When It’s Time To Trade In The Lamborghini

As I drove the children to work this morning, we went past a never-opened barbecue joint, same as every morning. I don’t know the story behind it. Just that it’s an old building that had been in disrepair until 5 or 6 years ago, when someone fixed it up. It got a fresh coat of white paint with red accents. It started looking like a 50’s style diner. Then a sign went up announcing it to be “Pit Stop BBQ”. Only, it never opened. It has sat there vacant ever since.

We drove by and my 11-year-old son announced, “I love that barbecue place. I’m going to buy it one day. It’s a cool building.”

“Yep,” I said, “It’s a pretty cool building. But it’s not in the best part of town nor is it centrally located. You’d have to make sure you sold really good barbecue to get people to come to it. The best barbecue is often sold in little run-down buildings in not-so-good areas by an old black man that’s been making it for 50 years and is really good at it.”

I paused and thought about what I’d just said.

“I guess he doesn’t have to be black. It just adds to the panache. Your Poppy has eaten at a lot of different barbecue places and taken notes and done research. I think he says the best tend to be rundown places…”

We talked some more about what Poppy thought made a good barbecue place and why that might be. We compared his love of barbecue to our pastor’s and how their opinions might differ. The conversation continued in that vein until we dropped my daughter off at the middle school.

We pulled away and Daryl resumed his dream of owning Pit Stop BBQ.

“It’s going to be so cool! I’m going to put up a disco ball and we are going to paaaarrrrttttyyy!”

I laughed. “Not sure it’s big enough for a disco ball, honey.”

“True,” he said. “It’s a small building. I’ll just have to build a cellar then. One that goes under the whole town!”

“Basements are typically built before the building that they are under.”

“Oh. Okay.”

He paused.

“How much do you think that building would cost?”

“Oh, I don’t know much about real estate prices, honey. It’s not in the best part of town but the building looks like it’s in pretty good shape and it’s on a main road. I don’t know. You could maybe get it for 40 to 50 thousand, maybe?”

“40 or 50 thousand?! That much?!”

“Could be more. Who knows. You might be able to get it for less if there’s a lot wrong with the building. But if there’s a lot wrong with the building, you’ll spend a lot of money fixing it up.”

“But it’s a tiny building!”

“It’s commercial real estate, honey.”

“Well, I wouldn’t be using it as commercial. I can only cook eggs and that’s not even a full breakfast…”

“And I could only work there a couple of hours a day,” he added, thinking, I’m sure, of his full-time occupation as a fifth grade student.

“Wait!” he brightened up. “I wouldn’t be working there. I’d be the owner.”

I laughed. “Honey, the owners of small, newly opened restaurants typically work very, very long hours at their business. They don’t make enough money to hire someone else to do the work.”

“Oh.”

Another pause.

“Ooh! I love that brick house!” he crooned as we drove past an old red brick house on the main road. “I’m going to buy that too.”

“Ok.”

“How much do you think that would cost?”

“A lot more,” I responded. “That’s got to cost at least a hundred grand. Probably more.”

“A hundred grand!”

“At least.”

“Oh, ok. I’ll just trade in my Lamborghini for it.”

Go for it, dear.

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Cold Days, Warm Memories

I have very strong (and oddly fond) memories of sitting in a chilled but warming car as my mother scraped the ice off the windows of a morning. I remember watching through the ice, seeing her first only as a blur and then clearly as the ice was removed. I recall wondering whether she’d get that last little bit in the corner or if it’d be a quick job. I remember noticing that sometimes the ice came away more easily than other times.

These memories evoke a warm, comfortable feeling not unlike the memories of a grilled cheese sandwich and chicken noodle soup brought to me  when I was sick. Or of laying my head on her chest as I cuddled in her lap and listening to her talk to other people in the room, marveling at how different her voice sounded when heard through her chest. Listening to her heart beat. Relaxing in her strong and sure presence.

This morning, the weather had turned unexpectedly cold. Because of a shortage of pants brought on by rips in knees, holes in crotches, and massive stains on seats, I had mistakenly encouraged one of my children to wear shorts, thus saving me from the daily washing of the one pair of pants remaining (which itself was missing a button). We all rushed out to the cold car – no prewarming from this mother.

What appeared to be just water on the windshield and the windows on one side of the car turned out to be thick sheets of ice. As I scraped the windows, I saw my children’s faces silently watching me through the disappearing ice. Warm memories flooded my cold body. And can I just say this?

It sucks being the grown-up outside doing the scraping.

Your Stats Are Booming!

I’ve been noticing some strange things about my WordPress account of late. I’m curious if anyone else has noticed something similar.

The first is just curious, not particularly alarming, but it has to do with when I cut back on how often I posted. Twice in December, I posted something to the effect of, “Gosh, I’m just really busy and can’t seem to get around to writing my blog or reading anyone else’s so don’t be surprised if you don’t see much of me.” I picked up multiple new followers after both of those. I found that humorous. Hey, yes! I’d like to follow someone who doesn’t actually post anything! LOL

Humorous, but not baffling. What was baffling was to get the “Your Stats Are Booming!” notification from WordPress when I hadn’t posted a story in a week. Did some old post of mine suddenly go viral? I’d ask myself the first few times it happened.

But a trip to the stats page would show that while I had had 50 some views in the previous hour, they had all come from 2 or 3 people. Ok, whatever, some folks traipsing through my vast archive… Only… those 2 or 3 people all accessed the same exact random stories. Not the 10 most recent or the 10 most popular. Ten completely random posts.

The stats page also showed me something else. Before, when I was posting practically everyday, I’d get a dozen views or so on the day I posted. Sometimes more. The day after something posted, I’d get a handful, and then there’d be nothing until I posted again.

But now? I noticed I was getting more views on off days than I used to get on on days. I am consistently getting 20-30 views a day now, whether I post or not. Wonder when that started happening, I thought to myself.

Nothing to be concerned with, right? Bloggers blog at least in part to be read. I should be happy. But I analyze. That’s how I live my life. So how exactly was I supposed to make sense of something like this?

stats

 

So if I’m to believe my stats page, 3 visitors contributed a total of 45 views. Except that I had 6 different posts (not including my home page) that each got 5 views. So did each of them read 2 different posts 5 times? Or did they each read all 6 of those posts a couple of times and then each read 2 of them a third time, but each a different post? Or maybe one person looked at my home page 15 times and each of the other two read three posts 5 times each?

I’m having trouble drawing conclusions. The numbers don’t line up in a way that makes sense. This particular screen capture shows the posts were basically the most recent posts, but earlier in the year, they weren’t. A fairly pedestrian (hah! punny…) post entitled One Shoe was getting a lot of traffic at one point.

So here’s my theories:

  1. WordPress is actually terrible at counting the number of visitors. Or maybe the number of views.
  2. WordPress is trying to encourage me to publish more often by lying to me about the number of views.
  3. I’m getting watched by a bot (why, I have no idea).
  4. Someone is stalking me but has terrible memory so has to keep re-reading my posts.
  5. Someone is reading through my archives and loves the stuff so much that s/he keeps sending links to their 2 best friends.

I dunno. None of those theories feels particularly viable. You got anything better for me?

 

 

 

Things That Go Bump In The Night

One recent night, after an extremely long day, I retired to bed very, very early. So early that my husband did not join me. At some point during my (apparently very deep) slumber, I heard a loud crash in our bathroom. I startled, then interpreted the noise as my husband dropping something – probably the Sonicare toothbrush, in our sink.

I was irritated that he was proving incapable of preparing for bed without disturbing me when the crash happened again, only louder and more sustained. I began to be concerned that he was going to break my beautiful vessel sink that he had made for me. I also began to worry that perhaps he was having some sort of medical problem making him unable to hold onto whatever it was he kept dropping.

Then he sat up from the bed next to me, removed his C-PAP, and headed to the bathroom to investigate. At that point, I was rather embarrassed that I was too out of it to notice that a 230+ pound man was sleeping next to me. And that I had shown an apparent complete lack of concern by not making my own movement toward the bathroom. Then I worried about what could possibly have made that noise.

The suction-cup mirror in the shower, it turns out. It slipped a couple of its cups, which caused first his heavy wood-handled shaving brush to fall. Then it slipped the remaining cups and clattered to the shower floor. Mystery solved and I eventually fell back asleep.

The next night, I was awakened around 4 or 5 in the morning by the sound of something rattling on the floor near my head. I tried to ignore it but it persisted. I turned on my phone and checked the area around the bed. Nothing. Eventually the noise moved to his side of the bed. He turned on his phone and checked the area around the bed. Nothing.

But before long, we knew. It simply had to be a mouse. Playing with something hard. The little knocking sounds of something bumping the wooden floor were eventually joined by mousy squeaking sounds. We couldn’t quiet it. We couldn’t scare it away. I lay awake hoping it didn’t decide to traverse the bed.

Two nights passed with a mousetrap on the floor at the head of the bed. At some point during that second night, the knocking began again. This time at the center of the head of the bed. The mouse was under the bed. This was not an easy problem to solve because our bed is not on feet. It’s a platform with drawers. The only way to see under it is to remove the mattress and peer through the slats.

I tried, like the previous time, to ignore it. But it was impossible. My husband was away from home, so I slapped his side of the bed. The loud thunk would pause the mouse for a few minutes, granting me a bit of reprieve. But it also disturbed the dog in the boys’ room next door, who began to bark at me.

So I got up and scooted the bed off the slats. That also concerned the dog, who barked some more warnings through the wall. Soon the whole household would be awake. I found what the mouse had been playing with. Well, not playing, really. Attempting to eat.

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I threw away the cough drop and hoped that the mouse, wherever it had scurried off to hide, would move on when it could no longer find its treasure. I scooted the bed back onto the slats and attempted to return to sleep. Some time later, I was again awakened by the sound of a cough drop being knocked repeatedly on the floor under the bed. I slapped the bed. The dog barked. The mouse squeaked. I lay awake, defeated.

That morning, I got my eleven year old son to help me completely remove the mattress from the slats and prop it up against the wall. I pulled all of the drawers out of the bed platform. I found no cough drop. I have no clue what the mouse was playing with that last time. Maybe she took it with her.

Meanwhile, the dog trotted down the hall toward my room, spied the looming form of the bed against the wall, and knew it was time to perform her duty as protector of the household. She crouched down, raised the hair along her spine, and growled menacingly. Eventually barking with all the ferocity a dangerous inanimate object deserves, disregarding the reassurance of the object of her protection (me) that all was ok.

I moved the mouse trap closer to the center of the bed. I returned the mattress. I consoled the dog. I got the kids out the door for school. I headed to work, already exhausted. I hope the mouse finds my peanut butter in the trap while I’m away. I’d hate to have to cede *my* bedroom to the invader and sleep on the couch.