Friday, April 30, 2010

Stalking the Perfect Parking Spot

I went to Costco today. I’m assuming that everyone knows about Costco – that gigantic warehouse of bulk items that requires a membership to enter the door, and at least a hundred dollar bill to leave. Honestly, I might go in there to get a $9.99 jar of Gummy Vites, and between the entrance and the pharmacy I see 30 items I want – all of them packaged so that I get enough to last two years, BUT IT’S SUCH A GOOD DEAL! I always end up finding an empty cart and worrying if I’ve got enough money to cover everything I pile in it.

Because Costco is so popular, there’s never anywhere to park. Even at 10:00 a.m. when they first open the door, the parking lot is full except for the outlying areas. If you pack a lunch, you can park out there and take a rest break halfway in.

I pride myself on getting good parking spaces, so I cruise around the entrance and stalk someone coming out of the store. I’ll see them pushing the cart out the door, then try to gauge their direction. I’ll speed up and circle around, following them slowly until they reach their car.

Surely these people know they are being stalked. Wouldn’t most people sense the presence of a huge chunk of metal out of the corner of their eye? Knowing that someone wants their parking space, you’d think they’d be considerate and go about their business efficiently.

Today I stalked a woman down the parking lane and saw her push her remote. Jackpot! The lights of a car pretty close to the front went on. It was a great spot, and I got very excited. I pulled over a little so cars could go around me. A car pulled up behind me and just sat there. There was plenty of room for him to go around. I turned on my turn signal to let him know that I was going to be sitting there, and that it was okay for him to go around. I could see in my rear view mirror that he was frowning. He didn’t want to go around. He wanted me to move.

Meantime the lady pushing the cart had her trunk open and was unloading each item, taking her sweet time. “Hustle, woman,” I thought, “before this idiot rear ends me.” She finally gets the cart unloaded and decides to be a good Costco Samaritan by walking the shopping cart back. For crying out loud. There are carts everywhere like freckles on a redhead, but she thinks hers is too good to be put out to pasture with the others. Two cars have stacked up behind the one waiting for me. I rolled my window down and signaled them to go around. The first one refused. The second didn’t want to go either, but the third one whisked around like he was racing a Ferrari.

Meantime the woman comes back and gets into her car. I wait for the taillights to come on but they don’t. The guy behind me is looking very angry. I decide he’s trying to intimidate me so HE can get my space. Who knows why the other car is still there?

Finally the bitch starts her car and slowly backs out. Inch by inch. Meantime, the second car decides at this very moment to make his move, and he whips around to pass. He pulls up next to me and sees the woman backing out. She sees him and pulls back in.

Now no one is moving. It’s like a four way stop when two cars ease forward at the same time and then stop and wait. They both wait the exact amount of time and pull forward again, then stop and wait.

The woman doesn’t move, and finally the car pulls forward and gets out of the way. She still doesn’t move, obviously shaken by the crazy turn of events in the parking lot.

I am this close to saying the hell with it when she starts inching back again. Slowly she eases out of the spot, jerking from applying the brakes every six inches. She backs way further back than she needs to, hesitates while she ponders what gear to put the car into – drive or reverse – then slowly pulls forward out of the way.

I greased into that spot like I was getting sucked by a giant magnet. The guy behind me lunges forward like he’s getting sucked by a giant vacuum, giving me the evil eye as he passes. I didn’t actually see the evil eye, I just felt it.

In the time it took to get that primo parking space, I could have filled my arms, dropped my $100 at the cashiers, and been driving out of there. But I had to stick it out. It was the principle of the thing.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Losers Sometimes Do Win

I have another sports story to share. This involved my son’s high school snowboard team a couple of years ago. Since snowboarding is not a school-sponsored sport, the team is run by volunteers. I was in charge of the whole shebang, which meant I hired the coaches, collected money from all the members, paid for the buses, processed all the release forms and other paperwork, etc. Plus I went to all the competitions, practices, and state competition. Riding the bus up with these kids 10 times during the season (2 hours each way), I got to know everyone pretty well.

I inherited coaches the first year, but the next year I hired three new ones, keeping only Juanita. One of the new coaches was a pretty fun guy named Justin. He was full of ideas, most of them crazy but the kids thought they were cool. Justin would find fallen trees, pack the tops with snow, and have the kids snowboard across them as a way to practice balance rather than starting out on the metal rails. I didn’t totally approve because I’d ski around the five hours we were there patrolling for kids in the trees smoking pot or doing inverts (front or back flips) or not wearing helmets. Once I watched a string of kids flying across a “tree rail” as Justin called it that was seven or eight feet off the ground. They sailed off the end of it, landing hard about twenty feet down the mountain. I couldn’t watch for long – I just pictured them falling off sideways and breaking their necks. All of them. They broke plenty of other stuff in the three years I was in charge, but never on these little side adventures Justin took them on.

We were having a kick ass season, and then the injuries started piling on until we looked like the Portland Trailblazers – many of our best snowboarders got sidelined with broken wrists and dislocated shoulders – the most typical snowboard injuries. One girl broke both wrists at one time.

State was coming up, and we needed people who could qualify for the boardercross team – a six man group that races down the hill together and tries to get the best average team time. Only the top four times are used, but you were supposed to send six guys down.

Two weeks before state my son broke his collarbone. Then a couple of other guys got injured. Luckily I had fixed it so that a ton of kids got to go to state because we rented a huge house and I wanted as many people as possible to pitch in on expenses. Plus I wanted the new people to get the experience. We allowed up to three alternates to come along with all those who qualified so we ended up with about 25 kids.

The night before the boardercross, one of our fast boarders said his back hurt too much to compete, so that left us with two fast boarders and the rest would have to be alternates who had shown themselves to be anything but speedy. At first Justin tried to talk my son into doing the run with his sling, but I nixed that immediately. With that hope dashed, there wasn’t any way we could finish anywhere but last, which had the two fast guys bummed, and the slow guys felt bad because they knew they weren’t good enough to make a difference. All our heads were hanging low.

Then Justin came up with an insane idea. “If we can’t be the fastest, we can be the coolest,” he said. When he said it, I didn’t realize he meant that literally. He met with the dejected six and explained that the only way they could redeem themselves from finishing last would be to go down the mountain in style – and by that he meant bare backed – no coats, no shirts, no nothing.

“No way,” I said. “You are NOT going to catch pneumonia on my watch.”

They all gathered around and begged. “We won’t catch cold. We’ll take everything off just as we get ready to load in the gate and Justin will carry our stuff down and be there when we get to the bottom.”

“No. End of discussion,” I said. But I was starting to warm up to the idea. They were so enthusiastic, and I could see that it would build team spirit. Plus it would put an end to their moping around, which was depressing everybody. I let them beg and plead a while longer, and then I grudgingly gave in. “But if anyone gets sick, I don’t want to hear about it.”

“Oh we won’t. We won’t,” they said, adding, “You’re the best!”

The next morning was overcast, windy, cold, and miserable. The boys were beside themselves with excitement, and it had infected all the rest of the kids and the chaperones, too. Someone told someone in the crowd, and before long people were coming up to me to ask if it was true that the boys weren’t going to wear shirts.

“Fraid so,” I said. “They’ve made up their minds, and what can you do?”

When it was our school’s time to go, the crowd was cheering like crazy. I was midway down the course, and since it twisted over hills and through trees, I couldn’t see the starting gate but I had an official two-wary radio and heard the crowd up on top get really loud so I knew they had taken their shirts off. I was bundled up for Siberia and was still freezing, so I couldn’t imagine what that cold mountain air felt like on bare skin.

“They’re on their way,” one of the officials said over the radio, “AND THEY’RE NOT WEARING ANY SHIRTS!” We could hear the wave of cheers coming down the mountain. When the first guy rounded the corner, he had his hands over his head, pumping his fists and yelling, “Woooooooo.” The people loved it. I got my camera ready and snapped a few shots as they flew by. They were scattered – the fast guys passed in a streak and the slower ones came into view like they were just moseying along. They all had their arms up to show what tough guys they were, and I got chill bumps when they went by – and not from the cold.

Soon after the last guy passed, two of the coaches snowboarded down, arms loaded with coats, shirts, and fleeces. “Hurry,” I yelled, “they’re going to freeze to death.” Justin grinned like a mule eating briars. “Don’t worry. Those boys are SMOKIN!”

The team came in a distant last, but they did it with style. If any of them got colds, they had the good sense not to tell me about it. When I got home I wrote up a play by play of the race for all 90 kids and their parents and emailed it to them with the pictures. I called it, “The Bareback Boys Win the Crowd’s Hearts at State.” I got a standing ovation at our end-of-season banquet – all because I let those boys turn a bunch of lemons into lemonade.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Powder Puff Power Play

I promised I’d tell about the powder puff football game. Last fall the junior girls were pitted against the senior girls, and it was pre-determined that the seniors would win. That’s only fair, my daughter explained, because next year when she was a senior she’d get to win.

“How do they manage to guarantee the seniors will win?” I asked.

“Oh, the refs give the juniors a bunch of extra penalties and stuff,” she said.

At first my husband tried to get out of going to the game. “I don’t want to watch a bunch of little girls playing flag football,” he said with disgust. But my friend Gina had a bunch of us over for dinner and we went straight to the game, so he came along.

While we were scrunched in the stands trying to keep warm, waiting forever for the game to begin, one of the dads called out, “Did anyone bring a boda bag?” We all laughed (and secretly wished someone had yelled, “Over here!”)

My daughter’s prom date, Johnny, was the junior’s head coach – chosen by the school’s football coach. It looked like he had gotten eight or nine of his friends as assistants. They were all wearing the forest green t-shirts with “Juniors Rule” scrawled in sloppy white paint on the front that the girls had made for them.

When I compared the size of the junior girls lined up next to the seniors, and saw all the talent on the junior team, I thought, those poor seniors don’t stand a chance.

The juniors got the ball first. My daughter’s job was to call everyone into the huddle. They plotted for a few seconds, then the two teams faced each other on the line and squatted down just like real football players except they weren’t wearing shoulder pads. The junior’s center picked up the football and stood up, saying, “Hey, they gave us the wrong ball. Look at this, it’s the wrong ball.” She turned and handed it to the quarterback.

The quarterback hollered, “Yeah, hey this is the wrong ball.” She looked at Johnny on the sideline and bellowed, “Hey, coach, you gave us the wrong ball.” She started walking toward him, calling out, “We can’t play with this ball, this isn’t the right one, there’s something wrong with this ball.” Everyone else just stood there, waiting for someone to fix the screw up. I thought, this is going to be one long game.

The quarterback was almost to the sideline, still ranting about the ball, when Johnny yelled, “RUN!” She took off flying down the field, chased by a befuddled pack of seniors, and scored a touchdown on the very first play of the game.

You’ve never seen such carrying on. Girls were bouncing up and down like they were on a trampoline, ponytails flying in the air, hugging and flailing their arms and squealing with delight.

“Was that legal?” I shouted above the cheering parents.

“Johnny found it online,” Gina shouted back. “He ran it by the athletic director first to make sure it was legal, and he said it was.”

The seniors sulked and accused the juniors of cheating, and even though the athletic director/referee squelched their grumbling, it’s probably the reason the game got a little rough. It was supposed to be flag football, but juniors were getting tackled, especially Gina’s daughter, Julia, who was like a cheetah on the field. She has broken school records in track. The quarterback kept handing the ball to her, and she’d run toward the sideline, gaining several yards before literally getting knocked out of bounds.

Once my daughter ran off the field crying and holding the splinted finger she’d broken in gymnastics. Another time Julia limped off, crying, after being tackled. And several girls stayed down on the field after plays. When it happened, both teams got down on one knee, but since it would take awhile for the injured girl to get up, some of the juniors started whispering. If it went on for a few seconds my daughter belted out, “SHUT UP!” loud enough for all of us in the stands to hear. She later told me that Johnny thanked her and finally told her he’d call the game if the girls did it again.

The seniors scored, then the juniors scored, then the seniors scored again and it was a tie game with a couple of minutes left on the clock. My daughter rushed two times in a row and snatched the senior quarterback’s flag, which led to them turning the ball over when they missed getting a first down.

A couple of quick plays got the juniors in field goal position with two seconds left on the clock. To make sure the juniors didn’t score and win the game, the referee put the ball way off to the side of the field so it couldn’t possibly go through the goal posts. Nobody could make such a kick.

Aleeta, the six foot tall soccer queen, got in position to kick. We were screaming in the stands, blowing frosty steam and jumping up and down. Aleeta ran up to the ball and gave it a good solid soccer kick at an impossible angle, and it flew like a homing pigeon right through the middle of the goal posts to win the game.

The whole junior class raced out on the field like kids on the last day of school - jumping, screaming, and waving their arms. Parents went down on the field too, though we were totally ignored for the longest time until our daughters came tearing out of the massive hive of kids and nearly knocked us down with excited hugs, “WE WON! WE WON! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT, WE WON!!!!”

“Did you like the game, daddy?” my daughter asked when she caught her breath.

“Best game I’ve seen in a long time. Beats most college games I’ve seen,” he said.

The next day my daughter was still pumped up. She was so hoarse from screaming that some words didn’t come out. She showed me all her bruises, and there were plenty because she had played both offense and defense. “This one senior hit me right in the face,” she said, “and she hit Hannah, too. And they were pulling girls’ hair from behind when we were running with the ball. I’ve got this giant bruise on my thigh, and feel this one here on my arm, it’s sticking up. And one of them grabbed my splinted finger and twisted it. They were really mean, mom.”

After school on Monday my daughter reported that the seniors mumbled the word, “Cheaters,” a lot. “They need to just let it go,” she said. “It wasn’t our fault we won. We just did our best.”

The juniors had a secret weapon. It was Johnny who won the game for them – with that incredible first play. That’s the kind of guy he is. Smart and clever and sweet.

Monday, April 26, 2010

We Got a Dress!

If you read my blog yesterday you know about the misery I was going through shopping for a prom dress for my daughter. I’m happy to report that we found a dress, although it was expensive and has to be altered. At this point I would have mortgaged my house if it meant I wouldn’t have to shop anymore.

Let me tell you the story about my daughter’s date. He’s the kind of guy who likes to go the extra mile. They have been friends for many years, and so it didn’t surprise me that he invited her to the prom, even though he could have had his pick of girls. Everybody likes him because he’s just a super nice guy.

A couple of weeks ago the two of them went down to the Saturday Market, an open air gathering of old hippies, craftspeople displaying artwork, photography, jewelry, homemade clothing and so forth, bento stands, and street performers. As Johnny and my daughter were walking around, they spotted a guy doing caricatures.

“Let’s get ours done,” Johnny said. So they did. The guy was rapidly sketching them when Johnny leaned down and said something to him, and told him their names. A few minutes later he paid for the sketch and they looked at it. It was a the typical funny picture with their big heads and little bodies and exaggerated prominent feature – if you read yesterday’s post you’ll know what that feature was on my daughter. Between their two heads the artist had written the word “Prom?” with a question mark. That’s how Johnny asked her to the prom. I went to a mom’s margarita party on Saturday night and everyone was talking about it before I even got there. Women live for these kinds of stories.

Here’s another example of what a stand up guy he is. One time they were here hanging out in the kitchen while I was cooking dinner. I took advantage of their presence to start grumbling about how tired I was or how much work I still had to do. I was going on and on and then I paused and let out a big sigh. At just that pause Johnny said, “I wish there was something I could do to make things easier for you.”

Oh my gosh! Those were magic words. Hearing them made me feel 100% better. You know how most people, when you start complaining, will start offering advice. “Well, why don’t you make your kids help around the house?” or “”Why don’t you go in and tell your boss you can’t work so many hours?” They totally miss the point of the complaining. You’re venting because you want sympathy. You want people to know how hard you work and how no one appreciates it.

You may not know that’s why you’re complaining, but after Johnny said those words and it made me feel better, I wanted to figure out why. I wasn’t complaining to get solutions. I don’t want teenagers to advise me on how to lighten the burdens in my life. I think I just wanted someone to know that my life isn’t a bed of roses. By saying he wished he could help me, Johnny was acknowledging that he understood I was having a tough time and he also understood there really wasn’t anything he could do about it but be sympathetic. Most other guys his age would have said, “Let’s go out in the bonus room and watch TV.”

That’s the kind of guy he is, and I couldn’t be happier that he’s picked my daughter to be his date. The thing that worries me is, what if he’s Eddie Haskell? What if he’s got me totally hoodwinked and he’s really conniving and sinister and is pretending to be my daughter’s friend so…

I’m not going there. He just got elected president of the student body, so I’m thinking he might be the genuine article. It may be easy to fool someone’s gullible mother, but the whole entire high school?

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about what he did when he coached the girls’ powder puff football game. He’s not only sweet, he’s smart.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Prom Crazy

I was so excited when my daughter was invited to the prom by one of her best friends and the nicest guy on earth. She went with her girlfriends to buy a dress but came home empty handed. No big deal, there was lots of time and lots more stores.

Over the next few days she went to most of them. I started getting text messages. “Mom, they don’t have anything at Nordstrom. Where else should I go?”

“Try Macy’s.”

“We did already.”

“Lloyd Center has some good stores.”

“We’ve been to all of them. Nothing.”

I wasn’t bothered because I knew there were lots more places, and worst-case scenario we’d go to bridal stores or order something online.

Today I went with her to several stores. The problem isn’t so much a lack of dresses, although I’m not sure who’s designing these things. Who wants a dress that starts out light green on the top and progresses through several shades to dark green at the bottom? Since when is tie-dye associated with formal wear? We have lots of tie-dye stuff around here – my daughter went through a phase – but none of it is dress up, and all of it is ugly.

The other thing about these dresses is that they’re so revealing. Dresses for 17 and 18 year old girls are scooped out almost to the you know whats or plunging toward the belly button. Some have the mid-section cut out with see-through fabric. There are lace-up backs that look like something old west women of the night might have worn. And the gaudy fabric. Oh my gosh! It’s like a marriage of Wal-Mart and K Mart with not an inch of fabric unblemished by some shiny cheap glued-on silver stuff or woven-in sparkles.

This is what my daughter told me the dresses looked like, and I didn’t believe her until I saw them for myself. Even the really nice Nordstrom ones are super-revealing or else they look like something an old woman would wear to some kind of country club installation dinner.

However, there were a few darling dresses in my daughter’s size, and she tried every single one of them on. They would have been cute except for one structural curse that many women, especially in LA, have paid thousands of dollars to get augmented but my daughter got genetically. Let’s just say that when she looks down, she can’t see her feet. Her girls cannot be contained in a normal prom dress. She needs a size 12 on top and a 6 on the bottom. No manufacturer has the good sense to design like this, even though everywhere you look girls have amassed disproportionate endowment these days, so we tromped from store to store and dressing room to dressing room for hours with nothing to show for it.

At one point, frustrated, my daughter got testy with me, and I got testy back, and she said, “I hate the stupid prom,” and burst into tears. I wanted to say, “Don’t get mad at me, blame your dad’s side of the family. You sure didn’t get it from me,” but for once I had the good sense to keep my mouth shut and suck up my irritation and comfort her so we could press on. We came home with two dresses that will do if we absolutely can’t find anything else, but one is not a good color and the other would require alteration.

I just spent the last two hours browsing websites but since we only have a couple of weeks, I’m scared to order anything. I made a list of all the bridal shops in a 300 mile radius and I plan to gas up my Prius tomorrow and hit the road – and I’m not coming home until I have a freaking prom dress – or a bunch of them on hold all over the state so she can try them on.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


I like to read my horoscope. It’s frustrating, though, because I want something specific. If I’m going on a trip, I want it to say, “You will have a safe trip and your luggage will arrive on time.” Usually all I get is some random words strung together that could mean anything at all.

Lately the horoscope person has taken to posting sage advice. Perhaps she moonlights as a writer of fortune cookies and confuse what she’s supposed to be doing. I’m getting advice like, “No one likes a stick in the mud. You must always allow a little wiggle room.”

What does this mean? That I should be more lenient with my kids? That I should not try to do everything perfectly? That I should go dancing?

Today I had a unique horoscope. It said that Saturn and Uranus are in a fight in the sky so I shouldn’t try to start anything for several days. Honest, that’s what it said.

First of all, you can’t think of the name of that particular little planet without laughing. And to think that it’s up there in the sky picking a fight with Saturn makes it all the more funnier.

Let me clarify this. My horoscope said they were at odds with each other. That’s the same thing as a fight, right? Are they getting in a shoving match? Are they calling each other names?

Uranus: “You’re just a big rock surrounded by a bunch of dirty rings.”

Saturn: “Well you’re such a little pebble they don’t even think you’re a real planet.”

Uranus: “Why are you such a jerk?”

Saturn: “You calling me a jerk? You’re the one who started it.”

Uranus: “Did not.”

Saturn: “Did too.”

Uranus: “Well, you are surrounded with dirty rings, so there.”

Saturn: “At least I’m not an asshole.”

Almost as amusing as these two squabbling is the statement that I’m not supposed to start ANY activity. Does that mean I should not shower, walk the dog, or go grocery shopping? Aren’t these all considered activities?

I’m going to cut this out of the paper and show it to my husband. “Look, I can’t do the laundry for several days. You’re on your own.” And, “don’t even think about waking me up at 2 am wanting some activity. You know what my horoscope said.”

Thinking of horoscopes makes me think about the mirror I broke two days ago. I’m supposed to have 7 years of bad luck. In an heroic effort to counteract that, I’ve avoided black cats and ladders. Plus I’ve picked up several filthy coins off the street.

I was at my daughter’s track meet this evening (she pole vaulted 9 feet!!!!), and a girl dropped some change on the bleachers. The bouncing coins made loud clanging noises that was music to my ears because I figured I’d redeem some of that seven years with a couple of lucky coins (“find a coin and pick it up and all the day you’ll have good luck”). I thought that girl wouldn’t bother picking them up because she was so embarrassed. But she soon recovered and said to her friends, “I’ve got to pick all of it up or I’ll have bad luck.”

So much for good luck for me. That darned mirror is probably why my planets are pulling each other’s hair and shooting spit wads at each other through space. And why I’ve got to avoid activity like shopping and getting a pedicure. It’s going to be a long seven years.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Happy Earth Day

Today is Earth Day. I decided not to do laundry, run the vacuum, or wash dishes to save electricity. It was a sacrifice, but I figure if we all don’t do our part, we’re going to live in an ugly grey world pretty soon, and not because all the baby boomers are getting older.

I helped write a book about global warming ( What I learned is that this is scary stuff. I would just as soon not know that humans are turning Mother Nature into a real bitch. She’s going to be hot and humorless and cut us all off out of spite. You know what they say about a woman scorned. It’s worse with a woman scorched.

Global warming isn’t such a hard principle to understand. If you’ve ever had a baby, my analogy is nothing like childbirth, although I have some good stories I’ll share one of these days. I’ve found that men especially love hearing about labor and delivery. No, I’m going to give you an analogy that will help you understand what climate change is all about.

New mothers worry that their babies will catch a cold, so they bundle them up from head to toe with little stretchy caps and booties and those one-piece things that don’t let a whisper of air in. Then they put them in a stroller padded with hot foam rubber. THEN they put a blanket over them.

I know this because it’s what I did with my son – my firstborn. He had awful colic and if I wanted even one second of peace from the screeching I’d have to walk him in the stroller. He’d either fall asleep or be entertained by the motion. Come rain, sleet, hell, or shine I’d walk him. If it was nippy, he got bundled up.

Once I remember bringing him in the house while he was asleep, and I was relishing the lack of screaming for a few minutes before he woke up. I can’t tell you how that child would bellow. Soon he woke up, and I took his hat off to discover that his head was soaking wet. Little rivers of water were running down, and his face was beet red. With all those layers of clothes, his body was reacting to the heat by trying to flood his head with cool water and turning his face red to let his stupid mother know she was roasting him.

That’s what global warming is like. CO2 wraps the earth in a layer of too many clothes and blankets. Mother Nature gets hot in there, and she starts to sweat. She’s sweating record hurricanes in New Orleans. This throws everything off kilter. Places that are usually hot get cold (record snows in Washington DC), and places that are wet get dry (Oregon has had more sunny weather this winter than I can ever remember). This is how Mother Nature is showing us that something’s wrong. If she had a face, it would be beet red like the baby’s, but since she doesn’t, she has to throw these weird weather events at us right and left. You can’t go a day without hearing someone say, “This is really crazy weather we’re having.” It’s Mother Nature trying to slap some sense into us.

As kids, most of us listened to our mothers because they protected us and fed us and we trusted them to do what was best for us. As we grew older, we started tuning our moms out. They nagged about the same old things and were so totally not with it. Then when we got even older, we started seeing that our moms had it pretty together and we should have listened to her.

Well, Mother Nature is talking to us big time, and we need to listen now. She’s saying, “Get out and walk instead of driving, turn off the boob tube, hang some laundry out and turn the heat down.”

There’s one thing I’ve learned. If you don’t make your mother happy, she will rain down a holy terror on you. We have to unite together as brothers and sisters to keep that from happening – and the sooner the better.

Today’s a good day to start.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Driving Me Crazy

I don’t know what to think about drivers. I was taking someone home tonight and had to get back on the freeway. I’m rounding the curve on the entrance ramp, sandwiched between two other vehicles like we were boxcars in a train – all going equal speed.

Don’t worry, this isn’t an algebra problem (if three cars are on the freeway, and they’re all going the same speed, which car has a driver picking his nose, which driver had chili for lunch, and which one is illegally talking on her cell phone?) No, don’t you worry that I’m giving you a problem for you to solve, though I’ll give you a hint. The third driver rolls down the windows.

I might have written about drivers recently, though I’m pretty sure I was bitching about some other automobile behavior that annoys me. This is a vast and endless category for consternation.

So here we are swinging around that curve on the entrance ramp, and we get to the opening where we can actually get on the freeway. Wouldn’t you think that we would all merge gracefully like one synchronized unit onto the freeway? I would too. But the guy behind me whipped out of formation and buzzed up right beside me so I couldn’t get on the freeway. I had to either slow way down until he got past or do something else.

Granted, this guy may have been trying to get all the ventilation in the car he possibly could (see hint above), but what did he think I was going to do? Just drive in the grass when the ramp ran out? Was he in that big of a hurry?

I was miffed and annoyed. I yelled out, “What? You got a hemi in that Kia?” His windows were open but mine weren’t so I guess it didn’t do much good, but still it made me feel like I’d stood up to him, and I live for those moments.

After I finally got on the freeway, my nerves were shot, I was cruising toward the bridge that spans the mighty Willamette River (which is not pronounced Willa-met), when along comes a man walking toward me. Staggering really. I clutched my steering wheel like it was the armrests on an airplane getting ready to take off, hoping he wouldn’t stagger into my path. I would have nightmares the rest of my life if my car had gone “thump thump.”

I whished by him but in that glimpse I saw that he was a 40ish looking guy and a fine specimen at that. As I crossed the bridge I marveled that he’d walked all that way because he would have to come from the other side – there were no parked cars.

Once I walked across the Ross Island Bridge and it was terrifying. There isn’t much of a shoulder and the cars are just roaring. It’s deafening. Plus the bridge shakes up and down. That guy walking across the Markham Bridge tonight might not have been drunk after all – the wind from the semi’s could have been tossing him around. I wonder if semi’s have hemi’s?

Whiners Are Us

My husband is out of town and I was so looking forward to sprawling in that big bed without having a locomotive’s worth of snoring to listen to tonight, but I got a late night request to do some changes on a project and now it’s 1:20 am and all I can think about is whining.

Whining isn’t usually all that funny. I know some people can make it funny – wasn’t there a skit on Saturday Night Live with Doug and Wendy Whiner who had these nasal whines and dragged out their miseries in extended words that sounded like this? “Do-ug, whyyyy are you DO-ING tha-at? You KNOW it ma-akes me cra-a-a-a-a-azy.”

When I whine, people leave the room. I usually whine that I get no freaking help around the house. “Why do you people throw your coat in the floor day after day after day when you know good and well that I’m going to yell at you about it and that makes you mad so why do you do it?”

My kids whine constantly about the food for dinner. My husband is a gourmet cook, which to a kid is worse than feeding them dog food straight from the can. “What’s this? It’s gross? Are we supposed to eat that? I’m not eating it. I can’t even look at it.” They were describing yellow squash which they both loathe like a cow hates flies.

My friends whine to me. They call it venting, but when the vent’s always open and it’s always blowing hot air, it can get pretty annoying. In fact, I get sick and tired, just plain sick and tired of them spouting off about their spouses. The guys are idiots, I’ll concede that, but telling me what their newest outrage is, especially when it sounds pretty much like all the other outrages, gets old. I don’t need to know every single day that Bill was late for supper the night before and didn’t call so the food got cold and the kids were starving. Night after night this happens, and day after day I listen to it. Give it a freaking rest.

Did someone say rest? That sounds like a great idea – if I could only manage to GET some which I won’t be able to since it’s so late and I have to get up at the crack of da-awn.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Picture Imperfect

I have been desperately seeking a point and shoot camera. The problem is, there are a million of them, and new ones spring up like popcorn every 30 seconds.

So much selection would seem to make it easy, and they all have a gazillion features, but not one of the camera companies combine them in the way I want.

When you go to websites like, they start describing a camera as if it’s finally the answer to everyone’s prayers. “The long awaited Canon ST Two Million is packed with so many features you need a database to keep track of them all.”

This is good news, because in all those features, could it be they have the three or four I’m really interested in? I hold my breath and read further. “This camera can make your mother-in-law look like she’s human and fill in the missing teeth of your redneck friends.”

That’s something I’ve always needed in a camera, especially the filling in teeth, so I check that off my list. But what about the rest? “This camera has a built in hover system so you can set the timer, run over and join your family, get in the picture, and run back and catch it so you don’t have to worry about propping it up on a table and everyone having to be on their knees.”

Now THAT’S definitely a clever feature, and not one I’d thought of but I add it to my list because I now feel like I can’t live without it. But will the camera take a good picture? That’s high up on my list, right under “Will the camera break before the warranty runs out?”

Image quality is a tricky subject. It’s subjective, and there are many variables. Most cameras pitch a fit about being required to do something they don’t like. Yes, they’ll gladly take a nice picture on a sunny day, but if it gets cloudy they’ll coat the scene with a grayish tinge. Or they may not like it inside, so low light pictures have the people in the arc of the flash looking like surprised albinos while anyone a few feet back looks like they’ve been painted with roofing tar.

The sample images are not much help, either. If the scenes are picturesque, then any camera takes a good shot. It’s a little like going into Costco and all the big screen TVs are showing the same thing, and they pretty much look identical except for size. I recently bought a TV for my son and ended up picking one by saying, “Eanie, Meanie, Miney, Mo….”

What I’m looking for in a camera is manual controls so I can override the camera’s stupid Auto Mode on those occasions when it doesn’t know as much as I do, which granted is rare but still. I want a big enough screen so I can at least make out the big objects in the picture I just took without a magnifying glass. And I want it to not be so complicated I have to lug around a phone-book sized manual. If on top of that it takes good pictures, that would be a plus. Oh, and I want a super-zoom so I can take pictures of wildlife, but I don’t want one of those huge ones that’s the size of mailbox. I can see myself swinging one of those hunkers up to my eyeball to look through the viewfinder and knocking myself out cold.

I’ve narrowed my choice down to a Canon because you can practically have the DT’s with a Canon point and shoot and the picture will still come out in focus. The model I’ve been waiting for did not get a good review from Actually, it got a glowing review, but only a 4 star rating out of 5, which is hard to understand. It’s like a critic saying he loved a movie but only gave it a B rating.

I’m going to get the camera, though. I’m sick to death of looking, and I’m tired of lugging my Nikon dSLR around for snapshots. I don't think I'll have buyer's remorse when another new model comes out in two days, because I'm certain it will not have all the feature I want either.

I will let you know how the camera turns out, and what model it is once I get it straight. It might be an SX 200 IS but could be an SX 210 IS, though I was also looking at an SX 120 IS. As if the camera features weren’t enough of a headache, they’ve got to make all the numbers the same, too? Jeepers!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dog vs. Vacuum

Yesterday was a gorgeous day so I decided to take my camera out and get some shots of spring flowers. I took my little Yorkie Poo along, and on the way to the park we passed a carwash, so I decided to give my car a bath.

My dog doesn’t like the carwash. She freaks out when the giant shammy cloth starts slapping against the car. I have to hold her and reassure her that the blue monsters are not going to get her, but she still shakes like a vibrator the whole time.

Yorkie Poos shake for any number of reasons. If they’re happy, they shake. If they’re nervous, they shake. My dog will shake if she needs to do #2 and no one’s jumping off the couch quick enough to suit her.

“Oh your poor little doggy must be cold,” people will say. It can be 90 degrees outside, but people see a vibrating dog and they think it’s shivering. Once my daughter’s friends were over and someone made a loud popping noise. Did I mention the dog shakes whenever anyone bounces a ball or pops a piece of bubble wrap or slams a door?

“Or your poor little doggy is scared,” one of the friends said, sounding like she was heartbroken. I wanted to cheer her up. “She shakes all the time. Do you have any aches and pains? I’ll press her against your back and you can get a free massage.” All the girls giggled about that, and I pressed my dog against one to show I was serious.

The dog shaking has nothing to do with the story I’m telling about the carwash, I just thought you might find it interesting.

So before I went through the wash I decided to vacuum the car. My dog is not nuts about vacuuming, either. At home she tries to bite the vacuum cleaner. You’d think she’d just go to another room, but instead she plops right in the middle of the rug and waits for the vacuum to come close. She stands her ground, and when it gets inches away she lunges at it, baring little teeth that look like rice stuck into bubble gum, and tries to bite it. Of course the vacuum is too big but that doesn’t stop her. She would rip the thing like Henry the VIII tearing at a turkey leg if her mouth was bigger.

At the car wash, they had a really nice vacuum hose with a wide, narrow end that you can get into tight places between the seats. I love those things. This baby knew how to suck, too. Pine needles held on like leeches but they were no match.

I was really getting into vacuuming the driver’s side floor while my dog was on the passenger seat eyeing the vacuum like it was some alien beast encroaching on her territory. When I went to vacuum the passenger side, she dove onto the floor and attacked the thing. Because the nozzle was narrow, she could get it in her mouth and she clamped down like an alligator. I tried to wrench it away but she held on like it was a juicy bone and wouldn’t let go. Meantime seconds were ticking away on the timer and I didn’t have any more quarters. I kept trying to wrestle it out of her mouth but she hung on like it was one of her tug of war rags. The vacuum was sucking up her ear but she didn’t care. All those years of attacking the giant vacuum at home and getting nowhere – she wasn’t about to let this thing get the best of her.

Desperate to finish before my time ran out, I forced the nozzle down onto the carpet and moved it back and forth, dragging the dog along, back and forth, back and forth, until I got the passenger floor done. I jerked the hose out of her mouth and was headed for the back seat when she pounced on it again, teeth bared like a piranha. I got her tucked under my arm and freed the vacuum again and lunged for the back seat. I worked like a dervish on those little back seat squares, trying to beat the timer. When I got done, the thing was still sucking so I let the dog have another go at it. She sprang forward like she’d been catapulted and clamped down, tugging with all nine pounds of her might. The motor gave four or five warning beeps and the vacuum stopped. The dog let go immediately. She’d killed it. I guess there’s no sport in gnawing a dead vacuum.

I checked the nozzle for damage and, I’m sad to say, there wasn’t even a scratch. The pitiful little dog chewed and tugged with all her might and didn’t even make a dent. But she didn’t know that. She thought she’d killed the hissing beast.

When we went through the carwash, little Miss Mighty Dog didn’t shake. Not even once.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Vows and Frogs

Tonight we went to a party at our neighbor’s house to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. On the invitation, they asked people to dress like the wedding party – to come as a bride or groom or mother-in-law.

This kind of thing absolutely drives me insane. You never know if other people are going to do it or not. What if you’re the only one who shows up in a bride’s dress?

I decided I’d put an old bridesmaid’s dress to see if I had the guts to wear it. I was fixing my hair when my husband said, “What are you doing dressed in THAT??!! Actually I thought I looked rather fetching. I was proud I could even get into it, but that was because it was cut on the bias which means you could stick a hippo in there.

I looked out my bedroom window when I started hearing the guests driving up to see if any were dressed in costume. The men were coming in suits and bow ties, but the women were just in regular party dresses. I changed out of my pretty, shimmering floor length dress and put on something more practical.

When we got to the party, there were a few people dressed in bridesmaids dresses, a few men in tuxes, a man dressed like a priest, and a guy in judges robes who turned out to be a real judge. He told me he was ready to officiate in the event the celebrants wanted to officially renew their vows.

I don’t know about these vow renewals. If you make it 25 years, you’d think you’ve invested enough time that you’ might as well go the distance. On the other hand, I went to one of these ceremonies that was actually in a church because the young couple had run off to get married. A priest said a Mass, and then we enjoyed a lovely reception. Seven or eight years later they were divorced, and both have remarried.

I suspect people renew their vows as an excuse to have a party. These neighbors have quite a few of them – Christmas, birthday, summer parties. Why not throw in a wedding vow renewal?

The highlight of the night was walking outside where all the teenagers were hanging out around the frog pond. You can hear those frogs a block away. They’re so loud you’d think there’re millions of big frogs in that pond. The kids had flashlights, and I saw one little frog doing the – you guessed it – frog kick across the water. He wasn’t much longer than a golf pencil. Cute little thing glistening in the spotlight of the kid’s flashlight beam. The frogs weren’t shy. They were just sitting on rocks or swimming. One of the girls crouched down and caught one. It was little, curled up in her cupped hand and looked dark purple in the black night.

Not that the party wasn’t a whole ton of fun, but I listen to those frogs every night from spring through summer and I’ve never seen one. They’re funny the way they will all get immediately quiet at one time, and a couple of minutes later they start their froggy chorus like they’ve got a conductor keeping them in sync.

All in all it was a great party with a whole lot of very good food and a two tiered cake that melted in your mouth. The couple said some very touching things to each other during an informal re-affirming of their commitment, and there was plenty of wine. If I can have all that, AND FROGS, I won’t turn my nose up at the vow renewals we’re bound to be invited to in the future, as long as they don’t make us come in costume. Did I mention how much I hate that?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Email Plagiarism

I got this email a while back and it’s funnier than anything I can come up with tonight. Is it plagiarism to copy emails? If it is, who’s going to sue me? No one knows who puts these emails together. I get whole slide shows of beautiful pictures with music that must have taken someone forever to do. Don’t people have to work? Perhaps this is how they pass the time while the boss is off at a meeting.

The original of this email had lots of different font styles and colors. Someone had put it together with a creative eye, and they had to gather these tidbits of humor – or did they make them up? How come they’ve got all this extra time and I’m lucky to get six hours of sleep a night I’m so swamped?

I get these well-crafted emails everyday. If you’re female, you probably receive those “sisterhood” emails – the ones with that cartoon lady, Maxine. I get a ton of those, and I have no idea who draws the cartoons or makes up the captions, or who gathers all those pictures of kittens in unnatural positions. I haven’t thought about it much but right now I’ve got a burning curiosity. What kind of people do these things? Would someone tell me? And they get no credit for them – there’s no signature or link to their website so you can purchase something.

I get a million pictures of animals doing things you don’t see in nature. Most of them have been Photoshopped. Dogs and cats don’t assume the missionary position while somebody is standing there holding a camera. I guess they could be animal porn stars. Some pictures are obviously real – the ones where a person with way too much time on their hands has made little outfits to dress up their dogs to like a devil or a Harley rider or Elvis. What I love is the look in the dogs’ eyes. They are not happy. They do not think they look cute.

The world is a crazy place, and that’s affirmed everyday in the emails I get – some from Nancy Pelosi-hating republicans who are trying to incite me to do something – anything – to put them out of their misery. They want me to AT LEAST forward their despair on to someone else so the recipient can be miserable, too. I hope these little tidbits will take you away from the craziness for a couple of minutes and brighten your day. The really crazy thing is – they’re true.

Mathematics & Arithmetic

Romance Mathematics

Smart man + smart woman = romance

Smart man + dumb woman = affair

Dumb man + smart woman = marriage

Dumb man + dumb woman = pregnancy



Smart boss + smart employee = profit

Smart boss + dumb employee = production

Dumb boss + smart employee = promotion

Dumb boss + dumb employee = overtime



A man will pay $20 for a $10 item he needs.

A woman will pay $10 for a $20 item that she doesn't need.



A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.

A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.

A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.

A successful woman is one who can find such a man.



To be happy with a man, you must understand him a lot and love him a little.

To be happy with a woman, you must love her a lot and not try to understand her at all.



Married men live longer than single men do, but married men are a lot more willing to die.



A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.

A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, and she does.



A woman has the last word in any argument.

Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.



Old aunts used to come up to me at weddings, poking me in the ribs and cackling, telling me, "You're next." They stopped after I started doing the same thing to them at funerals.

Yearbook Quotes

It’s that time of year when kids are getting their high school yearbooks. They go around and have their friends sign them. I like reading the comments.

We used to get these nice little notes from people saying what a nice person you were and how fun it was to have you in class. Of course people elaborated, but it was pretty standard unless you had done something memorable in which case there'd be an inside message like, “be sure to call me next time you want to lay on the runway,” referring to times we would sprawl on our backs and watch planes soar a few feet over our heads.

The comments in my daughter's book are from girls just gushing with enthusiasm. “You ROCK girl! You are so sexy and funny. I hope you will be my bff!!!!!!!!!!!” In your head you can hear their breathless exclamations, and you roll your eyes.

Why the girls are telling their girlfriends they are sexy I haven’t quite figured out, unless that’s the new compliment, like we used to say, “You’re so cute!” to each other. Girls are definitely more sexy than cute these days – I was at the school tutoring today and saw shamelessly short shorts, strapless dresses, plunging tank tops. There’s no question these girls are sexy.

What I liked about my high school yearbook were the ads in the back. Nice businesses around town took out quarter or half page ads to help sponsor the school, and we paid absolutely no attention to them except if they could give us a chance to be creative. Everyone's favorites were the funeral homes. Why funeral homes advertised in books being thumbed through by teenagers is beyond me, but I didn’t question their motives at the time. I was delighted because you’d give your yearbook to some guy and he’d open it straight to the funeral home and start writing little poems:

You kill ‘em

We chill’em.

You slice ‘em

We ice ‘em

You stab ‘em

We slab ‘em.

You break ‘em

We bake ‘em

You marry ‘em

We bury ‘em

You squeeze ‘em

We freeze ‘em

Good stuff. The other ad I can remember was some business with a picture of a big mousetrap. Apparently they were trying to show that their business was preferable to the competition. The caption read, “Build a Better Mouse Trap…” Vince Quinn got a hold of my yearbook and drew a large, belly-up rat with x’s for eyes with the caption, “Catch a Better Mouse.”

Ah, those were the good old days. There were other drawings and captions in there – anything at all that could be made naughty, funny, or trashy, the guys were all over it, and I loved seeing their creativity.

Kids today may use the f-word like it’s the only adjective in the English language, and they may be scantily clad, but they got nothin’ on us when we were that age. We had Hot Pants and Mini Skirts, after all. When we cussed, it meant something and sounded shocking. And, as demonstrated above, we were quite the poets back in the day.

Your f-word

Is simply absurd

We laid on runways

Those were the fun days

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I have recently been intrigued by people’s greetings when you pass them on the street or in parks. I used to never know whether to say hello, look away, or what.

I didn’t like having to make this decision every time so I decided I’d say hello to everyone. Usually I say, “Lo.” This seems to be friendly enough without going overboard. I don’t want these strangers to think I’m flirting or being overly familiar by saying the entire Hello.

Once I consistently started saying a greeting, I found it interesting to see people’s responses. I’ve broken them down into a few types.

(1) The kid. These people have speaker buds in their ears and even if their iPod isn’t on, they pretend they can’t hear you. I suspect all teenagers have fake speaker buds to avoid talking to adults.

(2) The fast walker. This is usually a woman on a mission. She’s trying to get her workout done in record time. She’s in stretchy black pants and takes long strides, swinging her arms forward and back briskly to help propel her at optimal speed. If she responds at all it will be with a chopped off, “Hi!” as if anything more will slow her down.

(3) The guy with the little dog. This guy has a small, curly haired dog on a long leash that is lolly-gagging along, sniffing everything and then peeing on it. The dog pees a lot, too. This guy has got plenty of time to talk. He’ll respond by saying, “What kind of dog is that?” It’s his lead in to asking more questions and engaging you in a conversation. He doesn’t want to try and pick you up, he just wants to chitchat. He’s probably got a nagging wife at home that he’s trying to avoid.

(4) Two-somes. If it’s two women, they’ll ignore you because they’re engrossed in gossip. If it’s an older man and woman, they want to exchange pleasantries, probably because they’ve run out of things to say. Two men want to talk as well. When you say, “Lo,” they say, “Good day for a walk.” They are easily distracted from their conversations, if they were having one.

(5) The shy man. This guy will not make eye contact. He thinks a single woman in a park is out to lasso him, and he wants no part of it. He will not respond come hell or high water.

I used to get irritated when people didn’t respond to my greeting until I started classifying them. By doing this I can make them seem like misguided stereotypes rather than rude people or, worse still, people who aren’t so totally into me. Quite frankly, I now see that those who don’t respond are losers. As such, I’m more than happy when they don’t respond. Who wants a loser chatting you up in a park anyway. It’s creepy.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

No News Is the Best News

I read the news today, oh boy. It’s not my habit – I actually prefer to live in a vacuum. However, I still take the paper to do one little puzzle, and on occasion I like to see what’s going on in the world.

The front page was heady with this breaking news: Conan O’Brien is getting a show on TBS. I thank my lucky stars I picked this day to read the paper because this is news I need to know. I like O’Brien – not to look at but he’s pretty entertaining and seems like a nice guy. He’s not using the f-word all the time, which is forbidden on network TV but he might be able to get away with it on cable. However, Steve Koonin, whose name appears to rhyme with Conan which is probably the main reason he’s giving O’Brien a show, says that “Conan’s not a dirty comedian.” I hope this means that neither his tongue, nor his odor, will be foul.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church continues to dig itself in deeper. Cardinal Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, says homosexuality is the problem with pedophiles. I’m Catholic, and I just have to wonder. When is someone going to muzzle these guys? You cannot justify abuse on any level, and to even hint at a link with homosexuality is going to get you a lot of enemies. It is never politically correct to say anything about homosexuals.

According to another headline, at least the Church has laid down some “official” laws to make sure abuse no longer happens, but that’s been in place for awhile, at least at my church. I had to sign all kinds of papers and have a criminal background check when I taught Sunday school a few years ago – I’m surprised they didn’t fingerprint me. The Vatican is heading in the right direction, but it will be one step forward and two steps back if someone doesn’t tell those Cardinals to put a sock in it.

I wrote sometime in the recent past about being scared of road rage. Turns out it’s happening all around me. A motorist has filed a suit against a police officer for road rage. The motorist claims the off-duty officer flashed him the finger in traffic and called him an expletive. I’m not sure what an expletive is, but it’s probably not something Conan would say. Anyway, the motorist decided to follow the guy, who he didn’t realize was an off-duty officer, to get his license number. When he pulled over, the off-duty officer pulled over too and got out of his car, holding his gun by his side. He yelled at the motorist that he was an expletive and couldn’t expletive drive.

Then the newspaper, being impartial, gave the officer’s version. He said the motorist ran a red light and nearly caused a wreck. When this occurred, the officer, who’s name, can you believe it, was “Nice,” pulls alongside the motorist and says, “Nice, thanks for almost hitting me back there.” The officer also claimed he drew his gun as a precaution. I would almost believe him except he’s been involved in a couple of other incidents, one involving a prisoner’s death for which he was cleared. Even though that seems to reveal a pattern of violence and hot headedness, it didn’t carry as much weight in my mind as him using his own name, “Nice,” to describe something that he found to be very irritating – a guy running a red light. If he thinks this is “nice,” what does that tell you about how he feels about his own name? I’ll let the psychologists sort that out. I’m still trying to figure out why an off-duty officer would get into a fracas with a motorist that led to drawing his gun and perhaps getting into a gun fight – WHEN HE’S GOT A 6 WEEK OLD BABY IN THE CAR WITH HIM.

For one thing, he shouldn’t have been allegedly shouting expletives in front of the baby. I wonder if Conan should have a talk with him.

Well, that’s all the news I could take for one day. When they say “no news is good news,” they sure got that right.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Who's Paying for Your Tea Party?

I received a phone call today from someone who was concerned about my money and whether or not the government was going to let me keep a hold on it. This person, who was a recording, invited me to an upcoming Tea Party that is sure to be happening in my area soon. In the meantime, I could go to a website to get caught up on what’s going on with the government.

Curiosity got the better of me and I went to the website. Quite impressive. I do web design, and I recognize something that’s been done professionally, and by professionally I mean something that costs a pretty penny.

I asked Google about these Americans for Prosperity, and found out that these guys are heavily funded by the Koch Family Foundations. The Koch Family has extensive holdings in oil and refineries. Ah, I said to myself, now it’s making sense. Of course they’d want government out of their business. We as a nation need to be heading into the future like the rest of the world and get away from our dependency on oil. But if that happens, these guys will lose a lot of money. I guess if I were the Koch family I’d be bellowing like a cow stepping on its own tit if the government was making it more difficult to keep business as usual.

Rich people know they can’t just stand up and say they want to keep their money. Who is going to sympathize with that? So they hire really smart people to make it look like the government is taking away the rights of the people. They know how what scares people, and they use that to make their case.

I’m not a socialist and I don’t like government waste. I don’t like people taking advantage of welfare any more than I like people taking advantage of tax codes. But I do like that our government steps in and says “enough” when people aren’t doing right by others. Who can argue that the government should regulate the safety of coalmines or toxic waste dumps or oil spills? Does anyone want these companies to have free rein when it comes to doing what’s best for all the people instead of the padding the pocketbooks of the wealthy?

It irks me when an organization funded by big money presents itself as a champion of “the people.” The people in this case are regular guys who worry about getting their retirement sucked up by government spending – and especially since some have experienced that already. No wait, that was the rich banking people who sucked up their retirement. Wasn’t that when the government stepped back from regulating? And now a group funded by oil companies wants the government to quit regulating businesses. Weren’t the oil companies the ones making record profits while our economy was going to hell?

Sometimes it’s hard to know who to believe, but here’s a clue: if a group hires Sarah Palin to be a speaker, run like a person with a bad case of the gravies to the crapper, because that woman is full of it. Oh yeah, she may be cute and she may be entertaining, but who can forget that she cost John McCain the Presidency when she decided to be a renegade, and she jumped ship on the State of Alaska after touting what a wonderful governor she was. Besides, she shoots animals from a helicopter. When she was under the gun in Alaska for ethics questions, she tucked tail and ran. Her prey isn’t so lucky. Any idiot who’s been to a shooting range a couple of times can point a gun out a window and kill an animal, especially when the animal has nowhere to run for cover. It’s just not sporting, and it’s even embarrassing. What kind of person brags about that? The kind of person that an organization like Americans for Prosperity would pay upwards of $100,000 to speak for them.

Ask yourself who’s paying for this Tea Party and why. Ask yourself why they’re calling it a Tea Party when it’s nothing like its namesake, the Boston Tea Party? These guys are paying big money to make you think it is. Wonder why?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Rules of the Road

People on the roads have gotten into such a hurry. Even in Oregon, where people generally will wait for you at a red light and not blow their horn when it turns green and you don’t dash forward like a race horse out of the gate. Unlike many other cities, you can drive around Portland without annoying drivers laying on their horns for the least little delay.

I’ve noticed, however, that people are starting to show signs of impatience. Like at intersections during heavy traffic, when you’re supposed to hold back and leave room so cars crossing in front of you can still get through. I have always done this, but last week a car pulled around in front of me and went into that space. What the heck? They’ve blocked the intersection to get a car-length ahead.

My first reaction was to use my finger as a sign of my disapproval, but I was too chicken. What if the person was a homicidal maniac? You couldn’t possibly get away from them in stop-and-go traffic. They could pull out a gun and make you look like a piece of Swiss cheese before you could say, “Uh, just kidding.” Instead I shook my head and wore a nasty frown for a few blocks just in case they looked in the rear view mirror. As if it would matter to a human being like that.

I hate when people get in a big hurry and ride right on your tail. It’s almost like they hope they can nudge you forward. When I first see these aggressive drivers zooming up in my rear view mirror, I lead them along a little bit and watch them posturing like they’re going to hit me, then I yank my car off the road and let them pass. The second they get by, I floor my car and go right up on their tails. Oh, I’m clever! I’m trying to show them how stupid they are, but they never notice, because they’re too busy roaring up to the next car.

The funny thing is that neither of these kinds of drivers get anywhere quicker than I do, especially in heavy traffic. If they go around me, they only get one car length ahead, and then they’re locked in a sandwich between me, the driver they just irritated, and the guy in front who they’re in the process of irritating. If they manage to get around him, they’re still only two car lengths ahead of where they were in the first place, and we’re all stressed out and testy.

What’s especially satisfying to me is when I change lanes or somehow get an opening and can pull in front of the idiot who was riding me a couple of minutes earlier. I’ve rubbed his nose in it. I’ve showed him that being rude, impatient, and inconsiderate does not pay. I’m still, however, too big a coward to flash him my finger. I figure even if he doesn’t realize he’s been one-upped. I know, and I practically float off my seat with the little personal triumph. If he passes me again, it’s just another opportunity to teach him the same lesson again. It’s a win-win for me.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Learning Basketball the Hard Way

Speaking of basketball games, my son played basketball in 5th grade for a club team led by a pretty sharp coach, and the boys on the team were quite intense. They were very good players and got in the habit of winning.

My son, however, seemed to avoid the ball. He was a good shooter when we practiced at home, so I suspected he was afraid of making a mistake. He was great at blocking, but when his team had the ball, he would hide behind other players to avoid having anyone pass the ball to him.

I thought I was a pretty smart mom, and I also thought I could fix the problem so he could live up to his basketball potential. First I tried encouraging him to get the ball and shoot, but he never did. Finally I had the great idea to give him $2 every time he got the ball and tried to make a basket.

At the next game he was all over the ball. He rebounded and took a shot, and made it. I would have been ecstatic except that he was shooting at the wrong end of the court. When his teammates were running down to the other side, he stayed behind and shot – and made two points for the other team.

The ref blew the whistle, and our team got the ball. He got a hold of it and immediately turned and put a basket right through the net. Another two points for the other team.

Clearly he did not understand the mechanics of the game. His coach called a time out, and the team huddled together. When they got back on the floor, every time someone on his team got the ball, they immediately passed it to him. He looked like a deer in the headlights. He’d shoot and miss, they’d rebound and pass it right back to him and he’d have to shoot again. Finally he made a basket.

I could tell he was miserable. The other team scored, and when we got the ball, he couldn’t hide – his teammates hunted him down like stalkers and passed the ball to him. He’d shoot it, miss, and they’d rebound and fire it right back to him. I felt so sorry for him because the ball refused to go in the basket the first few tries. Finally he scored again. After that, the team went back to normal. It was obvious the coach had told them to let my son shoot until he got the points back he’d given to the other team. Thank goodness they won the game or no telling what they would have said to him.

Surprisingly, my son wasn’t terribly embarrassed about the whole thing when we got in the car to go home. “I just didn’t like everybody passing to me, mom. It wasn’t any fun. Oh, and you owe me $20,” he said.

“What?” I asked.

“I shot ten times, so you owe me $20.”

From then on, I decided I’d stay out of his athletic endeavors.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Why I Won't Be at Geoff and Steve's TCU Appearance

Geoff and Steve, those really cute guys from the Science Channel’s Meteorite Men, are going to be in Ft. Worth on Saturday, April 10th at TCU’s Monnig Meteorite Gallery from 3 to 6 p.m. Wish I could be there but (a) I have to stay in Portland for my daughter’s track meet and (b), I’m mad at Texas.

I went to a Trail Blazer game tonight against Dallas, and those Texas boys were just plain mean. The second the refs’ heads were turned, they’d smack Brandon Roy or somebody, and then the ref would look around and see Roy spitting nails and call a technical against Portland. Portland got 4 technical’s, which is outrageous, and maybe one was deserved but the others were a result of taunting by those nasty Dallas oafs - and really awful officiating.

I’ve rarely seen such lousy refs. It wasn’t just me. The whole crowd started chanting, “These refs suck.” I certainly don’t condone that kind of rudeness, but in this case they had a good point. Most of the time I can’t see when a foul is made, but the giant screen always shows replays and everyone can see that there was no foul. Was the ref hallucinating? Do they call things for spite when the crowd starts booing?

At one point the players almost got in a fistfight and both teams rushed out on the floor. It was exciting. And one spectator was inciting the fans to keep chanting about the sucking refs, so he was escorted out of the arena by security guards. When he left everyone cheered their support, so another couple of guys took up the fight and they got ejected. I have to admit it was one of the best games I’ve ever been to as far as entertainment goes.

Also at halftime they had a percussion band playing drums made out of recycled or everyday materials because it was Green Day (not the band, the occasion). The Rose Garden where the Trail Blazers play is the first sports facility in the entire universe to earn an LEED Gold Certification for sustainability. I’m just prickly with pride for Portland! I’m sure they picked this band because the drummers played on everything from upside down plastic tubs to ten-foot ladders, and they were darn good at it.

All in all is was one of those evenings you’re happy that you were there, except that Dallas played a dirty game, so I’m mad at Texas. But if I weren’t, I’d certainly be at TCU meeting Geoff and Steve and watching their slide show and getting autographs and checking out one of the world’s biggest university collection of meteors. Next time I’m in Texas, I’m going to spit on the pavement to show that Dallas team just exactly what I thought of their shenanigans tonight.

Eat Your Broccoli - Maybe

I got another really nice response from Geoff the Meteorite Man about the blog I wrote. I’m actually all a-twitter over your attention and positive comments. Glad you liked the terrier comment – that was my favorite too, and pretty apt, I’d say. Geoff, you’re a really nice guy and I have no qualms about shamelessly promoting your show on this blog and Facebook. WATCH METEORITE MEN ON THE SCIENCE CHANNEL!

Speaking of science, I like to use the latest scientific research to try and stay healthy. When they tell me to eat my broccoli, I’m all over it because it’s got some really good long words in it that scientists say are very healthy. Imagine my confusion today when I was reading Woman’s World - that half magazine, half newspaper hybrid at your local grocery store check stand. It’s a great little source of all kinds of information, and I bought a copy because it had a picture of Oprah on the front and she was looking pretty buff. I don’t watch a lot of afternoon TV, and the last time I saw her she was twice this size. The caption said something about losing weight on a bread diet. I said to myself, “Bread diet? Hmmm. That sounds like the perfect way to deflate my spare tire – if Oprah can do it and she was carrying a whole set, then so can I.”

I was picturing a nice warm loaf of bread with some butter and cherry preserves for breakfast. A loaf with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for lunch. And another loaf for dinner, open faced with a little gravy dribbled over it – not too much – no sense in overdoing the calories. Of course it wasn’t like that at all. You get a couple of thin slices of Danish rye bread that you have to bake yourself, and all the rest of the diet is the regular healthy stuff like 4 oz. of broiled fish and so forth. Not that it doesn’t look really appealing, but I felt a little let down about the whole bread thing. I was picturing little curls of steam rising off the top of a plump white loaf, some soft butter painting a light yellow coat over a thick, creamy slice, warm and yeasty and full of nostalgic flavors….

As I was saying about broccoli – I always thought you couldn’t go wrong with this particular cruciferous vegetable, but according to Woman’s Day, it is loaded with goitrogens. Yes, that’s right, those awful little rascals want nothing more in life than to slow down your thyroid function. The good news is that you can BUTTER your broccoli and it will keep those guys busy swimming around in so they don’t have the inclination to mess with your thyroid. I will eat butter on just about anything (which explains the spare tire) so this somewhat disturbing news has a silver lining.

There was good news about dark chocolate – it makes you a math whiz. It contains flavonols – the scientific word for lots of flavor – and they increase the blood to your brain so that you can be an Einstein when it comes to counting backwards from 999, something I will have to start doing a lot more often if it means I can have more chocolate.

Here’s another unexpected bit of health news. Just when I was starting to get good at texting because I was worried about using my cell phone (and also because my kids will actually respond to texts), I read that cell phones aren’t harmful because a new study says so, and they may even ward off Alzheimer’s. Imagine that. Not too long ago I was reading about the need to limit cell phone use and now I can use it all I want for medicinal purposes. This explains why, with all the texting, I’ve have been forgetting things lately. I’ll have to quit texting and go back to calling, which my kids won’t like but it’s all in the interest of good health and well-being, at least for the time being, until they come up with some new study.

And in conclusion, did I mention how much I LOVE the show Meteorite Men?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Meteorite Men, My Favorite Show

I have to write two blogs today to catch up, so the first is going to be dedicated to Geoff of Meteorite Men who responded to one of my blogs (Meteorite Men vs the Oscars). Geoff, you must have been Googling your own show because you’re one of a very, very select few who have stumbled on my blogging marathon – trying to do 365 posts in 365 days. I’m approaching the halfway mark, and your response made my day. Shall we celebrate? I’m going to fetch a lemon drop….

Okay, I’m back, and I have a couple of things to say. First, I’d like to ask how a busy star like you has so much time to write a nice response to an obscure blogger? Are you on the network’s time when you’re doing your personal computing? Do they know this? Have you ever been charged with a felony?

Second, I'm happy to hear you were filming in Canada. I like Canada. Darn good Olympics this year! Truly top notch. Wasn't that Red Green Show filmed in Canada? That was a good show – pretty entertaining and very creative with all the duct tape – I couldn’t live without it. In fact, maybe you should try wrapping some around your metal detector – it might make it sound better (ha ha).

When I encountered you Meteorite Men on TV, you were a couple of guys out in the most forsaken wasteland of snowy fallow fields walking back and forth listening to the wails of your metal detectors. That was pretty much it, sprinkled with some entertaining chit chat, until the detector started making a different sound that only you guys and mongrel dogs could hear, and you got all excited and started digging like a terrier in a mole hill. Finally you came up with the prize – a muddy chunk of outer space – which you thought was worth hundreds of dollars. I’m not saying that this wasn’t highly entertaining, I’m just saying that it gave me that ever elusive thing - good material to write a humor blog about, so I poked a little fun.

But now that you’ve written back, I must say that I’m entirely impressed with the work you are doing. I had forgotten about my love of meteors, especially the ones at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry that are big as beach balls. You probably wouldn’t need a metal detector for one of those puppies. There’s always a ton of people gathered around them vying for a chance to rub the space rock. Do you think it’s good luck to touch a meteor? Sure has been for you.

Admittedly, when I saw you guys getting excited about driveway-gravel-sized meteors and selling them for hundreds of dollars, I asked myself, “Who would pay such a price for such a thing?” Now I realize that people are attracted to meteors like flies to – uh, like iron filings to a magnet. Who in their right mind would NOT want a meteor? I’m lusting for one at this very minute.

All kidding aside, (and this is hard for me to do), I very much appreciate your response and the time you took to write it. If you see those guys from Ice Road Truckers, tell them I said hello! Oh, and keep up the good work. Can’t wait to see your next adventure!!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Email Remorse

I’ve written a couple of nasty emails lately. Have you ever gotten those? Someone on a committee gets mad about something and sends a spiteful email that makes someone else mad and pretty soon emails are flying from all directions and you can’t wait to get the next one to see just how far some people will go.

My son had a couple of roommates his second year in college and I tried to be the good coordinator by emailing the other parents, who I hadn’t met, and starting a list of things for the boys to bring so we’d know who was responsible for what. We got it all sorted out – who had a couch and who had a table. It was all great fun.

Then my son went down to actually put the first month rent on the place, and since he was the one who got there first, he claimed the big bedroom. I thought that was fair enough, and so did one other mom, but the third one whose son lived with his dad, decided to take issue with it – after my son had already moved his stuff in.

Polite emails went back and forth. I kept saying, “Let’s let the boys work it out,” but she would counter with different things like, “well, they should draw straws.”

“Let’s let the boys work it out.”

“Well, they should base it on who’s the tallest,” stuff like that. Back and forth, over and over, with my reply always being, “Let’s let the boys work it out.”

Finally she got herself worked up and said, “If your son ends up in that room then he should pay more money.” She sent this, like all the others, to all the parents.

“What do you have in mind?” I emailed back.

“I think he should pay $75 more per month,” she said.

“For that much money, your son can have it. Make the check out to me.”

She didn’t like that. She sent me an email back addressed only to me that said, “ESAD.”

I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I had a feeling it wasn’t good. I looked it up on the internet. Mind you, this is coming from a mother who was probably around my age. Google said that this little pleasantry she emailed to me meant “Eat S___ and Die.”

I was livid, and I would have smacked her if I could have gotten my hand in the computer. I wanted to email back some ugly ugly stuff but for some reason I didn’t.

There’s always a level head who steps in to stop the madness, and in our case it was the dad of the third kid. He told us to all back off and LET THE BOYS WORK IT OUT THEMSELVES. I wasn’t about to give any more input, and none of us ever heard from that mom again. I quit emailing to her – I went directly to the dad.

I love emails because they get things done quickly, and I should have more sense than to email unpleasantness, but sometimes I can’t resist. It’s like those old sitcoms where someone mails a letter and then climbs into the mailbox to try and fish it back out when they have remorse. Once it’s been emailed, it’s a done deal. I only wish I could remember this when I lose my temper.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Feaster

Yes, I know, I know. I’m behind. I’ll get caught up in the next day or two because I’m almost at half a year of blog posts. Yippee!

Ready for my excuses for missing a couple of posts? Sure you are. We had a slew of people over for Easter. What a joy! I stayed up until 3 am Saturday night tying little plaid ribbons around napkins and putting together Easter baskets for my ungrateful, way too old children. What is the cutoff for this kind of stuff? Will I be making them baskets when I’m in the nursing home?

I made little clues for a scavenger hunt for my daughter (my son has lost interest). I usually make each clue a little narratives like, “look in a place where your dad snores.” That’s a good one, because she’d have to look in the bed, on the couch, on the other couch, in the La Z Boy, at the kitchen table, and in the bathtub.

At 3:00 I wasn’t in the mood for writing little novels, so here were my clues: “Brrrr.” “Kick it,” “Shelley’s perch,” “Dad’s perch.” I made 14 of them and taped them all over the place. She’d go to the one that said, “Shelley’s perch” and then she’d find another one hidden there that said, “Brrrr” and she’d go look in all the refrigerators and freezers and found the next one that said, “Kick it.”

“Is it on the dog?” she asked.

“Kick the poor little sweet dog?????” I asked. “And it’s Easter morning!”

This one she could not get. She looked all over the house for balls or kickable objects. Then she looked all around my son’s drum set. “I can’t find it,” she whimpered.

“What’s the clue?” her dad asked.

“Kick it.”

“Did you look on the dog?”

“Enough!!!” I said. “It’s a device that kicks things.”

She roamed through the house again. “Is it a hula hoop?” “Is it a book?” “Is it the sewing machine?”

“It’s a DEVICE in the BONUS ROOM that kicks things.”

“We’re going to be late for church.”

“It’s a GAME in the bonus room that kicks things.”

She went out there and looked around, completely stumped.


“Oh, the foosball table,” she finally said when I clumped my coffee mug down on it.

There were a few other clues that had her scratching her head, but finally she found the basket, I took some pictures, and we both rushed to get ready. She was right, we were late for church and had to stand up through the whole service – me in my heels and her without a coat right by the door where assorted people kept taking fussy children out of or sneaking late into.

It was a great day though, thanks to the company and the feast my husband cooked. I wish you could have seen it! He made enough for a hundred people, and I did my very best to mow through my fair share, but we’ve still got a refrigerator full of leftovers even after giving a ton of it away.

At exactly midnight on Saturday, I grabbed every bag of Easter candy I could find and gorged myself on chocolate. If you’ve never given up sweets for 40 days, you don’t know what sheer joy there is in tasting your first chocolate at 12:01 am on Easter Sunday. What a veritable feast it was. I am so thankful to the Hershey’s company for making all that good stuff.

I was also thankful that the good Lord let me get through Easter Sunday without feeling tired. He even made me hyper! But that could have been the chocolate, no?

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Squirrelly Character

My brother was over today and I was telling him about my dog getting the canine version of a torn ACL and needing to be on bed rest for 3 weeks.

“How do you put a dog on bed rest?” he inquired. “And how did it happen?”

“She was chasing a squirrel and came in limping.”

“Aren’t you afraid she’ll catch the squirrel and get hurt?” he wanted to know.

I wasn’t. “Squirrels are pretty fast.”

“Squirrels are pretty fierce,” he said.

Which I totally agree with. We had this squirrel one time that the kids befriended by feeding it nuts. It was a very fast squirrel. When it saw the kids come outside, it would outrun a Ferrari to get over to the nut. They decided to name him Rocket.

We all became great friends with Rocket. We have big windows down to the patio on the back of our house and he used to come up to the window, stand on his hind legs, and look cute until someone came out with a nut. What a charming little rascal he was.

Between the three of us, Rocket was getting nuts about every half hour. If someone was over, and there were always kids over, it was probably more because the new people wanted to see what the squirrel would do. Rocket stood on his hind legs and let you hand him a nut. At first he’d scurry away with it, but he got to where he’d just sit there and eat hoping for another one.

After a couple of months of this, we went on vacation for a week, and when we got back home, Rocket was out front waiting on us. He had his arms crossed over his chest and was thumping his leg, saying, “Where the heck have you been? I’ve been starving around here.” We have a rock wall, and my daughter, who was about 6 or 7, saw Rocket on the wall when we drove up. She jumped out of the car and ran over to say hi to him. He reached out, apparently thinking she was going to give him a treat. She reached her hand out like you’d do to pet a kitty, and Rocket, seeing the hand was empty, bit her hard on the finger.

She screamed one of those high-pitched little girls’ screams that can break glass. Blood started running down her hand, and she started sobbing, Rocket was at a little distance chattering his disdain, and I was freaking out thinking about rabies. Friggin’ squirrel.

I washed her up, called the pediatrician, and found out that there was nothing to worry about. “Kids get bitten by squirrels all the time. Just put some Neosporin and a Band-Aid on it and she’ll be fine.”

I took a stand that day. No snot nosed squirrel was going to bite my child and get away with it. I told the children, “From now on, no more nuts for Rocket. It’s made him mean.” My daughter was fine with it, the throbbing finger a reminder of the violence of Mother Nature. My son didn’t think it was fair because he loved entertaining his friends, but he gave in. From then on Rocket got nothing from this family, in spite of his cute little begging.

A few days later I walked out on my patio to do something. It was summer and I was barefoot – maybe I was dashing out to take out the trash. Rocket zoomed out of the tree and ran down on the patio right in front of me.

“You can forget about the nuts, mister,” I said. “You shouldn’t have bit one of us. No more nuts for you.” I felt like the soup Nazi on Seinfeld, and it was a good feeling.

I didn’t realize the squirrel could speak English. I started walking back toward the house, and he ran up behind me and bit me on the heel. Hung on, too. I’m shaking the friggin’ thing and it’s got me by it’s beaver teeth, clamped on like a leech and not about to turn loose. I screamed and gave one good shake, which sent him flying. I dashed through the patio door before he could regroup and strike again.

When I calmed down I was livid. Friggin squirrel. I had blood on my heel. The thing had drawn blood! If I could have caught it I would have strangled it until, well never mind.

Instead, I got a broom and went after him. He met my charge, coming right up to the end of the broom as if to say, “C’mon bitch. Bring it.”

“You better GET your ass up to the woods,” I said. Truth be told, I was a little intimidated. Those were sharp teeth, and the little crap was fearless. I feinted like I was going to poke him with the broom, and eventually he backed down, or more likely got bored. He headed to the grass. I followed, feeling brave. “And don’t come back either,” I shouted. He turned around and stood up like a grizzly bear, and I took a few steps backward. You never know how volatile a squirrel is going to be.

I didn’t go outside without the broom for days. Finally he figured he’d milked our gravy train as long as he could. It was getting to be Fall and he started doing the decent squirrel thing - collecting his own nuts. Crazy thing is, when his winter coat came in, it was all splotchy – like he had the mange. I secretly hoped that it was all those rich nuts we gave him that caused the problem. He was around all winter and spring, then I lost track of him. Now we have one million squirrels, all of them his offspring, I suppose. They come up to the window and taunt the dog. And now they’ve caused my dog to walk on 3 legs and probably require $2,000 worth of surgery. I see them out there laughing, and I bet their grandfather is up in a tree egging them on.

Just in Time

I run late. Because of this I know all the best ways to get somewhere fast. Because of this I try to tell my husband where to go.

Last night we saw a documentary about the architect, John Lautner. I was at my daughter’s track meet and just as I was leaving to get home in time to go, another mom showed up, Eileen, whose mother had invited me to go to New York with her. I hate flying, so I was trying to find a way to get out of it nicely. “What’s with your mom wanting to go to New York?” I said.

“It’s the craziest thing. She’s decided to do this whirlwind trip. She just got over breaking her foot. We’re beside ourselves.”

“She asked me to go with her,” I said, “But I’m not too thrilled about it.”

“You’re off the hook. She found someone else.”

That was great news! Then I was ready to get up and leave, honest, when Gina said, “What do you know about Father Tom?”

I’d forgotten about him. He’s our priest, or he was until a couple of weeks ago when he up and quit. He wrote the whole parish to tell us he couldn’t take the celibate lifestyle. I can’t blame him. He’s a nice looking guy, very athletic, lots of personality. But of course we’re all curious what’s going on and if there’s a special someone.

“Well, I don’t know anything in particular except,” Eileen says. There was no way I was going to leave then.

“Except what?” we asked.

“Except that he’s a nice guy who’s probably interested in someone, don’t you think?”

“It’s hard to say,” I said. “Are you sure he didn’t say anything to your mom.”

“Well, if he did, she’s not telling. But she thinks he’s got a girlfriend.”

“Why does she think that?” Gina asked.

We speculated for a while, and then I remembered. “Holy crap, I’ve got to go!”

I arrived home ten minutes later than the agreed upon time.

“We might as well not go,” my husband said. “With the traffic and parking, I’d just as soon not bother.”

“It will be fine,” I said. “Let’s go.”

“You know it’s pretty selfish of you to be late.”

I didn’t even bother telling him I got off the hook for New York. We got in the car and got downtown pretty quickly, except he missed the exit. “Why didn’t you take 6th?” I said. “Where are you going?”

“To 12th.”

“12th?” I said with the tone of voice that says, “Are you that stupid?”

He didn’t answer. He’d been pouting the whole way. We eventually got to 12th, then he started making turns and saying, “I think I turn left here.”

“Why did you take 12th? 6th is a straight shot? Turn right here.”

He kept going straight. We got to the Art Museum and got a great parking spot. He started down toward the pay station. “You don’t have to pay, it’s 7:00.”

He kept walking. He tried to put his credit card in and it wouldn’t work. He turned it over.

“It won’t take the card because it’s 7:00 and pay to park ends at 7:00.” He still kept trying. I walked over there and showed him the sign on the pay station. “Pay to park 6 am to 7 pm.”

“I thought it was until 10:00.”

We got inside and there was a line to get tickets, and one of the ticket machines wasn’t working so it was moving slow. Our friend came out looking for us and led us in to where the others were sitting. We exchanged pleasantries.

“We were on Suzanne’s time.”

“But we got here on time,” I protested.

“I still think it was pretty selfish.”

“But we got here on time. The movie hasn’t even started.”

Just then the lights went out and the movie started. All in all, it was a most satisfying evening. I did not give directions on how to get home, though I sure wanted to.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Responses to Your Responses

Today I went into one of my blogs and discovered I had a whole bunch of comments from a form response. I’m not sure where they came from – I have a response page but I thought those forms went to my email. It’s all so confusing.

Anyway, with eager delight I started plowing through all the forms. The first one was from someone speaking English with a foreign tongue. How can I tell this? Here’s an exact copy of some of her comments – see for yourself.

“Humor is feel good! feeling great and helps you live longer gives energy to people around you, see your skin happy and glowing ,your blood flow in harmony lots of energy. luck of humor ages so quickly.I meet many people and mostly women's they commented on me especially during on the coversation. oh! they said you're only spring young chicken? . my answer to that is of course, Iam only fifty five?”

She goes on to say “send an email share to your friends and everyone i could organized to have a workshops .here is my website and look theres a lot to share and learn from. just remember age is only a number its what it feels that count cheers me! Violeta”

Violeta, you sound wonderful and entertaining. I hope you aren’t a scammer kind of person, because I got a whole mess of messages from people who wanted me to have a page 1 listing on Google, and “All of our processes use the most ethical "white hat" Search Engine Optimization techniques that will not get your website banned or penalized.”

As reassuring as that sounds, I’m not interested in having top billing. I’m writing a daily blog for one year to get into the practice of writing, and no one even knows about it except a few people in my writer’s group. I’m happy Violeta and others find it entertaining, but I’m certainly not ready for prime time – after all, I’m only on day 165. I have a whole nother half a year of practice.

I got a message from Matt Champlin. He’s got a handyman page and wanted my opinion whether women would like handy tips written by a man. In response to one of my articles about having to fix things around the house because my husband won’t, he says: “My mother was a go getter and would shame my father into finishing her projects by having my twins brothers and I painting the garage with her supervising. All the neighborhood would watch as my Dad pulled up in the driveway to see his family doing his work.”

Matt, I think I would like your mom. Matt’s website is

The other messages were from people who like my site, although one guy argued with me about a story I told of a woman my boyfriend and I visited three days after she had a baby. My boyfriend at the time was essentially lacking in couth, and when we saw her he blurted out, “I thought you had a baby.” The writer felt my boyfriend was giving her a compliment, as if to say, “You look great, not like someone who just had a baby.”

I should have made this more clear. Delivering a child had done nothing for her figure. Her belly looked like she’d just eaten a whole goat. My boyfriend was definitely being a jerk.

Thanks to all of you who like my blog and website, and for responding – some of you have joined my site. Does that mean you get special privileges? Oh, I hope so. You deserve it!