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Although I am still me and myself . . . and I am definitely still mostly mom (with a little grandmama thrown in occasionally), I am no longer writing at this site. I have combined this blog with another that I write under one URL, lanorthcutt.com.

Please visit me there. You’ll find me waiting for you in a swing on my front porch. I’ll be writing the same kinds of humor about my family. In fact, I just posted a new article about my experiences as the Mother of the Bride. Although my daughter was beautiful, much of the story is far from pretty.

If you want to continue to receive my blog posts, you should subscribe to the new site. Thanks for your interest in me and mine so far. Hope to meet you on my porch at lanorthcutt.com.

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Just a Little Walk in the Park

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Many women are well-groomed when they exercise.  I am not one of them.

I shower, shampoo and make myself up once a day.  To do so more than once would be to waste perfectly good reading, writing or front-porch-rocking time.

So, when I left my house this morning to walk the trail at Mike Miller Park, I was unwashed, uncombed, and unencumbered by the many layers of middle-age-defying make-up I use to hide the real me from public viewing.

Many women are well-dressed when they exercise.  I am not one of them either.

I was wearing a pair of shorts that are loose enough to let my legs breathe . . . and bounce a bit. . . and a shirt I bought from an inebriated artist on a beach in Key West, Florida, in 1991.

Evidently, I looked particularly pitiful today.  I met a guy in a Hollister shirt who must have assumed from my appearance that I was poor and destitute because he approached me with Christian concern and asked if I knew Jesus.

Coincidentally, Jesus was there with me on the trail today, as He is most days, and He and I were jamming just a bit to Amy Grant music.

(Those of you who think it would be impossible to jam to Amy Grant music don’t understand the limitations of my ability to jam.  Amy and I are well suited.)

For an hour, she and Jesus and I walked together in the park.  I was the one puffing, sweating and waving my hands in the air to an invisible and pathetically unrhythmic beat.

Unfortunately, we were not the only ones at Mike Miller Park this morning.

There were a few of those well-groomed, well-dressed, walking women.  No problem there.  I bent over and played with the laces of my tightly-tied shoes when I met the ones I knew.  I passed the rest of them with a wave of my hand . . . palm turned upward in case they too thought I was homeless and were willing to drop in a dollar or two.

There were also hundreds of middle school students in the park on a field trip.  My daughter, Tessa, was one of them.

A lesser, inexperienced mother would have known she would be there because she would have listened as Tessa talked this morning.

But, I am a master-mother.  If I combine the time I have parented each of my five children, I have 114 years under my maternity belt.  I learned long ago to look my children in the eye and nod convincingly while hearing absolutely nothing they say.  It is the survival technique that kept mothers sane in the years before DVD players were put in our cars.

I did not know she would be there and I was pleasantly surprised when I ran into Tessa today.

She, on the other hand, was seriously mortified when I met her friends dressed like a bum and singing along with my invisible friends, Amy and Jesus.

Worth of my exercise attire:  About $1.95 clearanced at Goodwill

Cost of a three mile walk:  Headache, back strain, shin splints, leg cramps, knee pain, ankle blisters, respiratory distress and possibly a mild heart attack

Embarrassing my middle-school daughter:  Perversely priceless

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Can’t Make Up This Stuff

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I was asked this week, by a lady who laughs at this blog, if I make up the things I write or if I find them somewhere.

To answer that question, let me set the stage to tell you about my morning.

My daughter, Casey, came home after a couple of years in Thailand to find that her car had died a loud and painfully expensive death and had been laid to rest in a junkyard where he selflessly donates his used parts so other Mitsubishi Mirages can live.

Casey was forced to either buy a cheap car or drive the 1990 Buick Century that had previously belonged to her 92 year-old great-grandmother.  Her bank account persuaded her to choose free over cheap and for the last year she has been driving an “old lady” car that she named Miss Daisy.

A few weeks ago, Miss Daisy also kicked the oil bucket.

My husband, Greg, was taught by his father, who was taught by his father before him, the Northcutt automotive philosophy, “Why spend money to buy a new car when you can hold an old one together with toothpicks and duct tape?”  Greg found Casey a new used-car.  It will be delivered to our house as soon as the back half of its body has been replaced.

(It recently survived a wreck, which according to its insurance company, totalled it.  But, Greg feels that once a little superglue and a rubber band or two are applied, it will be just the car for his I’m-25-but-I-look-like-I’m-12-and-easy-to-kidnap-if-stranded-on-the-side-of-the-road daughter to drive.)

Until the car is ready, Casey has been forced to borrow a car from me or her brother, Peter.

Not long after Miss Daisy’s passing, my son, Ben, who has been taught from birth the Northcutt ”One for All; All for Cheap” automotive philosophy, lost one of his family’s minivans to ADHD . . . need-Attention . . .  owner-has-money-Deficit . . .  just-Hyperactivate-me-right-on-over-a-cliff-please . . .  Disorder.

So, Ben, who had to spend this week in Louisville, borrowed Peter’s car, leaving Casey, Peter and I to share my van.

Last night my van broke.

Casey, Peter and I are now sharing our only working vehicle other than Greg’s car, . . . a souped-up, diesel, farm truck . . . that smells like a horse . . . makes enough noise to drown out KISS in concert . . . blows black smoke up the engine cover of every car following within a half-mile distance . . . and is currently loaded with dead limbs that have hung from our trees since the ice storm of ’09 . . . which we cut down this week so our yard would look reeaall nice for the fried catfish wedding reception of our other son, Micah, in a few weeks.

The truck has a stick shift.  Casey and Peter can’t drive a stick shift.  So, in actuality, Casey, Peter and I are sharing a vehicle that only I can drive.

This morning, Casey, who is working as a freelance writer had to cover a breakfast meeting of governmental representatives in Paducah.

I got up at six o’clock to drive Casey to the meeting in the farm truck.  We rode to Paducah with the windows down because the chewing gum that held in the air conditioner coolant fell off years ago.

Casey was dabbing at her make-up . . . which she applied to her freckles this morning in hopes that her interviewees would take her seriously and the breakfast hostess wouldn’t offer her the children’s menu.  I was mentally writing this blog.

My philosophy is:  If I have to live it, I sooooo should get to write about it.

I dropped off Casey a block from the building that hosts her meeting.  She didn’t want the guys in ties and the ladies in heels to see her repelling from the cab of a jacked-up truck that her mother was driving . . . something about professional behaviour and embarrassment.

Evidently, Northcuttness runs recessive in her genetic makeup.

As I put this story in writing, the truck and I are parked in an abandoned lot overlooking the Ohio River with an eight foot concrete wall blocking us from the view of the men in ties and women in heels.  We are waiting for the meeting to end and for Casey to covertly find her way back to us.

It’s actually not a bad place to spend a couple of hours.  (However, I could be spending the time more usefully if the stupid truck had enough gas to get me to Wal-Mart and back.  But that is another story . . . )

So . . .

To answer the original question, I don’t invent the stuff I blog.  And, I certainly don’t hear about it happening to any other family.

I’ll admit that my stories and blogs may have been stretched just a bit and perhaps dusted with a little extra humor.  But the canvas on which they are painted is the truth of my life . . . absurd and aggravating and occasionally awesome as it is.

First published August 13, 2012

 

The Simple Life

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My sister suggested that I buy a subscription to a magazine called “Real Simple”.  Her son was selling them.

It was written for people like me, she said.  Full of organization tips for women looking to simplify life, she said.  Just what I needed, she said.

And, so, I wrote my check for 20 dollars and my nephew got one subscription closer to earning his bonus gift . . . the two dollar flying saucer that doesn’t fly but does require 10 dollars worth of batteries to light up the sky with the voltage of an anemic firefly before falling apart a day and a half later.

I got my first issue of the magazine within a few weeks.

The cover looked good.

“No More Clutter” in big, black letters was followed by “Get Organized”, Stay Organized”, “Bug-bite Remedies” and “5 Minute Summer Hair”.

Wow!  No mess in my house.  No frizz in my hair.  No scratched-up sores to draw attention to the spider veins in my legs.  That was JUST what I needed.

I sat down in my favorite reading chair to check out the issue.

The table of contents was simple to follow.  The editor’s article was about dealing with inadequacy.  The magazine fell open to an ad that featured a smiling, well-dressed, healthy-sized woman . . . no unrealistic, size “anorexic, skinny  butt” anywhere in the picture.

I was beginning to think that my sister had been right . . . until I got to page 23.

On page 23, the editors of the magazine had printed organizing ideas that were sent to them by other subscribers and readers of “Real Simple” . . .other people like me.

I read . . .

“When my daughters were little, I would put together complete outfits, down to the hair clips, place them in large plastic bags, then stock their dressers.”

“I organized all my tablecloths by length and hung them on flocked hangers.”

“The narrow spice racks I installed inside my pantry doors hold approximately 75 spices, from A(achiote) to Z(za’atar).

“I created a spreadsheet on which I write the title and author of every book I finish along with a synopsis, the date I turned the last page, and a comment on how easy it was to get through.”

What?!!

Who are these people?!!

What kind of person has time to organize their children’s clothes . . . including hair bows . . . and place them in bags to be arranged in drawers?

I dress my kids in anything I can find that is clean.  If that plan fails, I pull something out of the laundry hamper, shake out the wrinkles and sniff the arm pits.  If my eyes don’t water, it’s good to go.

In what world does a woman own so many tablecloths she has to organize them by length to find one?

I own two tablecloths.  I know exactly where they are.  The one I bought under the delusion that someday I would care enough to set a beautiful table is hanging unused in a closet.  The tablecloth from my childhood that I inherited from my mother is hanging on my windows . . . my answer to our kitchen’s need for curtains.

Why would a person flock a hanger?  What the crap are achiote and za’atar?  And, how could anyone think that the lovely, lazy pleasure of reading should be organized on a spreadsheet?

These people are not like me!  They are not like me at all.

It turns out “Real Simple” is NOT just what I need.

Evidently, I need something called “Really, Real Simple Organization for a Mother Who Wants to Feed Her Somewhat Clean Family a Meal Spiced with Only Salt and Pepper on a Table Set with Half-Finished Art Projects and a Plastic Army-Man Battle Scene While She Tells Them About the Wonderful Book She Is Reading That Was Written by a Guy Whose Name She Can’t Remember”.

Where can I get a subscription to that magazine?

First published June 25, 2012

How to Survive a Son’s Wedding with Mascara Intact

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Here is my advice:

1.  On the day you decide to have children, hit your knees, lift your voice to heaven and beseech . . . spelled capital B E G, exclamation point, exclamation point . . . the Lord for boys.  As the mother of the groom, there is a chance that you will have enough physical, mental and emotional energy to survive the weeks before the wedding without melting into a puddle of pooped poverty.

2.  Wait until 20 minutes before the rehearsal dinner to paint your toenails with polish that you borrow from your daughter-in-law because the bottle you brought is 20ish years old.  Then, when you slide your not-quite-dry toenails into your sandals, the polish will clump up and scrape off.  Every time you look at your toes, your mind will be preoccupied with the cussing that you can’t say in front of your new in-laws and you will barely hear the preparations for the following day . . . the day your son becomes a husband.

3.  When shopping for a dress to wear to the wedding, choose one that you consider to be . . . 6 . . . 8 . . . 10 . . . oh, let’s say, even 12 inches too-dang short.  Then, when placed on the front row of the church . . . in plain sight of God and a dozen or so people 30 years younger than you, your attention will be focused on keeping your legs together and you will almost miss the tears in your little boy’s eyes as he sees his bride for the first time.

4.  Buy your dress intending to drop about 10 pounds before the wedding.  But then every time you drop one of those little things, reach down and pick it up again with a BBQed rib rack, or a pile of mashed potatoes fried in Crisco, or, my personal favorite, a king-sized snickers bar dipped in peanut butter.  Pull on that dress over all those pounds, suck in reeeaaal hard and then hold your breath until the wedding reception is over.  That will stop up your tear ducts . . . guaranteed.  One lone tear could crack the emotional dam, explode the lungs, release the diaphragm and bust the seams of your dress all over the wedding cake.

With your stomach sucked up into your throat it will be nearly impossible to tell your son how truly, terribly much you love him.

5.  When buying shoes for the wedding, pick a pair that are attractive . . . as in, “Cute as a button” . . . and . . . ”Cost a crapload of pretty pennies that you won’t, under any circumstances, tell your husband about”. . . and make sure they are the most uncomfortable things you have ever put on your feet.   The blisters on your heels, the cramps in your arches and the pinching toe pain that throbs through your body to make your teeth hurt will distract you from the ache in your heart as you dance with your son . . . the son who now has a wonderful, new woman in his life.

I can tell you, from experience, that if you do these things, you can make it through your son’s wedding tear-free with mascara intact.

However, if at the end of a wedding that turns out to be lovely and touching and a surprising amount of fun, you go to bed without taking a hot bath or drinking a glass of warm milk or downing a bottle and a half of your kids’ dramamine, all these preparations will be in vain.  Because, you will lie in bed as your over-stimulated brain races to review the day.

And your tears will run rivers down your face as you thank God for your son’s new family and pray that they will spend a lot of time at your house.

 

First published August 1, 2012

Micah Becomes a Man

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Tomorrow, my son, Micah, graduates from college and prepares to take on the world as an adult . . . as a man.

Graduation : Young smiley graduate student in gown jumping over blue sky

Let’s see . . .

Desperate need for attention and affection?

Check.

Primarily views life as a competition and cheats to win?

Check.

Domination instincts have matured enough to cause him to challenge his Alpha Dad for control of the television remote control?

Check.

Can urinate on every bathroom surface in one elimination?

Double check.

Yep, . . . he’s officially a man.

First published May 11, 2012

Finding Waldo, The Redneck Version

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Evidently, my husband’s and my sons’ lawn care plan for the year is to spend the summer mowing around all the crap in our yard.  That means that if, please Lord, they were to ever move it, there would be raised-relief images in the grass.

I’m thinking that the angels who are on coffee break in Heaven could relax by the porthole that overlooks our little corner of redneckdom and play “Find the hidden pictures”.  The game works like this:

Ten points for the first angel to find the horse trailer that most people would keep behind the house, near the barn; but we . . . and by we, I mean my husband, Greg . . . keep it in the front yard.

Fifteen points for finding each of the dozen or so dog kennels that are scattered through the yard.  Twenty-five extra points to the angel that finds the one kennel that isn’t broken.

Twenty points for the tree limbs that have been in the yard since the ice storm of 2009.

Twenty points for the bales of hay that Greg bought to feed the sheep that Greg bought to train the dogs that Greg bought to add to the list of animals that stress my life.

Twenty points for the wood that Greg cut after the goat ate the bark and killed the tree that was planted in my mother’s memory.

Twenty-Five points for the zipline cord that Greg once hung between two trees . . . ignoring the instructions and hanging it much higher and longer than any sane person would consider safe.

(I have got an extra twenty-five points and a big shout-out of thanks to the angel that rode the zipline with my 12 year-old son and kept him alive when he ran into the down-hill tree at “break your back and kill you dead” speed.)

Miscellaneous notes for the angels: Try to ignore the incessant dog barking.  Sorry about the odor wafting up from the horse trailer.  And, please don’t tell God about the patch of grass that looks like a big, bald man lying dead in the back yard.

First published May 22, 2012.