Our Decapod Crustacean

Posted by Danny

We’ve avoided animals like the plague in our family.  Lisa grew up with a dog that had bad gas.  I with a cat named Bunny who had an identity crisis.  And one day when I was in about 9th grade, I got to see my first X rated event when Reagan, our neighbors tom cat, raped Bunny in our driveway.  I did all I could but I just couldn’t stop him.  She never was the same.

One trick Lisa discovered was to give a kid a token pet to appease them.  Two started out with fish.  Our second phase was to give them something they could hold – a hermit crab.  We didn’t really have a phase 3.

DJ got her first when she was about six or seven.  Stephanie followed several years later.  This year, when shopping near Myrtle Beach, Michelle spotted an enormous cage filled with the nasty boogers.  I bet there were 150 of them – climbing all over the place.  One of them changing his shell so you could see his entire body – something I’d never encountered in my years as a crab owner.

I quickly acquiesced to her request hopeful that this would put off the dog conversation for another six to eight months. 

All three girls decided they had to have one – but I was only bankrolling Michelle’s crustacean.  The other two were on their own.

They stood and stared at the choices.  It was overwhelming, like having to pick out your baby from a lineup of cribs.

These days, the store owners have folks paint the crab shells to make them more appealing to the prospective owners.  Which to choose?  They all seemed perfect in their own little way.

The one with a flower on its shell?  How about Superman?  The fuchsia with neon green stripes looks like a winner.  Personally I liked Goliath – the largest one in the cage.  His legs sprawling down the one limb that spanned the axis of the cage. 

“That ones too big dad.  His pinchers could really hurt.”

I went to the counter to ask who would open the container and fish out our choices.

The stout, grandmotherly checkout clerk informed me that the cage was not locked.  “YOU get it out sir.”  The implication was I ain’t sticking MY hand in there.  I’ve seen what can happen.

“So I just open it and get the ones I want?”

“Yup.”

They decided on their pick:  for Stephanie the bright pink, DJ wanted Spiderman, and Michelle the one with the dainty pink flower.  I mustered up my courage and wound my arm through the hole – watching Goliath with one eye and my own prey with the other.

Stephanie’s was wild – a poor choice she thought.  “I’ve changed my mind daddy.  I want a calmer one.” 

“Me too,” DJ echoed.  “Spiderman looks angry!”

“I don’t like mine either – I think he’s dead.  Look, he’s just sitting there.”

I go in again.  “Are you sure this is it?”  The decision were made.

“They need extra  shells, a sponge and plenty of food” my checkout friend informed.

Yeah, you’re all about helping now aren’t you?  Clearly grandma was working on commission.

On the way out the door, each one made a last-minute swap.  My patience and bravery were about to expire.

In the car Stephanie informed me that her crab and DJ’s were cuddling…or mating.

“Do they really…” DJ didn’t finish her sentence.

I was glad.  I didn’t need to have that conversation with the grandparents in the car.

Notes From The Beach…

POSTED BY JESSE

The girls are at the beach with friends so Danny and I, through the kindness of a good friend who lent us his house for a couple days, decided we did not want to wait out the anniversary week of Lisa’s passing (does that need a catchier name? Lisa Week? Eh, that would be more fitting on her birthday. Death Week? Seems a bit morbid. We’ll work on it…) at home in a quiet, familiar, childless house. Instead we came to a quiet, unfamiliar, childless house, so it’s not like we’re having a party or anything. I think the thought was to get away, let ourselves mope a little bit, and then return with fresh faces to see the girls and face the 24th. It’s gray and windy here at the beach, and if I didn’t know any better I might think that we were creating the male version of the tear-inducing “Beaches”, and that one of us was the one with a terminal illness. But, no, we’re just a bit melancholy, missing a wife and sister. Here are a couple other things I’m thinking about:

What day was that again? I’ve found it interesting the way people consider dates, especially for something in recent history. Lisa passed away in the early morning hours of February 24th, but as we’ve been playing things back in our heads, we typically run off the weekly schedule of life. For example, we remember things like, “Friday so-and-so came to visit her, Saturday was the day we were told this, Monday was the day we had the family meeting…” etc.

 I have always worked better under this system, mostly because I’m terrible with dates, but also because it’s easier to use other events for context. I can’t tell you the date I started going out with a girl, but I can tell you the first time we kissed was the night of the UNC-Georgia Tech game that year. Danny joked he’s got enough emotion to “celebrate” both the day of the week and the actual date Lisa passed away, so we don’t need to worry about picking which one is the date we’re choosing to remember her passing.

“How’s Lisa?” That is not intended to be funny–Danny and I were talking on the drive down here about still coming across folks who don’t know. Recently, my Mom emailed with a family for whom Lisa had nannied for multiple summers. She loved the job, the family, and really enjoyed her time in Marblehead, Massachusetts. We were thinking about visiting since we’re headed to Boston this week to visit Sallie and Matt and their kids (Danny and I have godparenting to do!), but everyone feared that when we reached out to Lisa’s summer family, we’d also have to let them know she had passed away. We were right.

I also recently bumped into a guy who had worked at the Y with Lisa and Danny for a number of years. We greeted each other, and he quickly stated how he and his wife had just been talking about Lisa the other day and all the good times and stories they remembered of her. I assumed he was bringing this up because she had passed away and he was letting me know how much he thought of her. Then he caught me off-guard, “How is she doing?” Uh…

On the drive down, Danny relayed that DJ had a similar incident, only she had no clue who the person was. A lady, almost certainly a friend of Lisa’s, approached DJ, showered her with praise, told her she looked like her mom, and then promptly asked “How’s your mother doing?” I think Danny fears that such a question will send his daughters into a tailspin (since, admittedly, there have been times when someone will ask about her, or Danny, or the kids, or anything and the only answer that comes to mind is overwhelming sadness, and tears come before words), and that they might stuggle to answer. He asked her what she told the woman. DJ correctly pointed out, “Well, I couldn’t just say ‘she’s fine’, could I?!”

It sounds like DJ politely and unawkwardly told the woman that her Mom had passed away about a year ago. I think I need to take lessons from her. I still get terribly befuddled when people ask me how many siblings I have. Two? One? Had two, have one? How do you draw the line between being uninformative and avoiding a conversation that neither party is looking for?

This blog is a DOWNER Danny asked me on the drive down if he thought the blog was getting too depressing. I answered that I thought, yes, it had recently taken on more of a somber tone, but I thought it was more reflective of our current mood and what’s on our minds than anything. I told him I didn’t think it was a big deal and would not drive loyal readers away in droves if we had a week or two (or month?) of more thoughtful, somtimes even sad posts. However, f it’s still this way in April then we probably need to examine things, or not be surprised if people look for a more cheery place to visit on-line.

So stick with us, readers. This should be the blog at its most despondent. Things are getting better all the time🙂

How are the girls doing? Nothing makes me feel like a more inadequate guardian than not having a good answer to this one. With the temporary exception of one of the them seeming not her normal self for a stretch last summer, I feel like I have not noticed any major changes in the girls. In fact, people are always telling ME the things they have seen in the girls that are different, and I wonder if I’m too aloof to notice things or if I’m right and everyone else is just looking too hard. The girls are….girls! DJ is figuring out which high school to go to and probably more stressed out about the adults around her talking about it than she is by making the decision. Stephanie wants to sleep in on Saturdays and has a birthday party at Embassy Suites every other week. Michelle got a lot of Valentine’s Day candy and wants a later bed time. I have not been a parent, but all of this comes across as fairly normal to me.

I am not suggesting losing their mother will have no effect on them. I must admit, when 8-year old Michelle was filling out her “Letter to My Summer Counselor” for camp, and she wanted to describe herself as “sarcastic”, I worried a little bit that the influence of having two knucklehead adults in the house and no tough-love mom was probably taking its toll. (but I was still tickled to death. We convinced her to just go with “funny”).

Stephanie may prefer an extra hug this week, and DJ, true to form, is hunting for new traditions she can start to commemorate the 24th. But the girls are great, and I promise my lack of a better answer isn’t because I haven’t been paying attention. And that definitely mean don’t ask–like I said, I just feel silly when I don’t have much more of an answer than “great!”

Beach Trip: Welcome to 2011

Posted by Danny

Happy New Year from DJ and the Kimmy Gibbler Experience

At the beach for New Year’s Eve with four other families, 17 in all.  Are these new things for family vacations or have I just been oblivious for the past 16 years?

  1. Four people in my family, 16 towels used in three days.
  2. A 13 year old’s bra in the toilet.
  3. Sunny Delight bottles EVERYWHERE!  Seriously, everywhere.
  4. My kid is on Facebook at 1 am???
  5. Sand – from the beach to my boxer shorts – how did that happen?  Seriously, who has been wiping their dirty feet in my suitcase?
  6. Not one moment when a child is not hungry.
  7. A dishwasher immediately adjacent to the sink – and yet no one under the age of 45 seems to know how to put anything in it.
  8. Not one moment when a child is not thirsty. 
  9. Teenagers not speaking to their parents when other teenagers are in sight.

10. Reproducing clothing?  We didn’t purchase anything, why won’t it fit back in the suitcase?

Hungry or thirsty--which one are you?

Happy New Year! Party time.


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