Saturday, December 12, 2009


The other day I received an alarming text from one my kids informing me that technis does not come from rusted nails. Ummm . . . Technis? Really? Well, let me just tell you that I know EXACTLY how one gets "technis". "Technis" can be the unpleasant result of several things. Here are few of the causes:

a) reading a gift wish list from a teen with a plethora of electronic gadgets.
b) looking behind the television and trying to figure out what should be attached to which.
c) watching Ellen's 12 Days of Giveaways . . . just once, even.
d) figuring out the latest update of iTunes.
e) dropping on your foot the file box of index cards listing all your website passwords and usernames.
f) finding the one un-scannable item in the whole store when you're in a hurry.
g) keeping up with the time changes on this household's digital clocks.
h) mistaking "wireless" as "wire-free".
i) texting your children in their rooms when you are only downstairs - repeatedly.
j) calling internet technical support and being expected to know what all those blinking box thingies actually are.
k) being expected to start new collections of movies for every new video viewing method.

and perhaps the most dangerous -
l) not realizing the cute flashing "fishbowl" on the minivan dash is indication that something is wrong with a tire.

As you can see, "technis" is getting more and more difficult to avoid. Unfortunately, it is currently suspected the only cure maybe a lifetime membership to ITT Tech or to keep having children to stay on top of the technology for you.

Be careful out there. "Technis" is everywhere!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Things I Don't Want for Christmas

In a perfect world I could cross stitch this on a sampler and display in a place where everyone could observe it. As a mother I can only fantasize about being so brash, but if I could I would...

Please, if you love me, don't gift me ....

-Anything that has to be plugged into a four prong outlet.

- Another watch. I've never worn a watch, that's what I use my cell phone for, yet I have, not a watch for every day, but a watch set to every time zone from the Northern Territory of Australia to the East Coast of the United States. Why?

- Anything flannel, footed, drop seated, covered in penguins, owls or sock monkeys, please! I've startled more than a few UPS guys when answering the door in my Christmas jammies from years past. Of course, if they delivered their goods at a decent hour I would be dressed, I swear.

- Anything that must be worn on the head, especially if it jingles, sparkles or lights up.

- Anything with a physical fitness application. Exercise tapes, yoga mats, wii games that make fun of your waistline, I'm on the fence about "lounge wear", they seem a lot like work out clothes to me, so, to be on the safe side, just leave those off your list, if you don't mind.

- Anything I can see myself in that isn't a picture frame or an antique mirror i.e. a toaster, crock pot, bread machine etc. etc. etc. If it's stainless steel and someone has to polish finger prints off of it, really, it's not a gift now is it?

- Another cookbook, it ain't helping.

-A kit of any sort. I still haven't finished the latch hook Santa rug my aunt sent me in 1992. When I finish that one, I still have the mosaic kit, the photo tinting kit, the cross stitch world map, I'm not sure I have enough years left as it is.

With all my love,

Monday, December 7, 2009

Deck the Halls?

We deck the Christmas tree and whatever room we're able to fit it in that year. We deck the banisters with garland, we deck the kitchen and even the powder room, and have occasionally decked the dog. Outside we deck the front door and flower garden (dead flowers look so much more festive with wooden snowmen sitting in them) and our neighbors to both sides deck their roofs, yards, walkways, driveways, mailboxes, bushes, trees, dead gardens and doors--we think they might be trying to hail beings from other worlds, but it's not our electric bill so who are we to judge? My daughter has a flair with salt dough and paper chains and many years has the most decked out room in the whole house. But we never deck the Halls, in fact we've always been very fond of the Halls.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Things About Me by Rowena but inspired by Edwina

1. I'd rather just go ahead and write a check than have to save aluminum lids off the yogurt.

2. I feed the birds.

3. I may be the only person in America (not wearing scrunch socks) who still enjoys cross stitch.

4. My favorite color is green, green, green, or old red, or robin's egg blue or buttery yellow.

5. In my heart I really AM organized.

6. I sing. I sing just about any time, any place, any where.

7. I'm more than slightly germophobic.

8. Heck, I don't mind inventating my own words.

9. Reading is my favorite - books, papers, magazines, poetry, t-shirts, cereal boxes, bumper stickers.

10. I'm addicted to archaeological news. This beats a lot of things to which I could be addicted - like bacon. I am not addicted to bacon.

11. Love me some Facebook, and I wish everything in the world had "LIKE" buttons.

12. The God I've decided on for myself and my family is prettier, nicer, and bigger than most of the other gods about whom I've read.

13. I am not into golf, billiards, bridge, or Dungeons & Dragons. I am not much into games at all.

14. Laughter, in my opinion, should be the point of EVERYTHING.

15. The TV networks wait for me to say I like a show just so they can cancel it, so I will just keep my television viewing preferences to myself, thank you.

16. My hair is WAY weirder than Edwina's.

17. I dream of big savings as I clip coupons which I never, ever, ever use.

18. Math, I think, can take the fun out of a lot of things.

19. I am still friends with my very first non-family friend. We met when we were toddlers.

20. I don't know why I can't live in Stars Hollow.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Things About Me, by Edwina

1. I believe in God.

2. I keep cookie dough balls in the freezer under the guise of being able to pop just a few out to bake at a time, but really I eat them all raw.

3. I like to be alone.

4. I don't watch much TV because I'd rather read, but I'd rather read with the TV on.

5. My favorite show is the British comedy Keeping Up Appearances, someday I'd like to have the nerve to be Hyacinth Bucket, pronounced bouquet.

6. I still call East Tennessee home, even though I haven't lived there in years.

7. I pick up mannerisms from people I spend time with, sometimes I say or do something and it reminds me of someone I knew long ago.

8. I've been to 49 states, 17 countries and 5 continents, but only learned one language.

9. I still have the first book I ever read Claude the Dog.

10. Someday, I'd like to write a book that someone would want to keep for thirty-five years.

11. I overreact, a lot.

12. I love to cook, but I'm not good at it.

13. I collect Starbucks mugs, but I don't know how to make decent coffee.

14. I'm hopeless with directions, I just wander around until I happen upon what I'm looking for.

15. I have weird hair.

16. My biggest fear is of dying before my kids are grown and on their own.

17. I have Nickelback and Neil Diamond on my ipod.

18. I have a birthday card signed by The Clash.

19. I'm going to Scotland in 2012, God willing.

20. I'm soo team Edward.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Movie Review-- A Mom's Perspective, With Apologies to Rowena on the Subject Matter

Last Friday, at ten a.m., my daughter and I, and a theater full of other moms and their truant daughters, were witness to the Twilight book two phenomena called New Moon. If you missed it don't despair, because you, too, can see it, read it, listen to it, watch it on You Tube, look at life size posters of it on billboards, buses and tween girl's walls, buy postcards, calendars, action figures or, if you're a pacifist, maybe just ignore it, I think...

If you happen to be one of the seven people who have avoided reading this series, please read on with caution, spoilers may follow and I'd hate to ruin it for you.

New Moon is the story of a cute boy with a British accent that is forced to pretend a nineteenth century American accent and a girl from Arizona called Bella who isn't Italian, so don't bother trotting out your best lasagna recipe if she happens to be coming by for dinner. The first five minutes of the movie are dedicated to looking at Edward, the cute boy with the wasted British accent, it's more of a music video than a movie, so just sit back and try not to giggle or your twelve year old will glare at you. Whoops of "Team Edward!" and catcalls that would make a New York wrecking crew blush might ensue, just tune it out, all will be quiet soon. Then, Edward leaves Bella in a scene that I'm embarrassed to admit made me snuffle just a little, not because the scene was necessarily that emotional for me, but because it reminded me of that chapter in the book, which really made me teary, but I'm a little sappy that way, so you may not be at risk. Enter buff Jacob, "Team Jacob!", catcalls, etc. etc. etc. Bella is very depressed, Jacob is very buff, Bella gets a motorcycle, Jacob loses his shirt. Quiet, no one is allowed to speak while Jacob is shirtless, which is most of the rest of the movie. Jacob becomes a wolf, Bella becomes a daredevil, Edward becomes a lost boy. There are a few scenes that seem to be unintentionally funny, try not to laugh, tweeny glares can be dangerous. Bella jumps off a cliff, Jacob saves her, Alice 'sees' her, Edward thinks she's pulled a Juliet, hence there must be a Romeo. Edward goes to Italy, Bella goes to Italy, Edward loses his shirt, more catcalls (I really did try to control myself). Dakota Fanning is a grown up (when did that happen?), big fight, lots of pasty white guys, American tourists become lunch. And then, we're back where we started, in the woods, and all is well until Eclipse is released. All in all a thumbs up.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Ferocious Fall Fantasy

I am lost in a fantasy . . .

and in this fantasy I am disguised as a vengeful forest fairy (you should be thinking of something along the lines of the mean sea-witch in The Little Mermaid with a Smoky the Bear flair). I am howling a savage, haunting war cry while ninja flying through the trees, over the fences, to the neighbor’s yard. Once there I apprehend them by the hoods of their hoodies, and wrench the leaf blower and rakes from their hands. And while they watch in alarm and disbelief, I toss the blower into the fiery leaf inferno they’ve been working on all afternoon. Then I ninja flip my way into the forest behind our homes (to throw them off, of course, as I can’t have these neighbors with matches follow me home!), and let loose a tremendous roar which echoes loudly off the hills. This will cause someone to call 911, and when the authorities arrive they put out the fire and tell those neighbors to never, never burn leaves again. Ahhhhhh!!!!!! What a delightful autumn fantasy - - - BUT one that I shouldn't even have to have.

This isn’t the first time they’ve gone firebug on us. In the fall I can expect at least one smoke-filled, eye-burning, lung-shrinking episode per week. Frankly I am weary of the series and weary of them turning any afternoon into a bronchial spasm marathon.

Put down the matches, Sparky McKindlins! Let me breathe!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

I love the holiday season. From Halloween until New Years (or mid-January on occasion) my house will be decorated to suit the season with an embarrassing, and yet impressive, array of festive ornamentation for both indoors and out: jack O' lanterns, tin spiders, fall leaves, tiny bails of hay, Christmas wreathes, garden snowmen, sleigh bells, nutcrackers-the list goes on and on. Normally, I have these treasures of holidays past stashed in every available nook and cranny, filling baskets, buckets and bins--and more than one top closet shelf-- but, in my new home, I am blessed with an L shaped under-the-stairs closet. Square footage wise it's about the size of a small bedroom, but, because of the sloping ceiling and it's funny shape, it presents quite a problem when using it as storage. My husband took one look at it and saw his Mt. Everest. He practiced and planned, put boxes in, took boxes out, finally sorting out just the right sizes and shapes. At the end of the day, the closet was full top to bottom , side to side, front to back, like a gigantic puzzle. It was, and is, a thing of beauty. Unfortunately, somewhere in that perfect stack is my holiday decorations. So, we stand with two choices, sort through all those carefully put away bins until we find the ones marked Christmas, Halloween, and Thanksgiving, or just call the holidays off.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Patti, My Spirit Guide

I lose things. Car keys, my purse, shoes, recipes, addresses, my train of thought, my car in parking lots and, more often than not, my way. Anyone who knows me would never ask me to drive and if they ask me to meet them somewhere new, will expect me to be late even though I will have left an hour before anyone else. I've spent roughly as much time circling Disney World looking for my hotel as I have wandering through Disney World looking for my family, yet still, if my husband is not along, someone will hand me the map and say "We're following you", crazy people. My kids now quietly roll their eyes and look the other way when I make the same turn three times. I once made plans to meet a friend in a town half way between her house and mine, at a Cracker barrel. We arrived at different Cracker barrels, two miles apart, and waited there patiently for each other for nearly an hour before one of us thought to call and check on the other. Guess who was at the wrong restaurant? And I map quested that one. Recently, my husband bought me a GPS. I call her Patti because she has a tendency to talk just to hear her own voice, like "turn left on Alvarado Blvd... turn left in 800 yards... turn left in 400 yards... turn left in 200 yards... turn left at next intersection..." I get it, turn left! And my kids personal favorites, Patti chastising me when, despite her best instructing, I still miss that left, "Make immediate U-turn!" or "Recalculating, recalculating, recalculating.." You can almost hear her gritting her teeth and rolling her eyes. Still, I love Patti, and eventually, I get where I'm going.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

You Can Tell a Mother by the Artwork She Displays

Mothers display a particular genre of artwork usually referred to as "gifts". The value of this artwork is immeasurable. It's priceless in that it captures a moment in time that will be gone in the next instant, it's a tangible memory. The hands that made it will grow and change but the memories of the child, how they felt and saw the world at that moment, will always ramain. It's why, though you may be forty, your mom still has paper angels on her Christmas tree. The angel may just be a paper plate, awkwardly cut into shapes, stuck together by two and a half bottles of Elmer's and covered in a cup of glitter. But your mom sees chubby little fingers learning to use scissors, your favorite Strawberry Shortcake backpack from which you proudly produced that priceless squished angel on the last day of school before winter break, and the denim jumper she was never able to get entirely glue and glitter free after that day. It's why a crumbling blob of clay, resembling a gargoyle but proclaimed to be "You Mommy!" is still being used as a paper weight on Mommy's desk ten years later. I have one particularly artistic child and one who came home after a two month art camp with four candle holders (I think), painted black, and half a dozen popsicle sticks and a rubber band that he'd made into a slingshot. But, regardless of the skill behind the piece, I value each effort equally. My home is decorated with giraffes painted on printer paper and space ships drawn with pencil, tiny handprints pressed into salt dough and handmade Mother's Day cards. Some people prefer their artwork come from galleries, but I'll take a bookmark that proclaims "Yu'r the bes Mum" or a seven year old's depiction of the civil war, dead stick figure people and all, anyday.

Recently, my daughter has fallen in love with a wonderful shop that showcases pottery pieces of all kinds, just waiting for imaginative young eyes to see the promise in them and save them from a colorless life on a shelf. You pick, you paint, they fire and viola! Priceless, bright and shiny new salt and pepper shakers and seahorse figurines magically appear. My daughter's latest effort involved painting a treat jar for the cats. To the untrained eye, just a cute little canister with a fish on the lid, but my daughter unknowingly turned it into a biology lesson. She painted the lid, under the fish topper, to look like the Monterey Bay that we have come to love, breaking waves and all. The bottom she knew needed animals--- because everything needs animals in her opinion. She painted bugs of all kinds; caterpillars, ladybugs, ants. Pelicans and porcupines are particular favorites of hers, so they had to find a place too and then there was all the leftover space, what to do to fill in all that leftover space? Polliwogs! Polliwogs would would be just the thing, it was hard for me to keep a straight face for the rest of the day. Whenever she asked why I was smiling, I told her honestly that it was because I was having such a fun day with her. If you're laughing right now, you know what a polliwog looks like. If your not, let me enlighten you, a polliwog, or tadpole, is sorta shaped like a fat raindrop with a long squiggly tail, get it now? It's on my bar, I swear, if you'd like to come by and see it. I'm going to keep it there until she realizes... and that will be the end of innocence in my house, I guess. Then she'll make me put it away, but it will only go behind a cupboard door, not any further, because when I see it, I remember a really nice mother and daughter day. I remember having lunch and shopping for a new dress, and I remember how proud she was that she'd painted such a good porcupine, such a lovely sea, and so many beautiful green polliwogs on that cat treat jar. I made her sign and date it before it was fired so she won't be able to disclaim it later in life.

Cheers all,

Monday, June 22, 2009

Not Everyone Who is Wandering is Lost

I saw this today on a bumper sticker in the parking lot of Target (where many words of wisdom reside). That's me...wandering but never lost.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Put That Paint Roller Down and Back Away, or How Nine Rolls of Blue Tape Nearly Ruined My Marriage

We are moving soon. The packers have come and gone, taking with them all my efforts in organizing, cleaning and labeling, I say good riddance. I don't need half that stuff anyway. But, once the dust had cleared and pizza boxes had been hidden away, the real work began. My husband thought it might be a novel, and yes gallant, move to take a day off work and help me paint, can you hear my TMJ creaking? He started this project, like every project he starts, at seven a.m.-which is silly because nothing opens here until nine- then the by way over shopping; seven hundred feet of black plastic to cover the ten by ten room my daughter calls home, nine rolls of blue painters tape, I'll be using that for Christmas wrapping this year, four cans of paint, and we were set. Let's go. Half the day is gone, so let's get this thing going. The plastic had to be cut down, while my husband spent forty-five minutes looking for his "all-purpose tool" I found mine (a borrowed steak knife) and hacked that baby up. By the time he returned I had it taped down and I was shaking paint. He sighed very loudly and taped it down some more. Then he took the paint I'd been shaking for five minutes, shook it some more and poured the exact correct amount into the paint pan, it takes a practiced eye to perform this maneuver, evidently. He pulled a stool up to a wall, climbed up and proceeded to dictate his orders like a surgeon doing complicated and life saving work, first for tape (you can never use too much tape) then for roller, properly saturated, then for a paint brush for those tight places. Are you getting a migraine too? I was permitted to brush along the bottom and sides, so that he could roller in the middle, I was also given the very important chore of baseboards and window frames. I envisioned tipping him off that stool, rolling him up in that football field of black plastic and using a couple of rolls of nice blue painter's tape to seal him in, for freshness of course. I'd have had to roll him out to the curb, he'd make too much noise to stay in the house, but trash pick-up isn't until Monday, and surely he'd free himself by then. He has had survival training, after all, they had to have covered freeing yourself painting supplies at some point.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This House Is Alive

I am not a housekeeper. I consider why and come up with interesting excuses. The one that I believe sounds most lofty is that I don’t like to look for faults. Sometimes I pretend that it’s my decorating style aka A Pier 1 Has Exploded In A Big Lots. I have even been known to take on a warrior persona and wage organized combat on the situation with an Easter bucket on my head. Mostly I just give up. I am not particularly lazy, but I have to work to find joy in the constant housekeeping repetition - you have to keep doing things over and over and over. Yeck.

But then I think ..........

This home is full of life. Unlike some families I know who leave their house in the morning returning only for bedtime and a quick snack, we actually live here. It is our home, our school, our restaurant, our concert hall, our laundry mat, our conference room, our hotel, our research center, our jungle gym, our theatre, our mini storage facility, our art studio. And you can tell. It shows.

The spirit is represented in the faces of the people living here. The veins must be the endless webs of cords, connectors, and occupied electrical outlets. There is a well used water elimination system. Teenagers daily take the number of showers to equal their age: if you are 14 you need 14 showers. And don’t forget the laundry. The kitchen is the spine - sensitive, touching, central to it’s stance.

Before I meander into a rant here, let me express a bit of gratitude for this. I am thankful for each of these people that give life to this house, and I am thankful for this house, too. I want to enjoy this time while it lasts ... while everyone is living at home, while there is learning to take part in, while there are scuffles and snuffles and growing young people with appetites to match.

And that just took the wind right out of my rant. I realize I need to love this house like the other living creatures in my life - with caring, nurturing actions. How thought provoking ...

How long will it be, do you reckon, before this house starts taking its own showers?

Friday, January 23, 2009

I am all alone, I am...

I have the entire house to myself. My husband and son are off to see Valkyrie, which I hear is three hours long, I pray that's true. My daughter is visiting a friend for the day and I even put the cats out. I've locked the doors and drawn the blinds and am not answering the phone, so don't call me. So far I've watched an entire episode of Project Runway, all by myself. No one asked me why that guy has pink pokey hair or what the definition of militia is or where the AAA batteries are. Later I'm going read a book in the bath and leave the door unlocked and, maybe have a glass of wine; well I don't have any wine, but maybe a glass of cherry, berry, apple juice. But first, for lunch, I'm going to eat the entire one pound bar of Cadbury dark chocolate with hazlenut and drink an entire litre of coke. And in three hours, when everyone arrives home, it will be like it all never happened. They really do think I clean while they're away...


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Spring Cleaning

I do not know what's in that drawer
I never have been there before
And that box underneath my bed
Just knowing it's there fills me with dread
Yesterday, just after noon
I walked into my laundry room
There's cupboards there too high to reach
(Heaven knows what's underneath)
I looked until the stool I found
And gamely climbed up from the ground
I opened up those cabinet doors
Saw things I'd never seen before
Went further still, opened the next
I must admit that I was vexed
Twas obvious that some poor soul
Endeavored faithfully in the role
Of hiding away things we needed no more
Nobody wanted, no one adored
Worked hard to fit into that space
A cartop carrier, a violin case
Six chair covers, four beach towels
Riding gear, gardening trowels
Paint in cotten candy colors
Navy blue and I'm sure there were others
My enthuisiasm for the chore was gone
There was no reason to go on
With heavy heart my eyes did roam
From my perch, around my home
Spring will come again next year
I'll do it then, I will, I swear...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Chaos Theory

I thrive on tidy chaos. The illusion of order is very important to me. I'm a habitual list maker, but I usually can't find the lists once they're prepared. I like a good schedule, a well made plan, traditons, and I like to check things off when they're complete, it makes me feel productive. However, I can't cope with uniformity, too many straight lines and polished surfaces give me vertigo and I have to lie down-which involves untucking the bed and then re-making it. I like things to be put away, but if you open a drawer or cupboard in my house you'll find a hodge-podge of items that may or may not be related in any way. I don't really mind the mess, I just don't want to see it. I make my bed every morning, but can't sleep at night until everything is untucked again. I don't iron. If a second run through the dryer doesn't make it presentable, it goes in the donation box, I don't need the aggravation. I dust once a week, on Saturday, unless I have something better to do, then it has to wait until the next Saturday. Saturdays are for cleaning, not Tuesdays and never Fridays, it's been a winning system for many years and is not to be tampered with. I almost always have books, Legos, game pieces, hair bows and/or art supplies scattered around my living room, but if you drop by most Sundays those items will be dust free and maybe even neatly piled on one side of the coffee table. At some point in my old age I expect to be color coordinated, I'll be bric-a-brac free and my kitchen sink will be shiny. My closets will contain only the outfits I can still fit into and will no longer be hiding all the hobbies I don't want. My towels will match my shower curtain and I'll own perfectly matched Yorkie Terriers. There will be a perfect polish on my dining room table and I'll know exactly where my purse is. A life with no clutter, what a sad thing indeed....