Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It's a Manly Sort of Tool...

So, I was listening to this earlier today. It's President Lyndon Baines Johnson, ordering some custom-made lightweight slacks from Hagger, and while I was cracking up at him saying, "Leave me about an inch from where the zipper ends around under my... back to my bunghole," it was something else that he said that got me all thoughtful and wandering around in my memory.

Ol' LBJ has a very strong Central Texas accent, which is something I've gotten used to hearing since I've lived here, though I think it got softened somewhat during his years in Washington, D.C. It got my attention, though, when he asked that they add about an inch to the side pockets, because whenever he sat down, "my knife and my money fall out." And boy, wasn't that a familiar complaint, because my dad used to say that all the time after he moved out of the oil fields and into the office, a change which required him to wear suits and dress slacks. The pockets weren't deep enough to hold his change, his keys, and his jackknife, and my mom usually ended up at her sewing machine, with his suit trousers over her lap, pinning extra fabric to the pockets to make them deeper. Because in the South that my dad grew up in, a man was never caught without his jackknife in his pocket.

A jackknife was sacred.

What's a jackknife?

Well, I don't know how it is up north, but most men from the southern half of this country used to carry what we called a jackknife or a pocket knife with them everywhere they went, and they weren't used for defense or for cuttin' somebody up bad, etc. They were used to do little things, like... sharpen a pencil, or cut the gordian knot most little kids manage to mangle their shoelaces into when they're first learning to tie their shoes, or pick out a splinter in the same kid's foot because Daddy let them run around barefoot, because they couldn't tie their shoes any more, etc. It could be used to cut string for bundling newspapers together, or the tip of the blade could be used as a makeshift screwdriver when that little screw that holds the ear piece to one's glasses fell out, or to cut a blooming rose from the rosebush in the front yard to give the elderly lady from across the street who'd come over to give the family the cookies she'd just baked. Need a fishing pole? Daddy would whip out his jackknife, cut a tree branch, then cut some string, pry apart a paperclip to bend into a hook, and there you go. Were you misbehaving? Out would come the knife to cut a switch from the hazel bush so Mom could apply it in the way she deemed most effective.

It was sort of an everyman's tool of the trade. You'd see them pulled out in barbecue joints to slice sausage into small pieces for little ones to nibble, or into chunks for chewing. Or to cut a plug of tobacco for chewing (EWWWWW!!!). I remember watching one of my great uncles whipping it out and using it to pry a rock out of a horseshoe when his horse started limping, and then wiping it on his pants before cutting a chunk off an apple to reward the same horse for her patience. You don't see them much any more. Especially in these days of heightened airport security.

My dad got me one for my thirteenth birthday, and I was very proud of it, too, even though I'm not a boy. I guess he got tired of me asking to borrow his all the time when I needed to put a new hook on my fishing line! I still have it, though I don't use it any more, because it's very fragile now. But, I have a Swiss Army Card Knife that the Husbandly One got for me about ten or fifteen years ago, which I keep in my purse. It's not the same thing, but I use it for just about everything when I'm out and about.

It's kind of weird, I admit, to walk by the little shelf where the Husbandly One puts all the things that he keeps in his pocket; wallet, keys, phone... but there's no jackknife. I'm used to it now, but... it just seems like such a husbandly, fatherly sort of item, and it's odd not to see it there.

And I remember after my father had died, and one of the first times I went back to the house where I'd grown up after the funeral, I was walking toward Mom's room, and hesitated, because right there, on the sideboard by the door, behind the photo of my nephew... there was my dad's little pile of things. Wallet, keys, assorted change, odd little items he'd either picked up, or been given by friends... and his jackknife. Yeah, it made me tear up.

And do you know, when I went to Mom's new house, I walked into her bedroom and there on her dresser, in "his" corner, his little pile of things. Wallet, keys, change, odd little objects... and his jackknife.

It seemed kind of right, and made me think that maybe it makes that house feel a little more like home for her. Like he's still there with her, even in the new place.

Whatever works.

It's still funny to think that even when he was president, LBJ carried a jackknife in his pocket. How the world has changed, in ways large and small.

Monday, March 29, 2010


I was awakened at the ungodly hour of 4:45 a.m. this morning, and now, here I sit, at 5:20 a.m., making a post. Why, you ask?

Because the Husbandly One, when setting his alarm last night, for some inexplicable reason, also set his clock one hour ahead.


Yes, it is his job to wake us both up in the mornings, since he is a light sleeper, and I am a notoriously heavy sleeper, even though I have the bizarre and utterly useless tendency to wake up 5 seconds before someone actually wakes me up. Dunno why, but I've always been that way. I have to be completely and totally exhausted for that not to happen.

Anyhow, I didn't notice this until after I had checked the weather, and looked at local news, and was about to log into my writing blog. The Impertinent One had asked me to get her up a little earlier than usual so she could shower, and I automatically checked the computer clock to see what time it was... and blinked when I saw it said, "5:15." Turn to the clock on THO's side of the bed. 6:15.

Okay, so maybe the computer clock is off? I look down, there's my cell phone, so I pick it up to check that clock. 5:15.


So, I trot into the kitchen where THO is making himself some coffee, and I said, "Honey? What time is it?"

He stops right in the middle of the kitchen, looks at me like I'm nuts, and says, "Huh?"

"What time is it? Check the time on the microwave," I said encouragingly.

So he looks at it, frowns, and then... his whole body slumps. "It's after five?? What the hell...?" He checks the living room clock and yes, it's still after five. He smears his face around with one hand, then says, "I must have reset the clock when I was setting the alarm."

"Yeah," I said sympathetically. "I was wondering why I was feeling so stoned." I mean, I had to force myself into "bright-eyed and bushy-tailed" mode!

*an hour later*

He actually tried to go about his morning as usual, but while I was sitting here typing, he came in, stripped down to his boxers, tugged me away from the computer, and said, "We can't sleep, but we can doze for an hour, so... let's go back to bed!"


Who'm I to turn down an invitation to bed with a handsome man?

I know this is going to turn into one of our funny family stories. Can't wait to see the expression on the kids' faces when I tell them what their papa did! When I'm a little more awake, that is!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The String Cheese Incident

Oh, how I wish I was talking about the jam band...

I was sitting here yesterday, working on a post about cheap crap Dell computers, and how fail-tastic they are when the phone rang.

I answered it, and... it was the vice principal at the Impossible Son's school. And I couldn't help it, the first words out of my mouth were, "Oh, what has Mr. Impossible done now?"

Understand, Mr. Impossible is actually a pretty well-behaved kid at school. He gets in occasional trouble, like the time in kindergarten when he poured glue all over the toilet seat in the kindergarten restroom as a "trap," though we're not quite sure what exactly he was trying to catch. Other than a few blips like that, he's always gotten a lot of praise for his good manners, and how polite he is, and how well he listens, etc, etc, to the point where I want to say, "You are talking about my son... right?"

So, when Mr. Vice Principal called, well... I just knew, and I even told him after he asked why I had said that, "Well, Mr. V.P., it's very rare for me to get a phone call from the school unless Mr. Impossible is sick or hurt, or has done something strange but relatively harmless. And even then, it's either his teacher or the school nurse calling me. If you're calling me, I'm thinking it's probably because he's in trouble."

And I was right.

Apparently, my son took the string cheese I put in his lunch today, held it to his crotch, and started wiggling it at the girls in his class.


Y'all have no idea how hard it was for me not to die laughing right there on the spot. I swear, I nearly broke a rib suppressing it, and it wasn't necessarily because it was so funny, but because it was just so... wildly inappropriate and just... so not like the Impossible Son! What else could I do but laugh?

I didn't, though. I remained calm, and asked what exactly was going on.

Well, a teacher caught him, made him sit in lunch detention, and then sent him to the vice principal for a "talk." According to Mr. V.P., to this teacher, this meant either an in-school suspension, or a three day suspension.

Thank goodness Mr. V.P. seems to be a reasonably sensible person, who decided to talk to the Impossible Son and try to figure out what was exactly going on, and he quickly realized that it was an impulse of the moment thing. Because, Mr. Impossible truly had no idea why he did that.

So, Mr. Vice Principal talked to him, explaining why what he had done was so highly inappropriate, and why it was considered vulgar... and then he had to explain what "vulgar" meant, and said, "I guess y'all don't use the word vulgar much around your house."

I snorted and said, "Well, no, not as such. Mainly because anything that my husband and I would consider vulgar aren't things we would necessarily expose our children to in our home, and when they've been exposed to it outside our home, we tend to use age-appropriate words like rude, inappropriate, and socially unacceptable, which we consider to be more accurate, anyway."

"Oh. Good," was all he said, and then he urged me to talk to the Impossible Son about it and explain why he shouldn't have done it, "because explanations like that really are more appropriate coming from his parents, don't you think?"

Well, not that I'm passin' the buck or anything, but you know, he had the Impossible One right there, in the moment, when an explanation would be most effective, so I said, "Do you want me to come to the school to talk to him?"

"Oh, no, he's fine. Just, you and your husband should talk to him tonight, that's all."

And that was fine. And after I got off the phone, I laughed myself silly. Especially after the Husbandly One emailed me that he'd just gotten a call from Mr. V.P. as well, because our son was, and I quote, "waving his cheese at the girls."


And yes, it was a very interesting conversation, once I got him home. No, I don't think it was a case of "boys being boys." Mostly, I think it was a case of "boy suffering massive brain-fart, and following the lead of other boy-type stinkers in class." Because, you know, this is not behavior that the Husbandly One models in front of his son, or even behind his son's back. Nor do any of the male role models he's been around. So... I'm left with "peers and peers' siblings."


Adventures in Boy-Land. It's a definite trip, and not for the faint of heart!

Monday, March 8, 2010


The Husbandly One surprised us by ordering Ponyo, the newly redone My Neighbor, Totoro, and Castle in the Sky, so we sort of had a Miyazaki weekend!

I convinced him to pull the couch around so it was facing the TV (we used part of the income tax return to buy a new flat screen TV, which is all kinds of awesome), and we all crowded onto it to watch Ponyo Saturday night, in Japanese with subtitles, which was incredibly cool, and of course, changed the story completely for us.

Then last night, we did the same thing, except I made a huge bowl of popcorn for us all to share, and it was like being in our own personal movie theater! We watched Totoro, then Castle in the Sky.

I shall have to write Miyazaki-san and tell him that his animation is so realistic, it had one of our cats charging the TV! It was a scene in Castle in the Sky, where one of the main characters is playing a trumpet while a flock of homing pigeons fly around their tower. Calcifer saw that, saw the birds, and I guess in his little cat brain he was thinking, "HOT DAMN! BIRDS IN THE HOUSE!! NOMS!!!" and the next thing we knew, he had taken a flying leap toward the TV!! Thank goodness he didn't knock it over!!

What was even funnier is that he kept prowling around the TV, or he'd get in our laps and stare us intently in the face, then leap down and prowl the TV again, to the point where he got Yuki and Muta involved as well. Then he got behind the TV, poking around in all the wires, and we had to chase him out. It didn't occur to me until this morning why he was doing all that.



Even now, that ridiculous cat is curled up on the couch, eyeing the TV suspiciously! The other two have decided he's crazy and gone back to the more important pursuit of the Morning Nap. Not Calcifer. He knows, he knows that somewhere, the birds are still lurking... near the tv....

And this is why Jo sometimes finds her cats much more entertaining than television!