Thursday, June 30, 2011

Goodbye June, Hello July

I'm just a little whiny due to some tummy trouble. But I've also viewed about forty episodes of thirtysomething in the last week, so whining feels natural. I now have 27 titles on my Netflix instant queue! Suddenly it has become summer and it's kinda hot out there. Feels good to be in the basement office. This may bode well for selling the air conditioner that was left over after my garage sale. It even has a remote! Only eight more mornings for the dutiful call-in-to-work call til my next ortho appointment. Yessirree, will the fourth ortho doc be the charm? Number three certainly wasn't! My birthday, camping, biking, live music weekend rapidly approaches. And LindaCo and I might just wave at each other from opposite sides of I90. It would be fun if we could coordinate to have coffee or a cool drink somewhere along the way. I am currently tabbing over to Facebook where I'm having a spirited and amusing discussion on the English language and its various vagueries. Oh, and despite my intestinal ills, I managed to buck up and submit some poems for publication. And maybe $$! Maybe just copies of the magazine. Six weeks til the deadline. I get knocked down, but I get up again. Where does this relentless optimism come from when I'm half Norwegian and was raised Lutheran? Must be the Southern half. I'll keep y'all posted.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ode to Tom Petty

They passed on my novel, but the poetry collection is still under consideration. Tomorrow is the final day of the submission period for this publisher. And yes, I am checking my email every five seconds. Indeed, the waiting is the hardest part.

PS: At 2:59 this afternoon, they also passed on my poetry collection. Back to square one...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Destination Anthropologie

That's it. I'm moving to Anthropologie. Not the store, the catalog. I long to be fabulously lit and wear frothy dresses at all times. And be surrounded by every delectable shoe and boot you can imagine, but wander about barefoot. A magical place where you don't need to bathe yet you always smell pretty. Bad hair days just do not happen. If they do, it's bed-head ala artsy, and you've just risen from slumber in 800 count Egyptian cotton sheets with coordinated pillows and a big, pouffy comforter.

Monday, June 27, 2011

No Place Like Home

I Googled painting yellow dress piano. And there it was, on the first page of images. My parents had a print of this painting, I think it may have been a wedding gift. Martine and I didn't find it among Mom's things when we went through them last fall. I was really hoping we would run across it. I wanted to have it, and not because I particularly like it. When I was growing up, we moved a little. Okay, a lot. By the time I was married and moved into the house I still live in, I remembered more previous addresses than I was years old. It felt good to finally be settled. That was twenty-five years ago. This painting meant home to me when I was a child. When it was unpacked and hung on the living room wall, we were going to be there for a while. I pretended that the woman seated at the piano was Mom and it annoyed me more than a little that the daughter was blonde. I wondered what it would be like to live in such a house with fresh roses and fancy carpets and a mysterious staircase that disappeared behind the blue curtain. That house was where I wanted to live. I'd love to find a print of this painting now, and maybe with a little more time I'll find the title of it or the artist's name. There's no place like home, Dorothy fervently wished as she clicked the heels of her ruby slippers together. She was right.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Once on the flatlands of eastern South Dakota
One weary drunkard lost his way...

I have arrived at a musical explanation for Friday night. Brigadoon is somewhere near here, and one of its inhabitants escapes and shows up to haunt the bars of Brookings just one night per year. Based on my calculations, this date is June 24th. All I know is, next June I'm going to make sure I'm out of town. Beware. Vampires aren't the only undead creatures we need to worry about. Pass the garlic.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


I hope you heard today's title in the voice of Cookie Monster. That's how I typed it. But these things are experienced individually rather than en masse. Whatever that means. But first, a confession. Come closer. I don't like chocolate chip cookies. Don't tell anyone! Because the Committee on UnAmerican Cookie Activities will be breaking down my front door before you can say Orange Milanos. Which I do like. But because I'm a good mother and because Reid mowed the lawn, I baked chocolate chip cookies as promised. The first time I whipped up this particular recipe was the day before Michael was born. I was so enormous that I had one outfit that fit that I wore out in public and at home I lived in a tent-like blue chambray nightgown. Imagine this. On the day before her first child was to be born, in a kitchen somewhere in the midwest, stands a woman great with child peering through the smoked glass window of her oven. She is wearing a blue nightgown. She is weeping. You know, hormones. She is speaking on the phone to her best friend. I'm baking cookies, she sobs, and pauses. But you don't know the worst of it! I'm pregnant, and I'm baking cookies, and I'm barefoot! At least I think I'm barefoot, I can't see my feet! The cookies were a hit, and the most beautiful, smartest, and most adorable baby boy was born the next day. If you like chocolate chip cookies, I'm sharing the recipe. I can't guarantee you'll give birth the next day, but at least you'll have cookies. You're welcome.

Mrs Field's Style Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups oatmeal (measure first then grind to flour-like consistency)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
12 oz. bag chocolate chips

375* 6 minutes

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Smell My Feet!

I probably don't post enough on this subject. At least not as far as my foot fetish fan base is concerned. I am wearing Revlon 320 Ocean Breeze. I added some polka dots in French White just for fun. That big toe nail is just too large a canvas to be monochromatic. But I digress. The question is, is Ocean Breeze the color? The scent? Or both? And why add scent to nail polish to begin with? I like the color, but the red label proclaiming Scented When Dry didn't clinch the sale. So if you saw me earlier, in some sort of yoga pretzel position, that was me trying to catch the aroma of my toes. Which is something light and sweet, sort of reminds me of cotton candy. Maybe they should have called it that. Unless Revlon didn't want to be responsible for people eating the stuff. Ocean Breeze certainly hints at something you smell as opposed to taste or see. You could hear it, though. Feel it, too. I'm not about to stick my ear down near my toes hoping to hear the ocean, so get that right out of your little brains. I do like the color. And as far as nail polish is concerned, that's really all I ask.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Laundry Day

These are MY towels, you hear me! Mine!!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Michael!

There they are. My boys. Reid, to the left, recently turned 19. He enjoys being taller than his big brother. Michael, to the right, with blue hair, is 23 today. Meaning that I have been a mother for 23 years. Mom. It's a pretty good gig, though not for the faint of heart. I recommend it.

Playing Doctor

Okay, so I've been dealing with constant pain and stiffness in both of my hands for over two years. In three weeks I'm seeing my fourth orthopedic doctor. We've ruled out a number of syndromes and diseases, among them arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome. But nailing down just what is going on has remained difficult and mysterious. For more than a year, I've been Googling around with various symptoms and fancy names for nerve and muscular structures within the hand and wrist. I don't remember what magical combination of words I typed into the search window tonight, I only know that it led me here. To something called Myofascial Pain Syndrome. And it's like they interviewed me to write the article. If this is what I have, and that is yet to be determined, there is good news and bad news. The good news is knowing and learning how to live with it. Because the bad news is there isn't a cure. The damage is done and usually cannot be reversed. The healing over of microscopic tears from injury in the fascia, creating scar tissue (in my case, repetitive trauma to the palms of my hands) is what causes the syndrome. More good news is that the physical therapy that helped relieve the pain, the stretching, heat and massage, are the very therapies that are recommended for pain management. Further research has revealed to me that nerve studies are inconclusive. Check! Patients are prescribed many medications, none of which are very effective. Check! Patients are incorrectly diagnosed with DeQuervain's Tendinosis and/or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Check! Surgery is ineffective and often results in the return of symptoms. Check! Sleep is interrupted by pain. Check! Like my sister Pam says, I've got a diagnoses, what's your problem? I'd like one, too. A correct one with a therapy plan. So I can get on with my life. Freed from the Twilight Zone that is Work Comp. I'm not crazy, well maybe I am, but that's a whole 'nother blog post. Maybe I have Myofascial Pain Syndrome.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Wal-Mart Observations

Good news or bad news first? Really? Good it is!

Uplifting: When I was leaving with my purchases, I saw a young father, with four kids, four kids!, all elementary school age or younger, gather up his bags and admonish his children, now, all of you, hold hands! Gotta hold hands in the parking lot to be safe, hold your brother's hand! And they did. One little girl broke rank a few feet from the door and her brother reminded her that they must hold hands. She laughed and complied. It was pretty darn adorable.

Mildly Depressing: They're remodeling! Spiffing things up with new signs and new shelving and other display hardware. It's just that when they're will still be Wal-Mart. Sigh.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

All Dressed Up!

When Martine and I were in Omaha last month, we had to go shopping. Just a little. After the hotel shuttle deposited us at the Old Market and we had dinner, it became necessary to walk off eleven or twelve calories. We meandered in and out of a number of stores and weren't really looking for or at anything in particular. Then, this skirt, it spoke to me. Shouted actually. I had to buy it and promise it I'd get married in it so it would shush up.

Look at all the pretty details on the handkerchief hem. I had to try it on. Once I had worn it I was under its magical spell. I had to buy it. Come on! If I'd stolen it the skirt would have ended up being much more expensive! Because I look guilty even when I'm behaving and would never have gotten away with it.

The problem with a skirt, even a gorgeous one, is that it's only half an outfit. So later, while shopping with Colleen, I found this wonderful shrug sweater to tie on over the top of, well, whatever I found to go under it.

And what works better than a cami? A simple, no frills cami in a darker shade of beige. The skirt is turning out to be a bit of a diva. She's insisting on being the star of this outfit.

And as Miss Clairee Belcher from Steel Magnolias said, the only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize. Who can argue with that, I ask you? All this beige required a pop of color, provided by this lovely necklace I found at Coldwater Creek. The little coppery hoop earrings go well with it and I already had the shoes. Now I just need a wedding invitation. And based on the promise I made to the skirt, the invitation needs to be pretty specific. As in a proposal. The line forms to the left.

Pheromone Groan

Because I don't know the proper term for this human vocalization, I am hereby christening it the pheromone groan. It's that low, guttural, visceral utterance that bursts forth from you when you observe a member of the particular sex you find attractive doing pretty much anything. Just standing there can inspire the pheromone groan. Sometimes it sneaks up on you out in public. We'll call this form the ninja pheromone groan, or the NPG. This happened to me this morning. I was minding my own business, pedaling along in fourth gear on the bike trail. Up ahead, still a ways off, was a very, shall we say, well made young man. Taking a breather from running and stretching near a bench off to the side of the trail. This was entertaining enough. Then, without warning, he hopped up on the bench and crouched, then leaned forward off the front of the bench and began doing push-ups with his hands on the grass and his toes on the bench! I was seized by the NPG. I was grateful as I passed by that he was iPod equipped with, I hope, firmly placed ear buds. You need a good, solid NPG once in a while. Just so you know you're still alive.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sticking It To The Cable TV Bastards

It's so tiny! My Roku is about the size of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The most difficult thing about setting it up was not being able to remember the password for my own home wireless internet. My most brilliant son who is in Seattle interviewing with Google (yessssssss!) provided me with the code via text message. Then up and down the stairs a couple of times with activation codes and to install Netflix. Now, if you'll excuse me, Glee is calling.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Roku plus Netflix equals television nirvana. Repeat after me. Ooooooohhhhhhhmmmmmm.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Detour to Dorkville

I love a Venn Diagram, don't you? I'm feeling socially inept yet I am obsessing about something that is, in the bigger Venn Diagram of Life, pretty inconsequential. Nothing like a little Facebook faux pas to send you directly to dorkdom. Do not pass go, do not collect Star Trek memorabilia. Go directly to dorkdom. Let's make this quick and painless, shall we? Facebook foists upon its users numerous as well as stealthy enhanced features. Sometimes they give you warning, like the most recent auto send a message when you hit enter feature. If you don't shut it off right then and there, it assumes you think this new feature is way cool and doesn't warn you again. Leaving you vulnerable to its there is no unsend button capriciousness. Add to this the fact that my cat, Einstein, was in my lap and attempting a leap up onto the desk. Meaning that I sent an email message to someone I didn't intend to send one to. Must you ask? No. There were no inappropriate photos or anything risque sent off that will come back to haunt me later. So. I shut off the auto send feature. After I took the detour to dorkville. I'm fine now.

Sweetened Condensed Love

A while back I made this list. Since then, being a pragmatist, I've decided that I should offer the Reader's Digest Condensed version. For your perusal, whittled down from twenty-two points of interest to seven, be impressed with my revised and succinct list.

1. Talk to me. Not just to fill the quiet, but to share what's going on in your head. No one is a mind reader, and no one should be expected to be. Share with me your deepest and darkest places and trust that I will not judge you.

2. Accept me. For the ever passionate, deeply flawed, relentlessly optimistic, work-in-progress human that I am.

3. Never hold back. I can take it! I am resilient and strong. I am capable of growth and accommodation. Do your best to be kind where this is concerned.

4. Fuck my brains out. Regularly.

5. Miss me when we're apart. Be with me in the moment when we're together.

6. Appreciate me. Bring me a flower once in a while. Cook a meal. Tell me I'm pretty. Kiss me often. Hold my hand. Be generous.

7. Love me, love me, love me. And trust that as you do these things for me, I will do them for you in return.

Monday, June 13, 2011


When did this happen? Most likely when I was busy with something, like my life. Running errands. Going to work. Jotting down a grocery list. Baking cookies. Sorting laundry. Sleeping. Because it's a process, you know, this getting from point A to point B. It's not just the arriving, it's in the business of getting there. And just this morning, while I was still in my pajamas, hair uncombed and teeth unbrushed, I puzzled over why I ever lost a moment's sleep or shed a single tear over him. For any of you who might think that the opposite of love is hate, you couldn't be more wrong. The opposite of love is indifference. He doesn't matter any more. And that's just fine with me.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

For the Birds

I don't know how the whole bird theme came about in my living room. But there it is. In fact, the birds are not confined to just one room, they seem to have migrated throughout the house. There are bird figurines, a bird pillow, a framed print of birds perched on a wire. Not to mention all of those pink flamingos out in the yard. As well as actual birds. And now, I have a coffee cup with a bird on it. In fact, I have two of them. It's my favorite cup now, at least one of them is. I can't really distinguish one from the other. I also have this thing for blue and white dinnerware. So as they say on Antiques Roadshow, this here mug has crossover appeal with collectors. All I know is, the coffee tastes particularly good from this cup. And I like how it fits in my hands. Birds, I've heard, are the closest contemporary relative to the long extinct dinosaur. That must be why I like them.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Curb Appeal

My front yard! I have a tendency to be very enthusiastic about keeping up the yard early in the season. Years of experience have shown me that this initial enthusiasm dwindles over the summer months. So I'm showing you now. While I still care.

Something new this year are these hanging wire baskets. I do like the look, particularly those trailing accent plants.

This was the look not all that long ago! There was a snow bank that lingered in the backyard well past the middle of April. No, those pink flamingos near the house aren't native to the area. Amazing how they've acclimated and stick around all winter, though!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Even More Puzzling

I know, it's not terribly clear. But click on the above photo and take a look. Everything is legible except the crossword puzzle! Is this some sort of revived ancient language? The newspaper version of backward masking? Perhaps a message in code from another planet? Hmmmm? Actually, if you back away a bit and squint, it sort of resolves into regular English words. I called the paper and they provided a copy of the on-line paper. I was able to print out a legible copy of the puzzle so all was well. Cuneiform, maybe? Runes? Elvish? Vulcan? Okay. Fine. Sloppy printing it is.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


I love jigsaw puzzles. So does Larry, Miss Pamela Jean's daddy. He has a table with one going all the time. He can pause to puzzle over it whenever he has time. Maybe place a piece or two. Maybe just admire the progress of the picture taking shape. Like in the photo I snapped at the El Capitan Hotel in Van Horn, Texas last November. Tucked away in a corner between the lobby and dining room, guests may stop and do the same. I love this idea. And now that I have acquired a table suitable for this purpose, I can have a puzzle in progress, too! Just as soon as I find a suitable corner and move the table in from the garage. And since Larry was kind enough to send a shopping bag full of puzzles home with me a year ago, I'm all set for puzzling. This is going to be fun.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Martine!

See the cute little blonde with the very shiny hair? Just over there, the one on the far right with her big toe pointing at the ceiling. It's her birthday today! And we're not saying how old. Because age is just a state of mind. Said the older sister.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Breakfast Conversation With Reid

Reid: It doesn't seem like a good structural material for tools.

Me: What?

Reid, holding aloft a Little Sizzler on a fork: Sauce. During the SauceAge.

Me: Groan!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ahhhh, Summer

Hammock days are here again...
You could sing this.
If you really wanted to.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Why didn't I think of this before?!?! It's all clear now! I have arrived at an understanding of why I feel compelled to be a published writer! And at the same time fulfill my deep dark dreams of being in a rock band. I want to join the ranks of Roy Blount Jr, Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver, Amy Tan, and Dave Barry, among others! I want to be a Rock Bottom Remainder!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

All Better!

Before, view 1

Before, view 2

After, view 1

After, view 2

Yes, Virginia, some things can be fixed with spackle, paint, and elbow grease. Mom's nerves aren't so easily repaired, but she's working on it. Don't you love it when I talk about myself in the third person?

Friday, June 3, 2011


Highlights of day five of GraduWeduation Weekend

*Up early, put on our pretty dresses, or in Reid's case, the better black jeans and the shirt with buttons, and off to Falls Park!

*It was windy. It was verrrrrry windy. An equal opportunity bad hair day for all. But I must say we looked fabulous anyway.

*Fun with conjugation! I'll go slow, try to follow. I am now a mother-in-law. So I'm the Milly. Liz is my daughter-in-law. She's a Dilly! Michael is a Silly! Martine and Pam are the Tillys! Well, in Spanish speaking countries they are!

*The entire wedding party proceeded to Perkin's for replenishment after the ceremony. In honor of the bridal couple, who had their first date at a Perkin's restaurant. A fun tradition that I heartily endorse. I appreciate an eating establishment where one can enjoy a chocolate malt with their bacon and eggs. As I did. I shared with the Tillys.

*All too soon it is time to usher Pam to the airport for her flight back to Atlanta. We miss her already. And still do.

*Martine and I hit I29 South, bound for Omaha, where she departs the following day for Tucson. We checked into a hotel near the airport and were ready to settle for the marginal-looking drive-in with a patio establishment next door for dinner. That is, until Josh behind the front desk, who was skillfully managing our check-in, said the magic word. Shuttle. We have a shuttle that goes to Old Market, where you can choose from dozens of fine restaurants, bars, entertainment, and unique shops. We nearly fainted from sheer joy. Then freshened up and had a lovely meal at Vivace. Shuttle. It's a magic word.

*I'm a Milly!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Sues Have It

Down in Mississippi, up to no good. Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles immortalizes her mother Carla Sue's wilder days in song. Martine told me that whenever she hears this song, she thinks of me. My sis and I do have Mississippi roots, our father is a native Mississipian. It was briefly my state of residence as a toddler, three or so years before my sister was born. We moved back up to the northern plains, but a bit of Mississippi remains in our blood. One small detail, I am a Carla Jean, but one night way back in the spring of 1984, I was an honorary Carla Sue. My room mate at the time, Brenda Sue, was in the middle of her most recent breakup with her boyfriend. We normally dealt with this particular turn of events by going downtown and consuming inappropriate amounts of alcohol. I was likely the designated driver as well as the designated shoulder to cry on that night. We wandered into the Lantern Lounge and encountered a table of women that Brenda knew. They invited us to join them. We did. As introductions went around the table, an interesting fact emerged. Every single one of those ladies had the same middle name! Sue! Brenda Sue, Paula Sue, Penny Sue, Patty Sue! I smiled sheepishly and announced that my name was Carla (pause) Jean. They were audibly disappointed. I was, too. I've always had some difficulty fitting in with a group of women, I seem to have qualities that keep me on the outside looking in. Never completely accepted, never entirely embraced. The Sues didn't know this of me, they were just girlfriends out on the town for the evening. After an agonizing silence of likely just a few seconds, one of them proclaimed me an honorary Sue. Just for that evening, mind you, but I would be allowed to stay at the table. I was relieved. And grateful. I remember this incident fondly, and only recently have I learned a true lesson from it. Over the years, in countless relationships, I have consciously abandoned one thing or another that is dear to me. So I would be included. Allowed to stay. Many things come at a price, and it is up to any one of us to determine if that cost is worth the price of admission. And as a more peripheral friend to the most recent group of women I have been summarily drummed out of confided in me: I really wanted to be one of you, to be in the inner circle. To experience the intense and profound relationships that I observed between you. But now that I've seen how they have treated you, I know that it's too high a price to pay. At least for me it is. The Sues may have it. But in my heart I'll always be a Jean.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

In Any Other Size...

My newest obsession in the candy aisle. They're tiny! They're cute! They are the perfect proportion of peanut butter filling to chocolate shell. With no pesky wrapper to get in the way. When you can't come up with something better, just market what you've got in a different size or color. Hence the Easter egg Reese's in various sizes as well as the white chocolate versions. But I still say the Christmas trees are lame.