Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Self-Portrait Tuesday: All of Me, Week 4

I had this photo that I was going to use for this last February Self-Portrait. See it? No? Take out your magnifying glasses. There, NOW do you see it? I'm not sure what happened to it between now and when I made it. It was the right size then. Maybe all the rain we've had, it shrunk. Okay, never mind. The photo was supposed to be a clever way to say that one of my flaws is how I always manage to leave things half finished. Or half undone. Guess it depends on whether you're an optimist or a pessimist. And now, I suppose, it also shows how I can screw things up.

But I decided that it didn't really count, and I'd just fall back on a fault that I don't make much of an effort to hide from anyone. My clutter.

Here I am sitting, trying to show all the exhaustion and despair I feel over my seemingly never ending battle with clutter. Honestly, William just took the photo and it probably is more accurately showing that I'm sick and sleepy, but help me out here, pretend it's despair. Because sometimes that IS how I feel.

I didn't cheat and tidy it up beforehand. I thought about it though. I mean, look! I even left the cat asleep on the table. My cats aren't allowed on my tables, or counters. See how this cat saw me coming and rushed off in fear of my wrath? You don't? Neither do I. They always look at me in surprise when I pick them up and toss them, like "Hey, whaddit-I-do!?"

Along with the cat, there's a pile of laundry on a chair, that's what I'm leaning on. A box of old paperwork that's been knocked to the floor at least six times. Those green flannel sheets hide a whole stack of other stuff, most of it, including the sheets, are supposed to be boxed up and mailed to my son and DIL. That particular pile is conveniently hiding a stack of snowflake plates that never got put away with the other holiday stuff. And other assorted bags, books, papers, and .... I can't really tell because the photo turned out kinda dark, huh.

I clean this table off on a regular basis. It usually takes at least an hour, sometimes a whole afternoon. It stays clean for a few days and then slowly and insideously begins to disappear again over a matter of weeks.

The worst part - when my husband tries to eat or use the table as a "flat surface", I yell at him. For decades I fed a family of seven at this table. Even with kids homework and play dough projects and assorted family activities, this table was always available for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. Now, we eat in the livingroom.

How come I can't keep up?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Little Happinesses

Last night William and I went out to get a video. Driving along Riverside Road, there was a dead skunk. In the middle of the road. Well, of course, you can guess what happened next. I had to start singing.

Several problems cropped up. I hadn't heard the song for so many years that I had completely forgotten how the melody went. And I couldn't remember any two lines that came one right after another, except for the chorus, which is pretty basic, just keep repeating "dead skunk in the middle of the road". This didn't stop me from singing. I just made up for it by singing more LOUDLY.

When we got home, I still had the song stuck in my head, and if it had to be stuck there, at least I'd like to be able to have it stuck there accurately, so I went to iTunes and for ninety nine cents, I downloaded it. I love technology for it's more important uses.

This morning, reading blogs, I was left with such a warm fuzzy feeling after reading Mad Organica's Dow-ner entry. The joy that is spending time with family, all the little inside jokes and family quirks that make your heart want to burst because life seems so juicy and full of good things. That made me think of driving down the road with William last night, singing a goofy song. And that made me decide to write today's blog on Little Happinesses.

Not BIG happinesses. Just the silly, little, every day ones that make life worth living. Big happinesses are, well, BIG. By their very nature, there's only so many of them per lifetime. You can't go around having BIG happinesses every day or even every week or month. It would be too exhausting, for one thing. And although they're impressive, like elephants for example, they take up too much room in life. If you have too many of them, you'd have a hard time doing things you need to do, like feed the dogs and wash the dishes and drive the kids to soccer practice.

But Little Happinesses, that's another animal altogether. Little Happinesses are like butterflies. You can incorporate butterflies into your life every day. In fact you can enjoy Little Happinesses while you feed the dogs and wash the dishes and drive the kids to soccer practice. They hardly take up any time or space at all. And yet, whatever form or shape they arrive in, Small Happinesses always change a day from ordinary to memorable.

So, in no particular order, here are a few of my Small Happinesses:

Singing goofy songs while driving along in the car. The goofier the better. Or if not goofy, then old classics that I know all the words to. Louie Louie. Tequila. (Yes, I know, there's only one word in the entire song, but you can do a shoulder dance inside your seatbelt.) Feliz Navidad. We Didn't Light the Fire. American Pie. The Lumberjack Song. Stacy's Mom. If I Had A Million Dollars.

Dancing. Not like this is very unusual. Lots of people dance. But do they dance in the Produce Department of the local supermarket? In the movie theatre? At a football game? In the park? I thought not. I do.

Wearing goofy hats.

Funny socks.

Red shoes.

Making really bad puns. And then laughing at my own jokes.

Chatting with strangers.

Buying and using specialty scented soaps. Lavender oatmeal, gingerbread, milk and honey, sage and citrus....

Going through old photographs

Using chopsticks

When the phone rings and it's one of my kids calling to say they haven't talked to me in a while (meaning, in a couple of days) and they just wanted to say "I love you" - or, vice versa, calling them.

Deciding which book to read next

Selecting my next cuppa...... Earl Grey? Vanilla Almond Black? Lavender Rose? French Roast? Apple Cinnamon Witche's Brew? Green Tea Latte? Irish Breakfast?

Choosing which tea or coffee cup to drink from

One eyed cars - or as I call them, Padiddles. It started in high school, on the streets of Albuquerque, New Mexico. If you were driving around with your buddies and saw a one-eyed car, you all raced to "get it." To "get it", you had to lick your thumb, take the wet thumb and press it on your other palm, then make a fist and hit that palm. If you were the first one, you got the padiddle. Three padiddles in a night and you could make a wish. Now I live in a small town with very little traffic, so the tradition has been adapted - you don't have to fight for the padiddle, everyone who does the lick, thumb, hit thing get to share the padiddle. Three in one day and you make a wish.

Checking my e-mail and discovering I have some personal mail

Playing a hand of solitaire. The old fashioned way. With a real pack of cards. The feel of them in your hands. The little shuffling and slapping sounds they make when you handle them.

The sky - finding shapes in the clouds, watching for shooting stars, picking out Orion's belt or the North Star, watching a storm roll in

Going out in my garden and nibbling.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Computer tantrum

This afternoon I fought my way up through the layers of mind cotton my germy condition has stuffed into my brain and with great effort wrote a lovely, brilliant, insightful, witty blog for all of you. I slaved away at it for almost two hours. Then, just seconds away from pushing "Publish Post", my brain distracted by all that germ warfare going on in the nearby sinuses, I forgot that if I type something directly into a form box my internet software tends to freeze up, and I decided to change the title. In a form box. It froze.

WAILING! SWEARING! WEEPING! STOMPING! JUMPING! MORE SWEARING! TEARS! MORE SWEARING! MORE SWEARING! Eventually losing energy and diminishing into slumping over in despair and quiet sighing. And quiet swearing.

My point here is, there is no blog entry for you today. I'm just too frustrated and angry at my computer to spend a single more second sitting here.

The good news is that it drove me to find the source of the ongoing problem and knock on wood, crossing my fingers, I might have solved it so there will be no future tantrums over the SWIRLING BEACHBALL OF DEATH. At least not by this particular route, anyway.

I could go do something productive or useful or interesting enough to nudge me out of my sulk about wasting my afternoon. I could. It's not likely that I will. When I'm in a good sulk it annoys me to even consider trying to cheer myself up. And woe unto the person who attempts to appeal to my more reasonable side. Just TRY to tease me out from under my black cloud, or spout something inane and trite like "It could be worse" or "There's always tomorrow" and I'll pierce you through the heart with a glare even more powerful then a Jedi light saber. If you survive, you won't try THAT again.

Eventually I'll get distracted and accidentally become cheerful again. Or I'll simply become too bored to sustain a good pout. In the meantime, let me wallow in my misery. If I have to be unhappy, I might as well be allowed to enjoy it.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Did I really answer all those questions!?

Apparently so. I was so tired last night, I had no idea, until Deb pointed it out to me this morning, that those pointless questions were labeled 1 thru 24 and then started over again 1 thru 52. That's 76 questions!

I did get some sleep last night, or more accurately, this morning. Feel a bit more clearheaded, not sure how long I'll stay that way though, as my husband finally managed to pass his cough and germs on to me. Gee, thanks.

Hopefully my next blog entry will make a bit more sense.

Pointless Questions

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, and find line 4.
"teristics to gods, objects, animals, etc. an•ti•pope (an'ti-pop'), n. a pope set up"
Webster's New World Dictionary - School and office Edition 1967

2. Stretch your left arm out as far as you can, What can you touch?
My new address book, a headset for the computer, a box I received in the mail as a Yule Elf gift, some crinkled luminescent clear wrap, a Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion magazine, a few other papers, the side of a desk/shelf unit, a plastic butterfly cling, and a wrinkled blue piece of paper taped to the side of the shelf that has a skull and crossbones on it as well as the words "Danger!" and "Stay Away!", with an arrow pointing at whatever it was originally warning people away from.

3. What is the last thing you watched on TV?
The Olympics.

4. Without looking, guess what time it is
12:30 am

5. Now look at the clock. What is the actual time?
Oops, it's 1:19 am

6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?
The television still on in the other room. William was watching it but fell asleep on the couch.

7. When did you last step outside? What were you doing?
About an hour and a half ago, to put Buck out in his kennel for the night. I carefully planted my feet step by careful step as it's all ice and hardpack in the back yard.

8. Before you started this survey, what did you look at?
Huh? Uhm, I was looking at the computer. I typed Gregory Maguire into Blogger's blog search box and somehow stumbled upon the blog this question and answer thing was on.

9. What are you wearing?
orange shirt, no bra, faded and holey jeans, pink bikini underwear with lime green trim, blue ankle socks with oranges and the word "tangy" in orange on them, my blue and black pirate tennis shoes, and my new ocean bead on a fake leather string cord around my neck

10. Did you dream last night?
Yes and bizarrely enough I remember some of it. It wasn't last night actually, it was this morning. And it was something about William's algebra book having the last twenty pages ripped out and a simple 2nd or 3rd grade level section of pages taped in their place.

11. When did you last laugh?
I can't remember. If not since then (I am pretty crabby tonight), then it was a few hours ago when I was watching a DVD of The Wedding Crashers.

12. What is on the walls of the room you are in?
Oh, good lord! This will take forever. Hmmmm, okay. My cork bulletin board full of everything and anything. Above that an old wooden sign from someone's property that has mountains, trees and a moon carved into it and says "Pen Point", a fairy calendar, a curtain rod above the window, above the window a carved plaque of otters that says "Love, laughter and friends welcome here", a decorative shelf high above a freestanding shelf unit that holds two kitchen witches and a ceramic bunny planter. Oh, and behind me there's a big fairy tapestry over the phone stand. On the top of that is some grapevine garland with amber colored beading draped around it, a mail holder in gold embossed with a thistle design, a clip on which we hang notes and grocery list, another gold holder containing scratch paper and a couple pencils and pens (it also usually has a scissor stuck in there) and a small Gargoyle's wall calendar.

13. Seen anything weird lately?
Define weird. I think it's a matter of perspective. I'm always seeing weird stuff. Oh, I know! There was a guy at the restaurant this morning sitting in the booth right in front of me, who looked so much like Tim Allen that I was wondering if maybe it really WAS Tim Allen.

14. What do you think of this quiz?
A nice change from the MeMe lists.

15. What is the last film you saw?
The Wedding Crashers. Watched it a few hours ago.

16. If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy?
Staff, a nice secluded home in the country, a sports car for my hubby to enjoy.

17. Tell me something about you that I don’t know
I used to be very organized and tidy. No, HONEST! I don't know what happened. I conjecture, but I really don't know how I could feel so overwhelmed and behind on life.

18. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?
Well, if it could be something magical, I suppose I'd give everyone the ability to find joy instead of fear in the diversity of people and cultures. If I couldn't make that happen with the tap of a wand, then I'd outlaw war and make all countries spend their budgets on only humanitarian, peaceful needs.

19. Do you like to dance?
Of course! Even though my kids think I look retarded when I dance.

20. George Bush:
I want to scream into his smug, fugly face every time I see him on television.

21. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?
My firstborn was a boy, but if he had been a she, her name would have been Jessica.... something. Can't remember the middle name we'd picked out. If the sonogram is right, I am about to have my first granddaughter this April and my daughter is planning on naming her Anastacia Faye. I LOVE that name. Although if I had any say in it, which I don't, I'd spell Faye F-A-E, like a fairy.

22. Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him?
He is/was. Joseph Peter.

23. Would you ever consider living abroad?
Sure, why not.

24. What do you want God to say to you when you reach the pearly gates?
I don't expect to see any pearly gates, nor do I expect to see "God" in the form of a white bearded man. Maybe Alanis Morisette.... I do expect to be met by a lot of people I love and haven't seen in a while. And I guess I'd want them to say "We missed you! Welcome back!"

1.Your name spelled backwards?
Sakez Oj Adnil if you use the name on my birth certificate. Or Sakez Emual if you use my newer chosen name.

2. Last incoming call on your phone?
Sam, telling me he bought a trampoline tonight with the money we owed him for Christmas and birthday gift. Oh, no, Noel called after that, to tell me why everyone hates Tom Cruise.

3. What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer?
I scanned a bunch of pictures of Joshua into the computer today. Before that, downloaded, hmmmm.... Photo Shop Elements.

4. What's your favorite restaurant?
So many to choose from, so many..... Perhaps Pilafs - A multi-ethnic vegetarian restaurant in Ashland, Oregon. Or perhaps Negris - Italian family style dining in Occidental, California. And there's a great Thai place in Sparks, I don't remember the name. Too many too decide.

5. Last time you swam in a pool?
Geeze, years ago probably.

6. Britney Spears is a skank. Agree or disagree?
Didn't really have an opinion of her one way or the other until she drove down Highway 101 with her baby in her lap. Now I think she's an idiot and can't we give her a ticket for that!? Like it's a traffic light photo of someone running red light?

7. How many kids do you want?
I wanted three. I ended up with five. Wouldn't have given any of them back. I would of had one more but it wasn't meant to be. Oddly enough, Sam tried to convince me today that papa and I should have another baby. Even if we could, uhm, as if!

8. Type of music you dislike most?
Really violent rap.

9. What was the last thing you bought?
A white mocha latte at Starbucks

10. Have you ever ridden on a motorbike?
Only once, crashed it into a rose bush.

11. Does someone have a crush on you?
I have no idea. Hopefully my husband. Although it's more likely that even though he loves me, he's long past the "crush" stage.

12. Ever made a prank phone call?

13. Listening to music?
Usually I am but right now, no

14. Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving?
Bungee jumping - absolutely not. Sky diving? Only if the plane was about to crash.

15. What shoes are you wearing right now?
my black and blue pirate shoes.

16. Do you have a garden?
Many gardens - wish I had more room for more gardens!

17. What's your favorite comic strip?
We don't get anything but our small town newspaper and I forget to keep up with the comics online. So I don't think I have one. I like reading anything in The Funny Times. I should get another subscription to it.

18. Do you really know all the words to your national anthem?
I believe so.

19. Bath or Shower, morning or night?
Shower, usually in the morning, occasionally at night, and anytime I've been working in the garage or garden or other sweaty dirty job. Or in the summer to cool off.

20. Hello or goodbye?
Do you like my hat?

21. Favorite pizza toppings?
tons of veggies

22. Chips or Popcorn?

23. Favorite color?

24. What did ur last text message you received say?
It told me my Green Day music ring had been sent to me, but I couldn't figure out how to download it.

25. Have you ever been in a beauty pageant?
Hell no.

26. Orange Juice or apple juice?
Orange juice. Or better yet, just the orange itself.

27. Who was the last person you ate dinner with?
my husband. Kinda sorta. I made us fajitas and tea and he ate his while wrapped up on the couch in a blanket while watching t.v. (he's sick), while I ate mine in front of the computer (far away from the germs)

28. What did the last text message that u sent say?
I've never sent one.

29. Lucky number?

30. Last time you ate a homegrown tomato?
From last year's garden - probably last October or maybe even as late as November.

31. Have you ever won a trophy?
Hmmmm, I've won ribbons at the fair, including several Best of Show (brag, brag). No trophy though. My kids gave me a Mother of the Year trophy once.

32. Are you a good cook?
Very good cook. Although nowadays, ask me if I cook? Not much.

33. Do you know how to pump your own gas?
Are there actually people on this planet that own a car that do NOT know how to pump their own gas? That said, one of the things I love about Oregon is that it's illegal to pump your own gas.

34. Do the chinese really use cats in their food?
Ewwww, I hope not.

35. Sprite or 7-Up?
Neither, I drink tea or coffee. If it's soda, like with popcorn and a movie, then cola.

36. Have you ever had to wear a uniform to school?
Yes. I went to a Catholic school for third grade. It was this gray and blue pleated plaid skirt with a white blouse. I HATED it. I also refused to go to church before school and although I remember the nuns complaining about that to my mom incessantly, I don't remember her ever being mad at me about it or forcing me to go.

37. Last thing you ate?
Scrambled eggs, a flour tortilla, and a cup of currant flavored black tea with a teaspoon of sugar and vanilla soy milk in it.

38. Ever thrown up in public?
Probably, but I can't remember. Wait, that sounded wrong. It sounded like I usually am so drunk that I don't remember how many times I've thrown up in public. What I meant was, I was probably sick with some illness unexpectedly and threw up at some time, although if so I can't recall. Hmmm, now that I'm thinking about it, and really, did we NEED to have this question in here!?, I remember having something go down the wrong way at a restaurant and having to throw up in the bathroom.

39. Would you rather find true love or be a millionaire?
True love. Yeah, really. Although if I couldn't find true love, I'd probably be able to make myself content with simple compatability and friendship with a millionaire. I'm a pragmatic sort.

40. Do you believe in love at first sight?
I think so. Although I don't think you will know if it's lasting love until you get to know all about the person, good and bad. But yeah, I often have what I think of as a karmic or psychic/intuitive take on a person from the beginning and my first impressions are usually right.

41. Think fast, what do you like right now?
for some silly reason, the word "peaches" was the first thing to pop into my head. Second thought - clean sheets and a comfotable bed, uninterupted sleep.

42. Who was the last person you visited in the hospital?
My husband

43. Where were you on Valentine's day?
At home, except for breakfast. My husband and son took me out for breakfast.

44. Last time you laughed?
Didn't we already have this question? I'll make up a new #44 - Would you rather be famous by face or famous by name? I'd rather be famous by name so I could keep my privacy when I wanted it.

45. What's your favorite animal?
My chihuahua Rosie. If you mean, what's my favorite TYPE of animal, then otters, crows, cats.

46. What was the name of your first pet?
A black poodle named Robespierre - Robbie for short. I think we had a dog when I was really tiny, my mom has some photos of it, but I have no idea what his/her name was.

47. Who is the second to last person to call you?
Already mentioned that - Sam.

48. Is there anything going on this weekend?
Hopefully nothing. There's no new snow so I don't have to take William snowboarding. Jeff is too sick to go to work again tomorrow, hopefully he'll stay on the couch, drink lots of tea, and GET WELL. I hope, knock on wood, oh, please, please, please, to get some art made and some packages mailed.

49. How are you feeling right now?
So f**king tired. I have no idea why I'm even still up except maybe I'm too tired to get up and do all the things that have to be done before I can turn in - lock the doors, put another log on the fire, take the puppy out to pee (I guess I do that first and then lock the doors), turn off the t.v. and shut the cabinet doors against the cats, put on my p.j.'s, brush my teeth, warm up my flax bed warmer, tuck in the kid, turn off the lights, cover the annoying digital clock display, wind my alarm clock..... maybe I'll just sleep here in the computer chair.

50. What do you think about the most?
Everything I have on my to-do list, my family.

51. What do you think of the person that posted this before you?
I don't know him/her. But since we both hate Bush and both read Wicked, we could probably be friends. I tried to set a link back to that blog, but for some reason my computer won't go back and find it.

52. Who is MOST likely to repost this survey?
Deb, because she's got an addiction to this sort of thing

Friday, February 24, 2006


No, this is not his birthday. It's not the anniversary of his death. It is the anniversary of the last day I got to give him a hug.

He wanted to take Sam snowboarding as a late Christmas or birthday gift, I can't remember which. Probaby a combination, as Sam's birthday is in December. Jeff, William, Sam and I drove the two hours down to Truckee, Joshua and his girlfriend Amanda drove the two hours up, and we all met in the McDonald's parking lot in Truckee where we passed off Sam so they could go to Squaw Valley for the day. William, Jeff and I then wandered the shops in old town Truckee, had lunch, and went skating at a local rink where I took a huge fall and, among other injuries, sustained bruised ribs which left me barely able to move for weeks afterward.

Jeff and I didn't actually get to spend much time with Josh that day. We got a hug and kiss hello and another quick hug and kiss goodbye when we met back up to get Sam, as Joshua wanted to get on the road home before it got dark and icy. What I mostly remember about that day was standing there in the parking lot, a step or two apart from the noisy confusion that my family always creates, deliberately drinking in the sight and sound of Joshua. I remember that for some reason I couldn't explain (a blessing, that) I was adamant that all of us went to Truckee that day. There really hadn't been any logical reason for it, and normally I would have happily left the long drive to my hubby and stayed home and enjoyed the quiet. Still, I had been insistent almost to the point of panic.

I think, on some level, I must have known this was my last chance to say goodbye. Or at least, until we meet again. I love you, kiddo.

Because I said I would

I forgot to tell you a cute story. But since I stood there, in Barnes & Noble, and told these strangers that I was going to tell this story on my blog, tell it I will.

It's about a tow-headed little two year old, so that means it has a substantial cuteness rating before anything even begins to unfold. And so....

....I was standing at the end of one of the bargain books aisles at Barnes & Noble, looking at an intriguing mystery novel, a series I hadn't yet known about, but it looked like it had possibility. A man was wandering around nearby, his wee son perched parrot-like atop his right shoulder. The father was pointing at assorted book covers and in a pretend excitement voice exclaim "What's that!?" The boy would look down from above and answer correctly. Of course dad was carefully selecting images for easy recognition. A man. A car. Another man.

I guessed, correctly, that there was a mother somewhere in the store trying to browse in peace and quiet and dad had volunteered or perhaps had been volunteered to be in charge of child entertainment while she finished her shopping.

The reason I had picked up the mystery I was holding was mainly because it had an odd and intriguing cover - a wolf in a dress sitting in a chair. (See it for yourself) As the father and son moved close by I decided that the animal image would appeal to the little boy and so I held the book out for him to see (Yes, I'm strange. I regularly talk to strangers. Some would say I regularly bother strangers....)

The dad seemed happy for the help in keeping his son entertained and so he repeated my comment with his own "What's that?" The boy looked it over carefully and with conviction announced...

"Vacuum cleaner."

Now, this is certainly an amusing answer, but the dad had an exceptionally long, solid laugh about it, even taking into account that one is always more amused by one's own child then other people are. The mom walked up at that moment and the dad filled us both in on his son's logic. Not an hour earlier they had been at a friend's house and the friend had put a plate of food on the floor for his dog. He had commented that the dog "wolfed that down like a vacuum cleaner."

Wolf = Dog = Vacuum cleaner!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Day Tripper

I love day trips. Anything longer involves packing. And planning. And making arrangements for someone to feed the pets. But a day trip is just perfect, long enough to feel like a break in the routine, not so long that the effort cancels out the relaxation.

I used to take a lot of day trips. When the kids where younger and my days were more tightly scheduled and hectic, day trips, as often as possible, were a pleasant alternative to prescription medication to keep me calm and functioning.

Nowadays I do a lot more traveling, not all of it by my choice. And I have more freedom in my regular day-to-day routine. So I don't feel the need to take day trips very often anymore, which is a good thing considering a) the price of gas these days and b) the fact that there's not a lot of day trip destination possibilities when your starting point is Susanville. There's one small town with a few shops and restaurants 30 minutes away at Lake Almanor. After that, it's a 100 miles in any direction.

But I woke up this morning and thought, hmmmm, a day trip sounds like fun. I suggested it to the hubby and teen and surprisingly, they jumped on the idea enthusiastically. Both of them had specific reasons why they were excited about the trip. William wanted to go to Olive Garden, Jeff wanted to go to Barnes & Noble. More importantly, they both wanted to play with the GPS program in our rental car (our Subie got dented in a bump-and-run and was in the shop). Within half an hour we were on the road and headed to Reno.

With absolutely nothing we needed to do, the discussion on the road revolved around "what did we want to do" with our day. Well, and we talked about how the GPS worked. To say that William was enamored of the GPS "toy", would be to seriously underestimate his interest in it. Jeff, too, thought it was nifty. I'll admit, it was entertaining, but I also couldn't shake the whole "big brother is watching" feel of having a small screen tell me exactly where I was on the planet.

I suggested we go to the Nevada Museum of Art, something I'd wanted to do for some time but never managed to fit into our plans. I didn't actually know where the museum was located, but fortunately the Nevada Museum of Art was listed as one of Reno's local attractions in the GPS and so we pushed a couple of buttons and it took us right to it.

Along with the regular collections, they had a visiting show of Russian Icons. They were so beautiful. Definitely my favorite part of the museum. Next to the icons, I think my favorite thing in the entire museum was this deliciously soft, retro, green leather couch and chair in the entry area. Especially the chair. Not only was it really cool looking, it was comfy beyond belief. Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you're the legal sort) it was a little too big to slip into my purse and sneak out of the building with. Sigh. I settled for purchasing a cute little glass blown raven in the gift shop.

Next, the boys were happy to stay in the car (and play with the dials, buttons, knobs, and GPS program), while I spent a nice, long time in Windy Moon, a very well stocked local quilt shop. I was very restrained. I only bought a few bits, so I had the pleasure of indulging without the usual accompanying guilt at the cost. Win/win.

Although William had originally asked to go the Olive Garden, I suggested we go to the buffet at The Atlantis. Their buffet is always voted best in town. We don't go very often because the cost goes up and down, pricier during high tourist days/hours, and we don't often get the timing right when we're in the city to get the lower "locals" prices. William thought The Atlantis sounded like a great idea. So, for the same price one moderate dinner and an iced tea at your typical mid-scale restaurant, I had a half dozen different kinds of salad, a large shrimp cocktail, fried shrimp, stuffed peppers, mashed potatoes, veggies, assorted chinese dishes, a hot spinach salad, apple crepes a la mode, bread pudding, chocolate mousse cake, chocolate mint cake, a cream puff, iced tea, and coffee. William and Jeff also added ribs, fried chicken, ham, prime rib, assorted mexican dishes, sundaes and cheesecake to their plates. So, if you're ever in Reno.... excuse me while I pop open the top button on my jeans. Groan. Yum.

Oh, while we were at the casino, it was so cute - I watched William walk off across the restaurant on his way to the buffet. He's so tall (6'2") and he has this gorgeous, long, ash blonde hair. He's all angles and ambling gate and I was just thinking how cute he was and then I thought, hey, I'm his mom, of course I think he's cute. I wonder what he looks like to other people. I was trying to imagine that when just then I noticed another teen who was walking with an older man (his dad I assume) back to their table. The teen stopped midstep and intently watched William for a few seconds before nudging his dad and whispering something. Then he pointed William out to his father. The father looked. The boy said something excitedly. (they were too far away for me to overhear their conversation) The dad nodded in agreement, and they both watched William for a half minute more before making their way back to their table with big grins on their faces.

I can't know for sure, but I got the distinct impression that they had somehow mistaken William for someone famous. I wonder who they thought he was!? The first thing that popped into my head was maybe a famous snowboarder, what with all the interest in the winter sports teams during these Olympic days, and many of the winter athletes do live in the nearby Lake Tahoe area. Of course I know he snowboards, so I'm sure I was reading that into it, but I still think he just looks like a snowboarder. Who knows what they were really thinking, but it was fun to watch it play out.

After stuffing our faces, we went hit a few computer shops, a sports store, Barnes & Noble. I picked up a couple art magazines, a cozy mystery, and two hardcover novels on clearance. Of course we had to get Starbucks for the ride home. I pointed out that now that we have our very own Starbucks in town, getting Starbucks when out of town just doesn't have that special treat feel to it anymore. Ah well, the price of convenience. Regardless, caffeine is necessary for the ride home. Also, as William insisted on punching in our home address, so too is GPS capability.

I know, a boring "what I did on my summer vacation" type blog entry. Nothing witty or philosophical. But, I don't care. I had a wonderful day with two fun, silly, nice friends (who just happen to also be my husband and son). And that's more than good enough for me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


As a topic, time has been hashed and rehashed, dramatized and philosophized, loved and resented. It's certainly not an original subject, but still, that's what I want to talk about today.

I am frustrated at this "time" creature lately. Or rather, I'm more frustrated then usual. We always have to deal with time, all the time - ha! It's nothing new. It's like a..... oh, I don't know. Pick your own analogy. An unruly dog. Any cat. A toddler. The wind. It seems to get away from us. We are constantly looking for it or trying to catch up with it. It's demanding and won't leave us alone. It distracts us, worries us, and never does what we ask it to do.

We can't make time go faster when we are impatient. We can't slow it down when we find a moment of bliss. We can't make it stop while we take a breather or ponder our next step. We can't make time rewind regardless of our need, or grief, or regret. We can't affect it in any way at all. We can only try to ride it, like a wave, and hope we can stay on our feet most of the time.

Mostly, I'm frustrated that there isn't enough time. Or more to the point, that I can't move fast enough through it. No. That's not what I mean. I don't want time to move faster, good grief, no. I want to be able to fit more into each minute, hour, day, year.

Maybe I'm frustrated at how little control I have over how I spend my time. The year has barely begun and already my calendar has begun to fill up from March all the way through to December and most of it is not dates of my own choosing, but obligations, albeit some happy, some just... obligations.

On a micro level, my days seem equally out of my control lately, time chopped up into little bits and pieces that aren't terribly useful. Like yesterday, I theoretically had an empty schedule, but by the time I had dealt with family, pets, a gremlin in my e-mail software, and a couple of errands, WOOSH!, the day was pretty much done. Today I have an eye doctor appointment and apparently I have to run some MORE errands I hadn' t known were being planned for me.

I AM getting things done. It's just, for every task I finally get to, I uncover three more waiting underneath. And let's not even mention the way that NEW tasks seem to pop up everywhere, like mushrooms, like dandelions, like pop up windows. Hmmmm, that's what I need - a Pop Up Blocker for my LIFE.

Maybe the season is responsible for all this anxiety I'm feeling. Spring is a time when folks tend to wake up from the lethargy of a cold dark winter and try to DO things again. I certainly am. Last week's snowstorm aside, there are spears of green pushing up where dafodils will bloom soon, there are buds on the trees, there's new green on the hardy greens in the garden despite the fact that the ground is still completely frozen in the raised bed barrels. Spring IS coming. And I'm scrambling desperately to be ready for it this time around the wheel.

I am deeply longing for spring not only in the garden, but in my house, in my life, in my schedule. I want a FRESH start full of NEW growth and OPEN possibilities. I don't want the same ol' behind-on-everything clutter that has been my life. Hmmm. In typing these last words, I think I've stumbled upon an insight. The problem might really be that I'm being unrealistic. (ME? Having unrealistic and overly ambitous expectations? Gee, who woulda seen that one coming! )

I mean, let's think of what spring, in a literal sense, is REALLY like, shall we? The snow melts and the landscape is brown and gray and mindnumbingly drab before we get all green and dafodilly. There's all sorts of old plant material to deal with - some dry and brittle, some limp and decomposing. It all has to be raked, pulled up, clipped, and dragged off to the compost pile. The leaf mulch has to be pulled back off the flower beds. And mud. Lot's of mud making it hard to get anything done without adding extra laundry to the plan. There's repairing fences and painting things the freeze and thaw of winter peeled raw. There's all sorts of mess you don't even remember leaving out in the fall, visible now that the snow has melted away. Spring isn't first about taking advantage of the new, it's first about cleaning up the previous year's mess.

Okay, so maybe my life doesn't seem that out of control after all. Maybe I'm right on schedule. All this work might just mean that the dafodils really ARE just right around the corner.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Self-Portrait Tuesday

I've been seeing Self-Portrait Tuesday on other blogs and decided to have a go at it myself. Of course, being of very debatable sound mind, I decided to start this month, when February's theme is - "all of me" embrace your mistakes, love the ugly bits. Yeah, that was REAL smart Laume!

This is really hard. Deep breath. A lot harder then I thought it would be. Another deep breath. Okay, let's just get this over with...

I wasn't trying to cheat by making it a small picture. I had to scan this in from a small picture, so it's the best I could do without it getting grainy. I think you can click on it and get a bigger image.

Here I am, posing with my favorite vamp, Spike. Okay, not THE Spike. Just a cardboard cut out of him. But when I saw it at our local county fair last summer, I couldn't resist the opportunity. And even though I have kept the picture, I regretted having had it taken from the moment the instant film image swam into definition.

ARGH! I mean, look at me! I am soooo not vampire bait! Look at Spike's high cheekbones and then look at my imitation of a chipmunk with cheeks full of nuts. Don't miss my wrinkly thighs, flabby arms, and absence of a waist. Not to mention the middle-aged-mom wardrobe. Spike - black leather, moody and hot. Me - would you like to buy some Tupperware? This is definitely not the look of a tasty bite.

In my head, I'm still twenty years old and, if not sexy, at least girl-next-door cute. The lens, however, tells the hard truth. I'm not Buffy, or Willow, or Cordelia. At best, I'm Joyce. Nah, I'm not even Joyce. At least she was tall and thin enough to get Giles. Granted, they were under some sort of spell at the time but....

Let's just get to the point here - I'm no longer twenty.

Now I'm gonna go have a glass of wine and try to forget this whole embarrassing moment.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Not sick, not raring to go

Here's what happens when you tell a teenager to smile for the camera. Ahhh. A face only a mother could love.

Yesterday, and on into today, I've been feeling a bit off center. Not sick really. Stiff and sore. And I'm embarrassed to say I probably can't blame the big fall I took on the ice/snow yesterday, because I don't have any bruises from the event. No, I think it was from the serious shoveling I did to find my car the day before, under the foot plus of snow. I hate to think that I'm so out of shape, such a wussy, that a half hour of shoveling would do me in like that. I mean, I am Mountain Girl, hear me roar! (wasn't she a character in a movie?)

But stiff and sore I was. Am. And a bit discombobulated all the way around. I can't seem to walk without tripping, pick something up without dropping it, type without my fingers spasming, think or talk without ending up at a dead end thinking/saying "Huh?" (sort of the mental equivalent of walking into a room and forgetting why you went there). Last night I finally decided, before I really hurt myself somehow, perhaps it was best to curl up on the couch and wait for whatever it is that 's making me short circuit to pass.

Today I did manage to do some nitpicky paperwork, in my continuing effort to uncover a desk top somewhere around here. I got a lot done, but it was such invisible work that I'm grumpy about having nothing to show for it.

Now I have to talk my son into watching Gandhi. I rented it as a "school assignment", but was trying to avoid letting him know that. I wanted to just waltz into the room on a night when there was nothing good on television and say "Well, whaddya know! I rented this movie. Let's watch it." Slip something educational in there without being caught. But I stupidly rented it during the Olympics, which William has been following with an almost evangelical intensity, and now the movie is due back tonight, so I had to break down and admit he sorta "HAD" to watch it with me. At least he didn't argue, although he is trying to bargain a pizza order into the deal. I've counter-offered pizza after the movie, soda and snacks now.

That's it. Nothing pithy or wise to say. Just - I'm around, but only quasi-functional.

Off to make popcorn.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Two Faced

I was doing the Children's Book Meme for today's blog entry. Almost done when my stupid internet software froze up colder then a chihuahua in a snowbank. ARGH.

So, instead, I'm gonna show you a couple of face pictures.

This is what remains of an outdoor statue my mother gave me. It was originally a little boy looking down at a rabbit cradled in his lap. I really liked the statue because my mom gave it to me when she moved away and it reminded me of her more then a lot of other things she's given me over the years. I don't remember if his head got knocked off and glued back on before or after she gave him to me, but eventually it refused to stay affixed, so we just set the head on loosely and hid the key to the back door in the hollow space inside whenever we went on vacation and someone was watching our pets. Eventually the plaster eroded to the point where it refused to stay balanced atop the body at all, and I gave up and tossed it - the body, that is. The head I stuck on a stake in the garden. It's a little creepy but at the same time, I like it because it's so unexpected, in an Addam's Family sort of way.

Yes, this is a face. Actually, you're looking DOWN the face. I was curious what it looked like up top at our local snow resort as I'd never been up there. So I gave William my camera today and sent him up to snap a few pictures. See the teensy little lodge down below? That's where I was when he took this photo - inside by the woodstove, looking out the window and knitting a fuzzy orange and purple poncho.

By western standards, this is a rinky dink little hill, but it's conveniently close by and amazingly cheap compared to the world class resorts down the way in the Tahoe area. At least, when ever there's snow, it gets William on the slopes. Although, we ended up going home after only an hour today as, and I quote "There's no base. The powder isn't that thick. I'm boarding on ice." Plus, his friends didn't show up. And I had psyched myself up to be a good mommy and stay all day without complaint, too.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

I'm not normal

Whew! THAT'S a relief! I didn't think I was normal, but you never know. You get old, sometimes you slide into bad habits. Although 77% isn't all that great. It's not even a B! Hmmmm. Maybe I should wear my butterfly tiara out to the supermarket more often.

The Free Thinker
71 variable 1
You are quite strange indeed and not very normal at all. You are cool. You are very open minded, creative, and intelligent. People like you and secretly want to be you, because of your overwhelming coolness. Just watch out the world doesn't suck out your originality.

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 77% on variable 1
Link: The How normal are you Test written by Piscessnake on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Warm, silly furries

We have one tiny sleek dog (Rosie) and one giant fuzzy dog (Buck). They're about as opposite as two dogs can possibly be, except they both have these oversized, radar bat ears. I'm always taking pictures of Rosie (the baby always gets all the attention in the family, it's just a fact of life). I went to take yet another picture of Rosie this morning and someone stuck their face right in the camera. Ahhhh. Can't you just see the "I'm cute TOO, Mom!" look in his eyes. And he is adorable, isn't he, even with his torn ear and his beard like a face full of hanging lichen and his big, wet paws and his directionally challenged fur.

When we had two large dogs (Maybelline, our lab/boxer mix, old girl, died last year), Buck had absolutely no interest in toys, unless they were made of bone or leather and he could eat them. But suddenly, he wants toys. Undoubtedly because Rosie loves her toys and lords over them like a two year old asked to share. Like that's gonna happen. NOT. So this morning I brought home some new toys from Walmart, matching squeakie toys and two braided chew toys, one small and one medium sized.

"This one is YOURS Buck!" "Here Rosie, this one is for you!"

Of course, it worked out as well as it would with any siblings. Buck wanted both his braid and Rosie's braid. Rosie didn't want either of them but she didn't want Buck to have the the one we gave her regardless. She wanted both squeakie toys but could only carry one onto the couch at one time. She'd go back for the second one and Buck would take his back. Rosie would take the opportunity to run and steal his braid and he'd go back and take it from her and then sit on top of both the squeakie toy and braid. Rosie would run back and forth between me and Buck, pleading for me to do something about the unfairness of it all. "Mom! Look! He's not SHARING!" Let's not even mention that she has at least quadruple her weight in other doggie toys stashed about the house.

I tried to take some pics of the whole silly scene, but they wouldn't stop moving and all I ended up with was a series of big golden blurs and tiny black blurs.

Oh, and it's not true, by the way - you CAN teach an old dog a new trick. For eleven years Buck has completely missed the concept of fetch. Maybel, part labrador remember, LOVED to play fetch and would run after a ball/stick/frisbee/toy until she collapsed in exhaustion. For Buck's part, he just ran back and forth beside Maybel, barking at her as if to say - "Stop! What are you doing!? Stop! Can't you see you're just encouraging them to throw it again?!"

So suddenly, like, YESTERDAY, he decided to fetch things for us. He brought William and I a toy, we threw it, he brought it back. More then once. We told Jeff this morning. He thought we were making it up. So we did it again. Buck fetched. It's amazing what can happen in the face of sibling rivalry.

Now, switching to felines.....

No, I didn't wash and dry the cat. Charlie picked this spot for a nap and didn't bother to move when I threw another load of warm-from-the-dryer clothes on top of him.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Artsy photos

I spent the morning out in the newly snowed landscape taking pictures. I put a few of them up on my art blog. If you want to see them, click on the Laume's Studio link in the side bar.

View from the chair

This morning I decided to focus on life from where I sit at the computer.

I talk a lot, or at least it seems to me I do, about the view from the two windows on either side of me. The one to my left isn't exactly to the side of me. Directly to my left, about six feet away, is the woodstove. It not very picturesque, but it keeps me warm in the winter. The window is actually across the room behind the wood stove, thirty feet away maybe, and I have to swivel and look back over my left shoulder to see it. The other window is directly to my right, about four feet away, so I can glance out without too much turning. It's not very picturesque either, as there's a lamp, a CD player, and usually a stack of CD's and a cat in the windowsill in front of it, and the view is of the dog kennel and the side fence with the top of my neighbor's house peeking over it. There are trees above that, and often they do something picturesque, like wave green leaves at the white clouds scudding by or look intricate and stark against storm gray skies. Today there are snowflakes out there.

To finish the 360 degrees, behind me is the diningroom table, usually piled high with things that don't belong on it, including a cat even though they all know they're not allowed on any table or counter (and when has a silly rule like that ever stopped a cat?). Behind the table is the kitchen, no wall between them. Since I don't have eyes in the back of my head, although my kids often swear I do, I experience that view by sound more then sight. The tea kettle whistling, the clattering of dishes and the squeaking of cabinet doors, punctuated by sliding and crashing sounds as a cat displaces whatever slid and crashed.

But none of those views are the view I want to focus on today. Instead I want to show you what I see when I lean back and look up, usually lost in thought. I'm leaving out the messy cabinets on either side. And although this view is also messy, it's FUN mess and I like it. Go ahead, click on the pic and get close up.

Jeff walked by and looked at the picture when I was uploading it and said "It looks like a shrine." I thought so too. Probably because of the Virgin de Guadalupe. But it is, in a way. The Desk Shrine. The Computer Shrine. The Shrine of Creative Thought.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Free Space

That's what I have - free space.

Sam gave William a free lift ticket, good any week day for Northstar. One of his good friends was allowed to ditch school (let's call it a field trip, shall we), so Jeff took them up for a day of snowboarding bliss. William has spent most of the last week checking on conditions, weather, and snow pack reports at the website. He's probably singularly responsible for half their site hits in the last few days. He's mostly psyched over the opportunity to play in their snowboarder's park which includes all sorts of rails, jumps and pipes, including.... drum roll please.... a Super Pipe, like the one in the Olympics. Go to the Super Pipe webcam, you might actually see William on it, although all the little figures look the same to me.

They left this morning and I've had the house to myself. (if we don't count the dogs and cats and dust bunnies) Not just the house, but everything in it. I can control the music selections, food choices, coffee pot, temperature of the wood stove, lights, t.v. remote, order of activities.... I am almost giddy at the freedom.

Of course I jumped out of bed and indulged in all my wildest fantasies, right? Okay, sure. Let's pretend. No, I jumped out of bed and raced through as many tasks as possible - showering, cat clean up, vacuum, loaded the dishwasher, load of laundry going, a few phone calls, made a fresh french press full of coffee, turned on the computer. It might seem like a waste of FREE space, but honestly, I got more done in the first 45 minutes of the day then I usually do in the first three hours when everyone is home. Now, if I do nothing else, I'll feel guilt free using the rest of the day as mine.

Lately William and Jeff have monopolized the music selections in the house. I put on something new a while ago, selected somewhat randomly, Ani DeFranco - Imperfectly. But then I forgot to find another CD and the player switched it over to Jeff's CD's, still in the other slots. Norah Jones - Come Away with Me , then Tom Petty - Wildflower, and now it's playing Kate Rusby - Sleepless. Lovely, but it's making me too relaxed. Downright sleepy. I want to spend the day doing something other then napping, so......

Okay, that's better. I've filled the five slots with Josh Joplin Group - The Future That Was, Badly Drawn Boy - Have You Fed the Fish?, R.E.M. - The Best of, Tori Amos - Boys for Pele, and Dave Matthews Band - Everday. That should do it. What are you all listening to today?

Rosie is mucho unhappido about her boy and papa being gone. She's been whining at me all day. She doesn't want to be held. She doesn't want me to throw her doggie toys. She doesn't want to play with the cats. No, she just lays on the back of the couch, looking out the front window, and alternately barking at people who have the audacity to walk down HER street, and whining at me that there's no one out there and she's bored. She's driving me nuts. There's really no such thing as pure Free Space, is there. I would probably hate it anyway.

Now, let's see, they'll probably get cold enough to call it a day around 4-ish, then fast food, gas, two hours to drive home. That's about 4 hours, maybe 5. I gotta get off this contraption and go do something fun with what ME time I've got left.

Political Compass

I took an interesting online test this morning. No, not '"What Kind of Vegetable are You?" Although, after I typed that I just had to know and, why am I not surprised, yes there is a test. I'm Sweet Corn, but just by one point. Couch potato, Wild Strawberry, and Golden Orange all tied for second place.

No, this is a test to see where you fall on a left/right political and a authoritarian/libertarian cultural grid. Really interesting. My results were:

Economic Left/Right: -3.88
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -3.85

This won't really make any sense to you unless you take the test and see the graph for yourself. Go here. In my local community, I'm considered one of those raving liberals, but I've always thought that in a cross section of American, I'd probably end up fairly moderate. It's nice to see I was right, er, slightly left, as you can see. I'm happy with my results. I'm only a point or so away from Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and the Dalai Lama. Good neighbors.

So, where does your dot fall?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Ordinary Frustrations, Everyday Pleasures

I had intended to write in both my blogs this morning. Got up, had a nice cup of coffee handed to me. No, scratch that. Had an AMAZING cup of coffee handed to me. Jeff made it in the new french press I gave him for Valentine's Day, and WOW! It made the coffee taste sooooo much better. Pricey, but now I know, totally worth it. Here's a photo - the one in the middle. Smart of me to buy him a coffee maker so he can make me coffee, yes? And, I guess, in deference to the title of this post, this most definitely counts as an everyday pleasure.

Steaming, hadn't-lost-important-oils coffee next to the keyboard, I set upon my first blog entry, for Laume's Studio, but soon discovered that I was in an uphill battle with the distractions my family continued to set off (kinda like firecrackers) behind me. ARGH! I love my husband, I really do. But it's hard to get things done on the days he's home from work. (he doesn't have a typical work schedule) I couldn't really complain about it though, because we don't have any place else in the house I could have sent him to do the things he was doing. And mostly, he was taking care of his own tasks and activities, he wasn't overtly trying to sabatoge me. But Geeze Louise, that man can chatter! I know, so can I, but I don't think I drop chatter into other people's workspaces. I guess the trouble is, it's home, to him it's not a workplace.

Yes, William is usually home, interupting me as I write, but for some reason that's not as distracting. For one thing, we have a routine to the way we do things. The interuptions aren't unexpected. And teenage boys, for the most part, aren't known for their chattering abilities. More often they're thought of as monosyllabic creatures. William does his part to propogate the stereotype.

Plus, for some inexplicable reason, Jeff's voice is the most difficult for me to tune out of all the family. And it wasn't needful banter. Like, I'd just get a thought worked out in my head, be ready to type and he'd walk by with a "Oh. I gotta call them on that." What? A minute or two later from somewhere in the same room he comments "Hmm. Nevermind. I won't interupt you?" Huh? And then "We'll pick up the car this afternoon, right?" ARRRRRRRGH! I tried to hide behind earphones and itunes, but it didn't work too well. My "mom" ears are too highly trained to ignore what I was trying to tune out.

I gave up on writing this blog and went off to run family tasks and errands. No one was gonna leave me be until I helped them with their own schedules anyway. I know when to give it up. Went to pick up the car. Went to the Walmart for that list of things that, regardless of their mundaneness, are integral to live's schedule - toilet paper, a belt for William (William's old one broke three days ago and he's been walking around with one hand on his pants ever since, for fear that they'll slip down around his ankles), Vitamin C, garbage bags, frozen burritos.

Then I swung round home and picked up hubby for a late lunch/early dinner at our local Mexican spot. I let him pick the topics, tell me all the things he'd been verbally "sitting on" all morning while he went along with my contention that I was "working", and then I got him back by talking about other stuff until his eyes glazed over and he'd lost the ability to nod or grunt in recognition that he was listening. Sitting in a big picture window, watching the town drive or walk by, munching on warm, salted tortilla chips with a scoop of fresh pico de gallo - definitely one of life's little pleasures.

Next a stop at the car rental place to take care of when our Subie will be in the shop next week, and last but not least, the market, where we only needed three items, but I ended up getting about thirty, so we'd have interesting menu choices for awhile. Some rice pudding and curry chicken salad from the deli. Fresh fruit juices. Oversized heads of lettuce. My favorite organic cereals on sale. All everyday pleasures. We ended up bumping into a half dozen people we knew, always a possibility in a small town, so our quick stop at the store ended up using up the rest of the afternoon. Shelly called while I was on the baking goods aisle and chatted with me until the end of the next aisle, cereal and baby foods, setting up a dinner date for tonight. But, no matter. Another small pleasure. It was relaxing. We enjoyed ourselves.

It's usually like that. Back when I had small kids, I used to love all those one stop errands, the ones that are individually small, but accumulatively tend to fill up our days. It was a way to be with them while still being out and about and getting a sense of interacting with other adults at the same time. Nowadays though, I resent the way they fill up my time (the errands, not the kids, who do still fill up some of my time even though they no longer live at home, but that's another topic altogether) and I usually put them off until the husband and teen wail loud enough or the timing becomes critical enough for me to do them. As much as I resent the interuption, once I'm out the door and cruising about town, it's usually not an upleasant experience and something good almost always comes from it, over and above completing the tasks themselves that is. I bump into an old friend, I stop for a coffee, I score a new novel at the used bookstore. I wander into another store or aisle and find something fun to buy, I get out in the day and enjoy the blue skies or the gusty wind or whatever else the weather throws at me. What starts out as a frustration, turned into a pleasure.

See? Despite all the detours and distractions, eventually this blog got written. In fact, it gave me something to write about. I guess it's that old "sow's ear into a silk purse" deal. Oink.

Monday, February 13, 2006


I used to be a joiner. Loved a group. Sorority club in high school (they called it a service club, but everyone knew it was really a sorority), Anti-nuke club, La Leche League, 4-H, Quilt guild, Homeschooler's club. If there was a meeting, I was more than happy to pencil it in on my calendar. For some reason I can't quite put my finger on though, in the last few years, I've lost my desire to join a club and, in fact, I've dropped out of or let lapse everything I was once involved in. I joke that the older and more eccentric I become, the less I fit in, but it's more along the lines of I don't WANT to fit in anymore.

Regardless of the reason, when the theme for this month's Blogging 4 Books challenge was announced - clubs - I knew after only a few seconds consideration, that I had nothing to say on the subject. I'm not in any clubs. But this evening, in an effort to use up the last remaining hours in which I could have chosen to do something productive instead, I wandered into Faster than Kudzu and read Joshilyn's warning that B4B entries were due by midnight tonight. I said to myself - "Laume" I said "Remember, you're not in any clubs." And I thought about that for a second, realized I had been completely wrong about it all month long and answered myself - I said "Laume, yes you are. You're in lots of clubs!" And then I had to race my fingers back here and tell you all what I meant in that little private conversation.

I'm in a trillion different clubs. So are you. And you. And yes, even you. We all are. We don't think of these groups as clubs, generally, but they are and I'll tell you why. Because it's very clear when you are in one and when you are not. Some of these clubs are tiny, some have millions of members. Some are serious, some are silly. But they are all clubs, with criteria or qualifications for membership, initiations, secret handshakes, and dues one must pay to join.

The first club I remember joining without realizing it was The Mommy Club. Of course the only thing you needed to get into this club is a child, usually a small one that you just pushed forth into the world from between your thighs. But there are other ways to get into the club - by adopting, or marrying someone and getting a child or two as a bonus prize. Which leads to the discussion of SUB-clubs. You can be in The Mommy Club and also in the Stepmommy Club and maybe even the sub/sub Stepmommy with Joint Custody and Insanely Confusing Custody Schedule Club.

Usually how you figure out you've joined a club is that suddenly "IT" all becomes clear. A year earlier, childless, you might have been sitting around a table with other childless friends, laughing and rolling your eyes at a newly delivered-of-child friend who can't seem to talk about anything but the color of baby poop. You all agree, of course,that the woman has totally lost her sanity. She must have accidentally slid her brain out along with the placenta. But then, shortly after the birth of your very own miracle, you suddenly realize - The color of baby poop is IMPORTANT! Ohmygawd! How could you not have seen it before! You could discuss baby poop coloration for hours, nay, days, and still not run out of things to say about this fascinating subject.

Sometimes you don't realize you're in a club right away. I had a teen, several in fact, for quite some time, without understanding the significance, but I remember the exact moment when I discovered I was a card carrying member of the Mothers of Teenagers Club. I was shopping at our local Walmart. A child tagged along behind me. When I say "a child", I am referring to Joseph, then 13 years old and already about a foot taller then lil' ol 5'2" me. Imagine if you can this little woman walking determinedly, silently, eyes somewhat squinched, shoulders somewhat hunched, to ward off the constant barrage of requests showering down from above.

"How come I can't buy soda? Huh? How come? Give me one good reason. You say you're all into health food but you had brownies last night. You're a hypocrite. That's what you are. How about jerky? Can I have some jerky?....." Several departments over let's pick up the scene again...... "I need it mom. I can't play without it. The coach said we needed to get one. Do you have any idea how COLD it is out there? Huh? It's going to snow before the end of the season. You spend money on fabric and going out to eat with your friends, but you want me to freeze out on the field because you're too cheap to......" And on the other side of the store..... "Mom. Mom! MOM! You're not listening to me. Why won't you answer me? I don't have too many knives. This one has six different tools in it. The others are for my collection but this one would be for really using it. If you needed something done, I'd have it and if you needed a screwdriver or a bottle opener then I'd let you use it. It's not that expensive. It could be an early Christmas present. Mom. MOM!......."

In the course of that shopping trip, no more than a half hour's time, THREE women paused, made eye contact, and gave me a look of understanding. By the time I was driving home I realized I understood their silent communication because I WAS one of them. I was the mother of teenagers.

You don't always choose your clubs. I remember how emotionally affected I was by an essay in our local newspaper many years ago. The editor wrote about "being in a club no one wants to join", upon the death of his son in a car accident. I clearly remember thinking "I can't imagine." And of course, I couldn't. Years later, at the death of our oldest son at the age of nineteen in a motorcycle accident, that article and that thought, "I can't imagine", flashed into my head. Now I could imagine and my earlier sense, of being incapable of understanding the experience, turned out to be a valuable piece of wisdom. Shortly after, a woman came up to me, gave me a hug, and with a deep look of sadness these words came out of her mouth - "I'm soooo sorry. I know what you're going through because my dog died last year." What I wanted to do, after the shock of "did she just say what I think she said?" wore off, was to find the nearest heavy object and give her a serious beating. But then a small voice inside me whispered "Remember, she's not in the club." So I smiled weakly, and let her live.

The Clutter Club. The You Can Never Have Too Many Books Club. The Love My Small Dog Obsessively Club. The Proud New Grandma Club. The Liberal Stuck in a Conservative Town Club. The Night Owl Club. The Grew Up in the Midwest Club. I'm in a gazillion clubs and so are you. I'm sure that no matter who you are, we share membership in at least some of them. We might not know it. But some day, when a particular subject comes up, we'll catch each other in the eye and see a 'look'. Perhaps we'll double check our suspicions by slipping a few code words into our speech and see if the other person can follow the conversation. If so, then we'll nod and smile and from that point on, understand each other. There won't be any need to explain it. After all, as far as that particular subject or experience goes, we're both members of the club.

I'm doomed! Woof! Woof!

Someone, who shall remain nameless, turned me on to Dogster. It's like a drug. I'm hooked. I spent hours last night looking at adorable wet noses and big, sad eyes and silly oversized ears and.....where did the time go!?

But wait, that's not the worst part. This afternoon - whizzed by - while I created a blog page for my OWN adorable Rosie-girl. You can go see it. No, no, I INSIST. Go. HERE. Make sure you scroll down and see all her pictures.

Of course the doomed part is - not the wasted evening squeaking "Ooooooh! ISn't he cute! William, come look at THIS one!" No. And not the wasted afternoon making a blog shrine to Rosie. She's adorable. She deserves one. No. The doomed part is I have another dog, equally deserving. And wait, it gets worse. There is also a CATSTER webite!!!!! I have 13 friggin' cats!

I'm doomed, I tell ya, I'm doomed.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Full Moon

While my friends on the east coast are playing with their snow shovels and ice scrapers, we had another unseasonably warm sunny day today. Since last year we were up to our yoohaws and higher in The Big Snow, I don't feel terribly guilty about it. Besides, the snowed-in folks I've heard from seem to be enjoying themselves up to this point. Of course it's the weekend and no one had to commute in it yet.

This evening I went out at dusk to take some architectural photos. I needed them as value references for an art project I had intended on working on this evening - before, that is, I got sucked into an evening of watching The Flying Tomato win the gold in the men's snowboarding competition - I never did make it into the studio. When I went outside to the car, I was surprised by the full moon, larger then life as it came up over the eastern plains. Impulsively I detoured away from buildings and instead drove down a nearby road that takes one quickly out into ranch land. Even in those few minutes the moon kept climbing, and the photo didn't capture the illusion of it as super-sized, but I did manage to stop the car right in front of these three critters, who didn't bother being spooked by one small woman with a digital camera. It's a little out of focus, but I liked it anyway. Click on it to see it larger.

Although you can see the lights of town in the background, here, just a half mile from the outskirts of my neighborhood, you couldn't hear or feel people. It was so quiet, I could hear the deer brushing against the stiff winter grasses. A few cows mooed in the pasture behind where I was standing. Two hawks flew slowly overhead. I could tell they were hawks, probably the abundant Redtails, not owls, because I could hear the flapping of their wings. Owls are completely silent when they fly. Somewhere to the southeast, I could hear the honking of Canadian Geese, but I couldn't find any V's in the sky, perhaps they were settling in for the night on a lower, wetter field I couldn't see in the half light.

I only stood there, snapping photos, for about five minutes, but it's amazing the difference five minutes of quiet makes to ones body and mind. I'd left the house feeling in a hurry, although to where, I don't know. I guess I wanted to get the pictures, snap, snap, get back, get to the studio, create, create, see how much could fit into the rest of the evening. It wasn't that I felt pressed for time, nor was I consciously aware that I wanted to fill it with as much activity as possible. I guess I was just "in" a hurry, like some chemical stew. Still, by the time I got back in the car, I was no longer "in" a hurry, instead I had slowed down. Stopped. I was unhurriedly "in" the moment. I hadn't felt particularly stressed or unhappy when I had started out, but I drove back into town feeling infinitely more relaxed and peaceful.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

High Five Me-Me

I stole (or should I say stoled, because it drives my son nuts when I do) a Me-Me. I stole it because a) it looked like it would be fun to fill out and b) because I didn't feel like watching the Olympics and c) because I didn't have enough energy to actually get up and do anything useful. I was following blog links - I think it went something like this: Red Shoe Ramblings (who I actually know) to la vie en rose...a sweet life (who I don't know (I don't think) but read regularly from Deb's blog) to mad organica (who I don't know at all but who may be one of my new best friends because her blog is funny and sweet and she apparently talks/writes even more then me, thus making me appear to be demure and quiet in comparison). Knowing what a small world, thus, small world wide web, we live on, I suppose I could have waited to be tagged. But.... nyah. I'm not that patient.

High Five Tag

What Were You Doing Ten Years Ago?

Ten years ago this month I was moving into this very house. We'd moved up to Susanville on the new year, and had been living in a motel "apartment" unit while we waited for escrow to close. My mom and stepdad were up here too, living in their RV in the yard, and helping do some major repairs and remodels on the house. William was only four years old and upon being informed that he was old enough to go to kindergarten in the fall, had responded "Mom, I'm not going to school. So just DROP it, okay!" Amazingly enough, he still hasn't gone to school, although he's decided to give it a try this coming autumn. I had just had a difficult midtrimester miscarriage (who I think was a girl and who I named "Rose") and we were only about six months out of losing custody of Josh and Noel (my stepkids), so I still spend a lot of time feeling frustrated and angry about the unfairness of it all. Joe and Sam were going back to public school after a semester of homeschooling in the wild. And we were all enjoying our very first truly snowy winter as a family.

What Were You Doing One Year Ago?

Funny, that's harder to recall then what I was doing ten years ago. I had just finished up a helluva busy year the year before that, a year I had thought was going to finally be "reclaim my personal time" year. Instead it had been chock full of family obligations, both difficult and joyous. Since it was a snowy winter, I was spending two days a week up at the local ski resort while William snowboarded, sitting in the lodge or on warmer days, on the deck, and knitting myself a wool Gryffindor scarf. I was no doubt in or about to fall into a deep sadness as the anniversary of the last day I was ever to see Joshua loomed.

I'm not sure how these first two questions apply to a High FIVE Me-Me, but I still like them. However, they should have been "What were you doing five years ago?" and "What were you doing five hours ago?" Right? Wouldn' that make more sense? Hmmm, now that I've postulated these revised questions, what WAS I doing five years and five hours ago?

Five years ago Joe was about to graduate from high school. I still had three kids at home, Noel was being wild and giving us sleepless nights and gray hairs, and only Joshua was in college yet and we thought he was soooo old. (ha!) I spent enormous amounts of time driving to and from and sitting on bleachers at children's football, soccer, and baseball games. I was still really involved in my local quilt guild and the local homeschool group. I think we had just gotten cable for the first time and I had finally been able to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I was trying to watch years and years of re-runs to catch up.

Five hours ago I was sitting across the table from William at Black Bear Diner, telling the waitress that my chicken dinner was so dry that it was inedible. The waitress was trying to get me to make a decision on a new meal, William accused me of not hearing the last three things he'd said (which was true), and a friend I hadn't seen in ages had just walked in to the restaurant and came over for a hug and hello.

Five Snacks You Enjoy
*Starbuck lattes
*popcorn with margarita lime salt on it, or alternately, sprinkled with nutritional yeast
*refrigerator dough cookies, just barely baked - I enjoy them but try to avoid buying or eating them
*recently, tangerines
*this is hard, I'm not much of a snack person. I'm more of a good food person, so let's go with reheated "leftovers"

Five Songs To Which You Know The Lyrics
* Popular - from the Wicked soundtrack "Popular, you're gonna be pop-u-lar...." or really, any song off the sounddtrack
* ditto - anything off the Buffy "Once More with Feeling" soundtrack
* All Star by Smash Mouth. "Hey now, you're all all star, get the game on, go play!..."
* I bet I could do all of American Pie by Don McLean - probably most popular radio songs of the 70's - one has way more time to memorize lyrics as a teen
* The Star Spangled Banner

Five Things You Would Do If You Were a Millionaire (that you can't do now)
* hire staff - a housekeeper, cook, secretary....
* move to the country, eat a lot of peaches.... someplace big enough and private enough that I wouldn't have to hear or see other people
* travel more
* give generously to anyone who could help dig out the weeds and shrubs in Washington D.C.
* buy my husband a sports car

Five Bad Habits
*spending more time worrying about things then getting them done
*eating "just one more snack" before bed (sometimes several times)
*doing things in the reverse order of importance or priority
*being scattered instead of focused
*(yes, I know, this is six) not going to bed when my body first tells me to

Five Favorite Things in My Home (things - not people or pets)
*my books
*my agates
*my photographs
*my witch dolls
*my dad's coffee mug

The person before me took a different tack with this question, and mentioned specific items, which I only did with my last choice. It was too hard to name specific items as I probably have about five things in each room that I'd single out as special, for assorted reasons. There was no way to mention JUST five. Although, it's interesting to think that I might be able to single out five, or even ten things in each room, leading to the even more interesting question - why do I have/keep the twenty or fifty or hundred more things beyond those that I do not single out as more significant then everything else?

I did focus on sentimental items. I could have gone a different route, more along the lines of five favorite things I USE in my house - then I probably would have listed my computer, my tea pot, my digital camera, my CD player, my sewing machine..... all those things that it would be hard to live without on a more practical level.

I was going to add a few more questions, just for the fun of it, but I've been sitting here trying to come up with something for about ten minutes now and discovering that it's not as easy as it sounds. Every question that springs to mind either seems lame (like, duh, everyone would answer it the same), or too personal, or just a waste of time. As if answering these things at all is a productive use of time? Hah. Who said everything one does should be productive. Did you read the things I listed under "bad habits"?

So, last but not least, I need to tag, well, the obvious number is FIVE people. So, if she hasn't done it yet, Deb. Deirdre, just cuz I know she hates these things. My mom, cuz that's fun to read. Rachel, if she's got the time and if her shoulder is up to it, cuz I know she likes to blog. One more....hmmm, who will be my victim.... y'know, it seems if I'm pretty certain someone reads my blog, I don't think they themselves have one. And folks who do blog, don't know which people read mine? Okay, someone, pick yourself. Be my fifth. Surprise me. And, let me know so I can come read your answers.

River pics

Now that I've seen Brokeback Mountain, I'm really noticing the big, wide, western scenery I see every day. It's not that I took it for granted before this. I am struck by it's beauty almost every day - whether it be a new dusting of snow on the mountains, a sunset that runs through three or four colors before fading to gray, large thunderheads sailing like ancient galleons across the sky, or just a hawk sitting atop an old leaning fencepost or the sound and smell of the wind blowing through the sagebrush. It's simply that my appreciation is now heightened, inspired, by the beauty of the scenery in the film. So I thought I'd show you a couple of photos of our river. After all that build up, they aren't particularly amazing photos because my point in taking them was to show you a before and after shot of the same place. Or, in this case, an after and then a before.

In the end of December, when the Pacific west coast was hit with non-stop rain, our smallish, for a river, Susanville River threatened to flood. I went out in the rain and took photos, but didn't show them to anyone except family, since if you don't know what the river usually looks like, it would be hard to tell how high the waters went. But yesterday it dawned on me that I could take another picture of it at normal levels, at least, normal for winter. In the summer the river will be just ankle deep in this particular spot where I snapped the picture, which happens to be standing on the very edge of town at the end of the McDonald's parking lot.

So, here's what it looked like yesterday -

And here's what it looked like on December 31, 2005 -

That's about a 12-15 foot difference in height. Maybe even more, I'm not very good at estimating a sloping surface.

I figured these pics would be a good substitute for the before and after photos I had promised to show, which was of my desk. Unfortunately, that project is still "in process." But I will persevere. So, stay tuned.

Friday, February 10, 2006

My dad's favorite play

...was Annie. This has nothing to do with anything, except it's a good excuse to say "Hi dad, I love you" and wave to him in a ghost whisperer sorta way, as he passed away when I was .... 33 I think. A long time ago. It doesn't feel like a long time ago. But a friend on an e-mail list unexpectedly lost her father recently, so of course that made me think of my dad. Our lives are so entwined.

I also thought of it because I was paused with my fingers over the keyboard, wondering what sort of title to put on this blog, how I should let folks know right off the bat that I'm no longer moody and unreasonable (no more then normal, that is), the black mood of yesterday seems to have safely packed it's bag and left town. And suddenly my head started singing "The sun will come out TOMORROW! Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow..... come what may..... TOMORROW, TOMORROW, there's always TOMORROW...." and so on, or something like that, I might have the lyrics a bit upside down there. But the point here is, whew, I'm in a better mood.

The day turned out to be about CLEANING MY DESK. I didn't know that my day would center around cleaning my desk. I just sat down, with a cup of coffee my husband was kind enough to make for me, and start to read my e-mail as usual each morning (or afternoon or whenever - remember I stayed up most of the night) and somehow I ended up spending the day in my computer chair.

It started, I think, with William coming over to do some school work in the chair near me, so I'd be available if he had a question, and I started puttering so I could BE available. I grabbed up the new address book I've started to use (as my old one is now pieces of address book that don't seem to manage to stay together when the cats knock it on the floor - go figure) and a pencil, and began to pull one teensy scrap of paper after another out from underneath some larger papers and transcribe them into the address book under the appropriate alphabet tab.

I alternated between that and cleaning up e-mail, and grabbing other scraps of paper with websites or book titles or some obscure subject scribbled on them, the idea being I had planned to look something up, and so I did that, and I reheated the same cup of coffee several times, and chatted online with a friend, and spelled vocabulary words for William. At some point I decided that I was no longer just puttering and was, in fact, in for the long haul, and I decided to stay at it all day until I was finished and had a shiny clean desk to show for my efforts. About that time I even had the sense to take a "Before" photo so I could then take an "After" shot and show off my huge accomplishment.

Well, I did stay at it all day. At least until the sun set and it was getting too dark to see, at which point I got up and turned on some lights, and then I realized I was cold and I went around shutting the curtains and made a fire for the night and spent some quality time sitting side by side with William on the couch and watching Wheel of Fortune. Okay, quasi-quality time.

And my desk? I DID get a huge amount of it cleared off but I'm sorry to say that to the casual observer, it would still appear to be very good candidate for a "Before" shot. I really had no idea how much work it would be! Maybe I'll go back to it tomorrow. It sure would be nice to get to the bottom of the piles, some which have paperwork that isn't even dated in this century. How embarrassing.

Completely changing subjects, this evening I went to see Brokeback Mountain. I know, everyone else was huddled around their televisions watching the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. Since I'll probably be so Olympic saturated within a few days that I'll have skiers coming out of my ears and skaters caught in my hair, I figured this was a good night to go see the movie and perhaps have the theater to myself. (Literally, as I couldn't find a single person who wanted or was willing to go see it with me - sigh.) It wouldn't be the first time I'd have a controversial movie to myself, or practically to myself, in this small town.

Suprisingly, there were about a dozen of us. Maybe there were other people avoiding the start of the Olympics. They stuck us in the very back room with the tiniest screen. Great. The one thing everyone I knew had agreed on was how beautiful the movie was cinemagraphically (I have no idea if that's actually a word!), and I end up with a movie screen not much bigger then my large screen home television. Oh well.

Mostly I just wanted to see the movie before I heard any more spoilers. I hate spoilers. And with this movie, they're everywhere. Plus, I wanted to find out for myself what I thought of the movie. I've heard it all from "I don't see what all the fuss is about." to "It's the best movie I've ever seen!" - and that's just from the folks who'd seen it. Most people I know wouldn't even GO see it, although of course they still had an opinion about it. This last, btw, is one of my pet peeves - how people decide how they feel about something by using second hand information. But, I'm in a good mood, so let's not stop and dwell on this. My point is, I wanted to see it and decide for myself.

I give it a big thumbs up! I thought it was above the standard movie fare, sometimes brilliantly so, across the board. It's getting the amount of serious (and not so serious) attention in large part because it's a controversial subject. But for those who have actually gone to see the movie, the continued talk is because the scenery is stunning, the directing was noticably clear and effective, the acting was brilliant, and the story had multiple levels of meaning. It's about a relationship between two men. It's a love story. But it was also about how life makes all of us, any of us, make choices that we then have to live with. It also spoke to me a lot about the culture of the geography and the culture of the time period in which it took place. I wasn't raised in the west, but I've lived in some of those isolated, lonely areas, and even in this day and age, they are a world apart from the culture at large. It occured to me that people who have never spent any time in the dusty ranch culture depicted in the movie or under the huge western skies, might totally miss this particular layer of the story.

I'm back home, caught the last bit of the Olympics despite my best efforts to avoid it. The popcorn and soda I had at the theater is beginning to feel a bit insufficient as a dinner choice. So I'm done playing critic. My opinion - Go see the movie. Even if you end up disagreeing with me, at least you'll have your own opinion instead of parroting one from your mouthpiece of choice. Now, I'm off to the kitchen. Hunger calls.