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.