167: Female Competition

Humans are competitive. Children are competitive. Women are competitive. So are men. Recently, I have learned that this is not something limited to our species. The first Moroccan cat I adopted is female. She, however, fairly quickly chose not me, but my husband as her favorite person. I really don’t mind this in theory, but in actuality, it has proven to be quite another thing.

She is insanely jealous. She resents intensely the fact that daddy (HERS) goes into the bedroom every night with mama (that would be ME, his wife), and…….SHUTS THE DOOR. OMG.

She is not confrontational. She does not claw at the door and meow, demanding to be let in immediately, or else. She is passive-aggressive, in the absolutely worst possible way, and she manages to communicate her extreme jealousy of HER daddy, MY husband, quite clearly and unmistakably. What she does is pee.

On only MY things. Deliberately, and with malice aforethought.

Our kitchen table has two chairs, both of which have a padded cushion. Souk pees on MY chair cushion on MY side of the table. Only mine. Never daddy’s cushion. I also rather quickly learned not to leave any of my garments draped over the arm of a chair, or on the bed, because they would be pissed on by morning. I also learned to close my closet doors firmly. Ditto.

Even the laundry basket is not safe. She can smell MY clothes in the basket, and even though she can also tell daddy’s clothes are in there, too, she will still piss on mine. *sigh* This little girl is going to have to become an outdoor kitty, because I am not giving up my husband.

Souk: Daddy's girl

Souk: Daddy’s girl

166: Color-coordinated

I like to dress in matching, or toning, colors, even down to my hosiery, costume jewelry and shoes. I even have my closet set up in colors – the purples together, the reds next, then the oranges, the yellows – you get the picture – like the rainbow ROY G. BIV scenario. Except I put purple first, where royalty should be placed.

Does this make me anal-retentive? Some of my friends think so, especially after they have seen my closet. I just don’t understand why this appears to make me obsessive-compulsive. When I travel, I choose colors in one, or at most two colors, so that everything will mix and match, giving me twice the clothing choices with half the garments – and a MUCH lighter suitcase!  Plus, it’s easier selecting  what watch, what necklace, what bracelet –  and one set will do. I see this as efficiency, not as restrictive or limiting. I BUY every color there is, except stark white and pastels,  since they make me look dead, washed out and sickly. I just don’t wear all the colors all at once.

I do not have a favorite color. There is not one section of my closet that is wider than another, signaling a color preference. I like them all. And, eventually, I wear them all. I am non-color-prejudiced – except for pastels, and then only on me. I like them on other people, I just can’t wear them well. So, I leave  them for others to buy who will appreciate them more than I will. But a screaming orange blouse?  MINE!! An acid green pair of pants that make your eyes bleed? GIMME THOSE!! The louder the color, the more I like it. Usually, the last thing left on the clearance rack is the one I would have chosen first – nobody else wants it but me.

I worked for a time at a fabric store, and when the new shipments came in and I was stocking shelves in another part of the store, I would hear the ladies discussing the new stuff as they unpacked it from the boxes. Occasionally, I would hear groans of disgust and comments such as: “Oh, my GOD, who would ever wear THAT?? Or, this one is so awful I can’t stand to look at it!!”  Then, somebody would whisper, loud enough for me to hear: Save it for Dianne!  And unfortunately, they were usually right, I would like it.

Even KNOWING this, I still like wearing clothes that I like, even knowing that some people are going to cringe. Hey, that’s THEIR problem.

165: Patience…or maybe not….

I have NO  patience. And I have learned at great cost not to ask God to grant me more patience, because I have figured out how He does that for you – He gives you LOTS of opportunities for you to practice patience, and THAT I can do without! I just wanted the patience, “abra-ca-dabra” – I certainly did not want to  earn it or learn it. NOT.  That is the problem with answered prayer: God has an incredible sense of humor.

Once, shortly after the death of my first husband, I was worn out with doing the job of two parents – keeping up with work, home, children, church and every other nit-picking thing, and I went outside on a bright sunny Saturday to wash and wax the car and truck, and the whole time I was washing and waxing, I was having this one-sided conversation with God.

I discussed the state  of my life, the degree to which I felt overworked, and the longer I discussed this (in great detail) the more frustrated I got. I finished the cars, and concluded with the very loud, very positive statement that I had had all the s### from heaven that I could take, and I did NOT want any more. I stomped off  into the house.

The next morning we got up to go to church in our freshly washed-and-waxed car, and as I came outside, I could not believe my eyes. The absolutely hugest splotches of bird crap I have EVER seen -buzzards?? Canadian geese?? TURKEYS?? CONDORS??? had flown overhead and let go right over my two clean vehicles – and gotten them both GOOD. I could not help but laugh at God’s sense of humor – I sure got crap from heaven that day!!! Served me right – God was not responsible for  my frustration – I was. I’m very glad I serve a God who understands frustration, and is big enough not to let a little frustration from me disturb his sense of humor.

164: Morbid, with a really catchy tune


I have been humming this dad-gum thing all day.

My mom sends me e-mails of all sorts. I am not sure where she FINDS these things.  This one is a safety video from Australia about safety around trains. But it also incorporates the silliest other ways to die as well, in a cute cartoon format that is really funny to watch. It reminds me of the Darwin Awards (Google it).

If you have never looked up the Darwin Awards, the premise is this: Charles Darwin is the author of the Theory of Evolution, or the transcendence of the human species – WE are supposedly its pinnacle. The theory goes something like this: we all evolved, slowly and with great trial and error, from single-celled organisms, into what we have today, and our species is constantly improving itself because of the principle of “survival of the fittest.” This means the dumb ones are continually being killed off, due to their own stupidity, before they have the chance to pass along their genes to the next generation. After millions of years of this sort of survivalist breeding, we should all be geniuses, right? Well. Yeah, right.

The Darwin Awards are a tongue-in-cheek nod to the people who are stupid enough to remove themselves from the gene pool in the most absurd ways imaginable. Just look it up and read the stories of some of the past winners, an overwhelming percentage of whom are male. Lately, the Awards have been expanded to include those who don’t actually manage to kill themselves, but who DO manage to render themselves incapable of reproduction. The buck stops here. Those stories, like this cute train safety video clip, are also morbidly funny, and I challenge you to read them without laughing. Yes, people DIE, but it is their own stupid fault.

The link to the train video, so YOU can be humming it all day long, too:  http://www.upworthy.com/australia-officially-has-the-most-adorably-morbid-train-safety-video-ever?c=upw1

163: Addictions

I have a very good friend who is an addict. It took me quite some time to arrive at this conclusion, because there is a stage in addiction where things are not so bad, and the addict deludes themselves and everyone else that their addiction is under control and that they can stop at any time. Besides, I like them an awful lot, and I really did not want to think that they had this very real, very big problem, because it is going to affect my relationship with them pretty severely. I did not want to face that fact, either, let’s be honest.

But the evidence is now absolutely overwhelming, and can no longer be denied. Even friends who really would rather not face this problem have to admit that there is one. It is a real shame. How does one become an addict? It’s not like somebody sets out to become an addict – OH, well, I guess today I am going to become addicted to heroin, or maybe today I will become an alcoholic. It does not work that way. So, how does it work?

Having watched this process happen for my friend, it is pretty clear to me that becoming an addict is a slow process of behavior that becomes a habit, and then a need. How does a habit become a need?  Through practice and repetition – especially if the habit involves a substance, like nicotine or alcohol, that is addictive in itself. That, I guess, makes it even easier for the habit to become a need. But, to be fair, even behaviors that do not involve an addictive substance can become an addiction – like surfing the Internet, or shopping (now I am really getting close to home).

So, how is an addiction overcome? There have already been lots of times when this friend has vowed that the behavior will stop – I’m done, I’m finished with this, it won’t happen again….but it does. And now, the decisions about this are all mine to make. It is clear that my friend cannot stop, or won’t stop – it is really the same thing in effect, if not in motive. My relationship with them is not important enough to my friend to stop, and their own health is not important enough for them to stop, and they won’t stop until they want to stop. And they do not want to stop – at least they don’t want to stop enough to stop.

So what is left for me? I can still be their friend, but in a much reduced capacity, because I cannot handle their addiction. It causes problems for me (and for them) financially, emotionally and at work. I have other family members who depend on me, and I cannot lose my job over this. I can’t be THAT good a friend.  So, where do I draw the friendship line? What can I allow, and what will be off-limits?

None of this is easy, for either me or for my friend. I would like to keep this friendship, but I don’t know if that will be possible. I have to protect myself because of the others who depend on me. Life just genuinely sucks sometimes, you know??

162: Girl Talk

Guys discuss weighty matters, and no one ever accuses them of  spending  time discussing inconsequential things. Females get together to talk, however, and all the silliest words you can imagine are used to describe OUR topics of conversation. Nobody ever accuses women of having weighty matters to discuss – we only know how to coffee klatch, have hen parties, and girl talk. What, might I ask, qualifies as boy talk? There is no such thing. A rooster party? Nope.  And why is it only women can discuss things over coffee? I don’t even like the stuff.

What is it that  guys actually discuss? Have you ever listened to  guys talking? No? I’m not surprised – they have nothing to say. If women could only recognize this fact, it might make for better marriages, when Miss talks-about-everything gets married to Mr. talks-about-nothing. We would understand that he has always been that way, and won’t expect anything else to happen after we decide to marry him.

I married a man who is  genetically flawed, and no, you CAN”T have him. He actually, apparently got an extra chromosome – one of the X ones. He TALKS. I know you don’t believe this, and think I am delusional, since no such creature exists  in manhood-land, but I FOUND ONE. He must be a mutation, and he’s MINE – back off.  He even (and now I am sure that you are convinced I am delusional) actually doesn’t mind shopping – too much. And, now, the wisest of you are nodding sagely and telling yourselves: sure, because he’s still courting you – you are in that first heady flush of romance when he will do unnatural things for males because he is focused on the chase – soon as he gets you and the new wears off, the REAL man will emerge – the one that is like every other man. No – that’s not true, either. We just celebrated (and I do mean celebrated) nine years of  marriage. Wait, I will go get the smelling salts to revive you, because I am sure you have fainted from shock.

No, I am not telling you our address. I am not stupid. You might be more attractive than me, or richer, or have some other quality that might, possibly, attract him more than I do. I am KEEPING what I’ve got – he talks and shops. He even (and now I don’t even CARE that you think I am lying) will do dishes and laundry. Yeah, I know – you can’t have him. Nyah, nyah, na pooh-pooh.

161: Training, and Cats

I just found under the sofa: 4 wine bottle corks, 5 bottle lids, 4 wads of paper, 12 pens, pencils and markers, 2 chicken bones, 4 gumballs, 3 q-tips and a toothpick, 4 small stones, an acorn, an M & M, 1 wood screw, 1 hair clip, 2 packages of prescription medicine, my swim nose clip, one chunk of coal, an ear plug, one dice, a broken clothes hanger and 3 tubes of lipstick. And ONE cat toy.

You would think they would play with the toys we purchased for them, we stupid kitty parents, but no. I have found the business card to the dentist, coins and other smallish things pushed under the rugs to maximum kitty arm length that they obviously lost while playing. My apartment is like a treasure hunt, you never know what you will find when you move something.

And trying to do something with them around is interesting, too. Every time we scoop out the kitty potty we have to be “supervised.” Three of them are very concerned that we might not do a good job, so they MUST come and watch – the whole process. And you should see the intense feline interest whenever we get a shower. It is apparent that they think we are nuts, because what sane kitty person would willingly get in water, but they are fascinated with the shower, nonetheless.  They have to inspect the  stall when we are done, minutely and with great care. You can see the wheels turning in their little kitty heads, trying to figure out this conundrum. WHY are mom and dad in that water??

And Lord forbid you clink two saucers together in the kitchen – that has evolved into the KITTY FOOD signal, and everybody comes running, meowing loudly for their eagerly anticipated treats. I wonder, do we have them trained, do they have us trained, or is it a mutual effort?

160: Corn on the Cob

Where I used to live in Georgia, we had sweet corn that would get ready during the hot summer days. You could pick your own from a farmer’s field, cook up a huge pot full, and feast on hot, buttered and salted corn on the cob. Sweet corn (of which there are several varieties) has a higher sugar content than field corn, which is generally raised in my state as animal feed.

Here in Morocco, I had been here for quite some time when I realized that there is …….no corn. We had been going to the souk (the local flea and farmer’s market) for months now, every week. No corn. I started looking for fields of corn, thinking I might be able to buy it there……no corn. The only corn field I saw was five hour’s drive south, when we visited Marrakech.  We pulled over and I walked up to a lady working in the field beside the corn field, and tried to buy some. She must have thought I was nuts, or crazy, or both. She pulled a half-dozen ears and absolutely WOULD NOT accept payment for them. That was really sweet, but I was really willing to pay for the first corn I’d seen!!

Since then, we found corn being sold by street vendors in Azrou. They have a cart piled with ears of corn, and a brazier of coals. They roast ears of corn directly on the hot coals. This burns the surface of the ear black. UCK. But, they will gladly sell ears that they have not yet cooked…uh…burnt black, and those are the ears I am interested in. So, I buy ears that way, and take them home to cook.

I don’t care that it is field corn, it is absolutely wonderful. One problem, though. We discovered that WE are not the only family members who like corn on the cob.

Meet Caruso.


Caruso is a sweet male Moroccan cat I rescued from freezing when he was a tiny kitten. Caruso likes corn on the cob as much as mom and dad do. We have to give him a half ear of his very own before he will leave us alone long enough to eat some ourselves. He’s pretty good at it, too.  He holds it down with one paw, and eats the kernels off….every one of them, until the cob looks I ate it. This is quite entertaining to watch, if you are not already busy trying to eat your own ear of corn before Caruso finishes his and wants yours, too.

159: Recess

I need  recess.

We  have recess here at the school where I teach. When the recess bell rings, children spill  out of the building at every entrance  on their way to the playground. Their exuberance is plain to see.

Here lately, I have been literally dragging myself from obligation to obligation: school, home, husband,  sleep, school, home….and the never-ending cycle, the merry-go-round of life, continues. I need recess.

What is recess for grownups? It is certainly not found in the bottom of a bottle, I can assure you of that – whether the contents of the bottle be solid or liquid, that is no restorative! I have friends who have tried that –  no help. Drugs and alcohol actually make things worse – exponentially. Besides, it would be my luck to become addicted, and I don’t want that, either!

I’ve heard about the stress-relieving properties of exercise, and I would certainly feel better about myself if I was trim and toned. The only problem is that exercise is real, genuine WORK, and not enjoyable work, at that – at least for me. I have never gotten to the point where exercise was fun – I have heard other people say that, and I think they are lying. Exercise is not recess for me.

So what is recess for me? I enjoy a good book. Uninterrupted (which never happens). I enjoy sewing a new project, whether it be garment, accessory or home furnishing. I enjoy creating jewelry from mismatched pieces and parts, and I love to create – paint, sculpture, whatever – that is real recess  for me.

Now I just need the bell to  ring!

158: Children’s Mistakes and Adult’s Mistakes

Children make mistakes. It is a part of growing up. This makes it sound like as you get older, mistakes will become fewer and fewer, and will eventually cease. We all intellectually know that this is ridiculous, but nonetheless, that is the perception – that grownups are not supposed to make mistakes, because they are not children anymore, and they have had the education and experience to be rational and logical humans. HA.

I have often  commented that teachers could excuse children readily for the mistakes that they make, because they are often just too young to know better, and it is part of our job to gently help them avoid mistakes, and to correct mistakes that are made. However, when dealing with a parent, it is often difficult to extend the same courtesy, because there is the built-in expectation that adults have mastered the most egregious sorts of mistakes, and no longer commit them. Not so. There have been many parent conferences where I have been mightily tempted to announce that this conference is over, now that I have met you, the parent, I understand completely why we are having such difficulty with your child.

None of us are perfect people or perfect parents, and none of us have perfect children. Our children make mistakes, in spite of the assertion I have received from many parents who have actually told me, “My child would never (fill in the blank).” Let me assure you, after twenty years experience of teaching, your child certainly will. He or she might not do such things at home in front of you, because he or she knows full well that YOU, as a parent, can impose consequences that I, as a classroom teacher, cannot impose. I am allowed to make requests and issue directions. That’s about it. When your child decides that he or she will not obey (and they do), I can refer them to an administrator, since they have been insubordinate to me.  The administrator actually has only a few more resources than I do. He can impose home suspension, which many children see as an impromptu vacation from school,  not as a punishment.

Ultimately, the discipline of a child is a parent’s responsibility. I, as a teacher, influence your child one hour per day – sometimes one hour per week. There is only so much I can fix that they have learned elsewhere in that one hour. You, as their parent, have had them for the five years before they go to school, and for the sixteen hours per day when they are not in school. Which of the two of us should carry the most responsibility for the way your child behaves? Seriously??

My job, for which I am not particularly well-paid compared to the educational requirements I have to achieve to be a teacher (although I am not particularly complaining about the pay because that is not what I wanted to become a teacher for), was undertaken because I have a sincere desire to help children learn, succeed and achieve. That is my goal, and I am assuming that is your goal as a parent, also, for your child. We are working together – and contrary to what many parents  obviously believe, I am not the enemy. I want your child to succeed, often, more than you do. I am not your child’s parent, and as such, I have an intellectual distance from your child to more effectively evaluate their behavior than you, especially since your child does not behave in school, out of your sight, the way he or she behaves at home, when you are watching.

Children make mistakes. So do adults. When I make a mistake, I say so and make sincere and honest efforts to correct them. This is the behavior I model for your child in my classroom, because that is how adults are supposed to behave. This is how I want your child to see that adults should behave, regardless of  how other adults the child views outside of school  behave. Don’t be so quick to blame your child’s teacher for every thing that goes wrong during the school day – it is possible that it just might not be the teacher’s fault –  and I know THAT is a novel thought.