I was gone for a few days–no, not mentally, that’s everyday–I mean literally out of town. The kids and I went with my husband to a work conference. We went to San Luis Obispo a few hours south of us. My sister and her kids drove up a couple of hours and stayed at the same hotel. 

Monday morning we decided to walk around the metropolis of SLO and check out the sights. On our list of things to do was to visit Bubblegum Alley. Years, ago some people started to put chewed bubblegum on this wall downtown. At first it was protested by some, but more people kept adding their addition until it became a “sight” on the visitor’s brochure.


So we got out our map (SLO is small, we shouldn’t have needed a map but we did) and tried to find this wall of art. After walking for a bit, we decided to ask a serious little man who was walking by for directions. He told us where to find the wall,  and remarked how incredibly disgusting that part of San Luis Obispo history was to him. I thought he was being rather narrow-minded–I looked forward to seeing this community art.

Now, I need to explain something here. I know it was a wall filled with chewed gum, but I was thinking that the city had added some coloful rocks and maybe finished it off with some high-gloss paint. I thought that a local artist had maybe used it as a beginning canvas and creatively finished the art. I was so wrong. The Bubblegum Alley was a boring ugly wall covered in chewed gum. Not even colorful gum! Most of it was just the grey variety.  It was rather repulsive and disappointing. I stayed 20 yards away from the wall at all times, but my sister decided to make the best of it. She made her kids pose in front of the wall as they protested. She thought it would be a good Christmas picture.

As they protested my sister reminded them that she was just exposing them to some culture to which my astute niece replied, “No wonder Europeans laugh at Americans — we call this culture.”

We continued on our search for culture by visiting the mission, which was closed, and trying to visit the children’s museum which was being renovated until December. We settled for window shopping and tasting the local cuisine. All in all it was a nice day — only nothing could ever compare to the breathtaking view of the saliva mural.

By the way, the picture is deceptive–it doesn’t even look half this good in person. And no, I couldn’t bring myself to add to the wall even though my piece of green gum would have given it some needed color. My sister added her piece of pink gum and it brightened the wall so much.

Garden War

We moved into our house 23 days ago and we are almost all unpacked — not because of me. I have spent most of my time wrestling weeds and fighting ants in the backyard. It is very similar to what I normally face as a mother so it seemed a good idea.

When we moved in I had great plans for the yard. I had no idea then that it was under the control of the forces of an evil berry bush and half of the ant population. The evil berry bush must be wild blackberry. If the mention of blackberries brings romantic notions of cobblers and pies, just strike that out of your mind. This wild bush is evil, invasive and mean.

A few days after we moved into our home I decided to attack the vicious bush. I hacked at it, pulled, wrestled, wacked, chopped and did everything I could–save bringing out the poison to kill that sucker. Finally after my hard work I could look at my yard and smile — I had defeated the beast. No longer did I see blackberry branches popping up all over the yard. I limped into the house, my leg bleeding from the ripped flesh where the bush thorns had stabbed me.

Four days ago, I went out into the yard to water. I thought I heard something laughing at me behind my back. The bush had come back all over the yard again. It was laughing and mocking me. I hacked at it, but finally decided to send my husband out there with the pick to attack. After a couple of hours, the bush was again gone from the yard. However, the ants had moved in. Cousins, uncles, grandparents the entire ant family with all their neighbors. They had little suitcases and tents in their arms. They had planned to take over where the bush had left off.

I searched on the internet for natural ways to kill ants. The first attempt at murder was with boiling water. I could hear the moans as I scoarched their little bodies. That worked pretty well but they were still fighting back. Next I mixed up a concoction of garlic, soap and water. Ants do not like garlic and they didn’t seem to appreciate their garlic shower and disappeared for a little while. I decided to make my concoction a bit more potent by adding lemon juice, hot sauce, and peppermint oil. I heard the ants scream as I walked toward them with the spray bottle. I sprayed and sprayed all over and again I was the king of the yard. This should last at least a couple of days.

No real ants were harmed in the writing of this story. Any resemblance to any real ant, living or dead is purely coincidental.

Finding the Inner Critic

After reading so many writing articles and books, I have discovered that I am suppose to have an inner critic. I read that I must discover the inner critic, find him/her and maybe even name him/her. (Okay the naming part was my addition, but just so I don’t have to write “him/her” — this will make it simpler). My inner critic will be named Beezus.

After a short search on the internet I found that I am to do various things with Beezus:

  • I am to “embrace my inner critic”. That proved to be a bit difficult. Since Beezus is “inner” I’ve not figured out yet how to embrace Beezus. I decided to give up on the hugging and just say “Hey, Beezus, it’s all cool.”
  • I am to “invite the inner critic to leave”. Okay, this is confusing, first I am to welcome Beezus, give her a hug, and then ask her to leave? Won’t I be sending mixed signals?
  • I am to “tame my inner critic”. How am I suppose to tame Beezus when I just told her to get out? I guess after telling her it’s all cool and then telling her to leave she has become unmanageable and wild–confused with her place in my life. In taming Beezus I am to listen to what she says and then say the opposite of what she is saying. “Beezus, I’m listening, but you’re gonna have to talk louder because the kids are arguing.”
  • Finally, I should “make friends with my inner critic.” Okay, after all of this do you really think Beezus wants to be my friend?

Apparently, after all of this, Beezus can then become my “inner champion”. An inner champion is great, but what I really need is for her to babysit Friday night.

no guarantees, no warranties, and no promises

If you notice my title is a-muse-ing. I don’t make the claim to be hilarious. I won’t promise you I’ll have you rolling on the floor in laughter after reading my blog. I might have you rolling on the floor with abdominal pain, but I won’t promise you this either. I will try to amuse you. I want to make you laugh, I hope that you at least smile–even if it’s only on the inside–however, I don’t promise to make you spray out your coffee through your nose. I can’t make those guarantees.

So, you ask, where is rjlight going with this? This is where I’m going:

How many readers see this button and expect to be more than amused — expect to laugh even? Oh, the pressure. So, I say to myself, do I keep the humor-blogs “society” membership or do I withdraw? Or maybe this button on my blog helps me write better? Or makes me strive to get you to chuckle? Maybe it helps me dig deep into my soul to find one funny nugget that will make you remember that life isn’t all mold and mildew. Or maybe I should clean my bathroom.

The book haven without overpriced coffee

When I lived in Spain one of the things I missed so much, besides mint chocolate chip ice cream, and my family and friends, was going to the library. Yes, there are libraries in Spain but they aren’t the same — for one everything is in another language. You weren’t expecting that were you? I read in Spanish; however, I can’t get into a book the same way in Spanish as I can in English. Plus, the book choices weren’t so hot.

So, back to the library. I appreciate the library–I consider the library one of the top underappreciated benefits of living in the United States. Isn’t it written somewhere — life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the access of a public library?

My kids are learning to love the library as well. At first, they really weren’t so sure about it. My son would take forever to choose one book — he kept thinking he could only get one “to buy”.  Now that the concept of borrowing has sunk into his head, he picks out around 6 and complains because he didn’t have time to get more–I throw in a few Spanish ones too (that aggravates him some which I’m not sure why because he reads perfectly in Spanish). My daughter thinks the library is the place were she plays while I pick out books for her — she is happy with everything and reads them all so it could be worse. she doesn’t complain when I throw in the Spanish books.

There is a contest of sorts this summer at the library–to get kids to read. They have a chart and everytime they read for 20 minutes they get to mark a spot — they have 45 spots –15 hours of reading I think. My kids think this is a race. My son has his stopwatch out and will remind his sister when they are close to 20 minutes so they can run to the chart and mark it. If I go into the living room to ask them something he stops the watch until he is done talking to me and then says “Okay, ready, set, go”  and they return to reading. I explained that he didn’t have to have a stop watch that it was “approximately 20 minutes”, but he has his system in place. It isn’t a race –they have until August 11th to complete the chart.

Believe me, it’s a joy to see my kids reading — because they are finally quiet they are learning so much. I was just hoping this reading program would last until August 11th — not a straight 15 hours, 0minutes and 0 seconds.

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