December 26, 2007

What Happened to December?

Serious question: If someone sends you a Christmas present in the mail, do you unwrap it upon receipt or do you put it under your tree and open it on Christmas Day?

I bombed out in fantasy football this year. Kudos to Chapin, who won the Blogger Fantasy League by taking down weese's adorable MAW in a rollover brutal finale. Add a rousing hand of applause for our amazing Commissioner, sporks. Girl, you rock. I'm already looking forward to next season.

My office relocated last week. In our previous building, we were on the first floor. We are now ensconced on the seventh floor of a building ten blocks north and three blocks east. We have a panoramic view of Old Town Alexandria and the Potomac River.

There are 120 stairs from the lobby to the seventh floor. The stairwells are clean, bright and well-marked. Going up, I am slightly winded by the fifth floor, the eighty-eighth step if one happens to count. Pathetic? Maybe. I prefer to think of it as having room for improvement.

There are elevators, of course. But I'd rather walk. Because I can. It's good for me. Obviously I need it.

Christmas offered a nice dose of family bonding, and oh my, what a diverse family we have. Soldier Boy dressed up for the occasion. This marked my fortieth or so Christmas in the DC area. None of them have been white. Weather wishes notwithstanding, the holiday was nice. What comes next will be nice too. My slippers are, of course, joining us for the next leg of our traditional year end festivities.

Ready or not.
Here we come!


December 15, 2007

An(other) Impromptu Poll

Location: Snazzy waterfront restaurant in Old Town, Alexandria

Occasion: A festive office gathering, shamelessly called the Christmas Party by everyone but me. I refer to it as the Holiday Party because I strive to exude political correctness in the office environment. Someday I may work somewhere it matters.

Attendees: The three owners of the company, a recently retired ex-owner, and three employees. Two female, five male. Age range mid-thirties to early sixties, three of us in our forties.

The conversation turned to massages. It wafted down and came to rest near my plate, which, until that point, had captured my attention ever since the discreet and ever-so-proper server seamlessly slipped it in front of me while refilling my wine glass with a very nice pinot. Pan-seared scallops in a light ginger sauce artistically surrounded an interesting layered mound of white rice, bok choy and spinach. I was a bit distracted, obviously.

I looked up when I heard my name. "Suzanne," a co-worker queried, "Have you ever had a professional massage?"

"Sure," I replied. "You?"

To my amazement, none of my other dinner companions has ever known the sheer pleasure, the delightful indulgence, of a professional massage.

Frankly I was a bit surprised. It left me wondering. So I ask you, gentle readers of the blogosphere, have you ever had a professional massage? If no, why not?


December 7, 2007

I Have a Long Neck

The average temperature here is in the 20s this week. We have snow on the ground. And in the trees and bushes and all other things outdoors. It's not melting. I'm okay with that. The scenery is glorious.

My turtlenecks, the staple of my winter wardrobe, all of them, are still in storage in our attic. I'm not okay with that.

I cannot be the only one who feels it: truly, is there anything more comforting as one dresses on a frigid winter morn than pulling on a fresh-smelling turtleneck as the base for what will layer into pleasing and seasonally-appropriate attire? My turtlenecks. I wear them everywhere. My winter foundation.

Yet now, when I need them most, they languish in the attic.

See, it's rather a production to retrieve them. My winter clothes are heavy; the container, loving packed last spring, is unwieldy. The attic stairs, while expertly installed, are more like a ladder and, as such, are fraught with peril should one attempt to navigate them bearing heavy loads. It's a job for Two and I never seem to think about it when Two are home.

Our storage systems are less than perfect.
We make do.
Or do without, as the case may be.

Note to self: Next house, bigger closets.


November 29, 2007

It's Not the Strangest Thing I've Ever Done

It was Tuesday afternoon. I finished work early.

"Score!" I thought. "Whatever shall I do with this unexpected free time?"

My mind immediately turned to beads.
Yes. You read that right. I said beads.

A long and winding road with twists and turns that overlap and intersect beyond even the most imaginative of imaginations yet with a very practical purpose, found me standing (for the second time in as many days) in one of the many aisles at Michael's, completely absorbed in the rapture of columns and rows of beads and bead accessories.

The first time, my sister had been with me. That Tuesday afternoon, I was on my own.

Another woman entered my aisle. I looked up when she spoke.

"Do you know much about this stuff?" she queried, brandishing her handfuls of beads and bead accessories.

"Well. No, not too much," I replied, "Just enough to be dangerous." I smiled.

She tripped my gaydar bigtime. I don't know if I tripped hers. I considered the odds of two dykes ending up in the same Michael's bead aisle at 2:30 on a Tuesday afternoon.

Turns out we were both looking at the same thing, contemplating the same question, puzzling over crimp rings and appropriate sizes. WTF? Again with the odds! She set off to consult a saleswoman and shortly returned to share the answer that was not really an answer at all. Crimp rings sizes remained shrouded in mystery for us both.

Left alone again in my aisle, I shopped on. Movement caught my eye and I glanced up. It wasn't the dyke this time. It was my dear friend Tina, Mistress of All Things Crafty.

I think I blushed. I don't know if she noticed. I felt like a little kid caught with my hand in the cookie jar. I have no idea why. The moment passed. We chatted. She headed off to shop for whatever it was she was shopping for that day and I returned to my scrutiny of beads and bead accessories.

On the way home, I stopped at Starbucks for a venti eggnog latte and spent the rest of the afternoon playing with my beads. Crafting.

What the hell has gotten into me, anyway?


November 27, 2007

Youthful Photography

One of our nieces, four-year-old Alice, came to visit over the Thanksgiving holiday. She entertained herself with our digital camera while the adults chatted.

"Excuse me," I heard her softly say, "May I take a picture of your face, please?"

Dudley was happy to oblige.


November 18, 2007

Does Anyone...

.... ever like being told they are acting like their mother?


November 15, 2007

I Turned 40 and Lived to Tell the Tale

People do it every day, right? I don't get why women freak about turning 40; I consider them late to the party I guess. My own "crisis" birthday was when I turned 30.

The year was 1992. My best friend Kerry baked me a cake. It was in the shape of a coffin, the icing gray, the perky sentiment "Happy 30th Birthday Suzanne!" whimsically lettered in black. So very festive! So apropos. The cake inside was bright white, moist and delicious.

As much as turning 30 seemed a death of sorts, turning 40 felt more like coming into my own. What a difference a decade makes.

I had cake that year too, the year I turned 40. It was a surprise. I thought Wendy and I were going out for a romantic dinner. Turns out she had arranged a party at a local restaurant with friends from all corners of our life. A surprise party. Wendy. That Wendy. My shy, quiet, quasi-anti-social girlfriend. I never suspected a thing. Why would I? I loved it even more because she strayed so far out of her comfort zone. For me.

The allure of age 40 sparkled early in my life: "40," I planned, "I want my kid(s) to be grown by the time I'm 40." And so it was The Boy graduated high school and headed off to college when I was 40. By then I knew 18 years did not a grown man make but he was well on his way.

I hadn't thought much about what my own life would look like at 40. Just that the kid(s) would be grown. Thinking back, I marvel at my lack of concern. And at the fortunes that landed me where they did.

I am now halfway through my fourth decade. The slopes of my life have taken on more definition, my vision is clearer. Could be my eyesight is going bad, but some lessons are plain. I've learned the best laid plans can go awry and that can be a good thing. I've learned to trust my heart. I've learned being kind is always worth the effort.

My friend Teresa turns 40 today.
I hope she eats cake.


November 13, 2007

That's the Sound of My Brain Cracking

According to some who know me, I am the ultimate hypocrite. In this case, I can't help but agree as they make a good point.

Here's a story. Well. Sort of a story. My hypocrisy will be highlighted while other emotional investments that may or may not be swirling like mad whirlpools threatening to drown us all will be omitted. Right here it's all about me. Being a hypocrite.

On occasion, The Boy hosts overnight visits with his girlfriend at our home. Wendy and I revel in such events; we truly enjoy having young people around. Young voices, young appetites, young muscles, young spirits. Oh, and young love. Good energy, that.

It's never been up for discussion. It matters not what I may or may not know about their sleeping arrangements when they sleep elsewhere: The Boy and his girl are assigned separate bedrooms. For now it remains that simple.

We have friends, peers with children, young adults rather, friends in their own right, around and about the age of The Boy. Family friends. Friends who have become family. One of the daughters is a lesbian.
**carefully skirt the enormous deep hole where all the gory details that comprise the understory are crouched attempting to remain unnoticed and unaddressed. do not look down as you pass, I beg you.**
On occasion, said lesbian daughter spends the night at our home with her significant other. Here's where my hypocrisy, like cream, rises to the surface: I've got no problem with them sharing a bed under our roof.

To recap:

The Boy + his girlfriend + visit = separate bedrooms
Good friend's daughter + her girlfriend + visit = pillow talk

Is anything ever simple?
Of course not.


November 12, 2007

The Number One...

.... thing I don't want to hear my girlfriend say while she's waxing my eyebrows: "Whoops!"

There will be no pictures.


November 9, 2007

100 Things 2007

I re-read my 100 Things.
Circa 2004, it's grown stale.
Imagine that.

So here ya go.
100 Things 2007
Just in time for 2008.
  1. Children go off to college.
  2. They come back different.
  3. That's a good thing.
  4. Our nest is officially empty.
  5. I survived the transition.
  6. Who knew it would be so hard?
  7. My money still comes from the same people for doing the same jobs.
  8. Eh, it's a living.
  9. Family can die.
  10. Suddenly.
  11. Death really sucks.
  12. I only know from the perspective of the ones left behind.
  13. So far, anyway.
  14. That's humor folks.
  15. Go with it.
  16. We're still working on our house.
  17. The end, believe it or not, is in sight.
  18. I can see for miles and miles.
  19. We've learned a lot.
  20. About a lot of things.
  21. Sometimes we remember it when we need it.
  22. I've often said that being a parent just gets more satisfying as each year passes.
  23. That still holds true.
  24. Being a daughter has become challenging.
  25. I'm still in training.
  26. Who knew?
  27. Watch your back.
  28. You could be next.
  29. We have a five year plan.
  30. It began on January 1, 2007.
  31. It's a good plan.
  32. More on that later.
  33. Maybe.
  34. I now own a hairbrush.
  35. And other hair management tools.
  36. I have bands and bows and clips and ties.
  37. My hair is longer than it has ever been before.
  38. It has become a fashion statement.
  39. I have no idea what it says.
  40. I'm okay with that.
  41. George Bush is still POTUS.
  42. Yeah, I can't believe it either.
  43. Soon, my friends.
  44. But not soon enough.
  45. My son urges me to take calcium.
  46. Sometimes I actually remember to take it.
  47. Not as often as I should.
  48. I like it when he nags me.
  49. I've quit smoking three times since 2004.
  50. I need to do it again.
  51. Yeah, I know. WTF?
  52. I recently turned 45.
  53. A friend told me I was acute.
  54. Then she gave me a lesson on angles.
  55. Good stuff, angles.
  56. Beer is the nectar of the Gods.
  57. Gods with a capital G.
  58. Bless their little Godly hearts.
  59. All of them.
  60. Who sings that song "Harden My Heart"?
  61. Wait. I'll go look it up.
  62. Oh nevermind.
  63. I asked Wendy.
  64. It's Quarterflash.
  65. She knows things like that.
  66. It seems like something to avoid.
  67. That heart hardening stuff.
  68. It's a good song though.
  69. I'd like to learn how to make pupusas from scratch.
  70. Plus the spicy cabbage stuff to accompany.
  71. Plus the salsa.
  72. Gotta have the salsa.
  73. The Boy is now a working actor.
  74. He is the most beautiful person I have ever known.
  75. Warts and all.
  76. Eh, we all have 'em.
  77. May as well give 'em a nod every once in a while.
  78. I have a collection of lolcats.
  79. I may share them with you some day.
  80. Maybe I already have.
  81. Need a smile?
  82. Look at lolcats.
  83. I dare you to resist smiling.
  84. I'm a simple woman.
  85. For that, I am grateful.
  86. Wendy and I still can't agree on what date our anniversary is.
  87. We know we have one.
  88. We just don't know when.
  89. We'll figure it out someday.
  90. Meanwhile, we're in love.
  91. Maybe you knew that.
  92. I drive a boring car.
  93. I'd like to drive a hybrid.
  94. It'll still be a boring car.
  95. But a healthier one.
  96. I just am not that excited by cars.
  97. They are merely a means to an end.
  98. It's football season.
  99. And fire-in-the-fireplace season.
  100. Life is good.

November 7, 2007

One Fine Morning

I woke up cranky. I don't much like being cranky. It's far too much work.

My face assumed a thoughtful yet cranky expression. My brain mulled a mix of Get Happy Behaviors.

The question was posed: "Self, what's the best way to relieve this crankiness?"

My Brain: Let's don our favorite pajamas and get back in bed.
The Rest of Me: Not an option today. Try again.

MB: How about we don our favorite pajamas and get back in bed?
TRoM: Can we please move on!?

MB: More coffee.
TRoM: That's better. A good start.

MB (with a flash of clarity): I've got it! Dress fabulous!
TRoM: Brilliant!

And so the crankiness was banished.

Sometimes it's just that simple.
Caffeine and the right outfit.


November 5, 2007

She Must Love Me

I am joyful. Fall has arrived, bringing with it, among other things, cool temperatures and close-toed shoes.

It began on a Wednesday. Opening my sock drawer, I dug through the neat rows of socks in various colors looking for something in basic black. I'd already worn black socks both Monday and Tuesday. My sock drawer contains a third and a fourth and a fifth pair of black socks, but one has a hole in the left toe, another is just too short, and yet another not what my feet had in mind.

My brow furrowed. I briefly considered, then rejected, alternate colors.

The little angel on my shoulder encouraged me to settle for the pair with the hole in the toe. "Just wear those and keep your shoes on all day," she counseled.

My little angel is ever the practical one.

The little devil on my other shoulder whispered urgently, "Yo Suzanne. There's another whole drawer full of socks in that other dresser!"

I perked. My little devil can be practical too.

My angel gasped. "But Suzanne! Those are Wendy's socks!"

My devil smirked. "Oh come on now. She won't even notice."

I inched closer to the other dresser, intending just to take a quick peek. My angel tsk-tsked.

The drawer slid silently open revealing a wealth of soft, dark socks nestled inside. My hand slid into the mix, my fingers automatically reaching for the blackest pair. I caressed the soft marino wool from which they were crafted.

"Oh my," I sighed. Extracting them from the drawer, I took note of their composition. Knee socks! Divinely soft and not too thick. Blacker than coal. My heart pitter-pattered in response as I rubbed them against my cheek, breathing in their fresh clean scent. Perfect. That pair of socks was exquisite!

My angel tsk-tsked again. "Put those back before you do something you'll regret!"

I ignored her. My decision had been made. I sat on the corner of the bed and pulled on the first sock. (My left foot. I always sock my left foot first.) A shiver went up my spine. That soft marino wool snuggled my skin from the tips of my toes all the way up my calf. I wriggled my toes joyfully before slipping on my shoes.

The devil stuck her tongue out at the angel, who fluttered her wings in dismay. All day long my feet were cozy, there was an extra lightness in my step.

And so it was that, come Sunday, my efficient and adorable Queen of All Things Laundry questioned how so many of her black socks ended up in the basket when she had worn none that week.

Oops. She noticed. How could she help but? You see, I hadn't stopped with one pair. The next day and the next after that my feet had been clad in black socks purloined from my lover's stash.

Sometimes it's good to listen to my devil.
Sure, Wendy noticed.
But she didn't seem to mind.


November 2, 2007

There's a bunch of lunatic lesbians out there who are responsible for a silly grin I can't seem to wipe off my face.

Y'all rock.


November 1, 2007

The Sound of One Pin Dropping?

When a blogger takes an extended break, characteristic or not, do blog readers like to hear about why said extended break occurred when said blogger finally does return? Or would they just prefer to jump back into the routine of regular posts?

More importantly, perhaps, are they thankful when a blogger who took an extended break finally does re-grace them with her presence? Is anyone still out there? (Yes, of course I know. That's a flagrant request to hear that someone missed me. I can be a whore that way. But not a cheap whore. Be kind. Don't forget I bake a mean pan of brownies. I may bake some for you one day.)

It's been a frenzy here in suburbia. A frenzy of family. The Boy came home. Then the in-laws arrived.

Our home. It has been full.
In all the right ways.

Now it's kinda quiet again.
In all the right ways.

(btw, how do you people with resident families ever find time to blog?!)


October 15, 2007

Impromptu Poll

Say you stumble across a pan of brownies.
Which do you covet more: a center cut or an edge piece?

Mmmmmmmm. Brownies.


October 9, 2007

It Always Rings in the Evening

Sometimes we answer it.

Yesterday, it was my mother. "Suzanne, do you know much about Lotus spreadsheets?"

The last time I touched Lotus was in the 1990s. But one spreadsheet program is much like any other and I use Excel daily. My spreadsheet confidence knows no bounds. "Sure, what's up?"

If you've ever tried to walk my mother anyone through using a software program over the phone, you'll relate to how challenging it can be. If you've ever tried to walk my mother anyone through using a software program you haven't touched in over a decade, you'll relate to how EXTRA challenging it can be.

Success came after a few fumbles.

We chatted.
Call waiting beeped in.
I peeked.
It was The Boy.

"I'll call you right back, Mom."

"Hi!" I said.
"Hi!" The Boy said. "Did you get the message I left on your cell this morning?"

"No, I forgot to charge it. What's up?"

"I lost my driver's license yesterday."

That's the second time I've received a call like that from him. The first was years ago and I can't recall the circumstance. This time it had something to do with his wallet, a toilet, and a two-mile walk with his cast mates to get ice cream in Janesville, Wisconsin.

At times it is best not to ask for too many details.
This is one of those times.

The efficiency of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles will now be tested. Will the replacement arrive in time to be forwarded to Nashville by October 21 when he will need it to board the plane home?

Your guess is as good as mine.


September 25, 2007

Function Follows Form

I didn't notice right away. When I did I was shocked. My paper clips were loose! The problem was obvious. My lower lip reflexively assumed the position. My forehead wrinkled in consternation.

Wendy mislikes when I pout, so I've tried to break the habit, at least to omit outward manifestations such as sticking out my lower lip. It's not easy. Growing up, I was known far and wide as the Princess of Pout. "An elephant could ride to town on that lip!" I got pretty damned sick of hearing that as a child. (I was too shy polite back then to tell anyone who said it to bugger off, but now I'm not. You've been warned.)

Children's art projects are often gifted to their parents. Our little darlings are presented with a lump of clay or fingerfuls of paint and told, "Go crazy! Create something! Make something for your mother!"

The Boy brought this particular something home from kindergarten. I adore it. To this day.

There I was and here I am, in possession of the Great Art my son crafted with his own two hands. Hanging it on the refrigerator is obviously out of the question. Since I work in an office, I opted to find a function for it there. While away from my little darling, I have a reminder of how creative he is and how much he loves me because, really, he must love me in a HUGE way to have gifted me with this Great Art made with his VERY OWN HANDS.

(Yes. I really believe that. I am not the only mother who thinks this way, am I? We all know better and just don't care. At least I don't.)

Perhaps you realize where this is going. That's right. This Great Art serves as my paper clip holder and had been broken by some unknown person in some unknown manner between the time I left the office Thursday and returned on Monday.

The Boy's work of Great Art! Broken! I felt justified pouting for a moment. Fortunately the damage was easily repaired with a touch of glue. Soon it will be back in action corralling my clips and keeping them within easy reach.

Practical, durable art. My favorite kind.


September 24, 2007

"You Were Right!"

Last week, I received an email from Wendy with that title and smiled. It's usually nice to be right. The optimist in me automatically assumed it to be one of those usual times.

I was wrong. It was not nice to be right. The email reported the untimely death of an author, Robert Jordan, the man behind The Wheel of Time series. Perhaps you know of it. Perhaps you, like me, have spent great huge honking chunks of your always-limited and ever-so-valuable leisure time through the years absorbed in Mr. Jordan's character and stories.

Not that it wasn't time well spent. On the contrary. I don't regret a minute. What I do regret is how many times I predicted he would die before The Wheel of Time finished turning. Eleven books, people. Plus a prequel. A tale more than seventeen years in the telling. Still the story spun on. The question often arose: "Is he is ever going to wrap up this series?"

So here I am much as I ever was, wondering not only if the story will be finished but now more if, by whom? Seems his wife was his editor and there are rumors of outlines... is there enough material left behind to wrap his series up and tie it with a pretty bow? Or is it better to let the series die where he left it? I am torn.

R.I.P, Robert Jordan.
Thanks for sharing your imagination.


September 21, 2007

Moving Right Along

I spoke to The Boy Wednesday. He was in North Carolina, near where he used to belong but now just passing through.

Is it the change of seasons? Is it the new routine being anything but routine? Is it PMS? Am I losing my mind? I have a little ache in my heart. I have a lingering rash on my face. I am unmotivated. I am feeling anxious. Those things may or may not relate to each other or anything else.

He sent us a book, the schedule for the tour he is on. I am so simple. I consult it daily, saying, "Good morning! Stay safe! I love you!"

The Boy has traveled quite a bit in his 22 years, but not often to what I will call Small Town America. I am curious as to the impressions he is absorbing.

I decided it would be fun, and indeed it has been, to plot his stops on a map. This is the southeastern leg, the first third of his adventure. He's been on the road since September 11, covering 2,600 miles equating to over 43 travel hours and as many towns in as many days.

Calculations and visual aids bring me comfort for some odd reason, much the same as sending good morning wishes his way.

Getting by. At times it's the object of the game.


September 18, 2007

My Fine Feathered Friend

I freely admit to having an abiding crush on Vanessa Williams. She's a long-standing member in the top ten of my Who-Would-You-Do list. I've adored her since she first came to national attention as Miss America in 1984.

This dress she wore to the recent Emmy Awards, this lovely feathered frock, this whimsical garment in the most delightful shade of sea green, worn with impeccable posture topped with a radiant smile and perfectly coiffed hair, her fine form wondrously svelte and curvy in all the right places, has been roundly criticized in the press as a fashion faux pas!

I so beg to differ.
She can feather my nest any day.


September 16, 2007

Vain Hypochondriacal Moment

I've got a rash. On my face.

It's not pretty.

I look like Fred-fucking-Flintstone. Imagine it. You know what I mean. I know you do. There will be no pictures.

It itches. I'm complaining. Right here. Right here, right now, I'm complaining. I may even be whining. You decide.

This goddamn rash itches. WTF caused it? Why now? Why me? Why on my face?!

It's official. I am whining.

But it's on my face.

How rude.


September 5, 2007

Hair Today

When my hair is short, it's the anti-style. I don't have to think, it always looks the same, there are no choices to make. It just is. Long hair is more interesting. But it takes effort. One must think. One must choose. One must act.

Before this current growth experiment, I wore the same basic hair length for at least 25 years. Well. Except for an unfortunate early-90s foray into... well... I'd like to just call it a youthful hair indiscretion. In reality it was a mullet and I did it on purpose. Please, let's all pause for a laugh at my expense.

My hair is now long enough to form a respectable ponytail. A milestone of great import, I became aware of it the moment the necessary stars aligned. Something shook. My inner hair diva has always yearned for a ponytail. The excitement remains palpable.

I find to my mild chagrin wearing a ponytail leads to moderate self-consciousness. Seems my ponytail is an attention whore. Surely I'm not imagining it. She perkily sprouts from the back of my head and announces her presence, singing, "I'm a ponytail! Yes! Yes! Here I am! Look at me! Look at ME!" Bounce. Swing. Bounce! Bounce!

My ponytail may resemble other ponytails, but she has a life all her own. I never felt that way about that other style. Yet I wonder, if like now, I'll look back fifteen years hence and wonder what the fuck I was thinking.


September 3, 2007

Yard Art. It May Involve Eggs.

This is an interesting article about yard art.

It tells of one homeowner in litigation after his yard art was deemed litter, another who moved across country after his art was decried by unappreciative co-citizenry, and a third who survived neighbors' complaints about sanitation when they got a gander at her version of yard art.

Many neighborhoods have an eccentric homeowner with non-traditional yard stylings. Some are seasonal, others permanent installations. We all know where they live, those Yard Artists. One may be glad, understandably, to not live next door.

Let's talk about the female Yard Artist, Rebecca Pickens. Here's a clip of her 30 seconds, quoted from the above-linked article:
When Rebecca Pickens moved into her Olivette house a few years ago, she said she despaired that her small backyard looked like everyone else's. "It just wasn't my style," she said. "It just wasn't me."

So she built a human-sized bird's nest, complete with ceramic eggs. A post next to the nest reads "2014," the year Pickens' son will leave for college.

"This is my empty nest," she said.
That's when the beer snorted out my nose. (Having survived my own empty nest debacle, I've earned the right to snort when I see any bizarre behavior relating to nests, particularly empty ones. I'm certain others have snorted at me.)

This woman, this artist, Rebecca, built a nest in her backyard... to human scale... put some eggs in it... but calls it empty. Huh. I want to know how large the eggs are and the square footage of the nest. Is it up in a tree? There is no mention of comfortable seating or nesting functionality or structural integrity. The article is woefully lacking photos.

The pièce de resistancé, the icing on the cake, froth on the latte: a post to represent a point SEVEN years in the future when she assumes she will be graced with empty nest status! Pffft. She's an empty nest amateur.

Part of me wishes someone had warned me to get busy planning so far in advance for that delicate time when the fledgling flew and life irrevocably changed whether I was ready or not.

Another part of me thinks she's just batshit crazy.


August 28, 2007


I'm here to whine about my eyes again.

Why is it, ever since I succumbed to the inevitability of non-optional appliance-enhanced eyesight, I am painfully aware of the need to read in many places I had not before even realized I was reading? (That is a horrible sentence. I think I will leave it and dedicate it to my dear friend eb. She collects such things.)

Take the kitchen, for example. I didn't think about needing eyeglasses there. But I do. Recipe ingredients, measures and instructions are a blur without them. If I squint, I can still set the oven temperature accurately but forget about reading a thermometer. Are you aware that standing near a pot of boiling pasta will make your glasses fog up? When will the humiliation end?

Shopping has also become a "glasses required" activity. Supermarket, drug store, office supplies, even shoe shopping! Anything I pick up, there it is. Tiny little print I cannot read despite squinting until my face resembles a prune. Don't even get me started on restaurants! Freaking menus are all printed with blurry typefaces. Hardware stores are another place where the fine print matters.

Of course it would be no problem if my glasses were always handy. Shopping now includes a routine, which, when prepared for and performed properly, ends happily with glasses perched helpfully on my nose when I need them. Unfortunately my preparation lacks consistency.

This is payback for all those years I mocked my sister, my dear sweet sister who has worn glasses since age two. She had to put up with me, all cute with my blond Shirley Temple curls and dimpled smile, always flaunting my better-than-perfect 20/15 eyesight. There she was in her awkward light blue cat-eye frames or, worse yet, those enormous frames from the 70's with the thick lenses, totally tauntworthy by no fault of her own.

So, dear sister. Please accept my apology. I take back all the eyeglass-related jokes and insults I've thrown at you over the years. My imagined superiority, by now well bruised and battered into proper proportion, has taken its final death tumble.

Karma's a bitch.


August 20, 2007

I'm No Poet

Just days after demo
And all through the house
Not a creature is stirring
(Of course there's no mouse!)

Come on down the stairs
See what we've done
Many things we are changing
The fun's just begun!

Look all around you
What's there to be seen?
To me, a blank canvas
Awaiting a theme

There's a door over there
Can you guess where it goes?
There's nothing much left
Just a whole bunch of holes

A pipe drips a little
A pail catches the spill
Yet standing there gawking
Is oh such a thrill

The dumpster is full
The Boy has checked out
Extra muscle is handy
Yes, without a doubt

The next phase will rock
(Expense not withstanding)
Rebuilding feels good
Imaginations expanding!


August 14, 2007

Baking with The Boy

Guess what? It's peach season again!

The church in our neighborhood holds an annual Peach Festival. We've never attended because, frankly, church people can be scary we are homebodies. Saturday morning as I sipped coffee on the porch, I could hear the strains of musical entertainment waft through our suburban neighborhood. It was the festival! I started thinking about peaches and couldn't stop.

My mother periodically shares with me her copies of Cook's Illustrated magazine. I adore that magazine. Not only does it offer tantalizing recipes, but in the process of crafting the recipes, the writers document the methods they tried that didn't work and why they didn't work. The most recent issue contains an article entitled "Improving Peach Crumble."

Peach Crumble? I'd never made it before, had never even heard of it. Yet the thought of delicious warm Peach Crumble topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream haunted me throughout the day. After dinner, I could no longer restrain myself. A late evening trip to the grocery yielded a sack of ripe peaches and a carton of vanilla ice cream. "Peach Crumble, you will be mine!" I chuckled madly as I drove home.

Often the joy of preparing a dish is equal to the joy of eating it. Such was the case with our Improved Peach Crumble. The Boy, no slouch in the kitchen, joined me in this culinary endeavor. The sheer delight of working with him lightened my heart and brought a silly smile to my face. Soon the house was filled with rich scents as the topping baked while the peaches macerated. The finished creation exceeded my expectations.

Tomorrow we'll celebrate The Boy's 22nd birthday. Sunday he'll be leaving on a jet plane and we don't know when he'll be back again. Instead of getting all maudlin, however, I will choose to focus on the sweetness of the times we do have together. And just like peach season, I know he'll be back.


August 6, 2007

Suburban Mystery

Dudley started scratching in earnest late last week in a manner unmistakable to any dog owner. Pixie followed suit, albeit in a more dainty and lady-like manner.

Evidently it's flea season.
Color me flummoxed.

Back in the day, fleas were an integral part of the rites of summer. They were a seasonal certainty, much like stifling humidity yet infinitely more unpleasant. Fleas just were. They appeared, they reproduced, they drove dogs and humans alike mad with their presence.

Sure, I did what I could to keep them at bay. My efforts weren't always successful despite using every tool at my disposal. I'd spray the yard, bathe the dogs, bomb the house, over and over and on and on. I had a special line item in my household budget for flea combat. From July until the first hard frost, serious battle was waged. (Is it any wonder winter is my favorite season?)

Advances in science brought us wonderous veterinary products like Frontline and Advantix. Fighting fleas became as simple as applying a few drops between each dog's shoulder blades. Summer life was revolutionized.

Then one year, spring became summer became fall with nary a sign of those nasty little biting buggers. The next summer came and went and, again, no fleas. I began to believe the little bastards had all moved out of state, or better yet, disappeared altogether off the face of the earth. It's been at least five years since I've seen even a vague sign of a flea.

So, yes, now I'm flummoxed. Why after years of absence have they returned?


July 25, 2007

A Hypothetical Question

Let's say you have a child.

Let's say said child is all grown up.

Let's say circumstances dictate said grown-up child appear fully naked within your field of vision.

Do you:
  1. Not notice?
  2. Pretend to not notice?
  3. Intently scrutinize an imagined scuff on the toe of your shoe?
  4. Cover your eyes and squeeze them tightly shut?
  5. Cover your eyes but peek between your fingers?
  6. Openly and objectively inspect how your sweet adorable widdle baby turned out as an adult?
  7. Some combination of the above?
  8. Other? (Please be specific.)

Thank you for your time and have a nice day.


July 17, 2007

Something About Turtles

A vacation looms, albeit a short one. I'm in charge of basic planning.

I've previously planned plenty of pleasing pirts*. I'm usually on top of such things, all over it even. But we depart in two days. Until yesterday, no firm arrangements had been made. How have I been sleeping at night!?

Yet things are falling into place even more tidily than I ever envisioned. Have I been needlessly sweating the details, planning vacations ever-so-carefully without real need? Or is the good luck with which this trip is evolving merely... well... lucky?

Perhaps this episode of vacation planning apathy is indicative of me relaxing and going with the flow instead of attempting to strong-arm the current. I've been working on that. From a distance. Turns out it added a twist to our trip. Like lemon-lime, only more interesting.

We'll head north with my mother in her Crown Vic, freshly serviced, Garmin-equipped, replete with snacks and beverages. Ah yes, the Classic American Family Road Trip! There's nothing quite like it and no one way to describe it. (Do tell, when was the last time you roadtripped with your mother, or both parents for that matter?)

We're going see The Boy perform in Hair, of course. Enhancing the flavor of the trip, the retro-hippie theme if you will, we're staying at "a way cool family-friendly earthy groovy place" where we'll be sleeping in a tipi. I kid you not. A tipi.

My mother, as befits her stature, will sleep in the Big House in a real bed with a private bath. Wendy and I will sleep in a tipi. We'll breath fresh air. We'll see stars. We'll hang by the campfire. We'll all vibe the sixties.

I can hardly wait.

* This made me crazy. I was on a "p" roll, I was rolling with the "p", yo! But I couldn't pull a "p" to plug for the word "trip," so I just spelled it backward. Peace, man.


July 15, 2007

Stealing Hearts

We have a houseguest this week. Meet Bandit, an eleven-year-old Yorkie. He has no teeth. He's pretty much blind, but his other senses are sharp. He pees and poops only in designated outdoor areas. Much to Pixie's dismay, Bandit is not a squirrel despite being of similar stature. He also disdains her entreaties to play. Dudley is indifferent, except, of course, at dinnertime.

It took less than a day for him to carve a niche into the patterns of our household. Here he is keeping track of the Orioles game for Wendy while she takes a nap. Ayup, he fits right in.


July 11, 2007

Our Yard, It's Calling for One

I've been plotting where to put it.

Plotting is hard work. My best yard scheming is done while seated in the lawn chair in Wendy's favorite spot (which has by now become my favorite spot too). My mind's eye plots it placed in potential positions. The superiority of one placement over another will make itself known. Perhaps a rare moment of spirituality will guide me or, more likely, some practical condition will intervene.

When in use, a pleasant cacophony will abound: the clink, the groans, the laughter, the cheers. That appeals. Plus it is a warm weather, beer drinking, suburban thing to do. I've never been particularly good at it, but I know the basics.

It almost counts as exercise, a bit yoga-esque. I was outdoors, on the prowl, scoping, stepping off distances, verifying requirements. One area seemed, and is, particularly well-suited. I paused and assumed the position, following through with a graceful swing of my arm timed with a step forward. My muscles stretched with a rousing cheer, "Hey Suzanne! Damn that feels good!" So I did it again. Nice.

My desire grows stronger daily.
My research led me to this link and I almost swooned.

How sexy is that?
Am I the only one who feels it?


July 8, 2007

Channeling SK

We've lived in our house now for almost four years. Every time my sister visits, she says the same thing at one point or another during her stay: "You need art on the walls." Sometimes she says it with an exclamation point, other times introspectively as she gazes at one blank space or another.

Okay, so we're artistically challenged. That's no secret. I prefer to imply we enjoy a stark decor. But we don't actually prefer it stark. We just need guidance. (We also need curtains, but that's a subject for a different post.) Much of what we do have adorning our walls is my sister's work. She generously provides assistance in many ways.

Following her visit last Thanksgiving, a suggestion, complete with diagram and descriptive narrative concept, appeared in my inbox. My sister, my dear sweet sister. From that seed bloomed the project that came to fruition just this past Saturday. I'd share the story but it's a long and twisted tale, the telling of which is better suited to porch-sitting with cocktails than blogging. Art evidently can be that way.

Plus I'm too tired to tell it anyway. See, one thing led to another. After we hung our new art, I looked around at the rest of the living room. My sister's voice niggled at the back of my mind. Next thing I know, we're moving furniture and I'm scrubbing walls. My caulk gun is locked and loaded. Then the paint can is open, I'm dipping my brush, and boom! There is no looking back.

Art makes me dangerous.
I'm certain my sister will approve.


July 2, 2007

"Makes Me Wanna See The Exorcist"

Before time and events get completely away from me, moreso than they already may have, let me wrap up the office soiree.

I am the most fortunate woman in the world. You may already realize that. I was again reminded of it as Wendy and I dressed for the party. She had demanded to "do" my hair for the event. I gave no argument, having no clue what to do with it anyway.

I was ordered to the guest room, a space that doubles as the place hair gets done when we don't have guests. There, I perched on the edge of the bed clad only in my silkies as Wendy fluttered about wearing only her birthday suit. Girlfriends rock. My woman wields a mean blow dryer and incorporates "product" in ways I would never have dared. (I took notes but have yet to successfully replicate her results.)

The party was a delight. Later that evening, Wendy and I rehashed events. Conversation touched briefly on one of the guests, a catholic monsignor.

Wendy's comment became the title of this post.

I can honestly say that thought would have never entered my mind.


June 26, 2007

Overheard on the Metro

I was sitting in my usual seat on the Metro heading downtown. My usual seat is faces forward with nothing between it and the exit but legroom. It's the best seat on the train, bar none. I choose sides based on the time of day and which direction I am riding. I prefer not to sit in the sun because I can't wear my shades and my reading glasses at the same time. The Yellow Line runs from Huntington Station in Virginia past Mount Vernon Square in the District and is above ground almost as much as below.

Anyway. I was plugged into my iPod and reading a book. It was a hot day, a very hot day. The humidity made walking outdoors akin to breaststroking through a vat of the thick, rich shrimp & jalepeño bisque we adore from Roseina's. (Yes, I'm hungry right now. And they make a kick-ass bisque at Roseina's.) The cool interior of the train was a pleasantly stark contrast to the swampy outdoors.

Bing bong, doors closing, yada yada.

They got on a few stops down. I didn't see them, but I instantly became aware of the two women newly seated directly behind me. They conversed loud enough for me to hear them clearly despite my iPod. Of course I had to listen.

Woman1: Hey, I've been on this train before!

Woman2: Oh?

Woman1: Yeah, when the kids were in town I wanted to take them to see George Washington's house.

Me to Myself: Huh?

Woman1: When we got off the train at Mount Vernon Square, we found out it wasn't there.

Me to Myself: Did she really just say what I think she really just said?

Woman2: Isn't George Washington's house in the country?

Woman1: Yeah, it's somewhere out in the country.

Me to Myself: It's not in the country, you dumbasses, it's in the suburbs. The SUBURBS! About 20 miles from where you are right this minute and two miles from my home in guess where? That's right! THE SUBURBS. Yeesh. Doesn't everyone know where George Washington's estate is? Or at least in what state? It's in Virginia, not the District. Crack a history book once in a while or even just a newspaper, there's good shit inside!

I'm usually not that harsh with strangers, even in my head. Apparently I am a little sensitive about our local historical sites. This is not news to me.

The two got off at the next stop. I glanced up to see what they looked like. They were both brunettes with long silky hair, wearing flip flops, shorts and tank tops. Woman1 had a rack and a half. Nice. Very nice. I didn't get to their faces.

Yes, evidently I am that shallow. That's not news to me either.


June 24, 2007

Ever Owned a Teen?

We have, but we don't any longer.

See, he's grown up. Adult-style, albeit with glimmers of the teenager he used to be. Much like the rest of us.

Sometimes one must dig deep to find the good parts of teenagers. But those not-so-surface parts are the ones I hold most dear and, delightfully, are the pieces that tend to stick around as they mature. To preserve perspective, the memory retains some less-positive parts too. It's much like fondly remembering the delightful scent of a cuddly infant fresh out of the bathtub instead of focusing on that leaky diaper and the subsequent artistic use of diarrhea.

It is not uncommon for newly-minted adults to take charge of old furnishings and such from their parent's home to outfit their own residences. The Boy did that for us two years ago when he got his first apartment. But now he doesn't have an apartment and he most likely won't for a while. There's travel in his future. So where do the fairly minimal possessions he retained get stored? Why, our house of course. Hey, at least we get to use his spiffy blender until he settles down. I've had worse trade-offs.

We put The Boy on a bus yesterday, off to his summer job at the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, New York. The musical is Hair, his role is "Claude," and yes, he, along with the rest of the cast, will be naked on stage at one point or another. The last show we saw him in was The Full Monty. I'm sensing a dangerous trend.

The past four weeks were the largest chunk of time he'd spent at home since leaving for college in August 2003. I didn't really know what to expect and, due to a certain circumstance, was slightly apprehensive. Turns out it was the most comfortable we've all been with each other since his journey to adulthood began in earnest as a teen. Not that we were uncomfortable before, it's more like we've reached a new plateau. Something has shifted in the family dynamic. It feels good.

So should you find yourself near Ithaca in July, go see the show! Afterward, buy "Claude" a sandwich or something. The Boy may be a man, but he still eats like a teenager!


June 13, 2007

Help Mel Win Money

There's $500 on the line.

Hop on over to this site and click on the picture of the skinny lady and her adorable smiling daughter holding bowl of Fruity Cheerios (aka the photo labeled Melodee H.). Each click brings her closer to the $500 prize. Honestly, their photo is the most adorable and deserving of your vote. Go. See for yourself.

Come on now, get busy.
Vote early. Vote often.
The contest ends this Saturday.
There's no time to waste!

Thank you and have a nice day.

PS: Mel didn't ask me to whore her out. I figure it's the least a fellow blogger can do. There's $500 to be won!

UPDATE: She won! Thanks for helping out, y'all!


June 11, 2007

Other Duties as Assigned

Did you know I am a professional party planner? No? You thought I was a bookkeeper, didn't you? So did I.

Speaking of being a bookkeeper, I was snoozing to a cheesy Lifetime movie recently. Snoozing and TV-watching are perfect companions on a suburban afternoon. I can't be the only one who feels that way. Why else would there be so much crappy crap on TV if not to help an afternoon snoozer snooze?

So anyway, that cheesy Lifetime movie. Here's the scene: a pathetic young woman who still lives at home and her overbearing mother are having a heated conversation in the kitchen. "But I applied for a promotion at the restaurant, the hostess job!" the daughter whines. "You don't think I want to be a bookkeeper for the rest of my life, do you?"

My drooping eyes snapped open. WTF? How rude. What's she got against being a bookkeeper!? And she thinks a restaurant hostess is a step up? Yeesh. I groped for the remote, found it near my right hand and switched the channel. Ah. Baseball. That's good for napping too.

I like being a bookkeeper but I'm not much of a party planner. However since I was given the assignment, I am doing my best to rise to the occasion. Since it's work-related, I shouldn't really talk about it. The office is hush-hush non-blog fodder after all. Let's simply say it will be a rather formal affair at a fancy hotel in Old Town.

The party planning hasn't been as odious as I initially anticipated. Turns out fancy hotels in Old Town have great staff to help folks like me plan a party. Don't tell anyone, but I'm almost enjoying it. Next thing you know, I'll be tossing aside my red pencils and applying for a job as a restaurant hostess. Sure, sure I will.

Coming soon: Just what will this suburban lesbian wear to a rather formal affair at a fancy hotel in Old Town? And whatever will I do with my hair? I'm not quite sure yet, but I've got two weeks to figure it out. Wish me luck.


June 1, 2007

12-Hour Turn Around

That's one reason it's been so quiet around here.

Here being here, of course. It hasn't been quiet there, as in our home, at all. Wendy, The Boy and I have been reveling in the joy of each other's company while bonding in the wide open spaces of our suburban habitat. Nothing like a little blood, sweat and tears to forge fond familial memories. It's a bonus our landscape is being rehabilitated in the process.

Wendy just read this and called me a sap.
Good thing it's true because I don't have the energy to deny it.


May 21, 2007

Informal Poll

While brushing your teeth, do you usually:
A. Wander around multi-tasking, or

B. Remain stationary at the bathroom sink?

Thank you for your time and have a nice day.


May 17, 2007

The Ostrich and the Sand

At times I feel like I live my life with my head stuck far up my ass.
At times I like it that way.

I've been excitedly blathering about our accomplishments at home, completely avoiding the topic of turmoil to the south. This is graduation week but The Boy will not be walking with his class. Surprised? Us too. The what-where-when-why-how of that are his and his alone. I am but a hanger-on, albeit with a heavily ve$ted intere$t.

It is an interesting exercise to let go without letting go. Of course, this circumstance is fucking killing me not the end of the world. The show will go on, the fat lady will (eventually) sing, blah blah blah. Blech.

If he were a helium-filled balloon I'd grab his string and knot it tightly around my wrist, all the while chastising myself for losing my grip to begin with. But that's not my job anymore. Instead I get to watch him bob erratically across a cloudy sky, my heart in my throat, as he finds his bearings. I do so love that boy.

This parenting stuff.
Oh my.
It's humbling.


May 14, 2007

Suburban Quest

We're growing grass.
It's actually more than that.
We're crafting a lawn.

A lawn is not just a ragged mishmash of green whatever.
A lawn is an even, lush expanse of pure and glorious green grass.
Soft. Cool underfoot.
Always the perfect shade of green even on a gray day.

Visualize such a lawn.
Oh my, I can already feel it between my toes.
I want it.

It takes a lot of water to grow grass.
It hasn't rained much of late.
So we sprinkle.
Twice a day, every day.
With quasi-religious fervor.

We're growing grass.
It's serious business.
I'm expecting water bills even higher than when The Boy lived at home.

I've never before had occasion to grow grass from seed. I am completely enthralled. We have germination! These blades, thin as thread, stretch confidently upward.

Such a lawn as the one we desire is not a single year project. I'm thinking three years. I'm thinking in three years, with all due diligence, we'll be dancing barefoot in the backyard across our lush green lawn, our toes singing songs of happiness in tune with the landscape around us.

Another exercise in patience.
Can a person have too many?
It feels good to have begun.


May 7, 2007

Got Her Done

The Laundry Room Smackdown was a rousing success.
Schmeggle (us) and Gafunge (them) no more.
Yes. Rousing! Quite.

Go. Here. Now. Go here now. See the finished results!

We started in late March and finished in early May, say six weeks. I originally projected three. My optimism often gets run over by reality.

eb and I checked in with each other every few days: "How's it going?" "It's coming along." "We had this idea." "We're not done yet." "What would you do?" "Oooo, guess what we did?" "We need an extension." "So do we."

Ayup, we're the same brand of lazy. We share common interests and, evidently, work ethic. Yet what we did to our Laundry Rooms is quite disparate. Is anyone surprised?

One of the best parts of this project? We had the tools and knew how to use them. Costs were reasonable, kept low by reusing leftover supplies from prior work. The learning curve didn't kick our ass. Well. At least not as hard as she used to.

We survived tolerated enjoyed five consecutive Sunday sojourns to the laundromat while our suburban Laundry Room was out of service. (Yes, we still call it the Laundry Room. Wendy vetoed a name change. Interestingly (perhaps only to me), the furnace no longer seems to mind. Go figure.)

Have I mentioned we're done?


May 6, 2007

Garden Goes Gone

This morning it was there.

By afternoon it was bare.

Much like the dandelion field, that blob of foliage garden stood in the path of progress. We saved the rocks. And the hosta. We have plans for them elsewhere. The rest we neatly bundled for curbside pickup.

Wendy excavated an assortment of oddities buried in the dirt, among which was a four foot tall iron mailbox post, a beach ball, a handful of old school pull tabs, two croquet balls, a hammer, a green & white glass marble, and a seemingly endless coil of fat rope that resembled an enormous earthworm as she tug-tug-tugged it out of the soil.

An ancient shrine to suburban living? Usually ghosts from the past have something more interesting to say. The marble is pretty.

The next few weeks will be all about the yard. We'll be digging holes, moving some plants, eliminating others, spreading dirt, weeding and feeding, growing grass. Can you feel the excitement? I'm all aquiver.

Meanwhile after today's labor, Wendy is on the couch with her knee iced and I just swallowed three Aleve.

No pain, no gain. Repeat three times, have another beer and call me in the morning. That's good advice on any given day.


May 1, 2007

Making a Point to Waste My Time

Here's Dudley tiptoeing through a large dandelion patch. Such a healthy crop we have this year! Unfortunately for them, they sprouted directly in the path of progress. This time next week, our backyard drainage will have been installed; the route cuts directly through where those dandelions now grow.

Today was one of those weather days that compels a body to be outdoors. I have a body. I was compelled. Situating Wendy's lawn chair in her favorite spot, I was offered a pleasant unobstructed view of the backyard expanse. I settled in with my creature comforts. I've been reading Animal Dreams and wanted to finish it (the ending held few surprises but it's a worthy read).

Sitting in the sun makes a body sleepy, even moreso when one is stretched out in a comfortable chair being caressed by a gentle breeze and lulled by the whisper of the trees. The sounds of the suburbs are a symphony. I soaked it up. Such was my lot this beautiful day.

Terribly self-indulgent, yes? To snooze in the sun for hours? On a weekday? One might think so, but I was busy. Busy letting my mind clear.

Sometimes what appears to be wasted time isn't time wasted at all.


April 25, 2007

Lunch with Lisa

I have lunch with my friend Lisa one day a week, usually Monday.

This week she picked the place, La Piazza, a favorite in our lunch rotation. We both have a fondness for Italian food and their pasta is good eats. For $8, I get a nice salad, fresh garlic bread, and stuffed shells florentine. The place smells divine. It's a feast, particularly welcome since Wendy and I have not been eating well at home. As soon as Lisa proposed the location I agreed, despite being attired in a white blouse. A white blouse that now has one tiny spot of tomato sauce that somehow avoided my bib. It was worth it.

A woman occupied a nearby table. My casual glance took in a frumpy middle-aged woman wearing frumpy middle-aged woman business attire: mid-length polyester skirt, blouse with a ruffled neck, panty hose and sensible shoes with a moderate heel, all in earthtones. A bottle of red wine and a glass kept her company as she nibbled on her salad, a paperback book held open in front of her. I couldn't see the title.

As we lunched, Lisa regaled me with tales from her recent trip to Italy, a two-week sojourn she took with her mother to visit their relatives.

Lisa and I can be loud. Just a tad boisterous. Yes, yes, I know how odd that must seem. Me? Loud? Boisterous? Well. It happens. Sometimes we don't whisper. We were happy to be where we were and enjoying our conversation. Several times during our meal, the woman with the wine joined us in laughter. She finally said, "I don't mean to eavesdrop, but we are sitting so close!" We smiled and laughed, nodding in understanding. The more, the merrier.

I'm not sure what gave it away. Her mannerisms? The way she held her head? The timbre of her voice? All of the above? Whatever it was, I was reminded that outward appearances can be deceiving.

Soon she finished her bottle of wine and left, waving farewell.

I looked at Lisa and said, "That wasn't a woman, was it?"

She just looked at me and said, "Duh."
We smiled.

It takes all kinds.


April 23, 2007

Taking Odds

I haven't been inside a grocery store in nigh on two weeks.

Our freezer is almost empty. Our stash of canned goods and dry staples is depleted. Fresh vegetables? Fruit? Milk? Eggs? Opening our refrigerator I see only beer and water. And the door full of condiments with nothing to put them on.

The cupboards are bare. We haven't prepared anything close to a meal since we had muffins (made with our last two eggs and water instead of milk) and bacon (from the freezer) for breakfast two Sundays ago. I'm sick of carryout. We need a personal shopper for times like these.

The other night we eagerly snacked on stale Goldfish crackers, cheddar cheese flavor. I felt like I'd struck gold when I found that package buried in the cabinet behind the dog treats.

Yet is the project done? No, but it's goddamn close. How can one little room be so time consuming? It just is. Then there's Spring, which has completely sprung. It's full of distractions.

Pictures Sunday, or I'll eat my hat followed by a home-cooked meal for dessert. I miss my kitchen.


April 19, 2007

This Was Then

I'm starting to get all emo about The Boy's upcoming graduation, a mere month from today.

I can't help but think back to his high school graduation. We had a horde of family in for that event. I get a bit neurotic when family visits. Wendy and I hosted a party following the graduation, quite a large party by our standards. I get a bit neurotic when we host a party; the neuroses multiply when it's a major event.

Well. Let's say I used to get neurotic. I've changed since then. Really. I'm far less neurotic. Ask Wendy. She'll vouch for me. Maybe The Boy will too.

But I'm still sentimental. I was back then too, I just wasn't aware of it as acutely as I am now.

So! Flashback to when The Boy was a senior in high school, graduation imminent. It was June 15, 2003, a glorious bright Sunday afternoon, Father's Day, at Tim's Rivershore Restaurant, a charismatic crab house on the Potomac. Gathered around the table were Pop, Grandma Wanda, sister SK, sister Cathy and her daughter Maia, James our temporary son, Wendy, me and The Boy.

I snapped this pic of The Boy and his grandfather, my father, that day. It's a favorite of mine for reasons that don't need words.


April 17, 2007

Of Labels and the Changing Thereof

I've been spending some quality time with our furnace. It's unavoidable, really. She lives in the Laundry Room.

While seemingly pleased to have company, I could also sense a bit of an attitude beneath her shiny exterior. I was curious. Perched atop a ladder repairing the ceiling, I initiated conversation.

"Something wrong?" I queried. "You still peeved about that filter? I swear, as soon as we are done in here, I've got a brand spanking new one for you. Fresh and clean, right from the factory. You know how good that feels!"

As I worked I babbled about life outside the Laundry Room. The furnace looked on blankly, kicking to life every now and again. The weather is still cold here. But the Laundry Room is warm, almost cozy.

The truth didn't come out that day, but it did the next. Seems the furnace is displeased with her residence being deemed the "Laundry Room." She groans the word "laundry" with greatly emphasized disdain. I briefly wondered how the washer and dryer have managed to peacefully co-exist in such close quarters with this diva.

But the furnace makes a good point. There's more mechanical function going on in there than there is laundry. And no way in hell was that room designed as a laundry space. I looked around with a new eye. What else goes on in this room? Why, all the hot water we enjoy in all the different places we enjoy it originates here! The source obtrusively occupies a prime corner, with shiny pipes reaching out like arms and disappearing into the ceiling at odd angles.

The space we've been calling the Laundry Room houses other important household functions, the heart of the house it could be said. How could I be so blind? Washing machine and dryer? Pfft. Why should the room name focus on them? Our beloved HVAC system feels slighted; the hot water heater has so far offered no comment but I can imagine how he feels.

Henceforth and hereinafter I think I'll call it the Mechanical Room, Mech Room for short. Yet that sounds stiff. Maybe the Utility Room? It is quite utilitarian and not much else. I can't call it The Pit anymore, not once the makeover is complete.

The one thing I do know is that it is no longer the Laundry Room. Wendy has not yet blessed a change of name, but she humors me often. We'll see.


April 15, 2007

Usually Between 5 & 6 PM

My mother and I have frequent meandering phone conversations. She's been quite chatty of late, cheerful and busy. We cover a range of topics, slipping from one to another easily as some mothers and daughters can do.

Some highlights!

Recent oncology checkup: Everything is fine. Tamoxophin makes her feet cramp. That's gotta suck. "Well," I said, "You only have to take it for another four and a half years." We laughed.

Trader Joe's: "Have you ever tried their mango with chili?!" Further conversation determined she was so anxious to taste it, she opened the package while driving home. It lived up to her expectations in all the right ways. She loves her snacks, the spicier the better.

Something about the future: "I figure I'll just move into a nursing home near wherever y'all are then." That's a direct quote. I'm documenting it for future reference.

Innovations in litter boxes: We discussed in detail the features of a new litterbox system she considered buying. She decided against it for fear it would upset Princess, who would then refuse to use it. Princess lives up to her name.

Record winnings: She finished a recent mahjong session up $3.92. The table concurred: no one had ever before won that much in one day. Her hot streak continued the next day when she finished up $1.84. She's a shark and there is blood in the water.

Bathroom wallpaper: Despite shopping for months, she still hasn't found one she likes. My mother, she knows what she likes. Eventually it will find her, and Wendy and I will joyfully hang it. I selfishly hope it remains elusive until at least June. Odds are in our favor.

Happy Test: She twittered about the Happy Test over at In the spirit of comaraderie, I took it too. I passed, meaning I did not fall into the unhappy range. I was also not in the extremely satisfied range.

Like I needed a test to tell me that.
She'll pass, too.
Happy is as happy does, or something like that.


April 10, 2007


We blew the deadline. Ah well, what's another week in the relative scheme of life? Our partner-in-crime was in favor of the extension. Watch this space. After-pics are so close I can taste them.

So we ran out of drywall mud. The Home Depot didn't have our usual brand. They had this pink stuff instead.

I was a bit skeptical. Outside of the obvious Sassy-like appeal, what self- respecting do-it-yourself'er needs color-changing drywall mud?

But then I used it. The texture is divine, almost like Playdoh but a bit softer. It is so creamy. Not to mention bright. Truth be told, it was amusing to spread that pink Playdoh and shape it to an adequate fine acceptable finish after it dried white. It easily sands to a smooth, satisfying surface. And oh my, how practical is that square bucket!

Little things please me.
Add this new drywall mud to the list.