Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Seven Swans-a-Swimming

I was surprised to see that Mama Zen awarded me with a creative blog award. Thank you, kind MZ, for being so thoughtful. I like your list of 7, too - even though I don't like Mike.

So, I have to reveal 7 details about myself. Oh, dear. Seven things? About me? That you don't already know? And MZ did such a nice job with her theme...

Seven Characters I've Played in My Lifetime

1. Lead singer of a punk rock band (I had a pink mowhawk)
2. A slutty "poppy girl" in The Wizard of Oz my sophomore year
3. A slutty "party hostess" in Funny Girl my junior year
4. A slutty.... WAIT A MINUTE. What was my drama teacher trying to tell me?
4. part2: Marketing Executive
5. Monkey wrangler
Let's see, we have: Rabies (currently on his way to Miami - and he has his own soundtrack!!); Sanser; Sari (who arrived today); Smock; Max & Princess; Gangrene; Syph; Asthma; Whizz; Cleft & Phlem. And those are just the ones I can remember at the moment.
6. Mom. I'm OK at this role some days, should be locked in a padded room on other days (like today - and there'd better be good whiskey)
7. Friend. Takes one to know one.

Now, I have to pass it on to someone creative. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings and I wanted to be fair (see above under MOM) so I drew a name out of a hat and landed on... Whitemist. Which is so cool because he is one of the most creative smart people I've ever had the pleasure to get to know online.

But all of you are creative. All of you. Really. I mean that. Do you want a cookie?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Truth is stranger than fiction

Sara has always been an... ummm... interesting child. I adore her, she's a heck of a lot of fun to hang with, but her early years were full of some odd moments, thanks to her anxiety disorder. I understand it now, know when to push back when she'd demanding and basically make her miserable most days. A Mom's work is never done!

However, it's difficult to explain to people what it was like when she was 5 or 6 and her bedtime ritual - which Keith and I had to actively participate in at length - was unlike anything I've experienced, before or since. He was a saint. We won't even talk about me.

Until today. Props in advance to Mr. Thompson for his stunningly spot-on portrayal of life in the Petzold house circa 1998. God, I don't miss those days.

So, those of you with kids, kiss them on the top of the head and thank them for all the good things they bring to your world. I'm kissing Sara tonight and thanking her for blue hair and music and deviantart.com. Sean gets hugged for just about everything else you can imagine. He even does the laundry. I am one very lucky Mom.

Taking things for granted

Sometimes, first thing in the morning, I wake up and make my list of things I'm grateful for and want to keep close during the day.

Things like kids that are healthy, a safe place to live, great friends, feeling loved. All important and all good things to focus on when you have less wonderful things to come in your day. It feels like a protective blanket in which I wrap myself.

These past few weeks, I've been lucky enough to see my friend (and physician) Rebecca a number of times. On one trip, she listened when I told her my vision has been blurry lately - I thought it was just allergies, which are terrible at the moment. She put drops in my eyes and retrieved an opthomology scope.

It seems I got my grandfather's eyes.

Grampa Don lost his vision when he was in his late 60s. Macular degeneration is a genetic disorder where your vision slowly goes away, beginning with a little bit at the center of your line of sight and expanding out until you feel like there's a big, fuzzy black spot that blocks things when you look straight at them. At least that's how he described it to me. I think it has something to do with nerve damage. Grampa was legally blind when he died at 88. I have been a very good girl and take special vitamins every day to combat this (go licopene!) so I wouldn't wake up one day in my 60s and realize my sight was going.

Nope, it had to happen in my 40s.

I am a visual person. I work in advertising where everything I do is reliant on my sight. I have years of experience running a printing shop where I could catch the most subtle color shift and tell pressmen how to fix it to get a color built perfectly in CMYK. I spend my days on blogger, facebook and emailing the people I love that aren't right next to me.

What happens if one day I wake up and I can't see?

I'm lucky. The opthamologist says the degeneration is less than 1-1/2 percent (minimal) and I will most likely be able to slow the process doing eye exercises, enlarging the type on my computer and wearing a new prescription. I'm lucky. But now, I see this spot of fuzzy gray that clouds the center of my vision in my left eye. I will always see it. They can't fix it nor can they promise it won't get worse as I get older.

My blog friend whitemist has been a source of comfort and inspiration on many a difficult day. He lost his sight and has hope that it will come back. I am not, by any stretch, looking at something as devastating as he has gone through. But I suddenly understand what it means to take something like my ability to see mountains, rose gardens and waterfalls for granted.

I don't ever want to take anything for granted again. I don't want to wait for my life to start. I get to be happy and see a beautiful world today and I want to make the most of it while I'm here, while I can. And I promise to remember to take my vitamins...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Beginning, Middle, End

Everything has a beginning. Sometimes we can't remember how something started, when it did or even why it did. Middles are just the stuff - the living, the shopping for groceries, the drive to and from work, if you have work. Sooner or later, everything has to end, too. Except hope. A lot of people lose hope or think it's a waste of time. Some people say they don't believe in anything (um, how about your shoes? Do you believe in those?) Being hopeful can be a struggle.

I think, someplace along this windy path of my life, I lost hope in some stuff. Hope for happiness, hope for satisfaction, for goodness. The only hope I had was the bad kind - hope not to fail, hope not to fall, hope not to be miserable - and I ended up being all those things. So now I think about the things I want, not the things I don't.

But I still have my moments.

This has been a most difficult week - even with many good things happening. I just wish someone else could be the grown-up and I could be the little kid again - the one I never really got to be, what with raising a family from the time I was 7 and with a dad with a large mental health issue. Oh, and food to be put on the table. Then my own family with its own issues, all of which weigh heavily on my mind.

So, at 41 years of age, it's time to live for hope again. I hope I get a good job in the next couple weeks. I hope I can quit the terrible part time job I've done for a year and that gives me nightmares. I hope the big things on my list can finally be checked off as "complete" and the need for hope moves into "I hope our vacation is fun", "I hope Sean picks a school with a good basketball team and a cool mascot" and most importantly, "I hope I fall asleep at night knowing life is good, again".

That's something to hope for.

Friday, June 26, 2009


As the road
dips and bends,
He reaches out
to take my hand
which looks so perfect
within his.
He smiles.

For hidden
beneath the touch
is the feeling
and the sense
that perfect
belongs to us.

How to capture bliss?
In a moment such as this
it’s at stoplights
with a kiss
and smile.

Friday Flash 55. For G-Man and his crew and especially for my biggest fan.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Choose an identity

Checking out my normal blog list this morning, I ran across a fun review of a video game on Mama Zen's and so, loyally, started to the comments section so I could leave one. I love her blog, by the way, and wish I'd had a cool name for the kids instead of "hey you" and "cut that out". Baby Puppy is excellent.

It asked me to "choose an identity."

Why have I not noticed that before? I mean, I could be anyone, I don't have to be me. Choose an identity. Like Tabitha from Bewitched. Or Megan Fox. Or Johnny Depp's girlfriend in A Nightmare on Elm Street.

So I sat here, pondering who I really am when I'm Pheromone Girl (still me, just poke me in the arm and I'll yelp.) And who else I would want to be.

Well, I had a weird experience with a job offer (remember all the angst about life changes? That was a big part of it...) and I want to be able to tell the story but really can't because of the possibility that my very public blog would wind up in his very judicial hands and - ouch. Lawsuit or something. Although others have been kind enough to blog on my behalf, as some of you may have seen.

My best friend and I have often talked of starting a second blog with a "secret identity" where we would be completely transparent - and able to write about anything, because it wouldn't be tied to our actual lives in any way, shape or form. And we'd like to share with anyone we know that just needs to let it all out without fear of retribution.

This blog would be available to be used by anyone who had a bad day with someone they know or doesn't feel free to speak completely openly on their blog for good reasons (my good reasons would be my teenagers and the job hunt situation). And it's about time!

So, I am opening a contest of sorts to get a good name for our blog of no consequences. Submit your blog name ideas here and the winner will get.... a monkey! I will select the monkey especially for the winner, based on their monkey likes and dislikes. And their country's animal import regulations.

As for my secret identity? I'm sure you've already met her...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I'd like to thank the academy

I dub today Thank You Thursday!

Thank you to Fireblossom for being an awesome friend and sending me love in little ways all week.

Thank you to the United Postal Service for delivering love to Arizona just when my friend there needed it most.

Thank you to the guy who said the thing that made me feel... yeah. I love you.

Thank you for the nice blog mentions friends and anyone else on the planet...

Thank you, Riot Kitty, for being my bff and writing such a KICK ASS poem to someone named Keith!

Thank you to Verizon Wireless for allowing me to have 10 favorites to whom I can speak anytime, any day, for free, even though they aren't Verizon customers - on top of the 30 or so friends that I can talk to for free all day, every day, because we're "in".

Thank you to Sean for having a most amazing dinner at El Tapatio until we both feel like we'll burst - and you should have seen the margarita! (oh wait, you CAN!!)

Thank you, Sara, for making a date night with your dad and taking him to sushi (you're sweet!) Thank you, also, for going shopping with me tomorrow to pick out a killer interview outfit (my what-not-to-wear girl!)

Thank you, Ezmond, for wanting a walk and making me walk off 7 pound chimichangas and margaritas too big to lift.

Thank you, Sean, for inviting me to join your guys party tomorrow and watching the NBA draft *sniff*

Thank you, Scarlet, for offering to take Rabies, my stuffed monkey. He's ready to travel and will be hitting the road tomorrow for Miami. We had to find him proper garb first!

Now, I leave you with my song list from my backyard work today (thank you, universe, for a beautiful day so I could hack away at the shrubs!!) because I have to end with...thank you, Sara and her dad, for coming home with a big, huge, belated mother's day gift for me in the form of an iHome stereo system. My house is shaking and I blame this playlist.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A mom moment

"See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil..."

It's going to be one of those days. I woke pretty early to find Sara on the couch, loudly banging out a message on her computer. It seems one of her friends is being less than nice and Sara gets her back up whenever people aren't kind.

We spent the weekend with her friend recently. They were taken out to lunches, dinners, went to the amusement park and had a fabulous time. Sara was treating for most of these things and has spent the past week working off the loan by doing chores. She doesn't get an allowance so spending money has to be earned.

The same friend then invited Sara to a birthday party at an all ages dance club (OK, mom's, feel the hair raising on the back of your necks?) and the party started last Saturday at 10:30pm. And went to 4am. Oh, and Sara had to pay her own way in to the club and find a way to get there and home and, oh, by the way, can you pick up my two friends in Beaverton (a half hour away) and drive them down there and back because my mom is bringing all these friends of hers so none of my friends can come?

Time out. I was on the fence about the club scene (and would have attended the event myself if Sara ended up going - this place has a reputation for being rough) but I'm not this kids taxi service and Sara was highly offended on my behalf. I said she could go, I would take her and pick her up and pay her way but that I'd be there and we'd leave at midnight.

Birthday girl had a hissy fit. "Your mom can't come, it's a club for kids." I reminded Sara of the all ages status. "My mom won't bring my friends and they can't come without a ride." Then I guess they can't come. "Sara, your mom will cramp my style." That was enough for Sara to realize she didn't want to be at the party. Her excuse was that it was Father's Day weekend and she had things to do with her dad so wouldn't be able to make it. Not the best tactic, but she didn't want to hurt this friend's feelings with "you're being a jerk, my mom isn't made of money, no way."

But it doesn't end there. They went last weekend, the party occurred but it was this friend of Sara's and her mom and all the mom's friends, dancing with 17 year old boys. Ewwww. I mean really. Recently separated, is that how she gets her kicks? I was slightly nauseated. If I had gone, I would have been sitting in a back corner texting people from my cell phone, avoiding eye contact, wearing a big hat or something.

Then the invitation came for this Saturday - where the mom and the mom's friends are going, too, there's no room for the girl's friends in the car and Sara is invited - to pay her own way, stay until 4am and be the taxi for 2 other girls that are coming from quite a distance. And need a ride home at 4.

This time, I told Sara exactly what to say.

"The expectation that we have to pick up your friends isn't fair to my mom. We can get together to do something else. It won't be at the dance club because my mom says I can't go. Can we go for a walk together or make a picnic?"

The answer?

"God, when did you turn into such a bitch? Never mind... and I really don't think me and my mom should have to do all the driving and picking up and paying for, because people have their own agendas to up hold. If you were my friend, you'd do this."

So Sara, broken hearted (this is someone who has been a friend since 2nd grade) wrote me this note...

"I'm just so tired of my friends being shit heads to me when i just ask a simple question. Im really tired of all this. I dont know if I'm going to hang out with people much more, I can't take this especially at 2am. I'd love to hang out with you soon... At the moment you and Sean are pretty much the only people that don't say this stuff to me. You're the best <3" (That's a heart, by the way, for those who don't know. Also, I corrected spelling because I couldn't understand the actual version sent by both girls without a translator.)

I struggle all the time with friendships and people who push me to do things I'm not happy about. I've worked hard to create good boundaries and make people observe them or leave - and I try to teach the same things to my kids. As sad as she is, she did a good thing. She did what was right for her.

And I'm very proud. Go Sara.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Happy Monday

ŏp'tə-mĭz'əm (n).

"The point of living and of being an optimist, is to be foolish enough to believe the best is yet to come."

~Peter Ustinov

I woke up feeling optimistic this morning (someone grab the valium off that girl's nightstand!) I mean, come on. It's a pretty day in Portland, I'm sending gifts off to all corners of the US to share some love with friends and Rabies is off on another adventure. In Miami!!

I have an interview today, another one close on it's heels and sboth of them would take me back to my old neighborhood, a place I was glad to escape. Yes, there may be adventures in moving back, my son would be happy, my daughter, too, probably.

Definition of Optimism:
1. a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome. (my version: naieve)
2. the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world. (my version: yeah, right)
3. the belief that goodness pervades reality. (my version: um, whos reality are they talking about? Not mine...)
4. the doctrine that the existing world is the best of all possible worlds. (my version: OK, they lost me at doctrine...)

So which one is it? I feel optimistic because I defined what I want and this week I intend to get it, no matter how difficult the task. It's worth it. So totally worth it. But the old me, the one that has accepted every job that happened to fall into her lap is chomping at the bit to take one - take any - just stop having to LOOK. Because, for some reason, my stubborn Capricorn personality doesn't like the hunt. I don't. Not a bit. You go on and do your looking, I'll sit here and wait for something to fall in my lap. Today's horoscope confirms this:

Dearest Capricorn faces the new morning with new vigor. You're still not at the place where you can make big moves, but you're heading that direction. Right now, you're a daily winner and nothing helps you to win more than already being that winner.
But then I have to take into account my horoscope for tomorrow (YES, I looked ahead. I'm a Capricorn. It's what we do!)

Steady Capricorn has put one foot in front of the other walking up the steep hill of life and has just accidentally stepped into a pot of gold. The planets give the Capricorn the time to take a day off from climbing, gather the gold coins you've just found and store them away.

Capricorns don't believe in accidents. We believe in hard work and dedication and that nose-to-the-grindstone gets us where we want to go. There are no coincidences, not any fate, no magic or serendipity.

Wait a minute. I believe in all of those things, just for other people. It's like my belief in them is dictated by my need to be in control of my world and my desire to have them, somehow, keeps them at arms length.

Last night, I had a dream that I was falling. The earth just shook me loose and all of a sudden I was in freefall, arms spread like wings, my sweatshirt trailing behind me. The black high top keds weren't so greatly aerodynamic and I was feeling the pull of gravity. Then, suddenly, the freefall slowed and I floated, gently, thousands of feet above earth. I looked down upon what I want and realized it's right there, I just have to get over the fear of that first, stomach dropping instant where I don't believe I'll stop in time. What if I'm wrong? What if this isn't real? What if the clouds don't catch me?

It's time to go home.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

You mean I have to CHOOSE?

Choices can be challenging for me. I spend a lot of time making things happen - I'm in perpetual motion. Due to that fact, I am rarely in a position where I am moving slowly enough to actually have to choose between two or more like opportunities. Except maybe choosing a gelato, and all I have to do is taste to find a winner.

"If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise."

~Robert Fritz

Ouch. My life has been full of compromise and sometimes very little happiness. I have often done things simply because they were the opportunities that presented themselves at a given time. It didn't always work out well.

I have lived life these past couple years by a shoestring, bailing water, making choices based on the needs of the many (the family) instead of the needs of the few or the one (that'd be me). And my choices have brought me here to a very, very large crossroads.

I spent the day yesterday wandering through downtown Portland and photographing interesting architecture. I wasn't in the mood to photograph people on the street, though, even though that had been my original intention. I saw a couple opportunities and decided it just wasn't in me to save those moments in effigy. But I did find out a little bit about myself.

I know what I want.

All sorts of famous people over time have been quoted to say that the biggest part of making a difficult decision is deciding what you want. Everything else should line up properly once you know what it is you want.

If only it were that simple.

Character flaw #1: I do for others. Lots. I'm usually the one making most of the effort and sacrifices and I work really hard to have happy and healthy relationships with all the people in my world. Self-sacrifice can turn around and bite you in the ass when everyone is used to that. I created this monster myself.

Character flaw #2: I'm a Capricorn. As such, I don't take leaps into the unknown without the proper research and a large vat of calamine lotion for those nasty insects you run into on safari. And enough bottled water to survive the end of the world. Sometimes I think I spend so much time THINKING about how I'm going to handle any issues and then HANDLING the issues so I don't really get to live. Not with Joy, anyway. Not with Bliss. Note all the capital letters. These are very important things to me. I was this way even before I had kids, it just got more complicated when they were added to the mix. The running joke in my circle of friends is that if you want to have fun, call me, unless you'd like to have fun TODAY.

Character flaw #3: This is closely related to #1. I worry about how my actions will affect anyone and everyone else. What if, what if, what if. And I try to troubleshoot the obvious, prepare for the hidden issues and basically make sure everyone in the whole world is happy. Content. Joyful. Except, of course, for me, because I'm so busy doing everything I can to make things work out for everyone else that what I want kind of falls off the earth as though it were flat.

I know what I want. It's right here, within reach, and all I have to do is adjust my attitude, my expectations and my dreams. Actually, that's not quite right. All I have to do is ask for it and it will be mine.

I know what I want.

"She crossed borders recklessly, refusing to recognize limits, saying bon jour and bon giorno as though she owned both France and Italy and the day itself."

~Kobi Yamada

Tomorrow, I will own the day

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The real Sara is back

My daughter has had colorful hair since 6th grade when she added orange streaks to her dishwater blond. She and I agree that - although soft and luxurious - the natural color of our hair is almost but not quite the most boring color on the planet. Light brown. Yawn. Sigh. I would prefer to go back to the strawberry blond of my childhood but it darkened when I was a teenager.

I colored my hair so many colors as a young person that I didn't remember it's natural color until the kids were born. I tried platinum, fire engine red, hot pink, blue streaks, highlights of every shade. But none of them lasted. I got bored easily, I told myself. After they were in school, I went to a really rich chocolate brown that made my eyes look pretty darn cool.

So, when Sara started wanting to try some color I was all about her doing it the right way - at a salon so the hair wasn't totally the texture of straw. After her orange streaks, she did a half and half of pink with blue on the tips which was pretty darn awesome. Hot pink hair got lots of attention (and just think of the cat ears that she wears daily on top of that cotton candy looking fluff!)

But she wasn't completely happy until it turned blue.

The first time we colored it at home, I was so afraid of destroying her hair that I didn't let the peroxide process long enough. The effect was a vibrant blue with some teal undertones. She was hooked. She's tried a couple other colors since but always goes back to the blue.

The color we use is very vibrant and comes off on couches, runs when it rains and basically makes a nuisance of itself for about 6 weeks. She would ruin my towels if she used them so she carefully pulls out the rags. Then, as it tones down and fades a bit, I have an extra bottle of color for touch ups or to refresh it before we need to bleach the roots again.

My favorite part of the process is seeing her with canary yellow hair for a few short minutes. She hates it. No blond for this girl, even though it looks cute and edgy and like she should be in the Portland Roller Derby - the old color at the tips doesn't bleach out but stays light pink and blue.

So, on goes the dye and she sits patiently as she waits for her blue to be back. While I go to the kitchen to scrub the blue sink, my oompah loompah hands and everything in site that got splattered with this stuff. Oh, the things I do for love...

The transformation is amazing. When the towel comes off and her hair is blue again, this strut appears in her walk. She talks with more authority, more confidence. She is truly in her element again and I love to see that.

And guess what - Sean, her super conservative and oh-so-patient, brother looked up and said, with a grin, "Hey, looks good." A high compliment indeed! When she first went blue, he didn't want to be seen walking down the street with her. Now, I think he gets a kick out of the looks (and she gets them) and especially from the cute little kids that ask her questions and the parents that stand back, obviously saying to themselves, "Not while she lives under my roof!" I guess for me I'd rather support her independence than try to make her fit into some preconceived notion of a box I made.

I guess she's lucky to have me as mom and I'm extremely lucky to have her as daughter. We had an awesome time last night, shopping at Powell's, Presents of Mind (where they only sell art, jewelry, t-shirts and other fun items from local artists - and they'll be selling Sara items soon!) and having our favorite dinner at our favorite neighborhood tea house.

Today, I can imagine she'll spend her time at home, staying out of the June Rain. But she'll be longing for a walk in Sellwood, through the shops, where her hair and cat ears and great personality will shine through the gray like a beacon.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Wild Abandon

I have the pleasure
And the joy
Of being everything to you
And nothing for myself.

I hunt for truth, logic,
Peace and magic
Only to find they do not exist
When locked up in a cage.

When I walk beside you
There is vacancy, contempt.
My gossamer skin fades
As you slowly walk away.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The monkey in the middle

Rabies arrived on my pillow at 9pm last night. He spent a few weeks visiting my friend Fireblossom all the way across the country. They had great times (check out his blog to see). He came back home in the mail but I was busy and gone from the house until late in the evening. I walked the dog outside so he could chase the imaginary squirrels around the yard (there is something seriously wrong with my dog) and stepped back in to see the package on the bed. Yippee!!

Rabies has had some adventures since April when he made the log trek with us to Hood River, Kennewick, Spokane & Yakima. The kids had never ventured that far from home and I was feeling the call of the road. It was the most fun road trip I've ever been on - maybe because this was the first time ever that I was in charge of selecting destinations, choosing hotels and making stops wherever our hearts led us.

Sara loved this shop in Spokane, Boo Radleys. I'm charmed by it, too, and had to restrain myself from buying a "Spokane Marmots" t-shirt. Sean was absolutely intrigued by an exhibit of landscape paintings at the Maryhill Museum in Goldendale. This place is calling me back for another visit, most likely sans kids, so I can really look at the Rodin exhibit and do some sketching. When we traveled together, the kids were my priority and we had a blast.

So Rabies has made it a habit to travel and see new sights. He's going to settle in for a week or two but I know he'll start feeling the travel bug. If you're interested in a visit from a monkey bearing gifts, drop me a line. Rabies is ready for a new adventure! Stock up on string cheese and Cheezits, folks...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wardrobe Wednesdays

I woke up this morning knowing it was a day for my armor. I'm sure everyone has their favorite clothes to wear when they have a challenge to face. Mine is just a little unusual for a number of reasons.

First off, Joey shares wardrobe of choice pictures on Wednesdays. I thoroughly enjoy his stories and especially like it when he lays out his days outfit to show us. His style is awesome, amazing and one of a kind. Bling should be his middle name.

But for me, wandering around in a t-shirt and jeans is the norm. I have lots of business attire but I would bet you none of it really fits me anymore - since I haven't had an office job in 20 months (as of today. Happy anniversary!!) I've lost a little weight with all the moving around I do. I do yard work, wash clothes and clean counters as I write and design and crack the whip over my part time minions. There's also a wee bit of (figurative) cat herding involved. And yes, Riot Kitty, I do PR. Corporate PR. Scum of the earth, that's me.

Knowing I had a very difficult and challenging day ahead AND that I am not feeling 100%, it was time to break out the armor.

I have always been drawn to men's clothing. Comfortable, large enough to hide behind (and I do like to hide) and usually quite stylish. My favorite items are all resale finds, most of them bowling shirts or items of that ilk.

As a kid, I used to wear my beloved great-grandfathers hand-me-down suit jackets with my jeans. They smelled like his cologne and made me feel like I had the slightest bit of protection as I went out into the world. There was always a sixpence in my pocket. I felt like I had a shield around me and the fact that I was completely unstylish (neon colors and poofy hair were the rage, I wore black, white makeup, black eye liner.... wait. That sounds familiar...) So my days were made brighter by grampa's jackets.

He was first generation American and came over from Britain in the early 1900s as a young man. There's even a little Titanic lore in the fact that his mum and older sister had Titanic tickets but missed the boat because my Great Aunt Dorothy was ill. This story would have such a different ending if that hadn't been the case. My grandfather, my mother's father, would never have been born if Great-Great-Grandmother Babb hadn't survived the iceberg. Thanks for getting sick, Auntie D!

The suits made it into the waste bin when I was an adult, I don't quite remember when, but they were moth eaten and had tons of holes. So, I went for years without my armor and honestly rarely felt I needed it.

Then, my mom's father passed away in April of 2005. He had been ailing and was miserable and just waiting to die so I wasn't surprised. But I was a little surprised by the impact on me. We'd never been close. But when my mom offered me up his old flannel shirt (for camping, she assumed) I jumped at it.

This morning, on went the flannel. Along with a monkey hanging on my belt loop. The difficult meetings and doctors appointments and other items on my agenda will be well served by me in this soft-from-wear, warm and comfortable blanket of love that surrounds me. Boys? Beware of your closet contents when I'm around.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

When good teenagers go bad

I am blessed with two very cool and awfully nice kids. People LOVE them. They are smart and love to learn. They are kind and generous to each other, their family and friends and even strangers. They love to be silly. They bring me joy every day. Which is much better than bringing the fire department.

Sara has a friend over for a long weekends sleepover, now that school is out. They've been having a ball. We live so far away from both kids core group of friends that they have been lonely for their buddies. So the girls decided at my bedtime last night to make cupcakes. From a box, the white cake with confetti kind. Yummy sugar high in a little paper cup, covered in frosting and sprinkles.

They asked permission and seemed to have cleaned the kitchen properly after their little gigglefest. I'm sure batter was eaten straight from the bowl. I hope they had a great time.

One little problem... the GAS STOVE was left on all night.

Now, we live in a smaller house (900 sf upstairs and a couple hundred sf more in the basement where my son has his Man Cave/bedroom) and it would not have taken long for the pilot light to go out and for us to get sick from the fumes or for a spark (say the hot water heater pilot lighting) to torch the place.

Yes, slightly over dramatic, I'm sure, but Sara is notorious for leaving things on when she's done (as am I - but it was different with an electric oven). At least it wasn't a burner, where the flame is more easily blown out, allowing gas into the entire house.

So now I sit here wondering if I should punish, create a stern lecture (OK, that's kind of funny to write. I'm hardly ever stern) or just ignore with a subtle "um, remember to turn the stove off when you're finished". It wasn't intentional, she knows she's supposed to turn off the oven, she just forgot - but bad things can happen when you forget little things some times. She also just cost me, on my very small budget, about 9 hours worth of natural gas.

Anyone out there have a good story about how you were reminded gently of a safety issue and it worked well? Or, do you have kids or grand kids or others in your life that you are molding into people that can go out into the world and survive without you to turn off the gas? Because I'm getting ready to release these to into the wild and I don't want to have to call every night and say "is the oven off?" That would be MY mother...

Monday, June 15, 2009

"Show me"

Shionge asked to see my tattoo, which includes a mah jong tile in the center of it. She shared a story of playing mah jong with the guys which sounds like so much fun!

My tattoo is of a sail and a Chinese junk and the character is the symbol from the "red dragon" tile. I love the fact that it looks like a sail.

AND, Riot Kitty sent me this link to a funny site about what the tattoo location says about you. Timely, girl! But hey - it's not dragon wings for goodness sake. Sheesh.

Rachel's ink... I got it when I was 29 but it's not finished, yet. It will be finished some day really soon.


It's not here. And I have to find it.

At every rough spot over the past few years, I've randomly opened to a page in this book and it has told me EXACTLY what I needed to hear.

I was given the gift when leaving a job a few years back by a coworker. We were not close, but she looked at me on my last day and said, "This will define you for the rest of your life. You are a brave person and you need to remind yourself of that at times."

The book is called SHE and it's just a nice little empowering book of a poem. But it tells me things when I need to hear them.

I haven't thought about this book in months (it's got to be around here someplace!!), ever since I moved from the old house to this little one in January. I used to keep it on my desk, I even had extra copies in the closet to give to female friends. But somewhere, somehow it was packed and sits in a box someplace.


I wish I had been more careful with it. Like the magic 8-ball, I ask it a question and it gives me an answer. A real answer. An empowering answer. Close eyes, ask question, open book - wa-lah!

Scarlet made a comment on my previous blog that resonated deeply (You will feel it in your gut if you're meant to cross that bridge or not. When you feel that staying behind is not an option, you might even jump if you can't cross it! Trust me on this one.) and it made me remember my old friend. Where did I PUT IT...?

My favorite page said, "She stepped out on a branch, it broke off behind her, and she discovered she could fly" - followed by "Celebrate her courage". I feel like the cowardly lion today. This is such a big leap... I could use a little courage.

I wish I could ask it that question today. "What do I have to be afraid of?" All of the other paths won't work for me anymore. I have to choose the one that makes me happy. I'd love a little moment of inspiration in the form of a silly poem that always and forever makes me feel like I have nothing to fear.

It is seriously time to clean the garage.

Crossing that bridge

"I'll cross that bridge when I come to it" has never really been top of mind for me as far as sayings go. But when is a bridge more than a bridge?

I have a lot of friends making big changes in their lives right now. I have a lot of opportunities to move forward, move past things and move on. But a bridge is more than just a way across a river sometimes. Sometimes it a path to a new beginning.

Sometimes a bridge is a window to your past, where you can think about what's happened and learn from it.

Sometimes a bridge is an opportunity to take a completely different path and change your world.

Sometimes there are two bridges that look exactly the same - but they take you across the same river to two very different places.

I have bridges to cross. And bridges have taken on a new meaning for me. When is a bridge more than a bridge? When you come to a bridge, what will you do?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Words, words, words

I love words, it's probably why I like to write. I just visited Mama Zen who writes about her love of the word charmed. It made me think of the words and phrases that are meaningful to me. Maybe list week isn't quite over yet...

Practical Magic
Rock Star

Of course, the list could go on and on. But I notice immediately that these are words I try to bring into my little world as often as possible. Especially contentment and bliss. Dawn blogged about her new adventure at school and shared the color that defines her via the True Colors Personality Test. She guessed I'm a gold. Hmmm. Find out what you are at this free site (they do ask for your name and email). And I'm a BLUE. Caretaking, optimistic, passionate...Blues are your "True Blue" friends. A Blue's world revolves around people, relationships, and fostering growth in themselves and others.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Flash 55 - sort of

Mondays child is fair of face,
Tuesdays child is full of grace,
Wednesdays child is full of woe,
Thursdays child has far to go,
Fridays child is loving and giving,
Saturdays child works hard for his living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.


He started it. And I'm not talking about my older brother hitting me first. G-Man does a weekly Friday blog of 55 words of fiction. Lots of people participate. My first attempt was last week. Now, all I can seem to do is count the number of words in people's posts.

I know I'm a little OCD, but come on!

I went looking for this Mother Goose poem because it's Friday and it's list week here at Pheromone Girl central and I thought this is an interesting kind of list - a list of ideas about what the day of your birth makes you. Do you know what day of the week the world welcomed you? I was born on a Sunday so I always thought I was kinda special, based on this list.

So, here's my final entry on List Week. It is a list of things I've discovered about people around me based on really random stuff.

1. Guys like pictures of my toes.
2. People who buy drugs at my park usually drive crappy cars
3. The funniest bloggers I know also write some of the best personal stories ever
4. Eating pudding with a fork is never a good idea
5. Wearing a bluetooth headset into the store makes anyone look like a geek. EVEN YOU.
6. You can find patterns in anything. When I retrieve my mail from the mailbox, it is more often an odd number of envelopes instead of an even number (and you'll be counting YOURS now, won't you!!)
7. Perfect moments are few and far between. When you find you're experiencing one, add it to your Pearl fishing list so you remember it forever.
8. True friends are ones who call you when your facebook status shows you're son is in the hospital ER.... so they can see which hospital and what kind of Starbucks you want at 11pm.
9. Smiles are contagious.
10. The most beautiful feeling in the world is the joy that comes from loving freely, giving outlandish presents for made-up holidays and living every moment to its fullest.

Today and every day, make your list. And don't check it twice. Just start a new one!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wait a minute.... I've been WHAT?

OK, it has now, officially, been the longest week ever.

Back in November, I sold my pick-up to a friend for a whopping 1500 bucks, for which she is making small payments to me pretty regularly.

I started receiving notices in February that there were parking tickets racking up on the truck and kept notifying the proper authorities that I had sold it and that the new owner must not have transferred title as she should have. I also contacted her every time and she assured me she'd taken care of them and made arrangements for payments.

I have requested a second title copy, signed off on it and gave it to her - along with my handy check for $55 - over a month ago. She supposedly sent in the paperwork.

Well, as of this morning, my license has been suspended for HER unpaid parking tickets and I have threats of garnishments for these tickets from 3 different local agencies. And no drivers license. There is no new title in process. And she's not returning my phone calls.

No worries, everyone - I should be reinstated on my license tomorrow (after lots of phone calls and visits to said local agencies - on the bus if need be since I'm not legal to drive) and I can get back to the things I would like to do as early as tonight, as late as tomorrow.

But this, I'm told by the clerk at the DMV, happens ALL THE TIME. As the seller of the vehicle, even providing the bill of sale to the DMV does not protect me and my reputation from the stupidity of the person who bought the pickup.

So what's a poor girl to do?

"Take the plates off a vehicle when you sell it." Well, this came straight from the person at the DMV. She tells me the only way to assure yourself that the new owner has done the proper paperwork work is to remove the plates and return them to DMV. The new owner will quickly be caught for driving without plates. It forces them to register the vehicle properly.

So now, I would like some suggestions for what kind of tortuously evil things I can do to this former "friend" who has now wasted hours of my time, added terrible stress to my life and caused me to have to walk everywhere until my name is cleared. Plus, some of the parking tickets may never get cleared off my record and that will make my insurance rate go up.

Pheromone Girl is not amused.

Diving for pearls

It's Thursday of List Week and I was struggling to come up with a list of something that wasn't repetitive or dorky. Or both.

Visiting my blog pal LL Cool Joe, I was inspired by his thoughts on Pearl fishing and his partners very cool idea about special moments in life. And I loved the pearl he shared. "No, that's not actual fishing, but this concept of having these wonderful moments in your life that you will look back on when you are older. Pearl fishing moments."

So, This Thursday, with many, many challenges behind me for the week, I'd like to share my list of Pearls. I didn't even have to go diving for them. These are the moments in my life where something amazing has happened and they will stick with me forever. There are lots more, but these are top of mind when I think of very magical moments.

1. Saying "I love you" surrounded by roses and a beautiful city - and having him love me, too
2. Pedicures with my best friend, Riot Kitty, the first time we hung out together
3. The first time my daughter told me "Mom, you don't know everything!" and then we both laughed hysterically
4. My son paying for breakfast when he was 12 and took me out for the first time
5. Reuniting with old friends Joyce and Traci and Felicia and knowing we just picked up where we left off
6. The first time I sang alone on a stage
7. Camping at Frog Lake as a little girl and collecting frogs in an old coffee can
8. Missing a train and being able to meet the most amazing woman with the most amazing story as I waited for the next one
9. Flying into San Francisco for the first time - early evening, flying low over the bay and all of a sudden the city appeared and lights came on. Pure magic.
10. Watching MTV when it first went on the air (Video Killed the Radio Star) (sorry for the brain worm, folks!) and knowing the world had just changed, would never be the same

Thanks, Joey, for the inspiration.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Haven't you always wanted a monkey?

We have a winner! Apologies for the delay, but after a long meeting over bananas, a winner has been selected in the random contest Please hold while I access that information.

To review, a lovely photo of two charming girls at the local NAMI Walk were having a very intense and interesting conversation. Of course, we cannot remember a single word, so we asked that people offer their suggestions for what we might be saying. Monkeys were offered up as a prize (after all, who can resist a MONKEY?)

Here is the winning entry, selected with the painstaking process of asking fellow bloggers which entry they thought was coolest. OK, they all chose themselves. So, I started over from scratch and asked Riot Kitty who her OTHER favorite was.

Now, of course, the problem is that the comment was left by one of those pesky people who like to call themselves Anonymous (can you say STALKER?) But we have our ways. Contact has been made and said "Anonymous" person will receive the following AMAZING monkey gift set. As will RK, who liked it so much I had to pry it out of her hands. So I'm off to procure a second monkey set for my bff.

Congrats, Anonymous. Enjoy the monkeys. I hope they remind you of beloved office mates.

Check back soon, boys and girls - this was so much fun, we'll be continuing the tradition on random Monday posts during the summer. More monkeys will be awarded! Don't miss out!


Uninspired, I decided I'd share my thoughts on how I'd spend $1,000,000. If I had it. Which I don't. But that's half the fun!

1. I'd pay off all of the debt held by the people I love (I have little but I know my brothers have lots). I would surprise friends with CDs - the banking kind, not the music kind. Spoil people a bit.
2. I'd buy a little cabin someplace where I could escape to write.
3. I'd quit my job (which gives me fits most days) and look for a part time job doing something important like teaching preschoolers fingerpainting.
4. I'd travel a bit. I have this dream of going to every state and seeing a professional sporting event in all the good spots. Oh, and I'd like to visit a warm, sunny beach and a cold, snowy mountain now and again.
5. I'd go to college - full time, without the job on the side, and end up without any debt. That would be pretty cool.
6. I'd rent a nice place to live and not worry every month on the 30th how I was going to make it through for the next 30 days.
7. I'd donate a lot of time to worthy causes.
8. I'd practice random acts of kindness. Leave big bags of dog food for the homeless people on the onramps instead of the little ones I leave now. Buy coffee for the girl in line behind me. Donate money to animal shelters anonymously.
9. I'd set up savings accounts for both the kids that they could use for college, weddings, buying a house - or traveling through Europe.
10. I'd start a non-profit that helps struggling parents take care of their children during difficult times. I'd do the same thing for street people with pets.

Heady stuff, the idea that I could do some good if I won some cash. I am so lucky, though, to have enough today and to feel blessed with abundance now.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Where did all this stuff come from? or LIST WEEK PART II

Yesterday, to try to cure a major case of the blues, I looked through all of my old emails, searching for something special I wanted to share with someone just as special. But amidst all the silly forwarded cat jokes, the vacation snapshots (are they still called snapshots?) and the most wonderful notes from friends, I found a note from someone who irritates me to no end. But their note had a very valid question tucked amongst the sarcasm and meanness.

Where are you going to live?

I have a confession to make: I don't like stuff. I don't like clutter, knickknacks, anything I have to move to dust off the top of a shelf, the TV, in the corner. I moved from a 3600 square foot house into a 900 square foot house and brought along a large quantity of boxes that not only have yet to be unpacked, I have no clue as to what is in them. But that's OK, because I think another move is in the air. And this time, a big garage sale will be occurring at one end or the other. I have to do something with all this junk...

I love my little house. I have a great landlord, a yard that's really coming along and a beautiful view of the park. But it's just too small and it's really expensive. (*Oh, no - the kids scream - NOT ANOTHER MOVE!!!*) We only have one bathroom. My son sleeps in the family room in the basement, with concrete floors. My owner has been making noises the past month or so that he's ready to build this into the house it will become and I'm not sure I'm up to being in the midst of that kind of chaos for months.

I feel adrift, afraid to look back over my shoulder at some of the huge challenges I faced (I feel like they still are nipping at my heels). I want a place that feels like HOME, where I have my own space and can make a phone call without interruption. Where my office isn't my bed because there's no room for a desk in any quiet place. Where the kids can be kids and have friends over, be loud, and have fun and I'm not constantly whining to clean up their messes, put the game system away. And how about a place where I can play music instead of listening to TV drone on constantly?

So, in honor of list week (I just made that up. But now I have a whole week worth of blogs. Score!!) Today's list week agenda item is to make a list of what I want in my next home and what it will feel like. The way it looks isn't nearly as important as the joy it holds.

1. Room for a piano. Sara and I miss playing. I want a music room of sorts where there's room for guitars and a piano and whatever else strikes our fancy (Sara plays trumpet, too. I'm awfully good on a squeezebox - seriously.) OK, this one is negotiable, but it'll need to happen some day. A Pheromone Girl without music is an unhappy PG.

2. A TV room. The kids finally had their own space at the giant house near the lake, but it wasn't a neighborhood that worked for me. I really like this neighborhood (for the most part - the drug dealers at the park are starting to get on my nerves. Some very sad events have occurred nearby.)

3. A dining room. I miss eating at a table. I want a place to gather my friends over a nice dinner and a glass of wine or make cookies with the girls. A nice romantic dinner now and then wouldn't be bad, either.

4. A good kitchen. I have major appliance envy when I see my friend Traci's kitchen she's building, but I'd settle for a full sized gas stove instead of the camp size version I'm using right now. And how about a fridge that's not cantilevered over the basement stairs, in it's own little... um.... alcove?

5. Trees and a yard. This one is pretty self-explanatory. I have to have my hands in dirt.

6. Space for me. OK, space for each of us, actually, but I need a place I can retire to that makes me feel cocooned from the world and surrounded by peace. I've done a nice job in my current, teeny room. I admit to loving my full sized bed and I don't think I'll ever have a king sized bed again. Too huge. Too empty. Too hard to find your bed mate when you have to hike half a mile. Closeness causes the need for cuddling. Who can argue that? Unless my feet are cold...

There is one more very important thing I need in my new space. A good vibe - a feeling of good energy, good memories, good friends, lots of love. How about mistletoe to kiss under at Christmas, a good spot for the dog to sleep that's not underfoot, maybe even a nice porch on which to sit.

It's list week. What does your list look like?

Monday, June 8, 2009

It's the little things

I have a tendency to get overwhelmed by big picture items. Work, kids, dog, house, yard, friends... they all take up a fair chunk of my time.

But this week, I have a plan to try to feel less stress and more fun. It has everything to do with the little things.

I have a notebook that I take with me everywhere. I will write all the things that brighten my day - from a hello given by a neighbor to a compliment on the yard (see - it looks pretty! Only 6 more bags of bark and it's done. Oh, and 6 more lettuce plants. Maybe some daiseys....) to the nice toasted waffle with peanut butter, a cup of coffee poured, my son bringing me a water or a soda while I work.

I intend to document the little things and remind myself how blessed, fortunate and full of joy my life is.

(Thanks, by the way, to Debbie for her inspiring comments lately that continue to focus on the word enJOY. It works!! and you inspired me to write this and try to live this way all week.)

So, here I go, off on a very busy and exciting week. And I will keep track of every blissful moment to remember what it is that I want, need and look forward to in this world.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Third time's a charm

I seem to be stuck in a rut. I am now starting my third attempt at a blog on this lovely Saturday morning.

Blog #1 went down the negativity path almost immediately. It was about Rose Festival and the parade that is taking place right now - which I HATE. And it was not a happy post. When I got sick of myself whining, I saved it and started over.

Blog #2 was a follow-up on a former friend and her continuing self-destructive behavior. And her intention to try to drag me into the middle of it. Save. Next!

So here I am, at the third and final attempt (I have stuff to do, have to stop this hopeless pity party) and I have no idea what I'll write about. That's awfully stellar for being 4 paragraphs in.

What can I feel positive about? The weather has settled down and even thought it's overcast, it's not dangerous. OK, good start. Um, yesterday, my son and I had the best time going for Voodoo Donuts. I indulged in a Fruit Loop. Glazed raised with marshmallow frosting and then doused with Fruit Loops. Yum. It helped improve the mood a bit for both of us.

What else? I have enough to eat, my kids are set on clothing for a bit, I'm getting my toes painted crimson on Monday. All good stuff. I'm adding tango dancing, mixed martial arts and a class on canning (yes, like pickles and okra and beans, oh my!) to my repertoire.

And yet there is a vacancy, room for more and bigger and better things. I sent off bunches of resumes this week, to places near and far. And I have a plan, finally, for school and work and kids and life in general.

If I look back at my life, it's had 3 distinctive stages. First, I was a kid and a young adult. That stage ended in 1990 and the next stage began with a complete change in attitude for me. It worked well for a long time. Now, stage 3 is ready to launch. In advertising, we'd call it a "refresh". Kind of like pushing that button on the browser bar and waiting for the newest content to show up on the page.

This should be fun.

Friday, June 5, 2009


It's 2am and I lay awake, discovering the depth of night.
The raccoon finds a shiny thing and skitters away to clean it.
A lone drake sits sadly at the picnic table, casting wishes in the pond.
Are you out there?
I miss the feel of your arms,
breath on my neck,
moments of bliss.

This is my first, modest attempt at G-Man's Friday Flash 55.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

If I'm the Guitar Hero, What Does That Make You?

Everybody's good at something. My mom used to always say that to us as kids, to inspire us to... um... do something? My parents were not the soccer mom and dad type. My brothers played little league for a bit. I played piano and took lessons for a bit. Um... I learned to drive?

In other words, I really feel that mom and dad did not inspire us to be driven, motivated or successful in life. They sort of left us to our own devices. Now, how I made it up the corporate ladder with so little schooling is anyone's guess. Being cute doesn't hurt. When you're 20-something and look good in a long, black jacket, you get more interviews.

How, with an unemployment rate topping 12% in my state, am I supposed to make a career change now, today, and have a clue as to what the world will look like in a year? Why didn't I know when I was 18 what I wanted to do? Except I kind of did, I just didn't have the resources to get there. I got accepted to a great music school but not enough scholarship to keep helping the family, who needed help. But I saw so many people in my chosen field struggling to buy groceries, waitressing to make ends meet, and I didn't want that life for myself. I had a dream that I intended to leave on the back burner for a short time.

Of the three siblings, I probably had the best, if short term, career success. One brother went to trade school and he still works in his chosen field. Sort of. He got his associates degree as a landscape architect. He works for a lawn company, spraying fertilizer. I think he likes it, but I know it's not a big moneymaker. My other brother never went to college. He wandered through manufacturing management for a while and is currently a graphic designer of sorts. He works for a baseball hat manufacturer, taking logos and making the art for production. He probably likes his job, too.

Me? I think I want to be a lot of things. Do they have lion tamer school? How about rodeo queen training? I want to be a fantastic cook, learn to tango, sit in a corner chair and write. But those things don't buy shoes for my boy who is now a size 11. Um, didn't we just buy shoes last month???

Recently, a headhunter called me a generalist - which is great if you work at a small company and have to wear many hats. But which hat fits me best? What do I want to be when I grow up? Um, is that a trick question? I want to be a rock star...

College applications sit on my table. I'm so tempted to work toward a bachelor of arts degree. But what would I specialize in, as a generalist? I WANT IT ALL. I'm not a fresh faced 18 year old, just out of school. I don't have time to throw a dart at a dart board with my eyes closed and see where it sticks. I can do most anything I put my mind to. This is literally a band-aid. So many people in the job market - so few jobs that will even look at me without that degree. At least for now.

Having lunch with a friend recently, she mentioned that most of the really successful people she knows didn't go to college. She has friends with a double masters that make less than her husband, who worked his way up the ladder in a family-owned company.

Where is that ladder?

I wish I had a crystal ball that would tell me what career would be successful. I'm a fabulous mom, a decent writer, a phenomenal boss and a nice person. I like to help others find their way to success. I like to fix things that aren't working. I like to manage a process and adjust until it runs smoothly. I work really hard and like time off, too.

I often wonder where I will be in five years. About 5 years ago, I was just starting to like the path in marketing that seemed to draw me in. Now? Who knows. I might just have to close my eyes and take a leap. Does anyone know if you can get a bachelors in puddle jumping?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Black Coffee

On a morning when a busy day awaits, there's nothing better than really good coffee, served black. I always doctor up my restaurant coffee, because it usually isn't very good. It's sat for too long or it's too bitter. But I love a big mug of black coffee in my lap, a warm, furry creature begging for my attention, and the paper to read. It feels like heaven.

My love of black coffee started as a child. It was always a big treat to sit on Howard's chair (my step grandfather will forever be Grampa Howard in my heart) and get to sip from his brown mug of black coffee. The smell of coffee brewing will instantly take me back to the big, fuzzy red chair, a game of cribbage, the sound of his grandfather clock ticking away in the background. I conjure up images of playing puzzles in the rain and the fire crackling in the wood stove while stew was bubbling on top. He's tell me the story of our founding fathers playing chess in a similar locale, discussing the future of our country. He'd tell me tales of his customers, when he'd worked as a pharmacist, and promise to make me a lime coke later. The real kind, with syrup.

Are there memories that come flooding back for you with a scent? Today, I wish for you to stumble across a memory of blissful moments with someone special. If you'll excuse me, I'm off to brew a pot.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Beautiful Day

Have you ever noticed that a really difficult day is often followed by a really good one? I had a rather bumpy weekend. Moments of peace and extreme happiness were followed by very discouraging ones. But it's the discouraging ones that we have to learn from.

I live in a place that is beautiful. But even in a beautiful place, bad things happen, sometimes to good people.

In the past week, two parents in very close proximity to my home have hurt their own children for absolutely no good reason (because is there ever a good reason to hurt your kids? No, not in my world). And that has left me with a rather large question. How, as a good parent with really lucky kids, do I find a way to help keep the rest of the kids in the world safe?

I spent a lot of hours last night imagining a world in which children are treated not as property but as a precious resource in need of protection. Where parents in crisis get the help they need. And all the people in a kids world make sure they're the one thing that matters - safe to grow up. Parents rights should only go so far.

Today will be a beautiful day here in Portland. Sunshine, in the 80s, perfect weather for an adventure. And my kids will get the big, embarrassing hug from their mom that I give them every day (even when they squirm). Only this time, I'll hang on a second longer. Anyone who has ever seen me with my kids will know how special and important they are to me. They are becoming people that make me proud and their love and support yesterday helped me hold it together. They will grow up, move out and start their own lives soon. And the most important lesson I want them to leave with is that family is love, family is safe and family is always there when you need them. Family isn't just the people who gave birth to you.

I may have an unusual family - my best friends are my parents, my siblings, my support system and the people I can lean on - but they are strong and kind and loving. And they are safe. And so am I.

May this beautiful day bring you love and hope and joy - and maybe a cup and saucer moment. You know, when you have that feeling that your cup is full? I know mine is overflowing.