Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Boys Water the Trees; Girls Water the Grass"

I met some friends at the park today, and saw their new baby.

I'm talking, of course, about their newly acquired cell phone. The time had come to upgrade the phone, and upgrade they did. It wasn't quite a Smart Phone---perhaps a Proficient Phone would be a better adjective. Nevertheless, my friend cradled the phone gently, carried it in a Baby Bjorn, and jumped at its every beep and whimper.

I must admit that I love my phone as well, but one of the features that has, truly, truly enhanced my life is the camera function. I always have a camera, and consequently, I see the world with a more artistic eye.

I was able to capture Owen as he proudly showed me his yoga in a sun-drenched backyard:

I promise you I did not know any postures or even the word yoga when I was four years old. I'm so happy he does.

I also was able to take pictures while we were on an impromptu hike today. Owen suddenly needed to use the restroom, so I turned off the road, and discovered a charming hiking trail. We watered the trees, and stayed for the scenery. By the way, according to Owen, "Boys water the trees, and girls water the grass."

Do you see how they are holding hands? I don't think I could love this picture any more. 

We found a tobacco barn, and you know how I love me a tobacco barn. 

I went home and played with my photo software. These stacked boards looked like a blooming flower, heavy with pollen.:   

 This? This is what my heart looks like. Well, that and my little yogi. 

My brother, who is an amazing artist, poet, and musician in Seattle, has started a new blog called onfootphotos. You take pictures with your camera phone and submit them to the site. You share your city or community through artistic eyes and well-trod feet. You're welcome to doctor the photos with any software you choose, but the camera must be connected to your phone. 

I would encourage you to check out his site, become a follower, and enjoy the journey. He's a good egg, despite the fact that Mom and Dad totally were easier on him because he's the baby. 

I will submit my first photo tomorrow. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

No Country For Non-Seasonal Peeps

Dear JustBorn, creators of Marshmallow Peeps: 

I have specific, non-negotiable rules about seasonal candy. For example, Valentine's hearts are only good in February. Likewise, candy corn is strictly for Halloween. And, most importantly, Marshmallow Peeps are strictly for Easter. Or Passover, for my Jewish friends.

There has been a disturbing trend to package Peeps for other holidays. Marshmallow Ghosts. Marshmallow Christmas Trees. Patriotic Peeps. I have even seen Valentine's Day Peeps. Contemptible.

This is a miscarriage of all things good and holy regarding your fine confection. This abomination ends today.

As a child, I would go outside with my pink plastic Easter basket and collect the eggs. Although I enjoyed the jelly beans and the peanut-butter eggs, I cherished the yellow Peeps most of all. The rest of my family did not share my love, calling your delectable marshmallow and sugar goodness "gross" or "too sweet."

Their loss. My method of consumption was tried and true. I would leave the Peeps out for a day or two until they achieved the perfect, slightly stale consistency I craved. I would begin with the butt, and nibble my way to the perk little beak. Bliss.

The last bite was bittersweet, (at least as bitter as a marshmallow covered in sugar can be), for I knew I would need to wait an entire year until my next Peep. And so, I learned patience. I learned of the fleeting nature of small joys. I learned to savor good things.

And yet, in search of  Almighty Profits, the next generation will not learn these lessons. Immediate gratification! Peeps for the sake of peeps! Good God, JustBorn, do you wish to leave such a painful legacy?

Save the future. Save yourself. Make Peeps a seasonal treat. Limit yourself to yellow bunnies and pink rabbits.

It's the right thing to do.

 Make it Work!
Avoid the bloodbath. 

Save us all. 



Thanks to adrienzgirl for indulging such foolishness

 Think Tank Momma

Monday, March 29, 2010

Changing My Script

It's an ugly thing to admit, but if I am going to be a bold and truthful writer, it must be said:

I am a snob.

I wish I could say that this is the endearing kind of snobbery involving organic goat cheese or free-trade coffee. It's not. (Although I am that kind of snob as well).

No, my snobbery is the ugly kind, the kind I would prefer not to write about or even admit to myself. It's a personal failing kind of snobbery.

Allow me to back up. Owen had his first T-ball practice last Thursday. He had a great time and is eager to return. I, meanwhile, spent most of the practice silently judging. One parent brought a one-hundred pound barking dog to practice. He tied it to the dugout and went off to smoke a cigarette. The dog was some kind of nasty breed, but, in the man's defense, he finished his cigarette and took the dog on a long walk away from the children for most of the practice.

I didn't have a chance to talk to some of the other parents, but I did notice the smoking, the diction, and  other signs that I dismissed as low-class.

I'm ashamed of myself.

I don't even know these people, and I judged. If I believe that there is a divine light in all of us, and we are wonderfully and fearfully made, then I need to change the scripts in my head.

I would like to believe I'm a person that doesn't value money and appearances, but I know that I care more than I admit. Paul and I have been talking about vacations. It started with Ireland, which we deemed impractical. Next, we discussed renting a beach house for a week in the Outer Banks, which is more reasonable.

Yet, all this discussion of vacations and money stirred up waves of dissatisfaction. I started thinking of all the things I wanted---a weekend getaway to Savannah, new floors, new window blinds. I wanted to travel overseas and feel the coolness of white crisp sheets in a soft feather bed. I wanted to take the boys on sailboats, helicopters, or any thrill their hearts desired. I wanted to have the funds for unlimited possibility.

For them, of course. Right. For them

Today, though, I took the boys in the backyard to play. It's been a rainy Monday, and yet, out we went. I watched the boys make muddy soup out of twigs and rainwater, run down the hill, wave around sticks, and examine old stumps. They were content. They didn't need freshly-ironed sheets or poolside drink service.

They wanted to get dirty, feel the sun on their faces, and maybe the splash of cool water.

In that backyard, I was humbled all over again. Those boys are powerful teachers. They showed me that the beauty comes from noticing, from appreciating, and from seeking the warm glow of God inside each of us.

And so, I called Paul and suggested that we use our vacation funds to do a weekend getaway to the beach, and then we should take the remaining funds and buy a nice tent.

We need to camp. We need to go into the woods, have long conversations with each other, take naps in the afternoon sun, and go wading in the lakes. Hot dogs and marshmallows over a fire will last longer in our minds than chicken nuggets from the kids' meal in some crowded chain restaurant.

More importantly, though, I need to change my script. My children will not be happy by hanging out with a certain "type" of person or going on the "right" vacations. They will be happy if I teach them that they are not better than other people, and that there is beauty everywhere. That they need to notice more, judge less.

And maybe, just maybe, they will see that in loving other people, they will see the face of God. (with apologies to Hugo).

What makes a vacation memorable for children? What do you remember from travels?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Fragments: Paging Mr. T

For Owen's first four Easters, we either skipped the egg hunt altogether or filled the eggs with Cheerios.

He didn't know what he was missing, it was a lot less expensive, and I've never seen a kid come down from a  wicked Cheerio high.

Well, the genie has been released from the bottle for sure. On Thursday, he had two Easter Egg Hunts back-to-back (for preschool and at a friend's house). He had Chocolate! Jelly beans! Nerds! Peeps!

I believe that an eggful of Cheerios at this point would be the Easter Bunny's version of a lump of coal.

Well, we had a good run.

Another residual of these hunts is that Owen got his first candy necklace.

Those who know me understand that I have very weird, specific rules about jewelry. I've always hated necklaces to the point that I would cry when forced to wear one as a child. I didn't get my ears pierced until I was in high school. I can't drink wine out of a glass if it has a charm on it.

I know, it's quirky.

Paul bought me a black pearl on a silver chain when he was in Hawaii. I love it because it comes from him, so I'm willingly wearing a necklace for the first time in my life. Still, it's hard. I'll feel it around my neck and I'll panic, as if I'm choking.

Anyway, it goes without saying that I cannot abide jewelry on men. It was a deal-breaker back in my dating days.

You know where this is going. Owen LOVES his candy necklace. He wears it everywhere.

I'm trying to be cool about it, because if he catches wind of my bizarre little phobia, he will choose to look like Mr. T when he's in middle school.

Regardless of your personal political views, I think that most people can get behind the idea that Michelle Obama is an attractive lady. I've declared this summer to be My Summer of Michelle---I will have her arms, her sundresses, and her cute cardigans.

I've been working on the arms, and I bought two skirts at Old Navy yesterday.

I fear, however, that the look I am rocking is more extremist religious sect and less classy, carefree chic.

There's one thing I didn't know about wearing skirts. Skirts=Inner Thigh Chub Rub.

I'm not in love with this development.

Paul was in a four-car car crash Wednesday morning. Nobody was seriously hurt. Paul is fine. We just found out that the car will be repaired, which is a surprise. We were sure it was totalled.

Occasionally, that thin veil between safe and dangerous, life and death, joy and despair becomes a bit more transparent. Thank God Paul stayed on the safe, alive, and happy side of the veil.

Until next time, may all your cars be safe, all your candy necklaces in place, and your eggs filled with the best Cheerios money can buy.

Thanks Mrs. 4444 for hosting Friday Fragments

Mommy's Idea

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Happy Pictures and Design Intervention

No deep thoughts today, just a few pictures of things that made me smile:

Free pastry at Starbucks day!

This is the first time Owen has ever drawn a picture of me. I'm considering making this into a tattoo, because I love it so much. 

The patio furniture is out! Would you believe that this tenacious little rosemary survived the winter? Love that. 
An entire episode dedicated to Richard Alpert, aka "Guyliner" on tonight's Lost. SQUEEE!

While you're still here, could you do me a favor? 

This is our master bedroom. I hate the color of the walls. I mean, it sucks a bit of my soul away every time I enter the room. 

I'm not in love with the bedspread, but we are too cheap too environmentally sound to replace a perfectly good bedspread.

I thought that it would be fun to paint it a bold, bright coral color. 

I've learned the hard way that a color that looks good on my toes does not necessarily look good on my walls.

It's not exactly the best color for relaxing and sexy time. 

So, dear friends, please tell me what color to paint my walls, m'kay? 

Thanks in advance!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Memoir Monday: Computer Time Machine Edition

Holy Crap. I found a bunch of old writings from my early days of teaching. It was the year 2000. I was a newlywed with no children, teaching seventh grade in Southern Arizona. I participated in a writing group, and fancied myself to be a writer. I was twenty-four, and therefore knew everything.

Posting these old writings is the equivalent of posting pictures from middle school. Be kind, I have a fragile heart.

And thanks, Travis, for hosting Memoir Mondays. 

Read on, if you dare:

Friday Afternoon

            I place my milk crate of unread essays down on the kitchen table. The sink, as usual, is overflowing with dishes. Especially cups. Paul loves to drink half a glass of water and then throw the plastic cup in the sink. He repeats this procedure about every hour or so, leaving the rough equalivant of ten thousand cups littering the counter. I sigh. “I hate doing the God Damn Dishes!” I yell, the noise echoing off the walls. The dog snorts and tromps into another room.
            I turn on the water and sing to myself, using the tune of “I’m a Survivor.” It’s a cheesy pop song that’s been stuck in my head. As I scrub at dishes incrusted with Paul’s oatmeal, I sing, “I hate the di-shes, Paul is an ass-hole, My life su-cks, I don’t wanna do this.” I smile at my little song, and then frown again as I think of everything I need to do before tomorrow. I’ve got to finish these dishes. Clean the house. Pack for the weekend trip to California. “Shit!” I bellow, my forehead narrowing into waves of wrinkles. I’ve got to move those couches to the curb. It’s the annual neighborhood “Spring Cleaning” and there are several ravaged couches that need to be sent to their final resting place. They have been sitting in the backyard, torn apart day by day by our bored Boxer.
            I finish the dishes, slamming each cup into the drainer with unnecessary, but satisfying force. Then, I wipe the counters clean. “Come here, Molly!” I yell, summoning the dog. Our seventy-pound drooling machine licks up the leftover crumbs, sprinkles of salt, and other debris I’ve swept to the floor. Who needs a broom? “Good girl, Mol-Mols,” I simper, walking towards the bedroom. 
            My pulse quickens. The bed isn’t made. Paul’s left his change on the counter. I scowl and trip on the dog, following me in search of attention. “MOVE, Molly!!” I yell.
            Molly gazes at me as if to ask, “What the hell’s your problem?” and walks back to the living room, flopping to the ground with a wheeze.
            If Paul was here, he’d probably say, “You’re in one of your cleaning moods.”
            I would most likely spit back, “Well, who else is going to do it?”
            Since I’m here, alone in the house on the Friday of my Spring Break, not running or at happy hour or shopping or reading a magazine,  I’ve allowed myself to slip into my Drudgery Role. It’s really one of my most ugly traits, and it so often comes out in my writing. Re-reading my diary from college, you would think that I spent the entire four years with a razor blade poised over my wrists. One time, I had written, “My life is just a never-ending Smiths song.” It’s misery that only an upper-middle class white kid with a monthly allowance could fathom.
 I finish making the bed and move to the Bivouac to pull out two suitcases. The Bivouac is the sagging shed in our backyard, named from the days that Paul lived in the home with other Air Force linguists. Sometimes I wonder if he misses the days when he lived with three other guys, drinking beer from his Keg-a-rater and watching “Cops” to his heart’s content. Nowadays, he’s stuck with this shrewish creature that regularly watches a design show made in male hell called, “Trading Spaces” and yells when he forgets to use a coaster.
 This isn’t that bad, I think, walking into the Bivouac. I spy the two suitcases, and feel the anger pulse up again when I realize they are covered in dust. “Son of a bitch!” I say. It is, after all, Paul's fault that untouched suitcases get dusty after sitting in a ramshackle shed for six months. I shake off the dust and walk into the house. Despite my shaking, my shirt is now covered with a dusty film. “I hate packing!” I say. Molly snores in response.
I look at the clock. It’s six o’clock. Paul should be home in about a half hour. He’s been working at a job for a month in a half. Tech support for personal finance software. Old ladies call in, charged two dollars a minute, tearful that they have lost their entire financial histories with the click of a button. Millionaires call in, angry that they cannot transfer more than two million dollars from one account to another in the course of a single day. “I shouldn’t have to pay for this call,” they snort, upon being informed of their billing of three dollars and fifty-five cents.
About once a day, somebody will ask Paul, “Do you know what the hell you’re doing?” All of this Paul takes in stride. He tells these stories with a smile. The closest I have heard to a complaint thus far is, “I wish I could walk around more during the day.” I imagine him strapped, Matrix-style to his computer. Surrounded by phones ringing, ringing, ringing. Crusty plants wilting due to lack of sun. His boss walking stomping around with a checklist, waiting to write him up. But this is all imagination, because he doesn’t complain.
I finish packing. If Paul doesn’t like what I packed, then next time he should pack his own damn suitcase. I think with a satisfied huff. I walk into the house---clean, sparkling, and fresh. The bags are packed; we’re ready to go. I sink into a chair, reach for my Real Simple magazine, and then remember. The Stupid, Stupid Couches. I could just leave them for him. But I want him to see how hard I’ve worked and feel terrible about it. I imagine him saying, “You moved those couches all by yourself? Why didn’t you wait for me?”
I would give another stoic nod and say, “Well, what can you do?”  Paul would be awed by my strength and independence.
I head outside, where the dreaded couches lie. I pick up the end of one. My fingers turn white at the tips. I drag it two inches towards the fence, running over one of the many dog turds littering the back yard. “Gross,” I mumble, and push it a bit more. Inch by inch, the couch makes its way to the narrow gate. I strain, lodging it through the gateway, where it promptly gets stuck. My eyes must have turned red and twitchy. I kick the couch, stubbing my toe. I proceed to yell at the couch, saying many unpleasant things about its mother. It reminds me of my father, who used to yell at his ham radio, calling it a “Stupid son of a bitch.”
I sit on the couch, lodged halfway between the front and back yards, my toe throbbing, pondering how effective it would be to flip off the couch.  Molly, meanwhile, leans next to me, her tail wagging. She then proceeds to tear at a pillow, content and munching.
I hear Paul’s car pull up the driveway, and I think to myself, Somehow this is entirely his fault.
“Hi Nance,” he says, and then turns to Molly. “Hi Mol-Mols,” he says, scratching her belly and cooing like a proud Papa. “Did you chase any birds today? That’s a good girls.”
“Ahem,” I say.
“How are you?” he asks. “What are you trying to do?”
“What do you think?”
“Ummmm…Move the couch?”
Paul either is clueless to my anger, or ignoring it completely. “Well, you didn’t do a very good job.”
“Well,” I said, puffed up, “I would have somebody help me if somebody wasn’t off doing God knows what, leaving me to get ready for our trip tomorrow.”
Paul starts laughing. Molly’s tail wags more than usual. “Why didn’t you move it on its side?” he asked, demonstrating with a quick movement.
It makes perfect sense. It would slide through like nothing. I mumble,  “I didn’t think of it, alright!”
“That’s Nance,” Paul says, but not unkindly. As much as I want to stay mad, it suddenly seems like too much effort. “Let me help you get this out,” he says.
After minor pushing, both couches are soon on the curb. Molly wanders around the backyard, now lacking a purpose. We walk into the house. “I washed the dishes you know.”
Paul smiles, “And it looks very nice..”
I continue on, feeling like a child needing a sticker at the dentist’s office. “And, I cleaned the kitchen, and made the bed, and packed, and, all sorts of stuff!”
“Oh. Cleaning mood. It’s a good thing I wasn’t home, huh?” 
“Probably,” I say.  “I suppose I can get a little psycho.”
Paul’s eye widen as he imagines a comeback, but narrow again as he wisely decides against it.  He tosses my hair through his fingers. “Yup. Why don’t you sit down and I’ll make dinner?”
I walk over the couch, open my magazine. As Paul fills a drink from a newly cleaned plastic cup, and flips open a cookbook, I ask, “How was work?”
Paul rolls his eyes, “This guy from Texas told me today that I couldn’t find my ass with both my hands.”
“Was he right?”
“I guess so. He said it enough. It was pretty funny.”
           “Oh,” I reply, returning to my magazine. As I listen to Paul chop carrots, the Drudgery Role retreats within me, waiting to be unleashed  on another, more deserving day.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sundays In My City: Spring Awakening

Spring unlocks the flowers to paint the laughing soil.  
Bishop Reginald Heber

Spring is here, and it's glorious. 

More glorious than stained glass or freshly baked bread or even, dare I say it, the smell of a newborn's head. 

I have strong feelings about spring. 

Spring passes and one remembers one's innocence. Yoko Ono

Everything is sweet. A year ago, Joel watched Owen play while hanging from his Baby Bjorn. Now he's fearless. 

Terrifyingly so. Yet, I've always loved moxie.

We wake up and go to the playground, or the beach, or the boardwalk, and our bodies arch towards the sun like Gerber Daisies.

Sometimes we eat ice cream. 

Yes, everything is sweet. 

Then, there's the bike. 
I saw this bike at the thrift store. A lady had won it an auction, and since she had no children, she donated it. Brand spankin' new. Already assembled. It even had a helmet. Icing on the cake? It's Owen's favorite color--blue. 

In case you were curious, this is what hot stuff looks like.

We took the bike to Annmarie Garden, a sculpture park in Solomons, Maryland. 

It's a magical place. A forested glen with a quiet walking path and wonders everywhere. 

The boys were indifferent to the sculpture. Nature and the joy of movement were enough. 

Their art is beautiful indeed. 

Unknown Mami

Friday, March 19, 2010

Another Post About the Kick-Assitude of Women

As I've alluded to in previous posts, I've been going solo this week while Paul takes a business trip to Hawaii. That is, aside from my juiced bodyguard, in the event you are a creep and you are reading this.

Here we are after I dropped Owen off at preschool. 

I don't love it when Paul is gone. He's my best friend, and the boys love their daddy.
Yet, these periods when Paul travels remind me of my inner capability and strength. I can do bedtime and middle of the night and meal prep and discipline and hugs and kisses, and I can do it pretty damn well. My boys are content and joyful and just remarkable little people. 

It feels good to know that if I had to--God forbid--I could raise remarkable men on my own. 

I really don't want to, but I could. These roots are strong. 

I have that feminine strength that I honor when I think of my mother, who is celebrating her birthday today. I think of my girlfriends who face infertility, illness, change, heartbreak and life in general with dignity and perseverance. I think of those mothers, some as young as eighteen, who took my English classes when I taught at the community college, and spent their evenings working towards a future, for themselves, for their children. 

Also, because clearly this has been my kick this week, I think of Mary.

I also am humbled by my friends, and the way they care for me so tenderly. My friend who invited us over for dinner one night, because she knows that evenings are hard. My friends who took their cranky tribes to my house on Wednesday, so I could feed them Shepherd's Pie and again, break up the evening haul. My friend, who took Owen over to her neighborhood and entrusted him with the important task of making the lemonade. 

He's still talking about that lemonade. 

The universe is so abundant. People are so good.

And, oh these boys. There are no words to explain how I love them. My eyes well up as I sit here, eating my spinach dip and drinking my Pinot Grigio, just humbled that I am allowed to live and breathe and exist with these miracles. 

And finally, there's you.  I posted every day this week, which is possibly more than necessary. But you listened. You commented. Your virtual arms are strong, and I am grateful. So very, very grateful.

The universe is abundant indeed.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I decided to stop yelling at my children for Lent.

Of course, Lent is almost over and I started two days ago.

I make my own rules.

Many people give up soda or chocolate or something else that gives them pleasure. Good for them. I need as many legal pleasures in my life as possible.

Other people add something to their life, like additional spiritual practices  or service. Good for them.

Me? I'm giving up yelling at my children.

I'm doing this because that old phrase "anger is depression turned outward"  is true.

When I raise my voice, I am frustrated with circumstances or hungry or lonely or scared. It's like scratching a mosquito bite---it's so very satisfying to scratch until it bleeds. Then, however, you're itchy and bleeding. When I yell, I'm still hungry or lonely or frustrated or scared. But then I'm also wracked with guilt.

My child, doing his bedtime prayers, said, "Please help Mommy to stop yelling at me." Then, to really twist the knife, he told me that he's going to start saying "bad prayers" like, "Please help me NOT listen to Mommy."

In case you were wondering, I HAVE ruined him.

After I looked in his eyes and saw the brutal truth in his words: "Stop yelling," I went downstairs and cried and prayed and lit my Mary candle. I said these words as a mantra: "I am not going to be a yelling mom."

I said the words, and willed them into life. These words are real now, and I must tend them like a newborn babe.

This morning, Owen was a pill. Didn't want to get dressed. Didn't want to eat breakfast. I asked him if wanted toast, a waffle, or cereal for breakfast. He said, after much dithering, "scrambled eggs."

I repeated, "You can have toast, a waffle, or cereal."

He said, "Scrambled eggs."

I said, "I love you too much to argue."

He continued to be obstinate and truth be told, a bit of an asshole.

I said to him, "You are making me angry, and I am going to go into my room for awhile so I don't yell at you."

And then, I did. I rested on my bed, while Joel played nearby, repeated my mantra, said a little prayer, and came back out when I didn't feel like yelling anymore.

I then asked Owen if he wanted a waffle, toast, or cereal.

He said he wanted scrambled eggs.

I took a deep breath. I told him he was getting a waffle. We moved on.

And I didn't yell.

I'm sure I will yell again. You can count on it.

Easter morning is going to be an effing nightmare. After all, Lent will be over.

I kid.

I'm hoping this habit sticks. After all,  I'm not going to be a yelling mom.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hope is A Thing With Green Feathers.

Welcome, my green sanctuary. 

I have been waiting for you. 

Your annual rebirth and redemption... an Alleluia on a vine.

My soul is full in your loveliness.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

House Hunters Drives Me to Drink

Dear House Hunters on HGTV,

You are totally harshing my mellow.

Being that I had total control of the remote last night, I watched your fine program, House Hunters. It took about five minutes for me to be consumed with irrational hatred regrading everything and everyone involved with the show.

It took place in Las Vegas, and the house-hunting couple looked at three MANSIONS. These were utterly huge homes, with soaring ceilings, skylights, hardwood floors, and enough granite to drown the entire Soprano family.

I think the most expensive home was $250,000 dollars. That home used to belong to Siegfried and Roy.

Perhaps I exaggerate.

However, it was still a lot of house, and it had a built-in grill and wet bar in the backyard. Meanwhile, a nice townhouse runs almost $300,000 around here.

I sat in my cottage, a place I had considered charming and green and perfect for us just fifteen minutes ago, overcome with house lust. I would love a claw-foot bathtub! I need a six-burner Viking range! And, yes, if you insist, I'll take the steam shower!

HGTV, your house hunters made me want to hit my head with a cinder block. Looking at a living room the size of my downstairs, the female house hunter whined, "It's a nice house, but I don't like the color." Because, yes, once you paint a wall, it cannot ever, EVER(!) be changed.

The husband on this episode continually said the same three things: "This would be a great place to put my big screen TV."; "This might be the perfect room for my man cave,"; and "It needs to have a garage big enough for all of my toys."

When did man caves, big screen TVs, and abundant room for toys become necessities?  And why must the men ALWAYS say these things on every episode?

I've decided, HGTV, to make a  House Hunters Drinking Game

You must drink every time one of the following phrases is uttered: 

1) This would be a great room for entertaining. 
2) I don't like the color/floor/cabinets
3) This is too small (Note: they never, ever, say that any room is too big).
4) I love the open floor plan. 
5) This would be a great place for my big-screen TV
5) Finally, I have a place for all my toys. 
6) This would be a great place to drink coffee in the mornings. 
7) This is a great walk-in closet. I don't know where my husband will put his clothes, though. (Heh, heh. Sigh.)
8) I love the stainless steel. 
9) I love the granite counter-tops. 
10) This will need to  be updated. 

Every time they describe something as "nice," you must drink. Also, if they have a pet and they mention how the house will be perfect for little Scruffy or Lambchop, you must drink. 

When it comes time to reveal, if you correctly selected the chosen house, you must chug. 

After completing this game, you will no longer care about the conditions of your own house, and will be content to live in your own drunken filth. 

HGTV, I believe that this game is brilliant and could increase your ratings. Please let me know if you will accept this fantastic idea. You may pay me with throw pillows, recessed lighting, and, naturally, stainless steel appliances.

Yours most sincerely,


(Thanks, adrienzgirl, for the opportunity to let off steam in my slate shower.) 

Think Tank Momma

Monday, March 15, 2010

Memoir Monday: Summer Raspberries

Paul's family is from Wisconsin and I have never encountered a heartier group of people. They are all stunningly capable and put my suburban-bred ass to shame.

Paul's grandfather used to own a dairy farm. In his younger days, he would drive up to Hurley, close to the Michigan border, and compete in arm-wrestling competitions. I have no doubt he won many of them. He has big hands. Like trash-can lids.

Paul's grandmother was a sweet soul, partial to pink and soft-spoken. Yet, she was a farm-girl by nature, and rumor has it that she dragged rogue moles, raccoons, and other critters to the river in burlap sacks to meet their makers.

She had cancer, which she fought on her terms, at home. The last time I saw her, she apologized for the size of her garden. She said she lacked the energy to make a good one. Her "pitiful" garden was almost an acre. It was what I would call a farm.

The stories go on and on.

Paul's uncle hunts bear.

Another uncle is an honest-to-God curler (as in the Olympic sport, although he is not an Olympian).

Paul's father and mother met at a snowmobile rally.

I haven't even touched upon the stories of lumberjack mishaps. They often involve bloody stumps and the dragging of remaining limbs through the forest. All true, they swear.

The first time I met these relations was a week after our engagement. To say I was nervous was an understatement. I slept in a guest room with a broken screen, and chiggers and mosquitoes swarmed all over my face, my arms. I looked like The Elephant Man after a few days.

Paul and I would take the canoe out. He would catch fish, while I would squeal that they were "too flappy", whine about my itchy skin, and complain that the water was getting all over my John Irving novel.

I tried to be gracious, but I was sure they hated me.

The day we left, Paul's grandfather looked me in the eye and said, "We like you." My heart swelled, although I didn't understand what they liked. My whining? My wimpiness? My complete lack of knowledge about Muskies? (That's a mean fish, I learned).

I learned later that this is what sealed the deal: I was helping Paul's grandmother wash some dishes, and I found a raspberry on the floor. Without hesitating, I popped it in my mouth. Paul's grandmother told my mother-in-law, "We like her. She doesn't put on airs."

I like her too. I miss her. In Heaven, I believe, she is gardening away, free from disruptive critters, with all the summer raspberries her heart can contain.

Thank you Travis, for hosting Memoir Monday. Come check out some other memoirs at his place. 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sundays in My City: Candlelight

I sat in church this morning, and although my attention should have been up front, I was looking out this window for much of the service.

It's a foggy morning in my city. I love fog. Today, though, as I looked out that window instead of at the candles or tapestries, it made me sad.

Life is in flux for me. Many of my friends are entering new chapters in their lives. They're moving, having new children, or returning to work. Sometimes all of the above.

One friend lost her mother on Friday. Another friend is starting her life over after the dissolution of a partnership.

Even this church with the beautiful trees on the hilltop is in transition. My pastor left and I'm nervous that the replacement will not understand that God (like The Dude) abides in nature and people and in my child's smile more than in a building. For me, anyway. 

As I was driving home, I felt an almost overwhelming urge to stop at the grocery store and buy one of those candles with pictures of Mary and the Saints on them. I'm not Catholic, so I don't know the proper name for them.

Throughout my childhood, I saw the candles next to the canned chilies and those special Mexican sodas when we went grocery shopping. I was always fascinated by them. Some images were so gory, so not Lutheran in any way shape or form. I never bought one.

Today, though, as I was driving home, I thought about the Madonna. She is the closest thing to the Feminine Divine that I know, and today I wanted to harness some of her strength. Clearly, I've been reading Susan Monk Kidd.

I didn't buy the candle because the boys were fussing. Instead, when I got home, I called my friend and asked him if I could bring his family dinner. They just returned from China with their new son, and the family is adapting to a lot. They are becoming a family of five, which is a beautiful thing. However, even beautiful things take time to settle into loveliness.

They allowed me the privilege of feeding them. The allowed me to harness my own divine mother-love. In a world that changes, I can still cook. I can still nourish.

So cook I did.
Shepherd's Pie, y'all. Comfort food. The good stuff.
I could have spread the mashed potatoes a little thinner. Not this mama. I made MORE. 
I made Rice Krispie treats because yesterday was their son's birthday. I'll get him balloons, too. 

This is such a small gesture, and I'm helping myself more than I'm helping my friends. But it makes me feel less powerless. It makes me feel like I'm doing my small part to lift the fog, and let the light shine.

And on the way home, I'm buying a candle. Just so I remember what's inside me. What's inside all of us, my sisters.
Unknown Mami