“the runt in a large family of pigs”

I am still reeling from the harsh reality. The Teenager is going to *&^%$ high school. They basically pluck them from the purgatory that is middle school and drop them into a giant maze with no school supplies! I may be over reacting, because she was fine with it despite her obvious genetic love for writing implements and notebooks.

sorry trying to think and she is listening to most horrific “music”  the “artist” is apparently turnt.  (see urban dictionary if you are as clueless as I am)


The Associate has a school supply list and being efficient, I first wrote it down, cursed and then copied and pasted it to my phone.  full circle. So we head out to The Big Box store that we favor, where everyone wears red, and in the short drive the The Associate is already in mini corporate lawyer mode.

TA- “So, if I am good in the store you will buy me a toy.”

me- “Is that a question or a statement?”

TA- “Both”

me- “Your good, but no. We are getting what we need today not what we want.”  (ongoing theme, I won’t bore you with the rest of this banter)

I realize that we haven’t been here in quite a while and pile on paper goods to create the perfect conditions for an avalanche.


After the nice staff backed us out of the perfect storm we got down to the nitty-gritty.

TA- “mom, why do we need ziploc bags for school?

Me- “maybe so you can keep everything organized”

TA- “why do the boys need to bring gallon sized and the girls need quart sized?

Me- hmmmmm  “what else do you need?”

I make some attempts at good momming by having her check the prices, and compare products. This tactic also helps when she wants to bring home these types of “things.”


The entire experience is fun except for her constant attempts to get more of everything. Like 12 pink erasers which I am pretty sure last forever already, and two rulers. Each fresh attempt at additional consumerism makes me wonder why she feels like she will never have enough. This isn’t new, just the other day she started pouring herself two glasses of milk at a time. She is in fact the smallest member of the family and almost always wants the most.


We make it out alive, after I buckled and bought her one toy. Actually I am still not sure if I buckled or she Jedi mind tricked me. The Teenager oohhs and ahhhs over her school goodies.

Me- “I think that the TA was the youngest of 9 in her last life and never got enough porrage.”

TT- “you mean the runt of a large family of pigs.”




The Vans Warped Tour……

For six months The Teenager has been harping on about this concert.  She was injured very badly last year on a trampoline, instantly losing a year of dance just as she was moved up to the first dance company. Yes, there have been days when she lamented her future dance career and her dreams of attending Julliard, BUT she was most concerned about being able to attend Warped Tour. The holographic ticket arrived in the mail and it was everyday whining.

For those of you who do not know what Vans Warped tour is, it is a showcase for an immense number of mediocre bands. A very efficiently run affair.  Everything is clearly stated in emails to parents and children about safety and how much everything costs. Everything is for sale or you must be properly cued to meet the “artist” you are dying to meet.

When it passed through our fair city it was at Blossom Music Center.  A large wooded, porta potty having venue, that is summer home to The Cleveland Orchestra.  I spent many a day and night as an impressionable youth wandering around Blossom, but our mediocre bands were more like Jimmy Buffett.

Despite the fact that The Vans Warped tour graciously offers a “reverse daycare” for an adult over the age of 28 to accompany each minor ticket holder, I had no intention of spending my day listening to that drivel. The Teenager shot out of bed (there is a first for everything) and dressed while blaring crap music. She rambled on about how we had to leave because we needed to be inline by 10 to meet blahblahblahblah. I saw her staring of into space and a pang of teenager agony came gushing back.

me- I remember when I was your age.

TT- (interested) what?

me- the feeling of looking at one of your favorite actors or musician and thinking if they just noticed me we would be so happy together.

TT- TOTALLY!!!!!!!!!! hug.  LET”S GO!

With the first two teenagers in the car I gave the first installment of my “advice.”

“Don’t go into the woods with girls or boys, bad stuff happens in the woods, and I don’t care how cute the boy is!” They agreed and reminded themselves to tell their other friends.

Two more teenagers in the car.

“Do not (it has more resonance when it isn’t a conjunction) take anything that is offered to you. Not gum, not water, not anything that you do not see unsealed before your very eyes.” They did ask why briefly, but seemed content to take me at my word.

“Stay together!”

“Have Fun!”

I unloaded them unceremoniously, made them pose quickly and dashed off.


I had two missed phone calls around 3 and I quickly called her back thinking something was wrong. The screaming at the other end of the line didn’t help until I was able to decipher the words. BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!!! I relaxed and she repeated.  My heart was warm and fuzzy that she wanted to share that with me in the midst of her adventure. MY TEENAGER. 🙂




Lego my ego.



I tend to lose perspective. Muddled with the minutiae of daily life I sometimes ignore the larger picture.

The Brother and The Niece were visiting and on a cloudless beautiful day we hit the botanical gardens here in Cleveland to see an exhibit of Lego sculptures cohabitating with the habitat.





and of course my favorite. The seed.


The Niece took a bunch of pictures, The Teenager relaxed due to injury.


and The Associate put her back into it and got down to business.


I am always stunned by the beauty of this garden and the obvious passion of the people who care for it.  My pockets are full of seeds and tendrils and I am reminded that nature is my church, everything is connected, and we are but a small part in a vast universe.


My garden has been tended.

out and about and still here.

On a particularly sunny day this summer I was given an opportunity to venture out with The Teenager.  She was at odds with life and she wanted to hang with me. I have this mental exercise I do for these occasions  “I will listen,  I will not judge or punish,  I want her to confide in me, I want to give her the benefit of my experience while staying far off my high horse.”

On this glorious day I was given a tour some of the places The Kids hang out. The first stop was the graffiti wall.  This wall is at the end of a steep trail of a really busy intersection, buggy and creepy. I cannot discern why this cement mountain is here although it appears to be frequented by The Kids. We saw a girl walk by alone!!! The Teenager knows where my mind is headed and says “don’t worry mom I would never come here alone” and I offered to leap into the bushes, but she passed quickly.

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The second excursion was to “The Duck Factory” Right in the heart of Little Italy.

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It is so named because of the abundance moldy and wet rubber ducks,  However, this ruin suggests a more post apocalyptic duck factory.  I am instantly reminded of all the dumb stuff teenagers do and try to remain calm.  The ceilings are falling down, there is a homeless young man who lives in a trailer, the floors are collapsing. Surreptitiously I drop a pin on my map app. We laughed, we cried, we didn’t get accosted, good times.  As we exit there are 50 gallon drums lined up and I imagine her disintegrating in acid (These are the moments when it really stinks to be a visual person.)

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I have a thought, let’s tear this place down, who’s in?







belt banger.

In an effort to remain hip to the The Teenagers lingo I listen carefully, although stating it like that makes me decidedly unhip. Many of the phrases, music, and movies are coming back around and I hear my own mother’s voice echo in my head.  “I used to have that same dress” says the voice, or “I used to listen to that music”  shake head vigorously. I listen closely because I want to pick up the secret teenage code and be aware without embarrassing The Teenager.  For instance if a young girl within earshot says “I had surgery and those pills they gave me were awesome.” Her name automatically gets added to a list in my head, and that list is called “I have my eye on you little girl.”

A word that the kids are using these days is “banger” I know!!!!! right!!!! It is a word that can summon a number of images to ones head, especially a mother of a beautiful teenaged daughter. Fortunately, The Teenager thinks this is a ridiculous word for party and promises she will never attend a “banger.”

I have been encouraging The Teenager to have friends over so I can quietly get to know these walking masses of hormones.  She had a few friends over yesterday and I set about working on a chair.

This just happened in real-time as I write this.

The Associate- Can you glue his hair back on?


Me- Maybe grampa went bald. Maybe it is a toupee.

The Associate- Maybe, can I have an Ice cream cone?

Me- You need to have a sandwich first.

The Associate- Ok.

Then I went down to grab some more coffee and she was just finishing up an ice cream sandwich. sigh.

Back to the chair. I was sitting at the kitchen table because there was “a nice breeze” (bringing their voices in the window)  I learned quite a bit in that time.  First of all and most importantly they actually wanted The Associate to hang with them.  WOW. I think I could like these kids. A few wandered through on the way the bathroom and I cataloged the ones who or whom (*sorry Mickey and Nicky) said hello and or thank you. I am pleased to say not a single name made it on the list today, and the chatter was nice background to actually finish my chair.

So…. this chair came to me one day on a walk through the neighborhood.  I brought her home and I cleaned and shined her up.


Some glue and a chair clamp settled her back together.







A whole bunch of belts, a hammer and some upholstery nails, and I had myself a banger.


*I apologize to Mickey and Nicky for my grammatical incompetence.  I am sure you both wince when you read my blog, but I will never be as eloquent as either of you so I am gonna call it poetic license. xo





lying low.

Summer is in full swing, water, camp, rain, heat, bugs, sunscreen, attempts at housekeeping and attempts at creating. Every day can be a delicate balance. I, however have decided to not stress and instead my daily success is measured by how little time The Associate spends watching My Little #$% Pony.  You might say this is lazy, but I won’t agree.

I won’t agree because I have also applied this technique to The Associates emotional well-being.  She is obviously a deep thinker and contemplates life’s obstacles in a distinct way, so why not let her. Being the smallest member of the family and the alpha is very strenuous. We used to worry constantly about her anti-social behaviour (of course she is an angel at school.)  These days we lie low and let her come to us with her revelations.

I think it was Monday. Whatever day it was I now liken it to Neil Armstrong’s first words as he stepped onto the moon, and in the exhilaration the moment we weren’t quibbling over her words like poor Neil’s.

The day started like any other with me poking her awake and her making some hilarious remark about respect while half asleep.  On this day there was no rush so cuddling ensued.  We went out to play some tennis in the wilting heat, and came home to do some housekeeping/ fumigation.  I went up to change and came down to find the tables wiped down and a glass of water garnished with mint and a straw.  Shock, Awe.  The day marched on with little surprises of consideration and compliance, and an official looking apology was issued to The Teenager by The Associate for her aggression without provocation.

By dinner time the house was slightly cleaner and we sat down to eat.

The Associate- I am out of the stealing business.

Us- Well alright starchild! (applause)

The Associate- I am out of the lying business.

Us- cheers!!! (applause)

The Associate- I am out of the blaming others business.

Us- Wooo hooooo. That’s great honey blah blah blah.

The Associate- (with devilish grin) but I am still in the complaining business.

Us- laughter, tears.

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for The Associate”






I am finally done painting the kitchen cupboards. I made many mistakes and hopefully I have learned from them all. 😉   Instead of the slow and steady process of four doors at a time, and painstakingly removing gunk and letting each layer of paint dry properly in the shade, I hurry. If you want paint to self level it needs to dry slowly. I know this, I have already done 34 doors and 10 drawers, but in haste I decided to not follow this simple rule on the last two largest doors. Dumb. Now I am discouraged and my progress stalls. Nobody else notices the flaw, but I do.

My awesome family doesn’t mention this stall. Who cares that there are giant heavy doors all over the kitchen. A week or two or three goes by.  I am clearly opposed to using sandpaper because I managed to remove decades of gunk without it, ill be damned if I am gonna use it now. Chalkboard paint! duh, I just happen to have some in the dungeon. The Associate attempts to defile it between every coat. Three coats later chalk poised, I tease The Teenager that only inspirational quotes can adorn this wall  (I won’t tell you what she wrote, my mom reads this blog.) After quickly cleaning the surface with paper towels (dumb) The Associate has a go.


I guess we will be tightening up our spelling this summer.

Next up ugly tile back splash, cause I roll backwards.


Just like that its summer.

I woke up yesterday morning with a vague sense of dread. It’s summer. Don’t get me wrong I love summer, but what in the bleep am I going to do with The Associate. I momentarily dream of a camp that starts as soon as school ends and goes until the first day of school.  I don’t really want this but a girl can dream. The loss of my days is a blow especially because I spent a lot of the last days of freedom stupidly spring cleaning instead of making stuff.

This morning I awoke to The Associate screaming “I want to go for a run!!!!,” and just like that its summer.

me-  Sooo? Running huh?

TA- yep

me- Are we morning people now?

TA- yep

me- (In an attempt to be supportive) High five!  (deep sigh)

A little background is necessary. This Associate of mine is a night owl, some nights she is still playing as we go to sleep at MIDNIGHT! In the good morning (that’s what she used to call the morning) for school I wake her up at least 4 times, eventually dressing her as she lies limp. So, now to clarify, she is a morning person just in time for summer break, which means I am a morning person now. yay.

Bleary eyed I make my coffee and find a perch on the porch to watch my newly hatched marathon runner.

me- No, you can’t have ice cream for breakfast.

As I watch her prance down the path outside our home she becomes distracted by all the cottonwood seeds flying through the air and abruptly stops to collect them (I LOVE SEEDS.) Now this is something I could get into, while she gets her much-needed “run.”

I quickly run down all the available containers and settle on the abundant supply of prescription bottles that I collect. pills

see related post.   https://electricbelle.com/2013/06/29/lamp-jones/

So far we have collected Columbine, Iris, Delphinium, oregano, cottonwood, dandelion, and oak.  Later we will add my collection (see related posts)



As we travel around our yard I am surprised at how many things we can learn from this adventure. I briefly forgive myself for the terror I felt earlier, pour myself another cup of coffee and move on.









spraying and spelling.

Absorbed by porch cleaning I attempted to let The Associate complete her weekly sentence homework by herself.


Sometimes when I help her it just takes longer because she tries to manipulate me into either doing it for her or making up the “juicy” sentences.  The discord normally sounds something like this.

TA- Details, Details.

Me- no, no.

Usually the weekly spelling words make sense together. Occasionally they rhyme, or demonstrate a sound like long Ooooooo.  This week was a bizarre conglomeration of words.


1. My mom has a bruise.

2. The truth will set you free. (wise words)

That is the first homework that we didn’t turn in all year and apparently I spent all day cleaning the porch so the dog could enjoy it.


This is The Dog “sharing” the arm-chair with me.









80’s toy time

I sometimes envy The Associates imagination, she can entertain herself and her toys for hours creating elaborate story lines.  Today she invented a new word when asked how she felt before she got on stage with her friends to perform at the talent show.  Nervicited (ner-vi-cited) means nervous and excited, which I suppose is good because I would never have gotten on the stage at all.  The other day I forced myself to sit down and play with this camper she “borrowed” from gramma’s house.  It is equipped with all the necessities, a family, a toaster with toast, a cutting board with mushrooms on it, stove, sink, dock, and deck; all in lovely 80’s pastels.


TA: You are the mom, of course.

ME: Is that my huge baby? Is that my Husband?


TA: Yes she is a little big.

ME: Why can’t I stand up all the way?  Is it from carrying that giant baby?  Why am I the only one doing the dishes and cutting mushrooms?


TA: Actually, Yes. MOM would you let me finish with the back story!

ME: I don’t think that is a very good example for the giant baby.  She needs to see the man help.

TA:  Nevermind. geez.