August 31, 2004

Gotta Get Back to Something Real...

I was surprised yet pleased when The Boy said he was going to hang out with her during his week home. They had broken up during spring break after having dated for a year and a half. I liked her. I still like her. She was good for him in many ways. And I'd like to think he was good for her. But long distance relationships are hard. Harder even when you are nineteen.

They speak to each other on the phone. The Boy said she is the one friend from home he calls the most. Maintaining a connection and working on a friendship. Or something. We know how hard that can be. Emotions are messy. Distance doesn't help.

Lunch on Friday was the first time they'd seen each other since The Breakup.

She popped in to say hello to Wendy and me. Her eyes were full of pain. And anger. I could tell she'd been crying. She radiated disapproval and perhaps frustration. Nothing he could do or say would be right. She wasn't done being upset. And hurt. And mad. He squirmed, not knowing what to do or how to act. I knew there wasn't anything he could do. Except be patient and try to understand. And even that may not be enough.

He later said "I just don't know what to do now when she cries."

I said "She's not over it yet, dear."

He said "Neither am I."

My heart aches for both of them.

August 30, 2004

Ultimate Deprivation

Who says "you've got to be shitting me!" to her ENT? (That's shorthand for Ear Nose & Throat doctor for you folks who may be abbreviatorily challenged.) Why, Wendy does! Or she did. Once. It was purely reflexive. And quite appropriate. Despite being out of character.

On the "Top Ten List of Things My Girlfriend Considers Essential to Life", Salt (capital "S" intentional) is a featured item. Most likely it's in the Top Five, but who really wants to quantify things in their life to that degree? I'm only trying to give a little informational perspective here.

Many people keep a salt shaker on their dining room table. We, in pursuit of convenience, are a bit different. Yes, we keep a salt shaker on our dining room table. But Wendy also keeps one on her nightstand. And in her car. And another next to her computer. And one more by the telephone by the lamp in the living room. They blend right in to the surrounding decor and are handy when she needs them.

Which is any time we eat. I don't mean to imply we eat all the time. But we do eat daily. At least once. Usually more than once. We also don't limit our meals and snacking exclusively to the dining room. We eat wherever in our house we want. Because we no longer have children at home and therefore don't have to set a "good example". Freedom and all. (I revel, yet at times long for the past. I think that's normal. Whatever normal means.)

Oh! The look on her face as she shakes salt onto her food! The rapture! I can't really describe it... it's intense, it's gleeful.

Yes. Salt is important to Wendy. A regular joke between us is when she says to me "Suzanne**, I love you more than... more than... well, more than SALT!" I know exactly where I stand.

One year for Christmas, our friend Tina gave Wendy a Salt lick. A real honest to god chunk of Salt. About the size of my fist. Too funny. On another occasion, her birthday perhaps, a co-worker gifted her with a silver salt shaker, about 8" tall and 3" around, engraved with her name. So she'd always have her Salt handy at the office. Salt that would not get confused with anyone else's Salt. Plenty of Salt. Are you sensing a trend here? Seeing a pattern? Beginning to understand the passion involved? Okay, good.

I rarely thought about Wendy ever having to give up using so much salt. Even though it can have some health side-effects on many people. But her family seemed exempt. And so she shook on.

We are fairly healthy individuals. (I'm knocking on wood as I type those words. Really. I'll probably do it twice just to be safe.) We have some 'getting older' aches and pains, general life aches and pains, and the occasional cold. Allergies are our biggest complaint when there is complaining to do.

Earlier this year she started experiencing that "plugged up ear" feeling on a regular basis. You know the one, like when you are taking off in an airplane and gaining altitude. Or landing and losing altitude. It feels like your ears are stuffed with cotton so you chew a piece of gum or swallow and then they 'pop' and all is well. Except hers wouldn't pop. And she hadn't been on an airplane. How annoying. We initially blamed it on some type of allergy. Seemed reasonable at the time. Except even The Most Powerful Decongestants Known to Humankind didn't help at all. So, referral in hand, off she trooped to the ENT.

Where my polite lady-like mild-mannered girlfriend proceeded to blurt out "you've got to be shitting me!" when presented with the diagnosis and the initial 'treatment' plan. No magic pill to be taken. No waving of wands and chanting of chants as the mysterious workings of modern medicine restored her ears to the unplugged state for which she so yearned.

Nope. Instead, deprivation was prescribed. (I should really say further deprivation.)

Drum roll, please (because this is big and therefore worthy of one!): Wendy has been advised to eliminate caffeine and reduce her sodium intake to minimum. If she really wants her ears to unplug, that is.

Because giving up nicotine isn't hard enough?

Wendy came home and laughed saying "At least she didn't tell me I had to give up alcohol!" Amen to that.

** In actual real life moments, she might not be calling me Suzanne at all. She might be calling me by my last name. Which is something she does quite frequently. And for some strange reason, I like it. Even more than she likes Salt.

August 29, 2004

Weekend Gas Prices

I'm certain this fascinating factual information will be appreciated by all.

Gas in our area averages around $1.89 per gallon.

We fueled up about 40 miles south of where we live where gas goes for $1.69 a gallon.

In North Carolina, gas cost $1.79 per gallon.

See? Fascinating. I told you so.

The Sun Sets on Day 11...

...and peace covers the village like a soft fragrant cloud. The village in my mind anyway.

Wendy and I have decided the coming week will be our biggest non-smoking challenge so far. Life is back to "normal", our routines are back to "normal", and therefore the likelihood of missing previous habitual behaviors will be great.

Not that there is a possibility of regression. Rather we acknowledge we will perhaps be suffering more than we have until now. Not suffering as in suffering suffering, but suffering as in longing suffering.

Piece o'cake. White cake with white icing.

August 28, 2004

"Who ralphed on the stairs!?"

Typically only heard in a household with pets. Or a frat house.
Watch your step.

Whacked Weekend Ahoy!

Crazy out-of-whack-all-over-the-place weekend ahead.

Saturday morning The Boy departs in my car, bright and early, taking himself and half his stuff back to college.

And while he travels, Wendy and I will be participating in our live fantasy football draft (could the timing be any worse?!) up in Rockville. Afterwards, we'll follow him south in her car with the other half of his stuff. Sunday morning we'll hop into our respective automobiles to make the trek home, one boy and a ton of stuff lighter. I'm hoping for breakfast at Biscuitville before we leave North Carolina.

Sunday afternoon is reserved for vegetating. Serious vegetating. Turn off the phone, pull the shades, lock all the doors, dim the lights, pretend no one is home vegetating.

Monday morning the real world will find us again. Soon enough. Maybe too soon, you know?

August 27, 2004

Oh and...

The other day Wendy called me at work. It was the middle of the afternoon and she was heading home early. She said, "Remember that car you blogged about? The NE1BUTW car? I'm behind it on the GW Parkway!"

It wasn't a figment of my imagination after all.

Friar No More

Silly game, silly distraction: Kingdom of Loathing. The writing can be quite humourous.

As you near the Dark Neck of the Woods, you stumble across the corpse of one of the Deep Fat Friars.

Seeing as how he was supposed to have taken a vow of poverty, you find it strange that he appeared to be carrying a hefty sum of Meat.

You quickly change your name to Victor, and to the Victor go the spoils.

Then you change your name back.

You gain 150 Meat.

Great combo that. Silliness and wordplay.

August 26, 2004


I've learned something new. One can define one's self as metrosexual yet shop at the thrift store for clothes. It's a matter of how it's all put together and carried off. Who knew? I think my mind was confusing "metrosexual" with "clothes snob". While those things can be similar, they can also be quite different. I suppose clothes for any chosen style can be found at the thrift store.

The Boy and I went shopping for school clothes on Tuesday. It was a decidedly different experience than it used to be, yet equally as pleasing. I have felt alarm because he is changing and I was unsure the changes are good. Not that it really matters, because change happens and will continue to happen whether I think it's good or not. After relaxing and accepting the inevitability, I'm now finding observing the evolution endlessly fascinating. I'm easy like that. Despite being slow.

I can accept that The Boy is now choosing to wear polo-style shirts after eschewing them entirely in past years. I can applaude his new trend of shopping at thrift stores. Thrift stores are a fantastic place to shop for shirts of all styles and shapes. Two stores and $14.50 later, he has six "new" shirts. Four polo and two dress button-down. The total would have been much less, but one of the button-downs was $6. It's a great shirt though: just the right color, fits perfectly and looks brand new. If we had bought it new it would have cost at least $25. He seems pleased with his frugality.

For pants, we headed to the mall. He was fairly specific about what he needed. Or rather, what he wanted. One pair of corduroys. One pair of khakis. One pair of (gasp!) blue jeans. As in denim. Yes, I know. Change. Inevitable. When he was but a young boy and before he expressed any real preference in attire, I dressed him in blue jeans from time to time. But ever since he assumed control of selecting his clothes, he has never chosen to wear blue jeans. Since he was around 12 years old, the only time he has worn denim was for the role of the evil Reverend David Lee in The Foreigner ("M-my van... It blew up!!" What an awesome play!).

This trip, he had definite thoughts on what he wanted. And that's a good thing. Because shopping for jeans has become rather complex. Have you been to a Gap lately? There must be ten or twelve different styles, cuts, textures, shades, fits, etc. etc. etc. of denim jeans. Whiskered. Hand sanded. Low-rise. Boot cut. Relaxed. Panhandle. In every combination of every variation. It's fucking insane. He went straight to the type he wanted, grabbed what he thought was the appropriate size and headed for the dressing room.

There were a few other people in the store, one of whom was a young lady hanging around the dressing room waiting for her friend. When The Boy emerged from his little room, she glanced over, a wide smile forming on her face as she did one of those head-to-toe-and-back-again body scans on him. I watched this unfold from the far side of the store and noted two things. First, I noted I had a little scowl on my face because I didn't like the way she oogled him. Then I noted The Boy was absolutely clueless. Ha.

August 25, 2004

A Payoff?

I don't even like eating contests, as mentioned the first time I blogged about them. Then the other day, I made a passing mention. Consequently I have recent exposure to facts about Sonya Thomas and the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Contest.

Today at work, we were having a farewell pizza party for our summer intern. Someone mentioned Sonya Thomas and her recent lobster eating contest. (Why that person thought of eating contests, I don't really know. Because while we may eat a lot, our employees do not devour food like they are being timed for a prize.)

I offered up the tidbit that Sonya lives in Alexandria, which is where our office is located. Then my boss said Sonya had won the Nathan's Hot Dog contest this year also. Knowing that to be not true, I said so. And proceeded to share more information than anyone really needs to know about eating contests in general and the Nathan's Hot Dog contest specifically.

My boss looked at me funny and asked how I knew Sonya hadn't won this year. Did I watch the contest? Not wanting to admit I'd done quasi-research for a personal blog entry (oh geez, do I need a new hobby or what?), I merely said I'd read about it and that I knew a man had won. Others piped up around the table agreeing with my boss, saying they were sure a woman had won that contest. Ooooookay. Discussion ensued until someone (not me!) got up and googled for the truth.

Ah, sweet vindication.

Since I Quit Smoking

I'm going to bed much earlier.
Therefore I'm waking up feeling more refreshed.
I hope that continues.

I'm spending much less time at the keyboard.
Therefore I'm writing a whole lot less.
I hope that change relates more to The Boy being home
     and does NOT continue.

I'm not eating more than I did before.
Therefore I'm not gaining the weight I feared.
I hope that continues.

August 24, 2004

Another Idiotic Holiday?

Was today National Let Your Child Run Wild In the Safeway Parking Lot Day? Because I had to dodge no fewer than three loose children while their parents either a) disinterestedly and cluelessly strolled in the opposite direction or b) clapped and shouted wildly in appreciation of my smooth maneuvering. All I can say is it is a damn good thing I had my brakes fixed yesterday.

There was but one mother who had her child under control. That mother had her son gripped by the upper arm very tightly. The look on his face screamed "Oh my Mother loves me so much! She must, because otherwise she would not be gripping tightly enough to lift my left foot off the ground and I would not get to hop along spasmodically at her side!"

I don't remember this particular holiday when The Boy was a youth. We really missed out on some fun.

August 23, 2004

News That Caught My Eye

WTF? Why are we always hearing stories like this?? Why are things like this always happening?? Never, I mean NEVER, will I understand how someone can "forget" their child is in the car. "Accident" my ass.

Sonya's at it again! Baked beans one day and lobsters the next. Yum?


I think when I was a mother who actually had a child at home I may never have blogged at all. Or at least not more than occasionally.

This week I get to pretend I'm again a mother who actually has a child at home. Except my child is really more an adult. Which can be useful. Take this morning for example. This morning, The Boy will drop me off at work and then drop my car off at the shop for repair and then walk home. After it's done being worked on, he'll walk back and retrieve it, then come pick me up from the office. Nice.

See, my brakes have felt just a bit odd for a while but they still worked just fine. Saturday on the way home from NC however, they started making a horrid noise. Hence the trip to the shop. Now if it was just me, I might procrastinate a bit more before I took it in for service (because I'm stupid that way). But since The Boy will be driving it quite a bit this week, into the shop it goes.

Oh! Day Five dawns.
We're adapting and life is good.

August 22, 2004

There's A Male In The House!

After less than 24 hours, it is obvious there is a male in the house.

And I'm not implying having a male in the house is a bad thing. Because in this case, it's a fabulous thing. Make that Fabulous. With a capital "F". It is very pleasing to have him here.

We have never had to share a bathroom, other than occasionally using each others or perhaps while traveling. During this visit however, we all will be sharing the same bathroom. Because we blew the schedule. No biggie really.

But this morning, I found the seat had been left up. You know which seat I'm talking about. I don't ever recall The Boy leaving the seat up before. I know he was conditioned to be a bit more sensitive to the females around him.

So in one short year has all that sensitivity training been wiped out? Does same-sex dorm living negate the need for returning the seat to the down position? I suppose it does.

A small change in a sea of changes. So far the positives we've noticed outweigh any negatives, however. I'll just remind him to put the seat down. No biggie really.

The Boy is home!

August 21, 2004

Really Coming Out

Okay. So I've made a big change in my life. Actually, Wendy and I both are making a change. This change relates to nothing I've previously mentioned on this blog. Because with this particular subject, I've been closeted. Not totally closeted. Some people are aware of what used to be my dirty little secret which is now going to be my more public clean little truth.

Up until a few days ago, I smoked cigarettes. Gasp. Yes. I know. It's hard to believe someone of my obvious intelligence and rationality (I'll point that out as tongue-in-cheek for those of you who may actually believe I consider myself either intelligent or rational) could be so stupid as to smoke cigarettes. Those things will kill you, doncha know.

Enter the old joke: "Oh quitting smoking is easy. I've done it hundreds of times!" But I haven't. I have pretended to do so quite a few times. But the only time I truly totally quit was when I was pregnant. (Yes, I've been an off-and-on smoker that long.) And it was easy then. But after I started back up some years after that, I've never really been open about the habit. Well with some folks I have. But with others? Totally closeted. Because it's really embarrassingly stupid to smoke. And I know it.

I'm writing this shameful admission to remind myself of a few important points about quitting. I must be honest. Open. Up front. No cheating. In the past, when I've thought about quitting and half-heartedly tried, I've always ended up cheating. Which led to smoking in secret. Which is how I ended up a half-closeted smoker.

My friends know about my habit. Some I would smoke with or in front of. Others were aware, yet I'd not do it in front of them. Except in cases of extreme distress.

Family? I have to break them into segments like an orange. I'm fairly certain my parents, all of them, were unaware of my habit. They know I used to smoke back in the day, but as far as I know they believe I quit long ago.

My sister? She knows and is not shy about letting us know how she feels about it. She doesn't like it. Really doesn't like it.

The Boy? He knows and also really doesn't like it. But I've always tried not to let him see me smoke. You know, setting a good example and such. Oh the shame. THE SHAME! What a fine example I've really set. Rather than actually acknowledge my habit, I would use evasive manuevers like hanging out my bathroom window at home to smoke. I'm sure he knew what I was doing. But, in the grand old tradition of southern families, it was something we just did not really discuss. He did make pointed accusatory comments from time to time, as any good son should. And I, in stellar hypocritical parent mode, lectured about the dangers of smoking and cautioned him about the evils of addiction.

Late last year I realized I was ready to quit. Which is an important facet of eventual success. Because if one is not truly ready, one will not succeed. At least I believe that. So I've been preparing myself all year, psyching myself up as it were. But I feared trying while still living with a smoker. I knew that would make it harder. But I also didn't want to pressure Wendy into quitting, because she would also need to be mentally set to succeed. And you can't really talk someone into mental readiness. They have to have motivation of their own.

And then BOOM. Along came a motivating factor which sped her into the same state of readiness as me. Remember that incision I wanted to see a picture of? Well that is her motivation. Her Daddy. Powerful motivation for my girl.

So she is ready.
She is done smoking.

I am ready.
I am done smoking.

And on that note, please join me in welcoming myself to Day Three of being an out-in-the-open-perhaps-soon-to-be-militant non-smoker. Wendy and I haven't killed each other yet, which is a positive sign. Oh yes, we've been irritable. But that too shall pass. (Dear lord it will pass won't it? Please please tell me it will!). We are exhibiting an incredible amount of patience. We are committed.

Here's to our smoke-free future.

August 20, 2004

Road Trip!

Cell phone charged.
CDs gathered.
New bag of miniature chocolate chip Teddie Grahams.
New bag of flavor-blasted cheddar Goldfish.
Water bottle.
Gas card.
Cash money.

All set!
Off at the crack of dawn to retrieve The Boy!

Greatest Grilled Cheese Sandwich in America?

I came across this contest to create the Greatest Grilled Cheese Sandwich in America. But if you are going to enter, you'd best hurry. The deadline is TODAY!

My greatest grilled cheese sandwich will always be on sourdough bread. With three Kraft cheese slices. Generously slathered with margarine before being popped into the pan. Sometimes with mustard on the inside. Not that icky yellow mustard rather something golden, rich and flavorful. Perhaps with a glob of tuna fish. Tuna fish is awesome between two slabs of grilled sourdough bread held together with melted gooey cheese.

Interestingly enough, the contest is sponsored by Dupont. They make Teflon, one use of which is the wonderous coating on pans that keeps things from sticking. Making a grilled cheese sandwich without a teflon-coated pan is asking for disaster.

While perusing the contest site, I learned the average American consumes 8.4 grilled cheese sandwiches a year. I haven't eaten even one grilled cheese sandwich yet this year. Not even one. Because Wendy and I can't keep bread in the house. When we do buy it, it always turns green before we can finish the whole loaf. Or even half the loaf.

Green bread and cheese. Now there's a potential winning contest entry! Akin to Green Eggs and Ham? And just about as appetizing.

Cat In the Lap

Figero, dear sweet Figero. Yes we love our ole one-eyed cat. But I'm allergic. So over the years he and I have developed a system so he receives the desired amount of affection while not causing me to sneeze, itch, act like a bitch to all those around me, and generally be miserable. (Why someone who is allergic to cats actually owns a cat is another story.) Our system depends on him keeping away from my hands and face and anything which ever may get near my face at any time. Simple enough yes? Well not always, but we've worked it out.

At least I thought we had. Our system worked for sixteen years. I really felt we had something going, ya know?

All that changed a few months ago while he was sick. During his time of need, I was his primary nurse. I brought him water, coaxed him to drink it, hand fed him the few nibbles of food he was able to ingest, sat with him and spoke reassuringly. And petted him. And paid the price for petting him. He got better. Maybe I'm a better nurse than I thought? Not really. It really was the medicine.

Odd thing about that medicine. It came in liquid form. Every night for months, he would be wrapped in a towel with just his head sticking out. Then his mouth would be pried open and a syringe-type thing inserted and quickly emptied while he tried to 1) escape, 2) close his mouth, and 3) keep himself from swallowing the liquid. But we were bigger, more dexterous and more determined than he. It got much more challenging after he started regaining his strength. Then once in a while he would escape and then we'd have to start the whole routine over again. After chasing him down and peeling him out from wherever it was he attempted to hide.

Since I am allergic and all, Wendy had the task of grabbing him, wrapping him in a towel and prying his mouth open. She was also the recipient of more than a few scratches if she didn't react quickly enough. Ouchie. I had the cushy job of merely slipping the syringe-like thing in his mouth and dispensing the hated liquid miracle drug. Because I'm the princess. Oh wait. No I'm not. But I got the cushy job anyway. And I would murmur sweet soothing words during the whole ordeal. Those words didn't seem to relax him or Wendy, but I murmured them anyway. It made me feel better to babble. It often does.

You'd think he'd hold a grudge against both Wendy and I for torturing him so. But no. It's only Wendy he seems to resent. And avoid. Yet she's the one who provided most of his stroking and petting before he got sick. Outside of when the grandparents visited, that is. When either of our mothers were in town, Figero would spend a great deal of time sucking up to them and reaping the rewards. I was pretty much only good for conversation and rubbing his head with my foot. Wendy's been working hard to win back his trust, however. It's a slow road.

Meanwhile, he's all over me. I can't sit anywhere in the house without him leaping up into my lap and settling in. Which is comforting and sweet. I have a better understanding of why the grandmothers enjoy it so much. There's not much that's more comforting than a warm soft purring cat in one's lap. Until he shifts and rearranges and his sharp claws prick into my delicate soft skin. Sometimes he can just be laying there peacefully and he'll flex his soft little toes and feet. Like stretching. Then those vicious needle-like talons will stab my poor innocent leg. Making me yelp. And squirm. It startles Figero when I squirm. Which causes his claws to extend. So my leg gets scratched again. And I yelp and squirm even more. It's a vicious cycle.

He also leaves little black hairs all over my clothing. I must be extra careful not to let any of those little black shedded hairs float up near my face. I must also be extra careful when I later take off those clothes so none of those little black hairs get anywhere near my face. Because if they do... well, I won't even go there.

During one vet visit while he was being treated, our vet Myra whisked him away and brought him back with his claws neatly trimmed. They were no longer pointy and sharp and able to cause pain. When Fig's claws were short, it was a pleasure to have him sit in my lap. Except for the hairs, but they are much less painful than the claws. Unless they get in my face, of course.

I'd like to take him back to see Myra and have his nails snipped again. But Figero hates his travel carrier. And can't stand riding in the car. And he dislikes the vet. So instead I'll just suffer when he sits in my lap. Because he so enjoys sitting with me these days. And I enjoy having him there. Despite the drawbacks.

But what happened to our system? It has evolved as our needs and relationships change. Much like our needs and relationships evolve as we change. And, as with so many other changes, there doesn't seem to be any going back. Because Figero is now officially my lap cat. I feel special, really I do. Ach-choo.

August 19, 2004

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words, Right?

Okay so a close family member lives a long way away. He's just had surgery. Wendy was on the phone asking another close family member to describe the incision. She started doodling on a notepad, drawing what was being described.

So me, being the practical person I am, asked if maybe they had a picture they could send. These folks are technologically competent after all. Then we could really see what's going on.

Is there anything odd about that idea? Anything funny? I sure didn't think so. I thought it was the ultimate in practical modern communication. Evidently I'm the only one. Hrumph.

Recycle Bins

Tuesday afternoon I was at Rose and Bonnie's house. Bonnie and I were standing on the porch when I glanced over and saw their recycling bin huddled next to the garbage can. The bright blue bin was unspectacular in itself. It was the contents that surprised me. There was nothing in it but a handful of large clear plastic water bottles. All the same size, shape and label.

So what's spectacular about that? Well nothing really. It's just not what I expected. What did I expect? A little variety. A little diversity. Knowing them, I would expect a wine bottle or two. Maybe a vodka and/or vermouth bottle. An empty olive jar. A tin can or two. An organic fruit juice container. Along with some water bottles. Just not exclusively water bottles. Those water bottles seemed so lonely.

This morning as I toted our dark green recycling bin to the curb for pickup, I took note of the contents. Beer cans, quite a few beer cans. Plastic water bottles, all different brands shapes and sizes. A few Coke cans. A mandarin orange can. Cat food cans, lots of cat food cans. Several tuna cans.

Comparing our recycling bin with Rose and Bonnie's indicates life is much more varied at our place. And perhaps decidedly less healthy. I wonder how our trash would compare? Some things I'll just never know.

August 18, 2004

Waking Up

Something tragic is happening in our bedroom. And get your mind out of the gutter. That activity in our bedroom is fine (well, more than fine actually!). I'm talking real tragedy here.

We have what I consider the ultimate in clock radios. It's got some nifty functions I truly appreciate. Forward and reverse buttons for setting the time. Two separate alarm settings. A choice of waking up to an alarm, the radio or both. A wonderfully wide incremental snooze bar.

And therein lies the tragedy. The wonderfully wide incremental snooze bar. On our nifty alarm clock. It's breaking down. Oh the horror!

The clock radio resides on my side of the bed. I don't know why I'm in charge of it, but I always have been and most likely always will be. On weekdays, the first alarm sounds at 6 am. I reach over in the general direction of the alarm clock and slap the snooze bar. Four rapid clicks. Each click is worth five minutes. I do that while still asleep without even being consciously aware I'm doing it. The radio keeps playing at a low volume, peaceful and soothing. When the blaring yet still somehow gentle and not-too-alarming alarm buzzes again, I give that bar another slap. Four more rapid clicks. To buy another 20 minutes. During the second round of snoozing, I'm beginning to have a small awareness of the world around me.

Some time between the first and second rounds of slap click and snooze, Wendy arises and begins her day. The second alarm is set for 6:45 am, which, when I stop to think about it, is ridiculous. I rarely drag myself out of bed before 7:30, usually around 7:45. Which necessitates several more rounds of slapping and clicking that wonderfully wide incremental snooze bar at 20 minutes a pop. Each round brings me a tiny bit further out of my peaceful slumber.

But I think I may have slapped it too many times. Because lately I have to press in just the right spot on it's wonderfully wide surface to get a response. The right spot now, instead of being wonderfully wide and lengthy, is only about half an inch long and wide. And unfortunately for me, finding that teeny-tiny special place requires a higher level of consciousness than I am used to providing.

Bah. Nothing lasts forever.

August 17, 2004

"Woman! Bake me a pie!"

Did I mention The Boy's coming home?
Can you hear him saying that?

If you know him, I'll bet you can.
So get busy, woman.
Bake The Boy a pie!

Geographic and Generational Differentials

My parents are both grew up in Montgomery, Alabama. The Deep South. My grandparents were racist. I know that sounds really harsh. But it's true. They lived in a vastly different world from the one in which I grew up.

My mom is an only child. I don't know why her parents stopped with just one. But they did. My mom and her father were close. I think. He died when I was about a year older The Boy is now and I didn't have a great sensitivity to such things back then. I still may not, but I think I am at least a bit more perceptive now.

The only time I remember my mother getting upset with her father was due to his attitude about black people. I still can clearly hear her rebuke him with a "Daddy!", the tone in her voice plainly indicating her disapproval. When I think about it now, it boggles my mind that someone only two generations back from my own could be so prejudiced. I never really took note of it first-hand, but I do recall one story which offers a good representation.

The telephone repairman was summoned to their residence on Brantwood Drive in Montgomery. (Their zip code was 36109. Why do I remember that? Because my brain holds on to such little useless pieces of information.) When the repairman knocked on their front door, my grandfather answered it. And promptly told the man he'd have to go around to the back door. Because the repairman was black.

That attitude just doesn't have a place in my world, but was evidently quite common then. And it really wasn't that far back. Probably around the mid 1970s. Boggles my fucking mind. But doesn't color the affection I had and still hold for my grandfather. It's the place and time in which he was raised. Dare I be so pompous to imply he just didn't know any better? I remember my mother being relieved her parents couldn't attend my wedding. Because our best man was black and she didn't know how her dad would handle it. Personally, I missed having them there. And now, I feel a certain relief myself they never had to know I am gay.

He loved his daughter and his grandchildren. He used to always take us to McDonald's for cheeseburgers. And oh the memories of helping him pick figs off the trees in their yard! We'd eat some right off the tree and then cut others in half and douse them in half-and-half. They were so delicious. I now have the bowls my grandparents once served those figs in. When we eat Firecrackers I always put my LaChoy's sweet and sour sauce in one of those bowls. And the tomatos he grew in his garden! He loved to garden. If I close my eyes, I can still taste those sweet fat slices of delicious Big Boy's on white bread with extra mayonnaise. Tomato sandwiches rock. He also baked incredible lemon meringue pies that were so incredibly sweet and almost painfully tart.

My dad's parents lived across town. On Magnolia Curve. Isn't that a great southern street name? Or did we drive on Magnolia Curve to get there? Or did another relative live on Magnolia Curve? Here's where my memory fails. Not that it particularly matters. I think I'll choose to remember their house being on Magnolia Curve. Because it is a great southern street name.

These grandparents also treated black people differently from whites. Not surprising as they all were living in Montgomery at the same time. Granny and Pop had someone come in to do the housework and cooking and serving. I also remember being introduced to a very nice black lady named Alice and being told she "raised my father". The grandparents had a garage, or an outbuilding of some type, behind the main house. It was dusty and dark and labyrinthine and my sister and I used to play in there. Once we found a purse. Full of money. When we went to tell Granny about it, we got in trouble. Because that purse belonged to their cook and we had no business messing with her stuff. But we didn't know we were messing with her stuff until after we did it. She had to change into her work clothes and keep her personal items in the outbuilding. OMG. Can you imagine? First imagine having someone to cook and clean and serve and "raise" your children for you. Then imagine making them use the back building to get changed and stash their stuff. I don't know about you, but it feels to me more than a bit wrong. It did back then and it does now.

Thankfully times change. At least I hope they do. As the generations who were raised with those prejudiced attitudes pass on, surely those attitudes die with them. Surely they are replaced with more open-minded individuals who don't consider black people lesser humans than themselves. Or will people always need some class or race or type of person to put down?

I can only consider my world. And how I treat other people around me. We do have other people's prejudicial issues working against us as gay people. Not that I consider the civil rights issues of gay people today equal to those black people experienced in the past and continue to experience even today. But they are similar in some regards. Or are they?

August 16, 2004


Wendy and I wear similar necklaces. Almost identical actually, except the one she wears has an "S" on it and the one I wear has a "W". The initials are inside of hearts. These necklaces were a gift from my mother last Christmas. She gave me the "S" and Wendy the "W", then suggested we should wear each others. We liked that suggestion. And I really appreciate her having made that suggestion. To me, it represented a true acceptance of our relationship. Which, as you may be able to imagine, feels pretty damned good.

During our family week at the beach, Wendy and I were playing Scrabble with Andrew, our youngest nephew. He's nine years old. He had never played Scrabble before, but caught on very quickly. Even the points part. He was looking at Wendy as she was taking her turn and said "Hey! Does that 'S' on your necklace stand for 'Suzanne'?"

She said "Why yes, yes it does." And I said, as I held mine out for examination, "And mine has a 'W' for Wendy. Grandma gave them to us."

Andrew didn't think there was anything odd about two women wearing each others initials around their necks at all. Because there isn't. I hope as he matures, he continues to have the easy acceptance he has right now.

August 15, 2004

19 Today!

Happy birthday to The Boy!
Today is his nineteenth birthday.

So here's to a very happy birthday, young man!

I wish you were here. Yet I'm glad you are where you are. Because that's where you need to be.

Love you.

Addition: When I re-read this after posting, I began to wonder why I wrote it like The Boy would actually be reading it. I know he's not read it yet as he's been without regular internet access all summer. I wonder if he will ever read it? How much interest do young adults have in what their parents do? Hmmm. I'd read my mom's blog if she had one. But I'm not sure I would have when I was 19.

August 14, 2004

Everybody's Working for the Weekend

I can't remember who sang the song of that title, but it's running through my head right now. Can't say I ever spent any time analyzing the meaning of it as it always seemed like just pop fluff. Something to sing along with when it played on the radio, rather upbeat and positive. Basic interpretation: get through the work week so you can enjoy your two days off. Good times. But now I think of those words in a different way.

For about a year now, ever since Wendy and I bought "This Old House", we've been working on the weekends. Most weekends anyway. If we had to work every weekend, we'd be raving lunatics. And Bob Vila didn't come as part of the deal. We're pretty much on our own. I think we've struck a good balance mostly.

We work better with a deadline. Setting a deadline usually goes something like this. "The Boy will be home for {insert college break here} on {insert date here}. Let's get {insert home improvement project here} finished by then." Hey, whatever works, right? Motivational objectives are inspirational. They motivate and inspire. Which is why we call them that.

Since we got back from our vacation, we've been working like crazed lunatics. Or rather focused lunatics. Working nights even, after we get home from our day jobs. The purpose and motivation is a different brand of the purpose and motivation we started with last year, however. It has a different flavor somehow.

I think last August when we started it all had a "desperation" flavor. An "oh my god let's get this place in some semblance of order! MUST HAVE ORDER!" flavor. Kinda reminded me of jalapenos, but I can't tell you why. Now it has a more mature taste. Still spicy, yet mellow. Because basic items of an immediate nature relating to comfort and quality of life have been completed. Our comfort zones are established and orderly. What a difference that makes. For Wendy and me anyway.

This time, however, and for the first time I should add, we are not going to meet our deadline. The project slated for completion by the time The Boy comes home will not be finished when he arrives. Even if we work night and day and day and night. It's just not physically possible to get it done. And, oddly enough, I'm okay with that. Not just resigned, but really okay. We lost too much time over the summer. The motivation and inspiration deserted us. And returned too late to meet our deadline. Pieces of this summer were just plain hard.

I've been known to advise friends to "give themselves a break". I think over the past year I may have learned to give myself a break. Turns out it's pretty good advice.


I have a hangover. I can't remember the last time I had a hangover. But I've got one today. And it's not because I drank a lot, rather it's the combination of what I did drink. I wasn't even drunk. Buzzed for a bit, yes. Drunk, no. So why is my body insisting on exhibiting all the symptoms of having been on a major binge? Go figure. Another joy of age? Am I just out of practice? I'd be okay with that, but I know it's really because I ignored a lesson I'd learned the hard way a long time ago.

It started innocently enough. I hopped the Metro to meet up with Wendy and some of her co-workers for a farewell happy hour. Farewell to a co-worker moving on to a new job. I had never before met this particular co-worker, but I felt like I knew her. Wendy keeps me up to date on folks at her office. But I knew the other folks from other social gatherings and office functions. She works with good people. And happy hours with this group are fun and interesting.

Because of work commitments I didn't get there until after happy hour had ended and happy evening had begun. Happiness abounded. We were all drinking draft beer. Until Tom bought a round of shooters for everyone. Usually I refrain from doing shooters and I've never regretted it. I know my body does not react well to mixing liquor and beer. But last night, those little shooters looked tasty and refreshing. Fruity. Frothy. Sweet. I raised the little shotglass and drank with the others. Can't remember what we toasted, but I'm certain it was heartfelt and sincere. I also don't know the name of or ingredients in the shooter. A hint of Amaretto and sweet pineapple juice I could identify. But as to the rest? Clueless.

All told for the three and a half hour span we were at the bar, I drank two draft beers and two of those tasty sweet frothy refreshing shooters. And devoured a dish of spinach artichoke dip on little toasted strips of bread (which was, btw, not as good as my own recipe).

When we got home after midnight, I drank a bottle of water before bed. A big bottle. To flush things out and such. Water is good for what ails you, I always say.

So why did I wake up with a pounding head, queasy stomach and fog-filled brain? How could something that tasted so good going down disagree with me so many hours later? I know why. Because I've learned the lesson before and just chose to ignore it last night. But the next time those folks order up shooters, I'll politely decline. Because mixing beer and liquor is not a good idea.


I used to deliver Meals-on-Wheels one day a month. The second Wednesday of each month. I did it for about two years before my job got in the way.

Delivering those meals was an experience I'd gladly do again. Because I learned quite a bit from it. About myself, about parts of the community around me I otherwise would not have seen, and about people I'd otherwise not have met.

Deliveries were usually made in teams of two. One to drive, one to run the food up to the house. I usually teamed up with Marge. She was a long-time area resident and owned a local travel agency. She was at least 25 years older than me, so she usually drove and I did the leg work. Our route dictated visiting an apartment building which had deliveries on multiple floors. There, we parked and both toted the deliveries. She has since retired and moved to New England to be closer to her family.

I met Marge while we were on the board of the local chamber of commerce together. In fact, we were delivering as chamber volunteers because the organization had committed to doing a Meals-On-Wheels route every Wednesday.

We would meet at the hospital where the meals were prepared to load up. 11:30 am sharp. All meals needed to be delivered by 12:30 pm at the latest. We'd also pick up our delivery route book. The route always covered the same geographical area. Our route was MV South 1. While we had a number of "regulars", other locations would vary. There were typically 10-12 people on the list. The first thing to do was to count them so we would know how many milk cartons, cold sacks, and hot boxes to pack up. Thermal carry bags were provided.

The best part of all this was NOT the smell of the food. It did NOT smell good. The cold sacks usually had fruit and bread and stuff like that. The cold sacks didn't smell bad. The hot food did. I don't know what was in those little foil boxes with the cardboard lids, but it never smelled good enough to eat.

This whole thing wasn't really about the food. Well I guess it was, but it was more about the people. We met some fascinating people. Some scary people. Some sad people. Some lonely people. Some friendly people. All old people. All fragile people. All people.

Some folks just opened the door and took the meals. Others had us put it in the 'fridge or on their table. One lady has always has us set her table. Some had caretakers or others family members in attendance. There was one old fellow who always took a long long time to answer the door. He had an amazing bruise covering one side of his bald head and face that never completely went away. Another woman was quite clingy. The minute she opened the door she'd grab my arm and start talking about how her son never visits her and how much she misses him. Every single time. Heartbreaking it was. I mean, how should one respond to that? I always tried to interject something about what a lovely day it was or how her robe was a pretty color. Pretty lame, yes? But lots of the folks were chatty, so I got better with small talk.

One of the scary and sad variety lived in the apartment building. He wasn't scary as in physically inspiring fear, rather more inspiring fear of ever sharing his fate. That's where the sad came in. He lived alone. The door of his apartment would only open about a foot. Because the apartment was completely filled with stacks of newspaper and other such detritus. We would only catch a glimpse of the man amid the stacks of newspaper as we handed over the food. But we could see he was still in his pajamas. And his pajamas were not clean. Ever. He was a starred entry in the route book. If he ever did not answer his door, we were to call a special number. Someone was looking out for him. I guess we were too, in a smallish way.

One day when Marge and I entered the lobby of the apartment building, there were people hanging around. A woman about my age and someone I took to be her husband. They eyed what we were carrying.

The woman spoke up. "Are you from Meals-On-Wheels?" We nodded. "I thought so," she said. "My father has about 600 of those same milk cartons all around his apartment."

Ayup. Her father was the scary sad fellow. They were there to pack him up and move him to a home in Florida near where they lived. The woman looked stricken as she told us more of the condition of his apartment. We nodded and made sympathetic faces. What I really wanted to do was shout "WTF? OMG!" It was completely horrifying. Use your imagination based on the limited conditions I've mentioned. Newspaper stacks. 600+ milk cartons. Mostly full. Meals-On-Wheels delivered two cartons a day, excepting Sunday. Holy hell. Think about the smelly foil containers with the cardboard lids. They were all around too. We didn't deliver to his apartment that day or ever again.

Another woman really made a lasting impression on me. She was of the friendly and lonely variety. She also lived alone in the home where she had raised her family. The home in which her husband had died several years prior. She was not a healthy woman. But she sure was cheerful. More than once she gave me a tour of the pictures she had hanging all over her house. Her family. Her husband. Herself. Each one had a story attached. She would show me a picture, tell me a story, then tell me to run along and finish my deliveries. Always with a smile and a hug. And a sincere "thank you". She once told me a story about the four huge bushes in front of her house. Her husband had planted them just after they had moved in. One represented her, another him and the other two their children.

One day, a year or so after I had stopped delivering, The Boy and I drove past her home on our way somewhere. There was a big sign out front advertising an estate sale. I pulled over. Because I needed to know what happened to the nice lady who had lived there. Although it was obvious. I cried. I couldn't help it. The Boy looked at me sympathetically and patted my arm. I think he understood. The women running the estate sale said I was about the tenth Meals-On-Wheels volunteer to stop by that day. Now when I drive by her old house, I see those bushes and think of her.

So. Scary, sad, lonely, friendly, old, fragile and wonderful. All of them, as Marge and I and the rest of the population, have moved right along. To wherever it is we are bound. Shall I wax philosophical about how fleeting time is? How we each have but finite time on this planet? I could, but don't feel it's necessary. Aren't we pretty much aware of that already?

But I will suggest this. Our communities, and we as individuals, are better if we play an active part. So get out there and give something of yourself to yours.

August 13, 2004


Coming out as gay when one is just a plain old ordinary citizen is hard enough. I can't even imagine how difficult this would be.

Ack. There are so many points to make about this situation. It so highlights the black curtain of necessary secrecy draping many of us. And oh what a mess it can be when one finally acknowledges one's sexuality. I ought to know; I've had to clean up my own mess after all. Still am mopping a few small puddles and it's been a long time since I pushed aside that black curtain and stepped into the spotlight. Yet even after someone is "out" that black curtain can still be necessary at times. Because some people just aren't ready for the truth.

Out of Touch

Yet another indication of our feckless leader being out of touch with reality, excerpted from this article.

Bush also said he thinks the characterization of the American electorate as angry, uncivil and bitterly polarized is an overstatement, based on what he has seen traveling the country.

"I think there may be handfuls of people that are very emotional, but I think by far the vast majority of Americans are wanting to know whether they're going to be able to work and whether or not the government's doing its job of protecting the country," he said. "I don't have a sense there's a lot of anger."

Whoo boy. Doesn't have a sense there's a lot of anger? Not polarized? Whoo boy. If it's only handfuls of us that are "very emotional", those hands are pretty damned big.

Green Eyes

If you look at the eyes in our household, it's hard to believe that green eyes are a recessive gene.

I have green eyes.
Wendy has green eyes.
The Boy has green eyes.

But they are all subtly different. Mine pretty much stay green. Wendy's have flecks of gray. At times, The Boy's are golden.

So who's who? Only the shadow knows?

My eyes
Wendy's eyes
Greg's eyes

August 12, 2004

Okay, So It's Silly

Rock Paper Who?

But I like silly.
I am silly.

Get silly with me.


Wendy and I are the perfect traveling companions. Road trips are so much fun when we are together. It's synchronicity.

Sometimes we read to each other. Usually it's Wendy reading to me because I prefer to drive than ride. Which relates to a control issue I haven't got a handle on. I'm an uptight passenger. I flinch, cringe, stab my foot at the non-existent brake pedal, gasp, shout "watch out", warn the driver of yellow lights a mile ahead, grab the dashboard spasmodically... you get the idea. And yes, it's a good thing Wendy was around when The Boy was learning to drive. Because I'm certain it was as torturous for him to learn with me as a passenger as it was for me to be the passenger while he was learning. Wendy was much more patient with him.

Other times we listen to the radio, scanning for baseball or football games depending on the season. One thing we discovered on our trips to North Carolina to visit The Boy is that the only sport that can be found on the radio south of Richmond is NASCAR. Blech. No, wait. Make that a double blech with a side of eww-yuck.

And we also listen to music. And sing along. Wendy adores harmony. So I try, without great success, to stay on key. But she has yet to tell me to stop singing.

Our next road trip will be down to pick up The Boy from his summer job and bring him home for a brief hiatus---five whole days! Then we'll hop back in the car to transport him to college. His sophomore year. And I will not cry after dropping him off. Believe that? We'll sing instead. Or Wendy will read to me. Or maybe we'll listen to NASCAR news on talk radio. Oh yeah. Believe that!

August 11, 2004

Wisdom Teeth

Our friend Jackie just found out she gets to have her wisdom teeth extracted. She seems a bit confused about wisdom teeth in general. I've not spent much time thinking about them myself. We had a brief conversation about them via AIM:

J: I'm so confused about wisdom teeth.
If my teeth go then my wisdom does too?
WR: No worries, young lady. You never really
had any to begin with. Wisdom, that is.
Not teeth. You've got gorgeous teeth.
I didn't have any wisdom teeth myself.
And wisdom doesn't really come with teeth.
It comes with age.
J: Well that explains it.
But why do we have them?
How did people deal with them back in the
day? What if you don't have the resources
to take them out? Why do some people not
have them? Why are mine sideways?
WR: You are thinking too much. Go ask your
mother for a chore or something.
People that have evolved more fully don't
have them at all. People that have sideways
ones are only half-way evolved. See?
It's simple.
J: lol You're funny. I think I'll keep you.

WR: What, like now I'm a pet or something?

I've sometimes wondered what it would be like to be a kept woman.

Why is it that I blatently lie and babble untruths about topics I know nothing about? This is not an isolated instance. I call it my brand of humor, but I wonder. I do so love to tease gullible folks. I can get serious when it counts though, in case you wondered. But Jackie was truly thinking about a deeper social issue when she wondered about what folks do who don't have the resources to deal with dental problems. And I just blew the question off. Because the reality is harsh and I didn't want to think about it.

Maybe I should go ask her mom for a chore to do because now I'm thinking too much.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

That is so true. Matters not if one is waiting for something bad or something good. Waiting is hard.

Wendy and I are waiting today. And while we are waiting for the same thing, we are not waiting together because she's at work and so am I. But neither of us are working on work very diligently. We are working at waiting instead.

And waiting is hard.
And now I've got Tom Petty stuck in my head.

Aggravated Circumstance?

Uh. No. Cannibalism seems a bit more than an aggravated circumstance. The real aggravated circumstance may be the clumsiness which caused the inadvertent touching of the bride's posterior.

Another case of reality being stranger than fiction.
People are bizarre. Tragically so at times.

August 10, 2004

Well of course it's personal....

My friend Tina, who has read this blog, made a comment a few weeks ago about it. She said "It's rather personal isn't it?" And it is. At times. But it's not as personal as it could be. And it will never be. Because there are some things I just will not blog about. I may write about them, but my hard drives over the years have eaten lots of stuff I have written without anyone besides myself having read it. Stuff perhaps that I deem really personal.

I consider it therapy. Cheap, inexpensive (well free actually!) therapy. Because for me, writing is therapeutic. And don't we all need some kind of therapy? Life can be freaking hard at times. This blog is just my therapy of choice. Well, writing is and this blog is an extension of that. Oddly enough, it works.

It's also fun. And educational, both from a "learn HTML" standpoint to, at times, "achieving personal insight". So while it is personal to a degree, it's really only one edge of personal. I'm shy, you see. Or I used to be way back when before parenthood put an end to that. Yet I still think of myself that way. Personally.

Other Neighbors

This is about the house next door to where we used to live before we moved to where we live now. And one family who lived there while we occupied the house next door. Families moved out and in and out and in during the five year span we lived next door. A total of three families. Each one a bit different from the last.

The house next door was owned by someone who lived right down the street. I never met them. They had an agreement of some kind with the British Embassy and the first two families who lived there while we lived there were British families who were in America for a tour of duty at the Embassy. The British family who was supposed to move in after the second family left decided they'd rather live in Reston. Farewell to a sweet deal for the owner of that house.

My favorite folks who lived in that house were Jan and Grant, one of the British families. The middle one. They were there for three years while we were next door. We initially made their acquaintance the winter after they had moved in the fall prior.

There were no sidewalks in that neighborhood and between our yard and the street was a drainage ditch. Then a narrow strip of land before the pavement began. The day we met Jan and Grant, it had been snowing. Wendy's little blue truck had become mired in the mess. Well I've never really considered snow a mess, but the narrow strip between the road and the ditch was rather messy right then because while there was snow on the ground, the ground was not completely frozen. Rather it was just wet and therefore muddy and tractionless. Wendy was trying to leave for work. So we were out there pushing and trying to get the truck onto the pavement. Completely unsuccessfully. Out from their house came Grant. Toting a bag of icemelt. Followed closely by Jan.

They introduced themselves and got to work spreading their icemelt for traction. I was wedging sticks and other yard debris under the rear wheels to also add traction. We all put our backs into it and, a mud fountain later, the truck was free! Quite neighborly of them to come help.

They invited us over several times over the years. We'd have tea with them and it was almost ceremonial. Hearing them talk about their views of America and their own country was interesting although we didn't necessarily agree with their interpretation of our countrymen. They didn't have any children or pets. Jan didn't have a job outside the home and she usually seemed lonely. I don't know what they thought of us.

They took trips all over the US during their stay here. I was (am?) rather envious of that. They've seen more of our country than we have.

August 9, 2004

Quote of Note

"It's never too late to be what you might have been."

---George Eliot (1819 - 1880)

Things I Learned This Weekend

  1. 1/8 of an inch can make a difference when setting tile. A big difference. One little 1/8 of an inch can necessitate re-doing something more than once.
  2. Just because a person is a bookkeeper does not necessarily mean they are good at math. (Oh wait. I already knew that.)
  3. I wish I'd paid more attention in geometry class.
  4. Our friend Marcy is someone not to be trusted for movie recommendations. Thanks a lot Marcy. Now give us our 2 wasted hours back!
  5. We have a herd of mosquitos living in our backyard. A fierce ferocious unrelenting herd. And they are hungry.
  6. Sitting sideways and cross-legged in a tub for hours and hours causes my body to ache unpleasantly in all sorts of ways.
  7. After years of cooking them wrong, I actually can now cook delicious fresh green beans.
  8. She gives me fever. Fever in the morning. Fever all through the night. (Oh wait. I already knew that too!)
  9. Pizza Hut's pizza with the built-in breadsticks on the crust is not as good as it appears in the commercials. It's not horrible, it's just not as good as thin crust. But their cinnamon sticks still rock.
  10. Rosie the Riveter made a good point.

August 8, 2004


Is a chore more satisfying if the work is difficult and challenging? I'm not so sure. I've found just motivating and actually doing a job can be satisfying whether it's as simple as doing the dishes or, as we have discovered this weekend, as difficult as tiling the bathroom.

So. My advice. Just get off your ass and do something. Be the end result a shining sink or a brand new look for the bathroom. Just being productive feels good.

"Lez" Unfit for ESPN?

Having recently written of my love for the game Scrabble, it should be no big surprise that a news story on the National Scrabble Championship caught my eye.

"In the final round, eventual champion Trey Wright played the word "lez," which was on a list of offensive words not allowed during the tournament.

Normally, no word is off-limits, but because the games were being taped for broadcast on ESPN, certain terms had been deemed inappropriate, including the three-letter slang for lesbian.

"There are words you just can't show on television," Scrabble Association Executive Director John Williams said."
My first thought was "Well lez isn't really even a word, is it? Isn't it a slang abbreviation? So I surfed on over to see what had to say about it. And there I discovered that not only is it a real word, but it is "offensive slang" for lesbian and is defined as a disparaging term!

Well I ask you. Who knew? I've always considered more the way a word is used than the actual word itself to determine if it is disparaging. Or the tone in which it is said. While I've never personally been called "lez", at least not that I remember, I'm not sure I'd consider it offensive. So feel free to call me lez, as long as you aren't sneering or tossing tomatoes at the same time. And I'd just love to play that "z" on a triple word score, wouldn't you?

It also offends me a bit that a championship game of Scrabble is limited by a somewhat random list of inappropriate words just because it's going to be televised. Isn't that where the editing process should take over? Think of how long the list of eliminated words could be, depending on who compiled it. Was "fag" allowed? How about "dildo" or "poop" or "bitch"? All perfectly good words I would not hesitate to play in Scrabble if the letters came along and the points earned satisfied me.

I'd love to see the whole list of words eliminated from that tournament. And I wonder how many points Mr. Wright would have earned with his word "lez"? Guess we'll never know. Now that's something to find offensive.

August 7, 2004


I spoke with my sister SK twice yesterday. Once to find out if she had firmed up her travel plans for her return visit and then again when she called to ask a few details about said upcoming visit.

Ayup, that's right. She was here the last week in July for the family beach trip and she'll be returning on August 17 for an extended visit. This is cause for great celebration in our household.

Just how long is an extended visit? Undetermined at this time. Several weeks at least. But she's low maintenance company. Pretty much. And she respects our need for privacy. She understands if we're sitting at our computers or stretched out in bed watching baseball for hours, that's exactly where we need to be. Or where we want to be. And it's just fine with her. Which is different from when, say, our parents visit. Because then I feel the need to entertain and hang out pretty much exclusively with them. I think they want that. Not that I don't like to hang out with my folks. Because I do. And they typically only stay a few days. I think an extended visit from my mother would drive Wendy, me and my mother insane. It's just easy to maintain the thread of our usual lives during visits from my sister while enjoying her being here.

She called to ask two questions. First, where would she have space to set up her painting? She requires a fair amount of space and likes it to be in a living space, so she can paint and interact and watch TV. I told her we'd get busy thinking about it and make sure she had a good spot. Second, was there a cable hookup in her bedroom? Well no. Not at the moment. But we can make it happen. Because doing things for SK is something we like to do.

We will be enlisting her skills for our benefit while she is here. My sister, in addition to being an artist, has been my inspiration and my "oh hell yes, we can do that!" mentor for home improvements for a very long time. Wendy and I purchased a fixer-upper house about a year ago. We've tackled quite a few tough tasks so far. And while we've made significant progress over this past year, we're in a bit of a slump. SK, just by being here, will pull us right out of that slump and get us back on track. She's always impressed me with her patient approach to tasks. She knows a lot about how to fix things. And she's quite a proficient carpenter. We could use a few lessons. Plus decorating. She's got a knack for knowing just what to put where.

SK has three dogs. Yes three. One large, one mid-sized and one small. She jokingly asked a few weeks ago how we'd feel about her bringing all three. Wendy and I love dogs. And up until a few weeks ago had three of our own. But we're down to two. And having three more visit would be way over the top. Which SK understands. But one more would be fine. So she's bringing Nikita, the large. Niki the Noodle has visited with us before and gets along great with the others.

So again, I rejoice.

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

August 6, 2004

What Was Happening When?

This is an interesting site where you can plug in a date and find out what else was happening on that date and around that same time.

For instance, I know now that on the date I was born, gasoline cost $0.31 a gallon and a first class stamp was $0.04. When Wendy popped out, gas was $0.35 and stamps were $0.06. By the time The Boy was born, gasoline was up to $1.20 a gallon and a stamp cost $0.22.

Monopoly was deemed the "hot new toy" the year my mother was born while Nintendo earned that designation the year The Boy arrived.

As I typed this fascinating information, I began to wonder of it's relevance. And why I find it interesting. I'm still wondering.


Often during holidays and such, playing games is a part of our family activities. Tradition even. Beach trips are no exception. It gets some of our noses out of books and others away from the TV, providing a social medium and bringing out interesting aspects of our characters. Playing games is fun!

We all like to win of course. Who doesn't? Beats the heck out of the alternative. However I've gotten better over the years at losing. Because, despite my best efforts, I can't win all the time. And it's really much less painful to lose when one can be a good sport about it.

Ever since The Boy was a wee lad and through the years as he grew, we played games together quite often. He tells the story now and again of how, while teaching him to play the board game Risk, I often made him cry. But I didn't really make him cry. I just didn't let him win. He would have to beat me fair and square. Which he can now. Because a good way to learn how to win is by losing. And I ought to know.

My father taught me how to play chess when I was a little girl. We made a wager. When I finally beat him, he'd give me $5. Financial incentive! But it took me until I was eighteen years old to collect that $5. Holy shit. Either he was a really good chess player or I was a really lousy one. Or both. I still have the $5 bill he forked over for that win. He wrote a congratulatory message on it. I keep it tucked in my chess board. Where I do believe it will forever stay tucked. Sad thing, I'm not sure my father and I have played a game since. Time sure gets away, doesn't it?

Scrabble is another favorite. Well one of my favorites. I like to think I'm a good Scrabble player. There's only one person I can remember beating me consistently: my step-mother Wanda. She is an incredible Scrabble player. The key to the game, outside of having a decent vocabulary and being a good speller, is knowing how to play for points. Not many folks have that down. Wanda sure does. I have this ridiculous habit of saving old score sheets and keeping them in the Scrabble box. Every time we pull it out to play, I can look at those winning scores and be inspired. I don't save the score sheet when I lose however. No surprise there, hmmm? After all, it is my Scrabble board.

At the beach this year, we played dominoes quite a bit. Playing dominoes is highly underrated, in my opinion. It's not just a game for little old men. We like to play Mexican Train Dominoes. It's a rockin' game. A little luck, a little skill. And someone who has pulled miles ahead of everyone else can quickly be humbled by one bad round. There are evidently many rule sets for Mexican Train, depending on what part of the country one is from or what interpretation is applied to the written rules (which are not very clear at all!). Part of the fun of playing is analyzing the rules. Over the years, our family has standardized the rule set we use to fit how we like to play.

My mother won every single game of Mexican Train dominoes we played that week. Every single game. I was in second place every single game with the exception of one. Not that I was keeping track or anything. Yeah right. There was a score sheet tucked into their dominoes bin from last Thanksgiving. I had stashed it in there. The Boy had beaten us all by a wide margin.

Somehow, I get as much satisfaction when he wins as when I do.

August 5, 2004

“I Think We Agree, The Past Is Over.”

Last Christmas our friend Tom gave us a couple of books. Fluffy fun stuff mainly. One of them is entitled “Presidential (Mis)Speak: The Very Curious Language of George W. Bush, Volume 1”. My first thought was “Volume 1? Volume 1? How many volumes are there?!” I’m still not sure.

The title of this post is from Volume 1, a Bush quote from the May 10, 2000 edition of the The Dallas Morning News.

Today he spit out another prize.
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we," Bush said. "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
His faithful lap dog McClellan followed with this:
“…the American people know this president speaks with clarity and conviction…”
Uh. Doh. That’s exactly what I’m afraid of.

Please let the past be over. Pretty please? With sugar on top?


I saw that on a license tag on my way to work this morning. A Virginia plate, no less. Now that's commitment. More so than a bumper sticker. You go, boy!

Growing Growing Gone?

There was a message on our answering machine Tuesday from BG. By the way, BG is how I refer to The Boy's father herein. For simplicity. It stands for Big Greg, which was appropriate when The Boy was younger but now it's just silly because The Boy grew so he now towers over all his parents. Especially his dad. But we still call him Big Greg. Habit and such. Plus Old Greg just doesn't roll off the tongue quite the same and doesn't sound very nice.

He wanted to let us know The Boy was in the Virginian-Pilot, a newspaper with circulation in the Hampton Roads-Norfolk-Virginia Beach area. BG's father had seen it and called him. It was something about the dance production he appeared in recently, associated with his summer job. We don't get the Pilot up here in Northern Virginia. I'm going to go to the library and hope they have it. Which they probably do. Meanwhile I combed their on-line edition and couldn't find it. Boo hoo. I need those simple pleasures, don't ya know? And I don't even know what it is. A picture? A sentence? Both? I am pathetic, aren't I?

I'm again confronted with the reality of The Boy being gone. Wendy and I were used to being there for all of his performances and activities. I've got clippings of all newspaper articles and mentions along with every show program and poster. And pictures of course. During his first year in college, we traveled down to see him in a few things and I have mementoes from those. But we didn't get to see him in everything he did. Nor every performance. We had to adjust. It's not all bad, I guess.

But now he's out there in the real world, albeit in a limited way. And I won't necessarily know about every mention made or picture published. It makes me sad but I can't really put into words why.

Happy Birthday, Cosine!

The old girl has officially reached the ripe old age of 16.
That's 112 in dog years! Yeeowza!

August 4, 2004

Family Meals

I didn't need a study to figure this out. It's quite logical after all.

Remember, dining room tables aren't just for collecting junk. Clear them off and enjoy meals with your children. You'll not be there to influence them forever. Take advantage of the time you do have and help them build a good foundation.

This public service announcement is sponsored by your friendly neighborhood Suburban Lesbian.

Laugh. It's Funny.

Rumsfield Demonstrates Fighting Techniques.
Almost as funny as the Bush-looks-like-a-monkey pictorial.

Silliness is comforting.

A Day In The Life

Today, or yesterday I guess I should say, was the kind of day that tried to wipe out the remaining traces of I've-been-on-vacation euphoria. Welcome back to the real world. Bound to happen sooner or later I suppose.

My drive into the District was pleasant enough. The traffic was surprisingly light. Tourists and their sightseeing buses didn't block every intersection. There was no snaking line of humanity awaiting entry to the Holocaust Museum nor the Treasury Building. While there was one large group clad in matching red t-shirts hovering near the crosswalk by the Washington Monument, they didn't impede my right-turn-on-red by stepping out into the road as such groups usually do. I timed things so I would arrive at my job site at 10:00, but traffic was so smooth I arrived at 9:30 instead. Vacation groove still grooving or folks staying away because of the heightened terror alert? Either way, I'll take it.

Work went smoothly. I was out of there only 30 minutes later than I intended, which I suppose really translates into an hour longer than I intended to be there because I had arrived early. Oh well. I was still pretty much on schedule.

Here's where the day started to lose it's shine. I had to wait 30 minutes to get my car out of the parking garage. And it was hot. And humid. Like only DC in August can be humid. And I had to stand in the sun. In a noisy alley. And I was sweating. In my city clothes. Blech. I guess the typically efficient parking folks were taking a vacation of their own.

Finally got my car. But then a handicapped transit van blocked the alley exit while a man in a wheelchair was loaded on and strapped in. How could I possibly be irritated by a handicapped individual screwing up my time schedule? At least I was in the car with the A/C on full blast.

I took the opportunity to look up. Usually when I walk or drive in the city, my attention is focused on where I am going. Eye levelish. Or downward so I don't trip on a curb or something. Looking up in the city exposes a whole new set of sights. There are some beautiful buildings in DC, with filigreed construction and interesting decorative exteriors. So the day still had some of it's shine.

Until I realized I'd left the paperwork for my next job at home. On the dining room table. Where I distinctly remembered putting it next to my purse. My purse made it into the car. The paperwork didn't. I've given up carrying my briefcase because I'd stuff so much crap in it I'd get a shoulder ache from carrying it around all day. But had I still been using it, the paperwork would not be sitting on the dining room table when it needed to be with me.

Envision a triangle. An equilateral triangle. It represents the travel route I was to take that day. Point A to Point B to Point C to Point A. Simple and expedient. Avoiding suburban roads and using highways at off-peak hours to optimize my time. But now, because of my carelessness, my route would have to be Point A to Point B to Point A to Point C to Point A. Have I lost you yet? The shine was fading again despite my desire to retain it. Gas costs $1.99 a gallon around here right now at the cheap stations after all. And time is money too.

So I finally got to Point C after an additional trip to Point A. I was an hour later than I told them I'd be. Grrrrr. And things were rather fubared there. They are in the middle of a major computer upgrade and the office was packed with things that don't belong. This particular client is a restaurant. And if you've never seen a restaurant's office, I'll tell you they are typically squeezed into an out of the way space. And they're small. And cramped. Particularly today because of all the extra equipment. But hey, I'm adaptable. I don't mind climbing over, squeezing by, stretching around, mousing with my left hand... well you get the picture.

But lordie was it hot in that office! I'm mean sweating-while-you-are-sitting-still hot. Typically when the door is closed it cools off. Not today. The A/C, just in the office mind you, was malfunctioning. And I was still in my city clothes. Not good. Not good at all. I should have taken time to change clothes during my additional stop at Point A. But my work there went fairly smoothly too. Despite the temperature.

I made it back to Point A. I've got a cat in my lap and a dog at my feet. In my pajamas. Me, not the dog. My girlfriend is warming up our bed. And the Orioles won a double-header today... err... yesterday. What the hell am I whining for?

August 3, 2004

Road Tripping with SK

When I was a child, our family often took road trips during the summer to visit the grandparents. In one way, our family was unfortunate because we didn't get to live in the same town as the grandparents. But we were fortunate in another way because both sets of grandparents lived in the same city. One trip, both sets. And now we all have our fond memories of those road trips to savor at will.

This was before the family got a little labyrinthine due to divorce and re-marriage. Then we had two new sets of grandparents for a total of four sets (I did the math for you folks who may be a little math-challenged). While two sets still lived in the same town, one new set lived all the way across the country and the other one lived about as far north from our house as the original sets lived south.

Clear as mud isn't it? Extended families make life more complex, but usually in a good way.

Anyway. We would all pack our suitcases and pile into the old Ford Sedan. My sister and I shared the backseat. Shared probably isn't the best word for what we did because invariably we'd get squirmy and irritable and the old "Mom! Her finger is on my half of the seat!!" type argument would break out. At times we did share nicely however.

It was a two day trip from Alexandria to Montgomery, Alabama. I have no real memories of staying at hotels, but I know we did. It was during one of those trips when I fixated on the difference between a hotel and a motel. For some reason I was convinced that hotels had bathrooms while motels did not. I know better now.

We had a list of Ten Rules for Family Car Trips that were rigidly enforced. I distinctly remember there being ten rules, but I can only remember what three of them were. So maybe it was only these three that were rigidly enforced and the other seven were fluff.

Rule Number One: Nothing on the back shelf

Children usually need lots of entertainment on road trips. My sister and I were no exception. So while we were allowed to bring pretty much whatever we wanted to bring, we were required to keep it within certain parameters. The back shelf of the car was out of bounds for storage.

Rule Number Three: Everyone must use the bathroom immediately before getting in the car

Obvious reason for that rule. The rule was enforced for the dog too.

Rule Number Five: No asking "When are we going to get there?"

Or any other form of a question that requires the same type of answer. For instance "How much longer?" or "Can we get out of the car soon?" Again, obvious need. Because children can be impatient like that. And what parent wants to hear that question over and over again, particularly when there are at least 15 more hours of highway ahead?

As an adult when embarking on road trips with family or friends, I only invoke Rule Number Three. Not that it helps when traveling with my sister SK. Once in not too distant yet not too recent times, we were road tripping together to New Jersey for Christmas at Cathy's, my step-sister from my father's side. We were in separate automobiles. This was during the time SK lived nearby in Maryland. She was in her auto and we were in ours. Cosine and Detail and The Boy and me. So we set off on that bright clear December morning, full of excitement and anticipatory pleasure at spending the holidays with our father and extended family.

This was before the age of common cell phones. So we had devised a simple communication system. If one or the other of us needed to stop for whatever reason, the driver would simply flash their headlights to inform the other car. Simple. Effective. Communicative. However I was totally totally taken aback when, before we had even reached Baltimore, SK was frantically flashing her headlights for a break. A potty break as it turned out.

Bear in mind that Baltimore is about an hour from where our trip originated. One hour. 60 minutes. 3,600 seconds. One short little hour. I was just getting into my driving groove. When I pulled over into the rest stop, my irritation at stopping so soon into our travels was evidently more than apparent. SK held up a large water bottle, like a two-liter size, and announced she consumed the whole thing. Which is why she had to pee. And would have to pee again in the not-too-distant-future. Argh.

I contemplated adding a new rule. Rule Number 3A. No drinking water. Or if one must have water, no swallowing.

Instead I just became resigned to expect frequent stops. So my sister could pee. Again. It was the humanitarian thing to do after all.

On our recent trip to Rehoboth, SK was again caravaning with us in a separate automobile because she unfortunately had to depart two days earlier than the rest of us. We all have cell phones now. Communication by flashing lights was rendered obsolete. Progress I guess. We had just reached the slow traffic approaching the Bay Bridge. Bumper to bumper. Creeping. Not unexpected. We'd been on the road, oh, maybe an hour. My cell phone rang.

Ayup. SK needed to pee. Bless her heart. (There's a joke there but you don't know it because I haven't shared it with you. Just go with the flow. Bless your heart.)

So we worked our way over three lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic and pulled into the Wawa. Again, my irritation was evidently apparent even though I really really tried to conceal it. Guess I still have some work to do in that area. While we were there, we got coffee and doughnuts just because. One box of powdered doughnettes for SK and one box for Wendy and me. And no, we didn't empty the boxes. There were plenty left over to share with others at the beach.

Life's really too short to begrudge a potty stop to my sister. Did a time schedule really matter that much? We were on vacation after all.

August 2, 2004

The Cheesy Poofs Are Calling!

No, not on the phone. From the kitchen. Where they are hermetically sealed in their extra-large bag (because a family of two cannot possibly be satisfied with a normal-sized bag). The package is in plain view on the countertop. Not in the cupboard where they belong. Actually they belong in my stomach. Or they think they do. Which is why they are calling. Heaven forbid I derail their pursuit of destiny.

Oh wonderful glorious Cheesy Poofs! Dearly beloved, we are gathered here together in celebration of orange fingertips, salty crunchy goodness, and non-nutritive extraneous fat grams. We wallow in the profound sensorial pleasures exclusively derived from stuffing one's mouth with corny crunchy cheesy poofy curls. Licking one's fingers is merely a bonus. Actually that's the gross part, but it comes with the territory and is part of the overall experience. Can't be avoided, so might as well embrace it? Resistance is futile.

I introduced Alice to cheesy poofs last week. Who's Alice? Why Alice is the newest member of our family! My step-sister Joan adopted her from Guatemala and brought her home just this past May. She's fourteen months old and, as many babies can be, is most adorable. Part of me feels terrible for plying her with junk food but in my defense, isn't that a prerogative of an aunt? The cheesy poofs were Utz brand. No sane individual can resist Utz brand cheesy poofs. I was merely testing her sanity. By the way she snatched that cheesy poof from my hand and instinctively took one happy bite and then another while gripping it in her steely grasp, I have deemed her mental health certifiably stable. At least for the time being. The long term experiment, that of Joan being her mom, may eventually erase all traces of sanity. That's a joke. I think.

It had been a while since Wendy or I were around a baby for longer than a day. We both really like babies. What's not to like? And Alice in particular is easy to like. Friendly, sweet, independent, adorable. She greeted us with her newest skill: a sweet kiss on the cheek. After that display, resistance was futile in her case also. I'd gush about her cute sundresses and pajamas and swimsuits but that would be a little over the top. Instead I'll gush about how she took to the sand and surf and made it her own. Fall down in the sand? No problem! Hop right back up and totter around some more. Get a mouthful of sand? No problem! Crunch it a bit then spit it out. Slide into a hole someone dug? No problem! Climb right back out, slide in again, and play peek-a-boo over the edge. Waves? No problem! Chilly ocean? No problem! Bring it on! Bonnet power!!

In addition to cheesy poofs, I contributed to Alice's eating education in another important way. We all walked down to the boardwalk after dinner one evening for ice cream. Joan spooned a few bites into Alice's mouth. She liked it of course. I had my ice cream on a cone. Soft-serve peppermint. On a cake cone. Squatting down by the stroller, I demonstrated to Alice how to lick ice cream from a cone. She caught on quick, that little girl. Her tongue snaked right out and expertly licked my proffered cone. I'm certain the look of intense satisfaction on her face was not my imagination.

Welcome to America, Alice. We're glad you are here.

August 1, 2004

Beach Week

Wendy and I have survived another family week at the beach. Well, survived is probably not the right word even though we did survive. Enjoyed is closer to the truth. Reveled in is even more accurate.

Our family gathering was held again in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. I believe my folks chose that location due to it being pretty much geographically in the middle of where each family contingent originates. Except for my sister of course, but then there are no beaches geographically central to Arizona, New Jersey and Virginia. The New Jerseyites spend half their travel time on the Cape May ferry instead of fighting the traffic on Route 50 to cross the terror that is the Bay Bridge. (I know I'm not the only one who finds it terrifying because it's one of those bridges that provides an escort service for fearful drivers. Not that I'd make use of such a service. I'm stubborn and such and a few more terror-induced gray hairs on my head won't even be noticed.)

Wendy and I especially enjoy Rehoboth because it is a gay friendly town. More than gay friendly. Rainbow flags are everywhere. Gay bars and clubs and shops and people abound. We can walk the boardwalk holding hands when the mood strikes---a real bonus. It's also a traditional family beach town. Heteros and homos peacefully co-exist. It's a beautiful thing.

We were the last group to arrive. Consequently our room had been pre-selected for us. For reasons unknown, the early arrivals put Wendy and I at the top of the house in the only room with a private balcony. Equipped with two chairs and a little table. Our own personal refuge from the chaos family gatherings can bring. It's like they knew how much we need our private space. Excellent.

Oh the stories I shall tell about the dysfunction of our family members! But in a kind way. Because it takes all sorts of humans to make up this oddball world in which we live. Right now I'm going to enjoy being home, making up with our pets for leaving them behind while we cavorted and vacationed. And I've got to catch up on paperwork and prepare for the week ahead. It's the first of the month after all and you know what that means for me.

Coming home can be infinitely more satisfying than departing, in my own humble opinion.