The Cranky Ol' Bat

Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death! - RuPaul


Happy New Year! Didya Miss The Party?

Well...for all of you who, like me, just couldn't get it together to party on New Year's (ed. note ~ in "Mel-boring"? Are you #$%&-ing kidding me?), fear not. You can still party like it's 4705!

That's right, baby.....Chinese New Year is coming up on February 18th! Even I can get it together in time for that celebration!

As we say on the lovely and talented Space Coast, Gung Hay Fat Choy, y'all! And since it is the year of the pig, I think we are going to feast on some wonderful pork products.....

But first, just for fun....were you born under the correct Chinese sign?

You Were Actually Born Under:
Your most comfortable inside your head - and often daydream the day away.
You have an artistic temperament that makes you seem creative to some, eccentric to others.
You avoid conflict at all costs, and you have a difficult time with relationships.
Attractive and with good manners, you tend to shine in social situations.

You are most compatible with a Pig or Rabbit.
You Should Have Been Born Under:

Full of spunk, you are the original party animal.
You bring fun, activity, and stimulation to any event.
Self-control is not one of your strong points; you have been known to over indulge.
Cheerful and energetic, you can turn the most boring thing into something fun.

You are most compatible with a Rat or Dragon.



I am getting less and less keen on all this holiday stuff. It's gotten too damn complicated....and that's just in my family and friends.

My sister in law is a pagan who practices....I dunno what she calls it. Nature worship, I think. It involves a lot of herbal crap, I know that much. I think her big holiday is the Solstice. How she observes it is something I'm not quite clear on, but I'm pretty sure candles are involved. Possibly some Celtic chanting. And of course, herbal crap.

WHY I HATE IT: I can sometimes barely get all my shopping done by the 25th, or by the cutoff for shipping to arrive before the 25th. Now I have to get it done four days earlier. @#$%!!!!! (That's Celtic for "excrement".)

My brother is an atheist. This year. Heaven only knows what he's going to be next year. Maybe reform Buddhist. He usually celebrates Festivus. Festivus is great since it's theoretically anti-commercial, but now you can get greeting cards for it, so that's debatable.

WHY I HATE IT: My brother vehemently denies the existence of God and the materialism of Christmas, yet expects a present on the 25th and doesn't confine his "airing of grievances" to just one day. Plus....I bet he secretly puts up an artificial metal pole (silver spray painted PVC pipe), but my sister in law won't confirm it.

One of my best friends is Jewish, so I have to shop for Chanukah. Any holiday that encourages the eating of latkes and donuts is fine by me! (If it wasn't for the "no bacon" rule, I could happily be Jewish.) But trying to find Chanukah wrapping paper or other supplies can be a real bitch sometimes. Luckily I live in one of the more Jewish areas of the country now, so it's easier and the selection is better.

WHY I HATE IT: Ok, I don't really hate it. I love her to death, but the fact that Chanukah jumps around every freakin' year is a pain in the ass. Some years I can hit the after Christmas sales and get smoking deals for her, other years, nope....full retail. And I gotta shop and send it early those years, too!

Me & the hubby celebrate Christmas.

WHY I HATE IT: If I hear one more freakin' escapee from the Arctic north bitch and moan about "it doesn't feel like Christmas without snow", I'm going postal. I used to enjoy the blank stares when I would confront particularly annoying idiots with a "what the @#$% kind of weather do you think Bethlehem is having, you @#$%?" when I lived in Phoenix. After all, the climate is similar. But it's harder here in the swamp. Besides, it seems that half of these whiners are from Noo Yawk or Noo Joisey.....and not a single one of them remembered to bring along decent pizza. Wankers, every one of 'em!

Kwanzaa starts the day of Christmas. Or the day after it. I'm not sure. But I really enjoy wishing my pale buddies "Happy Kwanzaa!", just because I'm more than a little insane. I'm sure that my friends, the "Brave Ebony Warrior" and "Ethiopian Princess", enjoy their annual email greetings from their friend, the "Nubian Nut".

Any holiday with a Swahili greeting of "Habari Gani!" (loosely translated as, "What up?") can't be all bad.

WHY I HATE IT: Ok, I don't really hate this holiday either. But the candelabra thingy is a blatant rip off of Chanukah. Yeah, I know....different colored candles and all that. Tell me with a straight face that you didn't think of Chanukah the first time you saw that thingy....whatever it's called. Plus all this "traditional African holiday" crap is just that, crap. It was celebrated for the first time in....are you ready?.....California. 1966.

I'm sure there's some Muslim holiday going on now, too. I think it's called Eid. All I know is the guvmint sells stamps for your Eid greetings right now. I guess it officially made the big time if they are selling commemorative stamps. I was hoping they might use one of the cartoons from Denmark on them, joy for me. Damn.

WHY I HATE IT: General principles, plus I'm not keen on any religion that won't let me walk around half nekkid, insist on being treated as a man's equal, drink beer and eat BBQ pork. I'll give up one, maybe two on a special holiday, but not all four. No way, no how.

I'm sure I missed out on mentioning some Shinto day of joy, or some festival the Australian aborigines are observing. Sorry.

Look on the bright side. At least I didn't offend you in this missive.

Ah, hell. Got to get to the post office before it closes. It should be fun standing in line with the Tsarevich this year. Oh, yeah....I'll give him some eats and a clean nappy first, just to be on the safe side.

In case my cards and packages are late.....Happy Whatever. May it be peaceful, may you be surrounded by the ones you love, and may you have plenty of delectable holiday goodies to share. Remember that at this time of year, they are all calorie free. Seriously. It's part of the holiday magic we all treasure.

Take care and best of everything, no matter what you celebrate.


Santa Is A Jerk!

Remember those old animated Rankin-Bass Christmas specials from back in the late 60's-70's? I was thinking about when Joey will finally be big enough to watch them with me, but first....go get Mommy a beer!! and enjoy the stories.

Anyway, I saw this and it states one thing I always thought about "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer", but in much politer terms.....that is, someone definitely needs an ass-kicking in that story, and it ain't Rudolph.

It never was a mystery to me why that one little elf wanted to be a dentist. Halitosis wouldn't be so bad as workin' for Da Christmas Man.


UPDATE: No, I am not going to send my little boy on a beer run. Geez. I'll just teach him how to operate the blender so Mommy can have her frosty margaritas.

ANOTHER UPDATE: You do realize I'm joking, right???


Pick a Card, Any Card.....

Did I ever tell youse guys that I used to read Tarot cards for fun & amusement? No? Well....I did. Great party trick, I must say. I wasn't half bad at it, either. I didn't manage to pick up any hot guys with it, but there were quite a few people who said, "Wow, you can tell that about me from the cards?"

Erm, yeah.

Actually, there was a few lines that you could pretty much say to anyone and they would fit. Things like "you sometimes feel feel like you have to act one way in public that totally contradicts how you feel in private.....your teenage years were feel the opposite sex is a mystery you will never completely understand.....". Sure, some of the cards "meant" something or other, but if you went totally general and tailored the answer to reflect their feedback, you could get "amazing" results.

Coming from a long line of con artists and bullshitters par excellence probably helps, too.

The card below was never one that I picked to represent myself in a reading (I was taught that you normally use one of the "face" cards in the Minor Arcana, or "suits", not one of the Major Arcana ones to represent yourself. It smacks of egotism, especially if you chose something like "The High Priestess" or "Death". Yeah, riiiiiight, buddy!)

That being said, I always did like this card. I've depended on unexpected help coming at my hour of need throughout my entire life.... ;)

You are The Star

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Star is one of the great cards of faith, dreams realised

The Star is a card that looks to the future. It does not predict any immediate or powerful change, but it does predict hope and healing. This card suggests clarity of vision, spiritual insight. And, most importantly, that unexpected help will be coming, with water to quench your thirst, with a guiding light to the future. They might say you're a dreamer, but you're not the only one.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Hat tip to Suzanne for this one.

Check out the link and see what comes up for you. Oh, and don't forget....if you do, tell me if you think it accurately depicts who you are or not.

Especially if you get "The High Priestess" or "Death". (BTW, Death is not a bad card in the Tarot deck. There truly are no bad cards in the deck, regardless of what someone tells you. Anyone who says they can "predict your death through the cards" is full of it, but you knew that already, didn't you? I mean, if it were possible, tarot card readers should be able to see it coming and make necessary arrangements, right? So if it comes up, be sure to share. Chances are it is NOT predicting your imminent demise. Honestly. Any decent card reader could tell you that.)

But the two of pentacles, however......that card.......well, oh, means.....if I were you.....

gotcha!! ;)


I'm the World's Worst Mommy.....And I'm Surprisingly OK With That

Yup, you read that right.

I've only been doing my new gig for a little over six weeks. I have since found out that I have done irreparable damage to Joey in so many different ways, it's amazing he still breathes without assistance....and has even thrived.

A modern freakin' miracle, lemme tell ya....

What has the poor child endured, you ask?

Let's start from the beginning.

1) I had him via cesarean section. I get a marginal pass on that one, since it turned out I would have needed an emergency one anyway. Joey's cord was going to be delivered before he was if I had insisted on going for a normal birth. That was a recent development that didn't show up on my last ultrasound, and something the doctor only found out about once he cut me open. My reason (eighteen hours of labor, stalled progress, possible stuck shoulder leading to potential paralysis for the rest of his life in said shoulder, and a very large baby at 10 lbs, 2 oz.) still doesn't cut it with some birth nazis.

2) I actually used the term "birth nazi" when I couldn't stand how this one broad was pontificating about how anesthesia during childbirth was a crutch and there was no real reason for epidurals.

Me and my mouth dug that hole even deeper when I stated that once we started having "natural tooth extractions" or "natural appendectomies" I'd reconsider my position that the whole no-anesthesia shtick is just misogynistic crap perpetrated by some misguided male physicians and self-hating women. (Ever notice how all the "natural childbirth" philosophies were started by men? Lamaze, Bradley, Dick-Read....all men. After all, childbirth has been painless for men for centuries.....)

At least I put a sock in it before I blurted "Why the hell didn't you just squat in a field then, instead of forcing other women to hear you scream while they were giving birth? You think we wanted to hear a complete stranger screech for hours down the hallway, honey? Listening to that howling sure wasn't part of my birth plan." The birth nazi was ready to kill me as it was. No need to spike the ball.

3) Oh yeah, my birth plan. That's a good one.

For those of you who are birthin' virgins, a birth plan is where you plot out how you are going to bring your kid into the world. You specify who will be allowed in the room, if it's going to be immortalized on video, and what drugs, if any, you want available. It seems like a lot of them involve scented candles, soft music, and lights turned down low. Kinda like a seduction scene, only no booze (dammit!!), and the nudity involved isn't particularily erotic.

My birth plan didn't involve any of that. I knew damn well that I really wasn't in control of the circumstances. Whether it was going to be easy or difficult would be impossible to predict. So my birth plan went something like this:

I go to the hospital. I bug the crap out of everyone by asking anyone within earshot for an epidural the minute I walk in the door. Receptionists, food delivery people, other expectant parents checking in, janitors who don't speak English, nurses....I beg them all for blessed relief. Finally they have enough of me and arrange to get me the good stuff to shut me up. I consider naming my son after the anesthesiologist if he gets there in a reasonable amount of time. I deliver the kid....somehow. Maybe vaginally, maybe c-section, could be out my damn ear for all I know. I leave a few days later with the most beautiful baby boy ever born in Florida.

Unlike the scented candle crowd, I fulfilled my birth plan completely. (Candles aren't allowed in the hazard. Oops.)

4) I apparently have doomed my son for years of embarrassment in the showers at high school by not circumcising him. I don't know, but the idea of whacking off part of his anatomy without anesthesia didn't appeal to me much. And yes, with the set of lungs this kid has, I would have known exactly when it was happening. Hell, I could hear it when the nurses changed his diaper and I was still coming out of the anesthesia for my c-section. That was bad enough.

I might have reconsidered for religious reasons if we were Jewish. But even though our last name sounds Jewish, we're not. So with that reason gone, we decided to go with the American Association of Pediatricians recommendations and skip it.

Besides, if he wants it done later, I'd rather that he would be old enough to say if he needed more anesthesia, thankyouverymuch.

What the hell are guys doing staring at each other's schlongs in the shower, anyway??? Ewwww!!

5) He has had formula. Quite a bit of it. He will have more in the future.

To some women (usually the birth nazi type), this is tantamount to child abuse. Yet my son wasn't gaining enough weight until I supplemented. Go figure.

6) After determining that I can't make enough milk to breastfeed only, I've decided to look upon breastmilk as an appetizer or dessert for the little mite. Yes, I've tried everything including fenugreek (it made me smell like an IHOP), mother's milk tea (I hate licorice-tasting crap like anise, but I'd still probably be drinking it if it didn't give me horrible stomach cramps that made me crawl to the bathroom....not a good thing when you are recovering from a c-section), and oatmeal. At least the oatmeal didn't taste horrible, especially with a smidgeon of strawberry jam. I've tried all the miracle cures, but nothing has helped increase the supply. I'm at peace with the fact that I cannot be a walking milk bar.

Otherwise, to be honest, I'd have given up weeks ago. Let's face it. It's boring and hurts like hell. The minute Joey sprouts teeth and bites me is the minute I quit doing it. I am not going to be one of those women who breastfeed for four years. No way, no how.

7) I didn't save his cord blood in case he gets a horrible disease sometime in the future. I decided to spend that money (approximately $1500 to start, with about $100 to $200 in annual storage fees thereafter) for his college savings instead.

8) I don't use cloth diapers. I'd consider it if there was a diaper service in Brevard County, but I can't stomach the idea of washing them out myself. Trust me, there have been some of them that could only be described as "unholy". Thank God I could toss 'em and not have to see them ever again once they go to the diaper pail.

and finally

9) I'm vaccinating my child. He's getting all his shots. Hell, I'd arrange to get him the ones for yellow fever and cholera if I could. Hemmorhagic fever? Sure! Bring it on! If there was one for ebola, he'd be poked for that, too. My family has wandered the globe even before there was a term like "the Jet Set". I don't know where this little guy will wander, but I sure as hell don't want him picking up evil microbes if it can be avoided.

I don't buy all this "vaccinations cause autism" crap. If it was true, then why have the rates of autism continued to go up even after they've taken thimerosal (a mercury-based preservative that theoretically causes autism to this conspiracy crowd) out of the shots in the mid-90's? Could it be better diagnosis, like in the case of ADD? Funny, but I never see anyone claiming that vaccinations cause ADD like they supposedly cause autism, and rates of both have skyrocketed. Hmmm.

As long as there are a bunch of people running around leaving their kids vulnerable to things like whooping cough, measles and mumps, you bet I'm getting Joey poked. A tiny little shot that makes him (ok, me too, when I see him screech in pain) cry for five minutes is better than a vigil at his bedside hoping that he doesn't get some of the nasty aftermath of the above diseases....especially when he didn't have to go through the infection in the first place.

What's worse is that virtually all of those diseases are preventable with a tiny little stick. I don't understand how some people still can risk their children's health that way.

All three of those diseases I mentioned are on the upswing. With the amount of world travel that we take for granted, are you really that sure that we couldn't have a possible polio outbreak, for example? Talk to the Saudis about that....they had one during the hajj. People from literally every part of the planet participate in that, and then fly home. We didn't get an outbreak, but Nigeria did. Some of their "enlightened religious leaders" counseled against vaccinations for boys because they thought they were part of a cunning Jewish plot to make Muslims impotent. I kid you not.

I guess they didn't get the autism memo....

There you have them. Nine instances of bad parenting, depending on who's doing the critique.

Yet, Joey is growing bigger. He's in his 3 month clothes already, with the occasional sneak into the 6 month clothing stash. He's even given me a sweet, toothless smile on occasion, and has babbled excitedly at me. Ok, he's had longer conversations with Mr Bear, but he's still tried to include me in his attempts to talk.

He's even raised his big ol' heavy head to look deeply into my eyes....right before he ripped out a huge belch that startled the dog. It could have been worse. He farted himself awake once and the resulting gas chased his Daddy out of the bedroom. Joey spared me that one.....I guess it was one of those male bonding things I'll never understand.

I'm sure that soon enough he'll let me know just how horrible I am at this whole mommy business. It will probably be around the time that he can fit into the Superman footie jammies (with detachable cape!) that I got him last week instead of the "Beethoven for Baby Geniuses" CD all the good mommies got their little dumplings. I'll give him a time out or a swat on the butt, and he will formally dub me "The Worst Mommy in the World".

Good thing he won't know the half of it, right?


Public Notice of Eviction for Joseph Michael....

Baby eviction notice: I am issuing a one week notice for EVICTION. Tenant will have seven days in which he can either gather his belongings and promptly vacate the premises, or wait until the final day. After which, he will be physically removed from the property.

The tenant is being evicted due to breech of contract and destruction of property. Expansions only to the FRONT of the house, within reasonable limits, were discussed. Not only have these limits been exceeded, but additions to the back of the house were also made. Remodeling and gutting of the home was never approved, nor was changing the initial layout and base structure. And due to property damage, there are now leaks in both the upper and lower levels of the home. On top of which, the landlord has received numerous camplaints about nightly disturbances.

After seven days from this day, if tenant doesn't comply with this the notice, it will result in immediate and forceful removal at my discretion.

Yes, it's official. If Joey doesn't git out voluntarily by 28 September at 4 PM EST, a very determined bald man of my acquaintance will make him leave, one way or the other.

Not sure I'm really ready for this, but it's too late now.

Will post pictures of the "evictee" when I can.


Welcome to Holland

No, I didn't come up with this. Another lady, the mother of a little boy with Downs Syndrome, did a while back. I remember reading it in Readers' Digest a long time ago.

Maybe you've read it too, a while back. I'm reprinting it here, now.

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Thank you, Emily Perl Kingsley, wherever you are.

I'm an Aunt! For Real This Time!

That's the good news.....and I'm proud to announce the birth of the most beautiful little girl in our family since 1967.....hat tip to Alena Joyce, born 9/6/06 in Scottsdale, Arizona around 1 pm.

Then there is the not-so-good news.

She's in the NICU. The doctors are 90 percent certain that she has Downs Syndrome.

I wish more than anything that I could be there with Alena, her mother Mary, and my brother George right now. I know there is not one damn thing I could do for any of them, but being stuck here, unable to travel, makes me and the Tsar feel so helpless.

I could hear my brother's heart breaking from thousands of miles away as he told me the news. And there wasn't one damn thing I could do or say to make it better. For the first time in my life, I really feel like I have somehow failed on my promise to always watch out for him that I made back when I was nineteen at the side of my mother's hospital bed (and repeated at my father's side when I was twenty-five).

I have never before greeted the birth of a child with such a mix of joy and tears like I have right now. The thing is, all of us thought if any child were likely to be born with this condition, it would be our Joey, since I'm well into my thirties and at the age where doctors "strongly encourage" amnios. Alena's mom is only 19, so the doctors pretty much decided that based on her age alone, there was only about a 1 in 5000 chance.

Looks like Alena is that 1 in 5000.

This was completely unexpected. Of all the different things any of us thought would happen, no way did we anticipate this. What her future will be is a mystery. The dreams and hopes we had for her will have to change.

There are a few things, however, very positive things, I do know right now.

I won't be convinced otherwise that little Alena doesn't have two special guardian angels who will be with her always. One's a cranky former Lithuanian airplane mechanic, the second's a irritable former Slovenian airline ticket agent. I'm not sure they could stand each other in life.

They wouldn't be anywhere else now but at the side of their first grandchild, a beautiful little girl blessed with dark hair and blue eyes, named after her great-grandmother.

Most of all, there is no possibility that there is another child in Arizona who could possibly be more fiercely loved and cherished tonight than Alena Joyce.

Welcome to the world, precious little girl, from a loving aunt and proud uncle who can't wait to meet you someday soon.

UPDATE: Alena has a heart defect. She was born without a pulmonary valve. The doctors have given her medication to keep a blood vessel open between her pulmonary artery and her aorta to help keep her stable until they can determine what surgical options they have for her. A pediatric cardiologist at Phoenix Children's Hospital will make the determination soon.

I've been staying up looking up "pulmonary atresia" (the name of her condition) on the web, and the good news is it looks like it generally can be treated successfully. Maybe my favorite little girl just caught a break today. I sure hope so.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ok, I've had some time to do some research on the 'net about Downs Syndrome. I now feel fully qualified to make the following assumptions about Alena and her future.

(Ahem! Had to clear my throat there.)

1. She already is smarter than Cameron Diaz and Jessica Simpson. Combined.
2. When she does learn to talk, she will be far more articulate than Paula Abdul critiquing an American Idol contestant.
3. She'll have more sense than to dress skanky like Christina Aguilera.
4. If she decides to take up acting, no way could she possibly be as bad as Paris Hilton or Mariah Carey.
5. She'll be intelligent enough to know that Kevin Federline is not marriage material.
6. She'll probably never jump on a couch again after the age of seven, unlike Tom Cruise.
7. She'll never show up on the daytime talk shows with ten guys trying to figure out who is the "babydaddy".

I'm not going to deny that she will have a more challenging life. That's for certain. But at least she'll never embarrass the family in those seven ways....and for that, I'll be eternally grateful.