Money in snails

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A few of my more recent posts have had a darker tone so I figured I would lighten things up a bit with a childhood memory.

When I was  little I was fascinated with pennies and other shiny coins just like any other kid my age.  I was too young to have an ‘allowance’,  but my father would occasionally  give me special chores around the house in order to earn a few coinage. Whenever he presented these tasks to me he made it sound like only I could do it and it was VERY important.   It kept me busy and would give my mom a break from having to find things for me to do.   This one particular time I remember he was out gardening as he did every weekend.   I would sit out and watch him or occasionally pick up a rake and do my best attempt at helping.   He brought me over the bucket that he would use to wash his VW and set it down next to me.

“Stacey, I have a fun project for you to do tomorrow! The snails are eating our garden,  how about I give you a nickel for each one you find in the yard?   Put them in this bucket and I will count them when I come home from work ”

Challenge.  ACCEPTED!

That night all I could think of was starting the next morning as early as possible so I could find every snail that resided on our property.  I had dreams of making handfuls and handfuls of nickels,  enough to buy whatever I wanted at Toys R Us..  Yep,  I would be rich and my dad would be so proud of me when he saw that I had cleansed the earth of those shell wearing, plant eating pests!

 

I grabbed my bucket (didn’t get up at the crack of dawn like I had planned but I was still out early enough before my mom started playing her soap operas on the kitchen television)  and got to work.     I scoured every inch of the yard both back and front.   Behind every bush, flower, rock, along the fence line, around the trees…    and by the end of the day I had accumulated a large cache of snails.     To a child’s eye I had hundreds in that bucket when in reality I probably only had maybe 20 or 30.    It didn’t matter,  all I cared about was my daddy was going to be thrilled with me and I was going to make a LOT of money!    My mom called me in for lunch shortly after that and I could hear “All my Children” on her television,  so I knew it was around noontime.  I didn’t want the snails climbing out of the bucket so I carried it inside into my bathroom and placed it in the bathtub. Closing the little sliding glass door shut on the tub I thought to myself   “There!   they would never get out and would be safe and sound for when my dad got home!”

My father usually came home from work in the evening around 6 or so  (or just after when the ABC evening news theme could be heard on the television).   Mom kept her small kitchen TV playing throughout the day while she puttered around doing her ‘mom things’ so I was able to tell certain times of the day just by what I heard coming from that tv.   I ate lunch,  then went to my room to play.   All I could think of was how proud my dad was going to be when he saw how hard I had worked in the yard that day..  Maybe he would even pay me DOUBLE per snail!     I was going to be set for life!

“OH MY GOD!  DAMNIT!  STAAACEEEEEYYY!!!”
My mom’s voice boomed through the house like an explosion.  I remember I had my bedroom door closed and occasionally I could hear her walk to and from past my door throughout the afternoon doing whatever she was doing.

 

“STACEY!”

 

I opened my door and walked out into the hall.  Literally having no idea what was wrong I looked in the kitchen and the living room for her,  but she wasn’t there.

“Mommy?  where are you?”   I stood there silently waiting for her reply
“I. AM. IN. YOUR. BATHROOM!”

Oh.. ok.     I continued down the hall towards the bathroom still wondering why she was so worked up.   Mom was sort of a drama queen and did tend to overreact at times so it could be anything.    Still, I hadn’t done anything wrong (in fact, in my mind I was a hero that day!)  so the sound and tone of her voice didn’t  jar me one bit ….  until I peeked around the corner into the bathroom.

 

Now,  they say that when you are young and learn things for the first time,  life experiences tend to help things ‘stick’ in your mind more.  Stuff like ‘don’t touch one of the stove burners while they are hot’… burn yourself once and you never do it again.    ‘don’t pick up a bee with your bare hands to get a closer look’…. you’ll get stung.   The lesson I learned today was this:

Snails can get out of a bucket.  snails can also get out of a bathtub with a sliding glass door.   They do not climb, they do not hop and they do not fly… they slime themselves out of the bucket, across the tub and up the wall.

What my mother saw when she walked into the bathroom I am surprised she didn’t pass out.  There were snails everywhere… EVERYWHERE~  on the walls, ceiling, all across the room.   Their slimy trails decorating behind them in zig zag patterns…. all over the white walls.

 

“What the HELL is this?!”

 

I looked around the room still confused at what I was looking at.   huh… I didn’t think they could do that.   I think all I was trying to ponder was why did I find so many on the ground if they could go wherever they wanted by sliming themselves around like that.  Maybe there was more up in the trees I could find later.!

 

“LOOK AT THIS GODDAMN MESS!”

 

Oops.. mom cussed but only mild cuss words.   She would say damnit, and hell the most  (never, ever the brown word or the dreaded f word)   She still would make those 2 mild words just as lethal sounding by the way she pronounced them.     By that time I finally started weighing in on the severity of this situation.   She walked out of the bathroom and I followed behind her.   Stopping for a second she doubled back to the bathroom and slammed the door shut muttering something about how she didn’t want the snails to get out any further.   I continued to follow her into the kitchen explaining the whole situation from my innocent point of view.   I told her about the very important job daddy had given me and how I was going to make a lot of money off of those snails and I didn’t want them left outside where they could crawl out so I brought them in to the bathroom where they would be safe.    Mom waved her hand in front of her face as if to tell me she had heard enough..  with a huge sigh she sat down on her white ‘telephone talking’ stool, picked up the phone and dialed a number.    I sat down at the kitchen table and watched her,  still trying to process the fact that I had done something wrong rather than something completely amazingly awesome.

“Cindi,  do you want to hear what your little sister just did?”

She had called my sister.   Uh oh…   I sat silently and listened to her recant the whole story from when she walked in and found the snails right up to my version of why I had done what I did.   When she was done talking she was silent for a few minutes,  then said “Ok.. I will talk to you later after Frank gets home”   and hung up the phone.

“Mommy, I wanted to say hi to Sissy!”    Really bummed out that she had hung up the phone before I was able to talk to her.    Mom did another deep, heavy sigh and looked over at me sitting at the kitchen table.

“Oh,  she couldn’t talk…. she was laughing too hard”

Mom spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up the bathroom walls.   I asked her once if I could help but she replied that I had done enough and to go do something else in my room.  I didn’t argue…

Later on that evening when my father came home I am sure mom unloaded on him.   I think I hid in my room until after that exchange was done, unsure of what would happen.   A few times up until he got home I went to my room and cried finally realizing how badly I had screwed up.  All I wanted to do was make my daddy happy and make a few bucks on the side!   Would he be mad at me?   Would he never ask me for help again?  Was I a huge disappointment?

Dad came into my room and sat down on my bed.    Now was the moment if he was going to yell at me it was going to happen.   I looked at him and couldn’t even think of what to say.. so I waited for him to say the first word.

“Well now, your mother told me what happened today….”

Uh huh…   I looked down at my feet and was waiting for him to react the way mom had.  Imagine my surprise when I looked back up at him and he was smiling.

“I guess now we learned something new today about snails!”   he said with a smirk.

He wasn’t mad at all!    He knew my intentions were well meaning and I wasn’t in trouble!   That’s all I was worried about the whole day was disappointing my dad.     He probably sat quietly while my mom yelled and screamed about his ‘stupid’ idea to have me collect snails,  then when she was through he came in to make sure I was okay.   My father the hero!   I never gave him enough credit for being the one who understood me the most.

That night he took me to 31 Flavors ice cream for a cone.   We would do that occasionally and walk up and down the little strip mall looking in all the windows of the businesses while we ate our ice cream.  I don’t think we talked at all about the snails but this was his way of telling me that everything was going to be okay.    Dad still gave me occasional mini jobs to make a little money,  but they never EVER again involved snails!

The above story became a tradition of sorts  to recant at holiday gatherings,  to visiting friends (and my boyfriends), and basically to anyone that would listen when the mood struck my mother or sister.   Cindi had told me years later that it was one of her favorite stories to tell people.     Her little sister that painted the bathroom walls and ceiling with snail slime.   Yep,  that’s me!

 

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Tigger!

Finally got around to scanning a bunch of pictures so this blog is back in business!    I found a picture of my childhood pet turned mom’s best friend and there he is in all his fluffy orange’ness.     And look what is in the picture with him!  I thought that was a classic find!   I’m going to guess that Tigger had just entered his senior years in this picture.  When he got older he knew that he wasn’t supposed to get up on the furniture just like this dining room table, but he didn’t care…  my cat,  the honey badger!  Tigger

It’s never like when you’re young…

I’m a real baby when I’m sick or injured.   When I was young and I was sick my mom waited on me hand and foot.    I was set up in my room comfortably in my bed,  the small TV from the kitchen moved into my room so I could watch it between naps.    Mom would bring the TV tray in and set it next to my bed with either soup, crackers, 7-up or whatever else I ask for (no milk products during a fever though!  I learned that the hard way!)   She had my medication schedule timed to the exact second in her head so if I needed that dose of Amoxicillin you can bet I would get it every 12 hours.   Bottom line,  my mom went into full on mama bear mode when I was sick.   She always knew how to make me feel better whether it be her doting over me or coming in to check on me several times a day.  When I had surgery for a dislocated shoulder I remember she brushed my hair and tied it back into a pony tail twice a day so it wouldn’t get tangled.   I was stricken with Chicken pox during the time of my Kindergarten graduation (hey, to a little kid that is a HUGE deal!) and I cried for days that I couldn’t attend.  Mom would sit and comfort me while she put dabs of pink Calandryl lotion all over the spots.    She didn’t rub it in like, say suntan lotion.. nope, she covered each spot!   Oh, and every day that I was out of school she packed my lunch box just like normal so I could eat it during what would be lunchtime at school.  Little things like that make a huge difference,  especially for a little kid.  It was such a warm and safe feeling having your mom care for you like that,  God I loved that.   Even a few years after I moved out and was living in Lake Tahoe I came down with a horrible flu while housesitting for one of my grooming clients and the first thing I did was call my mom.  It was instinct… and just by hearing her voice and having her tell me what to do to take care of myself it always helped.  Kind of like a warm hug from my mom even though she was miles away.  (with the flu,  she would put a semi flat glass of 7-up in another room and I would get up occasionally to walk into that room for a sip.   She felt that moving around a little bit along with tiny sips of flat 7-up was the key to helping the pukies.  I never questioned it,  and for me, it worked!)  I remember laying there in that strange home shivering from a fever with the phone pressed to my ear talking with my mom.  She made it all better just by being her.

I believe she instilled a bit of her mothering techniques into me when my loved ones are sick.  When my ex was on the cusp of dying from cancer I did the same thing for him that my mom did for me.  Same with my husband,  minus the cancer part…    it was the way I was raised,  mom taught me how to mama bear just like she did right down to the internal medication timer.  My mom rocked!

I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t hit me kind of hard the first time I got sick and I wasn’t treated the way I was when I was home with my mom.  It just felt like a natural thing:  You’re sick+ you get taken of =  you get better faster.  I learned that not everyone was raised in the same way and it has taken me a long time to accept and understand that.    The first time I was sick life went on as usual.  I stayed home from work and slept through my medication time.  Later on that evening I was asked what I was making for dinner that night.   What?   But I’m sick!  There was no flat 7-up, propped up pillows or doting.    I admit, I felt insulted at first, but its irrational to be angry..   Everyone is raised differently and who am I to complain when someone doesn’t make a fuss over me even though I’m sick?   I can’t help but secretly wish I still had that kind of care.    In fact, every time I still get sick or hurt to this day I hope that somehow, someone would bring me soup or tuck the blankets around my feet or let me sleep without waking me up several times to let the dogs out or show them the ‘proper way’  how to microwave food.  (ugh)  Even though I’m sick the animals still have to be fed,  laundry has to be done and the house cleaning has to be kept up on.  Otherwise getting sick puts me back weeks in chores (and also gives me 5 angry hungry animals to appease)

Those days of being young and having my mom there to take care of me are long gone….  😦    Someday I hope I see her again so I can thank her.

VPOTD 8 February 2015- 40 year old handmade Valentine

We’ve all made one at least once in our kindergarten/elementary school years.   It’s sort of a right of passage as a kid.   I made this in Kindergarten and I must say it isn’t too shabby with how old it is.   I remember in school they always sent us home proudly with projects like glued on spray painted silver macaroni pictures,  shrink e dinks and lots and lots of clay figures.   My parents kept them all .. ALL.     You wouldn’t believe what I’ve found so far,  but since it’s almost Valentine’s day this will be the first one in my collection..  so here it is..

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Gotta love that super groovy giant ruled paper that kindergartners were given to write on in order to stay within the lines.

VPOTD 20 January 2015

Lion Country Safari.    Long since extinct from Southern California but it stood proudly in Irvine for 14 years before it finally closed to make way for a water park.  I was soooo young back then but I do remember vaguely sitting in a hot car riding with my parents as they tried to point out lions and tigers in the distance.  I never remembered the animals being like the ones in the brochure.   They were always sleeping soundly underneath shade somewhere in the distance.   Maybe that’s why they eventually shut down,  too many people getting out of their cars in search of their photo op with the Bengal tiger or elephant with baby.    Wouldn’t surprise me at all!

So, the history about this picture is that is my mom and sister.    My mom’s hair was pretty wild back then but from what I remember that was the in style.  If you watch any of those vintage ‘Match Game’ episodes on GSN from the mid to late 70’s just about every woman that comes on there has a high hairdo.  I know mom Aqua Netted her hair practically to death.    I never related that smell as hair spray,  it was more ‘mom smells’ since she used it so much.   On this day my dad and I had taken a separate jeep in front of them and we were waiting for my mom and sister to catch up.   As soon as they came out of the tunnel behind them mom threw up her pointing finger as if to say “oh no you AREN’T taking my picture!”    *click*   Dad went rogue and snapped a picture anyway.. hence this funny moment 🙂    Mom was always pretty hyper critical of my dad.   She loved to pick at him when people were around as sort of an attention seeking joke.   I didn’t realize it was wrong or that it really affected me until I caught myself doing it to my husband.   I can proudly say that once I figured that out I never did it again,   kids are sponges.. they soak in anything they see.     But back on topic.. this picture was taken at Lion Country Safari sometime in the 70’s and much to my mother’s dismay judging by the look on her face.   hah.. poor mom 🙂  at least my sister is smiling.

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V(sort of) POTD 11 January 2015

This picture is a great example of why pictures are taken in the first place.   To stop time at a moment that you want to look back someday on and remember.   That’s me in the red and white silly sailor looking top and horrifying bangs.   I am going to guess it was in the 1980-1983 timeframe.  Next to me is my mom and my cousin Jane.    We used to drive to Jane’s farm in Fresno.  It wasn’t that far of a trip,  but to a kid sitting in the car even for a few hours it seemed like we were traveling to another world.    Going there was my first taste of ‘country’ life. I remember climbing all over their farming equipment and once finding a tiny lone homeless kitten in their barn.   It was hotter in Fresno than it was in Los Angeles so I remember fussing to my parents about that (like they had any control of the weather)  I also remember there being a long running family joke about Jane’s husband Floyd loving ketchup so much he put it on everything.   At dinner there would always be a comment like “Where’s your giant bottle of ketchup, Floyd?”   Isn’t it odd what things you remember back when you were a kid?   Small trivial things,  but I don’t remember this picture being taken.   I wish I had.

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We were all obviously sharing a laugh.   Mom was always the jokester in the family, she would come up with the funniest things to say at a moment’s notice  (I think I inherited that from her).    No doubt mom had just said something that made Jane and I laugh,  although I have a creepy smirk on my face.   Ugh, that hairstyle!     It’s a piece of time I’m glad that is preserved in a photo to look back on.  It is nice to see my mom laughing.   She’s been gone now 17 years in March and I like to think I still remember what her voice sounded like.   Over time though, I’m so afraid of that fading from my memory.   In this picture though the sound of her laugh comes through clearly just by looking at it.

I cherish that,   but not my choices of hair and clothing back then.

My dad, the tooth fairy

I have fond memories of my father and at the same time I had not so fond memories of him.   Growing up he was my daddy.   We played chess together,   watched Bonanza and Star Trek on the weekends,  I’d hang out in the garage with him while he worked on his ‘man projects’ fixing radios and restoring antique furniture.   He’d take my friends and I to see The Fox and the Hound at the movies,  and took me and a pack of friends to Disneyland for my Birthday.   Pretty much I was a spoiled little brat who got whatever she wanted.    I quickly learned the art of pitting my parents against one another to ensure I got what I wanted.  That caused many arguments between them and eventually they divorced.   I KNOW for a fact that they were unhappy way before I started my little drama llama princess act,  but I never thought in a million years that he’d ever leave.    I’m getting way ahead of myself though… that story is for another day when I have enough time and the nerve to put all of that out in writing.  It’s something I need to come to terms with,  just not today.   What I’d like to do is share happy memories about him,  and eventually lead up to what happened afterwards.  It helps me sort it out correctly in my mind this way.  Besides, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t more happy memories than not.
When I started losing my baby teeth at first it terrified me.  Nobody bothered to tell me that I had a new set of adult teeth ready to come in when my baby teeth would loosen up and fall out.  Details aren’t that specific in my memories but I remember being able to wiggle a tooth with my tongue and totally panicking.  When it finally came out I was told about the tooth fairy and how, if you put it under your pillow at night she will come collect the tooth and leave a dollar.    Did any kid ever question this?   I know I didn’t,  all I cared about was I was going to get money for my tooth.    So I put my precious tooth in an envelope and sealed it up.     Now I’m not sure if it was suggested to me to write something to her on the envelope or if I came up with that idea on my own,  but I wrote a little note to her on the back of the envelope.   The writing has since faded so badly  since it was written in pencil but the jist of what I said was ‘here is my tooth,  no cavities.  I bet you are pritty (sp)”   That night when I put it under my pillow I was so excited to see what I was going to get,  and if she would respond.

She did…

Letter from the Tooth Fairy

Letter from the Tooth Fairy

I found the little jar containing my baby teeth along with these letters years later.   He had kept them all.   My letters to Santa, the Easter bunny and the Tooth Fairy (or “TF” as she sometimes signed her letters.)  Every single letter was kept together in a stack held together by an old rubber band.    He took his duties very seriously at being my dad,  of course looking back on it now I wasn’t nearly as appreciative at having a father so devoted like I did.    At least now I can show anyone that reads this how wonderful he was,  I hope wherever he is right now can see that.