Chickens in the Basement

I love to write and I love to laugh. When I write, I get to the point quick. My stories would fit on the back of a postcard. They usually make me chuckle. And you know what they say, "It's all about me!"

Friday, July 31, 2009

Volunteer: Band Mom or Fire Department?

For the last week, I have been working with my volunteer-soul-mate, Rene. She and I were responsible for feeding lunch to the Marching Band staff every day for a week and dinner to the staff and 127 students three out of the five nights. The camp ran from 9 am to 9 pm, so the dinners had to be nourishing, something the kids liked, and not too heavy as to cause nausea during nighttime marching. Rene and I worked so well together, right down to getting mean-hungry at the same time. We saved a ton of money for the marching band. We don't know of any complaints except for not having enough leftover cheese pizza for vegetarians on Chick-fil-A night. We will plan better for this next year.

With only lunch to serve today, I got home around 2:00. Since I have been living at the school most of the hours this week, my home and family have been neglected. I shared my lunch with Rick and put on hummingbird food (water and sugar) to boil so I could refill the empty feeders so the hummingbirds will stop staring at me through the window like I am responsible for all bad things in the world.

Finally, I had free time to sit down and catch up on e-mails. The marching band has its first fundraiser, so I signed up for my very own H card. Now, I can get discounts all over town. Since I needed my credit card number to finish the order, I headed to my car for my wallet. In the kitchen, a black cloud of smoke and a column coming from the stove made me change my plans. That damn hummingbird food had been boiling so long it was now solid and black and the wood spoon used to stir it was permanently affixed and only a handle. Simultaneously, the alarm began to sound and I grabbed the pot from the stove to take outside. Since there was no liquid left, nothing sloshed out on me!

Open the doors. Find the phone number to the alarm company. Turn on the fans. Open the windows. How do I turn off the fire alarm? Where is that damn phone number? Call 911 and tell them to stop the firetrucks. Finally, the alarm company called. Please cancel the alarm. They'll try. Shoot! I already hear the firetrucks. Call Neighbor Terri so she'll know we are alright. Meet the firemen at the end of the driveway so they won't have to maneuver the driveway AGAIN when it really isn't necessary! Three firemen in full regalia meet me in the driveway. Really, we don't need the axes. They want to see the house. Thank God Jane came yesterday and cleaned. The house just smells bad. No, really we are okay, I just don't need to have possession of a stove. Would ya'll like to take it with you? Assured that all is okay, I walked the firemen back to the front porch. Apologies! Apologies! Is that Neighbor Terri at the gate taking photos?

If the Fire Department visits your house more than once in a year, do they send you a bill? I don't ask in case it gives them ideas they haven't already thought of. Does it help that we dropped off leftover burgers and dogs at the Fire Department after we fed the kids dinner last night (I didn't cook them)? Can you believe Rene and I have signed up to feed the band again next year and they're going to let us? We don't have access to a stove at the school, so I think we are pretty safe. Is that a hummingbird staring at me again?

NOTE: If Terri's photos aren't too incriminating, I'll publish them when she sends them.

PS I guess it would be worse if it was our dinner I burnt instead of hummingbird food.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Should He Stay or Should He Go?

I've been married to Tony 20 years. We met 21 years ago at a friend's wedding. Linda was marrying Adrian who had moved to North Carolina from Melbourne, Australia. All of his groomsmen came from Australia. After spending 10 days with Tony in 1988, when he called to invite me to visit, my mother said yes! (She had seen up close and personal some of the guys I had brought home. Tony was better than she had dared to hope for me!) Unfortunately, our marriage and their son, Bryce, were the best things to come from Adrian and Linda's short union.

After a year of international dating, we got married. We lived in Melbourne for a year and a half. In a plot to get me back in the US, my dad found a construction company that was looking for a new partner. An introduction over Christmas break did the job. We moved back to North Carolina in August of 1990. Tony has been a tax paying legal alien since then.

Over the years, we had our two boys. I worked, stayed home, worked some more, and stayed home again. Tony has worked hard at Steel Dynamics and has helped turn it into a sought after company when it comes to steel construction. Tony watched in frustration as I voted for the candidates he wasn't so fond of.

He has always wanted to become a US citizen, but as life goes, we were too busy, too tired, too lazy, etc. This year, he made the leap. He hired an attorney to coach him through the process and jumped in with both feet. Several interviews required him to show tax returns, bills, birth certificates and our marriage certificate and to confess his unlawliness...running a stop sign in Wake Forest.

On Wednesday of this week, we went to the INS office in Durham for his final interview. He had been studying the US history information that he would be quizzed on. As we waited in the outer office with all of the other folks wanting to become US citizens, my mind raced with scenarios for each person.

The good looking guy with dark skin, brown hair an untucked white shirt, Italian white loafers and khakis had met a woman while she was vacationing in Greece. The tall blonde in tight white pants and no detectable underwear line had met an American man in an overseas disco and followed him home. It seems all of my fantasies were of a romantic nature rather than terrorist conspiracy.

When Tony's name was finally called, we went to the door to wait. The woman who opened the door looked at me and said, "Who are you?" When I informed her that I was Tony's wife, I got the universal STOP hand and was told "NO". I guess I'll wait out here and continue to fantasize. I'm sure this was better for Tony. As our friends, Kurt and Sharon, had warned, I needed to watch and keep my mouth shut. Since I tend to over-explain things leading to waaaaay off topic subjects, I might unintentionally get him deported.

Fifteen minutes later, Tony emerged. He passed. I get to keep him! He was asked six historic questions (none of which he could remember after it was over). She asked about his brushes with the law. When he told her about his failure to stop, she informed him that he was telling the truth. She asked if both of his parents were Australian born citizens, he told her yes. Again, she informed him that he was telling the truth. At that point, Tony confessed to being afraid he would give a wrong answer and buzzers would sound and a shock would zap him from beneath his chair. Instead, she informed him that he had passed and could return to the waiting room.

Another twenty minutes passed before a man came into the room and passed out invitations to a ceremony to be held on Friday for Tony to take an oath denouncing his allegiance to any other country and celebrate his American citizenship.

Stay tuned for part 2.