mind sharing his own space with ants, I suppose that’s his business.

Does he ever lead me to the spot he wants? Of course not. I’m supposed to read his mind. I have to wander all over the house with a full dog food bowl in my hand, from the end table in the living room, to the patio, to Mr. Lucky’s office, to Jasper’s crate, and back to the patio, setting down the bowl at each place only to have Jasper turn up his nose and slink away in scorn, until I finally find the right place. When I do, he scurries forward to eat, and I can move on with my life until his next meal.

But if he ever wants to eat in Baby Bear’s room, he’s just going to have to go hungry.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

It's a Boy Thing

I don’t know where he got the idea to do this, or why he’d want to do it at all, but a few months ago, Baby Bear started putting his hands on the stove. Not while the burners are on, because I always block him from the stove while I’m cooking. But when it’s not in use, anytime he goes into the kitchen, he pauses to press his hand on the stove as if for good luck.

It’s a flat, glass top ceramic range that’s easy to keep clean, and initially I thought he just liked putting his pawprints on the shiny surface, because that’s what he does every time I clean the bathroom mirror. Nothing in this house gleams or sparkles or shines for more than five minutes before it’s dulled by Bear’s touch. You might say it’s how he marks his territory—and he’s very territorial.

He’d never get very far as a criminal.

I keep a teakettle on the stove mainly to cover up a burner right after it’s been used, but the other day I wasn’t fast enough. No sooner did I remove a pot of noodles than Bear rushed forward—he was determined—and slapped his fingers on the burner. He leaped back as quickly as he’d lunged, and while he didn’t make a sound, he looked very astonished.

“Now you know!” I told him, and added that he’d have to hold his hand under cold water for a spell. I didn’t think this would be a problem since he considers this whole house his personal wild water park. For all I knew, touching the burner was part of an elaborate plot he’d hatched to play in the sink with Mom’s blessing. But to my surprise, he fled as if there was soap involved.

I chased him around the house and tried to drag him to the sink and get his hand under the running water, but he fought me off (he’s now almost as big as I am). He ran into his room and slammed the door. A few moments later, he emerged growling, and sat on the sofa in the family room, rubbing his hand on the cushion.

I tried an ice cube. He slapped it away. I wrapped the ice cube in a cloth. He still resisted. I tried a bag of frozen vegetables. He was convinced I was going to make him eat them.

He wouldn’t let me near him with anything, yet every time I backed off, he held out his burned hand to me and bellowed as if he were trying to say, “Do something, Mom! Just don’t do that!”

I took out a small plastic mixing bowl and filled it with water and ice cubes. “How about if we dip your paw into this?” I asked him. “We can pretend I’m
Madge and you’re getting a manicure, only instead of dishwashing liquid, you’ll be soaking in ice water.”

Bear was having none of that. He dumped the ice water all over the kitchen floor and stormed back to sofa, snarling in pain.

Still searching for a solution, I refilled the bowl with ice water, then soaked a wash cloth in it, wrung it out, and pressed it to his hand.

That worked! He sat still and let me do it. Every few moments I would resoak the cloth, wring it out, and put it in his hand. He liked to curl his fingers around it and squeeze. Soon he wanted to dip the cloth himself—only he didn’t believe in that wringing-out nonsense.

Mr. Lucky came home and declared my method crude and primitive. “I’m surprised you don’t put a leech on his burn.”

“That’s because the ones I found in the medicine cabinet were past their expiration date,” I retorted.

Mr. Lucky filled a zip-loc bag with ice water and gave it to our son. Bear squeezed it and water squirted from a tiny leak in a corner of the bag, hitting his dad square in the eye. Not to mention the kid knows how to open a zip-loc.

Through it all, despite the horrible, heart-rending noises he made, Bear never shed a tear. Only why did he want to do it in the first place? And he still touches the stove—but not as often. What drives him?

“It’s a boy thing,” says Mr. Lucky, who enjoys reminiscing about all the stupid, dangerous “boy things” he did when he was Bear’s age.

How much do you want to bet he still does those boy things when I’m not looking?