Monday, December 31, 2007

Resolution Evolution

Not feeling particularly reflective. Guess I was reflective over the weekend, auld lang in-syne-ity hit me early this year. I wrote six pages in my journal yesterday, my personal journal wherein I write the really juicy, interesting stuff. Helps me filter out what I should probably not be sharing in this space. I don't make new year's resolutions. I never have, except in the most general of ways. It just doesn't seem reasonable to vow to change your bad habits on the eve of possibly suffering from a profound hangover. I love, love, love the white chocolate KitKat bars. That surprises me since I don't particularly care for the standard milk chocolate variety. What's on for tonight? I have Dove chocolate covered almonds. I have three movies to watch. I have a bottle of champagne. I have flannel pajamas. Sounds like staying in is the thing to do when the temperature outside is threatening to hover around zero tonight. When I wake up in the morning to 2008 I shall greet the new year by making waffles and sausage for breakfast. I feel optimistic about the upcoming year despite the fact that it's an election year and I'm already so terribly weary of political rhetoric. It doesn't matter to me if you call it prayer, meditation, or merely contemplating the color of the lint in your navel. Take a moment at midnight and dwell on worthy and positive things. Like peace, love and understanding. It couldn't hurt.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


It's soup night. I love soup. It goes with the cold outside and makes you all warm inside. Chicken noodle and black bean. The chicken noodle will be ready to eat in an hour or so. The black bean requires a little more preparation, the broth stage will be completed tonight and the rest of the ingredients will be added tomorrow. That means the cats are milling about in the middle of the kitchen floor hoping for a bite of whatever that is that smells so wonderful! On top of the stove the celery and carrots are steaming and await the addition of the chicken and pasta, but that's not what they smell. In the other pot is a pork hock covered with water and spices and is gently simmering. And not just any pork hock. An organic, free-range, smoked pork hock from the last time we got a whole pig from the locker in Elkton. Soup is a culinary gift from the goddess that we all must be thankful for. And it's okay by me if you don't make it yourself. If you like the stuff from the can or the dehydrated variety I will not pass judgment. I happen to love to cook, and to me, one of the hallmarks of a great cook is the ability to conjure up a delicious soup. Soup is kind of a free-form sort of cooking. You can use a recipe to the letter or open up the fridge and pitch. Using a recipe is akin to following the sheet music to the note while the pitch method is more like jamming. I have produced an outstanding pot of soup using both methods. Soup making can be an adventure in combining flavors and textures of many varieties. But if you're feeding suspicious children or maybe those who aren't so accepting of outlandish conglomerations, it's best to stick to a recipe. I have made chicken noodle soup pretty much how I do now since my sons were toddlers. The younger one still picks out the vegetables but I do have hope that one day he will come to appreciate the soup as it is without amendment. And chicken noodle is a bit of a misnomer, I don't use the standard egg noodles. Instead I use ditali, a small tubular pasta that is sturdy and doesn't slip off your spoon. I recommend the Racconto brand, no. 58, imported from Italy. One thing's for sure, nothing fills the house with the luscious smells of cooking quite like a simmering pot of homemade soup.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Signs of the Season

This image manipulation thing is relatively new to me, so please pardon the very unpolished look to this post. An hour or so ago I wandered around the house with my camera and captured images of the season to share with you. To the left is the blue led snowflake hanging in the living room window. It helps me locate my house when coming home in the dark.

The bucket of festive holiday headgear waiting to be donned.

Reindeer in a basket in the family room downstairs.

View of the stairwell decorations that were so difficult to place. They may remain on display until spring.

This is Sparky, the largest snowman in my collection. He is not allowed to light up that pipe in the house.

Christmas themed mugs on the shelf in the kitchen available for hot chocolate, coffee, tea, etc.

Do you know how difficult it is to find a blue Santa Claus? The three that I have are atop the refrigerator this year with the cobalt glass items that are there year-round.

Yes, I decorate in the bathroom! This little scene is just above my bathtub where I regularly doze off while I'm soaking in the hot water and bubbles.

A sure sign of the holidays, my college age son has brought home his dirty laundry.

The dining room, which is technically not a separate room, just the east end of the kitchen.

I just adore these fat cardinals. They reside on top of the tv cabinet with my elder son's high school graduation photo.

My cat, Newton, peeking out from under the coffee table in the living room. He mostly ignores the holiday decorations unless it would involve him being the recipient of a belly rub.

The Santa Claus collection on the bookcase in the living room.

My cat, Einstein, doing his best to ignore the fact that he is under the Christmas tree...

...and eventually caving and taking a bite. More than once I have caught him walking off with a pink bow in his mouth. To his credit, the tree has been tipped over only once. So far.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Longest Night

I don't know about you, but I'm ready to settle my brain for a long winter's nap. Perfect night for it, the longest stretch of darkness we experience up here in the frozen north. Tomorrow the light begins to lengthen by a couple of minutes a day. Incrementally not all that noticeable, but cumulatively significant. Today is the first of an unprecedented four consecutive days off work for me. When I crawled in bed last night I turned off the alarm on my bedside nemesis just before I shut out the light and slept for a delicious nine hours straight. I could have rolled over and slept longer, but once the cats see the whites of my eyes further slumber isn't likely. Just opposite my bed and just in front of the window is my large comfy chair and ottoman. When I first open my eyes, Newton is normally sprawled on the ottoman and Einstein is perched on the back of the chair looking out the window. And even though Newt's eyes are closed and Steinie is turned in the opposite direction, somehow they are able to sense that I'm awake and join me in bed. They squawk and stomp across me with impunity. They know the routine. Mom wakes up. Mom retires to the bathroom for a few moments. Mom goes to the kitchen to make coffee. KITTIES GET TREATS!!! And lest I should forget this most important part of the morning routine, they apparently feel they must constantly remind me with meows and ankle rubbing. Even though their nearly constant presence near my feet actually impedes the process of coffee making, which shall always come before the dispensing of treats. Don't tell them that the treats are actually a crunchy tartar removing device and serves a distinct purpose toward their feline oral health. They just like it because it smells fishy and makes a marvelous crunchy noise when they chomp on it. Then they ignore me for a while, except to inquire about when they might possibly get fed and why their favorite human, the fifteen year old who is a champion late sleeper, might be showing his face to give them attention. I have every intention of not leaving this house until I have to return to the lab on Wednesday morning. Until then I shall revel in the the spirit of the holiday. For me that means cooking, baking, eating and sleeping. And religiously wearing pajamas for as much of that time as possible.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Mind Your Own Innuendo

There's just something about living in a small town. Maybe it's the people I know. Maybe I'm just a heck of a lot more interesting than I think. It could be that in a desperate attempt to entertain themselves, people make up crap. I think it can't be helped, gossip is part of the human condition. And I understand why it's interesting, I must admit I can get into hearing a juicy tale about someone I know and then wonder if it's true. The thing about a rumor is that once you cut away the fluff and the flash, there's usually a solid, though often minuscule, kernel of truth at the core. Bur kernels of truth are boring! We want adjectives and sordid details! Mix that little kernel of truth with a little innuendo over a happy hour beer, and voila!, you've got yourself a rumor. And the more far-fetched the tale is, odds are the faster it will travel. A little over a year ago I heard a doozy about myself. My divorce was freshly final and I was once again a single woman. Word was, I cashed in a large number of shares of a particular stock that I received in the settlement and used the proceeds to Botox and collagen-ize myself in order to be more appealing on the dating market. I learned of this from an acquaintance I encountered while shopping for groceries. She told me what she had heard but declared she didn't believe a word of it! All this while she studied my face and told me I was looking very well. Probably due to the fact that I was feeling good, feeling happy and much less stressed now that the divorce was final. Remarkable what a good night's sleep and some peace of mind can do for the lines that threaten to become wrinkles. I reassured her that I had not had any "work" done and went on my way. Rather puzzled as to why she had shared this little gem with me. In the five or so years prior to the divorce I was surprised at various times to hear how many men I was sleeping with and that I was severely depressed and bulimic. The rumors didn't astonish me nearly as much as the need others felt to inform me of them. More recently the thing that puzzles me is when friends and acquaintances confide that they have seen my ex-husband with his girlfriend. They assure me that his taste in women has gone completely downhill and that they are frankly surprised by how unattractive they find her. This stings a little. In the twenty years we were together, my husband never gave me a compliment on my appearance. In fact, he was often quite critical in his assessment of my taste in clothing and the size of my posterior. And this is what I take away from that. I hope that they are happy together. They have been dating for over two years and obviously enjoy each other's company. While I have not met her, my sons have, and that's okay. Yes, I have seen them out in public together, but at a distance. When I am asked why I think that they are together, this is my answer. Perhaps he has learned to see the interior of a woman rather than judging merely on the exterior. Or maybe, my cynical side chimes in, he's over fifty and he's looked around, and this is what is available to him, he's desperate and terrified of being alone. And the kernel of truth inside that remark once the cynicism has subsided is, I truly hope it is the former rather than the latter.

Friday, December 14, 2007

No Butterfly

My social life consists of three things. The various sundry activities I take part in with my friends Anna and Colleen and the stuff I do with my kids. That might seem like only two things, but I'm claiming three. I was just contemplating this fact and wondering if the state of my social interaction is pitiful or enviable. The things that I recently did but no longer do isn't such a long list, but the pre-divorce list is substantial. My ex-husband inherited most of that chapter of our shared life. That's okay, it seems that one or the other is embraced and retained within the group of people the former couple was a part of, rarely both. I'm on friendly terms with many of these people but it seems the comfort level of the group demanded that one or the other of us could be included, and he was chosen. This seems odd in a way, since in this group, as in many social circles, the relationships are maintained and the parties planned by the women. Initially I have to say being excluded was very painful and it took a long time to get over the fact that there were friendships and relationships and family connections of twenty plus years that abruptly came to a halt. But I adjusted to this as I adjusted to the many other upheavals that stemmed from the break-up of my marriage. Recently I have retired from volleyball. Last season was my last, and about half the time I played pretty well. It seemed like the time to retire, mostly because I just didn't have the burning desire to play any more. I haven't played cards with the 10 Point Pitch group since last spring. It would seem that they have been able to fill the tables without calling in the subs. I was a member of a book group for a couple of years that I enjoyed greatly but I haven't attended in over a year. They commence discussion of the monthly read on a chosen Wednesday promptly at 5:30. I rarely get home from work by then, much less have time in which to become presentable for company. I kept up on the reading for the most part just in case I was able to attend but it just didn't happen. I have pulled in these last months and stayed closer to home more than in the last five or so years. And I think that's a good thing, I have needed the quiet and to have my life less scheduled than it used to be. I may not be a butterfly like I used to be, but I'm more content than I've been in a long time. I have learned to be still. And inside that newfound stillness there are enviable moments that feed my spirit. I just may become a butterfly once more. And I'm sure I'll have more fun this time around.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fried Green Beans

Brookings has a new restaurant. And it's not fast food. Or pizza. Brookings has a plethora of pizza and is full of fast food. Bravo is a genuine grown-up place to eat with oodles of atmosphere and a dapperly dressed and engaging staff. They have an appetizer that sounds just plain weird when you read the menu. Fried green beans. With a side of chipotle ranch dressing in which you may dip the odd looking things. They do look odd but are quite delicious. Which proves people will eat nearly anything if it is battered, fried and served in a cute basket with dipping sauce. I ate fried rattlesnake once. Battered, deep-fried rattlesnake served with some sort of barbecue dipping sauce. I figured, heck, we're in Arizona, what more appropriate place could there be to eat fried rattlesnake. It could have been anything, tasted sort of like chicken. And I bet that few Arizonans eat rattlesnake on a regular basis. Probably reserved primarily for the tourist trade. I can just see the chef back in the kitchen laughing his ass off every time some out-of-stater orders the fried rattlesnake appetizer. And speaking of eating out, we received our invites to the company holiday party in our mailboxes today. I'm thinking of returning the card saying that I will indeed be bringing a guest. Then not bring one. And brown bag the extra meal and take it home. Tacky, yes. Practical, yes. Classy, no. I don't remember the menu for dinner spelled out on the invitation so I might regret having a rerun in the refrigerator. One thing's pretty sure, though. There won't be any fried rattlesnake. Or fried green beans, either. I don't mind as long as there's dessert.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Out of Reach

One forgets from year to year what honest, genuine, bone-chilling cold feels like. I remember now. It would help if I planned far enough ahead so my hair is completely dry before I venture outdoors. Now that I have returned from various errand running I am settling in for an evening of baking and finishing up holiday decorating. I need a ladder that's taller than my five foot step ladder so I can get to the shelf in the stairwell and toss on some wintry frou frou. When I put it up last summer with the convenience of the platform I had constructed for painting purposes, it did not occur to me that I wouldn't be able to get at it when the platform was gone. And now I see dust bunnies amongst the apples and baskets and hanging from the plate rack! I am an intelligent being. I will figure this out. No decorating task, no matter how daunting, has ever kept me down for long. And I'll finish with the climbing before I open a bottle of wine. Just to be safe. I have lemon cranberry bread to get in the oven as well as a tree to festoon before I settle down to watch a movie. But first I think I need a big cup of English breakfast with sugar and cream to inspire, warm and caffeinate me.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Yup. Still Distracted

Recently I was asked if the object of my distraction was still casting his little spell on me. That would be Mr. Distraction from my post of September 18th. And the answer is, yup, still distracted. He occupies a small corner room in my brain, separate from the monkeys' quarters for his own personal safety. Do we really get any better at this sort of thing? I would like to know! Because this feels just as silly, just as embarrassing, just as rushy as it did when I was a teenager! At some point I am hoping that this thing will just burn itself out. There clearly is never going to be an appropriate time or setting for me to either blurt out some sort of confession or act on this ridiculous burning desire. Then it snowed last week. And I allowed a tiny, little disclosure slip out into the real world. An impulsive, mildly risky prank. I lost control for maybe all of fifteen seconds. And then I wrote a poem about it. For crying out louder than necessary! Writing a poem is the absolute indicator that I have been gotten to, at least for me it is. This girl does not squander her artistic way with words on just anyone! So here I am. Suffering pitifully from a crush on someone I'll never be with. He might as well be George Clooney. Except that I've never been sufficiently moved to write a poem about George. I'm so grateful that I have practically no impulse control over writing. Finding the words to express what I feel and know and to describe what I observe often saves my sanity. Quiets what sometimes rages within. And best of all, keeps me from taking myself too seriously.

ILY Anonymous

I know it was foolish
But I couldn’t resist
Tracing ILY
In the newfallen snow
On the hood of your car
I reassured myself
You’d never see
My frosty declaration
By the time you returned
Either the relentless wind
Or the still falling snow
Would have covered
My amorous confessional tracks

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Let it Snow

It snowed overnight. Two or three inches worth out there. Enough to warrant shoveling but not so much that it's painful. I realize that I would find it very difficult to live somewhere where it doesn't snow. Despite the inconvenience I love winter. There's something about the cycle of seasons that feels complete and right, but maybe that's because I grew up on the plains. The summers are scorching and winter is harsh but it makes me feel alive to experience such extremes. This weekend's activities shall include baking cranberry lemon bread, digging out the Christmas cd's that set the mood for holiday decorating, and now that the snow is letting up, shoveling. The enormous pine tree in my backyard looks so beautiful with a dusting of white. Edgar, my anatomically correct gargoyle who sits under that tree, looks mildly annoyed about the whole business. Somehow I managed to forget to do the fall routine of putting away summery stuff out in the yard. The umbrella on the deck table looks a little out of place, as does the hammock that can't collect a remarkable amount of snow due to its stringy surface. The fifteen yo wants chocolate cake for breakfast. I don't know why it makes me feel better to say no to that request. Is it really much different to say yes to cherry pop-tarts? Probably not. And now that I have a digital camera, maybe I can take a cool snow picture and post it with today's writing. Now, if someone could explain to me why Newton wants desperately to get into my closet. I hope the reason isn't a mouse.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Weary. Fatigued. Drained. Pooped. How can a person be this tired and still be alive? I actually fell asleep in the bathtub. That's right, I dozed off in a tubfull of hot water scented with white tea and ginger bubbles. And have lived to tell about it. In the last four days I have shopped to the point that a mere human would have dropped, worked 21 hours (ten of them today), visited Colleen and cats for an evening, fed my son leftovers too many times, and put away the Thanksgiving/Fall decorations. I have not yet begun the Christmas decorating madness, that shall have to wait another week or so. Though I'm not annoyed by those who have already begun lighting up the festive seasonal displays outside their homes. Yesterday was a perfect, mild day to do outside decorating and in these parts you must take advantage of such a day. I love this time of year. I love holiday baking. I love how all the various cultures and religions around the world put their own spin on the pagan solstice celebration of old. So many rituals, so many wonderful stories. There is room for them all!! I love all the lights and decorations from the garish to the elegant. But mostly I love the trees, evergreens decorated in every possible imaginable way. I put up as many as a dozen trees in my home, most of them small, only a couple of them large enough to sit on the floor. I wonder if Newton and Einstein will cooperate and leave the large trees alone. Last year I didn't put up the big trees thinking that the cats were really still kittens and would climb and plunder them. One of Steinie's favorite toys is an old tree ornament, a blue plastic faceted ball about the size of a tennis ball. I fear he may have made a generalization from the fact that I allow him to play with this ornament. That perhaps my tacit tolerance extends to all holiday decorations. I believe, however, that this would require a complex thought process even a cat named Einstein is not capable of. And this most definitely is the year that I will go through all of the holiday decorations, throw out the broken ones, give away the ones I'm tired of, and pack them all away at the end of this season in appropriate, labeled totes. At least that's the plan. But first I need to sleep. For a longer stretch and in a drier environment than my little nap in the bathtub.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Day of Thanks

Let's see. I'm still in my pajamas. If I'd been thinking, I would have planned my life to never have to be anywhere prior to 10 am, just like one of the characters from Catch-22. I don't mind getting up early, particularly if a nap is anticipated later on in the day, but I love not having to be anywhere but here until a much more respectable hour. And on this national day of gluttony, football and thankfulness, I am thankful that I pretty much have the day off. I am thankful to have woken up in my comfortable, warm bed without the alarm clock screaming at me. I am thankful that despite the fact that I love to cook that I do not have to cook today. Two years ago, my first Thanksgiving as a soon-to-be single person, I looked forward to a day of self indulgence and quiet much like I'm experiencing today. I had several invitations for dinner at friend's homes. They were concerned that I not be alone and potentially depressed on a family holiday. They couldn't quite believe that I craved a day of solitude and quiet and I eventually caved and accepted one of the gracious offers. I did have a pleasant time. And the food was wonderful, the company congenial. But I would have been just fine at home on my own. On the road of adjustment to no longer being half of a married couple, there have been many difficult and lonely days or merely parts of days and nights. But never have these restless, sad hours fallen on a significant day on the calendar. They seem to pop up randomly, triggered by such subtle things as a photo or memory or smell. The late afternoon shadows of trees thrown across the backyard by a lingering sun sometimes has the effect of stirring up mixed feelings of anticipating an evening alone. Opening a bottle of wine that won't be shared, rather solitarily consumed even though out of habit I often pull two glasses out of the cabinet. I haven't spent a Christmas alone yet, eventually that may be the convergence of calendar and a feeling of unsavored solitude. But for now, after twenty years of sometimes a little too much togetherness, I am thankful for occasionally having a day to myself. As long as I choose to be alone I probably will enjoy it. It remains to be seen how I will feel if the seclusion is thrust upon me.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Feasting, Etc.

There is nothing like the recent turn of the weather toward chilly that makes me want to cook up a storm. In the summer it's just too hot to cook, much less eat. I like to grill in the summer, and not just for the distinctive savoriness brought out in whatever is being grilled. Grilling keeps the heat out of the house as well as eliminating pesky pot washing after dinner. This time of year I become nearly as domestic as Martha Stewart. Though I do believe I am less anal and certainly funnier than Ms. Stewart. And I am capable of producing remarkable meals on a considerably tinier budget. Not to mention without the support of hundreds of assistants. I do love to bake pies. All kinds of pies. I have never met a pie I did not like. I have thought before if I win the lottery or for some other reason no longer find it necessary to work for a living that I would bake pies. Bake them and give them away. Randomly show up on doorsteps and hand the inhabitants of the house a freshly baked pie. Just for fun. Be the crazy pie lady. Bake pies and write novels. If I don't come into that large amount of money, I'll save it for something to do when I retire. And although I'm not cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year I will still bake pies. Pumpkin for my elder son and pecan for the younger one. They will be attending turkey day festivities with their father and his side of the family. Freeing me to have a much needed lazy day at home. I plan to wear my pajamas until well past noon, consume chocolate, pie, and perhaps some wine, watch a movie or two, and construct a shopping list while perusing the ten pound Argus Leader that will arrive early Thursday morning. Anna and I plan to brave the Sioux Falls shopping venues Black Friday afternoon for holiday bargains. Personally, I'm more excited about where we might be eating lunch than the shopping!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I am a .7. That is to say, my waist-hip ratio is .7. Which, according to actual scientific studies, means I am not only highly attractive, I also am intelligent and more likely to produce intelligent offspring. This also sheds light on why I have so frequently been called a smart-ass. While I've never been particularly proud of being curvy, I have always been accepting of it simply because it is the package I am in. Regardless of my weight, which has known major fluctuations in my adult life due to college meal plan food as well as two pregnancies, I have always been hippy. Finding jeans that fit without that gap in the back waistband has always been a challenge. When I find pants that accommodate my rear the waist is frequently too large. I vow from this day forward to take pride in my curviness! To embrace my shape with acceptance and love! And of course, as always, hope that there is a man out there who wants to do the same.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Note to SJ

SJ is Sarah Jane. And while I feel a certain kinship with her, I have never met her face to face. I think we have narrowly missed meeting one another a time or two but that can't be substantiated. We have a few things in common. We know and adore the music and the members of the band AbbySomeOne. We are mothers. We love the Black Hills of South Dakota. Sarah is fortunate enough to make her home there, I yearn for the Hills from four hundred miles east and visit whenever possible. I'm sure we are acquainted with many of the same people. She is sensing something in the air, some kind of movement in an unexpected direction. I've been feeling something similar of late. I often feel as though my senses, especially the sixth and seventh ones, are heightened at this darkest time of year. That somehow the lessening of the sun's light brings my other sensory observations into sharper focus. I'm with SJ, there is something in the air, maybe a breakthrough of sorts. Maybe good news for someone we care about. Maybe a return to a happier place from the past, recaptured for the present. I don't know when, but I do know I will meet Sarah Jane. We'll get to know each other over coffee or a beer and marvel over the degrees of connections that conspired to draw us together. I already know that I like her and I wonder what she will teach me.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Been To Spamalot

Where have I been for nearly two weeks!! Omaha, Spamalot, and working too many hours. It is Friday. It is pay day. I get to sleep in tomorrow! The pizza will be here soon. Double pepperoni for my son and Italian sausage and mushroom for me. My cat, Einstein, has an unholy attraction to plastic bottle caps. He wakes me up at 4 am playing bottle cap hockey on the laminate kitchen floor. And, yes, I bought a digital camera. I haven't consulted the owner's manual as of yet but I'm having a great deal of fun playing with it. I also recently purchased a device called the Furminator. It's a tool that removes excess fuzz from the cats, quite well, actually when they are cooperating with the process. With any luck this means I won't have so many clumps of cat hair to vacuum up. And Newt and Steinie should experience fewer expectorant hairballs. A good thing all around for all the inhabitants of this house. There is a beer with my name on it in the refrigerator. Well, it really has Mr. Leinenkugel's name on it, but I get to drink it. A little later I'll drool over Kyle Chandler on the television. If he were to show up on my doorstep bearing a pumpkin muffin with a sinful amount of cream cheese icing on top I would probably let him in. A lovely hot bath would also seem to be in order. I really should set the recyclable materials out to the curb next Friday or soon there will not be enough room to park the Subaru in there. I have a poem brewing in my head about the pitifulness of Friday night singlehood that is filled with beer, pizza, tv, and a bubblebath. I had best go and write it before it escapes.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Film vs Pixels

I should listen to myself when I give words of sage advice to my children. Never speak in absolutes! Which is something of a walking oxymoron all wrapped up in four little words. Never and/or always seldom apply to real life. But was I listening to myself when I said I would never abandon film when it comes to taking pictures? Apparently not. I love my film camera. It's a several years old Canon Sure Shot that takes terrific pictures. It is easy to operate, has just enough features to accommodate most photo-snapping situations, and is small enough to drop in my purse so that I won't miss too many photo ops. But I must now confess that I am flirting with pixels. The slippery slope began nearly two years ago when I lost my cell phone. When I replaced it there were several options available. I went with the latest incarnation of the phone I lost which was, of course, no longer available. I liked the idea of only having to partially learn a new electronic device, the new version being very similar to the old one. But it had a few fancy features. One of which was the best built-in antenna available at the time. Out here on the prairie where cell dead-zones are common, I appreciated this feature. It also had a digital camera. I have never really understood the point of taking pictures with a phone. Understand it or not, I was hooked. The immediacy of being able to immediately see the photo that was snapped was tantalizing. Mega-pixel immediate gratification. It was handy to snap a picture of a craft idea or a pillow design to steal. I took to snapping pictures of beautifully presented restaurant meals and funny personalized license plates. Current snaps of my sons and my cats doing cute things.The antics of friends at social gatherings and stupid human tricks. Pictures of a china cabinet I was trying to sell that I could show to possible buyers. Most of which were eventually deleted and replaced by others. There are a few that are remarkably good that I will eventually email to myself and actually make prints of for posterity or possibly even a local photography contest. I would have missed most of these photo ops with my film camera simply because I didn't have it with me or deemed the situation not worthy of film and developing costs. Digital is environmentally friendly! I have rationalized to myself. I haven't bought a digital camera. Yet. But I'm comparing specs and thinking about it. Naturally, I want a pink one. Probably a 7 megapixel model. Maybe Sony or Nikon or Kodak. There is something that the instant gratification of electronic photography cannot replace. And that is the Christmas morning anticipation of having an envelope of freshly developed prints in your hand, waiting to be opened and examined. Especially if the film has been in the camera for weeks, maybe months. Certainly there are duds and cut-off heads, reluctant and under or overlit subjects. But there are usually a few gems where a moment is captured beautifully and perfectly. Moments you were there for but had forgotten about. Moments that can be revisited and smiled over and shared with others. I hope that I don't abandon film when I ultimately move over into digital. I hope that I won't sacrifice an older but worthy process for convenience. Never say never.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


I wandered through a couple of local retail establishments this afternoon. Christmas stuff is out on the shelves. This fact does not offend me, it's more of a source of astonishment. Or curious fascination. Or bafflement. Or something. I am amazed at the sheer and enormous quantities of stuff out there. Most of which I am not the least bit interested in purchasing. Particularly any item with a holidayish theme that requires batteries and has a switch that throws a normally inanimate something or group of somethings into motion. Along with the animation comes noise, sometimes tinny electronic music, or singing or possibly sounds derived from various members of the animal kingdom. You know, the things that kids or men (who are at the moment not under the supervision of their wives or girlfriends) will push the little red button and turn the damn things on! And these devices, ladies and gentlemen, cannot be turned off! Once activated, they go through their little routine and then shut off when they are quite finished, thank you. I suppose one could upend the offending machine and rip out its batteries. I just move to another aisle. I wonder, though, who buys all this stuff. And what compels them to part with their money to obtain the coveted items. And why the items are coveted to begin with. We like our stuff. As well as containers to properly sort and store the stuff. I like my stuff. Sometimes I'm quite amazed at the amount of stuff I've accumulated thus far. I'm currently in a cleaning out and lightening up the load kind of mode. Going through things and passing on what I no longer need or want to someone who might need or want more stuff. The ebb and flow of stuff. I'm keeping the pink flamingos.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I'm a little short today. On kindness. And patience. And all the other good stuff that generally make one tolerable to be around. Although a nice long soak in the tub and a cat cuddle have improved my mood somewhat. I've just had a difficult more than a day, but less than a month, somewhere in that range thing going. Mad at the local school system for not doing more for my son. Mad at my son for not tending to business and doing as well at school as he is capable. Annoyed at my elder son for not handling some real-world lessons as well as he ought to. And subsequently being annoyed with myself for not preparing him well enough to deal with real-world crap. And my basement is full of fifteen year old boys who think they're pirates. They will be gone soon and the house will settle into its normal weeknight quiet. Newton and Einstein will calm down and tomorrow will give all of us a new opportunity, probably many, to demonstrate patience and kindness. I'm tired and need sleep, feel like I've been short on that, lately, too. Happy Halloween.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Full Moon, Saturday Night

In actuality, the full moon was sometime last night, not tonight. I just wanted to use that title. As I was typing it, it occurred to me that Full Moon, Saturday Night was the title of an ER episode from over ten years ago. Just checked. And before I go on, I must say that the internet is a wonderful, fact-filled, quite amazing thing. The episode aired on Thursday, March 30, 1995. It was the twentieth show in ER's first season. I'm trying to remember what was going on in my life at that time, other than watching ER regularly. My sons would have been six and two years of age. The elder in first grade and the younger a toddler who was minded by his mother during the day. I was still sleeping in a waterbed that just a few years later would turn out to be the culprit in my increasing back pain. I sleep in a regular bed now, have since 2002, and my back is very happy with the queen size, pillowtop Spring Air that I snuggle into every night. I find it odd that although more than twelve years have passed since I viewed that episode of ER, I remember so very clearly part of the opening segment of the program. A very large man, who was strapped to a gurney and appeared to be unconscious, suddenly let out a roar and stood up with the gurney still strapped to his back, and began shuffling toward a window. He and the gurney crashed through the window and glass went flying everywhere. I don't recall precisely what happened next but it seems to me that the staff in the er that night didn't get particularly ruffled over the incident. They sighed, maybe did an eyeroll toward heaven, and chalked it all up to the full moon as they went about dealing with their furniture-rearranging patient. Memory is a very odd thing. Like when you wake up from an oh, so vivid dream when the alarm goes off. And for the rest of the day you can't quite shake off the memory of it. I almost always dream, and usually can remember the dreams in detail. But most of the time the memory of the dreams fades as I go through the day and other more immediate experiences fill up my brain. Just the other night I had a dream that still is taking up daylight space in my head. It was a doozy involving a very, very cute young man that I barely know and a grape Tootsie Pop. And without being too graphic, all I will say is that it was sexual in nature although we never touched, and the lollipop did something very interesting and magical when I unwrapped and licked it. Must have been the full moon.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Whys Wise

One of the reasons I started writing this blog was because I read a few other blogs. For the most part these blogs I read are written by people I know pretty well, or at least people I have met. I found myself leaving comments on these blogs that I thought were pretty pithy. So I thought I'd carve out my own little space in this electronic wonderland so my mental meanderings would have a home. Today I checked out a blog that I haven't read for a while. For all of you who care, but also for those of you who don't, it seems that my fake boyfriend, BOJ, has a real-life girlfriend! I would like to congratulate him on this enormous step forward in his life and hope he is WwtK to his heart's content. I wonder now if I will ever see any of those shots of Jagermeister he owes me. I left this comment on his blog earlier this evening:

Such things are never truly finished. Experiences etch memories upon the brain that remain capable of inducing emotional responses. You can't unlearn or undo or unexperience anything that has happened to you. You can hope that the scars you've earned teach valuable lessons and that you've risen above old, unproductive, and unnecessary behaviors. Accept and embrace the fact that the better person you are today is due in part to the past chapters of your life, maybe in particular the ones that weren't all that pleasant. Acknowledge your past, apologize for the harm you've done, and finally, refuse the burden of pain that others may heap upon you. To remain willing to take that leap of faith one more time even when your heart has been broken is a sign of true resilience. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Flash Drive Morality

I'm so proud of myself. Ooops. That's one of the seven deadlies. Oh, well, I guess when I get to the Inferno I'll have to tote around a stone slab on my back to induce some feelings of humility. But I am proud of myself! I just successfully navigated the New Egg website, which was easy, and that surprised me because New Egg is pretty much geek heaven. Anything and everything electronic is available there. Build your own customized computer from scratch. Which my older son has done. Which amazes me. I'm proud of him, too. And since I'm going to refuse to go to confession or otherwise make some other attempt to absolve myself of this deadly sin, I guess I'll be seeing all my best friends in Hell. Wait a minute, I'm not Catholic. Do the repercussions of committing any of the Seven Deadly Sins apply only to Catholics? Not ascribing to the concept of either eternal reward or eternal punishment based on my conduct here on this plane in this life, threatening me with such isn't much of a motivator for me personally. I just do my best on any given day to do what is right, kind, less harmful and good simply because that's how I ought to behave. Being human, I fail at times. And then I do my best to apologize, right the wrong, change my ways. Anyway. What I'm so very proud of myself for is that in a few days I will be the proud owner of a pink 2G flash drive! Then, once I figure out how to use this bit of technological hardware, I will be able to cart around all sorts of useful information. My poetry archive. Music I love. The novel I'm working on. Photos of my cats and sons. Video. All in a cute little pink case. I shall never be a true geek, but I will proudly have a flash drive hanging from a clip on my purse. And if I end up in the deep, nasty recesses of Dante's Inferno for that privilege, I'll not only be surprised, but I hope I get to take the flash drive with me. I'll make sure the first thing I download to it is air conditioning plans and schematics. That and maybe zymurgy instructions.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Easy on the Eyes

Is not Kyle Chandler the most gorgeous man of any age on prime time television? Let me begin by saying that I don't watch tv much at all. I went cold turkey five years ago and ended my affiliation with the local miserable, greedy cable tv company. And I really don't miss it all that much. The worst thing about grabbing a television signal out of the air with an antenna is that the reception isn't all that great. And ironically, the closest station is my local public television station, and it is the one that comes in the lousiest. Even further ironical is the fact that most of the programs I enjoy watching are on that very station. Although now I must admit something that I'm mildly embarrassed over. I watch the NBC drama Friday Night Lights. I'm not embarrassed over the fact that I watch the show, I'm embarrassed over why I started watching it to begin with. That fact would be due to the fact that in my opinion, Kyle Chandler is perhaps the most gorgeous man on tv, and maybe even on the face of this Earth. I'm not the least bit interested in football. Or the trials and tribulations of the citizens of Dillon, Texas. I'm interested in that moment when the camera closes in on Kyle and gives us good long look at those dark, twinkly eyes of his. Fortunately, NBC comes in quite a bit better than PBS through my perched in the garage rafters antenna. Making the whole business of tv watching easier on my eyes. Sort of like Kyle. Who I'm now dedicating my life to adoring from afar. A girl needs a hobby, you know.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Out of the Closet

I love Halloween. Let me repeat that. I love Halloween!!! What's not to love? There's the candy and the dressing up in costumes and parties and the decorations. And then there's that mystical proposition that the boundaries separating the domain of the living and the domain of the dead become thin and diffuse allowing the crossing over from one to the other. I didn't buy candy until this last Saturday which I believe demonstrates considerable will power for me. Alright, I know I caved and bought the monstrous (get it? monstrous!) size bag of Tootsie Pops instead of the sensible smaller bag. But it was a matter of economics. I am by nature a bargain shopper and the big bag worked out to eight cents per pop while the smaller bag worked out to twelve cents per pop. Now that I have fully rationalized that, while enjoying a grape one as I type, on to other matters. Decorating. Halloween decorations are just plain fun. Pumpkins and witches and black cats and haunted houses and lit-up spooky little trees adorned with bats and ghosts! Stop me before I get to my favorite part, the costumes! Oops! Not quick enough! In this house we do not, I repeat, DO NOT purchase any old tacky costume-in-a-bag! We have a strict code of creating our costumes conceived and planned in our own evil little minds! I am almost embarrassed to admit that I have a closet full of costumes. Almost being the key word. My friend Sandy says that I have more clothes in my costume closet than she has in her regular clothes closet. I haven't done an actual count but I'm certain she's exaggerating. Over the years I have created a number of pretty darned cool costumes (and not just for Halloween, how could I limit myself to dressing up just once a year?) for the entire family. I have classics like the French Maid, various hippie outfits, scarecrow, witch, Peter Pan, Viking, pirate, and totes of odd accessories and pieces of clothing for free-form dressing up. Several years ago I whipped up the most excellent devil costumes for my husband and myself. Once we were in them including red make-up, capes, and pointy tails, we were truly unrecognizable. We partied in the bars downtown completely incognito. We shot a couple of games of pool with people we knew and they didn't know it was us! I love Halloween! The very best non-Halloween dressing up that I participated in had to be the girls' weekend when we rented a houseboat. We were quite a sight, all ten of us, out on the docks of the marina in what we called our bad, bad, bad prom and bridesmaid dresses. A van from the fancy downtown hotel came to pick us up and we took the town by storm. The St. James Hotel in Red Wing, Minnesota has a four star restaurant and is an absolutely beautiful restored historic building filled with antiques and quiet, well-behaved patrons. We were not. Ten middle-aged women in tacky dresses, gloves and hats who are out of town, away from their kids and husbands and have a designated driver are not inclined toward genteel behavior. We, in other words, had a very good time as well as a wonderful meal. There's something about donning a costume that makes even the most quiet and shy among us feel at least a little taken out of themselves. Even reserved people might do a thing or two they otherwise would not. The costume gives you permission! You don't quite look like your normal self so why act like your normal self? Let's have some fun! And I promise to limit myself to one Tootsie pop per day. Good thing I bought the big bag, at this rate there should be a few left in the bowl when the trick-or-treaters show up.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Door Number Three

I have been in love twice. Two times. The other dating/relationship experiences were something else. Infatuation. Poor judgment or maybe just poor lighting. Caught up in a fun moment that I spent the remainder of the involvement trying to recreate. A humiliating episode that would turn out to be character building. Something that could have been wonderful except for the timing. In love. Twice. I was married to the first one. And in many respects it was very good. And given our respective amounts of baggage when we hopped on the marital plane I think it worked well most of the time. It was a practical arrangement and was a quite traditional marriage. And oddly, for me anyway, the practicality and tradition were aspects that made it falter and fade. I chose him because I knew he was reliable. That he would be a good father to the children my biological clock was screaming for. That he would go to work and come home at night and be faithful to me. We worked remarkably well together on projects that ranged from adding on to our home to a complete kitchen remodel to building a garden shed. He mowed the lawn and changed the oil in the cars. I cooked the meals and did the laundry and stayed home with our children. For the most part I was happy for a long time. At least I thought that I was. I chose him with my head, too much with my head. I did love him very, very much but I chose him too much with my head and not enough with my heart. So eventually there was something in me that was unsatisfied and unanswered. The second time I fell in love it was a decision made primarily with my hormones. It was an emotional hormonal roller coaster ride which I barely survived and only recently feel as though I have mostly recovered from. But, oh, what a ride it was. Not one that I would care to take again. I loved him deeply and dearly and with a ferocity that often surprised me. He left me with many a cherished memory, just as many hard lessons learned, and a heart so broken I truly thought I would die. Where love grows, so sayeth the song, a fool knows that the hurt can go as deep, don't make a promise that you cannot keep. I am healed but scarred, realistic yet optimistic, and feel ready for love number three to knock at my door. And this time I know that while it is necessary and important for my head and my hormones to be engaged, this time he must first speak to my heart. Third time's the charm, after all.

Saturday, October 6, 2007


I'm a little outspoken. I try to keep tabs on blurting out totally inappropriate things. I do what I tell my kids to do. Read the room before you open your mouth! And most of the time I do. Sometimes I keep quiet when I should have spoken up, and those are the times I regret the most. I can easily tolerate opening my mouth and appearing the fool or the life of the party or the child who notices that the emperor is naked. I rarely have said anything to deliberately hurt someone or cause them to feel badly. Sometimes I inadvertently do just that. And when I do, I readily and sincerely apologize once I remove my foot from my mouth. I have thought at times that my marriage failed due to so much that was left unsaid. Once said and out in the light, so many things could have been resolved and healed rather than being left to fester within. Words unsaid, the road not taken, opportunities not recognized. Although I've had my share of enlightening moments that have shaken me like thunderbolts out of a clear blue sky. Aha!! moments can leave you stricken and speechless but also have a habit of arriving quietly and gently, enveloping you with warmth and wonder and feel as though they were always there. Just waiting for you to be aware enough to comprehend their meaning. Someday I'll learn to whisper rather than shout, to be subtle rather than obvious. And I sure hope the wisdom to know which way to go comes along with the package.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


I have often been heard to remark that I don't believe in coincidences. As if it's a belief system with complex rituals and multiple deities. That's not what I mean, and if I share the dictionary meaning with you, perhaps the muddy shall become clear. A sequence of events that although accidental seems to have been planned or arranged. So what I mean is that while coinciding events may not be neatly planned or arranged, maybe there's more to it. I think part of it has to do with point of view. That when you gain knowledge of say, a particular species of bird or make and model of car, there aren't suddenly more of those birds or cars around to be observed. Your awareness of their existence has been heightened. You've learned something that alters your point of view. The other aspect has to do with another sort of growth altogether. It has more to do with spiritual awareness and a greater ability to see patterns or similarities. And not just in the present, but also looking back. And for the most intuitive among us even what lies ahead. Is it a mere coincidence that in the fall of 1979 that I totaled my car, my apartment flooded and I got involved with Steve? I don't think so! Could it be coincidence that I get involved with Rapid City, Libra musicians who are ultimately unavailable to me? Hah! Which makes me think about how insanity is defined by doing the same thing over and over again with the expectation of a different result. Recognizing your own negative behavior and making an attempt to change it is a monumentally difficult thing for humans to do. If you can identify and face up to the challenge this sort of observation presents and be better for it, you've moved up a rung or two on the evolutionary ladder. At this point in my life I believe it is no coincidence that I have become more thoughtful about such things. I have declared since childhood that I have every intention of living to be 100 years old. If indeed that comes to pass, I have used just slightly over half of my time here. And there are so many things I still want to do! Get that novel published and make my living as a writer. Be a grandmother. Note to sons: the directly previous experience can wait several years! Put a million miles on my new blue Subaru. Find the soulmate for this era of my life and fall in love again. I resolve for this second half of my life to always be curious, laugh every day, and sing and dance even if people might be looking. Good things come in threes. And that is no coincidence.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Grudgingly Grateful

Where am I? Here. And how exactly did I get here? I would guess that the responsible and correct answer to that question would be through a series of decisions and events, some of which I had control over and some which I did not. Have control over. Glad I cleared that up. I'm in a funk. And this funk, it would seem, is a self-inflicted one. I don't even know what that is. How the hell could I be in the middle of a self-inflicted funk if I don't know what one is? I'll have to give that one some thought and get back to you later. A little over two weeks ago I got a lousy haircut. Actually, it's not that bad, it may turn out to be pretty okay, it's just that she took off at least two inches instead of the one inch I requested and cut the layers way too high up. The result is that the curl has gone completely nuts and it's not quite long enough to pull back in a ponytail when it gets unruly. Not that my hair is ever particularly ruly. Anyway, it's calmed down quite a bit and I've received a number of compliments on it. Which totally defeats the purpose of being annoyed by it. It's just hair, and at least on me, it will grow back. So the recent haircut must not be the root of my funkiness. Whenever I feel this way I remind myself that I have a tremendous number of things to be grateful about. And then I get annoyed because that begins to spoil the self-centered pissypityparty I'm slipping into and I have to work at it a little. That's it! A funk may come over me at times for seemingly no real reason but I make an effort to pull myself out of it. So then it requires a conscious effort to fling myself back into it! Thus is born the self-inflicted funk! I think we have a breakthrough! The climb back out of the funk then becomes an exercise in being grudgingly grateful. I remember something I am truly grateful for, like the fact that I love being a mother, even when my sons do things that make me crazy, but I really, really do love them...and so on. It would seem that everything I'm grateful for has the teeniest bit of a downside. Usually the downside portion is hardly worth mentioning. But I mention it anyway. Like I said, I'm grudgingly grateful! Then I might possibly laugh at myself, resulting in an even further departure of the funk I'm now desperately trying to hang onto for reasons I can't remember. When I'm through with the grudging part it's likely I'll end up in a state of genuine gratitude. When I reach this particular state I am able to recognize that I'm actually happy about most of the things in my life. My kids. My friends. My home. My job. My health. Writing. My cats. Even if Newton has lately developed an affection for peeing on my bed. Can I whine just a little because I don't have a man in my life right now? He'd likely end up being just one more thing that I'm grudgingly grateful for. Come to think of it, the only thing I'm wholly grateful for is chocolate. And Christmas. Maybe going out for lunch. Certainly getting to sleep late on weekends. If I'm not careful I'm going to slip right out of this self-inflicted funk.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I'm Distracted

There's this guy. Really? Yeah. Really. And for a number of reasons, quite reasonable ones, actually, he is absolutely and completely unavailable to me. Which I guess is okay. So I tell myself that as long as I realize this fact it's perfectly alright to contemplate inappropriate things about him. Like what he might look like naked. Or how it might feel to be engaged in serious lip-lock with him. Or how his skin smells up close, specifically on that little area of his neck just below his ear and just above his shirt collar. This is safe, I tell myself, as long as these musings remain inside my head. I have no intention of acting on any of them, so, just for fun, I'm giving the monkeys free rein with all these little fantasies. Right now they're fueled with chocolate and hormones and they're running around like crazy, doing frenzied gymnastic maneuvers to a Frank Sinatra soundtrack. He has this twinkly-eyed thing going when he smiles. The guy, not the monkeys, we're back to him again. I have actually caught myself positioning my point of view in such a manner so that I can look at his ass! Which is fine. His ass, not the fact that I'm looking at it. And the sexiest thing that he does that nearly makes me swoon (I can't believe that I typed the word swoon!) is that he is a terrific listener. Whenever I have occasion to speak to him, he sets aside whatever he may be doing at the moment, gives me his full attention, makes clear and unwavering eye contact, and listens to me. I have noticed that when he speaks to others, the same thing happens! And if possible, the fact that he does this with others is even more appealing than when he does the same with me. On one level, that may sound deeply disturbed and voyeuristic. But that's just fine. It also makes twenty or so of the monkeys do backflips on their trampoline. For just a moment yesterday, something odd happened. We were having a conversation and for one tiny millisecond of time, I felt like he looked right through me. That he saw all the darkest thoughts running through my brain that center around him. And I felt a chill inside as though my secret had been revealed. But no. It was just my imagination. But sometimes I wonder if there really are any secrets, any really good ones, that can be kept for very long.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Acceptance vs Understanding

For a number of years I've been engaged in a quest for spiritual wholeness. At least that's the best way I have of describing the concept. I was baptized, Sunday schooled and confirmed in the Lutheran church under the care of a doubting mother and an atheist Southern-Baptist-raised father. But it didn't take on me. So in one way or another I've been searching for something to fill that spiritual void inside. Along the way I've run across a number of interesting concepts that I like for their sheer logic and simplicity. Consider acceptance versus understanding. It's an Eastern notion that I have made a real effort to incorporate into my everyday thought process since I first became aware of it eight or so years ago. A vs E is incredibly simple and has given me a deeper sense of peace when pondering life's various issues. It goes like this. In the Western, or more specifically, American mindset, we don't just ask for, we often demand the understanding of something before we are willing to accept it. In Eastern thinking we are introduced to the idea that often, if we will only accept, understanding follows. And the understanding that comes to an open, accepting mind is clearer and easier to incorporate into your life than the up-front variety that is colored by stubbornness and preconceived notions. I have found that this way of thinking is a tremendous stress reducer. It's calming and rational and meditative. Not the easiest thing for us to wrap our American brains around, but worth the effort. Try it. But you'll have to accept the idea before you can truly understand and benefit from it. And if you think that sounds like a catch-22, you just might be right. Then again, being right isn't necessarily the road to happiness.

Monday, September 10, 2007

September Meanderings

Yes, it is September. A between seasons sort of month. Evidenced by the fact that I have just taken an hour-long bubble bath and donned my fleece and flannel jammies with the penguins decorating the pants and have just now finished a warm, sweet and rich cup of hot chocolate, and have a pair of recently cast-off pair sandals nearby and I really, really need to mow the lawn before the ash trees in the front yard dump their annual load of leaves there. The autumnal equinox approaches in just over a week. Which is also the pagan holiday Mabon where we honor the crones of our tribes. A celebration I am heartily in favor of since cronehood could descend upon me at pretty much any time. Although I was recently told by a very nice young man that he couldn't believe that I'm fifty, citing my relative lack of decrepitness. I'm not entirely sure if decrepitness is a word, but it does sound kind of cool for something that in reality is rather icky. I know so many adjectives, so many infinitely better ones than icky, but icky just seemed to fit. Tomorrow I need to hit the snooze only once and get out of bed a few minutes earlier. We are taking a group staff photo at work so I must make more than my normal minimal efforts in the primping department. Since I got my hair trimmed this evening I have no idea what it will do tomorrow, so much depends on the relative humidity and the hair-tousling wind force between the car and the door to the building. Nothing a little water or a tress-taming scrunchie can't handle. I have just been seized by a craving for an orange scone, the likes of which are available at Panera bakeries. Alas, the nearest Panera is fifty miles away in Sioux Falls, so I shall have to tuck this craving away until my next trip south. I also have been wondering of late how it is that I have become entangled repeatedly with Libra musicians who live in Rapid City. I really need to find a new rut. Possibly involving sharing Panera pastries with a guy who doesn't live hundreds of miles away and worships me while I sleep in on weekend mornings. I'd let him call me his goddess. Or his crone. As long as he shows up with an orange scone he may call me whatever he likes.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

To Read. Or Not

Three years ago my friend Sue invited me to join the book group she participated in. I said sure. She loaned me the book that had been chosen for reading and discussion, a collection of three short stories by Willa Cather. The first meeting I attended fazed me just a little. This was a group of smart women. Very, very smart, very educated women. Librarians and English professors. I was certain that as soon as I opened my mouth I would be found out for the undereducated, slothful, pea-brain that I am. I was pleasantly surprised. These were smart, educated women to be sure. But they were also into opening a few bottles of wine and serving wonderful food. We had much more in common than not in common and I was comfortable almost immediately. There are even a couple of potty-mouthed ladies in addition to moi. Salty language flying about is normal and colorful metaphors are appreciated. In the last three years I have read a number of books that I otherwise would not have read. Most of them I enjoyed, only a couple I did not so much enjoy. I always enjoyed the discussion at our monthly meetings. Sometimes the group was evenly divided over the like/dislike issue. This resulted in lively and sometimes heated exchanges of opinion, but there was always respect despite the difference. Only a couple of times was the group enthusiastically in unison in loving a particular selection, and never was any one book completely dissed. I regret that I have missed attending for an entire year now! I hate it when working full time intrudes upon my fun! When I received the email last week announcing the September book choice and who was hosting, I wandered out of the computer room to the bookcases in the family room. I actually had a dusty paperback copy of Carson McCuller's The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. And I've had it for a long time! I bought it new and it bears the staggering price of one dollar and fifty cents. I remembered little about it and began reading it that evening. I'd forgotten so much about the story it was almost as if I was reading it for the first time. I'm nearly halfway finished with it now, and have discovered that I won't be able to attend this Wednesday's group. I have a work function to attend and regret that once more I will miss the book group meeting. I am going to keep reading the monthly selections, though, and maybe this winter I'll manage to show up for book group. Sort of like doing the homework but never making it to class. A classy class of very smart women complemented by food and wine.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The List

Last winter I made this list. Even before I read the book that recommended that I should make such a list. Much in the same way that I framed and displayed my children's artwork and stacked old suitcases to make a bedside table before, yes, before such ideas appeared in Martha Stewart Living. Sometimes I'm ahead of the curve. So I made this list because I was feeling thoughtful about the qualities that I admired and appreciated in a man. And maybe if I listed these qualities it would help me make healthy decisions in the future should an interesting man worthy of my attention wander into view. The list in its final form contains twenty-two points, all of which are important to me, but only three or four are deal-breakers. Meaning that a man who encompasses all twenty-two qualities would likely be a miracle, so some of them are just nice touches, things that would make him terribly endearing at the get-go, but may not be evident initially, or could be things he would aspire to if he became aware of their importance to me. The few that are deal-breakers are probably things so entrenched in a person that they are not likely to change, and at this point in my life I don't have the energy or time to invest in such a cause. One woman's fixer-upper is another woman's move-in condition. Or something like that. So here's my list. For your perusal and entertainment. If you see such a man, do send him my way.

Bellona’s Grown-Up Wish List For a Man

That She Could Love

1. Healthy, or at least working on it, in mind, body, and spirit.

2. He should smile not just with his mouth but also with his eyes.

3. Doesn’t have to have a regular day job but should be responsible with money.

4. Not too neat and buttoned-up appearance-wise, a little rumpled and goofy is so sexy!

5. He must read! And interested in all kinds of ideas and be able to discuss without lecturing.

6. He must have a creative outlet. Music, painting, drawing, writing. I would love to have someone to sing and/or write with.

7. He must have some sort of spiritual calling, belief in a higher power, feel a connection to the earth as well as the stars.

8. No addictions! Well, coffee’s okay. Nicotine or any tobacco use not okay! Drug or alcohol abuse not okay, but if in the past a history of sobriety essential.

9. Not rigid or negative or angry in thought, anal or overly critical.

10. Able to talk about and express feelings.

11. Must be kind, love animals, laugh easily.

12. Must be comfortable and content at home but also be up for travel, adventure, shared experiences.

13. Must appreciate simple pleasures like cheeseburgers, naps, garden tomatoes, a lovely glass of wine, holding hands, reading to a child, bubble baths and massages.

14. Must be comfortable with affection.

15. Would it be too much to ask if he would rub my feet?

16. Must be confident enough in our bond to let me have my own time and interests away from him.

17. He must love my sons! And my cats.

18. Maybe we could live together in the mountains or near water, build a house that is ours, not mine or his.

19. He must be a grown-up! So I don’t have to be all the time.

20. We must be able to tell each other, in a kind and constructive way, about things that bother/irritate us about each other.

21. He’ll have to dance with me.

22. He must be able to commit to a faithful and monogamous relationship.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor of Love

Labor Day. It's a holiday. And while I'm a little whiney about going back to work full time and full throttle this week, I got paid for today because I'm full time once again and get paid for holidays! I also have a batch of banana walnut muffins in the oven. I've taken a brief leave of the kitchen to give the dish faeries an opportunity to clean up after me. I sincerely believe in them and one of these days they will indeed show up. I thought I met the Queen of the dish faeries a few years ago. Our friend Jon had shown up with his friend Christine to spend a few days with us. Christine was a tall, twinkly-eyed, red-haired young lady from Ireland. Jon had met her a few years earlier on a trip over to the Emerald Isle and they had kept in touch. He invited her over for a tour of the USA, including golf, Mount Rushmore, fishing and, a stop at our house. Christine was so very, very cool. We couldn't bear to tell Jon that he was not even the tiniest bit close to her league. We were just happy that he brought her across the Atlantic to spend a few days with us! I cooked up a storm for our guests, just a little thing that I do, and after dinner I had left a few things to clean up the next morning. I don't know about you, but I'd rather sit on the deck with a glass of wine in my hand after dinner and watch the sun set with friends than polish up the kitchen and miss all the fun. To my surprise and delight, the next morning I heard cleaning-up sounds emanating from the kitchen. Christine, Christine, Dish Faerie Queen, was washing up the few things from the night before. She flashed me a smile and put a cup of coffee in my hand. Cleaning up after your family is something of a labor of love. Christine was cleaning up my mess and I adored her for it. Maybe it was just her lilting Irish accent that made her seem akin to the faeries to me. She remains in my heart though the time we spent together was short. It's funny how you can spend just a few days, sometimes just a few hours with someone, and you immediately connect. And even if you never see each other again, you're left with lingering, lovely memories and swear you had known them for years. I'm still just a little annoyed with Jon for not being cool enough for Christine to marry him. But I'm forever grateful to Christine for helping me believe in the faeries.

Friday, August 31, 2007


I don't remember precisely when my younger son developed a fear of going into the water. I do remember that as an infant he wasn't happy about bath time. And I do remember that as a toddler we had to keep a close eye on him when the family was checking into a hotel. He had an uncanny sense, or maybe just a good nose for the scent of chlorine, and would make a beeline for the pool. If the pool happened to be in an open area either his father or I would catch him by the back of his OshKosh overalls just as he was about to leap in. Looking at him now, it's hard to believe there was a time when he didn't like the water. He dives, he swims, he goes off the high board and effortlessly finds his way to the edge of the pool. But somewhere around the age of three he acquired an aversion to water. He refused to go into anything bigger than a bathtub. No amount of coaxing or pleading would convince him to get even a toe wet. At the age of four, when I hoped to enroll him in the first level of swimming lessons, it became clear this was going to be impossible. Though I was labeled permissive by some who actually had the gall to remark to me that his father and I should show him who ran things, ignore his cries of terror, and force him to endure swimming lessons. No, I thought. I didn't have a clue what was going on in his little boy head that made him fear the water. But I didn't believe that bullying him into contact with it was going to help. A summer of watery adventures missed slipped by. And then another. Which brought us to Labor Day weekend 1997. We were in Omaha visiting friends and taking in the zoo and other local attractions. It had been a long, hot, dusty day at the zoo and then an evening barbecue. When we got back to our hotel it was late and dark. Our older son cast a longing eye toward the outdoor pool which was open until midnight. Thinking that a dip in the cool water would be refreshing and relaxing, we all ducked into the room to dig our suits out of suitcases, locate towels and get changed. As we left the room, dad and older son were already near the edge of the pool several yards away. I looked down at my dear little five year old son and held out my hand to him. He took it and we crossed the parking lot and entered the gate to the pool area. While I set our towels down on a chair, he took up his usual spot, sitting on the edge of the pool, his knees pulled up to his chest. The swimming trunks he was wearing had only seen water in the washing machine. I carefully descended the steps into the pool, keeping an eye on him while his dad and brother splashed and goofed off at the other end of the pool. I don't know what it was about that night. Maybe it was the outdoor pool under the starlit sky. Maybe he was just ready. I extended my arms toward him and smiled, expecting him to draw his little legs up even tighter. But he relaxed and smiled back and held his open arms out to me and slipped into the water. I caught him and we laughed. For the next hour and a half he wore himself out climbing out and jumping back in. He had made friends with the water. In his own time and on his own terms. Just as I knew he would. It serves me well to remember this as a lesson, as this is often his approach to overcoming whatever scares or perplexes this son of mine. I need to be patient and let him find his own way. Because in the end, it is ever so much more important that the victory belongs to him.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thursday Edition

Do consume as many fresh garden tomatoes as you possibly can. Don't buy a Dodge Stratus. Cute car, lousy transmission. Do hug your friends. Especially the ones you haven't seen in a while. Don't install a light fixture unless you have turned off the appropriate electrical breaker. Do read a newspaper instead of getting your news from television! My friend Colleen's house is having an off-its-foundation experience and will soon move out of town in a northerly direction. Tomorrow is the last day of August. That means next week I go back to work full time. My painting project is done! That must be what I did all summer. The younger son has been back in school for nearly a week. My older son is moving back into the dorm this weekend. They are my sophomores this year. I expect great things from these wise idiots of mine. My supervisor at work has the cutest baby boy! And I'm sure that has nothing to do with the fact that he was born on my birthday and has the same middle name as me. I am so tired right now I swear I could sleep for a week. Sandy and I enjoy saying the word "phompsis", which is a group of fungi that cause disease in soybeans. Not a funny thing at all, but a very funny word. Say it. Come on. Phompsis, phompsis, phompsis. I just know that my younger son is going to come in here before he goes to bed and share some disturbing fact with me that will lodge in my head and give me bad dreams tonight. Don't forget that September 19th is Talk Like a Pirate Day. I'm not crazy about my surname but it's better than my maiden name, so I was thinking about just changing my last name to one of my own choice just for fun. It is just weirder than you can possibly imagine to hear a totally ludicrous rumor about yourself that is completely untrue. Did I mention that I'm pooped? And that I could use a shower? I've been sticking pretty close to home the last couple of months, I didn't go on my semi-planned birthday road trip in July. I bought a leather couch instead. I'm so very happy that tomorrow is Friday. If this week were any longer I just don't know if I could manage it! Newton and Einstein are on their evening romp through the house. It's quite amazing how a couple of nine pound cats can sound like a herd of rampaging buffalo. I have a list of twenty-two items that would make up the ideal man for me. Item number fifteen states that he should joyfully massage my feet. Pretty much on demand. And as far as me and my tired feet are concerned, he could show up any time soon.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Precipitative Consequences and Lunacy

It's been raining. Which brought the lawn back to life. So this morning I mowed the lawn for the first time in nearly two months. It was overdue but manageable. Rain also makes the weeds grow! But it also softens the ground making weeding possible, not merely easier. I pulled a ton of weeds from my moon garden and it is nice and tidy once more. One can now appreciate the white blossoms of the petunias, alyssum, and chrysanthemum. Ready for tonight's full moon and complete eclipse. For those of you who are unaware of what a moon garden is, it is simply a flower patch planted with only white-blossoming flowers. On a full moon night, and the nights of the week surrounding a full moon, I can look out my bedroom window and see a sea of white flowers floating in the glowing near-darkness. It is absolutely lovely to the eye as well as to the nose. A mass planting of petunias and alyssum in bloom leaves a heady perfume on the breeze. I will be awake in the wee hours of Tuesday to observe as much of the eclipse as possible. Although I know a lunar eclipse is created by the Earth's shadow across the moon when when we pass between la Luna and the sun, that fact alone really doesn't cross my mind while I'm under the night sky taking in the celestial show. Such a sight must speak to my inner cavewoman, the event is a spiritual experience for me that doesn't ask for an explanation. I am humbled by the endless sky and in awe of the universe just as our ancestral humans must have been.