Ashes to Ashes

Ashes to ashes and pumpkins to mush,

smashing them in makes a garden so lush.

Wait until spring and I’ll show you a thing

that grew from the dirt where a jack-o was hurt.

Shoveled and scattered and otherwise battered,

ashes to ashes and pumpkins to mush.

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Happy November!


Green and Red

We put up a few more Christmas decorations today.  Just one more little box and we’re done!

I love how our house looks when it’s all decked out for the season.  I wish we could carry the sparkly glow of that through the whole year without diminishing the special feeling of it in December.

We dim the lights and burn some candles whenever we have guests, but there’s nothing quite as romantic, cheery and welcoming as holiday lights.  The trees, the garlands, the string of fat old bulbs on the backyard fence, they all just add so much to the fun of day-to-day living.

I often think I’d like to keep the backyard lights throughout the year and simply change their color for each season.  They’re very festive and seeing them out there makes me feel like I’m in Bazaar Del Mundo or something.

But enough about that.

The little boy went to school as happy as can be this morning and seemed the same when I retrieved him in the afternoon.  Unfortunately, I just found a red card in his backpack.  Apparently he was “not following directions, pushing others and slapping the classroom aide.”  Blech.  Will it ever end?

I had lunch with a dear friend today.  He asked me what I thought would happen to my son after I was gone or just too old to care for him.  My friend wanted to know if I thought my son would ever be independent and capable of living alone or being in a relationship.

I confess, those questions circle my brain on a regular basis.  They put a lump in my throat at least once a week and occasionally motivate a full blown sobbing panic attack.  All of that is laced with heartache, but I try very hard not to let it get the best of me.

For the most part, I am full of hope for my son and I consciously choose not to worry too much about his future.    There’s just no way to know it or to control it, so I can’t borrow the trouble of it while I’m busy getting him through elementary school.  I simply can’t afford the energy that would require.

I do know that he has come a long way since he got his first diagnosis around 18 months.  For a while, we weren’t sure if he would ever talk.  Now he talks all the time and he has an infinite capacity to learn new words and to correct himself with each sentence he tries.

He constantly labels things aloud, narrates whatever action he sees and is eager for clarification or fine tuning of his vocabulary.   I just see all that growing and, I think as it does, it will naturally improve his ability to navigate successfully through the social nightmares that surround him.

I guess I gave some shortened version of this response to my friend.  I know he worries about my son too, so I hope he was okay with this answer.

I feel like I’m rambling now and, really, I’m more than ready to sit on the couch with the remote in one hand and a fudge bar in the other.  (No cracks about that please.  Or the fact that I linked to Walmart.  What can I say?  The fudge bars are good and Walmart sells ’em cheap.)

Oh, just one more thing – RageAgainstTheMinivan cracked me up again this week.  I swear, she’ll probably think I’m a nutso blog stalker or something, but she’s really funny and you all deserve a laugh, so here’s a link to one of her recent posts.


Day Twenty-Nine 2010 Pumpkin Demise

Flat as pancakes out there.

Pumpkin pancakes, mind you.  Just like IHOP.  :mrgreen:  Not.  Heh heh.

As usual, there are a few other pix in there too, including a couple of the little boy with half closed eyes and really dirty teeth.

He’s the sweetest, smartest, cutest, kindest, most beautiful baby boy that ever lived.  And, no matter what, I tell him that every night.

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Happy Monday!


Wounded, But The Shooter Is Sweet

Sometimes I am wounded to the core by my son’s disdain for my singing.

I can’t stand it.

I don’t have a bad voice and I love to sing.

He won’t let me.

I feel stifled.

And sometimes I feel wounded to the core by his annoyance with books.

Granted, there are occasions on which he actually enjoys them and will let me read him a page or two.  He might even read a sentence himself, but those occasions are exceptional.

In general, my kid doesn’t like to look at books.


I come from a family of book lovers.  A family of book collectors.  And a house full of music.


Now I am ordered not to sing, not to read, not to be.

My heart breaks over this on a daily basis.

And it feels like a slight to my father, the one who mastered a love of books and beautiful song.

I know a conversation with my dad today would only reveal a man determined to appreciate the strengths of a boy.  My dad would caution me to overlook these minor and probably temporary let-downs.  Of course, I always heed that imagined advice, but the whole of it makes me very sad anyway.

Just now, the little boy and I were in the guest room, stripping the bed after Grandma’s visit.  He was singing, humming really, with his lips forming a perfect “o” and his little head tilted upward, like the children at the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas.

I thought I would try to engage him with a book from the t.v. special, complete with music and lyrics for two of the songs.

He saw Snoopy and the other characters on the page and seemed very interested, so I showed him a second Charlie Brown book.

He sat on the floor, turned the pages himself, pointed at Snoopy and was smiling and happy.

Then he started singing Jingle Bells.

I produced a board book with the music and lyrics for that song too.

But then I made the fatal error.

I decided to sing the words and point to the notes so he could follow along.

He lost his mind.

“No read a book.  No read a book!  No sing!  No read a book!  Mama, no sing!”

I tried to calm him down.

Too late.

He took the item nearest him – the dust jacket for the Peanuts book – and ripped it in half.

It made me mad.  It really did.  With all the fury of impatient generations behind it.

I ordered him out of the guest room and closed the door and now I sit here pouring out the emotion just to get it gone.

Because I know the little boy loves music. I KNOW he does.

And I know he will come to love books.

But in this moment, I am overwhelmed with his disdain for my love of them both.

Overwhelmed.  Sad.  Stricken with grief for the unfairness of time and loss and death and the mismatch of generations.

I miss my dad.

I just miss my dad.

And I wish I had let my mother sing.

Now it’s 7:00 p.m.  The little boy is clean and dry, snug in his room, and headed for dreamland.

He closed the door to the bathroom during his shower tonight and got the place as steamy as a sauna.

When I popped up to check on him, the steam poured out and engulfed me.

Through the fog of it, I found him standing on the edge of the wet tub pointing a full bottle of water straight at the light fixture.  I shudder to think what hazardous scheme had hatched itself inside his busy brain.  Sheesh!

I have ridden a roller coaster of emotions today, partly fueled by sleeping only four hours last night and partly fueled by the little boy’s destructive nature.

He broke things today.

I replaced them or I fixed them or decided I didn’t need them.  I cried a few times and just kept going.

I went to Pier One and Trader Joe’s and Petco and Von’s.  I came home, I took down Thanksgiving and put up Christmas.

The boy was excited to help with three trees, two garlands, and a wreath.  Husband hung a cheery string of outdoor lights and inflated a silly two-foot Santa on the front lawn.  We ate Thanksgiving food all over again and I chopped up the decorative gourds to scatter in the corner near the ever-flattening pumpkins.

What a day.

Now I’m going over to my new couch to sit next to my sweet husband to watch something with Bruce Willis in it.  Anything with Bruce Willis in it, please.


And out.

Day Twenty-Six 2010 Pumpkin Demise

I was enchanted by a beautiful hummingbird in the yard today.  Now THAT was a photographic challenge.  Didn’t get any really great shots of him, but it was wonderful to watch.


Oh, I almost forgot…

Happy Friday!

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The little boy is eating a bowl of goldfish crackers with a blob of frosting as a dip.  I know, I know, mom of the year.  Shhhh, I’m trying to block out your thoughts on that.

It’s really cold today. Well, cold for San Diego anyway.  It’s 42 degrees outside and it feels like 42½ in the house.  Brrrrr.

We just spent a few minutes on the patio, taking the day’s pictures and blowing some giant bubbles.

The boy headed out there in a thin pair of shorts and a tee shirt at first.  The temperature was my ally in finally convincing him to try on his new Mario pj pants instead.

He picked out the whole set online with me, but has adamantly, inexplicably, consistently refused to wear them.  So frustrating for the money-spending-doesn’t-have-time-to-go-back-to-the-mall mom.

They’re exactly the same as all his other pj’s, with the exception that they actually fit him and all of the others are now too small.  Sigh.  Some kind of autism thing.  Or kid thing.  Maybe he saw a bug on them or maybe Mario scares him now or something.  I’ll never know.

But today, he’s wearing them.  Victory!

I have been chiseling away at the mountain of stuff I need to clean up, put away, alter, hang, take down, sort, re-paint, etc. before the holidays.  It’s slow going.  I was on my feet a lot yesterday, but I feel like the house looks the same and now my foot hurts more.  Damn foot.  Heel, really.  It’s mostly the heel.

It’s hard to feel productive when most of the day is dedicated to figuring out the boy, following him around and cleaning up whatever he leaves in his bubbly little wake.  The upstairs bathroom floor is a battleground I’ve yet to conquer and I’m dreading it more and more.  It’s pee territory, you know?  His aim gets better every day, but he still misses a lot.  Sigh.  Life with a boy.

Our schedule is full today.  And somewhere in it, I’ve got to squeeze out time for coloring the hair.  Getting kind a gray and scary up there and Halloween is over.

Speaking of Halloween, the pumpkins are really flattening out.  I’ve decided that on November 30, if Mother Nature hasn’t beat me to it, I’m going to chop them to bits with our sharpest shovel.  Won’t that be fun?  Those of you with an aversion to the pictures of their demise should be elated by this decision.  I’m sort of melancholy about it myself, but resigned to it just the same.

Here they are, with a few pix of the little boy too.


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P.S. I hope you aren’t tired of the pictures of our red camelia.  I am intrigued with its progress.  Roses show themselves so much faster.  The camelia takes its time and seems to like the cooler temperatures.  I love looking to see how much more pink is there each day.  I am so hopeful that this plant will survive in our yard and get bigger each year.  The last camelia we had was in a pot and it finally just gave up.  They are such pretty flowers when they’re healthy and I have always wanted to grow them.


Day Twenty-One 2010 Pumpkin Demise

More later.

Just a pile of pumpkin ploppy for now.


Happy Sunday!

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I got something in the mail from a friend yesterday.
(Click to enlarge it.)

Thanks, L.C.!  😀
That made me laugh!

Here is the squash rot.

It really is getting kind of nasty…
even by my standards.

As always, there are a few other things in there
to break up the gross out.


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Happy Saturday!

P.S.  I’m having a really bad hair week.  😐  Sigh.


Today Started Well

We got up, ate breakfast, dressed, packed a lunch and left the house in plenty of time to stop by Vons for our daily visit to the light bulb aisle.  The little boy was happy, cooperative, bouncy and singing.

Things were good.

Or rather, they were good until we left the store for the remaining mile and a half drive to the school.

We were behind a bus, we couldn’t see well, the fog was thick, and the traffic lights weren’t working.  None of the left turn arrows ever went green, so we were delayed much longer than usual.  Cars were backed up all the way down the street and some of the drivers ran the lights in frustration.

In a word, it was chaos – thick and foggy, aggravating chaos.

And inside the car, it was growing even worse.

On a normal day, the little boy has issues in traffic.  He starts to shake when I slow for a light, and if I stop, he has a meltdown.  I’ve written about all this before, but today was the worst of all.

He was so distressed that I could feel his pain on my body.

He threw everything in his reach.  He kicked and he shook.  He screamed, he moaned and his burning red face was wet with sweat and tears.  He was like a small animal in the clutches of a predator, writhing to get free, crying in agony.  It was unbearable to witness.

And there wasn’t a damned thing I could do, because a week ago, I got that stupid ticket and now I have 450 fat dollars trumping my survival instincts.  So I sat, and watched the other drivers go.

My child was tortured by that mile of delay, absolutely tortured.

The bus finally pulled ahead enough to allow us an exit to the other lane.  I took the chance and altered our route.  That upset the little boy even more.

By the time we finally arrived at the school, I think he was in shock.  I just don’t think he could cope with such a hopeless lack of control over his environment.  It damaged him.

I shut off the car and climbed into the back seat to give him a hug.  At first he wouldn’t let me, then he relinquished and even seemed to need it.

It took almost thirty minutes for him to recover and it became painfully clear in that time that school was off our agenda for the day.  Just an hour before, he had been excited about seeing his friends, and now, he wanted nothing to do with them.  There was no convincing him.  I have learned better than to waste my energy with that battle.

I was really at a loss for what to do at that point.  I didn’t want to suggest we return home because I knew he’d never leave the house again and I’d be trapped all day, hopelessly out of control of my environment.

Luckily, a good friend called to remind me that we had agreed to have coffee today.  She was wondering where I was.  I told her the quick and distracted version, but said I would be there shortly, with the little boy in tow.  Her eight-year-old son is autistic too, so she gets it.

When I told the little boy where we were headed, he actually seemed relieved.  A new destination had perked him up.  He had no issue with any light in the three miles to the coffee shop, but I didn’t bother to revisit the possibility of returning to school.  That ship had sailed and isn’t due back until tomorrow.

Coffee was pleasant.  My friend gave the boy two quarters to buy fish food from the vending machine.  He happily threw the food into the pond, bopped back and forth across the little bridge, and entertained himself quietly while we chatted.  When my friend and I began comparing notes on homework and curriculum in the boys’ classes, he even seemed proud to show her how well he has learned to “borrow the one” in subtraction.

The change in his demeanor was miraculous.  My friend is always surprised when I tell her how bad things get at home or in the car or in other places and situations that she doesn’t see.  He’s a dreamy little angel when we’re with her.

The rest of the day went fine, but I do have to share a few other autism behavior highlights for your reading pleasure.

After coffee, we went next door to Borders.  The store is closing and everything inside is on sale, even the fixtures.  Since I’ve been wanting a world map for the bathroom wall, this seemed like a good day to get one.  Sure enough, it was only three dollars.

I carried the long roll with me to the front of the store and got in line to pay. To hold the boy’s interest and keep him from wandering, I lightly tapped him on the head with the map and made a ringing sound.  He giggled and snatched the map from my hand.  I moved to protest, but he charmed me with a sweet little smile.  I smiled back as he imitated my gesture and tapped me on the head.  Except it wasn’t really a tap.  It was more like a whack.  And then he took a step forward and did it to the woman next to me too.  😯  😕  😳

Before we bought the map, we breezed through the children’s section to see what was left.  The short answer to that question is “not much,” but we spent a few minutes there anyway.  When I reached for my son’s hand to lead him toward the other side of the store, I found his fingers occupied by a small silver kaleidoscope.  In the other hand, he held a glittery plastic recorder and a rubber rainbow ball.  Clearly, I had not seen him reach into the mark-down toy bin.

A little baffled by the sudden appearance of these items, I told him to choose one and put the others back.  (I’m such a softy.)  He chucked the ball.  Then he put the recorder to his lips and blew a note.  I thought he would keep it and toss the kaleidoscope, but he dumped them both and walked away.  Maybe this is a comment about my behavior more than his.  I didn’t go back to clean the recorder and I wasn’t going to buy it if he didn’t want it.  We already have three others.  So, if you buy a plastic recorder from Borders, you might want to give it a little bleach bath before you give it to your kid.  Not that my son is germy.  I’m just saying he’s probably not the only one who did that, right?  Yuck.  French-kissing strangers.  That’s just like French-kissing strangers.

As we headed away from the kids’ stuff, another mom came in with her toddler son.  My little boy seemed fascinated with hers and that fascinated me.  Though separated by a foot and a half of height, they locked eyes and seemed almost to be dancing as they made room for each other in the aisle.  They circled one another and smiled.  When the toddler peeled his gaze away and searched again for his mommy’s familiar face, my son’s eyes followed him to the end of the shelf.  I wish I knew what my kid was thinking as he whirled around to watch the little one leave.  So curious.  Like many children on the autism spectrum, my son isn’t often so comfortable making eye contact.  In fact, he frequently prefers to stand behind the people around him and it’s clear he does so to avoid their glances.  This open, engaged interest in facial expression and body language from a younger child was encouraging to me.

Of course, it was tempered by the map thing.  😐  Although truly, even whacking that stranger’s forehead is sort of a good sign, right?  He’s getting more social.  No?  Am I reaching?

We ended our outing at Carl’s Jr.  Not my choice, but when the little boy craves a certain food, I pretty much get it for him.  He had eight chicken stars.  That’s a lot for him.  A lot.

Today started well.  And then it stopped.  And then it went again.  I’m still thinking about how it ended.

Here is your daily dose of the evil deed doers.  And by evil deed, I mean rot.  Squash rot, don’t you know?  The most amusing part of today’s photographic tour?  The fact that there are pumpkin plants sprouting three feet from the dying Jacks.  I can’t remember if we sprinkled this year’s seeds in that spot or if these are late sprouters from last year’s uglies.  Either way, it cracked me up to see them there.  Because I know how much you all love my pumpkins.

And please, leave me a comment why don’t you?  🙂  Nothing delights me more than a message informing me that someone cares enough to write.

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Happy Thursday!

P.S.  It occurs to me as I wrap up this post that I neglected to express how disheartened I am that our neighborhood can’t support Borders enough to see it survive.  Certainly, we have Barnes & Noble and a Goodwill Used Bookstore close by as well, but my heart tells me this is a sign that the world is moving too quickly away from the printed word.  While I am all for technology and how far it goes to bring literature to those who might not otherwise have it, I remain convinced that there is a magic to reading actual books that can’t be had from a cold hard gadget.  There’s just something about the way that the book paper feels in your hands that is different and more charming than a Kindle (or whatever). Just my humble opinion.

P.P.S. WordPress doesn’t yet have a method for excluding individual photos from a slideshow or gallery, so that foggy bus pic is everywhere.  My apologies.

P.P.P.S  WordPress formatting options suck today.  😦  Weird alignment bugs me.


A Nice Blog And Greatly

Today’s spam comments made me laugh, so I thought I’d share them:

hello bockychoy , i read your blog , that a nice blog and greatly. Good for everyone. best review for and Jack-o-Lantern content. i will plan to read and comment your website.”

“hello bockychoy , i read your blog , be a nice blog and perfect. Good for everyone. useful and piano content. i going to visit to read and comment your blog.”

Are you laughing too?  😀

Last week, I set the dvr to record Amelie.  I finally had a chance to see it yesterday.  I love, love, LOVE this movie.  And I’m so glad I watched it with subtitles instead of dubbing.  I might have to watch it again today.  Have you seen it?  What do you think?  I think after this life, I’d like to come back as Audrey Tautou – beautiful, quirky, charming.  Sigh.

Day Seventeen 2010 Pumpkin Demise

The new life in pumpkinville doesn’t look as green and determined as it did yesterday.  I’m thinking that slug probably snuck in there and chewed off the new growth from the bottom up.  Oh well, even slugs have to eat, right?  I’m sure another little sprout of something will show itself in due time.

It’s funny that I took that picture of my shoes yesterday, because a few hours later, I retired them, with no forethought whatsoever.  Now I have their shiny new cousins – same brand, same style, but cleaner, whiter, better and less embarrassing to remove in front of someone who will be looking closely at your feet.

Anyhoo, here is today’s squash rot.  And just in case you don’t recall where we started, I threw in a picture from Day One for your viewing pleasure.

There are also a few of the little boy’s chalk drawings.  He is ready for Christmas.  🙂


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Happy Wednesday!



The doctor’s office was running behind schedule today.

I had a ten a.m. appointment to get fitted for my custom orthotic shoe inserts.

When I arrived at 9:45, the patient ahead of me was asleep in the waiting room.

She was sitting upright with her head tilted back toward the wall.  Her mouth was wide open and she was snoring.


I tip-toed past to take a seat, but then realized that the magazines were inconveniently located on the table right next to her.  Shoot!

Since she was asleep, I figured I would be waiting a while too.  I needed reading materials.

I hovered just inches from her leg to find a title I could stand.  Sports Illustrated.  Every last one of them.  Phooey.

But I went through a stack of fifteen without waking her up!

I chose the one with Michael Phelps on the cover and returned to my chair.


Note to self: bring Martha Stewart and Country Living discards when you return to pick up your inserts in ten days.

I put away Michael Phelps and sat in silence until the nurse called the sleeper’s name and woke her up.

It was kind of funny and sad to see her startled from her dreams like that.

How embarrassing.

As she walked through the interior office door, I wondered why she was so sleepy today.

Maybe 9:45 on a Tuesday is the only chance she has to rest.

Maybe she normally moves a mile a minute to keep up with her kid or her job or someone else who needs her.

Maybe she has noisy neighbors who keep her from sleeping at night.


Maybe she’s me.

I have fallen asleep in public before too.

Or at least, in a doctor’s waiting room anyway.

What can I say?  I’m tired.

My son’s psychologist has a small, empty office without windows.  She keeps the temperature on high and the music on low.  I can’t keep my eyes open in that place.

Luckily, I’ve never fallen so deeply asleep that I’m unaware of my surroundings.  No head tilt, mouth agape or snore from me.

Even though I covertly texted those sordid details to my far away friend, I’m not heartless.  I feel immense empathy for the sleeping woman.

I wonder if she has an autistic child too.

You just never know about these things.

Here are your pumpkin pals.

Please note the signs of new life springing up from the one on the left!


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Happy Tuesday.

Happy sleepy Tuesday.


Day Fifteen 2010 Pumpkin Demise

Not sure I’ll be around to write anything today.

Here are the pumpkins:

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Happy Monday!