December 27, 2005

Sleepy Time Pants & Downtime

We'll be driving late into the night because we want to wake up to the waves crashing on the shore.

Yes oh yes. Despite the weirdness of December, our annual year end trek to the Outer Banks is still on. Our sleepy time pants are packed, the car ready to load. The Boy has been dropped off at the airport for his flight to Atlanta. He's got a bit of traveling to do himself and will ring in the New Year in Florida by singing at a friend's wedding. Watching him stroll into the airport, his head bobbing to the tune on his iPod, his suitcase rolling along behind him, tugged at my heart. He's become so independent. What a marvelous visit we had this holiday.

I'm yawning as I type this blog farewell to 2005, but am certain I will perk up once we hit the road.

Safe and happy New Years wishes, folks.


December 22, 2005

Thursday Thirteen

Thursday Thirteen is the brainchild of Leanne, but I picked it up via Jen. Go visit them, right now if you wish, and play along. Or not. But at least leave ME a comment. Even if it is Friday. Or Saturday. Or so on. And so on.

* * * * * * * * *

1. I hope it doesn't take me as long as it took Jen to complete thirteen items. If it does, it will be Friday before I post my Thursday Thirteen. There's probably a law against that. Somewhere.

2. The Boy is down visiting his dad for a day or two. I got a text message from him saying they were discussing their "relationship." It evidently wasn't going well. I hope they can find a way to come to terms with each other. Fathers are special, as are sons. They need each other.

3. Wendy and I went to the mall tonight. All the clerks and patrons were happy, full of smiles and have a nice day's and excuse me's. Except for one screaming toddler perched on Santa's lap. Can't say as I blame him.

4. We do not have a real tree this year. We do not have a fake tree this year. We have a tabletop tree my sister-in-law sent my mother. Evidently she sends my parents a tabletop tree every year. It is made of branches stuck in florist foam. My mom asked us to take it to our house after the funeral. It doesn't have ornaments or lights but we may add some. Later.

5. We bought my mom a body pillow for Christmas with a very, very soft cover made from Pima cotton. I adore Pima cotton. We thought it might be nice for her to have something to hold in bed since she now sleeps alone. Is such a gift creepy or kind? I hope she likes it.

6. Today was my last day of work until next year. Oh sure, I have a few phone calls to make and will check my email and such, but I don't actually have to do any real work-work. Envy me.

7. Uh oh. I'm only on number seven and I'm slowing down.

8. Did I ever mention that my office postponed our holiday party because I had to be out of town for the funeral? How cool is that?

9. Wendy and I will be spending New Year's in the Outer Banks with a bunch of friends. It's a no-bra and pajama pants kinda trip, a laid back way to end the year. We are the token lesbians of the group, although Wendy came home with an odd rumor today that has us believing two of the single heterosexual women who will be there have been hooking up. I'm all like "WTF?" People are strange. I'm too old for that shit.

10. My sister has given up her robes. She wore them for sixteen years. She's still a Buddhist, but no longer a nun. My mind has not yet fully wrapped around the change. I love her dearly.

11. I have a date with my friend Tina to go grocery shopping tomorrow morning. 8:30 am. Damn that's early. I'd take myself later in the day but I don't have a car (see number 2). But it will be fun. Hanging-out-with-Tina-time has been hard to come by of late. I miss her.

12. The Boy sang the Navy Hymn at his grandfather's service. He brought down the house.

13. *insert heartfelt holiday wishes here*

Peace on earth, goodwill to men.


December 21, 2005

A Million Points of Light

Is there anything more delightful than a pencil with a nice sharp point? Such a pencil is a most marvelous thing indeed! I've got a bunch of thoughts floating through my head tonight, but no real point. Bear with me. I may find one by the end of this post.

We went to a gathering at a friend's house in Bumfuck, Maryland a few months ago. (No, Bumfuck is not the name of the town. It is a description of the geographic location. You knew that, but still your mind took you elsewhere. Beware! Santa's listening. You have been warned.)

The first time we trekked up there, years ago, we stopped in Damascus to pick up a six-pack. Wendy and I strolled into a 7-11 and surveyed the refrigerator cases, dumbfounded. There was not a beer in sight. A nice biker dude informed us Damascus is a dry city. A dry city? Oh the unmitigated horror! He directed us to a bar just across the city line, Lou & Boo's or something like that. That bar has a lot of biker-ish character and sells cold beer to go. We fit in like a glove on a foot. We grabbed our beer and left.

Where was I? Oh yeah. Have you ever been at a party and become trapped like a fly on flypaper by the person who has a reputation for being the Most Boring Individual Alive? Sure you have. There is one in every group. It's a rule or something. The Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt endure dull people because dull people need friends too. The Most Boring Individual Alive lives up in Bumfuck, Maryland. I know him.

I bravely initiate conversation. Obviously I am an idiot, yet also intrigued by the challenge. I am determined to find something interesting about this fellow. I've been trying for years. For example:

Me: "Have you read any good books lately?"

He: "Why yes, Suzanne. I'm in the middle of reading The Ideaology Behind the Formation of Quartz Rock Structures and Their Long-term Effect on Wind Currents in the Northern Hemisphere."

Me (eyes rolling back in my head): "Oh. Gee. Well. I just finished a fun mystery, part of a series about a female caterer who lives with her family in the mountains of Colorado."

He: "Oh... fiction. I never read fiction." His chest puffed up with pride, as if reading exclusively non-fiction was the grandest achievement to which a man could aspire.

But I think it takes all kinds. Fiction and non-fiction. Biker dudes and church ladies. Dry cities and towns that sell beer. Straights and gays. Buddhists and Christians. You get the idea. Can't we all just get along?

Holidays really mess with routine.
None of my pencils have points either.


December 18, 2005

In the Moment

Home, home on the range!
Where tampons get flushed down the drain!

Sing it with me, y'all.
You know you want to.
How can you resist?

Put another check mark on the "pro" side of living in suburbia: public sewer systems. I've never lived with a septic system and if I did, I might convert to using The Keeper. My parents, however, live in the boonies. So when insult was added to injury and my period started the day of my stepfather's funeral, I did not sing "Gloria!" in exaltation.

Tis a week before Christmas and all through our house not a holiday decoration is up, not a package wrapped, not a meal planned, not a holiday card sent. Unsent holiday cards are nothing out of the ordinary, but usually we've got the other parts well in hand.

But we are home. Together.
For right now, that's enough.


December 13, 2005

♪♫ We Are Siamese If You Don't Please* ♪♫

I am sitting here reveling in the sheer delight of breathing through my nose.

It's been days since I've had such pleasure. This past week I've cleared gallons, yes literally gallons, of mucus from my nasal passages. Did you just get the same visual I did? A neat row of galvanized steel buckets brimming over with snot? Yummy. Let's try envisioning the interior of my sinus cavities: swollen, red, inflamed, frantically oozing mucus in self-defense. My throat has been raw, my chest wheezy. Can I blame my body for reacting so harshly to the very specific allergen to which it has been subjected? I think not.

I'm going to enjoy breathing clearly for today. Tomorrow my sinuses and I will be descending again into the Third Realm of Hell, the land of the Siamese cat, also known as my mother's house. Knowing we'll be spending more time there has me seriously contemplating suicide a long term solution such as allergy shots.

Meanwhile, share my joy.

Breathe in.
Breath out.
Breathe in.


* Post title borrowed from a Disney song I remember from my youth. Can anyone tell me what movie it is from? My memory fails.


December 12, 2005

You Better Watch Out

Doesn't everyone know at least one person who has been Naughty this year instead of Nice?

Personally, I think the whole lump of coal thing, while appropriate to humanity historically and deserving therefore of at least momentary consideration as a holiday offering to those who have earned such recognition, is outmoded.

A lump of coal for a naughty person at Christmas is as out-of-date as my grandmother's size ten mink coat had become. My mother had that mink coat transformed into something equally as impractical as a size ten anything in our family: a teddy bear. I kid you not. Somewhere in the good old US of A is a place where new life is breathed into old furs coats that we larger modern relatives never have a hope of fitting our larger modern selves into. I think it's just across the bay from the Island of Misfit Toys.

The mink teddy bear sits on a couch in her formal living room. While it may seem a teddy bear in a formal living room is entirely out of place, Winston fits right in.

Yes. My mother named her bear Winston. It's a family thing.

I came across the ShizaGram, that is, I think, an acceptable modern gift alternative for the Naughty people in our lives. This gift item has the added appeal of being completely impractical, unlike a lump of coal that can be used in a variety of ways by a Naughty person with imagination. It can be burned for heat. Or used to write on the sidewalk. Or launched as a projectile at an unsuspecting stander-by.

Then again, the ShizaGram can be used those same ways. But it sure shouts "Naughty!" more than any old lump of coal ever could, doesn't it?

I'm making a list.
Should you be on it?


December 9, 2005

I Am So Selfish

Yes, yes, it's true. Despite selfishness being a quality I quashed when I became a mother. Who has time for it with kids at home? The quash was only temporary. Having kids at home is only temporary. In the years since The Boy left for college, my selfish spirit has reawakened with a vengeance.

Wendy and I drove home from my mother's yesterday evening. All the way, delightful fantasies of long stretches of time with no one asking anything of me danced joyously in my head. I selfishly thought of the things I would do upon arrival at our comfortable little suburban paradise.

I thought of sitting quietly in my recliner in front of a fire with dogs in my lap, drinking cheap beer, reading quietly for as long as I wanted to do it.

I thought of sitting in our office at my computer catching on up All Things Internet via a connection that wasn't a primitive dial-up in a house that doesn't make me sneeze, wheeze, itch and blow snot everywhere. Goddamn Siamese cats. (Hell, I shouldn't complain. The view from the office is spectacular. Achoo.)

I thought of snuggling in our king-sized bed with Wendy and our two dogs, reveling in puppy kisses, a pile of warm bodies and familiar pillows.

I thought of waking up at my leisure in the morning, showering in our own shower, driving my car down familiar roads to spend quality time pushing paper around at work and reconnecting with my friends there.

I did all that.
It was good.
It was very, very good.

Except in the back of my mind was the disconcerting knowledge that I have to go back there. That I have to go back and spend my weekend there. My precious weekend will be wiped out in a haze of doing what other people need. Not that helping others is a bad thing, but in this case the things that will be asked of me are hard things, things on par with stabbing myself in the eye with a sharp pencil.

But I'll go. I'll do the things that need doing. And I'll keep doing them to the best of my ability until the needs are fulfilled. I'll even be grateful for the opportunity. Because I'm fortunate to have people in my life to love and who rely on me. Even though I'd rather bury my head in the sand and pretend the real world isn't really as real as it really is.

But you folks here now know the truth.
I'll be selfishly wishing I was somewhere else.


December 8, 2005

The Gay Haters Make Good Chicken Salad

I was laying in bed Monday morning, not quite half awake, when our phone rang. Wendy glanced at the caller ID and said "Suzanne, it's your mom's cell phone. Want me to get it?" My sleep-fuzzled brain briefly wondered why the hell she was calling so early and I said, "No. She'll leave a message." I snuggled deeper into the covers.

Somewhere else in the house my cell phone started ringing. I pretended I didn't hear it. Then Wendy's cell started ringing. Guess who? That's right! My mom. Wendy answered.

My stepfather, Hal, had had a heart attack while sleeping. She didn't know if he was going to survive.

This is, of course, a lesson to unplug and turn off all phones before going to bed. Kidding of course. Sort of. It's not been a week for many jokes. Hal was probably dead before my mother began CPR. Definitely by the time EMS transported him to the hospital.

So began a most bizarre week for my family. Well. It's going to be more than one bizarre week, I guess.

Wendy and I drove the few hours to where they live and found my mother ensconced in a living room full of caring neighbors. It is a tight knit community in a small town. (Well. Small is relative. I know someone who calls the town in which my parents live the New York City of Virginia's Northern Neck. I call it a quaint village.)

My mother introduced Wendy as her "bonus daughter," which always warms my heart more than words can say. She's a peach, my mom.

So was he.

It's been a long week. Eating was the only normalcy so we did a lot of that. I've gained weight grazing on the plentiful bounty the villagers are showering upon the grieving household. That bounty is the source of the title of this post. I may explain it later. Or not. It's a bit of levity we've leaned on often this week. No disrespect intended. Really.

We had just celebrated his 70th birthday: the day after we ate Thanksgiving dinner together, the same day we all spent raking leaves, and the day before I hugged him goodbye for what was to be the last time.

Argh. Just argh.


December 4, 2005

We Could Use One for Our Shoes

Parking garages are some of the creepiest structures around. Even when they are well-lit, there are still dark spooky corners, dead ends, and menacing columns. The film and television industries do not contribute to a healthy image for parking garages. Someone's always getting attacked or found face down in a puddle of blood or some equally as icky fear fodder for an imaginative mind such as my own.

My employer provides parking in our building's garage for the three days a week I am in Old Town. It is self-serve and has more "compact car only" spaces than it does regular spaces. That's fine for me, but many of the other patrons take up two compact car spaces with their humongous gas-guzzling SUVs sporting "W the President" stickers. (Not that there's anything wrong with that. We live in America after all. Please plaster your car with any stickers you deem fit. Just don't ask me not to mock them.) It beats the hell out of street parking in Old Town where one has to be vigilant and move their car every two hours or risk facing the wrath of the chalk-wielding ticket automatons. Those people have no souls.

The stairwells in that parking garage are sparkly clean enough to eat lunch off the steps. No one actually does, but if they did, they'd live to tell the tale. The same cannot be said for the stairwells in the parking garage at the Huntington Metro where I park several times a month. I will walk way, way, way out of my way to avoid those stairwells. Like miles-uphill-in-a-snowstorm-naked way, way, way out of my way. People pee in those stairwells. Closed Stairwell + Pee = Massive Olfactory Overload Possibly Leading to Dry Heaves. I'll risk the frostbite.

The best of the best is my favorite parking garage in DC, the one off the alley. I park there twice a month. I've never seen the interior. I drop the car at the entrance, toss the attendant the key, return several hours later and off they scramble to retrieve my car from the depths of wherever it is they stash it. Those attendants have memories like steel traps.

About two weeks ago I had been a major bedslug was running a bit later than usual. I zipped into the alley and was chagrined to see a large sign proclaiming "Garage Full. Monthly Parkers Only." There was quite the flurry of activity around the entrance: people, cars, more people. I caught the eye of one of the attendants, who shook his head and shrugged his shoulders. I pouted as I turned my car around and headed to my second garage of choice.

It costs $13 to park in my favorite garage: $12 fee and $1 tip for the attendant. The next closest garage, literally at the entrance to the aforementioned alley, charges $15 to park which morphs into $16 with a tip. How does that make sense?

Last Friday found me turning into the alley again. The attendant waved me into the garage. As he handed me my ticket, he said, "Hey, the next time the garage full sign is out, don't pay attention to it. Don't ask me anything. Just pull on in. I'll find room for you."

Who knew I had friends in such high places?


December 2, 2005

Potato Talk

Last night we had dinner out to celebrate Wendy's birthday. That's right. My woman is now officially a year older than she was the day before. Funny how that works.

She ordered first. An eleven ounce Delmonico, medium rare, garden salad with Thousand Island dressing on the side, a loaded baked potato and a vegetable medley.

Ah, the good old vegetable medley. Our server, when asked, said the medley consisted of steamed broccoli and cauliflower. Oh, and carrots, he added as an afterthought. Wendy and I both made a face because neither of us has an appreciation for cooked carrots despite the nice splash of color they add to a plate. At least they don't taint the whole vegetable medley like green peppers taint whatever it is with which they are cooked. Cooked carrots are easily pushed aside, leaving not a trace of their ever having been a part of things.

I was still perusing the menu having trouble deciding what to eat. Then I did something I have never done before. I slapped the menu closed and told the waiter, "I'll have exactly what she's having." Boom. Decision made.

Wendy raised her eyebrows and said, "You want a loaded baked potato?" I just smiled and nodded. I'd never had a loaded baked potato before. Usually I eat them with just butter. I eat the skin too. It's the best part.

"What comes on a loaded potato anyway?" I queried.
Wendy said, "Butter, sour cream, cheese, and bacon."

Our dinner was served. Wendy and I exchanged a quick high-five because not even one carrot from the medley found its way to either of our plates. As for the loaded potato, well, it was buried beneath a mountain of artery-hardening toppings. The combination of tastes and textures was interesting and not even slightly unpleasant.

We never eat baked potatoes at home. We rarely eat potatoes of any sort at home. The potato display is something I breeze right past at the grocery store. I have been known to serve instant mashed potatoes every now and again, but I never eat them myself because mashed potatoes are yucky.

Time for a survey of sorts. Let's talk potatoes, people. What is your favorite way to prepare them? What toppings do you prefer on your baked potato? Do you eat the skin? Do any other people deprive their families of the joy of mashed potatoes simply because they themselves do not like them? I know I can't be the only one.

Or can I?


November 30, 2005

♪♫ All I Can Say Is That My Life Is Pretty Plain ♪♫

An old house I sometimes drive past is home to a palm reader. A large white, blue and red sign affixed to the roof proclaims "Fortune Telling --- Psychic Readings --- Palmistry." The words are positioned around a large red hand in the center. Every so often there is an "Under New Management" banner hanging outside, but the name of the psychic reader never changes. She always goes by Annie.

I've never even considered stopping there, despite the tantalizing lure of another large sign posted in the window shouting "Special! Palms Read $10!" I mean, sure it sounds like a great deal and all. And who doesn't love a bargain? But I just can't see myself strolling in there, slapping my $10 on the table and requesting Annie's version of the future she sees written on my palm.

I've never had my palm read. Frankly, those folks scare me. Well. It's situational fear. I'd not be afraid to pass them on the street or stand in line with them at the grocery store, places within my comfort zone. My fear is of the unknown. The mystical. The double-hex-triple-whammy. What if my palm really has something to say? The secrets my palms must hold! I'm not ready to unleash such things on my conscience.

Oh who am I trying to kid? I'm far too practical to indulge in things of such whimsical nature. I'm a bookkeeper for pete's sake. It goes against my nature. I'll save my $10 for a case of cheap beer.

Across the street from Annie's House of Palmistry is one of the ancient motels that still operates along Richmond Highway. Years ago, it was named the Harry Smith Motel. I kid you not. The good old Harry Smith. Evidently, a weary traveller could get much more than just a room for the night at the Harry Smith Motel. The police shut them down but it has since reopened with a different name, Cedar something. It's not nearly as interesting without rumors of drug dealing and prostitution.

Where was I going with this anyway? Oh yeah. I remember reading something somewhere sometime that the lines on one's palms change through the years as one experiences life. I read it long enough ago to have since forgotten the details. But evidently not only can a palm reveal the future, it also speaks of the past.

Do fortunetellers read feet? The reason I started thinking about palm readers is because I've got these new lines on my foot. On the bottom of my right foot. Across my heel. Three of them. Parallel. What could they possibly mean? Curiosity abounds.

Yeah. My life is pretty plain. But I like it that way.

Post title borrowed from the lyrics of Blind Melon's No Rain. It's echoing in my head after hearing it on the drive home from work this evening.


November 29, 2005

Golden Boy

He's human and far from perfect and I do so adore The Boy.

In his high school years, Wendy and I referred to him as Golden Boy. A combination of hard work and talent combined with a healthy dose of charm and plain old good luck earned him that nick. That and his blonde hair.

I am loathe to jinx him. Can I be too proud of him? I superstitiously worry about repercussions of my unadulterated adoration. Yet it's no secret, that adoration. Nor is it blind. When he screws up, which all of us are wont to do now and again, my adoration does not lessen. It actually grows as I see him take responsibility for his actions, make amends when possible, and rebound from the experience. It grows as I see him out in the world, making reasoned decisions, mature and thoughtful yet maintaining youthful exuberance, free to be silly when silly suits.

He never was one to complain or whine about chores although he would procrastinate and require reminders. As an adult he pitches right in, usually volunteering rather than waiting to be asked. Remember my adventures in lumberjacking? There was plenty left to split. Not so much anymore because The Boy put a big dent in the work to be done. Muscles are amazing.

I can't even complain that he left his stuff all over the house or made a mess in the kitchen while he was home over Thanksgiving. Because he didn't. He cleaned up after himself. See? You mothers of younger children who have not yet mastered such fine skills can stop worrying. They grow up, leaving us scratching our heads wondering, "Where did this person come from?"

Wherever he came from, I am blessed. The world is his oyster and he is the pearl in my own.

(And with that statement, my friends, I believe I have just become the reigning Queen of Sentimentality, the crown snatched right off my own mother's head. This week's sign the apocalypse is upon us? Be afraid, be very afraid.)


November 28, 2005

I'm All About Ritual

Well. Maybe not all about ritual, but I am quite attached to certain traditions. It's not like I'll go postal or even a tad postal if circumstances dictate a particular tradition cannot be observed. A pout, however, albeit momentary, is always possible. I remain civilized, flexible even, not unyielding to the winds of change. Yet I am a hell of a lot happier when things are as things are supposed to be. As things historically have been. Traditionally.

Take, for example, Thanksgiving dinner. I want turkey. I want cornbread dressing made from my grandmother's recipe. I want plenty of creamy rich gravy to pour over them. I want the cheesy asparagus casserole my mother has made for as long as I can remember. I want smooth cranberry sauce from a can, not that horrible stuff with orange peel and cranberry chunks in it.

I adore my mother. She humors me while pleasing herself. She likes the same things I do on our Thanksgiving table. She adds a menu item or so to those mentioned above but she never substitutes. Me, I usually don't eat those interloping visiting dishes. There's just not room on my plate.

My friend Tina and her family host a Thanksgiving After Thanksgiving gathering. While attendance is becoming traditional, I have no food rituals guiding what I consume at the event. This year, they served a turducken. As you can see from the photo, it resembles a deflated mass of boneless bird. Tucked inside is another boneless bird inside yet a third boneless bird. Who thinks of these things? It was tasty.

All hail the mad MS Paint skills employed to carefully mask the woman in the Vanna White pose. Her beauty is such as to blind you. Blind you, I say. You'll have to take my word for it. Word.


November 22, 2005

Flounder Fest

The definitions of "flounder" from my friend and yours,
floun·der2 (floun' dur)
n. pl. flounder or floun·ders
Any of various marine flatfishes of the families Bothidae and Pleuronectidae, which include important food fishes.

No, no. That's not the definition I'm looking for. Not that one. It's nowhere near what I've been feeling. How about this?
floun·der1 (floun' dur)
intr.v. floun·dered, floun·der·ing, floun·ders
  1. To make clumsy attempts to move or regain one's balance.
  2. To move or act clumsily and in confusion.
n. The act of floundering.

That's more like it. I've been doing that kind of floundering. Or maybe I've been procrastinating. Or goofing off? No, no. Not goofing off. I've kept busy, yet I'm easily distracted. The end result, no matter what I call it, is the same: spinning wheels, constant changing of my mind, floundering. Has adult ADHD set in? Such distractability has inevitably played havoc with my NaNoWriMo word count.

The Boy arrives home this evening for the first time since April. I don't know if he is as excited as we are, but it's possible.

The Boy is coming home!

Oh my.
I find that worthy of repetition.

The Boy is coming home!

My goal for this Thanksgiving weekend is to not multi-task, to live in the moment. To just relax, feel thankful and enjoy our family traditions. To non-flounder. Thanksgiving and fish don't have much in common anyway. Not in our little world.

Oh my.
The Boy is home!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
See you next week!


November 20, 2005

Life Lessons

Dear She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named,

There was no rhyme or reason to why I fell for you. You came into my life at such a pivotal time for both of us, not that we realized it then. I sure didn't. I may have run the other direction if I had.

Thanks for teaching me the valuable lesson that just because I love someone doesn't mean they will love me back. Thank you for breaking my heart. Yes, seriously. Thank you for ripping it out of my chest, batting it around like a badmitton birdie, leaving it out in the rain, and playing hopscotch with it until it was barely beating. Oh yes, yes, yes! Thank you for introducing me to emotional agony as I figured out how to rebuild said heart. Good times, good times indeed. Everyone should try it at least once. Thanks for making sure I got a turn.

I'm running the risk of sounding like a Celine Dion song here, but before my experience with you I had no real comprehension of the power of love, the depth of emotion my heart could feel were I to but let it. I am quite sincere when I say thank you for that. I would be a much different woman today if I'd never learned.

But most of all, thanks for leaving me. If you hadn't, my life as I know it now would not exist. And oh how I love my life now! More than I ever loved you, I can confidently say.

A Grateful Woman

PS: Remember that humongous macaroon you sent me on my birthday two years after you left? Obviously I do. What a great touch that was. Bitch.

November Collab


November 17, 2005

November 16, 2005

A Spoonful of Sugar?

During my sister's recent visit, the subject of taking pills arose. Specifically, the evidently bizarre and unusual habit I personally have of swallowing tablets or caplets or capsules or whatever one at a time when I need to take more than one.

My sister swallows pills in a bunch when necessary. I polled Wendy who concurred with my sister: she just opens wide and tosses them all back in one fell swoop.

So now I am, of course, curious.

Do those two employ the most common multiple pill-swallowing methodology or do I?

Do tell.
How do you do it?


November 15, 2005


"How did your weekend go, Suzanne?" a co-worker inquired.

"We got to take The Boy grocery shopping!" I replied enthusiastically.

Why the hell do I derive so much satisfaction from that activity? Although The Boy seems to enjoy it too. Shocking, I know. A college student excited about a well-stocked pantry. Doh. Our mutual satisfaction with the activity certainly has differing origins. Matters not. It was good for me, baby.

One of the items that ended up in the cart was a squash.
It was as large as his head.
"What kind of squash is that?" I asked.
"A green one," he replied, "I'm going to steam it."

"I wonder if this stir-fry sauce is any good," he pondered.
"Try it," I suggested.
Into the cart it went.

"Are you still eating yogurt?" I asked as we were exiting the dairy aisle.
"Yeah!" he said, making a beeline for the display.

Ah, those little things.
The best money I've spent in ages.

What little things bring you joy?

Clarification addenda: It was not the spending of money that brought me joy. The Joy with a capital "J" was the act of shopping with The Boy. Simple, yes? Why do I feel the need to add such an edit? Well, that's between me and, well, let's say the proverbial fencepost. Or something like that.


November 14, 2005


I sproinged my giraffe neck on Sunday. If you've ever had a sproinged neck, you should be cringing sympathetically unless you are a completely heartless and merciless individual. If you've never experienced sproinging, count your blessings.

It happened out of the blue, without rhyme or reason. I was working in the yard, corralling leaves, then SPROING! The muscles at the base of my neck spasmed and twitched, sending bolts of pain in all directions. I dropped my rake and froze. Tried turning my head. Mistake. Tried lifting my arms. Another mistake. Tried taking a deep breath. Strike three. Carefully, oh so carefully, I tiptoed gently across the yard and into the house.

Wendy is familiar with my neck sproings. She's nursed me through this condition before. The real bitch about it is that there is no way to get physically comfortable. Lay down in bed? Forget it. Do you realize how many muscles in the neck and shoulders are required to assume a supine position? Or worse yet, to get up once you've made it down? All of them I think. Sit quietly? Forget it. Heads are heavy and require quite a few muscles to keep them erect. I chose to perch carefully onto the couch and immobilize my head upright with pillows. There I sat in my sweaty dirty yardwork clothes because removing them was absolutely out of the question.

Yet something good has come of this spriong. I've always just taken anti-inflammatories and suffered through my day-to-day activities. I'd endure at least a week of misery before I felt good again. This time, however, I had the luxury of sitting quietly, swallowing megadoses of anti-inflammatories all afternoon and evening. By the time bedtime rolled around, I was actually able to comfortably get there.

This morning? Still a bit tender but nothing like my previous sproinging pain marathons. I wish I had learned to sit still years ago.


November 13, 2005

Fitting In... Or Not

There's this hole-in-the-wall restaurant near us that serves Salvadorian food. Truth be told, there are many hole-in-the-wall restaurants near us that serve Salvadorian and other Central and South American cuisines. But this particular place is one Wendy and I frequent. We adore the food. Papusas! Fajitas! Tamales! Authentic recipes created from scratch adorned generously with sour cream and guacamole as appropriate, the food they serve is an excellent means of sating our periodic cravings for such fare. Quite tasty, portions plentiful, and the salsa always divine. Plus it's cheap. Great cheap food is sacred in my book.

The physical plant of the restaurant could be called shabby. No, strike that. It is shabby. It's located in a fast food restaurant building that is older than I am. A mish-mash of colorful paintings on the windows announce their fare. The tables are covered with vinyl table clothes sporting white and green checks, the booth benches sink. There are always at least two tables in the dining area littered with used dishes, empty cups, and balled up napkins. I would have never gone in there at all if a co-worker hadn't taken me there once about fifteen years ago. That first trip hooked me. Oink tacos rule.

It's sort of a combination of fast food and sit-down eating: place an order at the counter and they serve the food at the table. A man we think is the owner is usually at the register taking orders. Wendy and I have been going there together for years. He doesn't smile at us in recognition, but nods politely, with reserve, when we greet him. I've never really seen him smile at anyone. A young lady who also works there regularly and the ladies in the kitchen will smile if smiled at first. Still, even though he doesn't smile, I'm certain he recognizes the two female gringos who come in together at least once a month.

The clientele is racially mixed, but mostly hispanic lightly sprinkled with caucasian. There is more Spanish spoken than English, but not by me. I can't speak much Spanish although I keeping thinking one day I'd like to learn. My vocabulary is limited to words like "hola" and "gracias" and "pollo."

Anyway. Wednesday evening we had dinner there. The place was really hopping, which was rather unusual. Usually there is a slow but steady stream of customers in and out, but not a crowd hanging out in the lobby like there was that night. Waiting for carry-out orders, perhaps.

Some long, lean hispanic dude rode up on a bicycle about the same time we got out of the car. He wore jeans and a sweatshirt and had a red bandana tied around his forehead. I'm going to call him Creepy Guy from here on out. He was loudly talking to another fellow in Spanish as they followed us into the restaurant.

That's when it got weird.

As we gave our order to the nice old man behind the counter, Creepy Guy first stood very close to Wendy staring at her, speaking a stream of Spanish of which I, ignorant American that I am, could not understand a word. Then he scurried over and stood over my left shoulder and stared at me, his continuous stream of Spanish indisputably directed at the two of us. From his tone and the way he was looking at us, it was anything but polite. I doubt he would have been saying it if he thought we could comprehend whatever it was he was saying. I silently cursed my inability to understand the language.

The old man taking our order glanced briefly over at the man, didn't say a word, and looked quickly down to the register. His eyes didn't move from the keys as he took our order and gave us change. Meanwhile, Creepy Guy was still standing at my shoulder, his eyes boring a hole in my head as he spoke a language I did not understand. I finally turned slightly, raised my eyebrow and made eye contact with Creepy Guy. My look was neutral but far from friendly, more like "wtf, dude?" He raised his hands and said in English, "Oh sorry, miss, sorry," as he backed away a step or two. He looked anything but sorry, more pleased that he had gotten a reaction.

It was disconcerting. Quite. I had never felt uncomfortable, almost threatened, like that before, certainly not in a place so familiar. I didn't like it. But it also bothered me knowing the old man behind the counter certainly knew what Creepy Guy was saying. He speaks his language. But he didn't stop him. I wondered later if he was afraid of him. Maybe he was. I know I was. At least a little. Which pisses me off even more.

The pupusas, as always, were divine that evening.

We ate them surrounded by an hispanic couple with two toddlers, a four pack of older hispanic women, a group of hispanic men, and two hispanic fellows eating solo. Of the Creepy Guy, we saw no more. Still, I'm ashamed to admit I didn't really relax until a white man sat down in the dining area.

I'm not sure what that means. Or maybe I am sure, and I just don't like what it says about me. I'm sure I don't like feeling it about a place we adore eating.


November 10, 2005

Innocent Question?

This past weekend, we stayed at what is our favorite hotel near The Boy's school. The staff is friendly, accomodating and efficient. They always have cookies and coffee available in the lobby. The rooms are spacious and clean. Such cannot be said for all hotels in the vicinity.

I do so adore a nice clean hotel.

As we were checking in, the desk attendant was type-type-typing into her terminal as she chattered to us. She looked up at Wendy and asked, "You're sharing the room?"

Wendy nodded yes.

The young lady looked at her computer screen again and said, "There is only a king-sized bed in this one. Would you like me to change y'all to a room with two queens?"

I spoke up, smiling, "Well, no. King-sized is perfect. That's exactly what we want."

The other desk attendant, who was reading a newspaper nearby, gave a muffled snort. The one who was helping us looked down quickly and mumbled, "Oh... ummm... okay... I see..." as she nervously shuffled paper from one stack to another.

As many years as Wendy and I have been checking into hotels together we'd never been asked that, although I've always half-expected it. I wondered how I'd react, whether I'd get all stuttery and turn red and babble. Such a situation does, after all, proclaim to the clerk something rather personal about ourselves, doesn't it?

I'm pleased to announce I didn't even come close to blushing or stuttering. Can't say the same for the desk clerk though. Wonder if she'll ever ask two women that question again?


November 9, 2005


The fall yellows on the trees this year are quite intense. The leaves have finally started to come down in earnest.

I'll be pleased when the vast number of political signs are removed from the medians, yards, highways and byways. The elections are over. I wonder who is responsible for picking those signs up: the campaigners who put them there or the regular County clean-up folks my tax dollars help pay?

Our dog Pixie balances on three legs while pooing. It's hilarious to watch. She raises up one of her back legs, kinda tucks it under her stomach. Tripod girl, she is.

Virginia elected another Democratic governor. Talking Heads are saying Kaine's victory is a certain sign of deep discontent within the GOP because Bush campaigned heavily in our state for Kaine's opponent. I don't know if it really means anything other than the Republican lost. Yesterday I was talking to my mother who also lives in Virginia. She said, "Well, I broke down and voted your way." Alrighty then.

Blondie's One Way or Another was just playing on the radio. Haven't heard that song in years. It's still perky.

Our neighbor has been picking up sticks and stuff from our yard and hauling it to the curb on yard waste day. Is this an indication she thinks our yard is a mess and that we are completely lazy? I'm slightly paranoid. But really I think she's just being kind. How fortunate are we?


November 7, 2005

He Didn't Even Wish Me a Happy Birthday

I received a traffic ticket on my birthday. A moving violation. Lord knows I deserved it, but damn. It was my birthday. I didn't even try to talk my way out of it. I played the polite, well-mannered law-breaking citizen. I knew I deserved that ticket. I am so ashamed.

It was the first time I got caught speeding ticket I've gotten in about 16 years. I hadn't been stopped for speeding since I got rid of the bright red car I drove back in the 80s. Oh my that was a sweet car, my cherry red 1983 Mustang GT. I couldn't help but speed while driving it. Zero to 60 in second gear. With a purr. It was the 5.0 litre engine. It comes with a built-in lead foot. Yes, all the speeding tickets I received while owning that car were destiny.

But now I drive a 1999 Toyota Camry with a four-cylinder engine. When the kind officer told me how fast he had clocked me, I was somewhat relieved. You see, I had just slowed down a bit. Who knew my car would go that fast?

It'll only cost me $181.

But I am The Queen of Finding Silver Linings, lest you need a reminder. $181 aside, we arrived before the curtain went up.

It was worth it.


November 3, 2005

♪♫ I Feel Pretty and Witty and Gay!* ♪♫

It's been far too long since I have gushed about The Boy, hasn't it? Oh yes yes, I know you have missed hearing all about his exciting activities and what a fabulous young man he is.

Strike that. I'm not completely insane and deluded. I know you are not missing him, but I miss writing about him. Quick! Let me remedy the situation!

This weekend is my birthday weekend. The actual day is Friday, but I'm claiming the whole weekend as mine. After all, one only has so many birthdays in a lifetime. Might as well stretch them out and really enjoy them. Not to mention I'm special and therefore deserving. Ask my mother. She'll tell you.

So what does that have to do with The Boy? For the past eight years or so, The Boy has been on stage for my birthday. When he was in high school that would mean Wendy and I were working the front of the house at the theatre. Now it provides a convenient excuse for a road trip. And what better birthday present could a mother ask for than to see her offspring doing something he loves?

This year, The Boy is appearing in West Side Story as Riff, the leader of the Jets. Riff suffers a tragic demise at the end of the first act, but he sings a couple of great songs before taking a knife in the belly. A bonus: his girlfriend is playing Rosalita. Double bonus: his dad attended last weekend so we don't have to compete for attention. That's a good thing.

I recall renting the movie back when he was younger for some high school class assignment. The three of us stretched out on our king-sized bed to watch it. Evidently spoiled by modern special effects and such, it wasn't long before we were all complaining about what a horrid movie it was, dull and uninspiring. And we like musicals. We didn't finish watching it. I have no idea how he completed his assignment.

But back to this weekend. We'll be accompanied on our road trip by my sister, who is flying in today. My mother will meet us in North Carolina. As icing on the cake, two friends of ours who are alumni of the university he attends will be there for the show Saturday night. The only thing better than seeing The Boy on stage is having friends and family around to share it.

As a gift to myself, I'm going to try to do something I normally don't do: give up the reins and just go with the flow. There will be excitement in the air, yet I will be Everything Zen.

Believe that? I'll report back and let you know how it goes.
I haven't been this excited about a weekend in a long time.

* For those of you who don't recognize the lyrics, they are from a song in West Side Story, unimaginatively entitled "I Feel Pretty." I don't necessarily feel pretty or witty. But I do feel gay!


November 2, 2005

Why Oh Why? Oh My.

Why oh why do I surf the internet?
Why oh why do I click those links?

Is it purely curiosity?

It usually starts out innocently and then wham! My clicking exposes me to things to which I did not need exposure.

No, I'm not talking about p0rn. I think even my mother is savvy enough to avoid that unless she's actively seeking it. (Oh. Nice. My mother seeking p0rn. How's that for a thought that should never have been thunk? I need to go wash my hands or something.)

I'm talking about links such as this one to a product innocuously named The Keeper.

Please. Click the link. Read all about The Keeper. Digest the information. Imagine The Keeper as part of your own life.

Please. I need to know.
Come back and leave a comment.
Just a yes or no will do.

Would you?
Could you?
Do you?

Go Anonymous if you must.
I'll understand.


November 1, 2005

November 1

November 1 signifies the start of NaNoWriMo.

Am I doing it again?
Why yes, yes I am.
50,000 words in 30 days.

I have a new approach mapped for this year that may result in a bunch of short stories instead of one long one, unless of course I come up with a thread to weave them all together. We'll see. Either way, the words will hit the page.


October 31, 2005

'Tis the Season

Since we snubbed our friends maintained what shreds of our dignity still exist and faked having a cold politely declined the invitation to the sex toy party, Wendy and I eagerly looked forward to the next event on our busy social calendar: a Halloween party. Costumes mandatory. Whee.

Dressing up and looking silly has never been a problem. The problem is ideas. Ideas for dressing up and looking silly. Who do we turn to when we need ideas for costumes for any occasion? Why, our friend Tina of course. The last time we consulted her for Halloween, she dug through her bag of goodies and dressed us as Catholic nuns. Yes yes, sacreligious I know. Lesbian nuns smoking, drinking, and playing kissy-face in full habits? It doesn't get much better than that.

Unfortunately for us this year, we planted the seed but did not till the garden. This resulted in the day of the fete arriving without decisions being made on how we would attire ourselves for this grand event.

I wore my black jeans, black tank and orange silk blouse with three-quarter length sleeves. So where's the costume? I had a bag and a half of Smarties candies pinned to my pants.

Get it? Yeah. Lame. But simple.

Wendy's costume was even more subtle: a leaf tied to a thread attached to her wrist. Every so often, she'd raise it up and blow on it gently.

Get it? Okay good.

Halloween and all the spooky sweet goodness that goes along with it are really just a blip on the radar of that which truly is Fall: The Season.

Right now I'm feeling the pressure of The Season. It's a burden of living in suburbia. It's when many of the aspects of the suburbs I so adore conspire against me: expansive lawns, mature trees, and leaves falling in innumerable quantities combine to create the need to rake and bag and haul and rake and bag and haul. Did I mention raking, bagging and hauling? By the next weekend, however, the yard looks as if we hadn't removed a single leaf.

And with the chill in the air, the fire in the fireplace, the football games on TV.... oh how the alluring siren song of my Lazy Boy calls to me: "Suzanne! Psst... Suzanne! Come to me, my sweet. Come and nestle comfortably in my soft cushions, put your feet up. Ah yes, add a dog or two. Grab the TV remote, a good book to entertain you during commercials, perhaps a crunchy snack at your elbow. We'll all snuggle warmly as the fire crackles and the hours flow by in heavenly bliss."

It's far too much to resist.
The leaves will wait until we are ready.
I'd hate to disappoint my Lazy Boy.

October Collab


October 29, 2005

There's a New Kid In Town

It just happens. It's the way I do things. It results in panties on the floor by my side of the bed.

I arrive home after a long hard day of enduring the cold harsh realities of life in the real world. I know I'm home for the evening, so I immediately dive into the pajamas that have been patiently awaiting my return, having been tossed carelessly folded neatly on my pillow that morning. The clothes I had been wearing are then either (a) hung neatly in the closet, (b) folded neatly in a drawer, or (c) draped neatly over the dresser.

Except, that is, for my underwear and socks. Those I discard in a small heap on the floor next to our bed. Who can blame me? The laundry basket is all the way on the other side of the room, for pete's sake. So there they accumulate, awaiting the moment when I finally gather them up and put them where I was supposed to put them in the first place.

By the time Saturday rolls around, there typically is a variety of panties and/or enough socks to field a baseball team in my pile.

Saturday morning as Wendy tripped to the kitchen to fill our weekend coffee mugs, she called up the stairs to me. "Suzanne, did you take your panties off in the living room last night?"

"Ummmm.... no.... no, I don't think so," I replied.

"Then why is there a pair of your panties on the dog bed?" she queried.

Wendy, being the ever-so-patient and thoughtful woman that she is, picked up those stray panties and put them in the laundry basket where I was supposed to have put them in the first place.

We sipped our coffee while doing lazy Saturday morning things. After awhile, I went down to refill our mugs. As I passed the doggie bed in the living room, I noticed my panties were still laying there. I called up the stairs to her. "My panties are still on the dog bed!"

"What?" she said, "I picked those up. Are they pink?"

"No, these are white."

It would appear our new resident is one of those. One of those panty pooches. I do wonder why it took her exactly a week to begin her collection. Is this an indication Pixie is feeling at home? Or is it something more... sinister?


October 28, 2005

Cell Phonage

My folks finally allowed us to add them to our cellular phone plan. I think they were among the last two people in the free world to get cell phones.

These are not technologically backward individuals. They are computer and internet savvy, well-educated, busy adults. They travel a lot, are active in their community. How had they managed to exist without the modern convenience of a phone in their pocket? I also selfishly wanted to be able to reach them whenever I desired. (In hindsight, I hadn't considered the reverse would be true also... silly me.)

My mom would say, "Honey, we just can't justify the expense!"

I'd remind her of something her own mother used to say, something that has become somewhat of a family joke. My independent on-the-go comfortably endowed widowed grandmother would say, "I can't afford to eat meat anymore!" It was her state of mind, not necessarily all bad, but there is a point when practicality precludes frugality.

Finally they decided that, yes, cell phones would be useful to them. Then it was like pulling teeth to get them to allow us to absorb the expense. Adding lines to a cell plan these days is, for me right now, such a small thing. We easily spend more than the monthly fee on one meal in a restaurant! I swear I had to beg. I can't count how many times in my younger years they helped us out financially. Surely they could let us do this one little thing for them!

The first month my stepfather made no calls and my mom made six. All of them to me.

During one of those calls she said, borderline whine, "No one ever calls me on my cell phone."

"Well, Mom, have you given your number to anyone?"

"Uh, no. Not yet."

I do so love my mother.


October 27, 2005

Don't Laugh Too Hard

Thanks in part to eb who pointed me in their direction, I received a cheap thrill in our mailbox today: this quarter's volume of the journal Sinister Wisdom. The theme is lesbian mothers and grandmothers. (I'm one of those, you know. The mother part. I'd like to wait a good long while for the other.)

While I always enjoy getting new things to read in the mail, that's not the half of it. The real thrill is that my words are part of it! And my name! In print! Bound into a real book! People may even read it!

The ultimate cheap thrill.
I'm so easy.


October 26, 2005

Internet Disconnectivity

We've been experiencing connectivity issues with our DSL for the past two days. It has seriously crimped my blogging activity. How rude.

The connection cuts in and out, the middle bright green on the modem flashing slow and then fast and then steady, repeating the sequence over and over. We've done the usual: power down, unplug and replug everything, smack the modem, curse, waste 30 minutes of life on the phone with technical support, give up and do something else.

This evening, I unplugged the one phone we have to see if that had an effect. Sweet success! We've had a great internet connection all evening.

But now what? Is it the phone? Is it the cord? Is it the DSL filter? Is it the phone jack? Is it something else I'm not yet thinking of?

I'm not much in the mood for the tedious process of elimination required to track down the problem. I'm more inclined just to keep the phone unplugged. It's actually rather peaceful.

PS: I'm not the only one who is smitten!


October 24, 2005

I'm Smitten

I've never been one to fall in love quickly.
Our little Pixie Stick is an exception.

We knew before Cosine passed away we were going to get another dog. Wendy and I had often discussed the type of dog we would look for.
Suzanne: I want a little dog this time, small enough to bathe in the kitchen sink.

Wendy: Hrumph. That's not a dog.

Suzanne: I want a snuggly little dog who will sit in my lap.

Wendy: Hrumph. Dudley is a snuggly lap dog.

Suzanne: Ooooookay. Let me be a bit more specific. I want a snuggly little lap dog who won't crush my internal organs as she turns circles getting comfortable.

Wendy: Hrumph. You are such a wuss.

We found Pixie on the internet via a local rescue organization. A lengthy application was completed then we all trapsed out to meet her. The application included a diverse set of questions ranging from "Why do you want a dog?" to "How is heartworm transmitted?" to "How long do you expect housebreaking to take?" Wendy and I were interviewed twice by doggie rescue people and deemed to be acceptable potential pet parents. Doh. Another volunteer came out to verify our home was acceptable. It passed. Doh.

Friday evening we drove 60 miles in the pouring rain through the fabled Northern Virginia nightmare known as rush hour traffic to sign the adoption contract, write a check, and bring Pixie home.

We awoke Saturday morning.
Suzanne (both eyes closed): What time is it?

Wendy (both eyes open): 8:00.

Suzanne: Are they awake?

Wendy: Yes.

At the sound of our voices, Dudley began thump-thump-thumping his tail. Pixie, who somehow ended up snuggled between us, rolled over playfully.

Wendy: Ouch. Pixie just kung-fu'd me in the face.

Suzanne: You are such a wuss.

When Dudley jumps off the bed or couch, the THU-THUMP of his landing can be heard throughout the house. Pixie, on the other hand, moves like a feather and makes about as much noise. She gets so excited on her leash that her hind end catches up with her head as she dances down the sidewalk, earning her the nickname Sidewinder. She races around the backyard in circles of varying sizes, impressing us with her speed and agility. I stand there clapping and laughing, urging her to go even faster.

What kind of dog is she? Who knows. One set of paperwork says "boxer mix" and another says "min pin mix" but we don't see a resemblance to those breeds at all. She looks like a miniature greyhound and barks like a terrier.

I can go on and on about how cute she is, how graceful, how dainty, how smart, how adorable. I already have and certainly will again.

Sure wish all things in life were as simple as falling in love with a dog.


October 23, 2005

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet

When she unfurls her legs, it reminds me of unfolding a paper clip. They are ridiculously thin and long. Her skinny frame gives the illusion of daintiness, but don't be fooled. Rather than daintiness it represents speed and agility. She moves gracefully and bolts sharply like a fawn at an unexpected noise. She's a head taller than Dudley but weighs less than half as much.

She came equipped with at least two vital skills: how to politely share a bed with humans and how to do her business outside. The rest we'll help her figure out. She's quite adept at dispensing snuggles and puppy kisses. I'm not a major fan of the puppy kiss, but Wendy adores them.

Meet Pixie, the spritely sweet girl who has adopted us.
She fits right in.


October 22, 2005


Dudley had his annual trip to the vet for vaccinations and such recently.

Our vet keeps the records for all the family pets in the same file folder. Ours had become quite thick as Cosine, Detail and Figero grew old and had issues. But the day I took Dudley in, I noticed our family folder now only contained a page or two.

They had purged the records for our dead pets. Practical and reasonable, of course. But for some reason it made me sad to think their histories ended up in a garbage can somewhere.

We're working on fattening up that file.
Adding a page.
That'll fix things right up.


October 20, 2005

I'm Just a Soul Whose Intentions Are Good....

Trish over at Busted Stuff has been known to call kettle corn her own personal crack. Crack being, of course, that ever-so-addictive derivative of cocaine. I enjoy the occasional snack of kettle corn too, but not nearly as much as she does. She hasn't mentioned it recently. Perhaps she kicked the habit.

I told a lie to a friend about my own form of personal crack, although it wasn't a lie when I told it. Truly I intended to avoid it, to not purchase any more. Truly I intended not to ingest any more. Truly I intended to avoid even the sight or smell of any more of the lusciousness that creates such a gluttonous craving deep within. Out of sight, out of mind. That's the ticket.

It started this year with one little bag. One little eleven ounce bag. "Just this one," I rationalized, "I'll share it with Wendy." Then I blinked and before I knew it said bag was empty, the goodness inside vanished as if it had never existed, gone like a puff of smoke. I was physically ill, oh yes I was. How could I have let such a thing happen? I hadn't even shared.

The friend I lied to suffers my same addiction. I'd just confessed to him my experience with that little eleven ounce bag. He nodded his head knowingly. Then I lied. I said I was through with it, that I'd not expose myself to such temptation again. I just didn't know it was a lie at the time.

Foolish me. Foolish endcap in the drug store brimming with the irresistably bright packages filled with what evidently is my own personal crack. Foolish sign proclaiming them a bargain at 99¢. Foolish way my hand mindlessly reached out and added a sack to my basket. Foolish way there are now but a handful left.

At least I managed to share with Wendy this time.

Perhaps I should dip them in mustard.
Maybe that would cure my addiction.


October 19, 2005

Encounter In the Checkout Aisle

I recall reading a blog entry recently about someone trying to avoid someone she knew in the grocery store. Was it you? If so, I've done the same thing you did and will certainly do it again.

But how about when you run into someone who knows you but you don't remember you know them and as such are not aware of the need to employ evasive maneuvers? That's what happened to me last week. Friday afternoon. I was stocking up on requisite items for our sports-watching-stay-at-home weekend: chips, cheap beer, salsa, bananas and spinach. Oh, and mayonnaise.

As I transferred my items from the cart to the conveyor belt, a little old lady got in line behind me. I glanced at her and smiled. She practically gushed, "Why hello, Suzanne! Haven't seen you in years! How are you?"

I am, of course, quite used to old women gushing at me in the grocery store and other places all around town. My gray hair leads them to believe I am one of their own. I also must have that air of "it's fine to talk to me, I'm ready and willing to be patiently bored by the trivia you have such an obvious need to share." It's a curse, I tell you, a bloody curse.

But this one knew my name. I tried to keep my face neutrally pleasant, concentrating on not letting my eyes clue her in to the fact I had NO idea at all who she was. I replied with another smile, "Oh just fine, just fine. Beautiful day, yes?"

Could I have been any more generic? I think not. Meanwhile my little brain was working in overdrive. "Maybe she looks familiar," I thought, "A teeny tiny bit. But who the hell is she?" I tried to keep my brow from furrowing with consternation. What is up with little old ladies who have memories like steel traps?

Thankfully, her next words gave me a humongous clue: "We're working with the marching band this year. How is your son doing?"

Click. Boom. Ray of bright light. A partial identification! Obviously I knew her from the high school. My mind spun. Did she have a student in the theatre program? I met so many people while volunteering copious hours as the Chief Dorkette In Charge of our cadre of theatre parents. Some became fast friends, others I really miss, many were as easily forgotten as the date my library books were due.

But damn it. She was really too old to be a parent of a person The Boy's age. Then she offered another hint, mentioning someone named Chris and suddenly it dawned on me who she was. Not a parent, but a grandparent. I still didn't remember her name, but at least I could make reasonable conversation. And believe me, she was dead set on making conversation.

I'm handling those blasts from the past much better now. I feel like I've crossed a threshold of sorts from my place in the world then to who I am now. I'm certain y'all are all glad to hear it. I know I am.


October 18, 2005

Walking Before Midnight

Cosine and Detail learned early on how to walk politely in tandem on their leashes. Detail always assumed the point position because it was his place and we all knew it. He didn't need much of a lead, just for his nose to be further along than Cosine's. I liked to hold both leashes in one hand, the two of them trotting out in front eager to see what was there to be seen. Every so often one of them would stop to sniff or pee, our orderly procession interrupted but for a moment until we all jockeyed back into our usual formation.

During their older years, there was not much walking on leashes. It got to be where the only time they even wore their collars was for a trip to the vet. I've always called their collars and leashes their "clothes," as in "let's get your clothes on Pupperinos, it's time to take a walk!" Heaven forbid they go out naked in public.

We've been walking Dudley daily of late. It makes him happy, distracts him from his single dog status, and the exercise isn't going to hurt any of us.

Our neighborhood looks different when walking because different things matter when one is afoot. Sidewalks run haphazardly, squares of connected concrete that abruptly stop at random corners necessitating crossing the street to continue. Some streets don't have sidewalks at all. Others have asphalt paths. We are a mish-mashed kinda neighborhood. I like the irregularity.

This came from a tree along our route. Wendy carried it home for me. These bizarre looking fruits are strewn around the base of the mother tree and the surrounding lawn. Others have rolled into the gutter and some are smooshed in the street. There are a ton of them! The covering is very hard; I can't bruise it with a squeeze like I could with a peach. It's a bit larger than a softball and has quite a heft to it. The texture reminds me of a brain. I want to dissect it to see what is inside. Maybe I should just stop in the street and check out a smooshed one.

Meanwhile, does anyone know what it is? Do you have them in your neighborhood?


October 17, 2005

Sports Haze

I'm in one. A sports haze. I have a blister on my right forefinger from pushing buttons on the remote control. Baseball. Football. Back and forth, forth and back.

Beautiful weather?
Who cares.
Leaves to rake?
Who cares.

I October!


October 13, 2005

Oh Morning Wood?

Several weeks ago, Wendy and I went out to dinner and a movie with friends. I proposed seeing The Constant Gardener and offered to purchase the tickets online in advance. But I discovered a $1 service fee is added to each ticket for the convenience of buying them online. That irritated me and I was too cheap frugal to pay said fee. Unfortunately by the time we arrived at the theater, the movie was sold out. We ended up seeing The 40 Year Old Virgin instead.

Left to my own devices, I would never have picked that movie. My friend Mel didn't like it much because they say "fuck" a lot. And they do. But it didn't bother me because I'm a heathen and use the word rather frequently myself. My enjoyment of the movie surprised me; I laughed out loud often and absolutely adored the ending.

One scene Wendy and I both viewed with skepticism: the Virgin wakes up with an obvious erection, shuffles across the hall to the bathroom, sits down to relieve himself and immediately pees straight up in the air like a fountain. (Okay yes, real potty humor. I chuckled anyway. I'm mildly ashamed.)

But from my limited understanding of the intricacies of male plumbing, I thought urinating with an erection was physically impossible. But really, what do I know? So we turned to a source who actually has male plumbing and therefore is familiar with the in and outs, so to speak, of its behavior.

And what better male to ask things of this nature than The Boy? Yes yes, we do have that type of relationship. It's a good thing. The subject came up during our visit over parent's weekend. I said conversationally, "So, you know how males typically wake up in the morning with an erection?"

He didn't skip a beat.

"Ah yes," he replied smoothly, "Morning wood!"

Then to our utter amazement, he burst into song: "Morning wood, oh morning wood..." I kid you not. He sang at least one full verse, but the other lyrics have been purged from my mind. All that is remains is the memory of his rich baritone voice lyrically immortalizing the condition that is known, evidently, among the males of our species as "morning wood."

Ayup, parenthood is quite educational, quite educational indeed.

Oh, and for the curious among you, we also learned it would be extremely difficult to urinate with said morning wood, and to do so accidentally is most unlikely as such action would require great concentration and effort, were it to be possible at all.


October 12, 2005

Along Came A Spider

Of all places, a spider has taken up residence in our shower. (Yes, the same shower that Wendy and I built all by ourselves. Feel free to oogle the lovely tile job, although this photo does not come close to doing it justice.) Mr. Spider is dwelling under the attachment for the towel bar opposite the shower head. We did not invite him.

I saw him for the first time during a shower several weeks ago. A few of his black spindley legs waved menacingly as he peered out from beneath the fixture. Instantly on guard, I kept a sharp eye out for further encroachment while I finished my shower. I even washed my hair with my eyes open, no easy feat, but I wanted to leave nothing to chance. Being naked and wet, I was extremely vulnerable to a sneak attack by the itsy-bitsy spider such a terrifying predator!

The next morning, there was no sign of Mr. Spider. I decided he had moved on to a more comfortable place to spend the winter. After all, there certainly is not much space to weave a web where he was. What type of food could he catch without a decent web? Not to mention there just aren't any other bugs hanging out in our shower for him to trap and devour. I didn't give it another thought, feeling certain he had relocated.

This past weekend, however, we saw his creepy legs poking out from the same place! He is still there! Has he been there all those weeks since I first glimpsed him? WTF does he do all day in there? What is he eating? Is he some sort of mutant voyeristic spider who enjoys watching middle-aged women shower?

Wendy attempted to lure him out but only succeeded in driving him into the depths of his sanctuary. I guess he'll leave when he's ready. Meanwhile, I remain attentive while showering.


Urban Ruins

If, like me, you enjoy history, allow me to recommend this site, Opacity: Urban Ruins. This fellow, a photographer with an interesting eye for composition, has documented abandoned buildings and places in various stages of deterioration.

One of my favorite galleries is the Staten Island Boat Graveyard.

Utterly creepy yet fascinating, as are the old mental hospitals and "schools." Oh the stories those places must hold!


October 11, 2005

Early Morning Rambling

I should be in bed. So why did I just get out of bed? Because I can. Because I don't have to pop up and be at work first thing in the morning.

The Yankees are done for the season. Yay! By "yay" of course, what I really mean is too bad for all those Yankee fans. Because I'm compassionate that way. Of course I am. Poor suffering Yankee fans. But this year again, despite their incredible payroll and enormous wealth of talent, they didn't make the cut. Yay!

Along with baseball, we were watching Monday Night Football because that's what we do on Monday nights during the football season. How does Drew Brees thread the needle so finely that even when his intended receiver is a club sandwich, somehow the ball is caught? Amazing and fun to watch. Almost as fun to watch as the expressions on Bill Cowher's face. He has the best ever football coach face.

I'm 80 pages away from finishing the first book in a series by Juliet E. McKenna, Southern Fire. It didn't really grab me until about 40 pages in, but then it hooked me good. Unfortunately for me, Wendy just started reading book two, Northern Storm. My timing is off. I wonder if we can read the same book at the same time. I hate waiting my turn.


October 10, 2005

Is Frosting Only for Cake?

My hair started turning gray the minute The Boy popped out of that special place from whence babies pop. And yes, he did pop. I had a nice short labor, only cursed once or twice, and truly do not remember any of the what certainly must have been extraordinary pain and discomfort whilst said popping occurred.

But back to my hair. I was 23 when The Boy was born. Slowly but surely over the years since, it's gone grayer and grayer at a steady pace. I used to like it. Really. When one is young, gray hair is more of a novelty than anything else. At least it was to me. But now. Now that I'm of the age to have honestly earned my gray hair, it irritates me.

Nevermind that folks tell me "Oh it's such a lovely shade of silver!" Silver my ass. I look in the mirror and see gray old gray old gray old gray.

Wendy nods patiently as I often say with complete conviction that I'm absolutely positively going to have it colored. I talk about it endlessly, but take action? Ummm. Not yet. I so adore change, after all.

I'm afraid of the ongoing effort dyed hair requires. I prefer to remain a low maintenance kinda girl. I've seen too many women who color their hair and have roots showing that scream to the world "I color my hair and don't care enough to maintain it properly." Plus I am loathe to make a change that every person who knows me will immediately notice. There is nothing subtle about a sudden switch from gray hair to something else.

Which brings up another problem. How does on go about choosing a color to dye their hair? It's been gray for so long I don't really remember what color it started out as. It was blonde when I was a child but morphed into a blondish-brown briefly before it betrayed me by turning gray.

I've considered compromising and having it frosted. Or reversed-frosted as the case may be. Less drastic, less margin for error, less obvious need for maintenance. It'll be a fun trip back to the 1970s! My mother always had her hair frosted back then.

Egad. I'm considering doing to my hair something my mother used to do to her own?! That's quite a sobering thought, isn't it?


October 9, 2005


Friday night we went to sleep to the sound of raindrops pitter-pattering on the roof.

Our area has gone so long without rain, this storm was a delightful novelty. Friday it rained off and on all day. By evening, the clouds had settled in over us, predicted to stay for the majority of the weekend.

We awoke Saturday morning to a steady downpour.

Normally, by our newest and most current definition of normal, such weather on a Saturday would find us snuggled in bed for most of the day. Reading, watching sports, napping. But not yesterday. Yesterday we had to get up and out and about. We had an appointment to meet a dog. So we hustled Dudley into his harness and all piled in the car.

The rain was still steadily falling. The air was heavy and humid, the temperature rather warm. The clouds hovered low, a soft foggy feeling enveloped the neighborhood; colors muted, edges blurred. Not even a slight breeze ruffled the trees. Water ran in rivers down the gutters and puddled in low spots on the pavement.

We took the back way toward the highway via our suburban streets. Movement caught my eye as two little boys clad only in swimming trunks came flying out from behind a house. They raced across their front lawn, bare feet slipping on the wet grass. Huge grins lit up their faces as they dove headfirst, sliding across the saturated lawn and coming to a stop near the mailbox. Pine needles clung to their wet bodies and stuck up from their hair, their faces expressions of pure glee.

At first it seemed odd these boys were playing outside in such a heavy rain. But other than the torrents of water falling from the sky, the weather was calm and warm. Why not play outside?

I can't remember the last time I walked in the rain unmindful and uncaring of getting wet. I should rectify that.


October 7, 2005

Don't Even Bother to Ask

Don't even bother to ask. I don't know how so many large plates ended up stacked on every horizontal surface in our office. Even if I did know, I believe I'd invoke the "don't ask, don't tell" clause. It is my right, nay, at times my duty, as a homosexual.

In fact, I'm hereby declaring such to be so. Henceforth and hereinafter if any homosexual should knowingly admit the reason so many large plates ended up stacked in our office, said plates are to be immediately be smashed upon the floor into a kazillion shards, never again to assume a useful form in this world.

Perfectly reasonable, yes?
I think so too.

What a heinous week it has been.

I re-stacked the plates into one super-sized stack, flexed my muscles and toted it down to the kitchen sink. I turned on the hot faucet. My pre-rinse, if you will. Our hot water is hotter than any hot water I've ever had in a house before. We like it that way. Squeeze of soap, then careful adjustment of the temperature until it was just right. Rhythmical wipe, rinse, then into the dishwasher. Grab next plate. Lather, rinse, repeat. Literally.

Imagine my surprise when I looked at the next plate and saw a check I had recently received via mail. A big check. Well. Big enough. It was floating among the soap bubbles, soaking wet. The ink was starting to run, a teeny tiny bit of blur.

Now it's stretched out on a soft bed of paper towel, almost dry. I wince when I consider the consequences if said wet check had stuck to the back of the previous plate. I might have missed seeing it entirely, running it instead through the dishwasher into oblivion.

I can imagine driving myself insane searching for it later and never finding it, all the while knowing full well I had put it where checks all rest until it is time for a field trip to the bank.

See, that's why there is a place for everything and everything has its place.

You heard it here first: keep your checks away from your plates.
Your future financial security may depend on it.


October 6, 2005

Eating Crap

That's exactly what I've been doing all week.

We were gone last weekend and, it being the first of the month, I've actually had to work-work every day this week. I've not mustered the energy to go grocery shopping.

I've just been eating crap.
No usual banana for breakfast.
No balanced meal for dinner.

But lunch, oh lunch I've been eating. But did I make reasonable choices? Why would I do that? It would spoil Eat Crap Week. That's one thing about working in Old Town Alexandria. Whether you are in the mood for a great meal or just some good ole bad-for-you crap, satisfaction can be found.

The little ball burning in my stomach is easily explained.
Obviously I've earned it.


October 5, 2005

Cringe Factor

I cringed when I saw the evite appear in my inbox this afternoon. I’d heard a rumor it was on the way. I cringed then too. It is an invitation to a toy party. A sex toy party. I cringed again as I scanned the rather lengthy list of women invited to partake in the festivities. Why oh why oh why oh why?

A while back, Wendy and I managed to avoid the party featuring a male stripper. While it’s nice to be included, I truly wondered why we were even invited. Turns out our friends think Wendy and I are fun at parties. Okay, great. But a male stripper? No offense intended to you males out there. I know many of you are quite proud of your bodies and equipment, some of you even rightfully so. Far be it from me to diminish that pride. But really. Who invites lesbians to watch a male strip?

The hostesses of this upcoming sex toy party are good friends of ours, dedicated heterosexuals. We’ve gotten wild and crazy with them over the years. We talk about sex, sure. I’ve even demonstrated my expert bra removal skills to them. No, not my own bra. Theirs. Now that was an interesting gathering that solidified my reputation as a lesbian extraordinaire among our heterosexual friends. Everyone needs a party trick, right?

I try to imagine what this gathering will be like. Will there be demonstrations? Testimonials from satisfied users? Free samples?

I’m not a prude. I adore sex and sex toys are not a foreign concept. I’m certainly confident enough to sit around with other women, fondle dildos and imaginatively discuss how they are best used. I could contribute to said discussion in a very clinical and matter-of-fact way as well as in a more, shall we say, abstract manner.

Yet some of the invitees I barely know and others not at all. It’s one thing to address such… um... personal matters with close friends. It’s another thing altogether to do so with strangers.

I don’t know if I want them to know that much about me. I know I don’t want to know that much about them!


October 3, 2005

Montana Memory

Imagine the exchange with the clerk when returning our rental car. "Damage? Missing front fender? Broken window? Uh, well, you see, it's like this. We were lured in by a big yellow sign, paid $10 per person for the privilege of driving into the wilderness via an unpaved road to get up-close and personal with all different types of bears native to the region! Sure, there's a few dings where a grizzly got a little frisky. I'm certain those claw marks will buff right out."



It is easier to get people in neighboring automobiles to return a smile on local roads than on the interstate.

I've done the research. All scientific and whatnot. Charts, graphs, and carefully created timelines in full living color bound neatly in a notebook await your perusal should you doubt my methodology.

I'll smile at anyone. Usually because I feel like smiling but sometimes to get myself back to that place where I feel like smiling.

It all starts with eye contact. While sitting at a local red light or ignoring the speed limit while cruising down the freeway; smiles can be traded during any and all phases of stop-and-go or stomp-and-go road travel. Without eye contact, however, there can be no returned smile. It's rather like that whole hearing the sound-of-a-falling-tree-in-the-forest thing.

My smile got a workout on the highway this weekend on our way home. I was already in the place where I felt like smiling so it was practically effortless. I smiled at innumerable unknown faces, a variety of ages, colors and sizes driving or riding in a plethora of vehicle types, colors and sizes. Not quite a grinning idiot was I, but close.

Of all the folks I smiled at on the interstate, I only got acknowledgement from one. This fellow was riding in the open bed of a beat-up white work truck. On I-95. Doing about 70. He sat, his back to the cab, hunched in a lawn chair. Somehow I caught his eye as we passed him. In that brief moment I flashed him one of my most sparkling smiles. In return I received an acknowledging lift of his chin. His wispy long hair whipped wildly across his face and he quickly dropped his chin back to his chest.

Not long ago while stopped at a traffic light at the intersection of Lockheed Boulevard and Richmond Highway, the deep bass and rap beat emanating from the car in the lane to my right caught my attention. It was a beat-up Chevy Nova occupied by a quartet of young black men. The fellow in the front passenger seat was bopping his head rhythmically to the music. A white bandana was tied around his head, a lit cigarette dangled from his lips.

He looked at me looking at him, and I smiled. He rewarded me with an open grin, lots of teeth and good humor.

"So what?" you may think.
So go smile at a stranger.
I highly recommend it.


September 30, 2005

Road Trippin' with Tina

For a hundred and fifty miles or so. Tina will be accompanying Wendy and me on a road trip this weekend. She was going anyway and somehow got stuck lucked into riding with us. It will mark the first time we have travelled in the same car with her anywhere besides around town.

I wonder. Will she have to stop every twenty minutes for a pit stop like my sister? Will she insist on controlling the radio? Will she fall asleep in the car and snore? Is she a backseat driver? Will she cringe and gasp at my driving? I predict no to all but the last.

She'll only be with us for the first leg of our weekend travels. We are the advance scouting party for parent's weekend at RMWC in scenic Lynchburg, Virginia. We'll spend Friday night with her and her daughter, a senior at said college. (Shall I mention that her daughter will be turning 21 this weekend? Why of course I shall. One must be very very old, veritably ancient, to have a daughter turning 21. Don't you agree?)

Saturday morning we will abandon Tina to whatever fate has in store for her. Wendy and I will depart for North Carolina to see The Boy. Festivities shall abound! Or something like that.

Oh yes, it's that time of year again. I still can't believe it's our third college parent's weekend. Third! Yikes. Only one more to go after this one. Time flies, indeed it does.

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye! I'll be having enough fun for all of us, leaving the rest of you free to be productive members of society. Try to hold up your end, okay?


September 29, 2005

Camera Phones

Wendy and I have a friend, a young woman, who stores risque photos on her cell phone. Then she leaves the phone laying around for anyone to pick up and peruse said photos. Well. She leaves it laying around for nosy people who have no qualms about being nosy to pick it up and peruse them. Yeah. I'm one of those nosy ones.

What exactly do I mean by "risque" photos? Well for example, a full-frontal nude of her rather well-endowed male significant other is featured along with close-ups of, shall we say, intimate parts of her own anatomy. Yeah. Personal porn? Yikes.

I recently got a new cell phone. It has camara capability. Can't say as I'd ever consider storing personal porn on it. That's just not my style. So when a co-worker asked me if he could look at the photos on my phone I said, "Sure, go ahead." I knew there were no untoward photos on the camera because, after all, I'd snapped each photo personally.

Hadn't I?

Turns out no. Turns out someone took a few pictures with my camera phone while we were hanging out with our fantasy friends watching football. Turn out someone, who shall remain nameless *cough* Wendy *cough*, took a photograph of yours truly at that gathering. While not personal porn, it was a view of me I would never wish a co-worker to see. One of our fantasy friends? No problem. But a co-worker? Uh uh, no way. The photo was revealing in a distinctly unflattering manner, oh yes, yes it was.

Ripening karma.
Something to be counted on along with death and taxes.


September 28, 2005


After reading this recent post from Mel, or maybe it was this one, I've decided she is vying for the title "Hardworking Mother of the Year" in direct competition with my friend Tina. I think Mel has the edge if only because her children are younger.

Those busy mothers have got it easy, let me tell you. So much of raising children is reactive. Reacting to their needs, I mean. And boy oh boy, kids can be a needy lot indeed. There isn't much time to focus on oneself with children at home.

Their needs lessen, obviously, as they get older. The high school years bring a riotous blossom of independence, yet require parental attentiveness of a different ilk, still as time consuming in many ways.

Mel's posts highlighted to me the heart of the whole empty nest bullshit adjustment period with which I've struggled. After eighteen years of primarily putting someone else's schedule and needs above my own, I suddenly found myself with too much free time and absolutely no idea how to adequately fill it. There was nothing to be done that could not be put off until some other time. There was no one counting on me to feed, dress, nag, share with, drive, learn from, motivate, play with, check on, pick up after, teach and listen to. There was just me and empty hours, jumbled like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle on a cardtable.

Wow. That sounds rather pathetic. But within lies a large dollop of truth.

I think I'm finally putting that puzzle together.
I wonder what the picture will be?