July 24, 2004

Beach Bound

  • The one with the shades on the blanket is me.
  • The one behind the grill is Wendy.
  • Jonathan and Andrew are bouncing the ball off each other's heads.
  • John is buried in the sand.
  • Donna is burying him.
  • Mom and Hal are taking a walk down the beach.
  • SK is sleeping in.
  • Joan and Bill are back at the house putting Alice down for her afternoon nap. Oh wait! That's Alice by Wendy's feet!
  • The sun shining in the sky is the same one shining on The Boy. Except he's on a different stretch of beach on the same ocean some 300 miles south of where we are. *sigh*

Be back next week!

July 23, 2004

Things One Would Rather Not Have Happen When One Has Visitors

Even if those visitors are family. Just flat-out bizarre occurrences, flukes really. I'd share the evening with you but I'm still in a daze and laughter is all that has survived. I think I'm handling it quite well actually.

PS: Love ya, Wen. Sorry for waking you up in my quest for the plunger. Sorry about the door. Really sorry about the door. Don't worry, we'll figure something out. :)

Nancy Drew

When I was a young girl, I adored reading Nancy Drew stories.  I'm pretty sure my mother got me started because mom's can be cool that way.  Reading is one of the nicest things you can do for a child.  I don't know how old I was when I first starting reading the series, but I amassed quite the collection over the years of my childhood.  I'd read them over and over, again and again, never tiring of the scintillating captivating exciting riveting stories of Nancy and her posse.  I'd read them in the bathtub.  Under the covers at night when I was supposed to be sleeping.  In the car on family trips.  Nestled in the "Y" high up in the willow tree.  Anywhere and everywhere.  The matching yellow-covered books lined the shelf in my room.  Always in order:  Volumes 1 through 30.  Visually pleasing, also.

As I got older, I moved on to reading other things.  More age appropriate and such.  But I still had those books lining my shelves.  And it still brought me great satisfaction to see them there.

When I moved out of my parent's house, I, as many departing children often do, left behind some of my possessions.  After all, isn't a parent's house a permanent storage unit in which to keep the things you don't want to haul around from place to place to place?  Stuff you don't want to get rid of but you don't necessarily need?  That's right, of course it is.  At least for a while.

But then my folks announced they were moving!  Oh the horror!  And it would get worse.  Before they moved they had a yard sale.  Because that is what one does before one moves.

I'm not sure how much time passed between their yard sale and an ensuing conversation with my mom.  It was before they actually moved.  And somehow my Nancy Drew collection came up.  Maybe you can feel it coming.  I sure didn't.  They had sold my Nancy Drew books at the yard sale!  OMG!  I actually cried.  There I was, 19 years old, crying because the Nancy Drew collection I adored throughout my childhood but hadn't looked at for years had been sold out from under me.  I think my mom cried too.  Because she hadn't considered how special those books were to me.

Fast forward to maybe three years later.  We were visiting my folk's new home in Norfolk, Virginia for the holidays.  Christmas morning dawned.  Maybe you can feel it coming.  I sure didn't.  I unwrapped a heavy box from Santa and inside... ayup!  A whole collection of Nancy Drew, Volumes 1-30!  The same familiar books with the same familiar yellow covers with the same familiar cheesy pictures on the covers and the same familiar stories inside.

So I've got a collection of Nancy Drew mysteries, Volumes 1-30, that I'll haul around with me forever.  And display on my bookshelves always.  Because mom's can be cool that way.  Like mine.

July 22, 2004


My sister is, at this very moment, in an airplane winging her way from Sedona, Arizona to Washington National Airport (and yes, I refuse to call it Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport because it's just too long and it still irritates me that Virginia tax dollars had to pay for all the signage changes necessitated by the act of Congress that changed the airport's name.... no, no resentment here, really).

My sister is coming!
My sister is coming!
Happy dances for everyone!


Wendy and I like to snack. Sometimes when a full blown meal either seems like too much work or too much food, we snack instead. We don't always select our snacks based on nutritive value, rather snacks that satisfy the craving one or the other or both of us is experiencing. Women crave often. At least these women do. 

One of our favorite snacks are these hors d'oeuvre thingies called Firecrackers. We can only purchase them at Safeway as they are a store brand. Their name could be derived from their shape but probably more from their ingredients: they are fiery crisy spicy hot rolls of goodness! I think the shape came after the taste.  They primarily consist of shredded beef, jalapenos and cheese wrapped in a plain brown wrapper.

While we could eat those Firecrackers plain, we'd rather dip them in something. Wendy's sauce of preference is picante sauce.  Pace Picante Sauce.  Medium. Not that chunky crap. Mine is... I'll give you one guess... sweet & sour! I adore slathering my Firecrackers with LaChoy's Sweet & Sour Sauce.  But while we use picante sauce for many other reasons, LaChoy's is only used for Firecrackers.

Grocery shopping has been more than a little weird for me since The Boy left for college last fall.  A great deal of maternal satisfaction was derived from stocking our pantry with food he enjoyed as well as preparing that food for our family meals.  All of a sudden I had to adjust to shopping and cooking for just the two of us.  Who knew it would be so difficult to adapt?  I must have missed that memo.  For months I could not even pull into Safeway's parking lot without feeling a heavy weight bearing down and my eyes getting teary.  How bizarre.  Especially for me.  Walking into the store was an even greater challenge.  To actually face meal planning and product selection?  The strain was enormous.  Elephantine.  It's gotten easier of late.  I actually again can whistle on my way into the store these days.  Progress has been made.  In some ways, it's even good.  Like now I buy corn on the cob because Wendy and I both like it while The Boy never did. 
During those months of adjustment, I'd find myself pushing my cart up and down the grocery store aisles mindlessly.  I'd try to focus on picking up items I knew Wendy liked as well as things I liked and things we should eat while trying not to burst into tears. It sounds so dramatic but it's really how it was! I kept us well supplied with Firecrackers and fudgesicles and Utz corn chips. Oh, and of course Pace Picante Sauce and my beloved LaChoy's. I continued to prepare regular meals, maybe three times a week instead of every day. While picking up necessary items for a full meal, I'd also pick up those favorite snack items. Because the cart seemed so barren and empty. Food for two doesn't take up much space at all.

One result of my shopping "issue" is that we now have a year or more supply of LaChoy's Sweet & Sour Sauce.  When I was putting away groceries last month, I noticed three other bottles already on the shelf.  Yeesh.  Now there's four.
There are, by design, eight Firecrackers in a box.  This makes a great snack for two.  Not too much, not too little.  Once when I opened the box and spread them out on the baking sheet, there were nine in one box! Score! And here is an example of how simple (pathetic? no, simple!) my life really is. I was so excited by that extra Firecracker, I ran to share the news with Wendy. When they were finished baking, I carefully split the oddball in half to share the unexpected bounty.

I've thought of how horrible it would be if there were only, say, seven in the box. Ever since that first time, I secretly hope to again find nine. And that's one reason I'm writing about Firecrackers today.

Wendy and I snacked on some last Saturday.  As we munched, I asked her if she recalled the time I found nine in a box.  She said yes.  Then I told her of my secret yearning to again find nine. Wendy said "I have!" I said "Huh?" She blushed.

See I'm not always in charge of baking the Firecrackers.  We take turns.  And I guess sharing sometimes takes a back seat to hunger.... hmmm.

July 21, 2004

Lesbian Fiction

Why is it that novels featuring lesbian characters cost so much more than other novels not featuring lesbian characters?  And why do I even buy them?  Honestly, there are but a scant few writers creating lesbian characters who, in my own humble opinion, can even craft a story worthy of the paper on which they are printed.  Yet unfortunately they are as prolific as romance novels and their content similar in quality.  Then to add insult to injury, the books cost close to $20 for a thin paperback.  And most of them just plain suck. 
I know I know.  It sounds harsh.  I acknowledge it's hard to write a novel.  Or I imagine it would be as I have never done it.  I just expect if something actually gets published, it ought to be worth reading.  At least one in ten.  While it may not appear so, I do respect those who have gone the distance to get their works into print.

We read a lot.  Usually I'm pretty good at picking out authors.  I have been rewarded and pleasantly surprised many times just blindly choosing a book based on such ridiculous factors as the way it feels in my hand or the font in which it is printed.  Only once did I score such a prize with lesbian fiction.

I was out shopping at Border's one Saturday morning a few years back, ostensibly to purchase the summer reading required for The Boy's upcoming English class.  And I did purchase those. But I also wandered around fondling and perusing other texts while absorbing the ambiance of the bookstore. Bookstores feel good. Almost as good as libraries.

As I neared the register, I paused to scan the "all books $1" table. Never hurts to look. A book caught my eye and I picked it up: "Tropical Storm" by Melissa Good.  The cover wasn't particularly impressive, but the size was just right. An overlarge paperback, you know what I mean?  Not overlarge as in really thick, but overlarge as in bigger dimensions than typical paperback-sized. As I read the synopsis on the back cover it was impossible not to recognize that in my hand I was holding a volume of lesbian fiction.  At Border's no less.  And on the $1 table.  So it was coming home with me.  Somewhat like purchasing a lottery ticket. 

I began reading it that evening.  With stories featuring lesbian protagonists, there seems to be a predictable template with minor variations. The city may change. The age of the characters may vary. But typically there is a strong tall dark-haired woman who in some way becomes involved in some way or another with a petite blonde woman and solves all her problems as they fall passionately in love. Or vice versa blonde brunette.  Maybe a redhead tossed in every so often.  But redheads are usually the evil characters.  "Tropical Storm," while following that pattern, also has a reasonably interesting story line and the characters feel real. It sucked me in.
One day shortly after I started that book, I found myself sitting in my car at the Vienna Metro station waiting for Wendy.  We, along with other friends who were also meeting us at the Metro, would then drive out to Nissan Pavilion to see a trio of over-the-hill rock bands:  Styx, Billy Squire and Bad Company.  Why you may ask?  Well why not?  Wendy thinks it was because our now mostly bald-headed friend Tom was missing his mullet days.
I had brought along the book to read while I waited.  Wendy arrived ahead of the rest of the group and joined me in my car.  She didn't bring a book of her own.  And I was having a difficult time tearing myself away from my story.  It wasn't long before Wendy was behaving in a rather petulant basset hound manner, expressing her displeasure that I had something to read and she didn't.  I suppose it didn't help that I commented on how much I was enjoying my book and how I thought I may have finally found an author who could write decent lesbian fiction.  My absorption was apparent.  I jokingly offered to tear the book in half so she'd have something to read too.  She perked!  Greatly.  And so it was that my one dollar book became two fifty-cent books.  Life was good as we both read absorbedly until our friends arrived.

Turns out Melissa Good got her start writing Xena: Warrior Princess fan fiction.  Now there's something I didn't need to know.  Because knowing that, it is so obvious that her characters Dar and Kerry are patterned after Xena and Gabrielle.  Ack well.

We have since replaced the torn book with another copy (for which we paid full price). The sequels in the series are entertaining but have never captivated us as fully as the first. And you can bet I always scan the $1 table with a more careful eye. Who knows what treasures are to be found within?

July 20, 2004

Got a Minute?

Well maybe a bit more than a minute unless you graduated at the top of your speed reading class.  If you've got time and if your brain is in gear, this article from The New Republic is a worthy read.
Open eyes.  Open mind.  Thinking is good.

A New Doggie Game!

It has begun. My new game with the dogs. They initiated it. It's been a bit weird adjusting to our reduced numbers, so whenever they ask for anything they get it. I'll give them both credit for this new distraction.

It starts with me sitting at my computer. Cosine comes up under the desk and noses her head into my lap. This pushes my chair back a little since it's on wheels like most office chairs. So I pet Cosine. Then Dudley comes over and puts his nose in my lap next to Cosine's. And I pet him too. After all, isn't that one advantage of having two hands? But Dud doesn't stop there (need I remind you he's a basset hound?). Not content with merely his head in my lap, a stumpy little front leg with a big old paw at the end followed quickly by another stumpy little front leg with a big old front paw at the end find their way onto the edge of the chair. This pushes me back even further. Chairs with wheels on hardwood floors are like that. Wheely.  Dudley quickly has his whole head and part of his body in my lap.

Before I know it I'm moving at a rather rapid pace. Or rather the chair is moving and I'm moving as a consequence of actually being seated in said chair. Cosine is pushing with her chest and Dudley propelling us more merely by trying to keep his paws on the front of the chair and his head in my lap. Tails are wagging furiously at this point. My hands are petting whole dog bodies now. My chair is rolling and I'm petting and dogs are wiggling.

Soon my chair is backed into the wall and the whole thing dissolves into a great big doggie love fest. Good game, yes? 

July 19, 2004

Watching Zip Codes

The post title is compliments of our friend Tina, as she has so dubbed Wendy and my weekend habit of watching re-runs of 90210.

It's true. We do it. And we aren't overly shy about admitting it. There's not much TV selection on Saturday and Sunday mornings. We only have like 100 or more channels from which to choose after all. And we enjoy watching something as we lay around sipping our weekend coffee and prepare to face the day. Cartoons have gotten so complex they go right over our heads and demand actual concentration to follow. We require something more basic. Like teen angst and predictable drama made even more predictable because we're watching re-runs.

Why oh why do we enjoy that show? It's certainly not the captivating story lines that draw us in.

The first reason that pops into my head is "sexy women scantily clad", followed closely in second place by "women in bikinis and mid-drift tops". That sounds more than a bit piggish though. But it is the first thing that pops into my head. However it's not always piggish to appreciate a well endowed physically fit female specimen, is it?  Our thoughts remain pure after all.

We also enjoy making catty comments about the actors. Well not about the actors really, rather the characters they portray. Except in the case of Tori Spelling.  In her case, we are sometimes being catty about the actress.  She's a "butter face" in our own humble opinions.   But we are also extremely disparaging of her character: Ms. Donna Martin, prissy do-gooder virgin extraordinaire. Not that being a prissy do-gooder virgin is a bad thing. But from where we sit, the angst it causes her is mockworthy.  Either commit to saving your virginity and be comfortable with your decision or get busy losing it, girl!

Yesterday morning's episode highlighted that dilemma as she wrestled with prom night and her boyfriend David's desire to spend the night with her at the ritzy Bel Age Hotel. We often refer to him as Blue Balls for obvious reasons. Wendy opines that if there is someone desparate enough to have sex with the horsefaced one, she should be grateful enough to follow through.  Wendy has a point, albeit a wicked one.  

July 18, 2004

You Over There!

Okay you. Come on out of there. Yes, you. The one who has been covertly persuing this site. You know who you are. Instead of making vague and seemingly innocent out-of-the-blue references to Popeyes, step up and be a man! And while you are at it, you can tell me how you found your way over here. Although I think I know. And it scares me. However I don't care how ugly the reality may be. I'm a big girl. I can handle it. Tell the truth. It's the right thing to do. We are friends, after all.

Thank you.

Oh! And welcome! It's good to have you here.

High Plains Drifter

Yes, Virginia, there are such things as tumbleweeds. And one tried to take my life this morning.

It may sound fantastical. Maybe even hard to believe. But in reality, tumbleweeds are an integral part of our landscape. Innocuous most of the time, they collect in the corners and under the furniture and on the stairs and around shoes left out on the floor. Their origins are obvious to those of us in the know. They are not particularly particular about where they choose to rest. Wendy gets busy once or twice a week and sweeps them into great big piles and disposes of them with the dust pan. But sometimes they escape the broom and gracefully float away until they settle in a different resting place. Such is the nature of tumbleweeds, after all.

So back to the attempt on my life. This morning as I descended the stairs, before any caffeine ingestion, still groggy and not quite awake, I was viciously attacked by a rogue tumbleweed! It came out of nowhere doing a realistic imitation of a mutant spider or some other large creepy insectlike creature from the depths of all that is evil. It was lifelike enough that my survival instincts immediately took over and I leapt into the air. As I soared over it, graceful as a gazelle, my eyes scanned frantically to ensure I did not land anywhere near the horrible freak of nature that had somehow found it's way into our abode.

At some point during my flight, I gained enough awareness to realize it wasn't alive at all. It was but a tumbleweed of pet hair daintily wafting on the air currents across the floor during it's journey to a new tumbleweed resting place.

But in that brief moment before my brain caught up with my perception, my life was in danger.  But I survived to tell the tale.  Hooray for me!

July 17, 2004


There are things in Virginia way older than me! The existence of such things makes me feel younger.

Structural Integrity

I spent the day yesterday downtown with Richard and Nick.  It was a good day.  

I've worked with them for seventeen years.  Richard and Nick are structural engineers.  I first met Richard while employed at the architectural firm where I began working about a year and a half after The Boy was born.  (That was a fabulous job and deserves more than a passing mention but I'm not writing about that just now.)
An architectural firm often uses other disciplines such as structural, mechanical and/or civil engineers as part of the project team.  Most architects have their preferred engineers with whom to work.  Richard and Nick's firm worked on many jobs with us.  Usually it was Richard, because he had attended college with one of the principals of the architectural firm and they were pals.

When the firm where I worked went out of business (another interesting life experience but also not the topic of this story), I went into business for myself as a bookkeeper.  There's more to that story also but again, it's not part of this tale (gee that line is getting old).  Richard and Nick's structural engineering firm was one of my first clients.  Because the timing was right.  And because I was very lucky.
They are an odd couple indeed.  Richard is originally from Haiti and Nick is British.  I don't know how they became friends, but they are friends in addition to being long-time business partners.  I listen to them banter about soccer matches and current events and their squash game.  They like each other.  Their firm has always been small, but they seem to prefer it that way.  I know I do.  I adore working for small business.  I've met Richard's wife on many occasions as she comes into the office now and again, but I've never met Nick's although I've spoken with her on the phone.  Richard's wife is also Haitian and Nick's is American.  Neither couple has children, but they both have dogs.  They also both live and work in the District.  I've never understood how anyone could live in the District because it's such a screwy place (uh Marion Barry, anyone?) but to each their own.
So America strikes again.  It's a beautiful thing.  How did a Haitian and a Brit hook up and start a business?  And why don't I know more of their origins?  I don't even know what brought them to America or how long ago they came.  Maybe those are the types of questions I'll start asking after I've known them for 20 years.  Don't want to rush into anything, after all.  They know pretty much as much about me as I know about them.  The basic outline of my life with some shading in places as conversations occur and details are revealed.  Like they know I'm gay and that I have a son and he's in college and where he goes to college and what he's studying and that my sister is a Buddhist nun and that I live with a woman named Wendy and that we love dogs and miss The Boy.  And that I'm a basically a happy individual.  I know they know that last part because Richard often comments how wonderful it is to see me because I've always got a smile on my face.
I know they are both Democrats as politics often come up in discussion.  I've seen pictures of Nick's esophageal ulcer and the incision from his dog's recent surgery to repair a torn achilles tendon and his wife in curlers holding what looks like a beach ball but is actually a humongous lemon.  I know they both are quite into family as they often talk of their families.  Richard has his mother living with him and she's not in the best of health.  Nick's mother and sister and her husband and children still reside in jolly old England and he travels there periodically to visit. Richard's bulletin board is covered with photos of his nieces and nephews (he's got a ton of them!) and other family members interspersed with some childish drawings. One that sticks in my head is a picture of a Gameboy drawn in crayon with the notation: "Thank you, Uncle Richard! Love, (unintelligible)". That drawing has been hanging in on his bulletin board for a very long time.

Over the years I've seen employees come and go from their firm.  Either by leaving for another job or necessary layoffs (the industry is decidedly cyclical) or as happened this year, suicide.

Yeah. Yikes.

In February, I walked into their office building at 14th & K Streets, NW.  Our Nation's Capital.  McPherson Square Metro stop.  Orange or blue line depending on which train comes along first.  Then a short walk that seems really long if it is raining.  The first thing Nick said before I could even say good morning was "Jim is no longer with us."  He had a very odd look on his face.  Like he was queasy.  I decided to let him continue speaking rather than blurting out the obvious question:  "WTF?"

Nick, as is his manner, speaks in a roundabout way but eventually gets to the point after back-tracking and side-tracking and front-tracking several times.  All in his cute little British accent.  Which usually makes for some interesting conversations.  Not his accent but his all-over-the-place-edness.  This time I really just wanted to know what had happened.  Yet interruptions would have slowed it all down.  So I let him talk without showing a trace of impatience.  My sister would have been proud of me.  As I am just not capable of recounting it the way he actually told it, I'll tell it my way herein with a bit of backstory too.
Jim had been working there for about three years.  Early 30's, single, into fishing, shaved head, about 70 pounds overweight, seriously white boy.  No visible tattoos.  (If I had to bet, I'd put my money on him being a pothead.  Which is not necessarily a bad thing.)  He had one of those posters of the deck of cards with the faces of the "America's Most Wanted" hanging in his cubicle.  The Iraqi edition.  When one was captured or killed, he put a circle with a line through it over the card.  Black for dead, red for captured.  Evidently he was a competent CADD operator as well as good at taking care of their computer systems.  He seemed nice enough to me, just a bit odd as people tend to be.  His timecards were always legible.  What more could I ask for? 

I was there on a Thursday.  Jim had called in the Friday prior, saying he had to be in court or something which was weird in itself.  The fellows were a bit befuddled.  Then Monday was a holiday.  And Tuesday he was a no-show.  Nick tried unsuccessfully to get in touch with him.  They were worried.  It was unlike Jim to just not show up for work. 

When he didn't show up again on Wednesday and didn't call or answer his home phone, Nick was disturbed enough to go a bit further to try and locate him.  He called the local court in the county where Jim resided, since that's where Jim had implied he'd be on Friday.  Perhaps he was doing jury duty or something.  What Nick found out was quite far from that. 

Long-Nick-story-short, Jim had been expected at court the prior Friday.  But it wasn't for jury duty.  It was for sentencing after his stalking conviction.  Jim didn't show up for his court appearance that day so a warrant had been issued for his arrest.  He had subsequently been found in his apartment, dead.  Suicide by hanging. 
Then the WTFs began in earnest.  Richard and Nick had worked with this man day in and day out for three years.  Yet obviously the personal information he had shared with them was but a tiny piece of what really went on with him outside of the office.  There was no hint of legal trouble.  Or obsessive behavior.  Turns out his conviction for stalking was due to his actions toward a woman who lived in the same apartment complex as him.  Or she used to live in the same apartment complex but had relocated to get away from him.  And he tracked her down to her new location.  Because that's what stalkers do, I guess.  While we don't know the details, he evidently caused her enough distress that she had him arrested and followed through with prosecution.  And he was convicted.  He was going to go to jail.  Instead he killed himself.

So that 20-year thought on sharing personal information?  That needs re-thinking.  Richard and Nick were quite shaken by this event.  They have a smattering of pictures taken in the office at various times of various employees in various work postures pinned up in various places around the office.  Now on his cubicle wall, Nick has a rather large photo of Jim on a roof doing a survey looking like Jim as we all remember him.  He's smiling.  I know they wish they'd known more.  That Jim had trusted them with more.  While they may not have been able to help him, they would have supported him.  Because they are good guys who care about people. 

I am fortunate to know them.

Underwire Bras

I'll never forget my unbridled joy when I discovered the existence of underwire bras. I had always just skipped right by them in the lingerie department because I was unaware of their super-amazing-unlike-any-bra-I've-ever-worn properties. But then one day as I was perusing the selection in the JC Penney, I got a wild hair and boldly decided to try something new. What a find! A bra that offers real assistance to my... as there is just no nice way to say this I'll attempt a modest and innocuous wording that will hopefully not bring any particular image to one's mind especially not one close to my reality unless you have a pair of your own and can honestly commiserate... my no-longer-twenty-one-year-old breasts in regaining their lost perkiness! Well not actually regaining, but at least giving the illusion (albeit temporary as is the nature of most illusions) of lift and shape. I enthusiastically embraced this newfound wonder and replaced every brassiere in my drawer with those of the underwire variety.

But now I can't decide if these things are a blessing or a curse.

You see, as the brassieres near the end of their useful life those helpful wondiferous wires begin to work their way free of the cloth in which they are encased. It begins innocently enough, just a loose string or a bit of worn fabric. Insidiously the wires begin to squirm and move until they have created a true hole out of which to poke their sharp pointy little ends. And that's where the fun really begins. 

So I am reminded yet again there is a price for everything.  Yet some prices are worth paying.  Double even.

July 16, 2004


Boneless skinless chicken thighs grilled on the barbeque, seasoned with just salt and pepper.
Asparagus, steamed.  Thin tender stalks with a little crunch and amazing flavor.
White corn on the cob.  Boiled just the right amount of time, not a minute to long.  Slathered with margarine and sprinkled generously with salt.
Followed by dental floss.
Dinner couldn't have been any better.

Home Again

I just picked up Detail's ashes from the vet, so he's back home albeit in a completely different form.  Actually I'm never sure he really left as I think I've felt his spirit from time to time.  I'm shaking off my black and white view of life. 
For now he's in a very pretty wooden container on the mantle.  He came home with a little certificate also.  There's a bit of a poem printed on it along with his name and ours. 
"Farewell, Master, yet not farewell.
Where I go, ye too shall dwell.
I am gone, before your face,
A moment's time, a little space.
When ye come where I have stepped
Ye will wonder why ye wept."

--After Death by Edwin Arnold

My Most Favorite Pink Floyd Song Ever

So you think you can tell
Heaven from hell?
Blue skies from pain?
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

Did they get you trade
Your heros for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for the cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
Did you exchange
A walk-on part in the war
for a lead role in a cage?

How I wish.
How I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl
Year after year.
Running over the same old ground
And have we found
The same old fears?
Wish you were here."

It's a missingness song, yes? An "I miss you and hope life is treating you gently and hope you are not having to compromise your soul to continue living it" song.  At least that's my interpretation of it.
The first time I remember really hearing this song was quite a few years ago.  Back before I was even 20 years old.  Years before The Boy came along.  I was hanging out with friends in our living room.  Dean was there.  Who's Dean, you may wonder.  Dean was to BG's family as James would later be to ours.  That clears it up, doesn't it?  He was also the best man at my wedding, oh so way back when life was oh so different and we were oh so different and oh so young yet thinking we were oh so grown up when we now know we really were so so far from grown up.  When you are not yet 20, life seems so simple.  At least it did to me.

So Dean put the Pink Floyd album on the record player (yes.. record player... as this was before cassette tapes were prevalent and way before CDs).  He  was laying back on the floor on that summer afternoon singing along.  I was lazily stretched out on the couch just listening.
I wasn't consciously missing anyone or anything back then.  I either hadn't been around long enough or was just not aware enough of things to really know what missingness was about. 

And now as I sit here more than 20 years later and more than twice as old as I was back then on that day, I can't help but wonder since I have changed this much in the past 20 years what the heck will I be like in another 20 years?  And while I didn't recognize anything missing back then, I certainly do now. 
I wonder what's going to be on my missingness list when I'm 60?

July 15, 2004

No School Buses!

One drawback of living in the suburbs: those damned school buses that seem to be everywhere at once when I need to get going to where ever it is I may be headed.

But of late I have been enjoying school being out for the summer! Not getting caught behind a train of school buses when I'm rushing to get to work is nice. And I'm usually rushing because mornings are just not my friend.

All good things must come to an end, of course. I'd forgotten about summer school. While there are fewer buses on the road than for regular school, they are back.

Undefined Confirmation

I've just confirmed something I've suspected for a while now. One of those silly little things that flashes through my mind as it does just about every evening but that I've never bothered following up to figure it out. But last night I did! Well I'm actually not sure what exactly it is that I've confirmed but I feel that some sort of question now has an answer.

Anyhoo. It's about the cat this time. Figero (yeah some folks may spell it Figaro but we like it our way). His food dish is kept on the counter or else the dogs would chow on his chow and he'd be irritated. And most likely cranky. And the dogs would most likely be scratched and cowering on the other side of the room. Fig has one of those divided dishes with two compartments. It's green. One side is reserved for wet food and the other for dry.

Each morning he gets a generic little can of wet food for breakfast. In the evening when the dogs are served their dinner, Figero usually just perches up on his food counter and watches. It's not until later in the evening when I'm down there setting up the coffee pot to brew for the morning when he chats me up for some crunchies.

This is where my wondering took root. He always eats the wet food in one sitting. Or he'll take a short break and come back in like 30 minutes to finish it off. He's predictable that way. But the dry food is different. He never finishes a compartment-full in one sitting. In the evening when he meows and makes other charming yet insistent cat-asking noises, I look over to see how much dry food is still in the dry food compartment of his dish. Sometimes it's empty. So I reach into the cupboard above his head and retrieve the bag of dry food. Then I shake an appropriate amount into the appropriate compartment. He pushes his way past me and crunches until he's crunched enough. Meanwhile I put the bag back in the cupboard and go about my business.

But sometimes when I look over to see how much dry food is still in the dry food compartment of his dish there clearly is plenty of dry food there for him to snack on. Yet he is still meowing and pacing on his food counter asking for something. I've tried picking up the dish and shaking it so he can hear that the delicious crunchies are awaiting consumption. Or I'll run my fingers through it for the same effect. He'll sniff around the dish after I do that, but will look up at me saying, "You know what I want, you silly woman. Now make it happen!"

So being a compliant pet parent, I always take out the bag of food and put a bit more in the dish. Then he settles in to snack. But last night when I saw there was still plenty of dry food in the appropriate side of his dish and after I had tried my worthless tricks to help him realize that fact, I did something different. I took the bag of food and just pretended to shake more into the dish. Not one piece of new food did I add.

And guess what? He settled right in to snack.

So what does this mean? I have no clue. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. Except that I know I can fake out the cat. And that sometimes faking out is exactly what he may be asking for. Good kitty. He's more like the rest of us than I realized.

July 14, 2004

All this time...

... trying to put it into words myself when this fellow says it so well.

An Idea with Real Merit!

Talking tombstones. And you'd not have to listen to any back talk. Or be interrupted. Or if you were interrupted, you'd not even be aware.  And it would be nice to keep talking even after having jumped the ravine.  Not that I'm sure I'd have anything to say.  But I bet I could think of something.

Confetti Again!

And confetti of course will always speak to me of Popeyes Chicken Strips! We were in the drive-through at Popeyes again a weekend or so ago. On the way home from yet another trip to Home Depot. And I again ordered a spicy chicken strip meal. Because that's what I do at Popeyes.

We pulled up to the window and the clerk asked me what type of sauce I'd like with my strips. For some unknown reason on impulse completely defying rational explanation, I asked her for some confetti sauce. She looked at me in askance, not understanding what I was requesting. But remember, their sweet and sour sauce is officially labeled "confetti" sauce. It's printed in relatively large letters on the lid of the container just over the smaller letters that say "sweet and sour". Since she worked there, I thought for sure she'd know what I meant. So I smiled and clarified, "sweet and sour sauce please". "Oh!" she said and grabbed a few containers of the delectable sauce.

I said conversationally "Confetti is the official Popeyes name for sweet and sour, doncha know. That's why I asked for it like that." She squinted at the top of one of the little containers she held in her hand and said with a smile "Well sure enough! I had never noticed that before!"

So what's my point? I don't have one. This is nothing new.

Caller ID

So what's the difference between "unknown caller" and "private caller"? Not that it really matters because I won't answer up the phone for either one. Well sometimes I will but I have to be in just the right mood and I usually end up regretting it. But I'd still like to know what causes one number to be "unknown" and another to be "private".

I just had the Tina Turner song "Private Dancer" start playing in my head. My sister always used to love that song.

July 13, 2004

An Oriole Won?!

So Tejada had a great night in the Home Run Derby last evening. Now if he'd just start hitting those blasts a bit more often in games that count.

Yeah I'm kinda pissed at those Orioles. I had my hopes so high (like that's their fault?). But hey, maybe they'll pick it up in the second half of the season. I am an eternal optimist after all.


The Boy, since his freshman year of high school, had always been rather preppy. At least in the way he dressed and groomed himself. He wore a lot of khakis and button down shirts. In fact, he didn't own any blue jeans at all. Still doesn't. Hardly ever wore sneakers, eschewing them for his Tims or other lace-up shoes. He also spent an inordinate amount of time "grooming". While I used to get irritated when we had to wait for him to finish "doing his hair", I did appreciate the care he gave his appearance versus the other directions he could have chosen.

When the term "metrosexual" came into vogue a while back, we realized he fit it to a tee. Dictionary.com defines it this way. Ayup, that's The Boy. His friends used to come home with him after school and he'd make them omelettes. Every so often they even cleaned up the kitchen afterwards. Every so often like once in a blue moon. Ah the good old days?

The Boy had a friend named Jason in high school. Jason is gay. The Boy is quite comfortable around gay people because... well... he grew up with us. They used to go clothes shopping together, among other things. One year Jason accompanied our family on our biennial beach "reunion" trip. Those trips are great. Mingling with family members we only see every so often and observing how they've changed (or haven't changed) is enjoyable. Plus at the beach, if they start getting on my nerves (like family is so good at doing either intentionally or inadvertantly), I can just take a walk or a nap or bury my nose in a book or do whatever to escape.

Jason and The Boy had a pretty tight friendship. The beach was a good place to practice their social skills, flirting in particular. Not with each other, but with others. If you've ever seen how teenagers are at the beach, you know what I mean. They developed a strategy that evidently worked quite well. When Jason was too shy to approach guys he wanted to talk to, The Boy started the conversations. And vice-versa with the girls. Those two had a great time that week. The Boy met a girl from our locale whom he actually ended up dating for a few months after that trip.

Okay where was I going with this? Oh yeah. During his first year of college, he kept up his metrosexual image. But when he landed his current summer job, one of the requirements was to grow out his hair and beard. And when we visited last week, he greeted us wearing a thrift store t-shirt and some cheap sneakers he had picked up at Walmart. (Not that he didn't look good, because he did. A sight for sore eyes indeed. He just looked so different.)

Now granted, actors often have to adapt their looks to the part they are playing. So the shaggy hair I understand. But those clothes! Has our metrosexual transformed permanently into a hippie? Or is this just a summer phase? Or is he just trying out a completely different image?

Metrosexual or hippie or anything in-between, matters not to us. Another of the joys of parenthood: watching them evolve. Change, as this year has proven to me in so many ways, is inevitable.

Can't Avoid It

To preserve the ever-so-delicate state of my sanity, I'm trying to ignore politics this week. It's a difficult endeavor what with the whole debate going on in the Senate regarding the proposed Constitutional amendment.

But when I read this post over at Obsidian Wings, the following excerpts really hit on why I just don't understand how anyone can feel the need for our Constitution to be amended to define marriage.

Edward_ wrote (in part):
"Gay people want equal treatment under the law. This shocks some people. How dare they? But to understand how simple and primal this is, all they need to do is imagine the reverse. You, as straight, are the minority, and the gay majority wants you to accept second-class citizenship. You'd be throwing up barricades and bombing police headquarters within a week. Give your gay fellow citizens a break. They really just want to buy a house, start a family, and retire with a nest egg that allows them to travel a bit and complete their collection of fine china replicas of Judy Garland and Shirley Temple. Your fear is unfounded. If you were as busy as you wish you were having straight sex, by the way, you'd have precious little time to give any thought at all to what your gay neighbors were doing. Sort that out before you pass an amendment chiseling discrimination into our most precious document."
And some of the comments fleshed this out a bit more:

Fabius commented (in part):
"My current defense of gays against the militant anti-gay (who happen to belong to all races and political persuasions) is to begin by insisting that I don't want special rights for gays - I just expect that they have the same rights as the rest of us."
And Brian added (in part):
"As to the specifics of gay marriage and rights, I would make the following points:
  1. Why should it matter that gays want to make 'married' commitments to one another?
  2. Why should they be prevented from doing so in the US while all other adults, equivalent in all other ways, are allowed to do so?
  3. What has done more to weaken the institution of marriage and social cohesion? Is it gays wanting to make a commitment to each other or heterosexual infidelity, divorce, single-parent families? Or is it the alcoholism, drugs, domestic violence, arguments about money that take place within marriages that destroy love and the cohesion of society?
  4. Some argue that marriage is about children. ... But marriage is not always about children and permitting gay 'marriage' does not alter that.
  5. For those that argue that marriage is a religious act, here Mr Bush and I agree, you are still able to ask whether it is the duty of the state to impose a religious choice. I don't think it is."
While none of the above perfectly represents my own feelings on the subject, a number of the larger points are touched on. Religion and politics are separate. That is a basic tenet of American civil liberties. Or it's supposed to be. But is the big stink over just the word 'marriage'? Or is it over same gender unions of any type? Our Constitution is not a dictionary after all. So why write the definition of marriage into it? And let's not forget how some heterosexuals treat marriage and commitment and family as far, far less than sacred. But is anyone proposing to strip from those folks their right to get married and divorced and married and divorced as many times as they may choose? Nope. Because that type of behavior doesn't harm the 'sanctity of marriage' or undermine the 'family structure'. Sanctimonious bastards.

Babbling I may be. This topic does that to me.

July 12, 2004

Capital "O"

Wendy performed a huge service for us yesterday. I mean huge on the scale of Mount Rushmore huge. It's that organizational thing, don't ya know? Wendy is my Mount Rushmore of organization. We both function so much better when things around us are organized and neat. But sometimes over time things that started out organized and neat get mucked up and messed up and disarranged and screwy. This time it was our dresser drawers. And our closets. The ones we keep our clothes in, not the closets where we keep all those other things that need to be kept tucked away behind closed doors.

I actually have a dresser drawer now that is completely empty! How cool is that? And all my clothes are already neatly stowed in other places! That drawer is really empty. Like time to go shopping empty. Mega cool. Like cold Mountain Dew on a hot summer day cool. Or like I imagine cold Mountain Dew on a hot summer day cool would be if I chose to drink such things but I typically don't. But the best thing is when I open the other drawers. Everything has a place and is in it. And the closet! Whee! Leftover winter clothes hanging out in our every day closet that had not yet made it to the winter clothes closet made their way over there yesterday, kind of like a snake fish moving from one pond to another.

It's a beautiful thing indeed.
Envy me. I know you do. At least for my dresser drawers.


I drink alcohol. I'm of age. Plenty past the minimum age to purchase and imbibe restricted beverages of whatever sort I may desire.

It's been a long long long while since anyone selling such age-limited beverages has ever asked for proof of my age. I've gotten used to this. I think. But part of me misses being carded every now and again.

Usually I do the grocery shopping. It's one of my household chores. And I enjoy it. But sometimes we go together, Wendy and I. Like the day I'm going to tell you about. We picked up a twelve-pack of beer for our refrigerator. Well not actually for our refrigerator because our refrigerator runs on a different type of juice. It was for us. Truth be told, we picked up two twelve-packs of beer because she likes one type and I like another. We both like cheap beer however. Because we are of a frugal nature perhaps. Or maybe we just don't have good taste. Or maybe cheap beer tastes good to us. Which it does.

So we had two twelve-packs of cheap beer mingled in with our zucchini, fudgesicles, and pork chops. And cat food. And assorted other things we keep around the house to assuage our hunger pains or cravings as needed. Wendy was up by the cashier and I was in the back behind the cart unloading our goods onto the conveyor belt. The cashier was about to ring up the beer when she looked at Wendy and said "May I see your ID please?"

A quick aside here is a necessary part of this story. About a week prior, Wendy's driver's license along with her bank card and a small amount of cash were stolen from her car. She had inadvertantly left them on the seat of her car after picking up lunch. Some prick had smashed her car window right there in the parking lot of her office and helped themselves. People suck that way sometimes.

Okay back to the grocery store line. Because Wendy had not yet received her replacement ID, she looked at me and asked "Do you have your ID with you?" The cashier also glanced over at me. And then she said "Oh! Is she with you? Well I don't need to see her ID!" as she proceeded to ring up the beer.

Now because I'm an easy going sort and often see humor where others may not, I burst out laughing. Borderline hysterical laughter, but more amused. The cashier looked up at me and actually had the grace to blush. Because she realized what she had done. Not implied. Stated. Unequivocally. I look old. Plenty old. We all then shared a laugh together because it was funny.

On this past trip to NC, we stopped at the Red Apple gas station to pick up some beer. They didn't have our cheap beer of choice, so we settled for Miller Lite. I got in line behind two men, also purchasing beer. The lady behind the counter (oddly not Russian as we'd come to expect during our short visit but rather an older local lady) dutifully asked each in turn for his ID. So when it was my turn to check out, I said with a smile "Aren't you going to ask for my ID?" She laughed while covering her mouth with one hand (but not before I noticed she only had one tooth in the front on top!). Evidently the thought of asking me for my ID was the most humorous idea she'd heard all day.

Plenty old. And I look it. Argh. Might as well laugh.

July 11, 2004

Mouse Callousness

Stop what you are doing!
Remove your hand from the mouse.
Hold it upright and turn your hand so you can see your palm.

Below your pinkie finger where your hand ends and your wrist is about to begin is the triquetrum bone. Yeah, that's the one.

Mine's bright red. With the beginnings of a callous. Or maybe it already is a callous but I'm in denial. My non-mouse hand doesn't have one. It's triquetrum bone is a smooth integral part of the rest of my hand.

As much as I love caressing my mouse with it's wonderfully versatile wheel and smooth slick mousing motion, I really don't like this bright red callousy-feeling spot developing on my triquetrum bone.

I'm rather ashamed to admit I actually felt better when I noticed Wendy has the same spot on her triquetrum bone. Is it just us? Maybe only lesbians in Virginia sport such a vibrant red spot on their mouse-abused triquetrums. Could it be so?

And triquetrum is fun to say.
Try it! You must!

July 10, 2004

The Russians Have Landed!

In Manteo, North Carolina of all places.

Who knew? Well others were aware, just not Wendy and me. We typically frequent the Outer Banks in the off-season and had not before experienced this phenomenon.

Evidently the dwindling supply of young Americans willing to spend their summers in the Outer Banks working jobs ranging from hotel clerk to stockers at the Food Lion created the need to import labor from Russia.

Of this I need to know more. It's not an urgent need, but again it's the curiosity factor niggling at my brain.


An unflattering picture of me (so unflattering I cannot believe I'm posting it--the camera can be so unkind!), but The Boy looks good!

Our Trip

Mission accomplished!
  1. Grocery shopping: $95.54

  2. Toiletry shopping: $45.51 (but that included a belt and new sheets!)

  3. New Friends: Interesting, eclectic, kind, chatty (hot chicks few and far between however!)

  4. Apartment: Godawful, but what can one expect with five guys living there? They were trying, however. The living areas and kitchen were pretty clean!

  5. Tan: Not too much, not too little. Golden Boy he is.

  6. Performance: Enjoyed it. Lovely setting and we were treated to a gorgeous sunset. 8 costume changes for The Boy. Beautiful music. Interesting show.

  7. Feedings: Dinner, lunch, dinner. Good good and good.

  8. Hugs: Plentiful.

July 8, 2004

Off to NC

We'll be gone a few days getting a dose of The Boy.
And shopping.
And eating.
And reading.
And sleeping.
And sunning.
In addition to visiting.

Up, is that you? Part 1

The story of how Wendy and I met is an interesting one. Maybe only interesting to us, but then most of what I'm writing about here is only interesting to me despite that other people are evidently finding it to be of some small interest to themselves. (Which fascinates me, but in a good way.)

I like our story not only because of the impact meeting her has had on my life, but also because now that I know her more intimately I know what a stretch it was for her to reach out in the way she did. I've come to realize just how reserved she can be with others, but with me she is quite bold. That made an impression on me then because it was usually me being bold in relationships. Turns out I like it the other way around too. Who knew? We now take turns being bold, depending on who has the strength to do so at the moment boldness is required.

So I'm going to document the Tale of Wendy & Suzanne herein. And I get to tell this from my perspective since it is my story. I may ask Wendy to tell the same tale from her perspective. It could be quite amusing to then compare the versions. Well amusing to us anyway. It's far too long to recount in one post and I know I can't sit still long enough to type it all at once, so I'm going to break it up. Soap opera style, except without the fake drama. I'll not pepper it with the gratuitous sex scenes often found on daytime TV, preferring to savor those intimate memories privately. I'm sure you'll be able to handle the disappointment.

Enough of the intro.... on to Part 1!

**fade back in time**

I was single. And it was good. The Boy and I had recently relocated back to Mount Vernon, the first real move where he had to help pack and lift and carry and haul. The last time we had moved, I was still packing and lifting and carrying and hauling him as he wasn't nearly grown enough to do so himself. He would be starting 8th grade in the fall, his first year in public school. Now if you don't know any kids of that age, you need to know that is the age when socializing with one's friends begins to take complete precedence over one's family (it's one of the reasons we moved, but that's a different chapter). While I still spent quite a bit of time enjoying The Boy entertaining his friends at our house, I also spent a great deal of time ferrying him hither and yon to meet the demands of his vigorous social calendar.

(Really. I'm not getting off topic. Setting the background is all.)

So I was single. And The Boy didn't need his old mom for companionship much anymore. *sigh* I decided perhaps I would again dip my toes into the dating scene. As there were not too many single lesbians (or for that matter ANY lesbians) hanging around the suburban mother crowd I'd been part of for years, I began considering my options.

I had never really dated in the traditional sense of dating. Who had time for that? I didn't fall into the stereotypical lesbian-second-date-moving-van category either. I had The Boy to consider and he came first. I was not about to have a string of women flowing in and out of my bedroom and our lives. To me, offering a child stability at home is almost as vital as salt is to Wendy. So I was cautious. And would take my time introducing my son to anyone I may happen to date. That would be a privilege those prospective women would have to earn. I had identified several very important qualities that would have to be part of any woman I would ever date more than once.

In no particular order, she would have to:
  1. be able to write intelligently, using complete sentences in actual paragraphs. Vocabulary and proper spelling would be essential.
  2. have a good relationship with her family, particularly her mother and father.
  3. like books. And enjoy laying around reading them. And be able to intelligently discuss their contents.
  4. enjoy sex (gratuitous or otherwise!).
  5. be a sports fan. Football and baseball specifically. It would be a plus if she were a Redskins fan. Ice hockey and basketball would kinda be minuses.
  6. love pets and all the headache and joy that come with having them.
  7. love kids and all the headache and joy that come with having them.
  8. appreciate suburban life.
  9. have a sense of humor. Preferably a sharp one.
  10. like herself.
I was not too picky. Just selective. And that was just fine. I know what I like and what I need---or maybe I should say I know what I DON'T need, which can truly be just as relevant.

See I used to be the "rescuer" sort, where I'd try to fill in the gaps for people who weren't quite complete. Got a problem? Oh no problem at all! Let me fix it for you! I'll surround you with my love and affection and show you just how wonderful life can be! Yeesh. While my heart may have been in the right place, that approach pretty much guaranteed relationship failure. So no more rescuing for me. This time around, it would be on an equal ground or I'd just stay single. I don't mean to sound pompous, but I had come to realize I was a pretty hot commodity in the lesbian market: a stable and sane individual. Actually, that made me a hot commodity in any dating market, not just that of the lesbian variety but I was not interested in just any old dating market.

Internet dating was just gaining a foothold in modern romance. That approach appealed to me greatly for a number of reasons. Email correspondence would be a useful screening tool. I would be able to discern her writing ability (and all things that go with such ability) merely by reading an email. And I could do it on my own time, when my schedule permitted.

I created a screenname exclusively for this adventure: UpUpUpUp, intended to convey my upbeat and positive nature. I penned and posted my first personal ad, sappily describing what I was looking for in a wife. Yeah I know. Blech. But hey, I was new at this. And I included a favorite quote from a Tori Amos song: "In a sense, he said, you're alone here. So if you jump, you best jump far." (This quote actually became key in the process, although I did not know it would then.)

And the deluge of emails began. My inbox starting filling up so rapidly it was almost alarming. There was just not time to correspond with everyone who replied to my ad, but I always gave at least a minimal reply even to those who clearly did not possess even one quality from my list. That's when I formulated some other loose requirements, adding geographic and age factors to my screening process. With those that passed the initial screening, I made dates for coffee. In the next few months, I drank quite a bit of coffee with strangers. And met some interesting women of all different shapes, personalities and life circumstance. But I hadn't met Ms. Forever....

So I posted a new ad under a different screenname, Words Rock, using a different approach: humor. But I tagged my signature with the same Tori Amos quote. Again the email deluge began. Some of the same respondents replied to my new ad with the exact same reply they had used for my first ad! Incredible creativity. Not!

But one repeat respondent made me literally throw my head back and laugh out loud. It was a one-liner that read simply "Up, is that you?"

Wow. In-ter-esting. Pleasing even. Keep in mind the two separate ads were posted under different screennames months apart written in completely different styles from one another. Really. They were like Night and Day. Jeckle and Hyde. Sun and Moon. Yin and Yang even. Sap and Humor. I think you get it.

I had started a file of responses to my first ad. This reply had me pawing through papers to find this woman's first email. As I re-read it, I was reminded why I had not really followed up on it. She lived in Rockville, about an hour away over heavily trafficked freeways. And she was only 28 (I was 35 at the time) which seemed to me an awfully large age gap. But now I was intrigued. She was obviously brighter than most, having made the connection based on my use of the same quote. Good attention to detail. Her first email was cohesively written, concise yet informative, good sentence structure and grammar. She had appealed to me the first time based on those characteristics, but the age and geography warned me away. Now I had no choice. I was compelled to write back. Curiosity does that to me. We began corresponding and chatting online frequently. And so I made the acquaintance of Wendy. The adventure had begun.

.... to be continued

July 7, 2004

How Large is Kingdom-Size?

We sleep in a king-size bed. All of us. At the same time. We fill the king-size bed to capacity. Wendy has her side and I have mine and we are free to share each other's spaces as the mood suits. If it were just the two of us, there would almost be too much space (as if it were even possible to have too much space in bed!).

But as I said, it's not just the two of us. Cosine pretty much keeps to the foot of the bed, either the right or left side or even the middle, depending on her mood. But always at the foot. Figero also prefers the foot, typically reclining on the left end corner. Detail, when we used to bring him up to join us, never stayed long. Near the end, he occupied the middle because we didn't want him to fall out. But he usually only stayed for a little while before moving himself back to the landing.

Dudley is the one who thinks the bed belongs exclusively to him and we are just there to keep him company. He doesn't seem to care where on the bed he sleeps, just as long as it's in the bed. He does not, however, typically choose the foot of the bed. It drives Wendy crazy when we all pile in and Dudley chooses to snuggle between my legs instead of over by her. It drives me crazy too but for a different reason. I dislike being pinned in for any length of time. But it is comforting when he nests there and uses my thigh as a shelf for his chin. Just not for an extended period of time because then the comfort dissipates and I start to twitch. Which is just not pleasant. Not pleasant at all.

We were discussing that there really is just not enough room in our bed. The obvious solution of kicking the animals out of the bed is really no solution at all as far as we are concerned. Wendy opined that what we need is a kingdom-size bed rather than a mere king-size. Which begs the question... how large is kingdom-size? As long as it's at least a tad bigger than king, we'd be good to go.

Old Neighbors

Long ago in another life phase, The Boy and I lived in Woodbridge, Virginia. Our neighborhood was the stereotypical definition of blue collar living. On one side of us lived Traditional Family and on the other side lived Hippy Family.

Traditional Family consisted of a Mom, Dad and 2 daughters. Well maybe not quite so traditional because Daughter One is from mom's first marriage. Perhaps I should say they are a traditional blended family. That'll work. Dad was a cop and mom worked as an accounting clerk for the local trash service. Very nice people. Fanatical about washing their automobiles, however. Every weekend, rain or shine. I'm serious. I've seen them out in the rain soaping up their cars. To each their own. They were good neighbors.

Hippy Family was not traditional by any definition. Mom was a checker at the local Giant Food store. I'm not sure what Dad did, outside of playing in a rock band. Mom was about 15 years older than Dad. They had one devil spawn of a daughter who could only have originated in the center of all that is evil (I saw her puking in the front yard from drinking too much one time too many to be magnanimous. Puking in the front yard was NOT a common occurrence in the neighborhood except at the Hippy Family house. And seeing that even once was one time to many, ya know?). The other daughter was a normal enough little girl (until growing up in her devil spawn sister's shadow turned her into a drug-using redneck slut but we had already moved before that transformation and I only heard that second hand).

I was fairly shy back in those days and did not seek out interface with my neighbors. It was too daunting. I was dealing with many life changing events at that time and did not see the need to carry familiarity beyond a wave and hello. Hippy Dad and his band used to practice in their basement way way way into the wee wee hours of the morning. This was not good. Not good at all. I'd lay awake at night fuming to the bass beat that was so loud they may as well have been playing in my bedroom. Or sometimes they would arrive home after a gig and unload their equipment. They were boisterous and loud, which I wouldn't have minded except my bedroom window overlooked their driveway and they never arrived home earlier than 2 am. I finally decided it was worth risking their neighborly wrath and I began calling the police instead of fuming.

Yes yes, I know. Perhaps I should have spoken with them first and explained how their inconsideration was interrupting my beauty sleep. Perhaps I could have reasoned with them and negotiated an equitable compromise. I took the easy way out. The police were quite responsive and never took more than 5 minutes to arrive, even for a non-emergency type of complaint such as that. I'd hear them pull up and begin knocking on Hippy Family's front door. Like they could hear a knock with all that "music" being played in the basement. Typically, the cops would then head to the backyard through the side gate and knock on the basement door. The "music" would halt and be replaced by Hippy Dude's loud voice laughingly reassuring the police they would cease and desist their noise pollution, at least for that evening.

Hippy Family also had a dog they left outside for hours on end. This poor dog barked incessantly and spoiled many a Sunday afternoon nap for me. I didn't call the cops on the dog however. It was daytime after all. I did the bold thing and knocked on their door, suppressing my irritation and asking politely if they would SHUT THEIR FUCKING DOG UP. Not in those exact words of course. They were so clueless. Once in the summer when I had to go remind them to be responsible dog parents, Hippy Dad was laying on the sofa. I could see him through the open front door as I approached. He was like, "Oh, is the dog barking? I didn't notice." Yeesh.

I'm not sure either family knew what to think when they realized a lesbian had moved in next door. And they did notice. At least Traditional Family did. More on that later perhaps.

July 6, 2004

Pee Clumps and Poo Blobs

FYI in case you've never had the dubious pleasure.
Litterboxes are gross.
Just gross.
Avoid them at all costs.

Don't say I never warned you.

Blistering Baseball

Wendy and I were watching baseball on television this weekend. Nothing different this weekend from any other in that regard. But this weekend there were interesting games between American and National league teams. These games have an added appeal because whomever is not playing in their home stadium has to adapt their strategy to follow the rules of the other league. Interesting puzzle for managers, I'm sure. We started out watching the Cubs/White Sox but when they had a rain delay the network switched us over to the Mets/Yankees. Excellent! Even more excellent because the Mets were pounding those hated Yankees. It was a beautiful thing.

That game was being played in Shea Stadium, home of the Mets. All stadiums play music during the game, tunes that are blasted out over the loudspeakers and designed to rev up the fans and players alike. At Shea they have what sounds like an organ. A real organ like you'd hear in church if you ever went to church. It was cool to hear some of the classic stadium rally songs blasted out on an organ.

And then the organist plinked out the familiar strains of a song that I have never before heard played in a stadium. Wendy and I looked at each other in disbelief and laughed. Is that what we think it is? It was the opening notes of a song by the Violent Femmes called "Blister in the Sun". It's a very distinctive riff and if you know the song you know what I'm talking about. In my head I could hear the lyrics: "When I'm out walking I strut my stuff yeah I'm so strung out I'm high as a kite I just might stop to check you out."

Real baseball rally material, yes? Well not usually but why not? As is always the case when I hear that song, I thought of Brenna, an old friend of The Boy. Often when she was at our house she'd be plunking out tunes on a guitar. And ever since the day I'd heard her playing and singing "Blister in the Sun", she always comes to mind whenever I hear it. I have no clue as to the meaning of the lyrics and I've given up analysis. It is a catchy tune, be-boppable and upbeat. And it must have helped the Mets because they did a real number on those Yankees. Swept the series. Nice.

"Let me go on like I blister in the sun let me go on big hands I know you're the one"

July 5, 2004

Unusual Patriotic Display?

"The hot dog eating contest is not only a beautiful display of athleticism, it is a fundamental way for citizens of all nations to display patriotism," said Wayne Norbitz, president of Nathan's Famous.
So says this article about Nathan's Famous 86th annual hot dog eating contest held each fourth of July in Coney Island, New York. The winner this year, for his fourth consecutive victory, downed 53-1/2 hot dogs in 12 minutes. That's quite a few hot dogs, isn't it? Like enough to feed a couple baseball teams.

I personally think true Athletic Patriots would want at least ketchup too, but evidently these Athletic Patriots eat their hot dogs plain. To me, a hot dog is just not a hot dog without ketchup. And relish. And just a touch of mustard. Maybe a few onions. And if I'm really really lucky, my mom's homemade coleslaw prepared in true Southern style. (And now that I think about it, I haven't had my mom's coleslaw in quite a while. I think a special request may be in order. She makes awesome coleslaw.)

I've only witnessed one eating contest myself and I wish I could have those minutes of my life back to use differently. It was a blueberry pie eating contest at some local fair way back. Like way back when I was still a dependent on my parent's tax returns. Yeah. A long time ago. Made a real impression on me. It was disgusting. Blueberry pie smeared faces and losing contestants puking under the table. Some things are just better left undone, if you know what I mean. I've managed to avoid displays of such esurience since.

I enjoy chewing my food before swallowing. Taking the time to savor the taste is nice too. Evidently, however, there are lots of folks who enjoy those cram-as-much-food-in-your-mouth-as-you-can-as-quickly-as-you-can-and-then-somehow-get-it-into-your-stomach contests. These contests are prevalent enough that there is a organization, the International Federation of Competitive Eating which keeps track of the title holders in these events of gormandizing. They also have their own circuit of recurring tournaments.

I find it interesting that the same fellow who won the hot dog eating contest also holds the record for cow brains, having sucked down 17.7 pounds in only 15 minutes! (How many cows brains are in a pound? Do I really want to know?) It appears there is a limited pool of people who are actually good at devouring massive amounts of various food types in record time as there are quite a few repeats on the title holders list. The food changes but the names remain the same. One of them is a tiny little woman from my own city: Sonya Thomas! She's quite the little glutton. Among other records, she is the Federation's reigning champ at hard boiled eggs (65 in 6 minutes 40 seconds... Cool Hand Luke, anyone?) and cheesecake (11 pounds of Downtown Atlantic cheesecake in eleven minutes!).

All that crazy eating and she still maintains her weight around 100 lbs. She should bottle her metabolism and sell it.

July 4, 2004

Breakfast of Champions

Grits are good.
Sausage is good.
Together they are excellent.

July 3, 2004


A creature of habit I am, not quite to the point of obsession, but I do enjoy my routines.

In the morning, the first thing I do after dragging myself out of bed is to escort our pack outside. I fling open the french doors to the screened porch and wave my arms like I'm directing traffic. Which I sort of am.

"Good boy, good girl, good boy" I say as our dogs flow out around me heading for the yard. Not that they are necessarily proceeding in the order of boy-girl-boy, but I like the symmetry of saying it that way. While they are outside doing the things that dogs do outside, I feed the cat and mete out the dog food into their three bowls. The communal water dish is filled with fresh clean water. As I let them in, I wave my arms directing the flow and say again, "good boy, good girl, good boy" as they re-enter the house and make a beeline to their dishes to break their fast.

But that's about to change. Tomorrow when I let them out, I already know how I'm going to feel because I've imagined it many times over the past few weeks (even months maybe). The lack of symmetry will mock me.

Good boy, good girl.... goodbye....

August 5, 1988-July 3, 2004

Our Dog Detail

August 5, 1998 to July 3, 2004

Cosine is the first dog who completely and wholly belongs to me. Mutt, my family dog growing up, didn't count as "my" dog because she was really my mom's dog. Just like my son can never really call Cosine "his" dog, because she's really mine. Mutt was a mutt and Cosine is a springer spaniel. She's a bitch. She barks too much because she's stone deaf and doesn't realize she's making such hellacious noise. Recently she's decided she doesn't like to jump up onto the bed where she really wants to be, so she whines and barks until we lift her up to join us. Yeah. I'm whipped. So what? She's very sweet and dear, and I love her with all my heart. I must, otherwise I'd never put up with her barking.

And while she is, like the rest of us, moving closer and closer with each passing day toward the end of her life and her grave, she's not the one for whom this tribute is written. Her brother Detail went more actively about the business of dying. Quite successfully, I may add.

Cosine has been part of our family since she was about nine weeks old. She and Detail were from the same litter, but Detail initially lived with some other family. Some stupid non-dog-loving family (SNDLF) adopted Detail, even though four out of the six family members didn't like dogs. They hired a professional dog trainer, took him to the vet as needed, groomed him regularly. But did they love him like he needed to be loved? I think not because after about a year, the SNDLF decided they didn't want him any more. WTF?? So he came to live with us. Despite his "professional" training, he did have a few bad-dog habits. Like running willy-nilly out any exterior door that happened to open. It took but a bit of patient instruction to help him realize doing that was just a really bad idea. He was a bright dog. And I can't fault him for wanting to do it. The SNDLF didn't have a fenced yard. With the exception of those occasional front door oh-my-god-let-me-out-I-NEED-to-run-and-play-and-explore escapes, Detail had NEVER been outside except on a leash. And he just was not that fond of being on the leash. Imagine.

Fortunately for him and because we are smart dog loving people, we had a fenced yard. A big yard. Crappy fence, but good enough. Lots of room to run around. Plenty of native wildlife to chase. Trees to pee on. Suburban passers-by at whom to bark. Warm sunshine in which to nap. Sticks to fetch and chew. All the good stuff dogs deserve.

Our kitchen door led to a small deck with stairs going down to the backyard. Since we had been working on the "just because the door is open doesn't mean you should run out" training, when I opened that door he sat politely yet quivering anticipatorily nearby watching me intently. I will never forget the look of disbelief transforming into unadulterated joy as I waved an invitation for him to proceed out the door unrestrained by a leash. He bounded past me, down the stairs and into the yard where he did free-doggie things to his heart's content.

Detail quickly developed a routine. Rain, snow, sleet, or sunshine. Out the door, down the stairs, through the right side of the wooded area to the back fence, looping around to race up the left side of the wooded area to the front fence, surveying his domain. Soon his path was worn and visible and rarely did he deviate. He'd sit outside for hours on the deck, watching over his home and soaking up the sunshine… or sleet… or snow…. or rain… He just liked being outside.

Sometimes when he was out alone he would eventually bark to come in, but typically he only raised his voice when there was really something to raise it about, like a child riding his bike down the street. "Alarm alarm! They are coming to kill us all!", he'd proclaim lustily and loudly in his rich deep baritone voice.

When they were younger, I, along with my son who was also younger, would take them hiking in the woods of a nearby park. We'd let them off their leashes and they would take off running through the forest, circling back every so often to make sure we were still on the right trail. The path led near a reservoir and the dogs would swim. Detail and Cosine both loved to swim. They would chase sticks out into the water and bring them merrily back to shore to do it all over again. Detail, as seemed his nature, would sometimes ignore the stick and just swim randomly around. He always was an independent fellow, almost a loner yet truly enjoying the comfort of his pack.

Cosine and Detail were middle-aged when Dudley joined the family. We didn’t live near the reservoir any more and Dudley has never been swimming. What a hoot that would be. Dudley is a basset hound. I should probably use a capital “B” and “H” because of the impact he has had on our lives. The pleasure of belonging to a basset hound is an experience not to be missed. He had not been part of a pack before and seemed to take special joy in his new family, immediately bonding with the springers and blossoming under their more experienced doggie tutelage while passing along to them a few tricks of his own. Dudley became Detail's hanging-out-in-the-yard companion. He likes being outside too.

Detail was the only one not intimidated by the cat. Figero used to play a game with the dogs, stretching out full length on the middle stair and daring the dogs to pass him. He'd swat with his sharp claws at any dog audacious enough to try. Cosi would dance around and bark, wanting to climb those stairs but definitely not wanting to pass the cat to do so. Dudley would whine, also unwilling to challenge Figero and risk a scratch. Detail, however, would just bull right on up the stairs undaunted. He was bold like that.

So here we are today. Older and perhaps wiser. Aged even. Well, some of us feel that way at times. Like now. Detail was diagnosed with Cushing's disease about ten months ago. In a nutshell, he had a tumor on either his adrenal or his pituitary gland that caused an overabundance of cortisone in his body. He was on meds, but we are still unsure of their therapeutic value. There is a more aggressive treatment than the one he was on, but it is a harsh road and would have been too hard on such an old fellow. His muscle mass wasted away. Skin and bones he became. His nickname used to be Fat Boy, but no longer. He couldn’t go down the stairs by himself and often his legs slipped out from underneath him. His coat, once the most beautiful thick soft and shiny fur around, was but thin and wispy. His wonderful rich bark sounded more like a mouse squeaking. He seemed embarrassed at the change in his voice because near the end he used it even less frequently than before.

He would have been sixteen next month. I owed him a cake.

July 2, 2004

Unexpected Pleasure

Because it is the second of the month and I'm a bookkeeper who freelances part-time, today was not one of my "easy" Fridays. I've been to downtown DC and then hauled ass to another client's office in west Alexandria. Thankfully the traffic cooperated. I arrived home and began my arriving home routine, which consists first of greeting the animals and then letting them outside. While they tend to their business in the backyard, my routine then takes me down the driveway to the mailbox to retrieve whatever goodies the mail carrier may have brought us.

And surprise! Some time between when I had driven into the carport and then returned to fetch the mail a few minutes later, someone had planted a little American flag next to our mailbox! See?

How cool is that?

Yet another reason...

... that purses are better than pockets. This could have been my phone. Or The Boy's phone. Or maybe your phone. Owie wowie.
We're pretty sure it's time, whatever that means. So tomorrow, unless some miracle occurs and things improve, we're gonna have to do it.

Hmmm. A different type of freedom on Independence Day weekend. Not a bad thing? Yes, not a bad thing.

Weird History

I confess. I was surfing around indiscriminately again. Blindly following links and not paying attention to where I started, just to where I was going. And sometimes I wasn't paying attention even then. But hey, is that really something I need to confess? I felt no guilt while doing it. And I rarely miss an opportunity to feel guilty.

This caught my eye, mainly because we have some friends who are currently on the Weight Watchers program. I spent the next few minutes reading through these and laughing out loud. At work. Really loud. Couldn't help it though. In my defense I was on my lunch hour. And it's really hard to eat and laugh out loud at the same time. Laughing is hardly against the rules at my office, but I felt rather silly laughing out loud by myself. Our intern probably thinks I'm insane. He couldn't help but hear me.

Check it out. Read as you scroll down to "start the tour". Then take the tour. It's well worth the clicks.

Weight Watchers Recipe Cards circa 1974

You can thank me later.

July 1, 2004

Weird NJ

Sometimes I'm hesitant to admit it, but I've got relatives in New Jersey. Relatives by marriage (not my own marriage, although for several years way back in the stone age I was married, these relatives are unrelated to those relatives who weren't from New Jersey at all). My NJ relatives are from my Mom's marriage.

A strange bunch, those New Jerseyites. But nice enough folks. They talk funny. Almost as funny as when Wendy gets around her parents and her Texas accent resurfaces (actually I find that accent of hers more sexy than funny!). Accents can be like that. I remember when we used to visit my grandparents in Alabama and my Mom's southern accent would come back. Or the fellow from Boston I work with whose accent pops out every so often. Quite amusing.

I've never considered New Jersey itself weird (my relatives are a different story!). Then I spent some time perusing this site, Weird NJ. I actually found the stories there more interesting than weird. I am fascinated by such things. History is cool. My mind wonders about the whys and hows and whos and whens and whats of what may have occurred within or around those strange types of places. So this site proved quite interesting to me. Perhaps it will be to you too.