Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Beware - Emily is Driving

Emily has been fifteen for a while now and has wanted to get in some practice driving. Knowing that I was woefully behind on getting her some driving practice, I knew I had to get it in gear. I'd allowed her to drive home once or twice, but we hadn't really worked on it a lot. So, I decided it was time for us to get out on the road a bit more.

I was hoping for ideal weather. But let's face it, spring in Tennessee is rainy. So rather than delay things any longer, we buckled in on an overcast day for a bit of driving practice. The good news is that I didn't once fear for my life, though I did worry about whether the car would come home in one piece. Overall, her main issue is judging the distance to the corners of the car and being able to tell exactly where the car is on the road or when parking. It's simply a matter of experience. But I can remember too when I couldn't tell where the edges of the car was and would, from time to time, drift a little too close to the side of the road.
Speaking of experience, she's still in that phase of learning to drive where most aspects of the car are not automatic. It'd been so long that I couldn't remember a time when I had to consciously think "Ok, the gas is on the right and the brake is on the left." Emily's still there and, when practicing parking down by the lake, hit the gas instead of the brake.

The arrow shows how far we got before inertia stopped the car. You can see the tire marks right under the arrow in the photo. It wouldn't have even been worth mentioning if it weren't for the fact that the grass was, in fact, its own small lake.

Emily and her best bud Ellie coincidentally shared a plane trip down to Florida for spring break. I was happy to be able to send Emily to spend the break with her friend Deanna and, honestly, missed her before she even got out of my sight. When she gets back, we're going to the DMV to get her Learner's Permit for more driving.

Love you, Em!



Sunday, March 15, 2009


Pussywillow Buds

So there I was, in the spring of 1971, happily coloring in the living room, minding my own business. My mom whisks into the room with an armload of flowers and pussywillow buds to create a flower-arranging masterpiece. Here's what a pussywillow bud looks like:

It's about the size of a lima bean but, as you can see, it's covered with a soft, downy fuzz.

Now, for some reason which only God knows why, my mother turns from her flower arrangement and says to me "Kevin, don't stick any of these pussywillow buds in your nose!" And with that she whirls away, into another rooms to do, again, only God knows what.

So there I am, burnt-sienna Crayola still in hand wondering "What the heck is so special about a pussywillow bud and why would I consider putting one in my nose in the first place?!?" The more I thought about it, the more I figured there must be something really good about these things! I mean who wouldn't want one, no, a whole handful of these things up their noses!

So I creep over to the arrangement, ninja-like, and proceed to pluck as may as my uncoordinated 4- or 5-yr old hands can get in 30 seconds. I notice how soft and silky they feel in my hand, my sweaty 4-yr old hand. I then siddle back over to my coloring book, put the coloring book up over my face a la incognito spy boy, and proceed to cram the contents of my hand into both nostrils and wait for whatever wonderful thing is about to happen. My mom said NOT to do this great thing, so something must be about to happen. Something really great. Something so freakin' wonderful that I'll totally know it when it begins to happen. Something so stupendously awesome that... why does my nose hurt so badly?

I begin to pick - one of those wonderful, fluffly balls of goodness comes out of the left side. On the right size, I only manage to shove the four in there deeper. I start crying. Mom comes in and starts calms me down. She's got really long fingernails - see? She manages to get 1 or 2 out. But the others are TOTALLY lodged way up there. OK - I can't really remember what happened from that point. It's all sort of a blur at this point. I'm crying. Mom is crying. Mom is crying behind the wheel, and being 1971 I'm sitting right there unbuckled on the front seat, driving me all around town. I'm in the doctor's office. The doctor manages to shove the pussywillow buds even deeper. Mom is crying driving me to another doctor. He does pretty much the same thing.

Now, my dad has arrived. We're driving into downtown Seattle. I'm in the backseat listening to my dad tell my mom what a horrible person she is. Kids FREAKING DIE from rotting vegetation in their nasal passages, woman!!! She's crying even harder. We get in to the super-specialist doctors office. He's a pediatric ENT specialist. Following his directions, my dad holds my legs, a pretty Asian-American nurse holds my arms, and my mom cries. The doctor produces a bizarre stainless style grabby tool, proceeds to clear both nostrils in about 10 seconds. Life is much better.

So, now, me no likey pussywillows.




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