Saturday, June 28, 2008

Notes from the Road

Observations from -- indeed, in the midst of -- the Matron's 48 hour whirlwind trip to Marshall and back.

1. There is Little League everywhere. These fields are always sweet.

2. Hotel lobbies have computers with internet access!

3. She's still the poor sibling (thanks for all the meals and hotel rooms and she means it!)

4. Stryker is the kind of child who will do this: rise at 6:30 am and participate in a Kid's Trialthon, even though he is riding somebody else's big adult bike and has only packed Heelies for shoes and hasn't much swimming experience and couldn't sleep, thus getting only about 5 hours of zzzzz's -- he will do this because his beloved Auntie is the YMCA Director and she set it all up and asked if he wanted to and he loves her. He is a total trooper that way and in all others.

5. Scarlett is not.

6. The weekend manager at the Matron's hotel has had died 5 people die or go missing within the past 2 1/2 months! He lost one former employee to drinking and driving; another to mysterious seizures; a third friend wandered away in May and hasn't returned; and then there's the 10 year old child. Not that the Matron said hello to this man in a friendly, off-hand, "I am passing you in the hallway and therefore will say hello" sort of way, and then was trapped, listening for a very very very long long while! (he's also worked at Burger King for 15 years as a second job and sometimes delivers pizza. he has pets, too, but she will stop here).

7. It is possible to wear the same camoflauge pants, blue-striped long-sleeved shirt, red sweatband and silver police badge for 4 days straight. This would not be the Matron.

8. Even toddlers on meth can have lovely speed-vacations.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Open House

So Mrs. G is having an Open House! She asked all her bloggy friends to share where the heart of the home is, the beloved room -- the center and grounding space. That would be the Matronly office. That's her desk and a slice of her books, above. See that bean bag chair in the corner? Satan's Familiar thinks the Matron adores him, so that would be his unfortunate spot.

Near the Matron's desk are the prayer cards that one of her favorite Mama friends gave her. This lovely woman is expecting baby number 4 within the month and the planet will be better for that person!

This makes the Matron happy. Next is a plate is a gift from her brother and his wife. Next to it is a crystal ball that one of her friends gave her. He's a working psychic, the same friend who had dinner (with her lo and behold these six years plus) and said: "Oh My God. You don't know it yet but you are pregnant and it's a boy."

He was right.

The Matron's first boyfriend (they were 16) gave her this gorgeous screen print. Hmmmm. She named her only daughter Scarlett. Detect a pattern? History?

At the end of first grade, Stryker's teacher gave all of us his students these wood cuts with their names and real bear fur. This is nestled at the end of the Matron's desk.

Did she mention that the office is tucked off the bedroom? Nowhere NEAR the center of the house? The office is actually a cozy three season porch that chugs along for one more season with a space heater.

This room is up high. She has a panoramic city view in the winter and gets to witness nature and trees the rest of the time.

The Matron's birthday is November 26. On November 26h, 1996, her father called to wish her a happy birthday and Thanksgiving (which would be the 28th). They talked for nearly an hour. Her father told her how he waited all day, eagerly to call, and how amazing it was to be with his only grandchild in August! Stryker had been just a few weeks old. The Matron's father told her he wasn't feeling all that great -- indigestion -- but talking to her made everything worthwhile.

Her father died, instantly, on November 27, of a heart attack 16 hours later. Here's the only picture she has of any of her children and her father. He missed Scarlett and Merrick entirely. She misses him.

The Matron is still wiping her eyes.


This room is fully - her! Dreams, art, people, love, life. Books, art, yoga mat, meditation pillow. This is where she retreats and refuels. So, this is the room four other people also rely on.

We all know Virginia Woolf's theory on a room of one's own. For this busy woman, who can't go to the hardware store without explanation, scrutiny and childcare? This room is a lifesaver.

Friday Addendum! The Matron will be away from her computer until at least Sunday night because she is about to turn into a toddler on meth. She will certainly be needing this room upon her return, friends.

They're Pretty and All That. . . . . But

The Matron is tired!

First, this is Merrick's second day in Intensive Care for a virulent case of Third Child Syndrome. The Matron herself has spent many precious minutes sitting outside of Merrick's door while he screams: "It was a joke! It was supposed to be funny!"

It? It would be shooting his sister with a Nerf gun, hitting his brother and going a bit too far with routines like this:

Merrick: "What's the worstest butt word? Would it be freakin-butt or frickin-butt or butt-frick or butt-freakin? "

Matron (wondering about direction of conversation but diving in, anyway): "Well, I would say butt-frick sounds the worst, but it's a close call. Don't quote me on that one."

Merrick is on his heel and into the living room in a heartbeat: "STRYKER! YOU ARE A BUTT-FRICK, A BIG FAT BUTT-FRICK!"

Follow through, every single time! Ugh. Where's her martini? And today, seems there was a lot of this, too.

John, poking around in the refrigerator as the Matron and Scarlett eat breakfast: "Aw! Don't tell me the blueberries are already gone? Anybody seen those blueberries?"

Matron: "Second shelf, on the right sort of tucked behind the cream cheese."

John: "See! Hiding!"

Stryker, bursting into room: "Mom! Someone stole my Play Station Portable! I've looked everywhere and it's totally gone!"

Scarlett: "No it's not. It's under the couch in the living room. Merrick put it there."

Merrick evades Stryker's lunge: "Mom? Where's my cell phone?!!" (don't worry it's fake)

Matron: "Probably in the back of the van where you left it last night."

He scrambles.

John: "Where's the Business section? Those machines must hide that page when they put together the paper. It's always stuck between something."

The Matron hands him the Business section.

Stryker, back in: "But my PSP is out of batteries and I lost my charger!"

Scarlett: "It's in the Kitchen Kid Drawer."

Merrick: "MOM! Where's Scruffy's leash!?"

Scarlett: "In the brown bucket by the side door."

Intrauterine Tracking Devises at work. But the question that haunts the Matron is what body part or hormone block any such locater cells in the male body? Penile Eye Impediment? Testosterone Tracking Scrambler?

And later, when John forgot his cell phone and came scrambling home before a meeting, it was Scarlett who noticed, and was waiting by the door with that item in her smug little hand.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Third Child Syndrome

After a hefty dose of Merrick, one of Stryker's friends told his mother this: "Merrick has a bad case of Third Child Syndrome."

The mother, being a woman and all, laughed and said "look who's talking" to him, as he was a third child himself.

But perhaps it takes one to know one?

Last night, the Matron was pondering why she was not looking forward to her upcoming whirlwind trip to visit her sister four hours away, in Marshall Minnesota. Could it be:

A) Marshall is 4 hours away.
B) The Matron is flying solo as John has to work.
C) Because of other commitments, the Matron is starting this 4 hour drive (alone) at 3:30 pm, arriving at the convenient hour of near bedtime.
D) The Matron is flying solo as John has to work.
E) After a single full day, the Matron will haul those children and all their junk back in the van to make that 4 hour drive again. Alone.

We all know how she feels about Transportation, generally.

Now, nearly everything about this adventure is perfect! Her generous sister put the penny on the hotel room! Her brother and nephews are flying in from New Jersey! All the cousins will be together. Lots to look forward to!

There is, of course, the thing about the Matronly practice of morphing into a toddler with a meth habit when around her mother, but that's another blog post. And not the problem (well, okay, not this problem).

The thing that has the Matron worried about the whirlwind trip is the Third Child Syndrome. Or, the child currently in its evil clutches: Merrick.

Surely, you've experienced this malady, but just in case you're uncertain, here's the official American Medical Association definition:

Third Child Syndrome: A chronic condition with psychological and physical manifestations. Afflicts only children who are third and youngest in their family. Physical presentations include whining, screaming, crying, dropping to the floor, flailing and in the most severe cases, hitting older siblings. Psychological presentations include the inability to process the word 'no' and the insistence that the third child get his or her own way at all times. While time may camouflage the symptoms, Third Child Syndrome will produce mean-spirited and selfish children who grow into similarly suited teenagers and even adults, should these symptoms remain unchecked. The only certain cure is firm parental hand and devotion to limits, consequences and the word No.

Last night, the Matron and her husband had a serious conversation, in which they acknowledged that Merrick was fighting a life and death battle against Third Child Syndrome. The Matron told her husband that the real reason she was unhappy about the trip was that not only would all the fun tasks surrounding Third Child Syndrome fall entirely into her shaking hands--things like saying "no ice cream till after dinner" fifty million times without one dent in the whine machine or ignoring 'butt-head' and the sly sibling arm punch because if she tended to those problems she would be doing NOTHING else -- but her whole family would be there to witness her utter failure in this department.

Did you just read this line? The one penned by the Matron?

"or ignoring 'butt-head' and the sly sibling arm punch because if she tended to these problems she would be doing NOTHING else"

So that's exactly what they committed to doing, last night. Tending. Time-outs, zero tolerance. Even if it meant forgoing the walk after dinner, letting the laundry pile and dishes stand.

Conveniently, Merrick had not one but two friends over today, setting up that time-tested triangle. Worse, one was a year older and a girl, setting her up to be the odd one out. And Merrick wanted her to do exactly what he desired, which was to leave him alone to play with the boy.

If you leave a child in the Matron's care, know this! It is her job to be that child's ally and protector! So she was, for hours, veering in to mediate conflicts, sending Merrick to his room, immediately Tending to every manifestation of the Third Child Syndrome. She did nearly nothing else. Should she even dare to pick up a gardening tool or attempt to cut an apple, Merrick would select that precise moment to reassert his dominion.

How bad was it? She eventually sent Merrick and the boy to the boy's house in order to give the poor females in the house (the child and the Matron) a break.

She has one more day of behavior modification and retraining before that child hits the road to spend time with Grandma Mary.

Should you be the praying sort, or a person with magical powers or mystical inclinations, please feel free to deploy your juju upon the Matron! If nothing else, wish her luck. Or recommend a cocktail?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Mrs. G's musings about making the most of her assets, returned the Matron to a pivotal moment in her own self-construction.

You see, in high school, when the Matron was just a Young Miss, she wanted to be Nicole NotHerRealName. Young Miss spent a fair amount of time observing Nicole: how the lithe body moved, how she wiggled in her desk and swirled her hair, how she flirted and smiled. She could not have been cuter! And the Levi's! Oh, Nicky dripped denim and corduroy, all with the prestigious red tag. Friends? To spare! She flew with the A list. You have to ask? Of course, she was a cheerleader! She played the flute, an appropriately pretty and feminine instrument; whereas the Young Miss, in unfashionable eye-glasses, droned in the middle of the pack of clunky clarinets. Nicole's father owned the local car dealership. This was one small town: the dealership. To the fatherless Young Miss, this fact nailed it for Nicky.

That's who Young Miss wanted to be when she grew up. Nicole!

But then came the German class.

Herr Becker had his students conjugating verbs out loud. He'd pick someone at random and shout: Gehen! Haben! Wollen!

Herr Becker: "Nicole! Wollen!"

Nicole: "Wollen? What does that mean again?"

Herr Becker: "You tell me. Past, present, future for I, you, he/she and plural."

Nicole did her adorable hair swirl and chair twirl. Young Miss's heart was aflutter, watching Icon in action. But then something strange, something disturbing, something unthinkable began to unfold. Nicole appeared utterly undone.

Nicole: "Wollen. Wolled, wollee, well, welle?"

Herr Becker glared. This was easy, baby drool stuff from homework we had from day one.

Young Miss radiated and burst! Tried to send ESP. "Ich will, ich wollte, ich habe gewollt. Du willst, du wolltest, du hast gewollt. And so on."

Nicole: "Wollst du? Werde? We wollen, du wolt, wo?"

And the entire room watched while Herr Becker made her suffer until she finally said: "I can't do it."

The voice in Young Miss's head nearly knocked her over with new, Important Understanding: "Nicole NotHerRealName is not smart. I'd rather be smart." Young Miss spent the remainder of the class silently betting that Nicole would peak early, the pinnacle of success perhaps pom-pom or Homecoming Queen crown. This is a German class the Matron remembers well, even now. She remembers how Young Miss considered the vast expanse of a life time and decided that she would rather chug along respectively and then bloom, late, rather than burn out at 17, all fire and comet, assets fried and buried.


Nicole? She had a baby her senior year in high school.

Just so we're clear. The Matron might not have fared much better. She damn well better be a late bloomer. Let's see just how far have the Matron's assets gotten her?

#1. Conversation (with real names! high honeys!)

Matron: "Remember high school?"

Shelley: "Please."

Matron: "Well, I've always wondered something. In our group, Cheryl was the popular one. Sherri was the pretty one. Sorry, but you were.. . . uh, how do I put this.. . . um. . . . "

Shelley: "The one in trouble."

Matron: "Thank you. But what about me? What was I?"

Shelley: "Are you kidding me? You were the smart one!!"

Matron: "Wow. Really? Oh, yeah, that's right."

Shelley: "I love it how you can do this."

Matron: "What?"

Shelley: "Be so genuinely smart and so totally stupid, all at the same time."

Matron: "Habitual multi-tasking. I can't help it?"

#2. The Book Title

The Matron came up with this kick-ass, fortune-generating, book title not too long ago, like, oh, 20 years back: Quick Comebacks and Witty Replies: The Pocket Guide for the Slow Thinker.

Alas, she has been unable to come up with any quick comebacks or witty replies. For 20 years. Guess that's the book she's been needing instead of penning.

#3. The Nail Polish Remover

Today, the Matron went to Chicago Nails to repair the damage the expensive Mother's Day pedicure did to her very fine (well, not really) feet. Yes, Juut left one volcanic edge of crud around her heels and toes! And the paint chipped within the day!!

The economic downturn has made a special point of dropping in as a house guest over at the Matron's, so she could not bring herself to fork over big time dough, yet neither could she stand her craggy hooves. It's summer in Minnesota! She has about one sneeze to wear sandals and she doesn't want to scare people away.

So. The pedicure did the trick!

Later, the Matron wondered why her left middle toe hurt. Owie! Inspecting, the Matron was annoyed to see a little sliver of red nail polish on her actual precious and private skin. And it hurt. And ordained that she was just destined to NEVER get an adequate pedicure, the nail in the coffin that she was just not meant for Pampering and Fluff.

So she took some all natural nail polish remover and let go -- whaled and scoured on that thin line of red. Damn. Only hurt MORE. She chucked nature and got the toxic chemical remover and whaled and ripped again. Oh My God! That hurt! That toe might fall off!! But the polish remained.

Wait! A little bulb sizzled in the Matronly brain.

She took her toe to the window and looked again in the natural light. There was no red polish.

It was a cut. Thank God, now thoroughly cleansed with nail polish remover.

She's a definite late bloomer.

Monday, June 23, 2008


The Matron has some corners to dust.

First, if you're a regular reader (or new!) and not already on her blog roll, please do leave a comment with a link to your own damn fine environs. She will add you to the list.

Yes, the Matron is in the mood to clean up! She suffers from a terrible case of Incurable Clutter Brain Suck. But Scarlett?

Does not. Views of the sonic boom, Day 3.

Yes, just 3 short days ago, Scarlett cleaned this room, top to bottom. The Matron could see the floor! The bed was free from food, crayon, and glitter! Scarlett had put away all of her clothes, shut drawers, shelved books. On the day of this sacred event, the Matron believed that the Palestinians and Israelis must just work it out.

The strange thing about this transformation, from pristine state to the current slide toward degradation? Scarlett cleaned on Thursday. She was home Friday. Saturday, she left early in the morning for an overnight, returning home mid-afternoon on Sunday only to immediately be forced to watch Stryker's Little League Tournament. (which they won! not that the matron is invested)

She returned home from the old ball park at 7 with the rest of her family. Where does she find the time, all this mess? That girl is a fast worker. The Matron is afraid to open that lovely vintage sewing box hanging (logically) with 37 other items on the door handle. She thinks she vaguely remembers it from 2005 and wonders where it's been in the interim. Food was involved.

A weekly or so cleaning seems reasonable, right girl friends? And in between -- the Matron is going to tell her frail psyche to just shut that door and repress, repress, repress.

Speaking of cleaning up! Monday is 25% off the already ridiculously cheap ValuThrift! The Matron will make a good senior citizen, she is that reliable in her shopping ways. She shows up every other Monday.

She got two Ann Taylor dresses for under $7.00. But she is so spoiled by this store that she expects at least that booty. Now, she doesn't always have brand recognition, but the Matron generally understands quality.

That's why she bought this for $3.49, without ever having heard of Twill Twenty Two:

Oh, and the reason she's never heard of this brand? She's guessing the jacket sells for well over a couple of hundred dollars. Way beyond her means!

Cleaning up! Leave that link if you're not already on board. . .

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Nostalgia (Even for Sports, which Makes this Breaking News)

Remember how the Matron is all tuned in, tapped on, has total Fung Shui with her body?

Two years ago, while tending to the greenery and flower she inherited with this house, the Matron was stung by a bee! Ouch! It hurt! Then again, she gave birth to a ten pound baby while screaming for the pain meds nobody brought. Damn you, 9 inch stretch on the ride to the hopsital! So she put some salve on her forehead and continued weeding.

Six hours later, she was in the Emergency Room to inquire, in a calm, academic way, about The Mysterious Virus.

Matron (gasping and clutching lackluster chest): "Doctor? It started earlier today. It's the worst virus, maybe the Plague?! This is between us, but I think it's the Rapture. The fundamentalists were right! I can't breath. I can't stop puking. The other end has issues too. It's really an emergency! Do you notice the panting, gasping element? If we are all not going to our Maker, this will be publishable. The AMA. You'll be famous."

Doctor: "What's that golf ball size growth on your forehead?"

Matron: "That? Oh, I was stung by a bee this afternoon."

You know the end of this story. She got a shot for her very serious bee allergy and now carries an Epi-Pen, which she sometimes refers to as My Fun Adventure Ahead. Now, gardening is a bit more like guerrilla warfare, all those damn bees.

But she worked on the jungle yesterday. That green expanse hides flowers and Death. Cut a peony? First, you must stand back and assess the Enemy Threat, Epi-Pen at hand. The rose bushes? Russian Roulette.

Because her husband works on the weekend, the Matron was the Proud Parental Representative at Parkway Little League's baseball tournament. This one's the biggie, the weekend the league invites teams from several cities. Stryker's team played two games. And won both! Go Stryker! (hint: more on this, coming)

Later, the Matron attended a very fine Solstice party where she met a woman she must've known in another life. Or, she's already a member of the Woman's Colony.

Don't you love women? Once, the Matron met a woman at a public school event and within ten minutes, they were swapping stories about the Twelve Steps, addictions, and emotional adultery. Oh, you can't wait for more posts on those!

Back to the topic. this morning, the Matron hit the ballpark at 9 am for the first of 3 games.

Yes, she teetered on those glass slippers a bit. But. With the smell of grilling meat at the crack of dawn, the dust flying, the heat, the potential for personal injury and the beat of 11 and 12 year old boys -- she kinda sorta got the whole baseball juju -- FOR THE NEXT 10 GODDAMN HOURS SHE SPENT THERE.

Okay--she's 'fessed up to hyperbole for the sake of the story.

So she had a 1.5 hour break in the middle. Spent like this:

At 11:30, she agrees to leave Stryker at Parkway (there are always three games on three fields and plenty to see) so she can go home and feed the 14 and 11 year old house guests the Matron is babysitting (long story - let's cap with the Matron had two extra self-sufficient, non-baseball inclined boys in her stead).

Once there, she works on corn on the cob, sandwiches, washes strawberries from the Farmer's Market (where she was at the other crack of dawn). In the midst of this, Coach calls.

"Where's Stryker?"

Turns out the entire team is at the Coach's house and nobody could find her son at Parkway. He was paged four times. The Coach suggest that we call the Police if Stryker's not located within half an hour.

Now, the Matron is 100% prone to panic in the best of conditions, so you can just imagine. In the 8 blocks and 90 seconds it takes to drive to Parkway, she is certain she remembers reading that Jeffrey Dahmer had apprentices.

When she gets there, 20 adults are in hot pursuit of her child. But the Matron? She spots him in about 5 seconds, happily acting as Scorekeeper on Field 3.

But -- whew. (and, okay, how the #$%% could they miss him?!)

She flies back to the house for more cooking and clean-up, drives across town to retrieve Scarlett from a sleepover and is back at Parkway by 12:30 with the younger two in tow, where they remain (in states of cooperation and engagement directly linked to age) until 7 pm.

Why? Because in 1 hands-down slam-dunk defeat, and in a final nail-biting, heart-stopping 1 point win -- Stryker's team won the Championship. Undefeated. And Stryker? He got the game ball for Game 2 for most valuable player AND brought in 2 of the 4 runs in the final game! Far cry from earlier in the season. . ..

The Matron? At one point, she stood up and yelled: "Thatta way D-Rays! That's smart baseball!" She has no idea what smart baseball is but heard someone else say that, and it sounded like her style. She just loves that - "That's smart baseball!"

But during today's long hours, watching despair, determination, discipline and desire filter across these children (and she means all of them, all those teams), and understanding a bit more how brain wattage and strategy matter - and then there's the grass, the expanse of sky and beauty of outdoor play, and the ridiculously perfect junk food, and the skinny kid who finally gets The Hit and the way true team members support each other -- anyway, considering, the Matron tossed that glass slipper against a backstop and let the spirit overtake her!

Congratulations, Parkway D-Rays!