June 30: Furry bitch slap

Next time you don’t feel like going to work, here’s a good excuse to try: “I can’t come in today because I was attacked by a bear on my front porch last night.”

One of the women I work with at the hospital used that one today. If it wasn’t a real excuse, at least she followed through with it to the end; she got Fish & Wildlife involved, and a bunch of the local media came out to interview her. (Warning: a lot of thigh follows)

KATU news video

I don’t know… those bear claw marks look awfully real to me. I think she might be telling the truth. And my feeling is that if someone puts a picture of your leg all over the Internet, you’ve earned sympathy right there.

Best wishes, Dora Sue, for a recuperation that doesn’t involve any bears seeking revenge on the big mouth who tattled on their buddy.

June 30: That stylist should be shot

Many of my favorite people in the world have been my friends for 20 years or more. I love sharing so much of my past with them; the fact that they still love me—even though they know me as well as they do—makes my heart feel like a big smiley face.

And yet, there are times when it comes back to bite me in the ass.

You see, Victor’s brother married a girl I’ve been friends with since fourth grade. I adore Sally, as I have mentioned often, and always look forward to family get-togethers when I know she’ll be there. She has an incredible sense of humor and is great fun to be around. Because we are now sisters-in-law, I can’t exactly escape her—not that I’d want to, of course—but occasionally we remember things about each other that are probably best forgotten. This does not, however, keep us from sharing them with each other, the rest of the family, or the world, because there are few chuckle-worthy moments like these.

Do I have an example, you ask? Why, yes! I do! Sally went through an old photo album recently and found my school picture from eighth grade.

Can I get a collective “YIKES!”???

Good friends remember your past and don’t embarrass you with it. But the ones who scan and e-mail you photographic proof of what a laughable dork you once were? They’re the keepers.

June 30: Happy day for the Vosses

Happy anniversary to my brother-in-law and his ball and chain. This makes 23 years of never-ending bliss, right?

June 27: Happy Happy Happy

Yesterday was a good day. Katie and Jack spent most the day with their cousins at Grandpa & Grandma’s while I worked from home. (Psst… I also took a nap. Shhh…)

We took the kids to their last day of swimming lessons. I think I’ve mentioned before how lessons go. Katie is a fish; she knows several strokes and swims the width of the pool over and over, with all the precision an 8-year-old can muster. Jack, on the other hand, does fine in the water until it gets on his face. If he gets splashed, we have to wait ten minutes for him to stop freaking out. If he is told to put his face in the water to practice blowing bubbles, he does it very reluctantly and then takes ten minutes to get every last drip off his face. And then he goes back to swimming and then we start all over again. So I have to admit I was a little surprised that Jack passed Level A. I’m thinking maybe his teacher just wants to get him the hell out of her class.

Katie passed Level D with no problem.

Now that they’re both more confident in the water we feel a little more comfortable when we swim at friends’ houses. My next step is to teach them MY rule of swimming:

“Now remember kids… no running, no diving, and no salt on my margaritas.”

The day ended especially well because Victor and I went to our last show of the Broadway in Portland 2007-08 season, Avenue Q. It was, without a doubt, one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen. It was basically an R-rated version of Sesame Street. Who couldn’t love that? If you go, just be warned: there is full puppet nudity.

More later. Gotta drive to Cottage Grove this morning.

June 26: Thursday Thirteen #2

It’s Thursday and time to participate in Thursday Thirteen! Get the details here.

The foods regularly purchased and consumed in our house are different than those before we had children. Some of these “kid” foods that have come back into our lives are still strictly for the kids. Froot Loops? Ack—so sweet! Apples, sliced and peeled? Why bother—they’re just as good without all that work. Other foods, though, have been welcomed into our diets again. These are 13 of those tasty treats.

13 kid foods I still enjoy

  1. Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. I’ll be honest; I never stopped eating this stuff.
  2. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I always had peanut butter around for baking and occasionally to spread on toast or waffles, but I had forgotten how wholesome a good PB&J tastes.
  3. Kool-Aid. Truthfully, I put a little less sugar than I’m supposed to, but I still love this sweet nectar.
  4. Smarties. I open up the wrapper, sort them by color, and eat them from the largest number to the smallest; exactly the way I ate them as a child.
  5. Strawberry milk. As a kid I’d put three or four times as many spoonfuls of that sugary powder as I should have. Now I add the correct amount but it tastes as good as I remember.
  6. Spaghettios. I don’t eat these often because I really don’t like them very much, but just the smell brings back memories of lunchtime in those olden days.
  7. Graham crackers. Yeah, they’re better with chocolate and toasted marshmallows. But even by themselves, I had forgotten how much I loved these.
  8. Tater tots. The cafeteria in college served these deep-fried a few times a week, and I swore I’d never eat them oven-baked again. But I refuse to own a deep fryer, so we’re back to oven baking. And they’re still pretty tasty.
  9. Popsicles. Nothing refreshes on a hot day like these.
  10. Canned peaches. Yes, nowadays I prefer a fresh peach, but sometimes these will do the job.
  11. Top Ramen. I ate this through college too, but stopped the minute I could afford real food. Now I usually eat it not as soup, but noodles. Sometimes sautéed a little, maybe with soy sauce.
  12. Toast with cinnamon sugar. And when the sugar melts a little into the hot butter? Oh my.
  13. Fruit Stripe gum. I don’t remember it being so sticky. But oh, those sweet, artificial fruit flavors. Yum.

June 25: I hate outside

This afternoon I went out on our deck with more skin exposed than normal. I was not even close to being nude so please don’t call the cops. I just had shorts and a tank top on and that, for me, is showing more skin than normal. (For my neighbors that are reading this, I’m sorry you had to see that. I don’t think it’ll happen again.)

I sat on one of the deck chairs for six seconds. Possibly ten minutes. I got hot very quickly. I also saw a bee. I remembered at that moment that I hate sunbathing and wondered why the hell I was even out there so I went back inside.

As I write this, approximately eight hours has passed since my outdoor adventure. An hour ago I noticed that my chest and shoulders are BRIGHT RED. I’ve never had a sunburn take so long to show itself. I am now grouchy and whiny and uncomfortable, and I think Vic is going to drug me so I’ll stop telling him how grouchy and whiny and uncomfortable I am. I’m gonna peel, and you KNOW that’ll be lovely. Six farking seconds in the sun and I’m a lobstery bitch! And I risked being stung by a bee.

Nature sucks.

June 24: Movie meme

Thanks once again to Chris for providing me with something to post this morning. I’ve changed the rules a little to accommodate the HTML-impaired. Use IMDB if you need to look up a movie.

Using the Entertainment Weekly list of the top 100 movies from the last 25 years you are commanded to:

  • Put an asterisk next to the movie if you’ve seen it
  • Put two asterisks next to the movies you’ve seen and liked (I am “meh” about a lot of the movies I’ve seen, so I only double-asterisked the ones I really, really, really liked)

  1. Pulp Fiction 1994
  2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy 2001-03
  3. *Titanic 1997
  4. Blue Velvet 1986
  5. **Toy Story 1995
  6. *Saving Private Ryan 1998
  7. *Hannah and Her Sisters 1986
  8. *The Silence of the Lambs 1991
  9. *Die Hard 1988
  10. *Moulin Rouge 2001
  11. **This Is Spinal Tap 1984
  12. The Matrix 1999
  13. GoodFellas 1990
  14. Crumb 1995
  15. *Edward Scissorhands 1990
  16. *Boogie Nights 1997
  17. *Jerry Maguire 1996
  18. Do the Right Thing 1989
  19. *Casino Royale 2006
  20. *The Lion King 1994
  21. Schindler’s List 1993
  22. *Rushmore 1998
  23. Memento 2001
  24. A Room With a View 1986
  25. *Shrek 2001
  26. Hoop Dreams 1994
  27. *Aliens 1986
  28. Wings of Desire 1988
  29. The Bourne Supremacy 2004
  30. **When Harry Met Sally… 1989
  31. Brokeback Mountain 2005
  32. Fight Club 1999
  33. **The Breakfast Club 1985
  34. *Fargo 1996
  35. **The Incredibles 2004
  36. *Spider-Man 2 2004
  37. *Pretty Woman 1990
  38. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 2004
  39. *The Sixth Sense 1999
  40. *Speed 1994
  41. Dazed and Confused 1993
  42. *Clueless 1995
  43. Gladiator 2000
  44. The Player 1992
  45. *Rain Man 1988
  46. Children of Men 2006
  47. *Men in Black 1997
  48. Scarface 1983
  49. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2000
  50. *The Piano 1993
  51. There Will Be Blood 2007
  52. *The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad 1988
  53. *The Truman Show 1998
  54. *Fatal Attraction 1987
  55. *Risky Business 1983
  56. The Lives of Others 2006
  57. *There’s Something About Mary 1998
  58. *Ghostbusters 1984
  59. *L.A. Confidential 1997
  60. Scream 1996
  61. *Beverly Hills Cop 1984
  62. sex, lies and videotape 1989
  63. *Big 1988
  64. No Country For Old Men 2007
  65. *Dirty Dancing 1987
  66. Natural Born Killers 1994
  67. Donnie Brasco 1997
  68. *Witness 1985
  69. All About My Mother 1999
  70. *Broadcast News 1987
  71. *Unforgiven 1992
  72. *Thelma & Louise 1991
  73. *Office Space 1999
  74. Drugstore Cowboy 1989
  75. Out of Africa 1985
  76. The Departed 2006
  77. Sid and Nancy 1986
  78. *Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991
  79. **Waiting for Guffman 1996
  80. Michael Clayton 2007
  81. Moonstruck 1987
  82. Lost in Translation 2003
  83. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn 1987
  84. Sideways 2004
  85. *The 40 Year-Old Virgin 2005
  86. Y Tu Mamá También 2002
  87. Swingers 1996
  88. *Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery 1997
  89. Breaking the Waves 1996
  90. *Napoleon Dynamite 2004
  91. *Back to the Future 1985
  92. Menace II Society 1993
  93. Ed Wood 1994
  94. Full Metal Jacket 1987
  95. In the Mood for Love 2001
  96. *Far From Heaven 2002
  97. Glory 1989
  98. The Talented Mr. Ripley 1999
  99. The Blair Witch Project 1999
  100. *South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut 1999

I’ve seen only 51. Enjoyed even less. Shameful!

June 23: Jellied piggy balls

Kate Spade, designer of fabulous handbags, has expanded her line in recent years to include shoes, home décor, eyeglasses, and many more desirable items. There are few things she’s done that I don’t completely and totally covet as my own.

These new little sandal-y things are, for me, her only true question mark thus far. At first glance they’re adorably girly and I love the big jewel type of thing on the strap, like jewelry for my piggies. But then I look closer and see that these are freakin’ jelly shoes. Like the jelly shoes I wore in high school. The ones that made my feet smell like old French fries. You know what I’m talking about. Jellies.

And because they’re transparent, you can see what the bottoms of the shoes look like. Oooh, traction! At least, I hope those ridges are on the bottom of the shoes. If they’re on the foot bed I think they would hurt my balls. (The balls on my feet, of course. I don’t have the other kind of balls. But if my feet are sore, I do like saying “My balls hurt!” when walking around in public. It’s fun. Try it sometime.)

Besides possibly being uncomfortable, these jellies are $60. That seems steep. They’re designer shoes, I know, but they’re still the freakin’ jelly shoes I wore in high school. Have you already forgotten that part?

Opinions, please. On the shoes, not the inappropriate public outbursts.

Thank you.

June 23: Measure twice? Ha.

Eleven years ago at this time, the house in which we currently live was being built. We had made all our color/carpet/vinyl/lighting selections, signed the papers, and sold our other house. We came by every few days to check on its progress. Puppy Scout even took a big poo in what was eventually the master bedroom. We were all very excited about moving into our new home.

Little did we know that something sinister was occurring in the house at that time. No, it wasn’t being haunted. It was much worse. Apparently the (finger quotes) builders (close finger quotes) spent most of their workdays sitting on their thumbs instead of building our house according to the blueprints. These evildoers were either blind or very inexperienced or four-year-olds or idiots; generally, their construction credo was “Meh.” Every time we have done something Home Depot-y to our house that requires even a small amount of precision, we have found more and more evidence of this.

Studs are typically 16 inches apart, are they not? There are areas in this house where there are no studs for several feet. I wish I was kidding or being even a little bit sarcastic; I am not. If there was ever a bar fight in here, people thrown against the walls would go right through them like cartoon characters. I think the only thing holding the roof up is the paint and what we now realize are load-bearing posters.

When we had our floors redone the contractor told us there was no ductwork behind one of our vents. Who knows, we’re probably heating our crawl space all winter long. When we replaced all the base trim after the floors were done, there were places where the walls went inward a good half inch away from the trim. Three tubs of putty later, I think it finally looks alright.

Once upon a time we wanted to hang shelves. A three-day-long flood of cursing ensued. Now the only thing holding up that wall is the spackle from all the “oops” holes. Oh, and the shelves. And the books on those shelves.

After today’s fiasco, I am more sure than ever that these (finger quotes) builders (close finger quotes) may not have even had a measuring tape in their possession at the time they were pretending to build our house. We tried for the fourth time to hang curtains in our family room windows. We’ve never been very successful because the windows are large, which means the curtains must be plentiful, which means they are heavy, which means they require extra-strong brackets. It seems that the area surrounding the family room windows is one of those with few to no studs, so getting the brackets to stay in the wall is a challenge. My solution (this time) was this: buy a big ol’ piece of wood and nail the hell out of it into the studs, then screw the brackets into that. Sounds brilliant, right? Thank you! I thought so too. But finding the elusive studs and determining a straight line in which to nail the hell out of them proved to be our biggest challenge yet. And this simple little task—nailing a straight board into what should be a straight wall—that turned into a day of cursing at those jackasses from 11 years ago really just made me hate our house more than ever.

Don’t give me any of that “at least you have a roof over your head!” stuff. Because I’m pretty sure we live in a 4-bedroom, 2½ bath structure of cleverly arranged sheetrock and we’re but a blustery day away from it being a pile of rubble.

June 21: Suck it, Deepak

Katie and Jack are gone for the weekend. Vic and I decided to work on another house project or two—this party’s coming up soon—but last night was our free night. We went to a movie. In a theater. I know, I can hardly believe it also.

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a first-run movie in a theater, much less on its opening day. With my purse chock-full of Hot Tamales, we went to a late showing of The Love Guru, starring Mike Meyers.

If you did not appreciate the Austin Powers movies, do not see The Love Guru. You will hate it. If, however, you have a decent sense of humor and a little extra patience with excessive fart jokes, you will enjoy the movie.

There are plenty of celebrity cameos and stars from The Daily Show. Loads of winks to other movies. Silly sutras and Indian names. Gratuitous pop song performances on a sitar. A urine mop fight I will, unfortunately, not soon forget. And did I mention the excessive fart jokes? But in spite of its thin plot and general silliness, we loved The Love Guru. It was entertaining. Or maybe it’s been too long since we’ve watched a good comedy.

Oh, and I am more in love with Justin Timberlake than ever, I think. He is surprisingly funny, and he’s got to be a good actor, because how else could a person’s devotion to Céline Dion be that believable?

June 20: He's left the beet farm

Rainn Wilson (Dwight Schrute on The Office) is in the newest issue of Entertainment Weekly. Check out these videos of Rainn being transformed into some of TV’s most memorable characters for EW’s photo shoot.

June 19: Thursday Thirteen #1

Alright, here’s my first stab at the Thursday Thirteen.

13 new words to try out

I tend to over-use certain words in my writing. I am not proud of this and hereby promise to put more effort into peppering my posts with new-and-improved descriptions. Here are thirteen of these over-used words and some possible replacements.

  1. Cool/awesome: splendid, ace, capital, breathtaking, magisterial
    “Our long-awaited sunny weather is splendid.”
  2. Bad/crappy: abominable, rank, frowzy,
    “The refrigerator was frowzy beyond belief. I am totally going to fire that maid.”
  3. Mean/evil: demoniacal, viperous, ogreish, detestable
    “Grandma was even more demoniacal during our last visit than she was on Christmas Day.”
  4. Love/adore: worship, revere, exalt, cherish
    “My husband is to be revered, as he reminds me frequently.”
  5. Hate: despise, loathe, revile
    “I loathe being reminded that I should revere my husband.”
  6. Favorite: pet, choice, darling
    “When the son is a despicable grouch, the daughter is easily our darling.”
  7. Beautiful: captivating, fetching, heavenly
    “The diamonds my husband gave me for no reason whatsoever are captivating.”
  8. Unattractive: beastly, repellent, toady
    “The neighbor’s yard upkeep is repellent, but it makes ours look less beastly.”
  9. Delicious/yummy: gustable, ambrosial, nectareous
    “The new chef they hired for us prepares perfectly ambrosial meals.”
  10. Sweet/nice/loving: winsome, fetching, precious
    “Because ‘precious’ is typically reserved to describe ugly babies, I’ll use ‘fetching’ more frequently.”
  11. Naughty: disorderly, ill-behaved, obstreperous, ungovernable
    “The children were particularly obstreperous when I was sleeping off my hangover this morning.”
  12. Child: moppet, nipper, bantling
    “Whoever said nippers should be cherished never tried to sleep off a hangover with them in the next room.”
  13. Eager/excited: bursting, athirst, agog
    “I am bursting to use these words in my future writing adventures.”

June 18: Yes, another one

If stealing memes is wrong, I don’t want to be right. (Thanks, Chris!)

  1. You have $10 and need to buy snacks at a gas station. What do you get?
    Something different every time; it depends on my mood
  2. If you were reincarnated as a sea creature, what would you want to be?
    A bad-ass piranha
  3. Who’s your favorite redhead?
    I don’t know many. Probably Katie’s piano teacher—she’s really great.
  4. What do you order when you’re at IHOP?
    The only time I go to IHOP is when they’re doing funnel cakes and I always regret it afterward
  5. Last book you read?
    “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith
  6. Describe your mood.
    Tired and a little grouchy
  7. Describe the last time you were injured.
    Five seconds ago. I get hurt all the time.
  8. Of all your friends, who would you want to be stuck in a well with?
  9. Rock concert or symphony?
    Probably the concert
  10. What is the wallpaper of your cell phone?
    A big, red gerbera daisy
  11. Favorite soda?
    When I drink it, probably Mountain Dew
  12. What type of shirt are you wearing?
  13. If you could only use one form of transportation?
    I’m totally stealing Chris’ answer: teleportation
  14. Most recent movie you have watched in theater?
    I have no memory of going to a theater in the past year
  15. Name an actor/actress/singer you have had the hots for.
    Jon Stewart
  16. What’s your favorite kind of cake?
    Darlene makes a wonderful pistachio pudding cake
  17. What did you have for dinner last night?
    Pear and gorgonzola pizza with honey-wheat dough at California Pizza Kitchen. Yum!
  18. Look to your left, what do you see?
    Vitamins, cuticle trimmer, coaster, USB drive, pencil cup
  19. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
    Not usually
  20. Favorite toy as a child?
    Probably a doll. I was such a girlie-girl
  21. Do you buy your own groceries?
    Vic does most the grocery shopping
  22. Do you think people talk about you behind your back?
    I’m sure of it
  23. When was the last time you had gummy worms?
    A couple weeks ago
  24. What’s your favorite fruit?
  25. Do you have a picture of yourself doing a cartwheel?
    I have never been able to do a cartwheel and don’t appreciate being reminded of it
  26. Do you like running long distances?
    I just passed out from laughing very hard at that question
  27. Have you ever eaten snow?
  28. What color are your bedsheets?
  29. What’s your favorite flower?
    Today? Hydrangeas
  30. Do you do ballet?
    Oh! Just passed out again!
  31. Do you listen to classical music?
  32. What is the first TV theme song that pops in your head?
    “Come and knock on our door…” (Three’s Company)
  33. Do you watch Sponge Bob?
    I’ve seen it
  34. What temperature is it outside right now?
    About 60°
  35. Do people consider you smart?
    I think people assume I’m smart because of the kind of work I do, but then they get to know me and find out I’m really just a big dummy
  36. How many piercings do you have?
    Two in each ear lobe
  37. Are you signed on to AIM?
  38. Have you ever tried gluing your fingers together?
    Never intentionally
  39. How do you feel about your family?
    I love, love, love them all but-cept that evil granny
  40. Do you have an iPod?
    No, I have a crappy little 1MB Sandisk thing but I absolutely love it
  41. What time do you go to bed?
    Between 11 and 12
  42. What CD is currently in your CD player?
    The Rent movie soundtrack
  43. What movie do you know every line to?
    Sixteen Candles
  44. What is your favorite salad dressing?
    Blue cheese
  45. What do you want for Christmas this year?
    A maid
  46. What family member/friend lives the farthest from you? Where?
    Vic’s sister and her family live in Shenzhen, China
  47. Do you like hugs?
  48. Last time you had butterflies in your stomach?
    Before Katie’s piano recital
  49. What’s the way people most often mispronounce any part of your name?
    People usually say Man-you-lang or Man-you-long. It’s Mon-oo-long or Mon-along.
  50. Last person you hugged?
    My son

Your turn.

June 18: Everything is Rent

I’m a teensy bit obsessed with Rent. Blame my seester. She said she liked it, so I bought the DVD and watched it and also liked it because I do whatever she tells me to do. The DVD or movie soundtrack plays at least once a day in our house. Jack sings along to “Seasons of Love,” on the “Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes” line, which I think is kinda impressive. What is not so impressive is hearing Katie singing along to “Tango Maureen” and “Take Me or Leave Me,” both of which are laced with words of the, um, unsavory variety. Damn.

I mean, rats.

When the kids are around I skip some sections of the movie or temporarily turn down the volume. Some people might call that censorship. People like me. But I’m not a totally careless parent. Rent deals with some decidedly non-kid issues that I don’t feel ready (or able) to explain fully to Katie and Jack.

Katie: Why does Angel dress like a girl if he’s a boy?
Jack: Why are those people watching that girl dance in her unders?

On the other hand, it creates the opportunity to approach topics I want my children to understand. Katie asked why Collins was so sad after Angel died. I told her it was because he and Angel loved each other very much, that they were sort of married. When she argued that they were both boys, I said, “Sometimes boys love boys, and sometimes girls love girls. People can love whoever they want to.” She seemed alright with that answer. I didn’t get into the politics of same-sex marriage and how some people think recognizing additional solid family units is a threat to our society. Nor did I take a jab at our current joke of a president’s close-mindedness. There’s pa-lenty of time for that in the other 23.8 hours of each day.

Rent is hitting Portland on its current tour and I’m eager to see it on stage, especially because Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal are reprising their roles as Mark and Roger. Katie is already begging to go; Vic and I are not yet sure it’s a good idea. We’ll see—it’s a year away.

The other night the original cast of the stage musical appeared on the Tony Awards show. It was fabulous to see them all together and hear them perform “Seasons of Love.” There were just two disappointing things: where was Jesse L. Martin? And why did the dreamy Taye Diggs look like the love child of Malcolm X and Steve Urkel?

June 17: Happy Birthday, Kristine!

Today is my friend Kristine's birthday. I haven't seen her in forever since she moved out of my neighborhood. This makes me sad. She was my favorite neighbor. I have a new favorite neighbor now, but she's not as cool as Kristine and never will be.

I hope Michael, Jonathan and Jennifer treat you extra-special today--you deserve it! And someday I hope I'll see you again.

June 15: I will mess you up

Before the school year closed, both Katie and Jack brought home backpackfuls of papers and projects every day (can we all say “tomorrow’s garbage”?). The kindergarteners had even more stuff; earlier in the week we were asked to send in grocery bags in which they’d bring the rest of it home. The most important thing was their reading notebook, which shows their progress in learning words throughout the school year. We’ve been impressed with the reading skills Jack acquired in kindergarten so I was eager to see this item, especially.

On Wednesday Jack took quite a while walking home from the bus stop. The yearbooks had been distributed and I figured he was asking his bus friends to sign his (he was). But when he finally rounded the corner and got closer to the house I could see he was upset. He was trying to be a big boy but his chin was quivering and I could see his eyes were about to spill over with tears. I asked what was wrong and he said, “I lost my bag. I put it down and it’s gone. I looked everywhere.” He had his backpack on so I didn’t know what bag he was talking about. This upset him even more, that he had to explain it further to me.

Then I remembered the all-important kindergarten bag and what a big deal it was when Katie brought hers home two years ago. I said, “Well, let’s go look for it,” and Jack brightened—I think he expected me to say it didn’t matter. Hey kid, I’m not pure evil.

We hopped in the car and drove up to the bus stop. He pointed to where he had left the bag when his friends were signing each other’s yearbooks, and just like he said, there was no bag. We walked around and looked behind trees and plants. The brick bench thingie. A small fence. Nothing.

And that’s when I turned into Mama Bear. The sadder Jack got, the angrier I got. I thought, “How DARE some little $#!+-head kid steal Jack’s stuff!” There are about 30 kids at that bus stop, so I knew there wasn’t much chance I’d find the guilty little Goldilocked bastard and be able to hurt him. (Notice, I assume it’s a boy. Girls don’t do that stuff, right?)

I hoped maybe a parent saw the bag, recognized its importance, and picked it up to deliver to us. Maybe they would even thoughtfully frame each item.

I was just about to comfort Jack and tell him there was nothing we could do when I noticed some stuff piled up around someone’s garbage can at the curb. I told him to check it even though it looked like recycling. He ran over and said, “No…” and then screamed, “Wait, here it is! I found my bag! Someone thought it was garbage and put it by the garbage but I found it!”

And that’s when I transformed from Big Bitchy Bear™ back into Jen.

There hasn’t been a lot of opportunity for our kids to be hurt by other kids. Part of this is simply because their friends are nice, and part is because they’re young. I’m thankful for this but know there is probably plenty of this kind of intervention in our future. I hope when the time comes that I’m able to deal with it as a rational parent, somewhere between the Mama Bear and the mom who wants her kids to just leave her alone until the drugs start taking effect.

Wish me luck, won’t you?

June 14: Mary's big day

Happy Birthday, Mom!

I hope your day is perfect in every way. We love you!

June 14: The critic

Excitement levels are high in our house right now because in just a couple days Julianne and Jacob will be here. Sonya too. Part of the breakfast conversation this morning went like this:

Jack: Guess who my favorite cousin is?
Vic: Adeline?
Jack: NO!! Not Adeline! She’s a girl.
Vic: Then I’m gonna guess…
Jack: It’s Jacob! Jacob! Know why? Because we both have lots of Legos.

He’s easy.

We told Katie and Jack that they need to clean their bedrooms and playroom today so their cousins can come over next week. Big groans all around. They’re not embarrassed by the mess. But Vic and I are, especially because last year when Jacob came over he said, “I don’t mean to be rude, but this is the messiest house I’ve ever seen.”

I will not be surprised if Jacob gets a job as host of one of those shows like Clean Sweep or Mission: Organization. He won’t be the guy who decides what needs to be done, or the one that does any of the work. He’ll just be the one that points out how terrible it all looks in the “before” pictures.

June 13: Steve rocks, really

My nephew Stephen is in a band and they. Are. Awesome. I stole this pic from his MySpace page because I think it looks great and I'll use any excuse to show him off a little. (Kath, let me know where I can find a good photo of Sean so I can be an equal opportunity proud auntie.)

June 12: Sign of the apocalypse?

Oh my Bob, this is huge. HUGE.

The Adventist hospital in Portland now sells Mountain Dew in its cafeteria. Mountain Dew! And coffee, too—the real stuff. I predict if they continue this trend, the next new menu item will be Coors Light (Light because it’s healthier and you know those wacky Adventists are all about health).

I saw four horsemen hitching up outside the E.R. this afternoon, but I don’t know if one has to do with the other. Thoughts?

June 11: Random Q&A

Meme stolen from Chris.

What is in the back of your car?
Trunk is empty except for the dead bodies. Back seat has Jack’s booster seat and an umbrella

Name one person that made you smile today.
That boy I made—he’s a funny kid

What were you doing at 8 am this morning?
Answering e-mails

What were you doing 45 minutes ago?
Taking Jack to school

What is your favorite candy bar?
Probably Milky Way or Butterfinger

Have you ever been to a strip club?

What is the last thing you said aloud?
Probably something profane

What is the best ice cream flavor?

What was the last thing you had to drink?

What are you wearing right now?
Like always, I’m totally nude and at risk for a painful burn with my laptop on my… uh… lap

What was the last thing you ate?

Have you bought any new clothing items this week?

When was the last time you ran?
Me? Run? Do you even know me?

The last sporting event you watched?
Baseball game on FSN

What is your favorite flavor of popcorn?
Kettle corn

Who is the last person you sent a comment/message to on MySpace?
Rarely get on MySpace

Do you take vitamins daily?

Do you go to church every Sunday?

Do you have a tan?
Maybe compared to Michael Jackson; otherwise, no

Do you like Chinese food over pizza?
Depends where the Chinese food came from. I’m a bit of a Chinese food snob.

Do you drink your soda with a straw?
Not usually

What did your last text message say?
“Jealous, Kath?”

Are you someone’s best friend?
I hope so

What are you doing tomorrow?
I have to work and run errands

Look to your left, what do you see?
My vitamins and pencil cup

What color is your watch?

What do you think of when you think of Australia?
Sydney Harbour

Do you use Chapstick?
Nope, Carmex is my lip balm of choice

What is your birthstone?

What is your favorite number?
I don’t have one

Do you have a dog?
Two, a Beagle and a rat terrier

Last person you talked to on the phone?
My mother-in-law

Have you met anyone famous?
Most recently met Armistead Maupin for the second time

Any plans today?
Taking Katie to piano lessons, then both kids to Grandpa & Grandma’s for the night. Yay!

How many states have you lived in?
One, unless you count college—then two

Ever go to college?
Yes, and I even graduated eventually

Do you dye your hair?
The fact that I have to is just more proof there is no God—grey on me is incredibly unattractive

Biggest annoyance in your life right now?
Frequent headaches

Last song listened to?
Music from Ratatouille

Can you say the alphabet backwards?
If you give me a lot of time

Do you have a maid service clean your house?
No, but I promise you my next husband will let me have a maid

Favorite pair of shoes you wear all the time?
Walking shoes

Are you jealous of anyone?
Not usually

Is anyone jealous of you?
Lord, I don’t see why they would be

Do you love anyone?

Do any of your friends have children?

Do you eat healthy?
Yes, if the four food groups are Whipped, Congealed, Empty Calories, and Chocotastic

What do you usually do during the day?
Work, blog, let the dogs in and out and in again (repeat)

Do you hate anyone that you know right now?
No one that matters (how’s that for an answer?)

Do you use the word ‘hello’ daily?
Of course—I’m not a cavewoman

What color is your car?

Do you like cats?

Have you ever been to Six Flags?
Magic Mountain is a Six Flags park, right? Then yes.

How did you get your worst scar?
I fell off something a few inches off the ground when I was two years old and got a scar near my left eye that looks like a dimple when I smile. I guess my C-section scars are worse but people don’t comment on them because I often wear underpants.

Your turn! Answer in a comment.

June 11: Someone’s gonna pay

I’ve been up since 4 a.m.

Vic is still snoring away and it’s looking more and more like I’m going to have to make my own coffee. This day is just getting worse and worse.

I do not “do” mornings. I am not a morning person. So why the [censored] did I wake up so early? I could blame Casey, who shook her jangly collar one too many times. Or maybe I should blame it on:

Ooooh, that last one is tempting. Meh. I may never know. But I do know this: as soon as the kids are off to school I am soooooo going back to bed.

June 10: The Office in Malaysia

If you click MENU the window will re-size to fit the space.

June 10: Jen gets lucky

Hold me, Internet. I’m scared.

A couple days ago I posted a picture of a shirt I want to wear on my 40th birthday. My mom commented on the post (a bit scandalously, I might add), and then e-mailed to ask where she could purchase the shirt. I’m assuming she wants to buy it for me, seeing as how it clearly states on the front that it is to be worn by a 40-year-old.

And this is what scares me. My mom is encouraging—nay, helping—me to get felt up by total strangers. Even if she was suggesting that my friends grope me a little, that’s still a level of weirdness I’m not sure I can tolerate from my mother. I had no idea about her aspirations to be a pimp, and I simply do not know what to do with this information. These feelings are new and strange and most certainly not wonderful. So again, I say: hold me, Internet. I’m scared.

P.S. Don’t tell her this but, truthfully, I think the design would look better on an apron. I want to wear it at the party in July, and then all year long at our neighborhood BBQs. Because I kinda have my eye on that one neighbor dude... shhhhhhh...

June 9: Way fierce

With a headline like this...

Controversial Court Ruling Upholds Homosexual's Right To Prance Around Demanding Attention And Being A Drama Queen

...you know you've got to follow this link to read the article at The Onion. My favorite part? Thanks for asking. I love the paragraph detailing the history of gay rights.

June 8: Age-appropriate attire

Oh man, I just found the perfect thing to wear when I celebrate my birthday in Vegas. I'm sure to get some action in this thing:

By the way, Mom, by "action," I mean laughs.

Yep. Laughs.

June 8: Happy day to W&D

Happy Anniversary to my favorite parents-in-law! Wellington and Darlene were married 45 years ago today, and baby Victor was born a premature 10 pounds about six months later. Hm.

(Actually, he was born 13½ months later and it was his head that weighed 10 pounds... 'er somethin' like that...)

June 7: Letter to Dad

Dear Dad,

It’s been three years now that you’ve been gone. I can’t begin to catch you up on everything but I’d like to share some of the more recent happenings.

Remember at Kathy’s 40th birthday party, when you were horrified at the lack of completion of our painting and trim projects in the living room and dining room? Well, four years later they are still incomplete. I have new furniture but haven’t quite gotten around to the painting stuff. But with all you taught me about the importance of primer, you can see why the project is such an undertaking, right? What? You can’t? You’re still horrified? Oh.

But remember the half bath, which also needed new trim and some wall repair? It’s done! It’s totally done! I even primed and repainted the whole thing, and the room is smaller now because of it. Aren’t you proud of me? What? You’re still thinking about how shameful my living room and dining room are? Oh.

You know those portraits we have going up our stairs, of each of our family members at our wedding? Well, my mom—yes, that woman you once had the smarts to marry—thought she’d be oh-so-clever and replace her a-hole ex-husband’s (not yours!) picture with Rupert Everett’s… Yeah, I know. I shouldn’t have said a-hole. Sorry. Can I get back to what I was saying? … Everyone that noticed Rupert Everett’s picture thought it was hilarious. But it bothered Katie so she peeled it off. Mom noticed Rupert missing the next time she visited, so she thought she’d be oh-so-clever another way and hang the photo upside down and crooked. Katie (who is “OCD, like you and me!”) went to fix it later and it fell off the wall, bounced down the stairs, and shattered. She was very upset. I totally blame Mom. I know, you do too. Now there’s a big hole where Mom’s portrait was. It throws off the feng shui of the arrangement. I need to rearrange all the frames. I know, I know. It’s on my list.

Yes. Yeeeeeeeeees. The list is very long and very old. Yes. I’m sorry I mentioned it. Can I change the subject?

Katie played in her first piano recital last week. She did well, and we were so proud of her. I know you would have been there and hated every moment but hers and insisted she was better than even the high-schoolers. And the reason I brought Mint Milanos to the reception instead of Double Stuf Oreos? Duh, I didn’t want to share the Oreos.

You know, Mom buys Oreos for the kids because they were your favorite cookie. Can you believe that? I don’t think she ever bought Oreos for me. I wonder when she’s going to start buying them turkey ham and remove the packaging and tell them it’s real ham. ‘Member when she did that to you, but we all kept it a secret until I finally spilled the beans when I was an adult? And then you were torn between feeling swindled and being impressed at her wily ways? Ha! I loved that. C’mon, you did too.

Speaking of mystery meat, Darlene let Katie have some Hickory Farms Summer Sausage one day and now she asks for it all the time. Doesn’t that make you proud? ‘Cept I know if you shared a plate that you’d let her have about a tenth of what you ate yourself because that’s your thing.

I try not to think about this much because it makes me incredibly sad, but I’m afraid Jack isn’t going to remember you very well. I think he knows he’s supposed to miss you because he says pretty often that he does. But don’t worry—we are all working to keep your memory alive. That’s why Mom gets the Oreos. And when I walk into the kids’ rooms and tell them it’s clean-up time and kick around everything they’ve left on the floor, I tell them to stop crying and look, I’m just being like Grandpa Curt. Kathy has plans this summer to have them follow her around and pick up every piece of carpet lint and speck of dust she points to. So, y’see, Jack’s too young to remember much about you personally, but we’ll make sure he knows who his Grandpa Curt was, for better or worse.

Dad, I’m sorry to tell you that Ralph Knudson passed away unexpectedly a year ago. I’m actually glad you weren’t around for it because it would have been very hard for you. He was such a kind man and respected you very much and had such nice things to say at your memorial service. I know that you would have felt terrible for April but I’m also sure that you would have found a way to tell her that would mean a lot to her. You always came through at times like that with surprisingly heartfelt messages. It almost made up for the times you were kind of a shithead.

Heh heh. I didn’t mean to say that. Well, I didn’t mean to say that to you.

Mom, Kathy, Katie and I went to the Saltmarsh Christmas Eve thing this past year. It was a lot of fun even though we didn’t recognize most of the generation after ours. Uncle Mel pretended to remember us but I think we just confused him. (I’ll never forget what our cousin Deanna said about planning her daughter’s wedding reception to be held on their property: “If I can just keep Uncle Mel from peeing in the yard, I’ll call it a success.”)

I ran into Lori at Keller Auditorium the other night. No, not your niece Lori; the girl you thought of as “Hickory Farms Lori.” She’s now lost her dad too. It really has sucked for me and Kathy to be the voices of experience as our best friends have gone through the hell of saying goodbye to their fathers. At the same time, it’s nice to be able to put our grief to some good use and be a shoulder for their very special families.

Admit it, you want to know but could never bring yourself to ask: yes, Mom’s doing really well. She’s got a beautiful home and is very happy being back in Medford. Kathy and I love that she’s using the Saltmarsh name again; in fact, I think she’s more of Saltmarsh than you ever were. She’s run into lots of old friends. Oh, and guess what? She voted DEMOCRAT. Heh heh. Doesn’t that just rattle your chains?

Well, I didn’t make it to Shari’s for breakfast this morning like I’d planned to, but I’ll be going this afternoon. I’ll take in the newspaper and do the crossword puzzle in PEN at the counter and only order coffee, just like you always did. And I might stop for a Big Mac later today but I won’t put one in each hand and drive down the freeway. That was really dangerous, Dad—it’s kinda surprising you lived as long as you did with that bad habit.

I miss you and I love you and I’m thinking about you today more than usual. Hope the harp music isn’t driving you nuts or it’s not too hot, wherever you are.

June 6: Dreams, Dad, Drugs

Gah, I had the strangest dream last night.

  • Strange thing #1: I was friends with all the Sex and the City women. We were at the same college, though apparently just hanging out on campus and not attending. And one day I just sorta realized, “Hey, these women are famous all over the world and here they are on our little college campus, doing the same things we do and being our friends!”
  • Strange thing #2: All of them except Sarah Jessica Parker—who was not Carrie, but SJP—were killed in a car accident in Japan or someplace like that (this might stem from Chris’ fakey movie spoilers—thanks, jackass!). Miranda’s funeral was held soon afterward. Charlotte’s funeral was later and we were getting ready to go. Sarah Jessica was very upset and we were all comforting her but I think mostly we just wanted to pretend this celebrity needed us normal people.
  • Strange thing #3: The third woman was not Samantha but some other woman, and she showed up at Charlotte’s funeral. Then we all went to hers together. Yes, we all went to hers together. And I tried to put pantyhose on over my pantyhose. And Vic was mad because he couldn’t find our The Little Mermaid DVD and he thought we should play it during at least one of the funerals.
  • Strange thing #4: My dad was alive again. We’d had his funeral in 2005 but his death had been faked by the spy organization he was working for. Kath and I always suspected this...
  • Strange thing #5: My mom made us have another funeral for our dad and made him attend. It was held on a hill in rural Clackamas County and we all sat on logs like it was summer camp. Dad sat and took notes throughout the whole thing, probably of errors made in the eulogy. I chose “Time of Your Life” to be played at the service.

I woke up with the words to “Time of Your Life” going through my head. I looked up the lyrics and some of them seem somewhat appropriate for a funeral, but if you really examine them, it really is more of a break-up song—which is what Green Day kept trying to explain to people when the song got overplayed as a “good memories” song. Anyway, here they are:

Another turning point;
a fork stuck in the road.
Time grabs you by the wrist;
directs you where to go.
So make the best of this test
and don't ask why.
It's not a question
but a lesson learned in time.

It's something unpredictable
but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

So take the photographs
and still frames in your mind.
Hang it on a shelf
In good health and good time.
Tattoos of memories
and dead skin on trial.
For what it's worth,
it was worth all the while.

It's something unpredictable
but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

Tomorrow it will be three years since my dad died. And what’s been going through my mind over the past few weeks as I’ve anticipated this anniversary is that I wonder if Dad had regrets. I like to think he enjoyed his time here, that he loved us and was happy with his life, for the most part. I do wonder if—if he ever would have admitted them—he wished he’d done things differently. And if he had known he was going to die when he did, how he would have spent his last days. Quite frankly, I think he would have spent them alone and crying. He never had a very good hold on his emotions and he hated being seen in a vulnerable state. He probably wouldn’t have known what to do with the last of his time here and would have felt totally overwhelmed by it. I guess for his sake, I’m glad he went unexpectedly so he didn’t have time to think about those things.

I’m also glad he didn’t grow ancient and bedridden because oh, how he would have hated that. But if I could have it the way I want? I would want him here because I have missed him every single day for three years. He’s never far from my thoughts. I still think “I need to call Dad” when I find things that would make him laugh. I still hear his overused jokes and phrases that were so “him.” In all the ways he drove me crazy and in all the ways I adored him, I wish it could be so very, very different.

I’m planning on writing something about him here tomorrow, hopefully in a more positive way. But as you think about what you’ll be doing tomorrow, I would be honored if you would do at least one of the ten things on this list to remember Curt Saltmarsh. Thanks. We all thank you.

As for the strange dreams, I’ve been on potent painkillers the past few days because of this headache. I think they’re to blame. I’m going to blame them anyway. Because if it’s not the drugs, then it’s just me; it’s just my wacky little brain coming up with this stuff all on its own. And that is more frightening than the dreams themselves.

June 6: A mosaic of moi

My friend Chris says stolen memes are the best and I believe him.

The concept:
1. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
2. Using only the first page of results, pick one image.
3. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into Big Huge Lab’s Mosaic Maker to create a mosaic of the picture answers.

The questions:
1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food? right now?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. What is your favorite drink?
7. What is your dream vacation?
8. What is your favorite dessert?
9. What do you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. What is one word that describes you?
12. What is your flickr name?

Here's my resulting mosaic.

1. Jennifer, 2. Filet mignon, 3. Portland (Adventist Academy), 4. navy blue, 5. today I love John Krasinski, 6. anything with the delightfully delicious green Midori, 7. Kaanapali/Maui, 8. creme brulee, 9. Samantha Brown (that Travel Channel wench, oh-I-hate-her-so-much), 10. my family (this particular pic is of the one I married), 11. grouchy, 12. JSaltmarshManullang (48x48 buddy icons are uglified when forced to display larger than 48x48)

I won't tag anyone in particular, but if you haven't already set up a Flickr account here's a good excuse to do it and then you can do this meme too. Jus' sayin'...


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