January 30, 2005

This Peaceful Morning

These are the images to which we awoke this morning. Images which never fail to inspire a sense of wonder in me. The delicate flakes falling, still now as I type, turning our little corner of suburbia into a wintery landscape of snow and ice.

It is peaceful icing on the cake that is my weekend. And oh the cake itself! The ingredients finally came together with a whir of the mixer and a spin of the beaters; the only eggs cracked were those truly in need of breaking.

I think it's time for a nap.

January 29, 2005

Sausage Belongs in a Frying Pan

Wendy and I quit smoking a while back, a while being five months one week three days and 13 hours. Approximately.

Wow. Seems like another lifetime.

In that lifetime, I have gained about fifteen pounds. Yes you read that right. FIFTEEN POUNDS! Is it any wonder I can't fit my fat ass into my clothes anymore? Well that's not exactly true. I can fit my fat ass into my clothes. But the results are truly unfortunate. Unless one enjoys looking and feeling like an overstuffed sausage: the Sausage Effect. Do you know what I mean? If not, take it from me. It's not something to which to aspire.

It's not just how I look in my clothes. I can't stand the way I've been physically feeling, naked or clothed. I am half-heartedly working on losing said fifteen extra pounds. Unfortunately I think I used up my quota of willpower giving up nicotine. It's an not-so-gentle reminder of my tendency to overindulge. Self-discipline and I, well, let's just say we've barely met.

In the interim, between now and when I (hopefully) eventually can again feel comfortable in my current wardrobe, I still have to get dressed most every day. And go out in public. And see people. And people see me. No one has mocked me for my weight gain. Yet. At least not to my face. The little voices in my head, however, are mocking overtime. Oh yeah. Self-mocking is the best. I could give lessons to any other aspiring mockers, self or otherwise.

We're going shopping today, Wendy and I.
To find something to wear that does not cause the Sausage Effect.
I need the illusion of normalcy.
Whatever that is.

January 28, 2005

I am so happy January is over.
So. Freaking. Happy. Yay!

Of course I am aware that technically there are three more days left in the month. But for me, January is over. My last work deadline has been met.

Time to flake.
Me and the weather.

February rules.


Jane Smiley is not good for bathroom reading. Her sentences and paragraphs are just not well-suited to dropping in to read a few lines at a time.

Outside of the bathroom, however, she's awesome. Moo!

Sonny & Cher

There's this couple. Friends of ours. Wendy picked the nicknames I will use for them. Here they will be Sonny & Cher. The origin of said nickname is a remnant of an evening of karaoke. I got you babe. Yes indeed.

Sonny & Cher are a middle-aged married couple. No kids. Yet. They live in the suburbs. Guinea pigs currently serve as their cross between pets and children. Oh sure, I could weave a long backstory as to the who what where when why of guinea pigs filling that role, but it doesn't really relate to this tale.

This tale is about mice. Hasn't everyone had at least one mouse-in-the-house experience? I think I've had winter mice in every house in which I've ever lived. Figero has always politely asked them to leave. Figero is such a good kitty. But Figero doesn't live with Sonny & Cher. They don't have a cat. They have guinea pigs. Guinea pigs are not known for their mousing abilities.

A trip to the local hardware store netted Sonny & Cher one of those nifty humane traps. Not a snappy mouse killing kind of trap. A humane trap. A trap where the door closes behind the cute little mousey who has been lured in by a blob of peanut butter.

"I got you babe!" warbled Sonny the morning he found the first mouse slumped in the corner of the humane trap, bloated from eating all the peanut butter.

Sonny & Cher did not wish to unceremoniously dump the mouse into the harsh conditions of the winter outdoors. It was far too cold. And snowy. The mouse would be cold, hungry and uncomfortable. That would never do. They opted to put the mouse in an aquarium furnished with a bit of guinea pig bedding. He'd be quite cozy until spring.

Currently Sonny & Cher have an entire herd of mice living in that aquarium. That humane trap did a bang-up job. In case you are wondering how many mice make up a herd, it's four. Four mice per herd. They also have a large box of mouse food purchased at the local Petsmart.

And a baby. A baby mouse. The most recent bounty yielded by the humane trap. At first, Sonny & Cher put the baby in the aquarium with the other mice. The other mice were not pleased, not pleased at all. They attacked that little baby mouse.

Sonny & Cher were horrified. They did the only thing responsible mouse-catching pet lovers could possibly do. They set up a separate aquarium home for the baby mouse. A bit of internet research revealed adult mice often treat foreign baby mice that way. Who knew?

Cher confided she chats to those mice. And why not? Everyone needs somebody to talk to. Some of the best conversations I've had have been with my pets. (That's normal. Totally. Someone back me up here!)

Their plan is to release the mice into the wild come spring. I wonder. Will they? Release them? After months of nurturing them? Confiding in them? If they release them, will the mice come right back in the way they came in the first time? Do mice prefer freedom over regular meals in a confined warm nest?

Does anyone else have fond memories of The Mouse and the Motorcycle? I read it countless times growing up. Good times.

January 27, 2005

Today's Goal

Breathe in. Breathe out.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Breathe in.

January 25, 2005

Also Fitting for Today

"Sometimes we are as unlike ourselves as we are unlike other people."
---some French philosopher?

Today, I Am the Anti-Zen

I am so fucking frustrated.

I thought I was dealing with this recurring situation calmly and matter-of-factly. Letting it roll right off, not letting it get to me. Not getting stressed out. Not taking it on personally. Everything's zen. Going with the flow and accepting what is and letting what will be, be.

Suzanne Is PissedEvidently that's not the case. I'm at the point where I have to acknowledge just how pissed off I am. I'm soooooooo fucking angry. So I'll vent. Surely it will help. See me assume a posture of great physical tension. Become alarmed by my threatening stature. Watch my eyebrows knit together in consternation, my face tighten up and lightning bolts shoot from my usually laughing green eyes. Observe as the steam billows out my of ears. I am The Hulk dammit! I am enraged!

You inconsiderate disrespectful self-centered arrogant ungrateful thoughtless non-email-answering non-phone-call-returning non-communicative asshole fucktard. Yeah. You know who you are. Kiss my ass, you impolite self-absorbed narcissistic twit.

Is losing it on one's blog preferable to losing it in the face of a real live human being? My preference would be neither. And if I'm going to lose it like that, it had better be in this realm. I can't imagine saying that out loud to a real live person. So since we're here and it's already out there, this choice is better than the alternative.

I'm so fucking mature.
Aren't you glad I'm not your mother?

January 24, 2005

Crumbling Quackers, Batman!

I won the "Have a Nice Quack" contest over at Quick Quack!

I'd thank the Academy, but the real thanks evidently goes to the foot of snow Jack had to shovel. That or the fact that my entry was geared to appeal to the most carnal of human desires.

My mother would be so proud!

It's Bound to Happen

So. Will I be attending your funeral or will you be attending mine?
Thanks to Dara for the link.

Good First Lines?

Recent reads:

Sharyn McCrumb, The PMS Outlaws
"If he stayed chained naked to this post much longer, there just wouldn't be any afterward to the foreplay."

Elizabeth Berg, Ordinary Life "A Love Story"
"Mavis MacPherson is locked in the bathroom and will not come out."

Louise Rafkin, Other People's Dirt: A Housecleaner's Curious Adventures
"I wasn't a particularly tidy child."

January 23, 2005

To Scoop or Not to Scoop?

I envision distance based on my perception of a football field. Hence, the distance between the woodpile and the porch is, I think, about 20 yards.

Ack. Time out. I can't restrain myself from going out there and stepping it off to see really how far it is. No I'm not always obsessive-compulsive. Wait here, I'll be right back. ...

... Okay. I was wrong. It is not 20 yards, it's only 11.375 yards from the porch to the woodpile. So much for my perception.

Granted it is a perilious 11.375 yards. One must traverse what we ever-so-fondly refer to as Cosine's Minefield. Oh sure, sure. We could get out there and scoop. Of course we could. But now we've got snow. So the existing poop piles are now rock hard lumps under virgin white snow. Rock hard lumps don't smear and get stuck in the tread of my cool new indoor/outdoor slippers and get tracked into the house. Better yet, any fresh piles stand out prominently against the vivid white background. Hence they are easy to avoid. Yet another reason I love snow.

I have this one memory of The Boy scooping poop. Not as a chore, as a punishment. He was seven, maybe eight years old. Old enough to have known better than to do whatever it was he had done. The Boy's behavior rarely merited harsh discipline. This particular punishment was the harshest I could think up at the time. I wonder what he did to earn it. I don't remember that piece of the story.

I sent him out in the backyard with a trash bag and a little shovel. I stood upstairs and watched him through the window. He moved slowly around the backyard, stopping every so often to shovel some shit into the bag. He retched once, bending over with his hands on his knees as he recovered. I giggled, then felt guilt and a wave of compassion so strong it brought tears to my eyes. I didn't stop him. But I no longer watched.

I also never made him scoop poop again.

January 22, 2005

Inside Looking Out

I'm frantically procrastinating. One of the things I am doing instead of doing what I should be doing is watching. Watching out our office window.

The window looks out across our front yard to the street beyond. There is a hill on the street. Not a humongous hill, but a good sized hill. Plenty of slope. We live at the bottom of the slope.

It's snowing here today. While watching the hill is usually boring as hell, it's quite interesting when there is snow covering the street. Nothing violent or tragic is happening. Just slip sliding and such. Slip sliding in three dimensions. People just have to go out in this sloppy weather.

Obviously they have been sent to entertain me.

January 21, 2005

Snippets ...

.... of a telephone conversation with my mother this afternoon.
My Mom: "I knew you were a good writer way back when you wrote that story in the fourth grade about the talking school desks! And I so love that Toaster thing you wrote for us!"

Me: (thinking oh hell yeah, that desk story WAS way cool! and how does she remember something that old? and my mom is great for my ego when I let her be!) It's so out of the blue. If I didn't blog, I wouldn't have this opportunity.

My Mom: Well I don't understand what a blog is or why you would have one. Hal tried to explain it but I didn't get it.

Me: (thinking there is no way in hell I can explain to her why I do this, which is why I've not mentioned it to her before) It's like an on-line journal, Mom. I'm practicing writing. It's fun and interesting. I've also gotten to know some terrific people.

My Mom: I just don't understand why you'd want to put anything personal like that on the internet. If you want to write, I'll buy you a notebook, okay?

The conversation then switched to the rods in her toes and how the doctor told her not to soak her feet any more.

Now my mom "gets" a lot of things. She's a fabulous mom in so many ways. But she doesn't get the "why" of writing. Or the "why" of blogging. At least not my "why." Not yet anyway. Truthfully, I'm thankful she wasn't more curious about this place. I love my mom, but she hates it when I cuss. She might not like it here much.

I wonder what percentage of bloggers have mothers who read their blogs?

100 Things

I've added a new link on the sidebar. Under my eye. 100 Things. Things about me. Many other bloggers have such a list on their sites. I'm such a conformist, doncha know.

I began putting the list together to see if it would be hard. It wasn't. What it was, was humbling. Because compiling such a list was cause for circumspection as well as introspection.

It would have been interesting to compare such a list from when I was, say, 25 to the one I made now. Unfortunately, I did not compile such a list when I was 25. I'll have to settle for comparing this one at 42 to one I create at, say, 60.

Although it's doubtful I'll remember to do so.
That's one thing I left off my list: I'm forgetful.

January 20, 2005

I Like Beer

Remember the country song entitled "I Like Beer" written and recorded by Tom T. Hall? I do. My mother was (is?) a great fan of country music. I, therefore, listened to and enjoyed it as I grew up. Still do.

There ain't nothing like a good country song to make you appreciate the simpler things, the finer things in life. Umm.... sure.

That fellow, Tom T. Hall? Also of "Old Dogs, Children, and Watermelon Wine" fame? Were you aware he wrote the classic country hit "Harper Valley PTA" sung by Jeannie C. Riley in 1968? Oh! His sappy sweet "I Love": "And Iiiiiiiiiiii loooooooooove you-oo toooooooooooo!"

Ack. This has turned into an "I Love Tom T. Hall" fiesta. How the hell did that happen? Really not my intention. But memories are good.

Honestly, I started out just thinking about how much I like beer.

There ya go.

January 19, 2005

Wintriness! At Last!

Eerily enough, we got our first snow today. Why is it eerie? Well, it's the day I requested. Oh sure, it was a bit less than I had hoped. So what?

My shovel is smiling and so am I.

The Simple Life

Alrighty Then

I'm sure I've mentioned this.

I'm a bookkeeper. I keep track of other people's money. Of course. That's what bookkeepers do.

Bookkeepers don't really have anything to do with books. Not real books. Not like books housed in a library or overflowing the bookshelves in our living room. No, not those books. Bookkeepers keep track of columns and rows and volumes of numbers and other related fascinating financial facts. Intriguing, I know. Try to contain your enthusiasm.

(As an aside, I take special pleasure that the word "bookkeeper" has so many double letters. It is pleasing to me in ways I cannot explain.)

January for bookkeepers is full of paper. Paper and forms. Forms such as W-2s and other scintillating, enchanting and spellbinding report filings required by our government officials. Volumes. Volumes of forms. Bless their hearts.

Right about now.
Right about now I'm tired of them.
Tired of those papers.
Tired of those papers and forms.

Yet this, too, shall pass.
Moving right along?

January 18, 2005

The Dishwasher Is Fixed

Four days.
Not bad.
I do so love the internet.

Tight Fit

I cannot go into the bathroom.
I cannot go into the bathroom at home.
I cannot go into the bathroom at home without both dogs following me in.

There's really not enough room.
There's really not enough room in the bathroom.
There's really not enough room in the bathroom for me and two dogs.

It is a tight fit.
But with good conversation.

I could use a bigger bathroom.
Or a raygun to shrink our dogs into miniature versions of themselves as they follow me in.
It could be a short-acting ray so they bounce back to their full size after a short while.

This idea has merit.

January 17, 2005

Three Irrelevant Things

One: I have never had poison ivy.

Growing up, I attended camp many summers (thanks Mom & Dad!). One year at this one camp we were told "If you don't have poison ivy by the time you leave here, you don't get poison ivy." One by one my fellow campers would break out in a rash and troop over to the infirmary. They'd come back with the affected parts of their bodies slathered with calamine lotion. Those pale pink swatches of calamine over itchy blistering skin were worn like badges of honor. Badges that signified they were real campers.

I would inspect my arms and legs daily, waiting expectantly for my own itchy blisters to appear. They never did. I so wanted to be a real camper and have calamine swatches of my own, I actually rolled in a patch of poison ivy. How pathetic is that? But no rash. I'd not take such a risk these days.

Two: I have never broken a bone.

This story of me falling down? It is not an unusual occurrence. I'm clumsy. I fall down. Yet no matter how hard or how far or how awkwardly I may fall, I've always bounced back up no worse for the wear. (knock on wood)

I've never set out to try to break a bone. Has anyone? Well, anyone outside of that fellow who was trapped in the mountains and had to amputate his own arm to escape. Unless one was in a situation like that, it would be insane to try and break a bone. If breaking a bone were as simple as rolling in a patch of poison ivy, I may well have done it. But it's not, so I haven't. Instead I signed my friends' casts when they had them, bemoaning that I never got to wear one myself. Silly me.

Three: I have never been stung by a bee.

This one I almost achieved! One fall day when we were teenagers, my friend Molly and I were taking a cut-short through the woods. We stepped off the path a bit to smoke our cigarettes. (Yes, I was that kind of teenager!) We chatted and smoked unaware of the circumstance that would soon cause us to scream like the teenage girls we were.

One or both of us had disturbed a hive of ground-nesting bees. I remember looking down and noticing that from the crotch down, both of us were covered in bees. I was wearing sandals. My bare toes were covered in bees. We screamed. We swatted. We screeched. We flailed. We fled in opposite directions.

We found each other about twenty minutes later. Each of us had exited the woods and started walking the long way around. We met on the sidewalk of a suburban street, fairly safe from marauding insects. Ground-nesting bees do not make their home in concrete. Molly showed me three places she had been stung. My only wound was a tiny scratch from a branch recoiling as I raced through the woods. Bah.

January 16, 2005

"... all my words come back to me in shades of mediocrity."

Paul Simon
"Homeward Bound"

January 15, 2005


We have no carpet in our house. It is not some random anomoly or temporary phenomenon. It is intentional. By design. This is, however, the first house we've had that has absolutely no carpet. Our previous residence had carpet on the stairs and in the basement. The basement that flooded at least twice each year. Once it flooded due to a sewer backup. I'll state the obvious: liquid shit and carpet are not compatible. Neither are pets and carpet.

Carpet traps dirt. Carpet traps pet hair. Carpet traps odor. Carpets offer housing to all those little particles that aggravate my allergies. Carpet traps all the detritus we with bare floors can easily sweep up into great big piles every few days. Oh the ease with which a dustpan can be filled and unceremoniously dumped into a trash can! A bucket brimming with the Secret Cleansing Formula combined with a mop and voila! Clean floors, corners and edges inclusive.

Not so carpet. I know because I've lived with carpet. And pets. And sewer backups. And children. And allergies. All at the same time. Have you ever tried to clean a potty accident out of carpet? And we all know with pets and/or children, there will be potty accidents. Yet with a nice laminate or hardwood, those potty accidents are a breeze. Cat puke? No problem. Grab a paper towel and that squirty stuff. Over and out. An accident like that on carpet can make one late for work.

One of the downsides of no carpet is that the dogs' toenails go click-clickity-click-click-click.

Cosine paced on the landing.

Thump-thump. Click-clickity-click.
Dudley jumped off the couch and had a drink of water.

Lately Cosine has been having spacial and sight issues. Now she does more than just click.

Cosine crosses the room and knocks her head on the wall.

Cosine bangs her nose on the door frame.

Or worse.
That is the sound of Cosine lost under the dining room table, trapped by legs of the chairs and searching for an exit.

She never complains about bumping her head. Cosine never complains at all. She may be demanding, but she never complains.

There's a lesson there.
I'm trying to learn it.

January 14, 2005

Compare & Contrast

From The Poor Man, his chart compares the two reports released this week: "Rathergate" versus Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.

Check it out.

EDITED to add: The comments over there are rather out of control. They stray a bit far from the main idea of this thing: accountability or lack thereof.

I Love the Internet

I arrived home not last night but the night before to find Wendy standing in the kitchen. The room was sparkling and the house smelled fresh. My girlfriend was leaning alluringly against the dishwasher with a smile on her face.

"Ho ho!" I thought. "She was waiting here for me to arrive!" I greeted the dogs as I crossed to where she was standing and gave her a more-than-friendly "hi honey I'm home" kiss.

It was then I noticed the dishwasher running. She looked at me and said "Um, we have a little problem." I stepped back and cocked an eyebrow questioningly.

"The latch on the dishwasher door is broken. But I didn't notice it until there was water pooling on the floor. Now I'm leaning here holding it shut until it finishes running."

Ack! Her alluring stance was not intended to allure at all! It was a practical pose. Okay then.

So we chit-chatted about the day as she leaned and the dishwasher ran through the cycles. After it finished, we opened the door to investigate. The broken piece was easily identified. Fortunately, it isn't anything mechanical at all. It is just a big metal hook thing with the tip of the hook snapped off.

The coolest site on the internet for a homeowner who has a broken appliance (and what homeowner doesn't at some time or another?) has got to be RepairClinic.com Less than five minutes after logging in, the part had been identified, ordered and is winging it's way to our humble abode.

If only plumbing were that simple.

January 13, 2005

A Hazy Shade

My winter yoga class began last night, so I know it truly is winter despite the temperature outdoors. Today? A high of 60°F is expected. That's messed up. By Sunday, however, forecasters expect a low of 20°F. That's more like it. Nothing like a 40° temperature swing in four days. Hey, whatever it takes to kickstart winter out here. Because until we enjoy winter, there's no joy in spring.

I don't mean to be greedy. But Houston had snow around Christmas. Washington State had a recent taste of snow too. Southern Connecticut has been snow blessed. I won't even get into how much snow has fallen in California or in areas south of Virginia where snow usually doesn't fall at all. Is it greedy for me to want just one good snowfall? We are supposed to get snow here. It belongs here.

My shovel stands gathering cobwebs in the shed. My shovel is sad. Lonely. Questioning its self-worth. Please. For the shovel. Let it snow.

DC is gearing up for the coronation inauguration festivities next week. A large part of me hopes for a massive winter storm, say next Wednesday night. Or even Tuesday. Yeah, that would be just perfect.

Snow? Please.
You're late.

January 12, 2005

An Unexpected Farewell

Today out of the proverbial blue, one of my favorite radio stations, 99.1 WHFS, has undergone a radical change. No longer will they play alternative rock. No longer will I be entertained by the Sports Junkies on my way to work in the morning. No longer will they sponsor the popular springtime multi-band multi-day rock concert, the HFStival. That's right kiddies, kiss your HFStival goodbye.

The station will be known from this day forward as El Zol 99.1, ¡Siempre de Fiesta! ¡Arriba! ¡Ole!

Justo ahora tíreme.
¿Por favor?

How About a Condom to Go With That?

I've had a hankering for years to learn how to do origami. Something about pieces of brightly colored paper folded carefully into delicate and interesting shapes fascinates me. Ever had someone fold a dollar bill into a ring for you when you were young? I did. I think my fascination was born then. I remember wanting to take it apart to see how it was created but being afraid I would not be able to put it back together.

I want to learn how to create little animals and other such things, small silly items that delight for a bit but which then can be tossed away without guilt. I went searching for a book to teach me. Imagine my surprise when I came across Pornogami: A Guide to the Ancient Art of Paper-Folding for Adults. Amazon Dot Com declares it's "better together" with Very Naughty Origami.

Who knew there was a market for teaching folks how to fold individual origami sperm! Or better yet, how about an origami penis? Think of the uses for one of those! Um. Well. Outside of a potentially entertaining conversation piece, I can't think of many uses for a tiny origami penis. Interestingly enough, "Pornogami" also teaches how to fold a tiny paper condom. The condom lesson comes right before the lesson on creating an origami vagina. I kid you not.

Safe sex is paramount, even with small brightly colored paper genitalia.

January 11, 2005


Does anyone really care?

If so, why?

Slippery When Wet

Last week was a drizzily damp week in our Nation's Capital and surrounding vicinities. It was, therefore, drizzily damp and wet where I live and work in Alexandria, Virginia. The temperature was rather warm. Dammit. When will winter arrive? It's late.

One must be careful walking the streets of Old Town Alexandria. Not due to crime or some other evil that could befall the unwary. It's the sidewalks. They are brick. Old brick. Old worn uneven brick. These old worn uneven brick sidewalks exude much character and charm. But one must be careful. Especially when the sidewalks are damp or wet. One must pay special attention and be alert.

Last week, on Thursday, I walked to Chipotle to get a food brick for lunch with two of my co-workers. We built our burritos and headed back to the office, each of us clutching a bagged food brick. Instead of paying special attention and being alert as we walked, I was running my mouth with my co-workers.

One second I was walking along. The next second my feet flew out from under me as I gracefully, oh yes oh so gracefully, flailed wildly as my body crashed to the bricks. My bagged burrito arced through the air and just missed beaning the little old lady walking her poodle.

If I'm going to sprawl on the sidewalk during the lunch rush on King Street, I'd rather do it with a touch of style, a bit of panache, a little flair.

Wish me luck for next time?

January 10, 2005

Laundry Queen

Some people suspect I am spoiled. Spoiled rotten, even. Once the truth gets out about our laundry, no doubt will remain.

Last night as we slipped into bed, our freshly laundered sweet-smelling sheets wrapped us in soft sensuous comfort, inviting us to drift off into dreamland feeling cosseted and cozy.

This morning while getting dressed for work, I opened my underwear drawer and picked the top pair from the neatly folded stack of freshly washed panties. The next drawer down yielded soft clean socks matched into pairs and sorted by color. The closet provided slacks and a sweater, fresh and wrinkle free, easy to find because my closet is neatly arranged by clothing type.

And what did I personally contribute to achieve this cleanliness and organization? Not one damned thing. It is true. I am spoiled. Rotten.

Wendy is my hero. Her dedication to taming laundry is but one of the many reasons why.

Wasabi Ranch!

We visited with friends Friday night. Our hostess has long been known for her tasty party snacks. This particular evening, one of the snacks was cold baked chicken tenders with a delectable sauce on the side. More like a dip than a sauce really.

"Wow this dip is great!" one of her guests said. All who had tasted it, including yours truly, nodded emphatically in agreement. We could only nod because our mouths were full of both the dip and the dipped. It was good. Spicy yet not too. Creamy smooth with a hint of a flavor in the background I could not quite identify. It was awesome on the chicken, sensational on tortilla chips, damned fine dipping for cheese.

The hostess said "It's made by Tupperware."

Huh? Tupperware has branched into the foods market? Who knew?

The dip was made from a Tupperware seasoning blend called Wasabi Ranch. It's good stuff, people. Now all I need is to find a Tupperware lady. Mary Kay ladies are prolific around here, but I've not run into a Tupperware lady in years.

January 9, 2005

Hi Low

Not long ago, I bragged about my girlfriend winning our fantasy football league. I did not mention there was money involved. There was. 400 smackeroos to the winner.

The league is comprised partially of the group we spent New Year's with at the beach. They are our Game Playing Friends. Everything from actual on-the-diamond-hitting-and-fielding-softball to fantasy football to cards and board games to drinking games. Play hard. Party hard. The games are, at times, made more interesting by adding a financial element.

Yes oh yes. Our Game Playing Friends like to wager.

Wagering adds a new dimension to a game, more excitement. But I'm a fiscal conservative. Gambling is to water as fiscal conservatism is to oil. I'd like to be able to enjoy playing because it looks like fun, but I make stupid decisions have bad luck and my money slips away. So I play a bit, then just watch. Watching is entertaining and free.

Hi Low $1 Minimum was a card game played but twice during the trip. I'd never played it before. Turns out it is a pretty simple game. Everyone antes up a buck. Two cards are dealt face up with space in between for another card. The player has to guess if the next card dealt will be between the values of those face up.

Like this:
Two face up cards are the nine of ♣ and the two of ♥.
Player bets $1.
Dealer deals the six of ♠.
Player collects $1 from pot.

Two face up cards are Jack of ♠ and the Five of ♣.
Player bets $2.
Dealer deals the Three of ♥.
Player pays $2 into the pot.

Okay, I trust you have the gist. If not, read the above over until you do. Then keep reading for the two twists.
Twist 1. If either of the first two cards dealt is an Ace,
the player must specify if it is a high Ace or a low Ace.

Twist 2. If the third card dealt matches either of the
first two cards dealt, the player must pay double their
bet to the pot.

We sat at the table, money in hand. A time limit was set. Someone said "We'll stop playing this game in fifteen minutes." Everyone nodded in agreement, looked at the clock and nodded again. I was thinking "Huh?" because we never set a time limit or just play a game for 15 minutes. I didn't ask why. Because I'm quiet like a mouse. Shhhhhh.

The cards dealt are irrelevant. It's the pace of the game I'd like to convey here. It moves quickly from player to player. When the spreads in the cards were wide, the bets would be larger. $5 or $10 or $20 at times. The round ends when someone wins the whole pot. Ante up and begin again.

It dawned on me, after watching the bills fly around the table, why a time limit had been set. I dropped $10 in two minutes. No more for me. Our Game Playing Friends, well they were really getting into it. As was Wendy. The tossing of the bills. The taking of the chances. The tension. The anticipation. The thrill of seeking that thrill is, of course, why there was a time limit.

The largest the pot got was $71. I won't document the drama which momentarily boosted it to $142. It wasn't pretty. Similar to a daytime soap opera but with a happy ending. But the guy didn't get the girl. Or the money.

I really enjoyed watching them play. The fickle nature of the cards. No mercy. Watching my friends react. Each of them had a losing squinch. I call it squinching when one's face gets all disappointed looking and pained. A grimace. Eyes would look down or turn away, faces would squinch as hands counted out dollar bills into the pot. We non-losers-of-the-moment would laugh and point commiserate.

Of course when we had winners, we would cheer. Particularly when we had big winners. Which we did. I decided I would love to go to Las Vegas with this group of friends. Both the ones with the seemingly worst luck and the ones on whom fortune shone. Either way, they are all gamers. And we always have fun, no matter what the game.

January 7, 2005

When It's Over

Just because it was over didn't necessarily mean it was over for me too.

Most every woman has experienced something in their life to which that sentence could apply. In my case, this time, it was when The Boy broke up with his First Serious Girlfriend.

He had girlfriends while growing up. Not many, but a few. Those other girls, those before the First Serious Girlfriend, were like, well, like warm up. Training wheels. Starter chicks maybe. Yeah that works. Starter chicks. Too crass? Oh well.

I knew those Starter Chicks, of course. Blips on the radar screen of his life. I enjoyed them while they were around but I did not necessarily miss them when they were gone.

Only one were we truly glad to see go. The one he dated the end of his junior year in high school. She was trouble, oh yes indeed. All sweet smiles and parent pleasing politeness on the outside, but we could see right through that---right through to her troublemaking lead-a-good-boy-astray heart. Evil, evil I say! Well okay, fine. I'm being a bit melodramatic. But a parent can tell. And that girl was trouble. Wendy and I breathed a sigh of relief when that one was over.

When he started dating the one who would be the First Serious Girlfriend, I had a sense from the very beginning that she was different from the others. And she was. Different I mean. She had a sparkle about her, a twinkle in her eye. The way The Boy looked at her was different. She put an extra twinkle in his eye too.

As parents, Wendy and I were along for the ride. We embraced the First Serious Girlfriend as part of our family and I let her into my own heart. I was happy for them. I was happy for The Boy. I was happy he had learned somehow somewhere along the way to open his heart. I was happy he was foolish brave enough. I was happy she was foolish brave enough also. They were good together, she and he.

But I'm not writing about how sweet their relationship was. Not really. Although I doubt I would have ever felt attached to her if their relationship had not been sweet. Don't misunderstand me, I had no delusions of happily ever after or marriage or growing old together. They were teenagers, just beginning the adventure of life.

Romance. It was all about being young and first love and exploring the possibilities of one's heart. Sharing. The kind of sharing that adds a prismatic dimension to life. A twelfth-of-never dimension. It's the dimension where hearts soar, mindless and uncaring of dangers lying ahead. No fear, just euphoria and lightness. Remember young love? I hope you do.

I was shocked at how bereft I felt when, after a year and a half of involvement, the relationship ended. It didn't matter how much it surprised me (a bit but not really) or how sudden I may have felt it was (there were some advance clues) or how I wasn't prepared (hadn't realized I needed to prepare) or how I may have wished for something different (not sure I did or do). It wasn't my decision to make. It wasn't about me at all.

We were just along for the ride, remember?

So the delightful young lady Wendy and I both enjoyed knowing was suddenly relegated to a removed status. I'm still not sure what to do with that. I wonder sometimes if she misses us, too. I wonder why it matters to me. Not in an obsessive way, more in a contemplative life oddity kind of way. Can't help it that it does, however.

I'd like to not go through this process every time The Boy breaks up with someone. It is suddenly important for me to have a plan. Over the holidays, his new girlfriend came to visit. A lovely young lady, but how much of her do I let in?

I can't be the only one with this dilemma.
Or am I?

January 6, 2005

Someone Shook My Beer!

The amber liquid took on a life of it's own. As soon as the cap was popped, foam surged out of the bottle like molten lava erupting from Mount St Helens. It overflowed down the sides and pooled around the base, rivulets forming streams in two directions. Mopping it up was a worthless endeavor doing nothing to stem the flood. Must slurp instead!

Bubbles formed deep inside and raced up the neck of the bottle with reckless abandon, leaping and caroming with an urgent need to escape their glass prison. No sooner had those been ingurgitated when their sisters and brothers and cousins and uncles and nephews filled the neck and overflowed.

Would the liquid inside ever tire? Would it settle down and allow itself to be imbibed less frantically? Less frothily? Less burp-inspiringly? Or would it continue to effervesce until the bottle was empty?

I like beer. But I like beer better when it behaves submissively, awaiting my summons before it tickles my tongue and cools my throat as I contentedly swallow. So please. Please don't shake my beer. It's just wrong in so many ways.

January 5, 2005

I Wanna Go Back

December 31, 2004. Pickup football game. Coed. One hand touch. Blue skies. High noon. On the beach! Bright sun. Barefoot. Cold toes yet not too. Felt good. Ran. Blocked. Fell down. Ate sand. Scored. Defended aggressively. No flags! Shouted. Cheered. Celebrated with teammates. Tie game! Good times.

January 4, 2005

When Envy Is Not Really Envy

I have been enthralled with this woman's photography since I stumbled into it a while back.

Then she posted this. And wooed me with her writing even more so than her photography.

What a voice. What an eye.
Check her out.

Fear Factor

As previously mentioned, over the New Year holiday The Boy, my baby boy, hopped the train to New York City to have adventures with his theatre friends.

My persona was quite cavalier, like it was no big deal for my baby boy to head off to NYC, no chaperone, seemingly vague plans of how and when and where to meet up with his friends, a piece of floor in some tiny apartment of some unknown (to me) friend reserved for sleeping. If he ever got around to sleeping, that is. If he didn't get killed or lost or drugged or drunk or run over or arrested or stabbed or mugged or kidnapped or...
or Or Or OR OR OR!

Yeah. I'm a mother. You know how our minds work. It's not pretty.

Cavalier exterior, quivering interior. Dammit! Does a parent ever get to let go of the fear?

We dare not let it out on the surface. Oh hell no. We don't want to give our little darlings the impression they are anything less than Strong Capable Individuals. We teach them how to use their common sense, help them hone their instincts to recognize and read situations, teach them how to recognize when they need help and how to ask for it. And we give them opportunities to try out those fundamentals while they are still close enough for us to catch them when they slip. As long as I did my parenting job right, there is no need for fear.

Yeah. Oh sure. What a pompous load of crap.

I suppose I could have objected to him going but what would be the point? Truth be told, despite my fears, I wanted The Boy to take the trip. I don't want my fear to rule him that way.

He's not really a baby boy after all, he's a young man. A young-old man in some ways, although I'm not sure why. He just is. By the time Wendy and I left for the beach, he and his friends had fleshed out a reasonable plan even this mother could love. (I'll not mention the "when the hell did he become that capable?" moment I had when it all fell together. Well, I'll not mention it to him. It was a really cool moment.)

While there, he called several times to share his adventures. Excited. Exuding the positive "I'm doing something I love" energy every parent adores to hear in their child. Having a great time, handling himself just fine, doing things he both needed and wanted to do.

As for me, the internalized fear didn't extinguish completely until we saw him get off the train Sunday evening.

And I wonder why I have gray hair.

January 3, 2005

Sins of the Fathers?

I found this interesting article from cnn.com:

"COSTA MESA, California (AP) -- Some parents and parishioners have accused the Roman Catholic diocese in Orange County of violating church doctrine by allowing a gay couple to enroll their children in a church school.

The group demanded that St. John the Baptist School in Costa Mesa accept only families that pledge to abide by Catholic teachings, the Los Angeles Times reported in Sunday's editions. Church doctrine opposes gay relationships and adoption by same-sex couples."

I could feel my blood pressure starting to rise then was pleasantly surprised to read the response from the school administration:
"The Rev. Gerald M. Horan, superintendent of diocese schools, said that if Catholic beliefs were strictly adhered to, then children whose parents divorced, used birth control or married outside the church would also have to be banned.

'This is the quagmire that the parents' position represents," he said. 'It's a slippery slope to go down.' "
Thank you Rev. Horan for pointing out such an obvious double standard those parents are choosing to ignore. I mean that sincerely. Thank you.

The article continued:
"Some parents have promised to ask the Vatican to intervene and some have threatened to pull their children from the school. Others are worried the boys' attendance will set a precedent, saying their presence is part of a larger effort by the gay community to change the church.

'The boys are being used as pawns by these men to further their agenda,' said Monica Sii, who has four children at the school."
Oh sure Monica. The only reason gay people jump through hoops to adopt children is so they can use them as pawns against you and your beliefs. Get over yourself already.

I just don't get it. I hope I never do.

Random Titles

What do those three books have in common? Well, a couple of things. First, they recently popped into my head unsummoned. Also they are three books I enjoyed immensely while growing up. Not my absolute favorites, but worthy of remembering.

January 2, 2005


... and counting.
My brow is furrowed.
I'm at a loss for words.
What am I supposed to feel, I wonder?
What do I feel?
But it's not good.

Always a Charm

You may not be aware, but you should thank me. I’m totally serious. See, I just re-read what I wrote while at the beach last week. Then I deleted it all. Well, almost all of it. Which is why I should be thanked.

The words felt fine while they were being written. They appeared healthy and happy during re-reads and edits. But then I took a last look. Oh yes, yes I did. And that last look revealed what was really there.

At least I have the remembered pleasure of writing it. It was good while it lasted.

By the by, Happy New Year.