Tuesday, November 30, 2010

the strange and the fabulous

The Strange:

There is one yellow dandelion growing in the school yard--I walk past it every day when I go get the boys.

We've received an invitation to a wedding--neither Mr. D nor I recognize any of the names on it.

I saw something beneath the Momvan in the garage the other day--at first glance, I thought it was a Pop Tart I'd run over--white and brown with an edging of red. Their grandma had generously sent them home with Pop Tarts Friday morning (!). Nope, it was a fat mouse I'd run over with the Momvan--I miss our cat. We never had mice when she was around.

The Fabulous:

A few years ago I brought all my plastic Christmas swag to the thrift store. Begone, you filthy, dusty, fake garland Made in China! We have enough pine, spruce, cedar and berries in our 60-acre yard to decorate au natural. I cut buckets of greens and boughs of red berries and poked them into empty jars, laid them across shelves, arranged them among candles. So. Lovely. And so simple. Plus some trees got the trimming they direly needed to look "traditionally triangular."

Clementines at the grocery store!

"Gaga Squats"--the name of Mr. O's terrible new work-out at the karate school. It's a 15-minute glute/leg/ab work out done to Lady Gaga and Katy Perry tunes. Truly one of his more devious and fun methods of torture.

I've put some of my greens and berries in vintage milk bottles like the ones Anne Marie is selling in her NaDa Farm Market shop on Etsy. Anne Marie has the most wonderful, simple and earthy way of decorating. She has an eye for beauty and a talent for making lovely things. I have an eye for appreciating what she does at her home and on her farm, but nothing close to her crazy skills. Head over to her farm and check out her past posts--the photos are gorgeous. For November's FABULOUS I'm giving away your choice from her NaDa Farm Market Etsy store. How do you enter? Equally simple: every comment in the comment box is an entry to win--I'll pick a lucky winner Saturday.

Spill it, reader. What's strange and fabulous in your world lately?

Monday, November 29, 2010

on presence and presents and fabulous

We made it in and out of Iowa for Thanksgiving without much hassle. It was a sad day for half the group--2 of Mr. D's siblings lost fathers-in-law in the last 4 months, the pain was still pretty fresh for those families. I'm used to this holiday being about my in-laws, but each year my husband says, just before everyone heads in to load their plates, "Where's the meat? When do we eat?" which is exactly what my grandfather said after grace before every single meal. I don't know if he understands how much I appreciate it when he quotes my grandfather.

The day after, my sister-in-law and one niece and my mother-in-law loaded into an SUV headed for the nearest shopping mall. I was glad to escape back to Wisconsin, my hands free of shopping bags.

In a side note, my MIL had one of those plug in fragrance diffusers you get at Bath & Body Works. It fell out of the wall and leaked faux vanilla scented oil all over our shoes. Consequently, my laundry room reeks of this smell, which is NOT intended to be inhaled by anyone with asthma. Oy. I cannot imagine what my MIL's kitchen smells like with that seeped into the floor.

So now it is the end of Thanksgiving, the start of Christmas. My FABULOUS bloggy friend Anne Marie over at Na-Da Farm Life summed up my feelings about the holiday very nicely in her blog today. Actually, I summed up my feelings about it pretty well, too, over at Eco Women today. I don't want to be caught up in the "buy-get-spend-shop-greed-consume" aspect of Christmas. I want to be present in the holiday, enjoying all the sounds, tastes, sights and smells. I want to sled down snow-covered hills with my sons and feel the cold on my cheeks and their arms wrapped around my neck. I want to hear my kids giggle while we watch Elf together, crunching popcorn and drinking cider. I want to smell the tree in our living room and see how many ornaments my kids can cram onto the lowest branches. I want to spend my holiday season making memories instead of going out to get stuff. I want Christmas presence--of mind, body and spirit.

But that doesn't mean I won't give presents. I just want the presents I give to be good ones, thoughtful ones, quality ones. I'm not buying someone a sweater marked 50% off just because I found a good deal. I want to give lovely things.

Anne Marie is addicted to lovely things, and her taste runs simple like mine does. For November's FABULOUS, I'm giving away the item of choice from the Na-Da Farm Etsy shop to one lucky winner. How can you win? Each comment in the comment box is an entry to win November's FABULOUS. Check out Anne Marie's blog and breathe in the serenity of nature, family, hand crafted and vintage. (And there are horses.)

Spill it, reader. Are you making your Christmas simpler, celebrating more with experiences than with stuff this year?

Friday, November 26, 2010

a final fifth

One hundred! We're here! One hundred things I appreciate, listed to celebrate this week of Thanksgiving. I feel sated, my cup runneth over, I am really, really blessed. In this grande finale of gratitude, I feel thankful for:

81. jigsaw puzzles
82. a friendly smile on a stranger's face
83. Tom & Lorenzo (if you want to laugh so hard you'll nearly pee your pants, read their recap of the Victoria's Secret fashion show)
84. Secret Ugly Boyfriends

85. Mr. D, who I can agree to disagree with
86. a fair level of independence
87. the moms and dads who step up at Happyland Elementary PTA and help lead Cubbies and coach and volunteer in a dozen other ways to benefit all of our children
88. curbside recycling
89. earthworms and cats who kill lots of mice
90. radiant heat
91. good asthma medications
92. the perspective I gain from age
93. cross-country skis & trails right outside my back door
94. a reliable vehicle--the Momvan is dented and dirty, but she always runs
95. puns, word plays, rhymes, alliteration and metaphors
96. clever comebacks
97. random acts of kindness
98. Rebecca Ramsey's meditations over at Wonders Never Cease
99. closets and cupboards that are clean and organized
100. love, the strongest weapon of all, backed up by hope

Oh heck, it would be wrong to end this post with a picture of my Secret Ugly Boyfriend, wouldn't it?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

a fourth fifth

Happy Thanksgiving! Are you feeling it today? That attitude of gratitude? Even the most curmudgeonly people feel a little grateful for the feasting on this festive holiday--cranberry relish, sweet potatoes, perhaps a little wine...aaaaand a little more wine... there we go ...

61. board games
62. learning how to type
63. all things British

64. especially the scenery
65. watching kids play baseball on a warm summer night
66. getting to meet a couple bloggy friends in person: Daisy and Minnesota Matron
67. those particular clothes in my closet that fit me like a glove
68. living in a safe place
69. warm hugs from my boys
70. Mr. D's dependability
71. Eco Women!
72. yoga
73. mail
74. bread fresh out of the oven
75. chocolate
76. paging through catalogs and not seeing anything I need
77. for that matter, having very few wants
78. Ruth, my spiritual mentor and faithful friend
79. and Alice, who dotes on my children
80. silence

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

and another fifth

At my mother-in-law's on Thursday she'll make us all hold hands in a great big circle and announce what we're thankful for in turn. Everyone says the same couple of things: "My family, our health" without fail, and inevitably one or two people will say "I don't know what to say" even though they knew this moment was on the calendar for the last 365 days. I cannot say most of the things on my list because they're too specific and naturally too weird for mixed company, even though I truly do feel gratitude for things like cheese and romance and flushing toilets. But here I can let all my gratitude flow without inhibition. So, without further ado:

41. bloggy friends who let me be me
42. The Screw Iowa Writers Group, for their support and affection
43. daily newspapers
44. karate
45. laughter
46. especially little kid giggles
47. Team Testosterone's genuine love for one another
48. my girlfriends
49. swimming--the sensation of floating in the water
50. Mom on the Run over at Abnormally Normal who sees things the same way I do
51. Jen on the Edge who I wish was my neighbor
52. my real neighbors, the V's, the M's, the W's--such wonderful people, kind and good and helpful
53. a comfortable bed
54. birds--hearing their singing always makes me smile
55. dragonflies and crickets and bees
56. Secret Gay Boyfriends

57. good TV shows that let me escape for a little while
58. locally owned & operated stores where the clerks know my name and preferences and the lines are always short (good for me, though probably not for them)
59. a higher bowling average
60. comfortable shoes

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

another fifth

Once you get rolling on the gratitude train, it becomes so easy to recognize things to feel thankful for during Thanksgiving week.

21. running water (hot and cold!)
22. flushing toilets (such convenience)
23. Jenn at Juggling Life who gives me perspective on what my next decade will look like (but with daughters in the mix).
24. springtime. Changing seasons are such a blessing, and knowing spring will come helps get me through winter.
25. my health--and my family's health.
26. dark beer and wine.
27. flowers.
28. porches with swings and hammocks.
29. my friend Sarah.
30. books!
31. butter.
32. the right to vote.
33. did I mention the Internet?
34. movies.
35. romance.
36. Jane Austin's perfect heroes.
37. Jocelyn at O Mighty Crisis, for going to Turkey and taking her readers with her.
38. Classical music--the perfect symmetry of Bach, the steadiness of baroque, the invigorating movement of waltzes, the ache of Beethoven.
39. Italian food.
40. a husband who listens to me.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

a fifth

In honor of Thanksgiving, I'm spending the entire week giving thanks--100 things I'm grateful for, 20 at a time. One fifth of a long list of blessings every day. Life is bountiful and I've learned that keeping focused on the bounty gives me a more cheerful spirit. Cultivating an "attitude of gratitude" makes everybody happier, so Thanksgiving should truly be the happiest holiday of all.

Without further ado, twenty things I am thankful for:

1. Cheese. Smooth, creamy, sharp, tangy cheese.
2. Jami Nato's blog "From the Nato's" where she has inspired me to decorate my entire house using the pages of an old book for Christmas this year. (So long, Understanding Arguments, you dry old college textbook! You look fantastic as a wreath!)
3. A new school for Mr. T where he's doing very well.
4. Spare change in my wallet. Enough to donate to the bell ringers beside the kettle at the grocery store.
5. Blackbird's blog "say la vie" where she turns my attention to lovely, strange and wonderful things every week.
6. Tulips and daffodils in springtime.
7. Mr. G's smiling face every morning.
8. Mr. B's kind and generous spirit.
9. Comfortable chairs.
10. Yoga stretches that take the kinks out.
11. A sense of balance (both figuratively and literally manifested in my life).
12. Eurolush, who makes me alternately laugh and swoon with envy at her life in Germany.
13. Don Draper.

14. And well tailored suits, obviously.
15. Those monks who discovered the coffee bean, figured out how to dry roast and brew those beans into the sweet nectar I drink each morning.
Mr. D allowing me to be a "kept woman"...for now.
17. A great church.
18. The freedom to worship.
19. Jesus, God's gift of grace.
20. NPR--(it's a rap tribute!):

Friday, November 19, 2010

book club dilemmas and gratuitous photos

Last night the Bumble Book Club ran into a dilemma: we couldn't find any new books to read! We're all fairly avid and voracious readers, so the desire to read good books isn't the issue. You know what the issue is? We cannot find any good books to read. We scanned lists and lists of suggested book club picks and settled on Freedom for January, a short story collection for next month and The Hunger Games for March--but beyond that? Nothing. Not a single title grabbed us, not a single book description made us exclaim, "I want to read that one! I've heard it's awesome!"

The trouble, you see, is that we're weary of sad stories. We don't want to read about abuse at the hands of bad parents, Nazis, corrupt governments, evil corporations. We don't want to read about heartbreak, death, depression, illness, or loss. Unlike Oprah, who has a fixation on all books with miserable endings, we want an infusion of lightness and joy in our reading. We want a happy ending. And all the lists of book club reading suggest things like Room (about an abusive parent) or Sarah's Key (Holocaust) or Cutting for Stone (poverty, addiction, betrayal). It's not that these aren't worthwhile topics to explore and discuss, it's just that we believe in balance--we don't want to read only books about Bad Things. We want a little sweetness with our bitter, a little chocolate cake after the steamed broccoli.

Our last book was The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Well written and fascinating, but the bottom line is this: the book's about a dysfunctional family. So dysfunctional, in fact, that the brother ends up becoming (SPOILER ALERT) a metal folding chair, stored in his sister's closet. I mean, really, is that any way to end a book? Where is the hope? How does one go on? We're collectively sick of the heavy stuff. We're desperately seeking a good book club read that leaves us inspired and optimistic and laughing. Reader, can you suggest anything along those lines?

Now, in other news, that red blob dancing on the corner of the stage is Mr. B's big solo debut at the 1st-2nd grade concert at Happyland Elementary. I'm so proud of him.

Gratuitous photo of Jax and Mr. G and Mr. B:

Oh hell, one more:

That's it, now. No more. Sit.
Happy weekend, reader. And feel free to share any happy, uplifting book titles in the comment box!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

things I've learned recently

(gratuitous photos of Jax to come tomorrow, I promise)

1. Dark roots on light hair looks much better than light roots on dark hair. That? Just makes a person's part look like they're going bald from a distance. And it freaks me out. (note to self: if decide ever to dye hair, go lighter than natural hair color, not darker)

2. I look pretty darn good wearing teal. Must buy more shirts in that color. (note to self: you seem pretty obsessed about appearances today--cut it out)

3. Those great door handles we put in our house when we built it? To make opening doors easier for children? Also make opening doors easier for dogs. (note to self: get a gate)

4. According to my agent, my main character in my MS is funnier when she's "self-aware." I'm figuring out what that really means. (he's right, of course)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

little bits

* In further proof that the world is very small, I discovered last night that an old friend from high school and an even older friend from my childhood are in a Bible study together at church. I knew both of these women in different towns--yet here we all are, in one spot now.

* Mr. B surprised me yesterday at his school concert. He had a big featured solo part and never told me!

* I sat beside a very kind old gentleman during the concert. Elderly gentlemen are among my favorite kinds of people. We chatted a little, he was polite and pleasant to sit beside.

* Still decimating the box elder bugs.

* My toes are cold every day. I've taken to wearing slippers.

* My email box is overflowing.

* I'm craving all things savory lately.

* Especially shepherd's pie.

* Well, all pie, really.

* The cold wind feels cleansing today.

Spill it, reader. In little bits.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

why my writing life stalled

Just when I think I'll really start jamming away on a writing project, life hurls interruptions at me like Lizzie Brula chucking dodge balls during 2nd grade gym class. I try to dodge them, deflect them, catch them and throw them at someone else, but I fail.

This week?

One school program (during the day, of course), one sick kid with a mountain of homework, one needy sister (oy), one more birthday present to purchase (the fourth birthday party one of my children has been invited to this month), one back spasm (I blame that darn roller coaster in the Dells) and one dog.

Yep, you read that right. My spirit has been officially crushed by this tribe of testosterone-laden yo-yos. They've been begging, pleading, making pie-in-the-sky promises and offering bribes for years. Saturday we went to the animal shelter and Mr. G pointed to a bulldog-mastiff mix that stood as tall as him. He was brought out and Mr. D cried, "Send it back!" because he has a serious prejudice against short-haired breeds. All along I've told the gang a puppy is out of the question. Naturally they pointed next to a 6 month old lab named Harley.

Harley came out, began jumping on everybody, Mr. G clung to my leg in terror and began to cry. Harley responded by peeing all over the floor. I bit back "I told you so" while Mr. D cried, "Send it back!"

"There is another dog," the shelter worker told us, "he just came in last week from the Keshena Reservation."

"Let's take a look," Mr. D agreed.

A 2-year-old flat hair retriever mix humbly followed her into our midst and cringed, his tail tucked between his legs. He panted and looked up at us with a smile. (Can dogs smile?) After making his rounds, he ended at my feet, looking up for my official approval. Smart dog, he knew instinctively the alpha-human in the room.

We're not sure where this dog came from, he's a good listener, but doesn't know basic commands like "Stay" and "Sit." He wants to please, has a mellow temperament, and we have yet to hear him bark. Mr. D bets some family bought him as a puppy for their kid and it got to be too much work so they dumped it on the rez. I prefer my theory, that he was owned by a kindly old man who died suddenly and with no one to take care of him, the dog ran away.

I'm quite certain I'm right.

So, dear reader, it begins like this: we fill out the application and they check our references and call us Monday to pick up the dog. The dog that everybody else wants sooooo badly they'll die if they cannot have him. But! Mr. D's in meetings all day Monday, so can I take care of it?

I go get the dog, ask questions, learn about his care, bring him home, take him for his first walk/poop/pee. I acclimate him to the children and explain the boundaries of keeping this dog in our house. The dog is smothered with love and affection, his tail starts to wag, everyone's happy.

This morning on his way out the door Mr. D calls back, "I forgot to give him his medicine when I fed him this morning. Can you take care of it?"

And so we begin. How much you want to bet that the dog that everybody else wanted will end up being my dog, because I'll be the person who takes care of it the most?

Oh, we named him "Jax."

Monday, November 15, 2010

does anyone counsel a girl before she gets a tramp stamp?

Team Testosterone and I enjoyed our overnight at the waterpark in the Dells--we went down every waterslide, played basketball, raced down the body flume (which I dominated due to my weight advantage) and rode the roller coaster (my back is still sore from all the jolting and jarring). Getting away like that was a great relief. Plus, it's fun to just hang out with my kids and not be nagging at them to do their homework or clean up their junk.

While there, I was again amused by the prolific amount of body art--particularly on twentysomething men who seem to slap tattoos on their bodies in the same way my sons paste temporary tattoos on themselves. It's so random. One guy had a knife sketched on his love handle, a bottle of beer on his opposite shoulder, a heart on one arm, a miscellaneous Chinese character on his other arm, bands around his lower legs and a cross on his chest. But they were all really cheap looking, no color, blurry lines, shapes out of proportion.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate good body art. We saw a couple while on vacation this summer--both had the most detailed and intricate designs covering their entire torsos--like turtlenecks. The colors were vibrant, the work clearly planned out in advance, the precision quite professional. They looked artistic--amazing, really. But there's a world of difference between "good body art" and really pathetic, bleeding, fading ink jobs. What I saw in the Dells was cheap, and it seems a shame to inject that much bad black ink into one's skin without proper thought and planning. I mean, that's a painful decision to correct or erase! If you're going to adorn yourself permanently, I think you should put a little quality and consideration into it.

But one guy had me howling. He sported a seagull flying over waves on his one arm (in black, but not really black, more like dark navy--no color added), the requisite Chinese symbol on his other, a knife impaled on his right shin, some writing on his left. I floated behind him and his girlfriend down the lazy river, noting his attempt at growing facial hair (patchy) and wondering how much a substandard tattoo costs these days. Then their inner tube turned around and I saw the tattoo taking over his entire back. In letters 4 inches high, all caps, Gothic font, he'd asked someone to write "Lone Wolf." Below was a drawing of a wolf.

Which made me think of this, of course:

And I started to giggle. Alan Garner from The Hangover.

Alan Garner: You guys might not know this, but I consider myself a bit of a loner. I tend to think of myself as a one-man wolf pack. But when my sister brought Doug home, I knew he was one of my own. And my wolf pack... it grew by one. So there... there were two of us in the wolf pack... I was alone first in the pack, and then Doug joined in later. And six months ago, when Doug introduced me to you guys, I thought, "Wait a second, could it be?" And now I know for sure, I just added two more guys to my wolf pack. Four of us wolves, running around the desert together, in Las Vegas, looking for strippers and cocaine. So tonight, I make a toast!

I wondered if his tattoo was intended to be ironic.

But the hands-down winner of "Most Regrettable Tattoo" belonged to the 18-year-old lifeguard who'd had "Kim + Nate 4Ever" written in cursive on her lower back. Yeah. She'll be asking someone to change that in the next couple years.

And speaking of wolves ... did you know they're related to dogs?

But that's a story for tomorrow, maybe.

Spill it, reader. Your funniest tattoo sighting.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

i'll get straight to the point here

Bullet points, that is...

* Thank you for the screen stories. From your comments I now have many job offers as a window washer and know I've made the right choice about keeping my screens off over the winter (per Martha, people, the Diva of Domesticity!).

* Had a very nice visit with my sister this morning over coffee and met her new boyfriend. People, for the first time ever I think she's found a good one. No visible tats, decent job, in good physical health, good-humored, solid social skills, dressed in normal clothes, capable of intelligent and stimulating conversation. Added bonus: little sister looked cute in boots and leggings and funky dress.

* Experienced a multi-tasking FAIL yesterday. Was eating string cheese with both hands full and reading computer screen when a sneeze came on. Kept mouth closed so as not to splatter chewed cheese onto laptop. Sinus passages crammed full of cheese bits as a result.

* Have I mentioned that my sneezes are really loud and violent and explosive?

* Like my hiccups, there's nothing delicate or cute about them.

* Have taken to killing the box elder bugs in my house. They've become aggressive, even crawling across our dinner plates and books, acting as if they own the place. The boys are creeped out by them but I've given them no notice because they neither stain surfaces nor bite. But their numbers are biblical now. It's termination time.

* In karate we're learning a new bo staff form. So far I really, really like it.

* Last night I saw a commercial for a new science fiction movie on TV. At one point a character growls "Vaya con Dios" to an alien before blowing it to bits. I thought that was a strange thing to say to an alien--"Go with God?" Really? Methinks the screenwriters presume people cannot translate basic Spanish phrases so they just put in stuff that sounds cool. Just as dumb to say "Enchilada suprema!" don't you think?

* After school I'm bringing Team Testosterone to the Dells to spend the night at a waterpark. Happy early weekend!

Spill it, reader--do you have fun weekend plans?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Before rumors start that I hopped on the back of a Harley Davidson roaring through my po-dunk farm town in a leather-clad moment of Bridges of Madison County desperation to follow my heart's desire of romance and excitement and passion, I figured I better post something.


*Collective groan*

No, the truth is much more boring than that. I didn't meet a scruffy, muscle-bound, charming stranger with haunting blue eyes. Instead I've racked up over 7 hours of volunteer time this week and I've still got 5 to go--namely, I agreed to help replant a garden at Happyland Elementary. I'd grossly underestimated how much time that project would take. You'd think that I, of all people, would know better, wouldn't you?

I've learned a few other things this week. This morning I discovered that applying hand lotion before practicing yoga is a Very Bad Idea. Particularly when moving into Downward Dog. With slippery hands on a yoga mat that position quickly becomes Face Plant.


I've also been researching various topics for a New! Top-Secret Book Project! Did you know that according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) there is no such thing as a safe air freshener or spray? Not only did I discover ALL! CAPITALIZED! WARNINGS! telling pregnant women to avoid these products, there's consensus that they're quite dangerous. Whether you're using a Glade Plug-In, Ferbreeze or some store-brand can of spray in your bathroom, they're all made with the same chemicals used in paints, paint thinner, fuel and varnish--terrifying things like formaldehyde and phthalates. The chemicals in these products are linked to cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular problems, hormone disruption and dizziness. Pretty darn scary if you ask me. Reader, I'm begging you to rid your house of these products STAT. For your health and for your family's. Here's a link to one of the articles if you'd like to read more.

I've never bought any of these products because a) they're unnecessary, and b) I've always been suspicious of their effectiveness. I've got asthma and I'm sensitive to smells and airborne particles, so I avoid fragrances, chemicals, sprays and cheap perfumes as a general rule. But it's astonishing that these products are even allowed to be manufactured and sold.

Now it's your turn to share some information with me. I finally finished washing all my windows and screens and I'm keeping the screens off the windows this winter until springtime. I figure I can mend the holes more easily over the winter months, they'll stay cleaner, it'll make it easier to wash the storm windows again come springtime if they're off, and without the screens we'll have less obstructed daylight coming in--especially with the long winter ahead. I've never done this before, so I'm asking seasoned window-washers what is the established screen protocol.

Spill it, reader. Screens on or off? And do you use air sprays and air fresheners?

Monday, November 8, 2010

muttonchop monday

Green Girl has a little secret. She likes rough and ragged men. In theory, of course, because it's tough to inhale the fumes of sweat and motor oil and cigarettes and whiskey for too long. But in fantasy?

Bad biker boys have got it going on.

She thinks it's that devil-be-damned glint of ferocity in their gaze. And black leather. And the heady whiff of danger.

When she and Mr. D hunker down on Tuesday nights to watch Sons of Anarchy, one certain biker has captured her imagination.

Bad-ass Tig, with the muttonchops.

And Marlboro Reds, official cigarette of hard-livin' men everywhere.

He's loyal, big-hearted, fearless, clever and those clear blue eyes. These pictures don't do him justice, reader. You have to see him in action to understand Green Girl's adoration. And he's got one of those whiskey-graveled voices that make her knees all wobbly.

Plus? He knows a guy who can make a dead body disappear. What's not to love about a man with strange contacts on his cell phone?

He's a man's man. All manly.

He's gone to prison, shrugged off gunshot wounds, and racked up a formidable stack of felonies, what with the gun-running, the murders, the drugs and the smuggling.

But that rakish grin makes it all forgivable. Tig, motorcycles and muttonchops and always misbehaving.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Scene: The other night. Mr. D and Green Girl lay in bed. He had control of the remote and flip-flip-flipped through the channels. She had the latest Title Nine catalog and flip-flip-flipped through the pages.

Green Girl: Wow! I would love a pair of those.

Mr. D: Really? That would be awesome. I'll buy you a pair.

Green Girl looks up in surprise--Mr. D never voluntarily buys her things like boots. Then she sees the TV is showing an advertisement for Victoria's Secret:

Green Girl: Oh. I meant these boots. Not a pair of those.

Mr. D: Forget it then.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

geography girl

I do adore geography and recently my mother-in-law switched my annual gift subscription from Real Simple to National Geographic per my request. The articles about nature and culture and history and exploration bring out the wanderlust in my soul. Since I'm an armchair traveler of the world these days, I was so thrilled to see my first issue in yesterday's mail. The featured stories were all about migration, absolutely fascinating stuff.

Researchers even tried to entice migrating birds with food and discovered that nothing could pull them off course. Migrating species are so single-minded in their goal that they ignore hunger, thirst, rest, sex and all other primal urges until they arrive at their destination. Humans could take a page from that book. The number of migrating species, from rattlesnakes to penguins, is pretty astonishing.

I really think my dream job would be as a National Geographic writer, traveling to the ends of the earth, documenting everything I saw. Oh the adventure! Oh the excitement! I'd need a camera crew, of course, because photography has never been my gift... A tall, handsome, manly photographer who wears one of those cool vests with all the pockets...

Kind of like him:

I can see us now. Of course, I'd have to dye my hair blonde, but a small concession, right?

The whole family will enjoy my MIL's gift, Mr. T is studying ancient cultures in social studies and there was an article about the Aztecs. Mr. B loves his sharks and National Geographic always has articles about the ocean, this edition had a great picture of a sand tiger shark living off the coast of Japan. Mr. G enjoys anything with pictures and Mr. D even picked it up this morning to peruse. I shan't miss Real Simple one whit, besides, I was weary of reading about all the expensive, complicated ways to "make life simple" every month. I don't know who writes for that magazine, but a $300 purse and $500 sheath dress by New York designers (only available at the store) are out of my wardrobe budget for "Fall Basics Every Woman Should Have." I'm looking forward to the next year of National Geographic arriving at my door. In fact, I plan to keep all my past issues on my bookshelf, just like both of my grandparents were wont to do back in the day.

Speaking of the natural world and all the related conservation issues, my bloggy pal Nan over at Things I've Found in Pockets shared this the other day:

There is a new government in Trinidad and Tobago. They are doing their best to make changes to archaic laws, and of course, the largest interest groups are getting their voices heard. Please sign the petition to stop the slaughter of endangered species for the sale of wild meat.

This petition is not to stop all hunting: most hunters love the rainforest, use the flora and fauna to help feed their families. This petition will help to stop the mass slaughter of hundreds of endangered animals for sale.

Responsible hunting will help to save the rainforest. If you do not sign the petition, more rainforest will be destroyed so that masses of already endangered animals can be killed for profit. Please, help us to save our rainforest.

You do not have to be a Trini to sign. In fact, if foreign interest is shown, local government is likely to feel more pressure to act now.

Reader, I hope you'll take a moment and check out the petition and sign your name to it. It's a free and easy way to keep exotic and endangered species off the menus at fancy restaurants.

Before you go sign, spill it ,reader: What's your favorite thing to read about in a National Geographic?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

this and that

Perhaps a slight majority of the American public will be happier today, thinking they have some modicum of control over the status quo. I respectfully beg to differ, however, with the candidates claiming that a 53% majority equates a "mandate." That's all I'm going to say about that.

My mailbox is full of catalogs. Sadly, Team Testosterone latched onto the Target toy catalog before I could slam dunk it into the recycling bin and bury it beneath the old newspapers. The barrage of "I want" has begun...

Of course, while they went to bed with dreams of Nerf guns and Wii games and Lego sets in their heads, I settled down with Sundance and Title Nine and Acorn. Just a little window shopping while I watched Sons of Anarchy.

All the necklaces I loved in the Sundance catalog cost $300 or more. My favorite bracelet cost $958. Harumph. There's as much pretty "artisan" jewelry on Etsy for a tenth of that price. But the browsing on Etsy isn't quite as satisfying as paging through the catalogs while cozied up in bed...

Speaking of Sons of Anarchy, some of the show's songs are finally on itunes! The biker rock/disco fusion is complete! (cue evil laughter)

Mr. D and I busted out laughing when Gemma gave Jax the whole "You need to channel your hate so you can kill those Irish pricks" speech. That's the kind of loving advice you don't often hear from most mothers...

And what the WHAT was with the hospital administrator's back tattoo? There's a storyline coming out of that scene. So much could be explained if she's a former biker mama. I'm totally warmed up to her character. And you know that priest is just evil.

The storm doors are up, the screens put away, nothing got broke but I cursed a little. On my way to bed I paused by the door to let the cat in and remembered that she was dead.

And I drained the rain barrels, made applesauce out of 20 pounds of apples, voted, and brought my tribe to church last night. In the spirit of November, I'm thankful for the applesauce turning out perfectly, my AWANA leaders' faithful service every week, Tuesday nights on FX, and sweaters on a chilly morning.

Spill it reader--it's the month of Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

and now, a few words from our sponsor

I always feel proud to cast my ballot on election day, but I also feel cynical, weary and disgusted. A tiny part of me envies people living in places like Cuba where the airwaves and mailboxes are blessedly free of campaigning--one benefit of living under a dictatorship. Tomorrow my phone will cease ringing, the TV ads will revert to selling me fast food and cars once again, and my mailbox will contain only a few bills. The amount of money spent on mudslinging reached $4 billion this year. I look at my choices and I want to vote "D--none of the above." Sometimes I have a fantasy that the American public will show up to vote and return blank ballots--what would happen if we united and exercised our right to vote for none of them? What if we demanded a complete do-over? Would we get a new round of choices? Would we finally silence the political machinery running our nation? I'd like to take our country back from them, frankly...

But of course I'll vote. I have no right to complain if I don't--and it is my obligation as a citizen, although one wonders what effect that ballot has these days when corporate free speech has a bigger bankroll than the average citizen... and what's the obligation of "corporate citizens?" That's a question left unanswered by the Supreme Court... they handled it as a question of "Free Speech," but one might argue the nature of a corporation. Does it's very essence entitle it to the same Constitutional rights as a human being? Could the citizens of America ever unite to take their country back using their right to vote? Stay tuned...but I bet it won't happen this year.

Pretty deep for a Tuesday morning, aren't I?

At least one group of working men won the big prize last night. Let's hear it for the Giants! Whoo-hoo! Scary beards aside, that was just a great moment in baseball history. Hard working underdogs winning the World Series--the equivalent of a blue collar team in baseball. I can't wait to watch the Disnified version of this story on the big screen someday...

On a lighter note, Mr. D and I had an extraordinary experience last night. We went to Mr. T's parent/teacher conferences where four teachers sat in a row and told us "Mr. T is a hard worker, participates in class, asks questions, does great and is polite and pleasant." One teacher even suggested cloning him. Since first grade all we've heard is how frustrating it is to work with Mr. T--he "doesn't pay attention in class, struggles with keeping up, needs to work harder." What changed? I'd argue Mr. T didn't change that much--but sending him to a new school changed everything. We floated out of the building feeling giddy after hearing such praise for our son.

And even better? Watching Mr. T duck his head and grin while his teachers said such nice things about him.

In the spirit of November and Thanksgiving, I'll end this post with my gratitude for that. And to the suffragettes who fought for my right to vote--thank you, ladies. For you, for hope and for America I'll go vote.

Monday, November 1, 2010

so much good news!

First, I have to put on my Plus-Sized Braggy-McBraggy Pants because people, my boys rocked their candidate testing and now I am the proud mama of a black belt and a 2nd degree black belt. Mr. B and Mr. T were amazing in their perseverance and effort Saturday. And they look wicked cute sporting their brand-new karate belts. It takes a little extra to impress me on this front, and my guys blew me away Saturday night at their graduation. Great work, boys!

Naturally we celebrated with some sugar--they put their friend A. through her paces trick-or-treating last night. They have enough candy to last them a year--they're rolling in it, as pleased with themselves as Halliburton executives landing another billion dollar defense contract. They went to bed last night, faces smeared with make up and chocolate, happy and exhausted.

And I have a winner to announce! The Treat Girl won a copy of Lemur Troops and Critter Groups by the Fabulous Rena Jones! She was celebrating over the weekend, too--her son won his Superbowl game. Congratulations to The Treat Girl and her son!

Finally, today is Mr. D's birthday. Happy Birthday, Big Daddy. I feel thankful to have you in my life, Mr. D. You're an incredible man--loyal, funny, charismatic, curious, naturally athletic, smart and generous. Many, many happy returns of the day. I love you.