Saturday, November 27, 2010

In these times of thanks...

I couldn't get myself to take photos at Thanksgiving. Weren't in the mood...I guess. It was warm. All of it. I could get all Sappy, with a capital S. But I'm sure you're sick of it. It's oozing around here. Just like the two turkey carcasses sitting outside in pots on my porch. Haven't been able to get to the stock yet.

So, just to honor the day and not be so trite as to give thanks for my spawn and Paul Bunyan and all my wonderful WOMBATS who I was able to eat and get fat with (yawn), and because they already know how much I love and appreciate them, I'd like to give thanks for some of the smaller things in my life.

1. As much as I hate it, I'd like to give thanks for the chicken shit on my stoop. Because the chicken shit on the stoop, although it sometimes enters my house on the feet of the spawn and dogs, represents the freedom and overall contentedness of my chickens. And without content and happy chickens, I wouldn't have such lovely and beautiful all-natural eggs. And without beautiful organic eggs, I wouldn't have such incredible bacon, egg and cheeses. I wouldn't have so many fried eggs in my life. I wouldn't have omelets for dinner. I wouldn't have such delicious huevos rancheros. My life would be eggless. My baked goods would fall apart. My ice cream would be dangerous to eat. My Caesar salad dressing wouldn't exist. In short, my life would suck.

2. I give thanks, every day, for our new DVR recorder. Not only can I watch more t.v., but now I can also watch more of the t.v. that I shouldn't waste my time watching. I give thanks, every day, for being able to watch Jimmy Fallon, whose late night show is normally way too late night for me to watch and now I have a crush on him, thanks to the DVR. Not only can I spend more time watching the t.v. shows I shouldn't be watching, but I can fast forward through the commercials I don't want to be watching. It's absolutely lovely.

3. I give thanks for indoor plants that don't need water. They're not fake, they just somehow survive without water. They miraculously live off the love the in the air. It's crazy. I know.

4. I give thanks for the fact that if you're sitting on the toilet and you run out of toilet paper everyone will drop what they're doing to help you get more toilet paper. It's universal. Everyone knows what it feels like to be stranded and they'll do anything to help you out. You might be stranded on the side of the highway with a flat tire and no one will stop to help you but if you call from the bathroom on the second floor people will scramble to the paper supply in the basement and be there to hand you a fresh roll in a few seconds. Love that.

5. I give thanks for my central vac. I have pipes that run throughout the walls of my house that suck up, through a hose, all the dog hair, cat hair, spawn hair, chicken shit, and tiny Legos and sends them all to a HUGE metal container in my basement. In the container is a gigantic bag that I only have to change out TWICE a year. I love it. It makes my life happy. If only you could experience this love. Maybe you have. I can only hope.

6. I give thanks for caller ID. So I can screen your ass.

7. I really love my floss. I have a space in my teeth that sucks up animal muscle fibers. Don't know what I would do without you floss. I really hate to think about it.

8. I have to thank the gods who created seedless grapes. Every Thanksgiving my dad's side of the family used to serve 'fruit cup' as the first course at dinner. Palate cleaning, I guess. The fruit cup consisted of grapefruit, oranges, grapes, and bananas (sliced fresh before serving) with a dollop of the orange sherbert that looks fluorescent on top. Complete disgrace and scorn would fall upon the person who couldn't cut the seeds out of the grapes properly. It was a very stressful job. And you can bet that my family ate their fruit cup scrupulously. Well, it's been years since I had that kind of stress in my life. It was a gift. The grapes with seeds. This year. I don't turn away free food, but man am I grateful for the gods who created seedless grapes.

9. I am thankful for reaching a point in our lives where I don't have to help anyone with their snowpants, jackets, boots, hats, and mittens. Go! Get! Skidaddle! That's all I have to say. It's blissful.

10. Lip Smackers. Just Sayin'

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Vegas Circus Trapeze Act

In the Summer of 97' Paul Bunyan and I packed up his leased Nissan Pathfinder with a few essential items and set our compass West. I only really remember the wind in my hair. The music on the radio. The flat grassy places we would set up a tent on the free National Forest lands in the dark. And the majesty of the landscape we would open our tent flaps to in the morning.

See that Motel 8 in the background there? I remember walking out the door of that motel one morning and being mesmerized by the landscape that I looked out upon. A cement company's heaven.

It's been 13 years. It's still quite majestic. In some respects.

And rich with grandiosity.

And arrogance.

For 48 hours I lay suspended in many stratospheres. I walked the bridges that crossed socioeconomic classes.

Evidence of the divide was everywhere.

Where one casino can have caged lions, this one can only offer flamingos.

And giant goldfish.

But it's a classic. The Flamingo....sets itself apart by remaining so retro.

It hosts the Osmond's show.

And across the street Caesars houses Rod. And across the street from that the Paris has Barry Manilow too. I was introduced to these old men on my best friend Meredith's mother's 8 track. Circa 1979.

But I know Holly Madison across the street.

I feel my legs slipping out from underneath me in both directions.

I straddled the possibility of this:

Triple Diamond, Double Double Diamond, Triple Double Stars, Triple Cash! Ding Ding Ding....still ringing in my skin. I wanted to spend my loot. Think of what I could spend with the thousands I would win!!

I put a $20 bill in a slot machine. I cashed out at $32.50. I spent my $12.50 on a hot dog. A chili dog to be exact. My practicality seeped up through my sore feet. Money to be spent on the mortgage given right to the casino owners? Hardly a decision for me.

But I had one free pull to win a MILLION DOLLARS. I saw someone cross themselves before they pushed the spin button.

One push of the button could change your life forever. What if?

I'd go back to Paris. Take a hot air balloon over the city.

Pay the money to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

I'd pay for Claire and I to come back out and see Cirque du Soleil "O" again. I'd bring you along too. I may even purchase one of these statues for my garden. Or better yet, I'd feed all the hungry men and women on the bridges.

I'd buy art.

Or better yet, I'd feel more free to make it.

I hung from the trapeze swinging between this crazy world and mine:

I dangled from youth and forty. It's a tough place to hang.

But it was fun to revisit. We retold. Remembered. And at the same time, we heard birth stories for the first time. Wedding stories. Parent's tales. Kids' ways. Future dreams. Possible plans. We stopped for a moment between the then and the soon.

We played.

And giggled.

And howled.

And just for a moment.

We pretended to be back in Iowa City.

Drinking nickle beers at the Airliner.

And yet, we were in the desert.

On the early morning I left Vegas, I left behind the alcohol laced elevators, all the lights blinking and rolling and spinning like the minds of the drunk gamblers. I reflected on the 48 hour window that the universe allowed me to suspend myself in time. Between the past and future, between the rich and poor, between my youth and impending old age. I don't really know how a place can keep you from having reality reel you in. How the mortgage payment can evade you when you're there. How you're wrinkles and extra weight can disappear. How you can, just for a short time, pretend to be someone different. Someone with the chance to win big...even if you don't gamble.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Meet Miss Wishy Washy. Hopefully, She'll Find the Green Grass in Vegas

One of my biggest pet peeves, well besides when Paul Bunyan refuses to pull back over to the 'traveling' lane after he's passed someone in the 'passing' lane, is when people come flying onto the highway and refuse to YIELD. They expect you to slow down or pull into the passing lane (which would be common courtesy) but sometimes you CAN'T. I once had someone flip me the bird because I didn't/couldn't do either and I was all, like, YOU HAVE THE F-ING YIELD douche. YOU are supposed to wait your turn to enter the highway. SLOW DOWN. douche.

Okay, that was fun. It's fun to say douche. Try it. Or not. You might be at work. I understand.

Well, I'm going to VEGAS. On Thursday. To see two old college friends. Teammates.


My life today.
Claire asking in different fonts:
Do you like our house? me: Yes, but I wish we had one more room so if you needed to escape somewhere you could.

Do you like your kitchen? me: Yes, but I wish there was an island that people could hang around when I'm cooking.

Do you like your stove? me: Yes, but I wish I could keep it cleaner.

Do you like your bed? me: Yes, but I wish Paul Bunyan hadn't bought the TemperPedic copy.

Do you like your hair? me: Yes, but I wish I could style it like Alla.

Do you like me? me: Yes, but....

I'm sure she's afraid to ask. I'm Miss Wishy. Always wishing for something better. I've been that way for awhile now. Never content with what I have. It's a tough state of being. I'm sick of seeing the greener grass. And trying to reach my long snout through the f-ing fence.

My life then.

I was somebody.

I mean, not that I'm not someone now. But people used to watch. And interview me. And pay attention. And the grass was never ever greener...over there. I mean, we're talking Iowa folks.

Because I was so green. We all were.

And there was meaning and purpose. In his life, too. Which seemed a miracle in and of itself.

Not that there isn't meaning and purpose now, in my life. But it was clearer then.

And simpler. **

Debbie and I spent four years together. I think we became instant best friends when, at the first preseason practice, we realized we ran at the same pace. It just happened to be slower than everyone else. But we finished together.

We triumphed together.

And failed together.

And with Kristi, we graduated together.

It'll be good to travel down that lane. Although I'm sure the dark corners will come back to haunt me. The places that I almost veered off and slammed into a tree. Miss Wishy is going to revisit Miss Washy and I can only hope that Miss Washy yields nicely into the oncoming speeding traffic because I'm not sure I'm going to pull over for the bitch.

**Miss Nancy, we will talk about you, and all the life you had bottled in that Irish, freckled, red-headed body of yours. We will talk about how you died. How you ran that red light. How you left two babies and an amazing husband. We will talk about Micky's and the places you used to love and how we had so much fun in Michigan at your folk's place. We will remember Colorado and your smile. Definitely your smile. And maybe we'll talk about your third nipple too. I hope that's okay.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Soundbite

We don't see much of Hunter. Yes, we have a cat. I'm not much of a cat person. But I'm more of a dead mouse kind of person, so thus...we have a cat. We had two. One didn't survive the predatory labyrinth in our woods.

He sleeps on the top bunk with Timmy. He plays outside all day. He comes and goes as he pleases. Sometimes he looks for love. And then he drools. So we swoosh him away.

Lately, I've been hearing him make these guttural noises in the middle of the night or early in the morning. One time I forgot he was a male and I thought he was in heat. On another night I thought there was another cat in the house. The idea wasn't too far fetched considering we had a skunk visit us a couple of weeks ago. On one particularly early morning, I thought maybe he was growling at his reflection in the window. I couldn't figure out what was provoking him until I saw our neighbor's cat Web come around the other day. He's also a male cat. And then I put two and two together. The ghastly noises coming from Hunter are a threatening war cry to defend his turf. We saw Web again last night, through the window. And Claire and I were the lucky audience members, recipients of his free concert:

Claire couldn't control her giggles in the background. We're not so sure Hunter would win a cat fight if he got into one. However, he sure does sound tough. And I guess that's half the battle.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I don't buy makeup. I don't buy expensive face creams. I don't buy perfume. I don't buy special shampoos or conditioners. I use a bar of shampoo soap to clean my hair. I don't use product in it. I don't even blow it dry. I don't wax my eyebrows or my bush. I don't have my nails done. I like facials, but I don't have facials. I don't like massages, so I don't have massages. I don't spend a lot of money on me.

But I get my hair cut exactly, every, to the day, 10 weeks.

So when last Tuesday I woke up feeling like I looked just like this girl. Same hair and everything. I knew I needed a change. Because that was, like, 20 years ago.

I want to introduce you to my savior. Alla. Alla is from Russia. She zpeaks like diz. I love her axzent. She can tell a very funny story.

Hello Alla! I was introduced to Alla when the good Dr. in the Wombats found her. And then she said to me, you must go. And I went. And Alla was all, "ve must do dis to your hair," and I was like, "uhm, sure." And then there was love. Because she made me feel like a new woman. The Dr. told me that would happen.

And Alla is still making me feel like a new woman. Every 10 weeks. I show up all disheveled and frizzy. From washing my hair before going to bed. I apologize to her every time. And she says, "Oh, paleeze."

Alla knows her stuff. She is dedicated to her clients like a hairdresser should be. When Alla and her team go to conferences all over the country and sometimes into Canada, she always tries to bring me (ME!) back a new haircut. Like, in her bag, just for me. Like if someone could name it the Hussy Cut, they would. She did that a few months ago when she went to Chicago. And so I left feeling her salon so important. Like she went to Chicago just to learn how to make ME more beautiful. Because I don't know how to do it.

Alla also knows how to read her customers' moods. She knows when I just need to sit in peace and quiet and not have chat, or when it's okay to have chat.

She often sits on a stool to do my hair. And I love how she crinkles up her nose when she is deep in concentration. It really makes me feel confident that she takes pride in her work.

And I love love love what she does to my hair.

I even let her put a little make-up on me after. You know, to make her feel like she is completing the package.

She is so very polite. I can only imagine how much she wants to get at my eyebrows.

I hope your hairdresser makes you feel like a new woman or man after you walk out. At least until you have to wash it and style it yourself. I had a few hours. At least.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hockey Women Lose Big!

Some old wenches eating before losing; however, consistently having fun.

*this photo was taken with some crazyass new Droid camera phone. mmhmm. not mine.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Please, Just Glow

Setting: My kitchen. Obvious clutter. Dishes.

PB: So, do you think it's something we've done?

Me: I don't know. What do you think? Have we done something wrong?

PB: I'm not sure. Where can we do better?

Me: I don't know. I mean, we're both present. It's not like we're not around, available.

PB: Do you really think that matters?

Me: Yes! I think that matters.

PB: Okay. Okay.


Me: So what do we do?

PB: I don't know. What can we do?

Me: I don't know. What do you think?

PB: I don't know. What do you think?

This is the first of its kind in our house. It was the first conversation Paul Bunyan and I have had about one of our children because she/he did something morally wrong. This time may have been about copying a friend's work at school, but soon we'll be playing the replay button when she steals for the first time, lies to us, smokes pot, gets drunk, has sex before she's married, stays out past her curfew, and generally does everything a perfectly good and morally directed young girl does.

There are no answers. There are books with answers. I've read one. It worked for awhile. But then they change. Those kids, they grow. Their feet grow, legs, teeth, bones, brains. It's hard to keep up.

Even after all this growing my daughter is still good and moral even though she did something wrong, even though she knew what she was doing was wrong. Even though this has broken my heart.

This parenting thing...I tell's like going on a date with someone who can't make a decision and you get all pissed that you're making all the decisions because you know that when your date is unhappy you get blamed. It's confusing. You want to make the right decision for the both of you and then you come to find out that he doesn't like Thai food, that he is, in fact, allergic to Thai food and then you're all, like, why didn't you say something? And he's all, like, I didn't want to make you mad? Wha? Communication is key, but when your child doesn't talk to you you're always trying your very best to guess what is happening. And guessing doesn't always work.

I bought this mirror for Claire's room even before she was born. At the top it says, "Do the right thing every dog-gone day and night of your life." I wanted it to be her compass. I pictured myself leaning over her tiny body to whisper this in her ear as she was drifting off to sleep so that she would wake the sweetest, kindest, most selfless girl I could ever raise. Without a religious cornerstone, Paul Bunyan and I have known that we are the ones responsible for the moral lessons in our home. So, when Claire does something so "wrong" we question what it is we are teaching our children and where we've strayed from the "do the right thing every dog-gone day and night of your life" dogma.

So what do we do? What do we do? Hmm. I mean we MUST take this parenting thing seriously. It is the the most important job we'll have. The the toughest job we'll ever have. And it never ends. And it always changes. And it's always challenging. And it's sometimes rewarding. And consistently hard. They leave you speechless. Without answers. Especially when they don't tell you beforehand that they don't like Thai.

What do we do? We hug. We are here. We hear. We hope.

We hope: