Marshutka

Swear words. I try not to use them. I don’t want to be in the habit and let the naughty words fall when little ears are near. I will grant it is most satisfying to use those words when you are angry, frustrated, or sewing. Last year, I was trying to sew a formal gown for myself under a tight time crunch. Curse, I did.

I finished the dress, with much cursing. It wasn’t up to the finishing standards that I hoped to achieve, but it was wearable by the end. And the lighting at the event was favorable for an uneven bodice. I did well with the darts, I will say.

Driving in my current locale is trying, to say the least. The local drivers take lane lines as a mere suggestion. They don’t hesitate a whit to look at their phones or take a call while driving. Missing bumpers? That’s practically required here. I was driving with Landry in the passenger seat and he pointed out a car that was missing the passenger side front door. I’d noticed it before he said something and hadn’t even thought it odd. Missing door on a car? Shrug. That’s when I realized my expectations for driving have gone a bit native.

My hand hovers over the horn a lot. Drifting into my lane? beep, beep. The worst however, are the marshutki. This is Russian for short bus. Well, not in the American sense of that phrase. It’s a small bus that is privately owned and maintained about as well as Chernobyl. Looking at one of these things driving down the road, you’d think the passengers were practicing for “most people stuffed into a telephone booth” record. The van/bus will be sagging on it’s poor suspension.

A marshutka will pull over anywhere to pick up a passenger, stop abruptly to let them out. Turn signals aren’t an after thought; they are a never thought. I’ve been warned never to ride one due to the maintenance and overcrowding issues. But I didn’t need to be told that. One look at the crammed interior would have me fleeing the other way.

And that brings us back to cursing. Perhaps, only people who have been to Slavic countries will appreciate this: Marshutka, with an appropriate Russian accent, is a very satisfying substitute for a swear word.

Say it like you mean it.

Molasses

When we lost Pinky a few months ago, I put up fliers in the neighborhood. And I did get a few calls. Unfortunately, it wasn’t my cat, but a small girl kitty. She was nearly solid black and had a strong resemblance to Pinky other than size. The third time this happened, it had been weeks since my cat disappeared. I drove around the neighborhood and tore down the posters, crying the whole time.

Little look-alike kitty showed up in our yard the other night. I was sitting on the back porch reading and stopped when I heard a cat. She jumped down from a tree and came trotting up. I wonder if she remembered me from our earlier encounters. She wasn’t alone either. Two kittens were in the tree. Both white and brown-ish tabbies.

She’s thin and the babies are thin. As I was left without adult supervision, I went and got some food for them. The kittens were afraid of me until they smelled the food and began devouring what was set before them. Mama cat, bless her, held back and let her babies eat first. I put out a little pillow in a box on the back porch for them to sleep in. The first night, I think, went well. But, we have a lot of dogs that roam the neighborhood at night. I woke up to barking. I chased off the dogs that were in our yard. Mama moved the babies before morning. She had moved them to a small portion of our yard that is fenced (it has utility boxes, etc.).

I thought that would be plenty safe and approved her choice. The next night I was awakened again. Not by barking exactly. Deep bass thuds. My first thought was that I was hearing distant artillery. Now, in my part of the world, that was a plausible explanation. Plausible enough that I got an adrenaline dump. I got up and went down to listen at the door and realized that wasn’t what I was hearing. I ran outside and a couple of the dogs were determinedly trying to get under the fence to get at the kittens. I yelled at them and the dogs took off. Mama and babies are okay, but they’ve gone back to sleeping in trees. It’s safer there. There are a lot of trees in our yard, so they usually choose a new one each night. And I’m still feeding them. The kittens are starting to be less afraid of people since they are getting pets during noms each day.

Mama cat has been dubbed Molasses because she is dark and sweet. I’ve been asking around if anyone wants a kitten or two. No luck, yet. But then, the kittens are still a bit too young to leave Molasses’ care. Hopefully, I can find a sucker to take them. Maybe Mama, too.

Molasses and slightly more white tabby boy
A bit more gray with a spot on his nose boy

pups

We nearly ended up with a dog this weekend. We had a dog for 14 years, but she passed about 15 months ago. Landry and I swore we would wait until we were done living overseas to get another dog. It’s just too much hassle to move internationally with a dog and the CDC made it harder during the Vid. Like they didn’t have anything better to do…

But this is harder than one might think. There are strays all over. And when they live and stay in your block, you get kind of attached. A couple of pups showed up here last spring and various families kind of take care of them. I’m partial to Cassie. I’ve no idea what the mix is. I think she may have some border collie. She’ll be a great dog for someone, once she learns her manners.

Nerdling was out biking on Saturday and came back in a rush to tell Constance that Cassie had been hit by a car. We all went out looking for the pup, but she’d run off after being hit. We followed the drips of blood and lost the trail once she left the sidewalk. I’m no hunter/tracker. I worried and the kids worried. I might have cried after the kids went to bed.

Fortunately, she was found the next day. One of the other families took her to the vet. Cassie is a very lucky little dog. She got stitches on her foreleg and will need to be on antibiotics. I’m really relieved she will be okay. And, I’m really relieved it wasn’t us that found her. Because I know that if I’d taken her to the vet and nursed her through the healing, she would be very much our dog.

Brain would also like to express his relief that he won’t have to share his home with a half-grown puppy.

Earl

Earl is a distant cousin on my father’s side. He has had a long run of entrepreneurial escapades. Most of them are catastrophic failures. But there have been a few successes which provide seed money for the next round.

About four years ago, he got into construction to make ends meet. It’s been awhile since he sold the chain of Gentleman’s Clubs ™ and he’s run through the money he made there. Well, he said a pretty little lady drove by the work site one day and asked for help with a ‘tiny house’. Earl figured she meant a doll house and agreed to help. He couldn’t figure why a dollhouse needed a sink plunged, but what the heck, she was paying cash. He wasn’t entirely certain that wasn’t a euphemism for something else (ahem). Anyway, he followed her out to a half acre lot with her tiny house or camper with siding as he described it. They got to talking and he learned she paid sixty thousand dollars for this place that was maybe 200 square feet, not including the land.

And that got his gears churning. He had an old single wide just sitting there on the back of his property that he used to go sleep in when he and his wife Suzanne are in a snit. He ‘borrowed’ some lumber from the job site and went home. He worked into the wee hours and by day break, he had three tiny house shells. Earl visited every junk yard in a fifty mile radius picking up plumbing systems and cabinets from RVs. He bought remnants of carpeting and liberated left over tile and granite from the work site of his day job.

They didn’t sell for more than a month. Suzanne took over the marketing, called them ‘bespoke’, and they were gone by the end of the week. Earl took his garden shed, fitted it with a loft for sleeping and a handmade spiral staircase. He put in the basics of a kitchen and bathroom. Suzanne called that one ‘quirky’. It was sold by the end of the next day.

Now he’s made a business of buying up single wides and garden sheds and converting them into tiny houses. Suzanne just slaps on the labels of reclaimed, artisanal, unique, handmade, and hand-curated. They sell like no decent thing should. He’s even had to get warehouse space and a workforce. This is usually the point at which he’d sell the business and disappear for weeks, but he says he’s having too much fun.

Fishing for iron

Fishing with magnets for lures is, apparently, a thing that people do. Now this doesn’t work for fish, except hammerheads and saw fish….

These are the jokes people.

So, you get a really strong magnet, tie it to the end of the rope and cast your line out into a body of water and see what you can reel in. People have caught shopping carts, bikes, and metal folding chairs: your standard junk. But it does get more interesting. Other catches have included safes, motorbikes, a novelty suit of armor, and firearms.

I’m thinking maybe don’t magnet fish in places with a strong organized crime element. Poor Joe. He went magnet fishing and hauled up a 20 year old gun that implicates current Mob Boss in a murder he committed while he was just a junior guy in the org.

What if someone accidentally snags a SCUBA diver? I wonder. The tanks are steel, aren’t they? But then, they’re round and the magnet would have less surface area to work with. It’s amusing to consider, at first. Just swimming along, looking at the coral and then BAM! You’re being hauled backwards by an unseen force.

Then, it gets less amusing. You’ve got decompression issues. And a diver is probably going to get a shot of adrenaline and start breathing fast. Then, you’ve got air supply issues.

Has anyone tried this while ice fishing? But the holes for ice fishing are usually small. So, it’s probably not worth it.

Song lyrics

I think it was Robin Williams’ character in Dead Poet’s Society who said that language was invented to woo women.

I listen to the popular music occasionally while shopping or riding in my car. I can’t say I’m impressed by the lyrics. If “I’m in love with your body” is any indication of the state of the culture, we’re in trouble. A new to me song on the radio this week featured a chorus of “I want to do you on the backseat of my car”. Really? Granted, I know the male mind is plumbed in this direction.

Listening to the song, I question if those lines have ever succeeded in fulfilling their libidinal goals. “Really? You love my body?? Take me now.”

Has that ever happened? I have to think that it has. Otherwise, why put it in a song? I’d like to just blame alcohol. But I think it’s worse than an ethanol induced seduction. There are women who are so sincerely unaware of their worth that even the most base compliment will get her to lift her skirt.

When I was a teen “The Rules” had just hit the shelves. It was rules for dating. I didn’t agree with all of them, but the point was to not get so wrapped up in a guy that he was your everything. You don’t wait by the phone for hours hoping he’ll call (obviously before cell phones were omnipresent). You have a life. If he calls, great. If not, you’ve spent your time productively. The point was to be your own person, to develop, and to find the guy that thought you were awesome enough to pursue.

What, pray tell, are the rules now? Don’t answer on the first ring? No nudes until the third texting session? Wait, don’t answer that. I really don’t want to know.

Achievement Unlocked

I’m an author now. As in, I have stuff published. For reals. And you can buy it. Two of my short stories got published in two different anthologies.

First up, is an anthology that benefits a possibly haunted library. The theme for the anthology is… Haunted Libraries. Both volumes are bound to be good. But, if you especially want to read my contribution, check out Volume 2. All proceeds to benefit the Tom Burnett Memorial Library in Iowa Park, Texas.

And then, for something completely different. Or maybe not. There’s a decent chance there’s a ghost or three in the next offering too. The first volume trended toward historical fiction with elements of fantasy.

I think the story that goes along with this anthology series is a hoot. I’ve been a longtime reader of Lawdog’s blog the Lawdog Files (https://thelawdogfiles.com/). Well, he was telling some folks in the writing group about Malta and the amazing history it has. And his enthusiasm is a might bit infectious. So, the instigator in the group dared him to put out a call for short stories for an anthology. He did, thinking there wasn’t enough interest for one anthology. And Lawdog was right. There was enough for two, possibly three. The second volume dropped this week and I am pleased as punch to be among those authors published.

Being acquainted with some of the authors, I’ve read snippets and whole stories from all three of these books. You’re in for a treat whichever you happen to choose.

Cheers,
Tuvela Thomas

Manscaping

Just saw an ad for a manscaping kit for intimate areas. “It’s a great gift for the man in your life: Husband, Son, or Boyfriend!”

Screech!!! Whoa, whoa, whoa. Back that truck up.

Your son. Your son? Who gives their son a manscaping kit? This presumes that you know how your grown son keeps his parts. I do not need to know that and no parent does.

Maybe some parents would buy this as a gag gift, but for any other purpose… Hurk!

Venting

The kids went back to school last week.

It seems Constance’s social studies teacher decided to drop a snide remark about a major world religion in the first couple days of school. So, we’re off to a smashing start.

How the hell do you get a job at an international school when you have the cultural awareness of a slug? It’s a decent bet that at least a few of his student belong to that particular religion, especially since the local students are at least nominally members of said religion that got dissed. So those students know right off that their teacher is NOT on their side.

Social studies in 6th grade is supposed to let kids debate a bit. But if the teacher can’t hide his bias for longer than 48 hours, I severely doubt he’ll be a fair moderator. And the more I think about it, the more pissed I am.

Teachers these days are getting churned out of college thinking they know every damned thing. They’re so full of themselves and their dogma! Teach the kids to read and write. Teach them to spell and write cursive. And the more I think about it, the more I think this bullshit nonsense needs to be nipped. I’m usually diplomatic in my approach on this sort of thing, but this may not be Mr. Teacher’s day. He may see the bitch smiling sweetly as she poses questions such as:

“How do you plan to recover your credibility with your students after you torpedoed a major world religion???” *Bats eyelashes*.

“Bless your heart, your mama never taught you manners, did she?”

“How can your students – who follow said religion – trust you to be intellectually fair and honest?”

And that’s if I’m feeling nice.

Traveling and other business

It’s been a busy summer to say the least. We kicked off by traveling, of course. We went to a resort in Antalya, Turkey. After all of our adventurous traveling, it was lovely to sit by a pool and read or sit by the beach and watch the waves roll in. Joy, Constance, and Nerdling had a good time. They especially enjoyed riding the “Crazy Shark”. This was a raft pulled behind a speed boat. All five of us fit on. And it did get crazy. We hit a combo of a wake and an incoming wave and the raft bounced a good five feet above the surface of the water. Shockingly, no one fell off the raft.

I also started a new job this summer with more consistent hours than what I’ve been doing since fall. It’s ideal, really. I’ll be doing office management stuff for 30 hours a week. Now that’s not exactly my preferred career path, but it’s work that I can do fairly happily. It also allows me to build up something of a resume and references. I haven’t worked outside of the home (for $) in well over ten years. It’s been a blessing that I’ve been able to be home with the kids, but with some of our future plans, it’s best if I’m working again.