Thursday, April 30, 2009

The trip thing of sara

Elu all the bloggers that read my mums blog Hehe. Its sara for my second time stealing her blog for a day. This time Im actually writing it and not just telling her what to write, so youll see the difference because the ammount of emoticons I use and the crappy spelling that I dont check ;D I hope I dont bore you with my "verbal diahreea" as my brother calls it XD

Sooooo today started with us sitting in the comfort inn in kennewick and we wanted to leave that area ASAP, well mom and sean did. I wanted to sit and rot my brain watching tv because I felt All we did was drive for the past few days. We decided to go eat and I made waffles, they have these nifty machines that make them perfect, ro are supposed to haha, but I liked the crispyness It was like funnel cake :O So then I lazilly put my bags togethor and around 12noon we left the hotel and got out of the horrid place [the hotel was fine...the city sucked in my mind XP]

After that we sang weird all songs like albequerky and such at the top of our lungs as we drove in the middle of freaking no where land. It was interesting...I didnt see any tumble weed tumbling though D:< I was mad...I saw alot stuck on plants and fences thou.

After that advernture in no wheres ville we stopped in ritzville for some food. What a small town 0-o Ive rarley been in such a small place the only fast food was The evil McDonalds, a subway attached to a gas station, a dennys like thing that scared me, and a little hole in the wall burger joint which we chose to eat at. It was cute :3 I hated the country music in the background thou, But it was fun getting weird looks from small town people as they saw my hair/platform shoes/and cat ears. Oh and these guys in line saw my moms awesome playboy talent scout shirt and needed a picture HAHA I thought It was fun, my brother thought they were creepers or something. But cmon a pretty city girl with long hair and a playboy talent scout shirt, what do you expect them to do XP

After that we headed to spokane [I dont understand why in english we add extra E's and crap at the end of words, it makes me confused and angry...I cant wait to finish learning japanese so I never have to think in english again] But back to the story thing, On the way sean and mom sang songs and I took a nap after playing solitare on my ipod and listening to basshunter *dances* Then we got to the fancy shmancy hotel and I was half usual. It was cool I have really never been in hotels in the first place so Seeing one like this after two other ones I thought were nice made me go "Ho crapola!" to the tile and kindless and stuff.

We unpacked for the 3rd time? it is becoming a routine I think. Im glad we are using the carts now...the first time we didnt and It was a pain in the arse. After that we were lazy and watched random tv. Then mum left and sean and I played zombie shooter games and tried not to scream profanities at the tv because there are probably children around our room somewhere XD Umm and yeah then these people above us were being lame and making lost of noise and giving sean and I a I called the front desk and they were freakishly nice, and fixed it. Oh and we have a mini mart thing in the hotel it rox, I think Ive eaten mroe crap this week than any other...guess I need to walk ezzy a few times when I get home to get back into sara happy shape ;D

Then mum got home, and sean and I were laying here watching south park or something. And I got pop tarts from her fried! wewt, best gift ever. Hehe :B And umm then we said goodnight to dad...and were lazy and watched the daily showw...and umm yeah haha now im laying in bed at midnight and a half oclock while sean and mum sleep. I really want to colour more on my photoshop like program GimP but I need me some sleepies or ill miss the free brakefast OH NOES!

So yeah I hope I can write more sometime :D I will hopefully be making my own blog ASAP but I have so much to do with needing to study for my GED and sleeping, and working on my art, and posting my art on DA[] And such, but i will get to it ;D Also thanks for the fun comments on my last blog, Its great to hear from you awesome people. :3 Also after I upload the pictures Of the trip I might change the picture I posted, I just chose a recent one of me from before we left[its our park im at] I miss my park and my ezmond who is smelllly and my loverly rats のーち[nocchi] and ぴぬち[pinuchi] So im sad to leave the awesome places soon ish but excited to see my pets and my doodie [my dad hehe] and have my bed!

So goodnight to you all, or how I say that in my more favorite language おやすみなさい! 

Hope to hear from you and stuff :D

~Sara / さら

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Guest Blogger: Sean

Day 2: Hood River to The Dalles, Oregon, back to Hood River, back to The Dalles again, to Maryhill Museum and Stonehenge replica/war memorial in Goldendale, Washington, arriving in Kennewick, Washington just in time for - um - panhandlers of the Salvation Army variety. Here's Sean who is 14 going on about 35:

We started our day with a continental breakfast at a Comfort Inn. We ended up sneaking food out for my sister who wasn't hungry yet. The woman making the food kept giving us evil looks like we were up to something. I just finished eating and noticed mom had disappeared to keep from being seen with the donuts that were supposedly unable to be removed from the room. If they had caught us, I bet we would have had to clean up after everybody. In the end, after all that struggle, she didn't even eat the food.

Next up, we had to go to Radio Shack in The Dalles because we had a dead battery on the camera and no charger. On the way, we saw signs for "Memaloose State Park" and mom said, "there's a mema on the loose". A lot. At Radio Shack, it ended up that the people didn't even have the right charger. There was this crazy dude standing by us in line who was ranting on about how swine flu stays on a hundred dollar bill for like 72 hours as he flashed a bill in my moms face. Mom started to back up. I kept thinking "this dude is a raving lunatic" and he somehow reminded me of someone I know.

We headed back to the hotel and packed up and rushed out the door about one minute before we would be late. Downtown Hood River has some fun stores and we were hunting for our favorite marionberry popcorn. We found it along with a bunch of other cool stuff.

Next we went to the Maryhill Museum with was pretty cool but I don't remember anything that was there. After that we went to stonehenge which was literally a bunch of stones standing up.

After that we took a drive for a while to the city which I now dub "Hillbilly Town" and we got checked in and did all the boring stuff and then went on a search for food. After driving in circles and mom getting lost a couple times because everything looked the same, we actually found civilization which included Salvation Army people with weird costumes on the street corner and the lady had a mustache.

It was pretty fun when we were driving on the freeway earlier in the day and mom had to drive on the bumpy parts. They do something to the road so people wake up when they drive onto it before they drive off the road. Mom had to move out of the way of some construction guys and hit the bumpy bits and it was loud and funny. So we did it again. Twice.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Guest blogger: Sara

Hi, everyone. Sara, my 16 year old, is guest blogger (while she eats her ice cream) and sharing about our trip. Sean will take a stab at it tomorrow. Remember, they're teenagers. You've been warned.

Night 1: Hood River, Oregon
"Is there a river here?" Yes, honey, that would be the Columbia River. The big body of water we followed here? "Who named it? There's no river named Hood here" Yes, darling, they named it after Mount Hood, to the south, and the Columbia River, to the north. Use your imagination. Are your cat ears on too tight?

I took a swim and that was nice. But this lady took a swim with us and I thought one of her boils fell off but it was my wart band-aid.

The guys at the mini mart were nice.

I like Frasier's dad in this movie.

I learn that Haagen Dazs tastes better in the middle of the night when you're in a strange place.

Carpets in hotels have strange patterns that make me dizzy.

The towels smell like smoke.

Car rides aren't as long as you'd think they'd be especially when you sing along to funny songs with my cool seatmates. *sean does a little dance*

I went dancing down the hall in flip-flops with the same two other insane monkeys (mom and Sean)

Sean says, "She has verbal diarrhea but we love her anyway."

Tomorrow we will make stick things to poke each other with at Stonehenge (Sean interjects, "why do you want to make a shiv out of wood?" and Sara replies, "Because I'll then be a primitive person in platform shoes with a shiv. Hey - who named it shiv? Where does that come from? What's the plural of shiv - shav?")

As you can see, a interesting week is ahead. Tomorrow we may actually learn something. The photo, by the way, is of Rabies, our pet monkey. He plan to travel the world. Thanks for visiting.

And Now a Word from Our Sponsor

Amazing things are afoot. As life settles down around me, I have more time to think strategically (at the 6000 foot level){OK, this is so catchphrasy I had to throw it in!}

Now, what do I want to do when I grow up? You may be shocked and amazed at the list of previous and current positions that have financed everything from a speedy divorce to tickets to see Smash Mouth. Ready?

Can I take your order?
Taco Bell

All 3 of these were in high school. I started at Taco Bell as the person who - I kid you not - sliced the olives. You do NOT want to know that their so called "meat" was made out of. Once, we ran out of the ground whatever-it-was and I ran to Fred Meyer to buy 20 pounds of high quality beef. We had a line out the door in minutes - it actually tasted like food!

Next came Arbys. It was actually a decent gig for a 17 year old - I had a rock star of a manager, Rick, that I adored. OK, major crush. He was a big teddy bear of a guy and the first male person in a position of control over me that made me feel like I was a decent human being. Joke of the job? "Gimme a hot beef injection!" We had to inject the roast beef as it slow cooked with beef juice to keep it from drying out. The comedy would continue when the horsey sauce would come into play. Use your imagination.

As a Senior, with only 1 real class and 5 fake ones (art glass, 2 choirs, drama and a teachers aid) I decided to forgo my last term of senior year and strike out into the world to see what it held. Um. Yeah. No. I had to work full time to support my family because dad hadn't worked since 4th grade and ends were not meeting. So, I took my last class in night school (and literally made my senior History teacher cry - he'd been waiting for 4 years to have me in his class!) and took a job as an assistant manager at a brand new McDonald's that was just opening, right on the bus line. It wasn't bad - I learned how to deal with difficult people, how to use french fry grease that was an inch thick on my shoes to skate through the bun warming area, how to make killer buttermilk biscuits. McDonald's buttermilk biscuits rock!

Aah, those were the easy days. Then I took a desk job. Yawn.

How can I direct your call?
Switchboard Operator at a gigantic lumber company. The spotted owl jokes were terrible. I went on my first non-high school boy date (and he still emails me - isn't that cute?) and got my ass grabbed on a regular basis by the "good old boys". People smoked at their desks, I had to walk frequently through the room, being stared at by 20+ 40 year old men and I was required to wear a skirt and heels. Aah, the 80s.

Printing company receptionist
Advertising agency receptionist
Advertising production manager
Advertising media assistant

The next few years are a bit of a blur - work in a small town as a veterinary technician, an entry level position at a bank to try to get into marketing, and then Sara was born followed 18 months later by Sean.

And I thought I'd bounced around a lot before then.

When Sean was one, I worked as a freelance graphic designer, print production manager, print broker, proofreader (that one was fun! I got to point out everyones mistakes!!) and that financed my kids early years in preschool and the unbelievable amount of money you have to spend on shoes. Really. In the thousands of dollars. Sometimes they'd outgrow the pair I just bought before we even got home! I worked for more than a dozen companies in a span of about 4 years. Freelancing got old when people started thinking that paying my bill was optional.

I did babysitting for a while (there's a reason I'm known as the pied piper in my family - kids flock to me) and a stint as a clerk at a local grocery store. Then, ready to get back to the regular grind, I started 3 jobs at one. Pier 1 (where I lost 25 pouns and gained unbelievable muscles in about 5 weeks time. I kid you not. It's the best workout you could imagine!), as the office manager for Mothers Against Drunk Driving in my county and as a Customer Service Rep for a printing company.

Those were the days - up at 2am, hike to the train, off to unload the truck at Pier 1, then to the print shop where I worked 7-4, followed by as many as 5-6 hours at MADD or at home working on a project for them. With 2 little kids and a household to run. Wow, where the hell was my cape?

I left Pier 1 once I'd lost all the weight I wanted (ok, the schedule just got to be too much and my Secret Santa gift had been lame) but I worked those other 2 jobs for over 2 more years. Another print shop, followed by a bank as a liaison between their advertising agency and their internal staff. I earned the snarky nickname of "playground monitor" and it stuck. I do tend to make people play well together.

The last position that was full time was at a software company as marketing manger. God, I hated that job. Was not sorry to see it go. I was lucky and found a part time gig that helps buy food, am still getting a wee bit of unemployment every week (it should be called underemployment) and I seem to be able to make ends meet for the most part.

But I'm itching to do something else. Something different. To finally look at work as not a way to put food on the table but as a thing to do that challenges me and satisfies my need to be around people, to do good things and to make stuff happen. All using correct grammar, of course.

So, as the kids and I leave later today for an adventure in the form of a road trip, I have a couple goals. I will have time to think about what I rally want to do when I grow up, I'll be able to talk to them about work and what it means to work, and I can be reminded that their favorite times in our lives were when I was busy and overloaded and constantly on the run - but happy.

Today starts the journey to find happy. I wonder what color it will be?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

So you live... where?

I like to tell people I live in Portland, but I really live in a little neighborhood just across the river from downtown. Portland is an interesting city. It has suburbs in all directions and arguments abound over where Portland ends and the neighborhoods within it begin. There is a Chinatown, a strong African-American community, neighborhoods that are environmentally friendly and others that are all about driving the biggest SUV. Tattoos, hair colors and modes of transportation are all over the place. Diversity is defined here.

I live in Sellwood. We have a cool, old bridge that has failed every major safety and engineering test in the last year. They will be buiding a new one (and disrupting some of the most beautiful and pristine wetlands in the Pacific Northwest) and I'm hoping it doesn't happen for a couple years. I'll take my chances on the Sellwood Bridge. If it falls into the river with me on it, think of the story my grandkids will hear... "And your grandma plunged into the freezing Willamette River in her pretty little blue Jaguar one sunny August day..."

To get anywhere south, I have to cross this one. To see my best friend Traci, to see my best friend Michelle, I just hit the road and head across, sometimes a couple times a day. I don't think I could bike it, it would take too long to get across and the big trucks that pass would make me nutty. That and the concrete crashing into the river on a regular basis.

I am so lucky, I get to live in a vibrant city full of great restaurants, cultural diversity, sports teams and outdoor activities. I am a short walk from the wetlands, mere steps from one of the best parks in the city and able to walk out my front door on any given day and watch miniature boat races, people learning to fly fish and families frolicking in my gigantic front yard. All while listening to the sounds of the train in the background as I sip my tea in a shady spot.

I live in Sellwood. Lucky girl. Can life get any more grand than that?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Are we there yet?

The kids are home schooled (I keep saying "for now"). We start late in the morning when everyone has slept enough and done chores. Usually they don't need me to do more than explain a thing or two. And it's fun to learn stuff all over again. I love local history - and especially ghost stories - so I get a big kick out of teaching about Portland and Oregon.

Next week, I'm dragging them all over the place on a field trip that should be a wonderful adventure. I hope. We'll travel to a number of small towns in Oregon and Washington where history is alive and well.

Hood River: The Columbia River Gorge is right outside our city limits. My parents live so close to it (in the house where I grew up) that they get terrible winds when storms are in the gorge. The closest town of size to us up the gorge is Hood River. It's a huge draw to windsurfers and there are times you can see nothing but their sails on the Columbia River. It is full of apple orchards, outstanding restaurants and unique shops. It also is the spot where their favorite great grandmother that they never actually met is buried. Grandma Trudy left a legacy and we will be visiting her memorial and cleaning up (we're bringing our own shears and marble polish, thanks). Oh, and learning about their dad's family in a way they never imagined.

Goldendale & George: We'll cross to the Washington side. All of the crossings have a story. In Cascade Locks, back toward Portland, the old stone bridge that used to be crossed by foot is has a unique Indian legend attached to it. They search for each other at night. We'll more likely cross at Hood River and begin the long drive to Goldendale, which is aptly named. Very dry and sparse, with few of the trees to which I am accustomed, the geography includes Indian rock paintings and some amazing artifacts. We will visit the Maryhill Museum and mock Stonehenge. At Maryhill, an art museum, there are some treasures that I remember from my childhood. Models of dolls from the 1930s with all the fashions of the time. They are semi-creepy but unbelievable detailed. There is a Rodin. The stonehenge memorial is a place of wonder - overlooking the vast gorge cliffs, you can sit on a stone slab and imagine what the ancient people in the gorge were like, at this site of celebrations for the Native Americans that lived here. It was the nation's first memorial to world war one.

Day three will be spent in Spokane. I'm most excited about this leg of our journey. Besides seeing friends, we will take a trek to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho (the first time the kids will have been in that state) and check out the sites. There's a theme park and water park. We get to ride a tram over rapids. There are museums and a cultural center that talks about the lake and its history. The kids have talked me into a nicer hotel for our stay in Spokane so it may be tough to get them to leave. There's an indoor pool. And wifi. Oh, and a snack bar. I'll be off exploring and they'll be surfing the net from the comfort of their queen sized beds. Kids these days...

Seattle will be our next stop. With 7 museums, and family with which to stay, we'll spend as many as two nights and 3 days wandering this overcrowded, poorly designed and beautiful place. The kids will ride a ferry. We'll be close enough to Canada that a day trip might get us there. And I'll get a break from all the driving - to do more driving. But in the HOV lane, thank goodness. Seattle traffic is crazy! They'll see fish being thrown around like - um - fish at the Pike Street Market.

I wish we had a month. There are so many things I want them to see and experience that I did at this age (my first major road trip was Washington State and Canada and I loved it - even though we were all squished into our green Buick station wagon with no seat belt. "Mom, he's touching me!!!" rang out constantly. My parents must have been saints to not throw things at us. I'll have to bring Rabies, the monkey, who first came to us on a road trip. He may be useful. I have good aim.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It's early, or is it late?

Sleep was hiding from me last night. I got a lot of writing in. Sent an email or two to very important people that are too far away. I started writing this at 5am pacific time. Does that make it really early - or really late?

I just read my horoscope for today, courtesy of It even has a cool headline.

It doesn't matter if you're trying to keep your mouth or your body moving. This is definitely the best time to work at either project. Your mercurial skills -- and your restlessness -- will be running on high. Your quest: force yourself to breathe in between witty phrases and deft movements.

Well then, maybe it started last night. I have stuff on my mind. Big, important stuff. What will I plant to keep all that newly moved dirt in place? What am I going to do in a car with two teenagers for 5 days and 4 nights, traipsing all over the state of Washington (on the worlds longest field trip)? Why am I so easily distracted these days?

And I feel restless. I actually started training in a martial art so I'd learn to slow down. Take deep breaths. Just BE. And it works sometimes.

Not last night. The possibilities in the world are endless and I am having a difficult time wrapping my brain around one of them. So off I go to do a little tai chi. Alone, mindful and centered - that's how I plan to spend my morning.

If that doesn't work, there's always pop tarts and coffee.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Is 3 really the magic number?

I don't quite understand what all the fuss is about. I bought the pop tarts. I own the pop tarts. It should be asked of me if it's ok to eat them if someone would like one.

They're strawberry.

One of my daughters many - um - UNIQUE - traits is that she demands everyone ask her about everything. Is that your half finished bottle of water in the fridge, Sara? Is that chocolate candy the dog is eyeing, perchance, something you could put away? Do you need the: restroom, tv remote, FAVORITE CHAIR? May I touch your shoes before I trip over them with all these grocery bags?

And yet she doesn't ask me if she can open up not one but 2 packages of pop tarts. Because there are two to a package, and she has to have 3.

Sara jokes that she's OCD. But the strangest thing happens when I give her a handful of Peanut M&Ms, a baggie of crisps (potato chips to most of you) or her daily does of pills. There has to be an odd number, most preferably 3 or 5.

For the longest time, I thought it was a joke. I mean, come on. Who is going to refuse their favorite kind of candy because I don't have the right number to give her?

It was comical until the day I found her in tears over a plate of Pizza Bites (which, most of you already know, isn't actually food, as far as I can tell). I had made a bunch for the kids, at their request, and her brother had taken some and left her with the wrong number. She couldn't eat any. I wasn't allowed to take any and, when I tried to take some to make her plate be filled with an uneven 5, she sat on the floor and sobbed.

You see, for her, 3 really is the magic number. When she was little and we lived where there were button operated crosswalks, she'd have to tap the button 3 or 5 times. If someone else pushed it again, out of silliness or fun, she'd get mad and have to start all over again - after waiting for the light to cycle through.

Now, I admit this gets on my last nerve at times and I have a tendency to tease her and give her 6 of something. But thanks to some really good medication and a fantastic psychiatrist that works diligently with her, she survives pretty well in the world. Especially my world, where she rarely gets a break. Letting her anxiety win is not an option - for her, but especially for me.

For her, 3 really is the magic number. Oh, yes it is. Unless its 5.

Shameless plug:
In case some of you don't know this - and are interested - I am on the Board of Directors of Oregon NAMI, an organization the supports and advocates for people with mental illness - like Sara. Read more of our story here.

She did, however, accept two new baby rats when her pet died recently. Hmmmm. Selective numberism. I'm so not surprised.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Your wish is my command

I really wanted to be able to do some bigtime work in the yard but am on a teensy budget at the moment. I sat outside yesterday, watching the neighbor haul load after load of dirt in his wheelbarrow, moving it to the back yard. I wanted to help but had work to do. I wished I had enough money to have some dirt brought in so I can enjoy my yard even more, maybe some extra for a little gravel to build a patio outside my back door.

Well, this morning there were "Free" signs on the rest of the dirt and gravel piles. I spent the last hour hauling as much as my little arms can carry. I left a thank you note stating I will finish hauling dirt and clean up after the piles as soon as I get my second wind. My wish was the neighbors pleasure - they would like to be able to park in their driveway again. I wanted dirt.

It's a magnificent wonder to me that things work out when I have faith. It's being restored in so many ways right now, and I have a feeling this is just the beginning. Good things are afoot. And I have my hopes up. Way up.

Anybody need a workout? There's dirt to move!

What makes a friend?

Lately, I've given a lot of thought to who my friends are. They have supported me, helped me move, bought groceries for us as I struggled these past few months. You name it, I've had it, and all because of you. Every time things seemed bleak, someone would step in and be my hero. I've been lucky in my life to have a large group of friends. And boy are they all different. Putting them in a room together would be most interesting - I should try that sometime. Hmmm, maybe not. What would the butcher and the vegetarian talk about? That would be one interesting seating chart...

I don't choose my friends because of our commonalities. I choose them for their unwavering love, the beauty we bring to each other's life, and the communal desire to be good people when we can, as imperfect as we are. They are actresses, athletes, marketing superstars, moms, warehouse managers and call center gurus. Some have masters degrees, others went to the school of hard knocks.

Recently it was time to tell a long time friend goodbye. I tried to do it in the nicest way possible, but her issues were just killing me. I was having to stand by and watch her make bad decisions and justify them by saying "she was in love".

But love, to me, doesn't come with this kind of price tag. Our interactions were becoming more and more painful. I was avoiding her, not calling back when she left messages. I even started avoiding places she'd frequent, just in case I'd run into her. I couldn't bear another "he didn't call me" tear-filled conversation.

After telling her I care deeply about her and wish her a good life, I told her I'm sorry but I just can't see continuing this friendship. She needs to find people that want to listen to her and are comfortable supporting her in the life she's chosen and that I can no longer do that. And it broke my heart a little to have to say goodbye.

So, as I sit here this Monday morning, I want to thank all of you who read and are my friends for letting me be a little part of your life. Although we may not believe in the same politics, dress the same way, live in the same city or share an income bracket, you're what gets me through the tough days. And make me smile on the good ones.

Today is a VERY good one. Wanna share?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Yes, that's really me

After being a bumble bee for months now, I decided to finally add a profile picture. But wait - which one to use? The old one of me when I was younger, more thin, less lines on the face? Nah - I'd feel like that is kind of dishonest. How about part of my favorite photo, the black & white of me that seems to show joy and silliness - that's a little more fitting, but not quite right.

So, I decided on a picture of me from earlier this year. I was at my desk, writing. Seems rather fitting.

Because, after all, hiding behind a super hero alter ego can only last for so long.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Monkey see, monkey do

Today should be interesting. Last night, these "No parking" signs appeared all along my street. Now, I'm watching what must be a major movie production being set-up and lit at the park out my window. Directly out my window. I have a front row seat.

A little internet research divulged a possible tv show but more likely a Hollywood movie being filmed in Portland at the moment.

I know they're not from around here - they all have umbrellas!

I'll see if I can get pictures of the famous ones (rumored to be a couple A list actors and actresses.... I know you're dying to hear. Keri Russell, Brenden Fraser & Harrison Ford).

The crew is cracking me up, running around like ants at a picnic.

Or it could just be an ad for goose-away.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

An evil laugh

I have a friend with the BEST evil laugh. I never know what to think when I am on the receiving end of it.

Am I in trouble? Am I a geek? (OK, that one is a big yes) Did I say something wrong? Right? Outrageous? Memorable?

It probably works well in all of those forms. But I have had to ask myself recently - why don't I laugh more? I used to laugh all the time. I let the difficulties of life take away one of my greatest joys.

I made a goal on Sunday to laugh a lot this week (sounds pitiful, I know, but I had to do it. Type A - that's me). I found myself giggling when I crawled back into bed after de-skunking the basement room in which my son sleeps. I laugh whenever I get a text message about monkeys (and it's more often than you think). I giggled with my daughter while shopping, laughed uproriously when Traci and I were getting toes done, snickered while my toes were being painted blue. I can't help but smile at the sunshine, the rain, the oops when my auto insurance had accidentally been cancelled in January, at finding out I'm getting a tax refund. The list is endless.

I laugh when the dog barks at his reflection. When I found ants completely covering my bottle of Drambuie in the liquor cabinet (they have expensive taste, those ants. Have you ever seen drunk ants? It's outrageously funny). Smiled when I shipped packages to New York, Miami and Spokane - on tax day - and spent an hour in line.

But I don't think I have an evil laugh. You know, one that makes people turn and stare, question and wonder. I need to work on that.

In the mean time, I have plenty of things to laugh about today. I'm venturing to the U-pull it place to try to find a replacement window and liftgate for the Explorer. I guess the clear plastic covering the back of it just isn't going to cut it long term. Anyone want a field trip? I promise to make you laugh...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

And the giggling continues

Today was spent with a fabulous friend that's known me since I was a kid. We had a blast, caught up, are getting to know each other all over again. I get to be a part of the new phase of her life that began when she was sidelined with a house fire. A devastating one. And then came me. Because of this fire, she had the time and motivation to go on facebook and find me.

Pizza and salad (we both ordered and love the same thing). She drives like I do (and I blame her - I learned to drive watching Traci). Yes, people, there are two of us on the road. I love her big truck (I have major truck envy going today) and I love HER. To pieces. The picture of the Duster is similar to the car she drove when we hung out in high school. It's like the last 24 years just melted away and now we get to pick up the story where we left off.

You're all a part of my story. And I feel like telling secrets. Here goes....Should I whisper?

1. I don't like mushrooms (but I'll eat portabellos if they're marinated and grilled)

2. I'm very ticklish. Very, very ticklish. I was once tickled to the point of crying and the boy who did it was not amused at the result.
3. I'm addicted to text messaging. I never feel lonely as long as my phone is nearby. I get happy when I see I got something from a certain someone.
4. I collect monkeys. The kind with velcro hands that hang on things. My three are named (in the order I received them): Rabies, Asthma and Syphillus. Don't even ask.
5. My happiest lifetime accomplishment is teaching my children to cook. They cook well. My work is done.

It's not really a meme, but I'd love to hear secrets if you want to share.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I walked through the pharmacy last night, giggling hysterically with my daughter. She's been in a funk and needed a little tlc.

We bought silly gifts to send friends that are far away and that we miss. Her best friend from kindergarten is in New York and they facebook constantly. When one is sad, the other drops everything.

I lost track of a lot of friends over time and am very happy to say that the important ones are reappearing at lightning speed.

I wish each and every one of you a day full of fun and giggles and smiles. Now go find someone long lost. And send them chocolate and slinkys and flip flops!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Does love make you beautiful?

"You are the beautiful reflection...."

When I was young, I used to watch people a lot, trying to learn what made people happy. Many times, I'd look at a couple, sitting at a table or walking down the street, and try to come up with their story. I became very good at judging happy versus sad, interested versus bored.

"Of your loves affection..."

I sat in a restaurant Saturday night, watching a couple at the bar. This ability of mine to sense their story is kind of like a party trick. I could immediately tell that one of the couple was ecstatic to be sitting there. She reached out, touching her dining partner, and had the starry eyed look of someone falling in love. The other partner in this little soiree was anything but thrilled. Looked bored, actually, and kind of annoyed. This does not bode well for these two.

"A walking illustration of his adoration..."

Which reminds me of a couple I saw once when I was a teenager. She was very frail, couldn't speak, and looked very helpless. He got her settled in at the table, brought her food, wiped her chin. And ADORED her. Truly, in a way I don't know I had ever seen before that (surely not from my parents) and maybe only rarely since.

"His love makes you beautiful...."

And she was, in the light of his adoration, totally and utterly beautiful. I remember feeling jealous - which I don't do often - and thinking it would be nice to be adored like that. The most amazing thing was that I'd known this couple for a long time but felt, that day, like I was let in on a secret. Even with her failing health, he adored her, loved her, cared for her with a depth that is uncommon.

"So beautiful.... So beautiful..."

Why do we enter relationships? I'm sure there are many reasons. To have someone fun to hang out with. To not be alone. To feel loved. To fulfill lust, to avoid responsibility, to become bridezilla.... the list goes on and on.

But, at the end of the day, most of the things we go looking for are really secondary to the reality of our relationships. We all have needs and desires. We all have baggage we bring (anyone want to go through my suitcases with me?) We all have bad habits, hurt feelings, sadness and grief.

"You ask your looking glass what is it..."

So what made that couple so memorable to me in that moment? He touched her hand, she smiled. As he walked past, he stroked her hair and she leaned in at his touch. It made me so happy and sad at the same time, it hurts. It hurts today, still, to think about it. I can picture him sitting at her side as she sleeps, her confusion growing as the Alzheimer's she suffered ate her memories, ate her relationships, devoured her marriage. I sat with him as she railed at him in fear as her memory of him was completely wiped out. I grieved with him as I sang Ave Maria to her one last time, at her funeral.

"Makes you so exquisite..."

Her name was Audra. She'd been a beauty queen, a cancan girl, was the inspiration for me to learn every torch song ever sung (which I still haven't done, but I'm working on it). She taught me to sing from my soul. She was the epitome of everything I longed to be - beautiful, glamorous, pulled together, strong, demanding. Always in make-up, always dressed "to the nines". She was the first person in my life to tell me I was pretty, at 15. I sang at her house every week for the next 4 years. I couldn't afford to pay so I worked off the lessons with housework, yard work and cooking.

I sang to her when she forgot my name. I would sing her wedding song and she'd hum along even when she didn't remember the words. Harry sat quietly, smiling, as he gave me winks to encourage me when I had a tough line, a bad day, an unusually rough tongue lashing from Audra. He left me red and white peppermints in my jacket pocket. He called me "Little Lady" and loved my pot roast, which I'd cook for them on special occasions. More often than not, as her health deteriorated, I'd wash dishes, cook casseroles, and do their shopping. He once admitted that she was a terrible cook, but that he never once complained, not once. "Her nbiscuits were the most awful thing," he admitted as he ate biscuits and gravy one morning. "You, my love, will make someone a most wonderful wife someday."

"His love makes you beautiful.."

She was angry, once, on my behalf for not getting a prime role in a play at school. I told her that those roles went to the drama teacher's favorites. That it was ok. She replied, "It's not OK. You, my dear, have star quality and he needs to hear it." I didn't get the role, but I did get to hear her call my drama teacher, Mr. Hibbard, a "drama queen". Priceless. She admitted that Harry was her strength, that with Harry at her side, she felt she could take on the world. "He hates my cooking but he loves me anyway."

Harry loved her so much that he died 3 weeks after she did, as is typically the case with people who've spent a lifetime together, falling asleep one night to never see the light of day again. I was 20, in the throes of a disastrous relationship and its untimely demise. He left me a note, telling me he couldn't go on without her and that I should remember what she'd taught me.

But it was his lesson of love I remember most of all. He left me peppermints and a note in a box. It was a request that I sing this song, from Funny Girl, his all time favorite, that I'm sharing with you. I still have the sheet music. And I didn't make it through the second verse that day, to the 17 people that came to say goodbye.

"So beautiful..."

I do remember them. I sing "Hey Big Spender" under my breath and remember her with an umbrella and a killer kick, teaching me how to emote (purr like a kitten, red, and they'll eat it up). I buy peppermints when I'm nervous. They always seem to calm me. Its like bringing Harry back to life.

"So beautiful..."

And I remember her attitude - she was quite a princess, demanding of everyone, sometimes cold and unfeeling about my excuses for being late (even though I was working two jobs to support my parents and brothers) and frequently would cancel appointments with me at the last minute, after I'd walked in the rain to get there, because she wanted to get her nails done.

"And woman loved is woman glorified..."

But she was always and forever beautiful, as I saw her reflected in Harry's eyes. He adored her. And, in being adored, she had a beauty that is more and more rare today. One that is caused by the reflection of the devotion of someone else.

Happy Birthday, Harry. I miss you. And love does make you beautiful.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The curious case of NECCOs as health food

I sit here, digging through the depressing pile of medical bills I paid last year.

It's tax time and I have a heck of a lot of chemotherapy bills, receipts for medical procedures and prescription reimbursements to organize. With over $20 grand paid out in medical bills in 2008, I'm itemizing this year.

But I was doing what I usually do when faced with an overwhelming chore - trying to cut it down to size, literally. I was trimming off all the extra junk on the pharmacy receipts (these things are longer than my arm!!) and then matching the receipts up to my insurance forms.

I started looking all over for the date - and can't, for the life of me, find it on some of these things. I realized I had cut the dates off because they were conveniently at the bottom of the super long register receipt. Oops.

But in looking at the receipts, I discovered something VERY interesting.

NECCO wafers, those sweet candies that taste like chalk or pepto bismol, are acceptable to purchase with food stamps.


Aren't food stamps supposed to buy the most rudimentary, healthy foods for those in need? Cans of corn? Milk? Cheese? Orange juice? Fresh vegetables? Since when are NECCOs a part of that list? So I looked further. Red licorice is food stamp eligible. So is Haagen Dazs ice cream. And every kind of candy purchased by my children.

But guess what? Dinty Moore beef stew is not. Yes, boys and girls, if you're poor in the state of Oregon, you can buy all the NECCO wafers you can swallow, but don't bother buying meat. Campbells soup is not eligible, either - based on my receipts.

As a low income mom myself, I have to wonder what this says to the people in need in my community. And what does it tell my kids?

"Time for dinner, kids. We're having Hershey's!"

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Under the old oak tree

Oaks Park is a phenomenal place. 103 years of continuous operation and including a very cool fun park with rides, I spend many a Sunday skating in the old roller rink.

My daughter and I spent some time with friends there tonight, a bunch of girls giggling at 80s music, singing along with The Safety Dance, laughing about the hair, the clothes, the high school days. Crying about the broken promises, the broken hearts, the hills to climb. Hasppy and content and safe.

And I felt blessed by my girls - near and far.

Thanks girls, near and far, for the love.

Monday, April 6, 2009

It was a dark and stormy night

OK, it really wasn't, but it felt that way. Yesterday was one of those days when all hell broke loose with my allergies (where's the Zyrtec?!?!) thanks to spring in a new environment; no matter how hard I worked in the yard, it felt like my feet were stuck in the mud (and they actually have been - remind me to tell you the story about Beacon Rock and the rising tide some day); and, worse yet, TWO separate people, who have never met each other, asked me the question I dread, hate, lose sleep over.

Why don't you have a job?

Ahem. Excuse me for a moment while I take out my frustrations on a poor, innocent kitchen cabinet. *BANG* There, much better.

You see, I have a job. I don't like it much, don't make much money, am constantly trying to justify my existence to the people in charge and it is NOT fulfilling. But I have a job, have had it for almost a year, can keep it once I get another job and maybe actually get ahead. OK, now I'm just talking fast because I'm pissed.

I have sent out over 200 resumes. I have interviewed for more than 2 dozen positions. I have been in the final three EIGHT TIMES in the past 18 months. Follow-up has always told me that I'm overqualified (what kind of lousy excuse is that? I'll save it for another blog); that the person in charge literally was afraid I'd become their replacement (it's happened before, but come on!!); and that I am too good at what I do but that a degree is required to even get a job with any number of companies.

Why would someone interview me all the way to the finals just to realize that I don't have a degree? Um, it's not like that big vacant spot where "schooling" usually goes wouldn't raise a red flag. Does the lack of a degree somehow make me pond scum? Too lame to join the bowling team at work?

So, I was sleepless, restless and discouraged as I tossed and turned all night. (Cue damsel in distress music) How will I go on? What will I do? WHO WILL SAVE ME????

I will save myself. I've bagged groceries, walked dogs, babysat, cleaned bathrooms, sold furniture, waited tables. I will find something, but I need to be careful. Because, after all, knowing what you want to do when you grow up is crucial. And I don't really have a clue.

My daughter sat with me for a bit and we talked about dreams. She reminded me of something really important that I forget easily. She doesn't care what I do for a living - as long as she gets to see me. I only have to pay the bills (and we live simply so they're not that huge). And if I can come home from work in a good mood, all the better. Because when Mom's happy, everyone is happy.

So, this weeks agenda is simple and should be easy to follow:

Define what you want to do when you grow up. No pressure or anything.

(PS: I love this drawing. It circulated recently as part of a joke. Small child draws picture of mommy and what she does as part of a class assignment. Mommy comes in to explain the next day - there had been a snow storm, and mommy bought the last snowshovel, all the men in the shop offer her money to buy the shovel. Mommy's not a pole dancer, really...)

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I woke up and let the dog out this morning. He's been naughty in the yard, chasing squirrels and the baby raccoon that has joined out menagerie of neighborhood critters. He only goes out on his long lead that's on a tether so he can't annoy the neighbors too much, since he could easily jump the fence.

There were ducks in the back yard (no big deal, I live on a huge park with a huge duck population) and his intimidating "wuuf" scared them off. I thought nothing of it because they'd been behind a big pile of shrubs I've removed and need to recycle and I figured they were enjoying a snack of slugs. They eat a lot of the things I don't want in my garden so I leave them be.

Then, an hour later, I walked out into the yard with Ez (so I didn't have to tether him again) and what should I find? He was sniffing madly around the spot where the ducks had been. And there, in the middle of the lawn, was an egg.

He didn't try to eat it yet, but I rescued it from the ground where he, the raccoons or the neighborhood cats would eat it. And I rushed it to the front yard, closer to the duck population. "Emergency egg removal," if you can use your imagination. I'm such a geek.

It won't hatch, of course, even if the ducks rediscover it because it was abandoned and I touched it. I have to wonder, Joey, how you'd feel about a freshly laid egg on your stoop in the city? Annie, with the loss of your guinea, I want to hatch this little duckling on your behalf. But I'm not equipped to be a duck-mom again. One of these days, I'll have to share the story of the ducklings we gave my mom for Mother's Day one year.

I have a feeling this won't be the first egg discovered near my little nest. And here I've been writing about omelets....

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Yo'ure turning violet, Violet

I love Pop Tarts. And frozen pizza. Cartoons. Making mud pies. And being silly.

I admit that's why I had kids. Not because I wanted to add good, solid citizens to the world, make sure our families carried on after we're gone, or create the next genius, rock star or poet.

Nope - it was so I can buy Fruit Loops without guilty looks at the market.

This worked out well for me when the kids were little. They'd get Cocoa Puffs and to watch bad television all day long. They didn't have to fight me for the remote to make me stop watching soaps so they could watch Batman. But they would have to make me change it from Ren & Stimpy to Bugs Bunny. Unless it was the episode with "Don't whizz on the electric fence" song. Now there's a life lesson.

Now, we all watch Southpark together. It's better than bad, it's good. And we sing in the car to old soundtracks from our favorite Nickelodeon shows - Angry Beavers (OK, you dance to that one); The "Spring Cleaning" song from Rocko's Modern Life (I can get a good 10 minutes chores out of them by starting to sing that one); and especially Family Guy. Stupid seem to be a favorite of ours. We love watching good bad movies - like the new Willy Wonka. Or the old one. My favorite line of that one is my title here. Oh, if only bad little children had to suffer severe consequences of their actions.

So what happens when the kids go off to school, leave the nest and leave me alone to my own devices? Will there be Fruit Loops? Will there be Pop Tarts? Of course. I'll just have to pretend they're for my kids....

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Me me me me me me me....

Well, I was NOT tagged by Riot Kitty and I'm still pouting, but I stole over to MikeDs page and am taking up his request for memes.


1. Post six random funny things about other people.
2. Then tag six other bloggers.
3. Link to the person who tagged you.
4. Be FUNNY.

Here goes.
1. I have a friend who firmly believes that all illnesses - mental and otherwise - can be cured if her friend, who can sense these things, looks at you and tells you what number is missing from "the sequence". You have people chant this missing number, write it and put it under your pillow and you'll be healed or wealthy or whatever you want. I can just picture someone sitting next to me as I sleep.... "Seven, seven, seven..."

2. The mother of a VIP in my life used to shop more than her husband liked. When he said, with a touch of scorn, "Is that a new dress?" she'd say, "Oh, no, this old thing? I've had this forever..." (having purchased it and left it in the closet for a month.) This is the same woman who had more car accidents because of "Acts of God" (You know, "Officer, a person jumped out to save a pupy falling for a 7th floor window and I had to swerve to avoid killing them both. That's how I hit the fire hydrant...")

3. When I was in high school, we had opposite day. One of my male friends wanted to dress up in a dress and be female. He borrowed a pink skirt and jacket from me and wore them, along with a nice pair of pumps, all day. And he never gave them back. I think I saw him dressed in said skirt at a club once, years later...

4. The funniest thing I have EVER heard is the sound of massive cussing coming out of my sweet, 14 year old son's mouth as he plays Dead Rising. "Mom, they're zombies. They piss me off as I fucking blow them away!"

5. My son did a dance for the camera once and I figured he'd never forgive me for saving it - until the day he asked me to post it on the internet. Turn up your volume...

6. To be fair to my son, the girl in the house needs her moment of shame - I mean in the sun. She is funniest when not saying a word.

Slow and Steady

Home stretch time on a big project. I've been trying to stay focused which can be tough with a boy requiring medical intervention, an anxious daughter and a dog needing veterinary care. Oh, and visits from lots of old friends I haven't seen in a coons age (I love that saying!)

So I'll be brief. Really.

I had someone ask me what I did for myself this week (um, I'm a MOM? what do you mean by this "do for yourself" thingy?)

This week, for myself, I:

Spoke with 5 friends on the phone
Wrote a blog a day and commented on many friends wonderful stories
Bought a gift for myself and a close friend to share (can you say pedicure?!?!)
Had a honey lavender steamer at my facorite coffee shop last night (heaven in a cup)
Backed up the kids computers (to avoid the evil, April 1st virus that so far hasn't hit. But will. And I would have been cut off from the world...)
Made plans for a trip north to visit one of my best friends
Met an old high school buddy for coffee - and laughed for an hour straight
Donated my time to a worthy organization
Saw a sunrise
Walked the dog

I could go on but I guess you get the picture. Little stuff done in between the big stuff makes me happy. And I like the slow, steady pace most of my days take on. Much better than the chaos of working 60 hours a week and trying to have a family life on top of that, let alone keeping from losing my mind.

So, today, I'm grateful for the pace, and my friends. Even for my silly daughter who wants her computer back. Go be grateful for something, already!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

As the Omelet Turns

Scarlet gave me this great idea for a post. In Cuba, she tells me, they say "You never know which way the omelet is going to turn" and I love it.

One of my best friends on the planet, RK (who I didn't even know a year ago!!) showed up in my life just when I needed her most. She makes me laugh like nobody else and shares yummy deep fried tofu and tempura and tea. Oh, and the coffee - there's always coffee. Good coffee. She reminds me that there are people to lean on and help is just a phone call or text away. She checked on me when my son was at the orthopedist - she never forgets an important day or an important moment.

So the omelet turned out well on that one.

When I was a little girl, I wanted very few things. To learn to drive ( I thought it looked so cool and complicated!) and a car of my own some day; to have a family, a son and a daughter, that I was going to name Nancy & Steve. OK, I got the 2 kids but not the names. It's funny how knowing someone with a name can change your opinion of said name. Their names both start with the same letter and I am forever cracking myself up with the alliterations I can spin, to their chagrin; to live by a park with ducks and a wading pool.

I have those things. All of them. And they make me happy, just like I thought they would. Thanks, omelet! Nice job!

The places in my life where I struggle become more clear when I think simply.

A good job - yeah, food is important but I downsized when I was let go 18 months ago and here I sit, blogging. Can I really complain?

A fulfilling position that challenges me - but I can be challenged with the volunteer work I do. I want to start a unique program to feed the homeless. Maybe there's something to be said for bagging groceries, washing cars, serving espresso.

Fulfillment in my friendships - I have THE best friends, I need to work on some relationships a little harder, be more available to people and balance all of that with my daughter's very special needs. As a teenager, friendships came easily. You were stuck with a large group of people and you picked the people you didn't hate to hang out with. OK, maybe it hasn't changed so much. But my options have expanded so much and my friendships help define me. If you are reading my blog regularly, you get to call yourself one of those.

Stretching and expanding myself - I get bored easily, would hate to think that fulfillment requires challenges (oh, PLEASE tell me I'm not one of those girls, always looking for trouble, drawn to drama) but also know I'm never going to be satisfied sitting around knitting socks on a sofa of an evening. I vote for a life of balance.

I think life has done a pretty good job of being a good omelet for me. Sometimes there are crunchy bits that don't taste so good. At times there are soft squishy spots that are totally unappealing. But almost every day, it turns out just the way it needed to.