Sunday, October 22, 2017

Best. Costume. Ever.

Hiding inside of Mr Potatohead is the younger son at approximately the age of seven. Note that he is also holding a Mr Potatohead. I think this is probably the best costume I have ever created. Reid requested it. He brought me a pad of paper and a pencil and asked me to draw Mr Potatohead to make sure I knew what he was talking about. Let me just say that I can't draw for crap. Reid agreed when I handed my best attempt back to him. He shook his head and sadly announced that it wasn't very good at all. Fortunately, I can sew. I did this up out of sweatshirt pieces and felt and no pattern, children. Odd that I can't draw something but am able to create a 3D version of it. This is adorable beyond description. Which is why I took a picture. I just don't have the time or patience for a thousand words today.

Dear Newton

I'm terribly sorry. I'm an awful pet mom. I scolded you in loud and derogatory tones this morning when I discovered that at some point overnight you left a stinky pile on the sofa and a liquid present in my big, comfy chair. I relegated you to the basement with no morning treats. And it's my fault. When the Arm & Hammer cat litter that you prefer changed its formula to a hard-clumping type, I became weary of cleaning those hard clumps from the sifting pan in your litter box. So I looked for a different unscented litter that wouldn't set up like freaking concrete. May I say that finding a clumping litter that isn't infused with Febreze or some such other pleasant to humans scent is difficult. But I did find one and bought a container. Then when I had Reid with me shopping on Thursday, I bought an even bigger one since he was there to do the heavy lifting. I will return the unopened large container which is still sitting in the living room. Reid has either forgotten that it is there or has not mustered up the strength to carry it downstairs. This time, that's a good thing. Again, Newt, I apologize. Switching up your litter was a dumb thing to do. I promise to not do it again. And you, Arm & Hammer cat litter people! Stop messing around with your cat litter formula! It is perfectly fine just the way it is. No more new and improved. No more weird scents. No more super-clumping. Leave it be, it's not broken, so stop fixing it. Fussy felines who dislike change will appreciate it. As will the fussy feline keepers who dislike surprises on the furniture. Thank you, ever so much.

Economics 101

Me, Too

This man, with his wife sitting next to him, in a public place, stuck his hand up the back of my dress and scratched my back, all the while grinning at me. Because we were in public, actually in a quite nice restaurant, I made a joke about it. Because that's what I do. Deflect with humor. Did you lose something? Whatever it was, you're not going to find it there. He slowly withdrew his hand, trailing it along my rear end and legs. I felt sick and degraded the rest of the evening. I had been walking around our table, camera in hand, taking pics of all the couples we were having dinner with. This was not my regular group of friends, I had been invited by someone who was one of the group. And he said to me later that week, yeah, when &*%#@ gets into the wine, he gets a little frisky. Frisky? He sexually assaulted me, I said. I did not ask for it, I did not want it, I was horrified and disgusted. Shame on you for apologizing for his vile behavior. It wasn't the first time I had dealt with this sort of unwelcome behavior in a man, both socially and in the workplace. I've handled the situation better, but it never is easy. This particular incident was only four years ago, and I point that out for one reason. At the ripe old age of 56 I still hesitated to call it what it was in the moment, made a joke for the comfort of others in the room, and went on with the evening. Things won't change until we call out these despicable men for their unacceptable acts. This man sexually assaulted me. It wasn't, and never will be, okay. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Another Project Done!

I know, the egress window in Reid's room was installed back in April. So he's been living with this mess for six months. Trust me, off camera it really is a mess of boards and nails and other aftermath of the interior destruction that was necessary to get the job done. Either my son is a really good sport or he's an expert at ignoring a mess. Maybe both.

Taking advantage of him being gone for a couple of weeks, I was able to invade his personal space with impunity. The first step was to size up the paneling pieces that were removed and figuring out how to put them back. All the boards under the window needed to be trimmed down to fit, and the two pieces on the sides of the window had to be notched out. 

Those concrete corners required squaring up so out came the hammer and chisel.

This corner was the most difficult! The walls are poured concrete, not block, and there was a rock about the size of a golf ball right smack in the way! Yes, I wore safety goggles.

The upper right corner looked the worst, but that chunk came out in one neat piece after just a couple of taps.

Now the tricky business of notching out the piece on the right side of the window and getting that key piece in just to the left of it. Swearing was involved. The framing around the window was pretty easy to get into place. Construction adhesive and shims are now my very best friends.

Voila! Ready for paint! My first choice was to attempt to stain the wood to match, or sort of match, the paneling. But after experimenting on some scraps it became clear that I was not going to come close. I was working with three different types of wood and none of them were coming up with a similar hue. There is a bit of a mishmash of types and colors of trim in the house, so trying to be consistent is a bit iffy. I went with painting the window surround white, the doors throughout the house are white as is most of the baseboard so I thought it would look okay. I have a feeling I will be wandering around with a can of Valspar white latex enamel and a little brush on a regular basis for a very long time! 

Here we have the finished product! And just in time, Reid gets home tomorrow. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Three's, Well, Not the Charm

I took my third stab at it today and failed. Do tax forms really make sense to anybody? They make my brain hurt, my vision swim, and my stomach churn. I have been running around in circles trying to get my amended state income tax forms filed since August when they sent me a letter saying that I owe the state over five hundred dollars. I followed their instructions to the letter when I filed a protest but they refused it. I have also waited for ages on hold to speak to someone to clear up this mess twice. I'm beginning to feel a little bit harassed. I'm an old lady with a puny income, so puny that I don't have to pay federal income tax. Next year I will have my online tax service prepare my state form, too, even though it rankles me to have to pay the extra fee to get the numbers in the correct boxes. Guess I'm going to have to make the trip over to Fort Collins next week and visit the Colorado Department of Revenue office for some help. Guess I better take my checkbook, too, just in case. I expect this will be almost as much fun as hanging out at the DMV.

Meanwhile, Over in Miss Brenda's Yard

"This tableau is dedicated to the idea that we are all the same on the inside and everyone should be afforded the right to love who you gonna love and have dem babies."

Today's photo and quote are courtesy of my friend Brenda. She has the biggest heart in the universe and outdoes me by lightyears on the Halloween decorating scale. I lurve* her bunches and wish she would come visit me.
*Miss Brenda influences me linguistically. In addition to her signature way of spelling love, she also has me shouting stop flirting with me! in totally out-of-context circumstances.

A Short Lesson on Birth Control


On this Friday the 13th of the Halloween month, here is a photo of a mostly black kitty from seven years ago. You're welcome.

Thursday, October 12, 2017


It has just occurred to me that it is Thursday the twelfth. Meaning that tomorrow is Friday the thirteenth. Pardon me while I look for my lucky socks. Oh, wait, thirteen is a number that represents feminine power. As Emily Litella would say, ever mind. Also, do I actually have lucky socks?

More Costume Archive

Just look at this demonically fetching couple! I sewed the capes and tails and the rest we just pulled out of the closet. Those are latex headpieces, complete with horns and pointy ears. When cleaning out the costume closet a few years ago I discovered that they had dried out and crumbled to pieces. It was a sad moment, I have not seen such headpieces since. They really did make the costumes.

I seem to be contemplating the end of my pointy tail. These costumes were great fun to wear, we were unrecognizable! I remember shooting pool in a downtown bar with people we knew and they had no idea it was us. I'm pretty sure this was 1986. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Halloween Costume Archive

The year? 1985. Yes, that's me inside that pumpkin. This was a costume originally created for a coworker's daughter. All I had to do was remove a bit of stuffing in order to fit my much larger body inside. The best part is the hat, which you really don't get a good view of here. There's a little green stem poking up as well as some leaves and some viney sort of things. I must say that this was a most comfortable costume to wear for an evening. And yes, I am wearing bike shorts under the pumpkin. Which made it easy to slip the costume off my shoulders and step out, leaving me properly dressed, and properly sized to fit behind the steering wheel to get to the party. This was back in the days of a company sponsored Halloween shindig, maybe the last of its kind for my soon-to-be-husband's place of employment. Something about liability and alcohol and adults acting like kids. Makes sense. I don't know about you, but wearing a costume makes me feel a bit like misbehaving. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A Meryl Trifecta

It's been a movie week, and somehow it ended up being a mini Meryl Streep film festival. Starting off with Postcards From The Edge last weekend, we moved onto It's Complicated midweek, and finished up with Out Of Africa. From edgy comedy to rom-com to an outstanding take on an outstanding novel. To wind things up in an interesting way, I need a movie recommendation. Does anyone know of a film that counts among its cast one actor from each of these movies that isn't Ms Streep? Or two actors with the director of one of them? Hmmmm. This requires more brain power than I possess at the moment. Leave your suggestions in the comments.  

Friday, October 6, 2017

Time Flies Dept.

A small, smiling blond boy sitting on the bottom step. I love those tiny hiking boots. And the cowlick in his bangs. They grow up so fast.   

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Astonishingly Bad Pun That Occurred To Me While Working on the Trim Around Reid's Bedroom Window

Looks pretty good despite the fact that I'm not a finish carpenter. Finish carpenter. Finnish carpenter! I'm not a Finnish carpenter, I'm a half Norwegian carpenter!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Anti-Yogurt

I thought it was vanilla yogurt. It's in the same section of the dairy products in a container just like the yogurt I usually buy, but there was no Yoplait. So it seems I grabbed something called cultured dairy blend instead. That sounds more like something you'd smear on a phony baked potato for a photo shoot than something you'd eat. I opened it and stirred it a bit, the consistency was a bit firmer, sort of like ricotta cheese. I tasted it. Not bad. Not terribly sweet. Feeling adventurous, I tossed some into the blending cup with the banana, blueberries, and orange juice that were waiting and blended away. As usual, it was tasty, despite the substitution, and I have suffered no ill effects. I really need to look more closely at what I grab when grocery shopping. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Seasonal Switch-up

I have been known to express an opinion using this guy.

In the spirit of the Halloween season, I will be using this guy instead.

Goodnight, Dear Marilyn

Pardon the glare and poor composition of this photo, please. Focus* instead on the joy in the moment that is captured here. And where is here? Tombstone, Arizona, children, in some bar in February of 1984. My friend Theresa, in hat with camera to the left, and I had driven down from South Dakota to visit my Mom and sis Martine. I'm in the middle, Mom is behind me, Martine is in front of me. To the right is Mom's friend Marilyn, also visiting from SD. This was the only photo I could find of Marilyn, though I'm sure more exist in my most disorganized photo boxes. She and Mom were very good friends for a number of years. They met as co-workers and remained friends through my mom's many career changes and moves from one place to another. When I lived in Brookings, I always enjoyed bumping into her in a grocery aisle or on the bike trail near her apartment and having a quick catch-up chat. Because Mom seemed to me to be at loose ends in her life, I was grateful to Marilyn who was something of an anchor, a friend who stayed in touch and cared for her in ways the rest of us couldn't manage. Mom wasn't easy to get close to and she cut ties with so many people along the way that it was comforting to know there were those chosen few who made the effort to maintain contact. When Mom died in 2010, it fell to me to make a number of phone calls to share that sad news. One of those calls was to Marilyn, and a most difficult one for me to make. She had been diagnosed with scleroderma a few years before, and its effects on her ability to speak had increasingly made her more homebound and also made it difficult to understand her on the phone. I think that was the last time I talked to her. For some reason, Marilyn popped into my head a couple of days ago and I couldn't shake the feeling that something had happened. The internet informed me by way of her obituary that she had died in August and that per her request there would be no funeral service. She was survived by a couple of nephews and their wives, she had been widowed years before and her parents had also passed. She and her husband, Ralph, whom she always referred to as my Ralph, did not have children. It's sad when you outlive most of your family and friends and there is no one left to mourn you. I do believe it's the connections to others that make life meaningful. Marilyn and my mom were friends, and in honor of that friendship, today I will light a candle to celebrate those years.

*Pardon also, please, my intentional photo-related pun.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Last Picking

We Can Make It Stop

Once more, on what ought to have been a normal Monday morning, I tuned in to NPR and heard about yet another violent attack on innocent people by a man with an arsenal of military style weapons. The current administration in Washington says this isn't the time to negotiate gun laws, this is the time to pull together as a nation. Well, this sad and angry girl says we can do both at the same time. Sign this petition. Call your reps in our nation's Capital and voice your concern, your anger, your ideas for a solution to prevent this tragedy from happening again. The problem is, hearing the news of a mass shooting in this country has become an almost normal happening. We can make it stop. It's time to take action.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

October the First

It's one of those days, chilled from working out in the yard just before rain showers blew in, that I miss the big bathtub in the old house. Which makes me think I should call my plumber and find out if he can find one similar to this at a lower cost. So that next year long about now I can enjoy a steamy soak in fragrant, bubbly water. The tomato thicket has been placed in the compost and the last dozen or so apples of love have been brought in. The basil is still doing so beautifully I potted a few and brought them in to enjoy the sun on the kitchen window sill. The weatherman says it may freeze tonight so I'm thinking the magical surviving poinsettia should be brought into the garage. Reid would be so proud of me for getting the garbage out to the curb. Normally it's his job so I have to say I do miss him just a bit. Lacking the facilities for a hot bath I will settle for a shower, get into some flannel jammies, and enjoy a glass of wine with my Netflix. October has arrived and suddenly it definitely feels like Fall. Time for soup and pie and Halloween preparation!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Are We Clear Now?


It's just me and Newton for the next couple of weeks. Reid is off to California to visit his girlfriend. It's awfully quiet here. And I expect the ice bin in the freezer will stay mostly full for the duration. I have projects to complete, most importantly the wall in Reid's bedroom that has been in a state of incompletion since the egress window was installed last April. Also a few finishing touches to the basement bathroom, a bit of baseboard here, some caulk and anchoring screws there. Somehow finishing his bedroom and bathroom have been next to impossible with him dwelling in their midst. Oh, and I guess that possibly all the outdoor projects took precedence. The preposterous pile of mulch and demolishing the hideous swingset and keeping new plants alive. How could I have already forgotten the project without end that is now completed? The deck has a lovely new paint job that has been holding up quite nicely to all of the rain this last week. Plus me taking some goof-off time. I expect this time will be normal in a sense, the minutes seemingly dragging by while the days fly. I'll get some practice in with empty-nesting. How many cats are required for me to attain crazy-old-cat-lady status?

Friday, September 29, 2017

Is The New Playboy In?

The passing of Mr Hefner has sparked a memory of my dear little brother. So I'm sharing. Cullen and I were roommates in a little duplex at the corner of State and Dakota Avenues. At the time I worked for the State Newspaper Association, and Cullen had just graduated from high school and was attending South Dakota State University. Since it was our hometown, a number of his high school buddies were also freshman at SDSU, most of them living in dorm rooms but a few still at home with their parents. The guys got together and pitched in to pay for a subscription to Playboy magazine. And given their various living situations, thought it best to have it delivered to Cullen. In the dormitories, the mailboxes were quite small, and packages and periodicals were left on a shelf. I think for the most part, dorm occupants were decent about leaving packages to those they were addressed to. But a naughty magazine was almost guaranteed to disappear in short order. And if you were an eighteen year old guy still living with his parents? Please! A nudie magazine, yeah, the interviews and articles notwithstanding, was not likely to show up without some grilling from the parental units. This was odd, I thought, since Mom was still living with us until around November that first year. But she was the cool mom, I guess, and I was just an older sister. Not really an adult even though I was conveniently old enough to procure booze for them, should I choose to contribute to their delinquency. All I remember was at some point each month the usually anonymous phone calls would commence asking if the new issue was in. I'd tell them to find my brother and ask him before summarily hanging up. Occasionally there would be the brave soul at the door with a similar query. If he had the balls to ask in person, and the new Playboy had indeed arrived, I would hand it over. I have a number of stories about incidents from those two years, but this is probably my favorite. This is also one of those times where I would love to call him up so we could both have a good laugh. Even though that's not possible, I find myself grateful that this memory gives over to laughter and not tears. It's a good place to be. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

I Love Sherman Alexie

I can't claim a single drop of Native American blood. Which makes me forever grateful to Sherman Alexie for giving me what little insight I have into that world. The world of growing up Native, of reservation life, of Native culture. To get your feet wet, watch the 1998 film Smoke Signals. Alexie wrote the script based on his earlier writings. Listen to the Minnesota Public Radio podcast, Talking Volumes, where Alexie talks about his most recent book, a memoir of his mother. If you aren't hooked by his insight, his unique vision, and his often brutal honesty, well, you probably don't have a heart. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


My ear hurts! A legacy from childhood ear infections, my inner ears boast scar tissue that seems to make a perfect incubation lab for random infections. So any time I experience the beginnings of cold symptoms, any developing congestion has a tendency to settle there, particularly in my left ear. I have spent the last couple of days with a heat pack on the left side of my neck. The heat, coupled with some aggressive massage around my ear, does an effective job of breaking up that congestion and sending it on its way. Maybe half the time I take these measures I circumvent a full blown cold, and if I don't avoid a cold completely, the heat and massage make for lessened symptoms for a shorter period of time. Taking some down time after weeks of yard and painting work was probably in order, but my ear is forcing me to take it easy. After spending the last three days wearing the same clothes in a totally pitiful, unshowered state, I know I'm feeling better due to the fact I was disgusted with myself. After a steamy shower and dressed in fresh clothes, I am close to being able to rejoin the human race. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Fallish Flowers

Furry Fiend

What squirrel? Where? 

He looks like a peach thief to me. I think he's munching on one of the tiny fallen rotting, possibly fermented, apples that are all over the yard. They're forced to resort to the easy stuff because the peaches are gone! Because he and his motley little gang of pretty-tailed fence-runners got to them while I was distracted with deck painting! He's sitting on the pallets that will eventually become the compost bins. He and his ilk will then think, oooh!, a restaurant for us! I hate squirrels.   

Sorry, Grandma

I  know, it's still September. I know, it was about ten degrees warmer in the house than outside. I know, there is a possibility, however slight, that there could be a warm day in the next few weeks when I may be tempted to turn on the AC. But my toes, even inside my fat gray socks with the white snowflakes, were chilly. So I ran the furnace to take the chill off. I only set the thermostat five degrees higher than the room temp, and turned it right down again once one heating cycle was complete. I'm such a weenie.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Until I Get it Right

Understanding follows acceptance. I know this is how it works. Yet sometimes I still stubbornly insist on understanding a thing before I will accept it. I am only an egg, I have so much to learn. And I'm most aware of how little I know when I experience a moment of clarity that follows accepting what cannot be changed. Edited. Altered. So. Of late I have been preoccupied with dissecting a past relationship, picking it apart in an attempt to discern what I learned from it in order to let it go. Over and over again, I would hit a wall tinged with a longing for another shot at making it work, even though I knew that was not what I wanted. I ended up at that wall once more just a couple of days ago. I stared at it in frustration until at last I gave over to acceptance. This is over. I don't want it back. I let go. And immediately felt a warm blanket of emotional comfort envelop me from head to toe. For the remainder of the day, I felt lighter in the wake of letting go of a burden I was choosing to carry. Acceptance was mine. I slept well and deeply that night. Upon waking I clearly retained the images from a dream, and pondered what had taken place in that dream. Inside that introspection was a lesson. He didn't deserve the benefit of the doubt that I so readily extended to him. At first, yes, but not after proving that he wasn't reliable. Understanding is now mine. And with that understanding there is room inside me to let better things come into my life. I think I may finally be a grownup when I can go to acceptance without a struggle.   

I Miss This Guy

Me and Steinie. Ringing in 2012.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Rocket Man vs The Dotard

Summon the inchworm in from the marigolds!

Joyous Mabon

As the wheel of the year turns, let's pause for a moment. And find balance and peace on this day when the light and the dark are equal. Contemplate what you wish to leave behind and what you wish to embrace in warmth as winter approaches. Until then, honor the crone in your tribe. Give thanks for the harvest and the crispness in the fall air. Go into your kitchen and brew up a cauldron of soup to enjoy. Light a candle in remembrance of what has passed and what is yet to come.

The Deck is Done!

Flying the Bitch Flag

How delightful it is to attempt to have a real conversation about the problems in this country. With a troll. Wait, two trolls in as many days. I attempt in a friendly and engaging manner to put forth facts and associated links to verified sources. And in response I get personal attacks and speculation about how I likely spend my days, the number of hours I devote to watching daytime television, how many cats I have, what my relationship status is, how many children I have given birth to, whether I am oppressed, and am instructed to go buy a Starbucks with my welfare money. I guess I could counter with scurrilous accusations but I'm genuinely interested in having the conversation. I'm curious over how they have managed to work up such a fever pitch of anger toward whomever they see as the enemy. It's as if they are so deeply devoted to their personal, misdirected hostility that all they are capable of seeing are the walls of their own echo chamber. After a full paragraph of insults, and nary a mention of the subject we were discussing, the Electoral College, I volleyed back with this:

Such a common tactic, Joe. When you have nothing of substance to say you revert to personal attack. One, when I feel worried, I take action. Two, I don't watch television, I read newspapers and objective online journalism. Three, my cat is a guy and he objects to clothing and manicures. Yes, I'm a liberal, and I'll go you one further, I'm a progressive. When you are mature enough to discuss real life issues like a grownup, then we can talk. But you'll have to take a general quiz on civics and history first. If you get a passing grade, then I won't feel like it's a waste of time. Otherwise, keep hiding behind your macho white man privilege. It's the place you're most comfortable.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Pirate Eye Exam Chart

Now, move that eye patch over to the other eye, please...

Allow Me To Explain

A few weeks ago I heard the phrase let me unpack this a bit on a radio news show. Since then I have heard numerous variations, let's unpack this or a lot to unpack here. Not sure who is responsible for starting this phrase, but it certainly has caught on. And I was just getting used to let me break this down for you. We could go way back and start unpeeling all the layers of some metaphorical onion. We've gone from layered bulb vegetables that make you cry to chemistry and now we're emptying out suitcases. When all we're really doing is explaining something in its simplest terms. But we must have a trending catchphrase, you say. I'm sitting here peeled, broken, and unpacked. Was there something you wanted to tell me?  


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Peach Crop 2017

One peach, children. That is all, just one. A week ago there were about a dozen in the tree, and I should have picked them then. The damn squirrels aren't so picky about ripeness. And after they knock them to the ground, the little bastards generally eat less than half of the fruit. They gnaw on each one just enough to make it pointless to try to salvage the rest. Then leave it lying in the sun to attract insects. The peach in the photo was the last one hanging. It's solid as a rock but I picked it anyway. It will ripen quite nicely on the kitchen counter where it will be safe from the various vermin out in the yard. Then I shall enjoy the entire 2017 peach crop in one sitting. On the bright side, there is still enough of last year's crop for a pie and a bit of jam in the freezer. There's always next year.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


You know how you do that, well, maybe you don't, thing where you say the first part of a word, then insert an interesting colorful word for emphasis, then finish saying the word? There's a word for that! And that word is tmesis. Tmesis. Say it! t(ə)ˈmēsəsThat was fun, wasn't it? Sounds kind of like a disease. Or something else unpleasant, maybe a rash. If you find yourself in Australia, this verbal construct is called a tumba rumba. That sounds like a dance craze. Say, baby, let's tumba rumba off to some-bloody-where more fun than this! Fan-freaking-tastic!

My Bloomin' Hoya!