formerly Diane's Addled Ramblings... the ramblings are still addled, just like before, and the URL is still the same...
it's just the title at the top of the page that's new

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Love Is Blind... Right? 9/15/08

My kid... she's pretty wonderful some days...


Daniel Raeburn, a brilliant essayist, once said, “Facing a mirror you see merely your own countenance; facing your child you finally understand how everyone else has seen you.” Daniel Raeburn clearly never met Ryan. Or me.

First, I should tell you that Ryan is a smart kid… always has been. At 20 months old, she went through her ‘mine’ phase. I was (very) tired of it. When her cousin picked up something (that belonged to my mother), Ryan looked at her and said, “MINE!” Frustrated, I said, “Ryan, so help me, if I hear ‘mine’ one more time…” (OK, so it was an empty threat but I sounded scary). She looked at me and then back at Elizabeth and said, very defiantly, “It’s not yours!” (Yes, I knew at that moment I was in trouble). She was the first one in her kindergarten class to read (and in the 4th grade now, she reads at a 9th grade level). At six, she hid under her covers with a flashlight after she was supposed to be asleep to read the fourth Harry Potter. Her vocabulary and command of the rules of grammar and language are impressive. And she only missed one question on each of the (God-forsaken, devil-inspired ‘No Child Left Behind’) SOL’s last year. As I say… smart. And incredibly observant. And detail oriented. So detail oriented.

All that being as it is, the way she sees me perplexes me. She is truly an example of ‘love is blind.’ Since her earliest memories, I’ve worked from home. This means I rarely get out of my sweats, running shoes, and a ponytail. When I go ‘out to dinner’ (also known as 'a date', but Ryan doesn’t like the idea of me dating), I do wash and dry my hair and put on my ‘dressy’ jeans… but that’s about it. I can put up a tent in 5 minutes flat but when I put nail polish on, it looks like a Parkinsons patient did it. So when we (rarely) go to the mall and she has to (HAS TO) stop by the dressy dress section of whatever store we’re in (‘cause she’s a girly-girl at heart), I’m flabbergasted when she picks out some slinky, silky evening gown and says, “Oh Mama, this would look amazing on you!” Oh, and to boot, she usually picks out a size 2. I’m SO not a size 2 (nor would I look good in anything that would look good on a size 2). Then there are the shoes… 3 ½ inch heels that would cripple me in about 5 minutes. And the jewelry… oh the sparkles that child puts on me in her fashionista visions!

She started doing this when she was 3 or 4 and it was SO cute. She used to have all the other ladies in the store just ‘awwwww’-ing all over the place. Now they smile indulgently at her and snort behind their purses. This is how I know Daniel Raeburn was wrong about facing your child and understanding how everyone else sees you. Ryan sees me as beautiful and elegant and worthy of gorgeous, expensive, ridiculously fancy dresses. Everyone else sees me the way I see me.

But you know what? I don’t really give a crap how everyone else sees me. I’m going to work a little harder on seeing myself the way Ryan does. She loves me more than anyone on the planet and maybe love IS blind… but maybe (just maybe) it’s not.

Friday, February 27, 2009

I Believe... 9/25/08

This is the first of my older posts that will automatically re-post over the next 10 days. It was written in response to a Writer's Workshop prompt from Kathy over at Mama's Losin' It.


~ I believe in The Golden Rule.
~ I believe in living by example and that “do as I say, not as I do” is so not cool.
~ I believe in tolerance over faith because, in the end, no matter what we each believe, not a one of us really knows for sure.
~ I believe in ice cream for dinner… once in a while.
~ I believe a society has an obligation to care, and care well, for its members who can’t care for themselves, but not those who won’t.

~ I believe in getting 90-minute massages as often as I can afford them.
~ I believe I’m better now than I was at 30 and I believe I’ll be better at 50 than I am now.
~ I believe in being a parent, not a friend, and that sometimes, “Because I said so!” is answer enough.
~ I believe that credit cards are the work of the devil.
~ I believe that education is not an indicator of intelligence and that the best lessons often come from the unlikeliest teachers.

~ I believe you have to risk your heart and be willing to be hurt in order to find real love.
~ I believe it’s OK to want a man… but not to need one.
~ I believe it’s perfectly fine to do all your laundry in one load, to ‘iron’ in the dryer, and hem with scotch tape.
~ I believe we have a moral and ethical obligation to protect and preserve the environment and that convenience, ‘progress’, money, or oil aren’t good reasons for destroying it.
~ I believe travel is the best way to open oneself up to the amazing and wonderful diversity in our world.

~ I believe life is too short for toxic people, bad wine, bad sex, and for harboring anger, grudges, or regret.
~ I believe a sense of humor, a great smile, and an open-mind are way sexier than 6-pack abs.
~ I believe in karma, in magic, in ghosts, and in all manner of things I can’t see or explain.
~ I believe in the power of love and hope and positive thinking.
~ I believe completely that the best is yet to come.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Next 10 Days...

My extremely brilliant friend Sherri (yeah, gorgeous Big Al's wife) gave me a great idea for the next 10 days...

I've been blogging since last summer, so I wrote a bunch of posts back when I only had a few (wonderful) followers. I liked some of them quite a bit (the posts, not the followers. Wait... I loved the followers... and I liked some of the posts...). Anyway (geez), I'm going set it up tonight so that several of them are automatically re-posted over the next 10 days!

It's not that I think you guys can't live without me... I'm truly not that big-headed... but this way I can ensure you won't forget about me (because yes, I am, in fact, that insecure) and I'll hopefully have some comments to read when I get back online!

I hope you enjoy next week... hope you enjoy the old posts, too! XO

Hi, Hiatus...

William Penn once said, "Time is what we want most, but... what we use worst." I'm pretty sure he was thinking of me when he said it. I've never been a good at time management. Ever. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I'm not terribly self-motivated. I'm also easily distracted. I have the attention span of a 3-year-old.

Poor time management skills, lack of motivation, and self-proclaimed ADD do not bode well for someone who works from home. Which I do. Don't get me wrong... I get done what needs doing... but usually at the last minute, when the deadline has just whooshed past me, much like the water which poured from my basement ceiling recently.

In addition to the multitude of personal faults I've just disclosed, I have a somewhat addictive personality. My addiction of late has been electronic... email (well, I've been addicted to that since about 1999), IMing, and blogging. I love all of them... they're amazing forms of communication and they keep me connected to the most wonderful people (including all of you). But lately, my addictions are getting a bit out of control...

Blogging takes up so much time, as many of you know. If I'm not thinking of something to write about (which hasn't been an easy task of late), or writing what I've been thinking about, I'm reading other blogs. Many other blogs. Many, many other blogs. I love them all, which is why I read them (duh) but they are all I'm reading. Between blogging, keeping up with personal email, and IM chats with friends far away (every single evening), I seem to have forgotten I have other things to do... things I like (reading actual books, for example)... things I have to do (like work... and laundry... you should see what Ryan had to wear to school today!). It's not good.

I've also been battling these horrible winter blahs. Most years, once December is over I'm OK. But this year has been harder for me. Maybe because it's been so cold... I don't know. But I've settled into a routine that isn't good for me. I've developed some very slug-like patterns this winter that aren't healthy and have become all-consuming. So I have to make a couple of changes... shake things up a bit... get myself out of the rut (pit, really) I've fallen into... stomp on these doldrums. I need to step back, take a deep breath, get off my ass, get productive, and do something new for a little while.

As such, I'm unplugging for about 10 days - from this weekend through next weekend. Other than work, I'll be off the computer completely and on my way to a fresh, new perspective. I'm sure I'll go through withdrawals, but it's something I have to do. I'm going to miss all of you terribly... and I really hope you'll miss me, too, so that you'll still be here when I come back!!

Take care... speak soon... XOXO

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Enough is Enough!

I wasn't going to post anything today because... well... I got nothin'.

Correction: I had nothin'...

I got home just now from the park to an email from my friend Todd, who's from London. The area of the city in which he lives has its own website, which is really cool... it's a forum for locals to talk about anything and everything, from politics to restaurants to things going on in the neighborhood. Todd found this notice on the website this morning...

"Hello everybody! I have not posted on the site in the past, but I wanted to ask if there is any body who has used a surgeon for breast implants - must be cheap as possible though. We wanted to give our daughter a surprise 16th birthday present and its what she always wanted. Many thanks for your help. A private email is fine if your shy!"

Assuming this is a sincere question (and it appears to be), I am very nearly speechless (and we know that doesn't happen often). I'm appalled. I'm angry. I'm disgusted. I'm so very sad.

As the mother of a 9-year-old girl, I'm all too aware of what's presented to young girls (and the rest of us) in the media as 'beautiful'. As a woman who has struggled most of my life with body image issues, I understand how it feels not to believe you're beautiful. As a woman whose mother has struggled with body image issues her whole life, I know all too well how important it is not to pass on that legacy.

When will our society finally see that what we are is enough? That being healthy should be what we strive for, not perfection? I'm not saying it's not important to look and feel beautiful... I believe it is. I'm not saying we shouldn't ever do things to enhance our appearances; things that make us feel good; things that make us feel pretty, especially as adults. That would make me a hypocrite. I color my hair because I'm not ready to be grey. I use anti-aging moisturizer because I'd like to look as young as I can for as long as I can. I wear make-up when I go out because I feel prettier when I do. But I'm 44. I'm in charge of my life. And deep down, I wish I didn't feel the need to do those things to feel better about myself.

When I was about 12, I asked my mother if she thought I was pretty. She replied, "Well, you're pretty when you smile." That statement embedded itself in my psyche and remains there, even today, some 30 years later. What I wanted her to say was, "Of course you're pretty! I think you're beautiful!" But what she did was put a condition on my beauty. Children and teenagers need to believe they are beautiful the way the are, without condition. They do not need their looks, body image, or self-esteem quantified or qualified in any way. They need to be told they're enough just the way they are and that their true beauty comes from being healthy and confident and accomplished and compassionate. And maybe, just maybe, if they can feel beautiful without enhancement when they're young, they will continue to feel that way when they're adults and in charge of their own lives, so that they won't want to slice and dice their bodies or faces in order to feel they're enough.

I want to cry for this girl. And I want to fly to London today, find her parents, and kick their asses, not just because they'd even consider an adolescent's request to surgically enhance her body (regardless of the risk to her life and long-term emotional health), but because they'd try to do it cheaply. My God.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


This is what I need today...

... some wheels and a little push.

I'm cold, my butt is just dragging, and I just want to crawl into my shell until spring arrives.

And it's only Tuesday.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Blogger's Gone Kaflooey...

There are issues going on today, it seems...

This morning lots of people noticed a loss of followers and got all sad and sniffy (and by 'lots of people' I mean 'me'). I wondered what I had said. I wished people had told me why they were leaving. I wanted to conduct exit interviews. Then I found out it was a Blogger glitch. Apparently Blogger is going to be in touch with the people affected (the followers, not the followees) and let them know they have to go in and make themselves 'public' instead of 'anonymous' (but you can check on your own dashboard easily enough). Anyway, whew. I feel better now.

Also, as I was making my rounds and trying to leave comments on several blogs this evening, I noticed that the 'word verification loading' screen was getting stuck. So I couldn't leave my words of wisdom (and by 'words of wisdom' I mean 'rambling, incoherent asides'). Grrrrr. Yet another reason to lose your word verification, people!

And you know what I just noticed? I just noticed that the My Boy post I did this morning was my 200th! Damn. I knew it was coming up but it slipped on past... I wanted to do something all fantabulous. Oh well. Maybe for the 300th...

My Boy...

It’s no secret that I love my dog… no, not in that weird (ooky) set-a-place-for-him-at-the-dinner-table way. I don’t let him kiss me on the lips (though he’s been known to peg me on the mouth when I haven’t been paying attention – blech) or buy him expensive toys or clothes (any clothes!). But I do love him a lot. Ryan sometimes gets in a huff and complains that I love him more than I love her, to which I reply, “Well, he never gives me lip or attitude and he usually does what I tell him.”

I think when you have a pet, it’s not only your responsibility to give it what it needs to be physically healthy, it’s also your responsibility to really love it. People who get dogs only to tie them up outside and virtually ignore them confound me (and make me pretty angry, truth be told). Why bother? My dogs have always been part of the family. I can’t imagine it any other way. I believe the love you give a dog comes back to you 1,000 times over… and I believe it shapes their personalities.

Always full of personality, Sundance came into my life when I really needed him most. I did a post a while ago about his entry into our family and another one about his chaotic puppyhood (with pictures).

This is what he looked like 4 ½ years ago, when he came home from the shelter.
Cute, huh?
This is what he looks like now.
Beautiful, isn’t he? I know I’m biased, but people always tell me how pretty he is and I always get questioned about his breed. He’s an odd mix – half-Boxer and half-Australian Shepherd. Weighing about 75lbs, he looks a bit like a white Golden Retriever. He’s got the long legs of the Boxer, which give him a perpetual puppy look (and earned him the nickname ‘Daddy Long-legs’), and he has the head of the Aussie. Though he’s nearly all white, except for a few ‘coffee drip stains’ on his ears, his skin is spotted black and when he’s wet, he looks oddly like a Dalmatian.

His looks suit his personality, which is stellar. There is little about him that doesn’t inspire affection or smiles or all-out adoration. Here are a few things I adore about my boy…

He has to be sure of me… when we’re at the park or hiking, I let him off-leash. He’ll run ahead but he stops every 20 yards or so to be sure I’m close behind. He doesn’t like for me to be out of his sight. Sometimes I’ll hide behind a tree just to see him come flying back, looking for me (I know that’s sort of mean but he is a dog and not a toddler, after all!). In fact, he’s never more than steps away from me. In the car, he sits in the backseat but he makes sure his front paws and head are on the console between the front seats. I use his head as an arm rest and he never seems to mind.

He pets me… he sleeps at the foot of my bed but on weekend mornings, when we sleep a bit later, he crawls up beside me and pets me with his paw. It’s really the sweetest thing (though sometimes it hurts a bit, as he has big feet).

He’s protective… though he’s a big teddy bear, he can sound ferocious if someone comes near us or our house. He doesn’t bother people walking or jogging past, but if anyone actually approaches us directly (especially a man), his hackles go up and he growls. People stay away. I never worry about being out alone when he's with me.

He loves Ryan… though he’s really my dog, he seems to understand that part of his job is to look after Ryan. When we play, I sometimes pretend to spank her. He gets so upset and gets between us, pawing at me and barking. You can see the conflict in his eyes… he knows I’m the boss, but he also knows he can’t let Ryan be harmed. Note that if she smacks me, he doesn’t bother!

He’s lazy… now, this isn’t normally an attribute, but it’s funny. When I get up in the morning, he doesn’t. He opens his eyes and watches me, but he refuses to leave the bed until he hears me in the kitchen, making Ryan’s lunch. Then he comes flying out of the bedroom, looking for a treat. He’s a bigger mooch than he is a sloth.

He has friends… he’s definitely an Alpha-male and he doesn’t take to all dogs, but he has a few friends at the park. Riley, a beautiful Golden Retriever, is his best bud. When we get to the park, Sundance looks for him and when he sees Riley, you can feel the joy just radiating off my boy. His other friends are Brady (a Chow mix), Norman (a yappy little Bichon), Abby (a Cocker Spaniel), and a dog whose name we don’t know (he lives at the edge of the park and Sundance visits him every morning at his dog house). He's always so happy after he’s met up with a friend, just like we are.

He apologizes… when he’s done something for which he’s gotten into trouble (not all that often, really), he acts so sorry. When I’m lecturing (because how else is he going to learn?) he’ll sit directly in front of me, head down, eyes up, looking soulful. Then he pets me. I try to look and sound stern but damn, the dog is cute.

He’s just a happy boy… he has a happy expression (and no, he’s not just panting, you non-dog people). When he’s especially happy, he hugs you… sometimes from behind, which will knock you down if you’re not prepared for it (and no, he’s not humping… he doesn’t do that ever). He hugs me in the park all the time and it makes people laugh (and gets me very dirty).

So that’s my boy in a (rather large) nutshell. Once, I complained to a guy I was dating that pictures of Sundance never really show you who he is. He replied, “You can’t capture a soul with a camera.” And I can’t do it here, in words, either. I really wish I could because I’m telling you, you would love my boy, too.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Outside Is Cool!

Ryan and Sundance and I went hiking today. Outside! That non-bloggy person was right... outside is cool! Actually, it was downright chilly for a while but after a couple of miles, it warmed up. It didn't quiet down, however... Ryan talked incessantly. The. Entire. Time. Lordy, lordy but my kid can talk. Incessantly. For hours on end. I took her to Five Guys for burgers later, as she loves them (they are the best burgers in the world after all), and truly, the only time she shut up all day was when she had burger stuffed in her mouth.

(I actually meant for Ryan and Sundance to be in focus and the tree to be fuzzy... but you know how it goes. Well, if you're inept with a camera, you know how it goes.)
The rest of the weekend was good, too. Dinner with the Republican was really nice... he cooks a mean filet mignon (yum) and opens a great bottle of Pinot Noir (yummer). And so you all know, he definitely qualifies as non-date status. Here's the deal... I want my heart to race... I want to get those ooky feelings in my stomach. I know that sounds like the flu, but I also know every one of you knows what I mean. I want to break out into uncontrollable smiles when 'the' guy pops into my head at random moments throughout the day. I want that. I need that. And I deserve that. And no matter how nice and attractive and caring a guy is (and the Republican is absolutely all of those things), if the racing, ooky smiles don't happen (in the very beginning, anyway), the relationship qualifies as platonic. Which is the story of my life, unfortunately. If I feel ooky, the guy feels platonic... if I feel platonic, the guy feels ooky. Sigh.
Anyway, I hope you guys had a fabulous weekend! I know several of you never ventured outside, though, as I have 1,486 posts to catch up on...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Outside? What's This 'Outside' of Which You Speak?

Well, it's the weekend (I'm the Queen of Obvious, remember?), so I'm leaving all you lovely bloggy people 'til tomorrow night...

Someone suggested this to me the other day...Now, the person who issued the suggestion/statement wasn't a bloggy person, so I don't know whether or not they were right (can you even trust non-bloggy people?)... but I'm game to find out. Plus, I actually have plans for the weekend that don't include typing! I'm taking Ryan hiking tomorrow and the Republican is cooking dinner for me tonight. And yeah, I know... these non-dates are sounding a lot like actual dates, aren't they? I swear, they're not. And even if they were, it just wouldn't work... for lots of reasons. As nice as he is, he's just wrong about so many things ;). Plus, he's deploying to Iraq in a few months (he's a forensic photographer and has to go take pictures of really horrible, awful, ugly things for a year). And I refuse to get attached to someone who going off to war. OK, that sounded a bit dramatic... and it's not exactly true... but still... you know what I mean. So it's still a non-date in my book. So there. Pffffttt.

Anyway, enjoy your weekend lovely bloggy people, wherever you may be and whatever you may be doing! Speak soon... XOXO

And PS... thanks so much to everyone who went over to Sherri's yesterday to wish the scrumptious Big Al a happy birthday! I didn't mean to sound like a dictator, I swear! I was just using my 'mom voice'. Hello! Why do you think my kid is so well behaved?! She's not respectful... she's askeerd (Pigsknucklian for 'afraid') of me! Anyway, you guys are the BEST bloggy friends ever and I know Sherri and Big Al both appreciated your thoughtfulness!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Do It! NOW!

Hey everyone... head over to see Sherri at Matter of Fact... it's her gorgeous husband's birthday today and she's shooting for no less than 48 comments on his Happy Birthday post! Big Al is just scrumptious, even if he is a Republican (and he'd totally be my boyfriend, you know, if he wasn't married to Sherri and all... damn that woman), and he deserves GINORMOUS birthday wishes!!

So go do it! NOW! Go wish Big Al a Happy Birthday... and tell him his (imaginary) girlfriend sent you... he'll know who you mean... ;)

TGI...Oh, Never Mind...

Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of the fridge... er... bed.

Hope your Friday's more sunny-side up than scrambled.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I... L... Y...

For those who wondered (or didn't know) about the I love you sign (mentioned in the 'Dude' post below), it comes from sign language.
In the deaf alphabet, the three letters that begin each word in 'I love you' are represented in the sign. The pinkie makes the I... the thumb and forefinger make the L... the thumb and pinkie make the Y... so all three fingers together make up I L(ove) Y(ou)!

It's the sign Ryan and I make when we're too far apart to yell it. It helps that she has glasses now, as she used to just think I was waving at her! ;)


I've got craploads to do today but I had to write this down before I forgot it...

We were on the way to school this morning, following an old Jeep Cherokee... the hatch was held closed by duct tape; there was a Hunting and Fishing - American Traditions bumper sticker displayed beside one that said One Man + One Woman = Marriage; a big, grizzly guy in a camouflage cap was driving... pretty typical fare for Pigsknuckle.

So, we're stopped at a light and a man steps off the curb to cross at the intersection. He's a mechanic, clearly, as he's just come out of a garage and he's dressed in a grease-stained uniform. As he moves in front of the Jeep, he waves at the driver. The guy in the Jeep waves back... like this...

Yes, the big, grizzly, conservative hunter/fisherman waved at the mechanic with the universal I love you sign.

Ryan and I looked at each other and burst out laughing.

Ry: Dude... that was somewhat... odd... and maybe even a little inappropriate!

Me (laughing harder): Maybe he's missing those two fingers!

Ry (snorting now): Either way, I guess it's nice that he's spreadin' the love!

I totally love it that my kid has a (and by 'a' I mean 'my') sense of humor, especially first thing in the morning!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Internet Knows What I Need...

So, since I'm still completely idea-less for any sort of original-like post, I'm going to tell you about something I heard about from my friend Mel, who heard about it from her friend Lisa, who probably heard about it from someone I don't know.

Anyway, here's what you do... go to Google and type your name followed by the word 'needs'. After I read Mel's post about it, I did it, too ('cause I'm all sheep-like that way), and it was so damned funny (and so frighteningly accurate at points), I had to post about it.

According to the Internet, Diane (that would be me) needs...

... a pigfoot and a bottle of beer. Well, the beer would be nice...
... some reefer and some gin. Ummm... OK.
... to love herself. I know, I know, Internet. Sigh.
... a new mattress. It's true, I haven't been sleeping well.
... a fucking shower. Well, excuuuuse me!
... a good affair. That's what I've been saying for ages!
... to STOP HUMPING ME!! No need to yell... just ask nicely.
... financing. You've no idea.
... drinks and hugs. You know it, baby!
... to remember to stay sober. Well, make up your mind, will you?
... bossing. I get plenty of that from Ryan, thank you very much.
... a cheeseburger. Damn. Now I'm hungry.
... to die. Well, that is just NOT nice!
... a loan. Again, you've no idea.
... to move on. I'm working on it, Internet. I am.
... your number. Only if you're cute.
... our thoughts and prayers. Yeah, that'd be nice. Thanks.
... lots of counter space. Have I mentioned that I don't cook?
... to lose this characteristic inconsistency. I will... won't... will...
... to be more sexy and out there. One out of two ain't bad, right?
... only moist, organic, well-drained soil. Everyone needs that!
... our prayers and good vibes. More prayers? Geez.
... to be true to herself. Truer words were never spoken.
... to POST MORE STORIES! Then give me some ideas! Damn it!


Here's yet another little-known fact about me...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

With A Little Help From My Friends...

I save up meme tags from my lovely bloggy friends for when I'm brain-dead and can't think of anything to write on my own... which is how I feel today. Terri over at Reading, Writing, and Retirement came up with these interview questions for me a while ago...

1. Why do you blog? What's in it for you? What's in it for your readers?

I’ve answered this question in an interview before, so I’ll give you the condensed version… I blog because I love (and need) the connection and the community… and to hone my writing skills. I want my readers to be entertained… I hope my posts make them laugh or cry or think (even if what they think is that I’m nuts!).

2. Can you name your top five favorite books of all time? If you can't narrow it down, name more. What about them do you love?

I don’t know that I can… I’ve loved a million books in my life. I’ve loved them my whole life. I started reading on my own when I was 5 and I grew up reading constantly. The library was my favorite place on the planet and it was the first place I was ever allowed to venture alone. When we moved to Virginia, it took me just 6 months to read every book for my age-group in the small public library in town. Our front porch swing was my favorite reading perch and you’d find me there every afternoon and evening, until it got too cold to sit outside, and when it was cold, I’d be in front of the fire or all tucked up in bed (sometimes with a flashlight for my after-hours fix). In high school, I’d rush through (or forego) homework so I could delve into whatever story was on the agenda. I stopped reading for pleasure when I was in college because there was just too much required reading (and too much drinking) to do, but after, I re-discovered the first love of my life. And then came Barnes & Noble… and Borders… and Books-A-Million… and Waterstones when I’m in England… my versions of Heaven.

I started collecting books for Ryan long before I knew for sure there would even be a Ryan. Her personal library rivals that of a small school. She was the first in kindergarten to read on her own and now, in the 4th grade, she reads at a 10th grade level. I still read to her, partly because I love the selection of books available to kids now and I don’t want to miss out.

Books are the one thing I can’t say no to… they’re an addiction; an obsession; a need. I love the way they make me laugh, cry, think, imagine, desire, wish, hope. I love how the characters feel like friends and the places like home. I love how real they are... how alive.

So how can I possibly pick favorites from nearly 40 years worth?

3. What motivates you to get up in the morning? Or do you?

I get up because I have to, not (always) because I want to. I have to get my daughter off to school and the dog to the park. I get up for the same reasons everyone else does… because I have obligations and responsibilities. I’d like to say I get up and face each new day with joy and excited anticipation of what’s to come… but that would be a lie. It is my goal to feel that way, though… if that makes a difference.

4. In your best fantasies, what's your ideal home? Include the structure, location, community, furniture, library, separate house for the kid, plumbing that works. Whatever rocks your boat!

This one is easy. I love houses and design. I wanted to be an architect when I was young… until I found out they have to be good at math. Then I thought about being an interior designer… until I found out they have to give the clients what they like, which might not be what the designer likes. I’ve always thought the only thing I could possibly sell would be houses, because I have the ability to see past what’s actually there to what could be. For that reason, I’d love an older house… cottage-style architecture is my favorite and I’ve found perfect-for-me houses in the 1,000-1,500 square foot range. I like compact, uncluttered spaces with comfortable, casual furniture. I love pattern and texture and color, and though I wanted a red dining room for a long time, I’m now stuck on a muted blue palette with little pops of bright coral and yellow accents. A few things I really want in my dream house are a fireplace, wood floors, a white kitchen, a roomy bath with a big soaker tub, a sunroom (which I would use as my own office/reading/creative space), lots of bookshelves, lots of windows, a porch, and a decent-sized yard (where I want a garden, a greenhouse, entertaining space, and a fire-pit).

As for where it should be? That’s negotiable… on a tree-lined street in Virginia… or New England… or somewhere in the Pacific Northwest… near the sea or the mountains... in a little village in England… a little terrace house in London would be grand. I’m flexible. I want neighbors who care about each other and will hang out on a Friday or Saturday, just because they enjoy each others' company.

I just hope one day I’ll have the home I want… and that I’ll finally feel at home somewhere.

5. What's your most favorite food in the world? What's your least favorite that you think you need to eat anyway?

I love loads of food. I can’t imagine picking a favorite thing. If I have to narrow it down, though… I love fresh mozzarella, tomato, and avocado with olive oil and fresh basil… I love soups (butternut squash, tomato/basil, cream of spinach) and if they’re served in one of those yummy bread bowls? Perfect. I love lamb with mint sauce (which bothers me a lot, as I love sheep and lambs when they’re alive, too) and new potatoes. Last summer I found this amazing Greek yogurt and ate it every other day, topped with fresh blueberries and honey… yum. Dessert-wise, I prefer fruity dishes to heavy, rich, chocolatey things (though I do like chocolate bars… Galaxy is my favorite), and crème brulee (especially when it comes from my cousin David’s restaurant) is my all-time favorite dessert. Oh, and I love, love, LOVE the thick, brown, grainy bread you get in the UK… we don’t have any good loaf-bread here and I’ve considered trying to get Hovis to open a bakery in Pigsknuckle.

There is nothing I dislike that I feel a need to eat because it’s good for me. The only foods I really, truly dislike are olives, Vegemite/Marmite, and caviar, and none of them are particularly good for you (and two of them aren’t even widely available in the US). I like all vegetables and fruit, really. Oh, I’m not a fan of the yogurt we get here in the US and I should probably eat more of that, as it is pretty healthy in general. And water. I definitely don’t drink enough plain water.

And there you have it... yet a little more of me (are you snoring yet?), a la Terri. If you want some interview questions, let me know (and Heather, I just remembered I still have to send you yours!!! Sorry, darlin'... I'm such a slacker). On second thought... you guys might want to ask Terri ;).

Monday, February 16, 2009


Ryan went bowling for the first time a few weeks ago and she really liked it. So the Saturday before last, when my niece spent the night, my mom and I took them back to the bowling alley for the afternoon. We bowled two games, both of which I won. That did not make Ryan happy.

My daughter doesn’t like to lose (and by ‘doesn’t like’ I mean ‘hates it with every fiber of her being’). She’s a very sore loser, which I hate. So, since I think she needs practice at it, I make sure I never let her win. If she beats me at anything, it’s because she's better or luckier than I am. Unfortunately for her, that doesn’t happen very often. Unfortunately for everyone else, she inherited her dad’s ‘When Daddy (or Ryan) ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy’ gene. And I seriously hate that.

Ryan wanted to go bowling again on my birthday. I said I’d take her but I made sure she understood that if I saw any bad attitude, there would be repercussions (and by ‘repercussions’ I mean ‘punishment’). She said she got it.

I won both games again, both by fairly large margins (which doesn’t mean much when you’re bowling with a 9-year-old who’s only been twice before). Although I could see the attitude simmering just under the surface, she kept it in check and went out of her way to sound bright and unaffected. Then we got in the car and the following conversation took place...

Ry: Did Grandma used to bowl at this bowling alley?

Me: Yup. She and Grandpa bowled on a league when I was in high school. Why?

Ry: I think I know what happened.

Me: What do you mean?

Ry: I think they kept good records and they knew who Grandma’s kids were. And when they saw you come in, they planted a microchip in your ball. That way, when you rolled it down the lane, they could use a remote control to straighten it out when you were about to go in the gutter. That’s how you always win.

Me: Ummm… Ry?

Ry: Yeah?

Me: You do realize this is the Pigsknuckle bowling alley and not NASA, right?

Ry: Well, it works for me.

My kid hates to lose that much. She can more easily believe that the bowling alley is using alien technology to keep her from winning than she can believe she just might not be good enough to win. Lordy.

And I obviously need to talk to the guys in charge of that remote control... 'cause I’d really like to bowl higher than a 124.


Monday is my favorite day of the week. I like it so much, I always wear my favorite blue sweater to celebrate! Isn't it pretty? It really brings out my eyes, don't you think? Happy Monday, everyone!!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Happy Day!

Let me start this post by saying thank you to everyone for the gazillion Happy Birthday wishes and ecards! You guys are the best!!! I don't think I've ever in my whole life had my birthday acknowledged by so many people. I'm really touched and so very appreciative. Oh, and Sherri? Please tell Big Al thanks so much for the picture of him in his sexy boxer shorts... it was my favorite present and I framed it right away and put it on my nightstand!

(Yeah, sometimes I crack myself up, too! ;)

I had a great dinner/movie non-date with the Republican last night. His politics suck but he's really a sweet guy and he even brought me flowers. Awwww. We saw Taken with Liam Neeson, which was pretty good, though very violent and a smidge (and by 'smidge' I mean 'really, seriously, awfully') disturbing. Definitely not typical Valentine's Day or birthday fare. Anyway, I got home late and wound up staying up until 3am chatting with one of my favorite bloggy people who lives in a different time zone (and therefore probably didn't/won't wake up all bleary-eyed and incoherent this morning... like I did). But it was good... you bloggy people are pretty cool!

This morning Ryan gave me my birthday present. Remember how I said that she always tries so hard to pick out the perfect present? Well, she did it again. Andrew Wyeth is one of my favorite artists... he did a painting called Master Bedroom, which I've loved since the first time I saw it, several years ago. Ryan got me the print... you can probably tell why I like it so much....
Look familiar?

Thanks again to everyone for the birthday wishes! I hope you're all having a wonderful weekend! And now I'm off to catch up on blogs, as I'm way behind... later, 'gators!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love, Me...

I'm not a big fan of Valentine's Day (shock and surprise, right?). It seems a pretty pointless, manufactured 'holiday' to me. I mean, if you love someone, you ought to be showing them every day, don't you think? Assigning a day, which basically seems (to me, anyway) to require a person to prove how much they love someone, is just not right.

If you're in a relationship, there are certain expectations where Valentine's Day is concerned. But no one likes to articulate those expectations. And since people aren't mind-readers, people fall short. Lord knows, I've never actually had a good one... never had one full of romance and hearts and flowers. Never once. My ex was incredibly unromantic (well, he was pretty much unfeeling so romance was completely out of the question). Add to the fact that my birthday is the day after? Yeah. I've said many times I'll marry the first person who can differentiate between the two days. I'm not materialistic (I swear) and it's not about getting two presents (I swear) but I'd love my birthday to be acknowledged separately from the Pink and Red day. Maybe I'm being petty... I don't know. But it's how I feel.

And if you're not in a relationship, you're reminded at every turn how someone else would complete you... make you whole... make your eyes sparkle and rainbows fly out your butt. Yeah. I don't subscribe to that theory either. Well, not anymore.

Years ago someone gave me this poem. Though I was still married and it didn't really apply to my life at the time, it spoke to me. I hung onto it and when I saw it printed on a plaque in a gift shop a few years later, I bought it and hung it on the wall over my dresser. When my marriage ended, the poem became the words I lived by. Yesterday I found out that a dear bloggy friend just ended a relationship... it was so hard for her to do because even though she knows this person isn't right for her, she loves him. So on this Valentine's Day, I wanted to share these words with her... and with anyone whose Valentine is herself (or himself)...

Comes the Dawn
(Author Unknown)

After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul.
And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning and company doesn't mean security.
And you learn kisses aren't contracts and presents aren't promises.
And you learn to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes open.
And you learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain.
For plans and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn that sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure...
That you really are strong...
And you really do have worth...
and you learn... and learn
With every good-bye,
you learn.

On this Valentine's Day, remember...

Love, Me... XO

Friday, February 13, 2009

TGIF the 13th...

Are you superstitious? If you ask me that question, I’ll tell you I’m not. I don’t even believe in luck – not really… though Murphy’s Law does seem to hold some validity in my life. And there is that whole thing where no matter what line I get into at the store, it will be the slowest, even if it had been the fastest when I got into it (man, I hate that).

Anyway, as I say, I’ll tell you I’m not superstitious but the truth is, I sort of am. Sort of. Do I truly believe I’ll have 7 years bad luck if I break a mirror? Nope. Do I worry if a black cat crosses my path? Not in the least. Would I walk under a ladder? Well, no, actually, I wouldn’t, but not because it’s bad luck… it’s just kind of unsafe, don't you think? But there are a few things I do which, logically, make not one iota of sense and which I don't even understand… superstitious things… things I learned as a child or just picked up along the way. For example:

1. I will not open an umbrella indoors.
2. I will not put new shoes on the table.
3. When I go through a yellow light, I lick my thumb and touch the roof of the car.
4. When I say something I don’t want to happen, like, “I’ve never run out of gas,” I knock wood (and it has to be real wood, not that particle board crap).
5. I wish on every ‘first’ and falling star I see.
6. I never tell anyone what I’ve wished for.
7. If I spill salt, I always throw a pinch over my left shoulder (thanks, Fhina, for reminding me of that one!)

What about you? What are your illogical, silly, superstitious quirks?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Slap In the Face...

I’ve mentioned that my ex is Mexican. Born and partly-raised in San Antonio, Texas, Spanish was his first language. But his mother separated him from his extended family and his culture when he was very young, so there is little about him that speaks to his heritage (beyond his love of Corona and homemade tortillas), except for his looks. He’s very dark – skin, hair, personality (though I’m sure the personality part is just him and not due to his ethnicity). I think his looks are what drew me to him in the first place (it certainly wasn’t his sparkling wit). Though I don’t have a ‘type’ and have been attracted to many (vastly) different men in my life, I do like dark looks as a rule.

The summer after we got married, we drove from Virginia to Texas to visit his family. The best man in our wedding, who happens to be Filipino (and also very dark), came with us. On our way home, after more than a week in the Texas sun, we stopped at a Tastee-Freez in Podunk, Arkansas for lunch. The parking lot was full of pick-up trucks and Harley Davidsons and the diner was full of rednecks and Hell’s Angel types.

When we walked in – one whiter-than-white girl sandwiched between two very brown boys – the whole place got quiet. People actually stopped eating and stared at us. They whispered behind their hands. It was very disconcerting and I tried to tell myself we were in a small town, off the beaten path, where everyone knew everyone else, and they were just wondering who we were. But I knew that wasn’t it. We looked different from anyone in the place. Well, I didn’t, but my ex and our friend did. Uncomfortable, we got our food to go and left. Back in the car, we made light of the situation, joking that the Tastee-Freez gang probably thought I’d been kidnapped by two ‘foreigners.’

Sometimes bigotry just slaps you in the face.

You wouldn’t think that I, the whiter-than-white girl, would have had occasion to feel the sting but, in fact, bigotry has slapped me more than once. Since I was a teenager I’ve surrounded myself with people who are different from me in various ways and my association with them has often resulted in prejudice rearing its ugly head. Most of the time it's come from strangers but, sadly, there have been times when its ugly head has been masked by the faces of a few of my own family members. I remember the first time it happened – the shock and disappointment and sadness and anger I felt. I remember the last time it happened – the shock and disappointment and sadness and anger I felt. I hate it when it happens.

I’ve taught my daughter to be proud of her beautiful brown skin and the features that affirm her Hispanic and Native American heritage. I’ve also taught her that what’s far more important is what’s inside her heart and her head; that we are all people first and foremost. Our ethnic, cultural, religious, spiritual, and educational differences are important, because they are what help to make us individuals, but we can peacefully co-exist, regardless of how different we are. We can and should embrace the things in ourselves that set us apart and learn from others, taking what we love for our own lives, respecting what we don’t.

And she gets it. She’s accepting of everyone; she sees our ethnic differences and she appreciates them; she doesn’t view them as a barrier. Her idea of beauty encompasses the typical and the atypical. Even at nine, she thinks on a surprisingly global scale. She tries to understand the things that make us different… she’s still working on the whole respecting part in some cases (but to be fair, so am I).

This morning she told me a little girl in her class couldn’t do a report on James Armistead Lafayette, one of the most famous patriots during the Revolutionary War, because he was black and her father wouldn’t allow information about him in their house. This is the same child who wasn’t allowed to attend a play about Martin Luther King last week, or perform during the Christmas show because one song was being sung in Spanish. When I heard about all of these things, I felt sick and sad and angry. I asked Ryan what she said to the little girl…

Ry: I just told her that she doesn’t have to think like her dad, Mommy. I said that I hope she doesn’t think that way because if she does, we won’t be able to be friends, since she won’t approve of me or my family. (Note that Ryan has cousins who are half-Mexican and half-black)

Me: What did she say?

Ry: She said she likes me and she doesn’t think like that.

Me: Good. Then there’s hope.

I simply don’t understand the pervading mentality of intolerance for diversity and cultural differences that exists in our world. I believe it will destroy us if we can’t, as a race – the human race, change our thinking. When I spend time with my friends in ‘real’ life and in Blogland, I’m lulled into thinking that everything is changing. Then I get slapped again and I feel the sting. But kids like Ryan soothe it. I just hope there are enough kids growing up now to soothe the world. Kids like these little ones...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Not Just Older...

Do you know who this woman is?

No, she’s not the Amazing Albino Woman of Pigsknuckle (good guess, though). Nor is she the Borg Queen on her wedding day. She is Jennifer Figge, a 56-year-old American woman who just completed a 2,000 mile swim across the Atlantic, from the Cape Verde Islands to Trinidad. She’s 56. And she swam 2,000 miles, my friends (yes, I know I said it twice… it was for effect). I calculated the other day how many laps I’d have to swim to cover just two miles and I felt a little ill. So, in my book, even though she’s not albino, Pigsknucklian, or Borg, she is still pretty damned amazing.

Reading about her swim was a good thing for me to do this week. You know how you feel when your birthday approaches? Those of you under 30 have possibly never experienced this (mark my words, though... you will), but you spend a good bit of time thinking about how old you’re getting and what you have or haven’t accomplished in your life (and unfortunately, it’s usually the haven’ts that stick out). You think about your regrets and your ‘coulda/shoulda/wouldas’. You re-evaluate the direction in which you’re moving (or aren’t), as well as your goals. You dig out your Bucket List and realize there are still a whole lotta un-done items on it.

Yeah. That’s where I’ve been for the past couple of weeks (and by ‘weeks’, I mean ‘years’). Right. In. That. Spot. Don't get me wrong... I like being in my 40's. I wouldn't go back. But I haven't done enough with them yet.

I read this great magazine regularly… More. It’s designed for women over 40 and its mission is to show us all that, if we choose, we can see the 2nd half of our lives as a new beginning… or the beginning, for those of us who put ourselves and the business of living on hold for whatever reason. Every month I grab it up and settle in with a cup of tea to read about women in their 40’s and 50’s and 60’s, who are doing amazing things, often for the first time. And I’m reminded that like them, I am getting older. And like them, I can choose to do things I’ve never done. I can choose a new direction for my life if I’m not happy with the old one. I can choose to take full advantage of the freedom that comes with age – that wonderful sense of ‘I don’t really give a flip what people think.’ I have no choice about getting older (the alternative, quite frankly, sucks), but I can choose to get better.

So Jennifer Figge has been added to my hero list. Not because she swam 2,000 miles (but damn, people… 2,000 miles!). No, she’s my new hero because she believed she could do it, even though logic and common sense (and probably a fair number of relatively sane people) told her it was a task not worth taking on at 56.

I’m guessing Jennifer Figge thinks she’s getting better with age. And I’m choosing to travel that road, too. I’m just not going swim it. Just sayin’.

Note: There seems to be some dispute regarding exactly how many miles Jennifer Figge swam and it seems her total is much less than originally reported. Regardless, in my book, she still did a pretty amazing thing, so I'm not removing her from my hero list!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I Heart...

I heart the world tonight, especially those plumber guys!! All is good... I've showered, brushed my teeth, gone to the bathroom (and flushed the toilet!), and had a cup of tea (made with water that poured out of the faucet, fresh and clean, as opposed to sputtering out, all brown and smelly)... I got a great new haircut (and a slightly darker color) this afternoon... I'm at 54% of my fundraising goal for the 3-Day Event Breast Cancer Walk (you guys have been so generous!)... and I'm looking forward to my birthday this weekend, as the Republican is taking me out to my favorite restaurant, where I'll have some gorgeous red wine and dessert before going to the movies (and no, even though we're going out on Valentine's Day, it's NOT romantic!).

So, in honor of my birthday and the fact that today ended up all warm and fuzzy, I'm going to post a list of things I love (things other than the obvious - Ryan, Sundance, my family and friends, etc)... 44 things to be precise, as that's how old I'm turning on Sunday...
1. Tulips
2. Duck egg blue walls
3. Simple silver jewelry
4. Little English villages
5. Books and bookstores
6. Hand-knitted sweaters
7. Rain
8. Swimming
9. Handwritten letters
10. Family photos in silver frames
11. Long massages
12. Old pubs
13. White kitchens with big windows
14. Camping
15. Freshwater pearls
16. Kissing
17. Words as art
18. Big, fat, thirsty towels in sunkissed colors
19. The sea
20. Puppy breath
21. Wicker furniture
22. Gerard Butler's crooked smile
23. Nike running shoes
24. Colorful, handmade quilts
25. Cottages
26. Classic Audrey Hepburn dresses
27. Working with little kids
28. Beautiful journals
29. Big comfy chairs with ottomans
30. A fire in the fireplace, inside or out
31. Big soaker bathtubs
32. Porch swings
33. Hardwood floors
34. Lemon or raspberry anything
35. Container gardens
36. Magazines (especially home mags)
37. Finding a piece of art (any medium) that 'speaks' to me
38. Lambs (especially the ones with black faces)
39. Traveling
40. Babies' big belly laughs (and causing them!)
41. Pine farm tables
42. The smell of citrus, vanilla, or fresh cotton/linen
43. Floorplans and architecture
44. Writing

Mount Sewer

This is the front yard right now.
Pretty, huh? Now I don't need to leave the house to go hiking. Cool. Or, if I decide to murder someone, I've got a convenient dump site for the body. Oh, and for all that digging? There. Is. Still. No. Water. I had to brush my teeth at McDonalds this morning. Nice.

There is a guy from the city outside right now, digging up the street with a big old noisy yellow contraption. If he and his little friends can't supply us with water by this evening... you know that whole murder/body dump thing I mentioned above? Yeah... it's on.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Doggie Interview

Sundance got tagged for an interview meme by Batcat, over at Life, Work, and Pleasure. Since I'm busy today, whining about not having a toilet, I figured I'll let him at it...

1. Do you think you’re hot? Dude. I’m cool.

2. Upload a favorite picture of you. Why do you like this picture? Most of the pictures of me make everyone say, “Awwww, he’s so cute!” Sometimes I just don’t want to be cute, you know? This one’s got some ‘tude.

3. When was the last time you ate pizza? About 2 weeks ago. Man, I love me some pizza. Usually I only get a little crust, but Ryan, the 2-legged kid in the house, can sometimes be pretty careless with her food, especially on the weekends, when she can watch TV while she eats. She usually sits on the floor and leaves her food beside her (and she totally doesn't pay attention). Mom always says, “If it’s on the floor, it’s in Sundance territory,” so I don’t feel too bad when I snitch a bite (or a whole piece of pizza) here and there. She really ought to be more careful, don’t you think?

4. What was the last song you listened to? 'London Bridge is Falling Down', played by the 2-legged kid on the recorder, in the car on the way to school this morning. Of course, I was lying on the backseat with my paws over my ears, whining to myself and Mom was making this strange, choking-gurgling-crying sound, so I didn’t hear too much. I’ve really got to put that awful thing on my list of stuff to chew.

5. What are you doing now? Kicking back beside Mom on the couch. Yeah, I’m not supposed to be up here but Mom’s been a little distracted with all the digging going on in the front yard and the weird smells coming up out of the basement, so I’m gettin’ away with some stuff. Cool.

6. What name would you prefer besides Sundance? Well, I don’t really get called Sundance all that often (and I don't mind all that much, as I always sort of thought it was little on the frou-frouey side). Most of the time I’m Sunny or Bubby (don’t ask). But to tell the truth (and don’t repeat this, OK?), I sort of like it when Mom calls me Sweet-faced Boy. Yeah, I know it’s so not cool, but when she says it, she usually pinches my cheeks and kisses my head and gives me a big, long hug. You really can’t beat that lovey-dovey stuff, let me tell you.

7. What’s your favorite thing to do? Well, I like hanging out at the park every morning with my Mom, chasing ducks (not the geese, though… those buggers are mean!) and playing with my friend Riley. But I think my most favorite thing to do is go swimming with my cousins Ben and Hunter at their pool. I didn’t like to swim at first, but once Mom got me in the water and showed me I wasn’t going to drown, it was cool. Now I like to get in water wherever I am but I get yelled at for that… something about how I’m going to stink when I’m wet. Yeah, I have no idea either.

8. Where do you sleep? On the bed. Duh. Where do you sleep?

9. Do you have a favorite toy? Totally. My tug-of-war rope. I used to be able to pull the 2-legged kid around the room when she was hanging on to it. But she got big. Now I just try to pull Mom off the couch. It’s way cool.

10. Are there any other animals at your house?
Hell no. This is my house. The 2-legged kid is as close to another animal as we’re gonna get.

Happy Monday!

This is how I feel today.
I'm off to the neighbor's to pee... the pool to shower... and the laundromat to see if I can get raw sewage out of every article of clothing Ryan owns. Oh, and I have cramps, too. Yes, that is TMI, I know (and I apologize) but I wanted to illustrate just how friggin' inconvenient a major plumbing issue could be.

Happy Monday.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


It's been a lovely weekend. The plumber has been here for the past 4 1/2 hours, trying to determine why we had a waterfall of suspiciously unclean water in the basement. Lovely. Turns out, he's stumped. But he is sure that if we take showers, do dishes or laundry, or flush the toilet more than twice, we will have a geyser of unclean water in the bathroom or kitchen. Yes, really lovely. He's sending someone else out first thing in the morning with a camera attached to a snake-y thing... that should tell us (hopefully) that it's the city's issue. Until that point... it'll be the shower at the gym and the neighbor's toilets. I left a big sign on the bathroom door, printed in red Sharpie, to let Ryan know NOT TO FLUSH THE TOILET. Lovely.

Yesterday I woke up to a completely destroyed front tire. Dunno how it happened exactly. And yes, it was one of my new tires... one of the 'high performance' (my ass) tires, each of which costs more than my first car (my ex picked this car and these tires... not me). Lovely.

On a positive note, I'm at 42% of my $2,300 goal for the breast cancer walk after only 3 days!! Three days!!! Thank you to everyone who has donated so far... every penny is so appreciated!! Again, I do hope you'll all pass my Pink Page blog and/or donation page information on to anyone you know who might be inclined to donate. We're well on our way. And that is lovely!

On another positive note, my brother and sister-in-law seem to have forgiven me for the awful things I didn't do. Though neither has acknowledged the letter I sent, they seem to be speaking to me again and my brother is even (voluntarily) taking care of my tire issues (I'd never ask). I'm just going to let it all drop. I know an apology is just way too much to expect or hope for and that's fine. It's not why I wrote the letter anyway (though it would have been nice). At least if we're talking, it makes things easier for the whole family. And that's lovely, too.

So, two crappy things and two nice things happened this weekend. I guess that makes it a wash, huh? And I just remembered that all the clean clothes I washed earlier today need to be re-washed, as they were folded on the table right under the unclean waterfall. Lovely.

Hope your weekend was really lovely, too... and I don't mean that in a sarcastic way. Really.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Hero in Diva's Clothing...

My friend Cari is a clotheshorse. A serious clotheshorse. The woman has enough outfits that she could probably go more than two months without wearing the same thing twice… or even doing laundry. She turned the never-used 3rd bedroom in her house into her closet. Her closet. I, on the other hand, don’t have enough clothes to go a week without doing laundry. Well, I can, actually (and do, frequently… if it doesn’t smell, it’s good to wear, right?).

Yeah, Cari and I are different. In lots of ways. She’s lived in the same small town her whole life, now just a stone’s throw from the house she grew up in. I’ve lived in 4,567 different places. She got married at 20 to the only person she ever dated. I’ve dated more people than live in her whole town. She’s a homebody and likes to stay put. I like to go, every chance I get. She wears 4-inch heels. I wear Nikes. We’re very different. But those differences don’t matter one iota in our friendship because we’re also alike in many ways.

Though Cari is nine years younger than I am, our lives, up until a few years ago, mirrored each other’s in some very significant ways – primarily, we had babies at the same time. We also dealt with the devastating illnesses and deaths of our parents around the same time, too.

When I met her, just over a dozen years ago, her mom was sick. In fact, she’d been battling breast cancer on and off for a good portion of Cari’s life. I watched my friend deal with the gradual and permanent decline in her mother’s health, knowing she was going to lose her; knowing I was going to face the same thing with my dad a short time later. Going through that together cemented our friendship forever and though I hate how it happened, I’m eternally grateful that it happened.

Though I never met Cari’s mom, I went to her funeral. I heard about what a remarkable, strong woman she was; how she’d fought that horrible illness with everything she had. And though I never met her, I know beyond all doubt just how strong she was, because I see her strength every day in her daughter.

After losing several of the women in family to breast and ovarian cancer, Cari decided to have the controversial cancer gene-testing done. She’d had a baby by then – a baby boy named Nathan (after her mother, Natalie), who was born just 8 weeks after Ryan – and she wanted to do whatever she could to make sure she would be here for him. Cari knew the outcome of the testing before she even got the results – she knew in her heart she would test positive. And she did… for the BRCA1 gene. She also knew that carrying the gene increased her chances of getting breast cancer by 75%. So after much soul-searching, she stepped up and began a course of preventative treatments that would forever change and be a part of her life; that would alter her body and her chemical make-up; that would prevent her from having any other children; that would frustrate her and scare her; and that would hopefully let her live without the diagnosis that ended the lives of too many of the women in her family.

I’ve watched Cari face so many fears. When she was pregnant, she was terrified she’d have a little girl and pass on the breast cancer legacy. Knowing everyone in her family had been diagnosed around age 30, she traveled through the first part of her 30’s always looking over her shoulder. She’s had tests and scares and surgeries that have made her question everything, including her own sanity. In the last year, she’s had to deal with her little boy’s diagnosis of juvenile diabetes. But always – always – she has faced everything with grace and courage… and in 4-inch heels.

We used to take long weekends together and, because Cari was afraid to fly, I used to go to her. The year my marriage ended, I couldn’t take the trip but she hemmed and hawed about coming down to me because she was scared. I told her I couldn’t understand how she could go through everything she did, and with such frequency, and yet still be afraid to fly – something millions of people do every day. When she looked at it that way, she realized I was right. And a couple of months later, after she faced yet another fear, I picked her up at the Charlotte airport for a long weekend of… you guessed it… shopping!

Cari is my hero. My hero in diva’s clothing. She is more like my sister than my friend and I love her. I am a better person for knowing her. And I hope that with the cancer research being done, and because of her tremendous courage and willingness to face what terrifies her, I’ll know her for the rest of my life.

I also hope you’ll click on the link to my 3-Day Event Donation Page and give what you can to the cause. And if you can’t donate, I hope you’ll pass on the link to my new Pink Page blog or my donation page to everyone you know. This horrible disease touches us all in some way, small or great. But it doesn’t have to. So let’s make it stop.

Cari and Nate.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

And the Award Goes To...

I’ve gotten a few luverly awards over the past week or so and I wanted to acknowledge them (ever so gratefully) and pass them on. I decided this time I was going to pass each award to just one person, which was hard, hard, HARD… but here they are…

First is from the inimitable Braja who, I think, made this one up just for me (how cool is that?!). It’s the Queen of All Rambling Award. Now, I’m not prepared to give up my crown just yet, but I’m happy to share it with another rambler – one I’d be thrilled to rule alongside… the lovely Fhina over at A Woman of No Importance (don’t let the title of her blog fool you!). Fhina is a rambler of the very best sort (and someone I know Braja would be proud to crown)… she’s insightful and funny and wise and humble. I adore her and if you head over to her blog, you will, too.

Next is the Marie Antoinette Award given to me by one of my best bloggy friends, Protégé (another blog you should be reading if you’re not already!). This award, as I understand it, is given to bloggers who ‘keep it real’ and I have to pass it on to a very real blog I love, love, LOVE… it belongs to Blognut (my evil twin... though she's a mindless rambler and not an addled rambler... and you know addled is better, right? Yeah, it is... take my word). Anyway, again, if you’re not reading her, what the hell are you waiting for?!

Last is a very special award, given by Denise at Shut the Front Door! It’s the Wonderful Mother Award. I was really touched to receive this one, especially from Denise, whose mom-skills are stellar. Being a mom is a big, wonderful, horrible, scary, funny, miserable, fulfilling job and it’s one that rarely gets acknowledged or thanked. So this means a lot. I’m going to do something unconventional here, though, and I’m passing it on to Coachdad. I know he’s not a mom per se but he IS a single dad of four (count ‘em – four!) daughters. Like me, he (often) gets to be mom AND dad and, as far as I can tell, he’s doing a pretty amazing job. He parents with great humor and great love, and he’s not afraid to admit his blessed imperfections or his fears. So I hope all you wonderful mothers, whose blogs I read and adore, and who all really and truly deserve a Wonderful Mother Award, don’t get upset. If you read his stuff, I'm betting you'll agree with me.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Writer's Workshop: Just Do It!

It’s Writer’s Workshop time… see Mama’s Losin’ It for details. This week I chose the prompt, “Write a list of 10 things on your mind this week.”

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. A ridiculous amount. Too much. Something you may not know about me is that I think everything to death. Sometimes that’s OK – even helpful… but most of the time it’s not. It certainly hasn’t been OK lately because, you see, I’ve been thinking and not doing. And it’s time to start doing. It hit me hard last night that I can theorize ‘til I’m blue in the face about why I’m feeling sad or lacking motivation or resisting forward movement… but in the end, none of my theorizing matters one iota. The bottom line is that I’ve always been motivated by accomplishment but I’m not accomplishing anything these days. And that has to stop. I simply have to start.

So today I took some time and got a few things done that needed doing. And I plan to do the same tomorrow… and the next day… and the day after that. I’m adopting Nike’s slogan as my mantra… Just Do It!

Here are some of the things on my mind that have moved from ‘in my head’ to ‘in process’…

1. The breast cancer walk… I’ve decided to do it so I’ve registered and now I’m planning my fundraising effort and training schedule.

2. Money… I’m sorting out some financial issues that have been wearing on me.

3. My work website… I got some of the text to my friend Alan (who's helping me with the site) today and I’m sorting out web-hosting and my PayPal account.

4. My new work certification… I’ve scheduled the test date.

5. The summer… Ryan and I want to camp out to the Grand Canyon and Sedona, so I’ve started putting together a plan to pay for the trip.

6. My car… I scheduled an oil change, which my poor car needs desperately.

7. My creativity workshops… I’ve designed the flyer to go up at the big book fair next month.

8. Sundance… my boy seriously needs a bath. Good lord. I’m calling the groomer tomorrow.

9. Weekends… I’ve been feeling really lonely lately and I need some face-time with a friend who makes me laugh ‘til I pee in my pants, so I’m figuring out when I can go down to visit Mel.

10. My Aunt Jean… she's one of my favorite people in the world; my safe place. Her huge, generous heart rebelled last week and she had a heart attack and two surgeries. She’s OK now, demonstrating, as always, woman’s resilience. I’m sorting out when I can visit her, too.

To Do...

I've got ninety-eleven things to do today... I'm gonna get at least one of them done. So don't think I'm ignoring you... I'll catch up on all your wonderful words this evening. And hey, thanks for all your support, my bloggy friends... it means the world... XO

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I Want...

My birthday is coming up. Ryan, always obsessed with giving me the perfect gift, asked me last night what I want. As usual, I didn’t know what to tell her, as there is little I want or need. My typical response is, “Whatever you get will be perfect, because you gave it to me.” But that answer isn’t good enough for her (and it really isn’t true, given some of the atrocious things I’ve gotten in the past, like the gargantuan/gaudy earrings I had to wear out of the house so she would see, then leave in the car all day, so no one else would!). She wants to know my heart’s desire and no matter what it is, she’ll do her damnedest to get it for me. Case in point…

A couple of years ago I saw these adorable sheep figurines when I was in England. Now I don’t normally go for stuff like that, as I don’t like clutter, but I have a thing for sheep and these little guys were wearing Wellies and Fair Isle sweaters… too cute. I didn’t get one, though, and I’ve regretted that decision since. Ryan remembered me telling her about them, though I don’t know how, as I only mentioned them once or twice, some time ago. Anyway, at Christmas this year I really couldn’t think of a thing I wanted. After weeks of pestering me, she told me not to worry – that she’d thought of something. A few days later, though, completely crestfallen, she came to me and said she couldn’t find what she wanted to get me and she’d have to think of something else. That afternoon I happened to be on the computer she uses and I looked at her search history (as is my mommy duty) and there were all sorts of look-ups for ‘sheep in sweaters,’ ‘sheep figurines,’ ‘sheep in boots and sweaters.’ I was really touched. Of course it would have been funny had she found them, as I’d have had to make the purchase myself with my own card, or my mom would have had to do it for her, which would have been even funnier, as my mom can’t even check her own email without help. Anyway, as I say, it just goes to show how important it is to Ryan to get me something I really want.

So I told her I’d have a think about my birthday and let her know what I come up with. And I did think about it. And it made me a little sad. And a little angry with myself. And determined to find some of the direction I’ve been lacking in my life of late.

I want…

I want a place where I belong; a place that feels like home.
I want the people I love to live close physically, not just close in my heart.
I want to feel safe.

I want to be kissed in such a way that I forget how to breathe.
I want to be first on someone’s list of priorities.
I want to be loved fiercely and deeply, without condition, reservation, or judgment.

I want to feel that I really matter in the grand scheme of things.
I want to let go of my regrets and failures, after having (finally) learned from them.
I want to let go of the fear that keeps me from living my dreams.

I want a month in a cottage by the sea.
I want to live with nothing but what I really need and really love.
I want to be free from financial worries.

I want health and happiness for everyone important to me… and for those I don’t know.
I want the world to be at peace – tolerant and accepting of all our grand differences.
I want to make a difference… to exemplify, in some way, the change I want to see.

I just want to be the person I know I can be; the person who loves herself the way she wants to be loved; the person who creates a wonderful life – who doesn’t just want it; the person who stops wishing and just does what’s necessary to matter, to make a difference, to thrive, to be happy, and to find safety and security and peace.

But I doubt Ryan can get any of that at Target, so I’ll probably just ask for a new pair of earrings.


Seriously? Well, crap.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Comes the Snow Softly...

Here's a picture of the front yard tonight... I'm guessing tomorrow will be a snow day...

Sunday, February 1, 2009


On a Roll

I love to make Ryan laugh. Hard. I find ridiculous ways to do it… I change the words to songs (and often make them rude); I hold entire conversations in rhyme, usually set to a silly tune (which I sometimes invent); I hold other conversations in my Daffy Duck lisp (one of my personal favorites); I break into spontaneous dance (and since we know I can’t dance and I do it in public, you can imagine the effect that has); I employ ‘the laugh’ (which makes me sound like a cartoon character… somewhere between Baby Huey and Roger Rabbit)… all funny stuff. Well, funny to anyone under the age of 12 (who doesn’t embarrass easily… Ryan doesn’t). I expect other grown ups would find me quite afflicted. Which is fine with me. I’m not trying to make them laugh. Anyway, this weekend I was on a roll… I made Ryan choke on popcorn, snort milk out her nose, and pee a little in her pants. It was golden.

She Got Me Back

Ryan got me back this morning. We went out to breakfast and when we left the restaurant, she was walking in the left-over snow along the sidewalk. It was packed hard and pretty much just ice. I said (jokingly), “I hope you fall.” No sooner were the words out of my mouth when BOOM. Down she went. I nearly wet myself laughing (which would have served me right, really, as I’m pretty sure only bad mommies laugh first and check for injuries later).


We went to see Inkheart on Saturday. Anyone who has kids who like the fantasy genre or Cornelia Funke’s books should consider going. It wasn’t exactly like the book (what movies is?) but it was quite good. And Brendan Fraser is yummy (I kept picturing him in his George of the Jungle loin cloth).

Need Your Opinion

I’m considering participating in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Event Breast Cancer Walk. The DC leg is in October, so there’s plenty of time to train for the 60-mile trek. However, the thing that caused me to chicken out last year (and still makes me very nervous), was the fundraising requirement. Every walker has to commit to raising $2,300… and if you don’t succeed, you have to pay the balance yourself. Yikes. I know it’s not a fortune but I’m not good at asking people for money. What do you guys think? If I register, I’d have a page that would allow for credit card donations (from anywhere in the world)… is that something you all might donate to? It’s such a worthy cause, obviously, and it would benefit women all over the world, not just in the US, certainly. It’s a disease that has affected me through people I love and I want to do it… I’m just not very confident in my fundraising ability. Also, if I do it, I wouldn’t mind having a walking partner who could get to DC for a weekend in October… just sayin’. Let me know what you think.

In Case You Were Wondering...

You know that letter I sent to my brother and sister-in-law? The 'olive branch'...? Well, in more than a week, not a word in response. Oh well. At least I tried.