Nov. 29: Home at last

We’re home, finally. We left Medford this afternoon and got back to Portland just after 7 tonight. Why is sitting in a car so exhausting? I’m speaking for me and Vic, of course—the kids have energy to spare and are tearing up the playroom as I write.

Millie was happy to see us. One of our sweet neighbor girls checked on her every day so she wasn’t alone the whole week. It seems she spent her solitary confinement adopting some new, very naughty habits, like jumping on the counters and tables. The squirt bottle put a stop to that but quick. (Know what works better than water in a squirt bottle? Acid in a squirt bottle.)

I worked on our trip report on the way home until my laptop battery died around Roseburg. I’ll try to get it finished tomorrow and post it with some photos.

There are comments to reply to, blogs to catch up with, and e-mails to answer. They’ll have to wait. I’m looking forward to falling asleep in my own bed, very soon.

I’ll leave you with this photo, which Katie took Thursday morning in Alamo Square. Budding photographer, eh?

Nov. 29: Happy birthday, Sheila!

Sheila, here are the birthday gifts I’d give you if I was giving you birthday gifts.

A regular maid to take care of all that laundry, cleaning, and cooking. And she’ll have some military background so she cleans things exactly the way you like them.

A massage therapist that does house calls, along with Mary Poppins, who will keep Aiden and Chloe busy while you’re being pampered.

Regular mani-pedis. Weekly? Yes, I think weekly’s good.

A vacation to Belize because I know you love it there.

A lottery ticket, preferably a winner, that will ensure you are able to stay home with your children for as many years as you’d like.

Have a great day, Sheila! You deserve it, my sweet friend.

Nov. 28: Happy day for Ed

Today is Auntie Ed’s birthday. He’s older than me, but not much. I had no idea what to get him—besides new shoes to replace the ones my sister stole from him—so I asked Google what Ed wants. Here’s what I found:

Ed wants...

  • bad drivers ripped off the road
  • your money
  • to know when his library books are due
  • to focus more on his painting, and do less tattooing
  • to know why Northwest Airlines attendants get testy when you don't have correct change for a cocktail
  • me to use all of my free time to exercise (why should *I* have to suffer just because it’s your birthday?)
  • to know why he wants to kill people
  • everyone to check out a rap video about hating kittens
  • to know how much you make
  • to marry his stalker
  • a superhero team based on reptiles and amphibians
  • to fly
  • to be a Blondie girl
  • a do-over
  • naked customers
  • his son to know he finally put the pool in the backyard
  • your phone number again (stupid iPhone can’t remember anything)
  • to have one Christian church in every post office area
  • to bring his bow and arrows
  • to return to the street
  • to go to Chuck E. Cheese (With your bow and arrows? Please?)
  • action, now
  • to crush Dennis with a toast at the engagement party
  • to keep your work and you looking good—with protective coverings
  • to be a macroeconomic time-series econometrician, and use the patterns of previous housing- and consumer-driven recessions to analyze what is going on
  • a midnight foot worship
  • to make your drinking a fuller experience for you
  • to know: “Are the treatments for hair loss expensive?”

You can expect all of these in the mail soon(ish). Have a great day, Ed!

Nov. 27: Happy stuff-your-face day

I wrote this before I left on vacation and scheduled it to be posted today. In other words, if I have died on my vacation I want to assure you I’m not posting from the beyond. Although I’m totally gonna try that if/when I die.

I hope you’re enjoying your Thanksgiving dinner today. Think of us, traveling up Interstate 5, eating at Denny’s or McDonalds. That’s one of the weird things about traveling over the holidays, getting stuck in a loser-y restaurant with a bunch of losers who weren’t invited to anyone’s loser-y house for the day. ‘Course, they might be traveling just like us and otherwise be very popular, well-liked people, just like us. ~cough cough~

More later.

Nov. 26: I’m still gone, OK?

I wrote this before I left on vacation and scheduled it to be posted today. In other words, if I have died on my vacation I want to assure you I’m not posting from the beyond. Although I’m totally gonna try that if/when I die.

I’m tired of writing posts to publish while I’m gone. Go read someone else’s blog. Scroll down to “Other Blogs I Read” and click on some of those. And then follow links on their blogrolls. And on those bloggers’ blogrolls.

I’ll be back at my computer tomorrow sometime, hopefully with something fresh and new to share with you. Until then...

Nov. 25: Leaving my heart

I wrote this before I left on vacation and scheduled it to be posted today. In other words, if I have died on my vacation I want to assure you I’m not posting from the beyond. Although I’m totally gonna try that if/when I die.

If all has gone as planned, we’re in San Francisco right now. Tonight we’re going over to Alameda to our friends’ house for dinner. We met Nobbi and Jack on our cruise last year and have occasionally e-mailed and Facebook-ed ever since. We’re excited to see them again and to meet their hilarious beagles. (How do I know they’re hilarious? Because, you silly reader, all beagles are hilarious! Duh.)

The weather forecast for San Francisco before we left was rain, rain, rain. Being from Portland, we’re used to rain but it’s still disappointing to have on vacation. Cross your fingers for us that it doesn’t dampen the spirit of our vacation. Get it? Dampen? (Don’t you wish I would just shut up and not pre-write posts so stupid as these?)

OK, I’ll try harder. Here are some of my favorite things to see and do in San Francisco.

Alcatraz. We’re not going on this trip, but hope to take the kids when they’re a little older and can appreciate it more. It’s a pretty amazing experience.

Alamo Square. Although our one visit to this spot has not the happiest of memories associated with it (long story!), the view is amazing. Alamo Square is the spot where you see the beautiful Victorian mansions with the city skyline rising behind them. Alamo Square is also, apparently, where there is a lot of unsavory and unlawful activity going on. My previous visit was short. I’m not sure if we’ll go this time, but it could be a good spot for Christmas card photos if the skies are somewhat clear.

Beach Blanket Babylon. Funniest, bawdiest, silliest musical revue you ever did see.

Rose Pistola restaurant. We went there a few years ago and it was one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten anywhere. Fun environment and close to Club Fugazi, where you’ll see Beach Blanket Babylon. Win-win-win.

Filbert Steps. Walking down the hill from Coit Tower, April, Debi and I discovered a different and much more beautiful route than the road up: the Filbert Steps are a hidden little gem of private gardens and beautiful views in a surprisingly peaceful setting. I’m not a fan of birds but otherwise it was near perfection.

Washington Square. I don’t know why I love this North Beach park so much, but I do.

Union Square shopping. I don’t plan to do much of this on this trip, but it’s usually my first stop. I love the combination of crappy souvenir shops and upscale boutiques mixed in between the huge department stores. Vic hates when I shop here because he thinks every time I go to Crate & Barrel I buy a punch bowl. I’d like to state, for the record, that I have only bought one punch bowl in my whole life. (Don’t tell him, because he obviously has not yet noticed, but it’s actually new sets of dishes that I always seem to end up bringing home from my shopping excursions here.)

Of course, there are the cable cars, the crookedest street, the bridges, Ghirardelli Square, Golden Gate Park, and all the other things that make up the list of must-sees in San Francisco. It would take a long time to run out of things to do. This is an amazing place. Wish you were here, kinda!

Nov. 24: I’m a big girl now

I wrote this before I left on vacation and scheduled it to be posted today. In other words, if I have died on my vacation I want to assure you I’m not posting from the beyond. Although I’m totally gonna try that if/when I die.

Today we’re on our way to San Francisco. I’ve been there many times over the past 20+ years, but I always look forward to going back again. Besides the city being beautiful and there always being lots to see and do, there are fabulous restaurants and shopping. No matter how long the visit, I’m never ready to leave.

I want to share one of my favorite memories of San Francisco. I was on a reunion trip with three other girls from high school. We had gone there for a class trip our sophomore year and vowed to return in ten years (that would make this 1994, math geniuses). And we did this reunion trip right. Instead of sleeping on the floor of a grade school gym like we did in 1984, we stayed at The Palace. Instead of riding around in a van full of farting boys, we traveled by limousine. It was a trip that represented many things to us, not the least of which was enduring friendships.

For the most part the four of us agreed on the things we wanted to do, but there was one day we were all headed in different directions and I ended up spending the day alone. I loved it; the weather was perfect and I walked all over the city, shopping and sightseeing. Late in the afternoon I got in line at the Ghirardelli Square cable car turnaround to head back to the hotel. The line was long and I stood there for more than two hours looking out into the bay and watching street entertainers. I remember feeling complete happiness with my place in life at that moment. It was really the first time I’d ever done anything so independent, traveling around a strange city by myself but not feeling scared or that I didn’t belong. I fell in love with San Francisco when I saw it for the first time in 1984, but I fell in love with my adulthood when I came back ten years later.

Nov. 23: Road trip, day 1

Today we loaded up the minivan and drove to Medford. The trip was uneventful, the best kind. And now here I am, in front
of my computer. Yes, I lied yesterday. I said I’d be away from my computer for a while, but I’m not. It wasn’t exactly a lie; I didn’t really think about what I’d be doing once we got to Medford. We’re doing what people do in Medford: a lot of nothing. Oh, that’s not nice, is it? I love Medford, I do. It’s just not a place I go for, y’know, action. We got here, ate dinner, did some shopping, and now I’m messing with our cell phones and cameras to get ready for the trip.

The dogs have not stopped barking.

We’re taking off early tomorrow morning for the drive into San Francisco.

Nov. 22: Buh-bye

I’ve written a post or two to be published while I’m gone, so even though I’ll be away from my computer for a few days you’ll still be hearing from me, sorta.

Sing with me:

♫ All my bags are packed
I’m ready to go (technically they’re not yet totally packed and that means I’m not yet ready to go)
I’m standin’ here outside your door (I’m not. I’m sitting in front of my computer in my own house.)
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye (so I won’t)
♫ But the dawn is breakin’
It’s early morn (Nah, it’s almost midnight Saturday)
The taxi’s waitin’ (no, it’s not)
♪ He’s blowin’ his horn (what the hell is that noise?)
Already I’m so lonesome
I could die (I’m not really that lonesome at all, nor do I want to die)

♪ So kiss me (just a hug is fine) and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me (to eat mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, of course)
♫ Hold me like you’ll never let me go (again, a hug is just fine)
‘cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane (it’s not so much a plane as a minivan)
Don’t know when I’ll be back again (actually, I’ll be back on Thursday)
Oh babe, I hate to go (Y’know, I really can’t back that up; I’m very much looking forward to this trip)

There’s so many times I’ve let you down (hey, if you’re counting on this blog to keep you “up,” you’re beyond help)
♫ So many times I’ve played around (sure)
I tell you now, they don’t mean a thing (I have no idea what that means so I’ll just deny any wrongdoing on my part)
♪ Ev’ry place I go, I’ll think of you (well, that is true!)
Ev’ry song I sing, I’ll sing for you (um, sure, if you want me to but your ears are gonna bleed)
When I come back, I’ll bring your wedding ring (if you’ve lost it and I happen to find it in San Francisco)

Now the time has come to leave you (in the morning)
One more time (Though to be honest, I doubt this will be my last vacation)
♫ Let me kiss you (really, I think a hug is pa-lenty)
Then close your eyes (but you might have trouble reading this)
I’ll be on my way (yup)
Dream about the days to come (jealous?)
When I won’t have to leave alone (I’m not alone; the whole fam’s with me, geez)
About the times, I won’t have to say (wha-huh?)

Oh, kiss me (can you forget the kisses already? I really think maybe we should just shake hands) and smile for me (I think you’ve got basil in your teeth)
♫ Tell me that you’ll wait for me (don’t bother)
Hold me like you’ll never let me go (really, I’d like you to let go)
‘cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane (Mazda MPV)
♪ Don’t know when I’ll be back again (Thursday)
Oh babe, I hate to go (I’m outta here.)

Nov. 22: Post o’ laziness

Aren’t you excited? It’s another alphabet meme!

A-Attached or Single: Attached
B-Best Friend: Victor, Kathy, April (sorry, can’t pick just one)
C-Cake or Pie: Favorite depends on the flavors and occasion
D-Day of Choice: Saturday
E-Essential Item: laptop
F-Favorite Color: navy blue
G-Greatest Accomplishment: my lack of criminal record
H-Hometown: Portland
I-Indulgences: beads, paper, food
J-January or July: July
K-Kids: two, both pretty darn awesome
L-Life is incomplete without: family
M-Marriage: for everyone that wants it
N-Number of Siblings: one fabuloso seester
O-Oranges or Apples: Apples, sweet rather than tart
P-Phobias or fears: Everything scares me, and thanks LOADS for bringing it up
Q-Quotes: “Friendship is like peeing on yourself: everyone can see it, but only you get the warm feeling that it brings.”
R-Reason to Smile: I’m leaving for San Francisco tomorrow!
S-Season: Spring
T-Tag Friends: Chatty Kath, Lori, Jen E
U-Unknown facts about me: There’s a reason the only things I can think of to answer this one have not already been said
V-Very favorite store(s): Target, Amazon
W-Worst habit: procrastinating
X-X-ray or Ultrasound: How often do you get a choice?
Y-Your favorite food: Kraft Macaroni & Cheese
Z-Zodiac: Virgo

Nov. 20: Randomness meme

Yet another meme I stole from Jen E. I need to go into work but I don’t feel great and I’m kinda putting it off by doing meaningless things like this. Meh.

  1. Do you like potatoes? What kind? I like potatoes in just about any form.
  2. If you were dressed up in a fish costume and you went underwater and a shark saw you, what would you do? Yeah, um, this would never happen because I would not go near water with sharks. Haven’t you heard my snorkeling story about being bit by a “harmless” fish in a feeding frenzy? Natural bodies of water freak me out a little. Too many critters.
  3. Does Jell-O make you happy? Not especially.
  4. If you could have any animal, exotic, extinct or other type, what would it be? A red panda. Because HELLO, have you seen them?

  5. Would you fill up a pool with pudding and jump in? Nope. I would eat a poolful of chocolate pudding though.
  6. When you are feeling icky with the sickness feeling, what is your first choice for feel-better medicine? I have one of those rice heat-therapy things that I always think will make me feel better. It usually doesn’t, but if I put it on my face or neck it makes me fall asleep and when I’m asleep I can forget about how icky I feel. Win-win-win.
  7. Do you count with your fingers or in your head when it comes to mathematical equations? In my head or on paper. Not with my fingers.
  8. Do you have any key chains on your key ring? How many? What kind? I have a sterling silver harmony ball on my key ring. It’s been there for nearly 20 years and is all hammered and ugly looking but it still makes that lovely little chiming sound so I keep it.
  9. What do you dunk your French fries in? Depends what kind and where I am. At Red Robin, with those giant, delicious steak fries, I like a combo of ketchup and ranch dressing. McDonalds fries are great plain or with some ketchup. I also looooove mayonnaise on my fries; it’s something I first tried in Belgium. We don’t make fries at home very often, but when we do I always mix mayo and ketchup for dipping. One thing I never do: squirt ketchup onto my fries. I always dip them.
  10. When I say “Moo, I’m a duck” do you think of a cow or a duck? Neither. I think you’re insane and I walk away, slowly.
  11. If you had the chance, would you go to the very bottom of the ocean? Are you even reading this?
  12. Would you rather be Spider-Man or Batman? Batman’s got the cool toys. Also, I hate spiders, especially when they’re disguised as men.
  13. Would you rather be in a hurricane or a tornado? How ‘bout neither?
  14. Do you like pumpkin pie? Do you cheat and buy a premade one or do you make it from scratch? Heck, do you even make pumpkin pie at all? When I was little I think I overdid it one year on the pumpkin pie, and I didn’t eat any for a long, long time. Then I tried my mother-in-law’s; she makes it with a shortbread crust and it is TO DIE FOR. I’m still not a huge fan of regular pumpkin pie, but that cookie crust is deeeeelicious. (There’s a funny story about her sharing the recipe with me and sabotaging my Thanksgiving but we’ll save that for another time. The woman is pure evil!)

Your turn.

Nov. 19: Happiness is a habit

I snagged this meme from Jen E (mommablogsalot). I don’t have the time or energy to do a Thursday Thirteen for tomorrow, so this will have to do.

Happiness is a Habit... Cultivate It

The rules: “At this moment, use the alphabet and write down the first thing that comes to your mind for each letter. Don’t ponder or try to think of something that will be impressive. Just do it! This says a lot about you and may surprise you as well. Go ahead... you know you want to!”
Here are my answers:

Aches. I’ve spent way too much time sitting in front of a computer today. My neck hurts, my back hurts... I need to go for a walk just to stretch some muscles.

Books. I’m almost done reading a book I’ve been working at for a long time. I sat down to finish it this afternoon but promptly fell asleep. Maybe after the kids have gone to bed I can take another stab at it.

CSI: NY is on tonight.

Dogs. Which one of you farted under my desk and how do you stink up the entire room like that? You’re just a little dog!

Energy. It’s nice to finally have some after two weeks of feeling like a slug.

(San) Francisco. We’re headed there next week!

Good friends. We’ll be meeting up with a couple we met on our cruise last year—thanks to Facebook we have easily stayed in touch.

Holidays are coming! The holidays are coming!

I like the holidays.

Jason Mraz. If you haven’t heard We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things, you need to.

Katie is trying to teach herself to juggle. I am trying to teach myself to be patient with this.

Long drive. The part of our trip I’m not looking forward to; thankfully we’re breaking it up in manageable batches of time.

Millie. One of my favorite pastimes that’s impossible with a kitten around: beading. I was making a lanyard for a friend this morning and was ready to strangle Millie with it by the time I finally finished and cleaned up all the spillage and knocked-downage and batted-aroundage.

No Thanksgiving dinner this year. We’ll be traveling that day. I don’t care so much about missing the big meal, but the thought of going through the whole weekend without Thanksgiving dinner leftovers? I’m not sure I can do it!

Obsession. Facebook is a kick in the pants, in the very best sense of the word. (I have no idea what that means, exactly, but I love Facebook lately.)

Pumpkins. The kids’ classroom parties are Friday. For one of them, we’re doing a “hot potato” kind of game using a little pumpkin. We still have a whole bunch outside from Halloween so I planned to take one of them. Jack just ran inside to tell me that Vic let him throw them in the street (“for fun, Mom!”) before they put them in the garbage can. Guess I’ll be pumpkin shopping tomorrow...

Quiet. I’m thankful for the amount of work I’ve had lately, but being away from home while the kids are at school means that I don’t have any of that quiet time I need. Without it I tend to be a little grouchy when the kids are acting like maniacs, and I hate myself for wanting to scream at them.

Reading. I’m going to have lots of time in the car next week and am hoping to get through a few great books.

SunnyD is, like, my new favorite mixer. It works with rum, vodka, Triple Sec, Sprite... I’d list more but I’m too drunk.

(Mel) Tormé. I’m listening to Christmas music right now.

Underwear” seems to be Jack’s favorite word today. Boys.

(I’m) very tired, happy, loved, sore, busy, content, warm.

(Amazon) wish list. Don’t have one? Get one. They’re awesome, ‘specially if I’m shopping for you.

Xmas.” I don’t know why, but this abbreviation drives me nuts.

You’re bored, aren’t you?

Zaps. It hasn’t rained here in a few days and I guess the air is getting dry because I keep getting shocked when I touch my computer. You’d think I’d learn. You’d be wrong.

I don’t really see what this meme has to do with happiness, but there it is.

Nov. 18: R.I.P. Cleo

Darlene and Wellington’s cat died on Sunday. He was one of the sweetest kitties we’ve ever known and all of us are feeling very, very sad that he’s gone.

Cleo and his brother Mu-shu joined the family when they were about eight weeks old. They looked a lot alike—Mu-shu had more white on his paws—but their personalities could not have been more different. Cleo was laid back and affectionate, while Mu-shu, though friendly, was territorial and completely freaked out by Scout’s constant barking.

One of my favorite stories about the kittens is when Darlene noticed one of them was limping. She called the vet and they told her to bring him in. Of course, like a sick kid, during the exam the kitten was just fine. Darlene was embarrassed, figured he had suddenly gotten better, and left the vet. On the way home she realized she’d taken in the wrong kitten, so switched cats and called the vet back to say “he started limping again.” :)

During their first year Mu-shu would disappear for weeks at a time, and whenever he would come back, Darlene said Cleo was always so happy. I think even though Mu-shu liked Cleo, he probably wanted his own territory and went somewhere he could have it. That’s what I chose to believe, anyway, when Darlene told us a year had passed since Mu-shu had last been around the house.

Cleo was not a roamer; he was content to stick near the house, which seemed unusual for an outdoor cat. When Darlene and Wellington moved from the Seattle area down here to Portland, we weren’t sure how Cleo would adjust to new surroundings. But he did just fine. He came when we called him, just like a dog. When he heard Katie’s voice he’d come running, even if she wasn’t calling him. In fact, he had a hard time refusing her, and she was frequently helpful when it was time to go to the vet or kennel.

I love this picture of him and Presley from a couple summers ago. She was another one of Cleo’s favorite kids.

He was such a good boy, and we miss him very much.

Nov. 18: Loves Jesus AND booze

This video is seven minutes long but pretty funny. Meet the very amusing Gladys on an episode of Ellen.

Nov. 18: Misc stuff Jen has to say

I would have posted yesterday but I worked almost all day. I could have posted last night but I ended up reading (begrudgingly) and spending way too much time chatting with two old friends on Facebook. I’d like to post something worthwhile this morning but I’m headed in to work again. Maybe this afternoon?

Here, to tide you over until then, are some miscellaneous things.

  • Today is the first day in almost two weeks that I woke up feeling like I am NOT about to die. The cough is disappearing! My fallopian tubes are relieved, even though Sherilee has so sensitively pointed out that I no longer even need my fallopian tubes. I’m still glad not to be hacking up vital or non-vital organs.
  • Woman sentenced to prison for running down boyfriend in RV. Tis true; the line between love and hate is very fine. I know this isn’t a funny story, but the headline itself made me laugh. Clearly, I need some serious psychiatric help. But just imagining how the scene might have played out—in a Chevy Chase comedy, probably—puts a pretty silly picture in my head. Of course, in the movie version nobody would die and the scorned woman would not get prison time so much as laughs.
  • Remember this post about foods everyone should try in their lifetime? I got 34/100. Sonya e-mailed me this morning to say she got 86/100. She is scary-brave when it comes to food. I know I should think she’s really cool because of this, but it’s hard to get past that initial “ugh!” response because I know the kinds of things that are on that list! Sorry, Sonya. I still love you but will probably begin inspecting your prepared dishes for horse meat or other not-meant-to-be-eaten things you’ve snuck in to freak me out. Because I’ve heard about the food pranks you played on Ted and Daryl over the years...

I really need to get dressed and out the door so that’s it for now. I guarantee some greatness later on.

Nov. 16: The Blind Assassin

You know how some people have strange reading habits? Like, when they start a book they read the last page (or chapter) FIRST? Or they don’t really read, but skim the book, missing a lot of details? Or they regularly read several books at one time and get them confused?

My strangest reading habit isn’t all that strange: I almost always finish books I start reading. I kind of hate that it’s so difficult for me to stop reading a book that’s really bad. Sometimes, especially if a book has come highly recommended, I keep thinking I need to give it a chance to get better, and by the time I decide the dang thing is NOT going to get better, I’m committed and have to finish it. I may skim to the ending, but usually I suffer through reading every word.

Let’s not get into how that might translate into other habits in my life, mmkay?

This year I’ve been reading a lot more than in recent past years. I’m working through a list of 100 books everyone should read (can’t find the list right now, but when I do, I’ll share the link). One of them on the list is The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood. I got it from the library, and although it had an unusually high number of booger-stuck pages, they did not corrupt my overall impressions of the story. Margaret Atwood’s writing is descriptive and engrossing and eleventy other adjectives, most of which are flattering.

I’ll interject a mini-review here. The Handmaid’s Tale is the point of view of a girl living in a newly-changed society under which the law is made from a strict and literal interpretation of Genesis. I felt some connection to the basics of this lifestyle, having been raised Seventh-day Adventist, where it frequently felt like we were living with rigid and pointless rules. What was upsetting—and where things differed greatly from a typical SDA upbringing, thank goodness—was her reflection on her previous life in which she was a wife and mother. In trying to escape the new regime she was separated from her husband and young daughter, and not told what would become of any of them. I can’t say The Handmaid’s Tale was entertaining, really, but it was certainly fascinating and kept me interested. Comparisons have been made to George Orwell’s 1984, with good reason.

I had no trouble deciding whether or not to finish The Handmaid’s Tale. It was a little hard to get into at the beginning, but I kept with it and soon found it hard to put down. It was kinda cool, too, to check another book off my list of 100. I only have something like 80 to go. Yay, Jen.

I read five or so other books and then decided to read another Margaret Atwood novel, one Ed raved about when it first came out. The plot of The Blind Assassin is appealing: The novel opens with these simple, resonant words: “Ten days after the war ended, my sister drove a car off the bridge.” They are spoken by Iris, whose terse account of her sister Laura’s death in 1945 is followed by an inquest report proclaiming the death accidental. But just as the reader expects to settle into Laura’s story, Atwood introduces a novel-within-a- novel. Entitled The Blind Assassin, it is a science fiction story told by two unnamed lovers who meet in dingy backstreet rooms. When we return to Iris, it is through a 1947 newspaper article announcing the discovery of a sailboat carrying the dead body of her husband, a distinguished industrialist. Told in a style that magnificently captures the colloquialisms and clichés of the 1930s and 1940s, The Blind Assassin is a richly layered and uniquely rewarding experience. The novel has many threads and a series of events that follow one another at a breathtaking pace. As everything comes together, readers will discover that the story Atwood is telling is not only what it seems to be—but, in fact, much more. The Blind Assassin proves once again that Atwood is one of the most talented, daring, and exciting writers of our time. Like The Handmaid’s Tale, it is destined to become a classic.

I have had a heckuva time sticking with this book. First of all, it switches narration frequently, as well as story, so it’s a little hard to keep track of what’s what. Laura’s book is a science-fiction story in a story, and I hate science-fiction. The writing is detailed and slow-paced and I find my mind wandering way too often. When I’m paying attention it’s somewhat interesting but I feel like I’ve been reading it forever and I’m not even halfway through it. I e-mailed Ed with the hope that he could assure me I would regret not finishing it. This was his reply:

Ah, yes “The Blind Assassin.” So what did I like about it?

  • I LOVE Margaret Atwood’s style, which plods, plods, plods slowly along towards the main plot element of which you probably already guessed but aren’t completely sure.
  • I loved the main character’s take on life and the people around her.
  • I thought the whole aspect of the Button Factory and the declining grandeur that surrounded the girls was really described well.
  • I don’t like science fiction either, but remember the story being vivid and minimally invasive. And the fact that it existed – Laura’s book - was pretty key within the story.
  • I liked the 1930’s setting, clothing, newspaper clippings, etc.
  • I seem to have a fascination with the shocking stories behind seemingly sweet old people (Blind Assassin, Memento Mori, your grandmother.)
  • My copy is signed.

Ed’s input does encourage me some, but mostly I think he just wanted to remind me that he met Atwood on her Blind Assassin book tour. Neeners!

I’m sticking with it and hope that I won’t regret it. I also hope that the last 5/8 of the book will go more quickly than the first 3/8 have. As I told Ed, if nothing else, a book with the word “ass” in the title TWICE can’t be all bad. But if you, gentle reader, have any advice, or recommendations for books that don’t totally suck, please share.

Nov. 16: Yo momma’s WACK

There was a day, several months ago, that I spent an intentionally unspecified amount of time reading entries at Postcards From Yo Momma. It was a good day. I don’t know if I failed to bookmark the site, or my computer crashed from all the insanity, but I never went back. I saw it on Sherilee’s blogroll recently and started visiting PFYM again, much to my abdominal muscles’ benefit. It’s a good’n. Here’s the basic gist of the site:

Does your mom still have an AOL account? Does she email you her random, yet charming, thoughts on life and love? Does she wish you called more often? Postcards From Yo Momma is a collection of the many delightful correspondences these traits inspire.

And here’s an entry from this morning that I enjoyed:

Mom: Your mom is sick. How are you? Today is our anniversary, your dad forgot … as usual
Me: How are you sick? Like a cold or like your kidneys are failing?
Mom: ok smarty I am not that old. I have the sickness a cold.
Me: i know you are not that old but you do get sick alot, your worse than me. You have had like 5 organs removed.
Mom: are you kidding me? I have only had one thing removed….
Me: mom, your gall bladder and spleen that’s at least two.
Mom: Be nice to your mother.

Read the “Highest Rated” entries for some of the best crazy mom-ness. You’ll thank me.

Nov. 14: Private-ish moments

Below is a link to some photos of the Obama family on election night. The fact that he won—and that I’m happy about that—make these more interesting than they might be otherwise. But seeing candid shots like these would be fascinating even if they were of McCain and his family. The facial expressions, the body language; we can only imagine the things going through their minds. ‘Cept the girls. You know the girls are thinking PUPPY PUPPY PUPPY!

Click here to view a Flickr slide show of all the photos.

Nov. 13: Big day for Jack-Jack

Happy birthday to my favorite little guy! Jack is turning seven years old today. It doesn’t seem like seven years have gone by since that very happy morning he was born. Here are some of my favorite photos taken since then.

Smooches from Grandma Mary

He was such a good baby; he slept well and that made him even easier to love. Compared to how Katie had been, we were thrilled to have a low-maintenance newborn.

A trip to Cannon Beach

After his first bath at home we couldn’t believe how curly his hair was—afro-tastic! Scott Neil’s comment was my favorite: “Where’d you get the baby toupee?”

1 year old, this is one of our favorites--look at his finger!

When he started eating solid foods he loved carrots, so we gave him a lot… so much, in fact, that he turned orange. Oops. It eventually went away and he went back to having his momma’s unfortunate pale skin tone.

18 months old

He was almost three on our first trip to Disney World. One night he saw Mickey Mouse from afar, took off for a hug, and nearly tackled him! Until then Jack had always been so shy, we were surprised.

Sleeping in Scout's crate

Jack went through phases of loving different Disney characters, but decided pirates were his favorite because they were bad. Since then he’s gone more toward Star Wars but still prefers the dark side. Ed once suggested this was a good thing because it shows that Jack doesn’t just like what everyone else likes; he actually thinks about it. I’d like some evidence that he’s not collecting crime techniques before I praise his originality.

Captain Jackson Curtis Wellington Manullang Sparrow

I’m so thankful for this little man, this mini-Vic, my sweet Jack-Jack, and have loved watching him grow into a 7-year-old of which I can be proud.

Nov. 11: Prop 8 commentary

This Keith Olbermann video has been sent to me by at least five different people, and I’ve seen it posted on numerous blogs. Just today I finally took the time (6½ minutes) to watch it. I encourage everyone to not only watch it themselves, but pass it on to others. This is truly an important message.

Nov. 11: Whose fault?

No one’s more surprised that I’m writing this than me:

In the past week there have been bunches of reports on Sarah Palin’s behind-the-scenes campaign behavior. Campaign aides are making a big deal about how she thought Africa was a country, not a continent. That she didn’t know which countries make up North America. That she had temper tantrums over negative media reports. It’s amusing, isn’t it? The thing is, that’s not why these things are just now being reported. This is getting coverage because some of McCain’s people are now trying to blame Palin for his loss in the election. (Watch this FoxNews video for details)

I did not admire how the Republicans campaigned, but is blaming Palin for McCain’s loss fair? Didn’t she pretty much do the best she could with what she had? I wonder if anyone involved with McCain’s campaign spent any time getting to know Sarah Palin before they chose her. Seems they looked at a list and said, “Well, this one’s got a uterus. Let’s pick her.”

If anyone chose not to vote for McCain because of a lack of confidence in Sarah Palin’s ability to lead the country, doesn’t blame lie with whoever put her in a position for which she was so completely unqualified?

Nov. 10: In a galaxy not so far away...

Although Vic’s cold is about a day ahead of mine, we both had disgusting, sniffling, coughing weekends. You know the colds that make you want to lie in bed all day and groan for someone to please kill you? And then when the cold’s all gone you wonder why you were such a baby about it? I’m still right in the middle of the groaning stage, so don’t bug me.

Problem is, a seven-year-old’s birthday party does not allow for Mom and Dad to be sick. We spent much of Sunday preparing the house for the eight munchkins that would be helping Jack celebrate. I had some grand plans for carrying out the Star Wars theme; this is what half-assedness materialized:

  • Snickerdoodles and plain ol’ chocolate chip cookies: Wookiee Cookies
  • Lemon-lime Kool-Aid with Sprite and lime sherbet: Yoda Soda
  • Potato chips: Darth Vader Tater Chips
  • Popcorn: Snow Trooper Snowballs
  • Half-sheet chocolate cake with white buttercream frosting: Awesome Star Wars movie scene diorama

Darth AlecWe asked the party guests to dress up as a Star Wars character if they had costumes. Since Jack’s buddies are total nerds, most of them came dressed up; we had four Darth Vaders, a Jedi, a clone trooper, and two civilians. We took each boy’s photo in front of a black backdrop and then had them decorate a picture matte with which we later framed the photo. Almost none of the boys had trouble with this activity.

We also played a “Which Star Wars Character Am I?” game. Taylor (Lori’s daughter, who helped me out a lot) taped a picture of a character to each boy’s back and before they could start guessing who they were, Jack had blabbed the answers. We made the boys turn around and changed the pictures, and then they all started not guessing again. I think Theo might have been the only one that was playing the game as it was meant to be played. I love Theo.

The next activity was a matching game. Alec was crazy-obsessed with this one; Cassie, you should be proud or ashamed—I’m not sure which. He and Josh even restarted the game after Ethan declared “I don’t like math!” and shoved all his matches back into the rows of cards. In fact, while the rest of the boys went out and started eating/critiquing the food I had so lazily prepared, Alec and Josh played until they’d matched all the cards.

The Yoda Soda was a hit. The other food was questioned and analyzed and nibbled and mashed into the rug. Next time, when I poison the party food, maybe the boys’ll keep the disparaging remarks to themselves, hm?

The piñata Jack chose was a Darth Vader head. We opted for the pull-string kind, so we didn’t have to worry about blindfolds or baseball bats or excessive crotchal-region injuries. Vic stood upstairs and lowered the piñata down to where the boys excitedly waited. Even though I said repeatedly, “Don’t pull the strings until I tell you to!” several pulled as soon as they could reach a string. What I wanted to say when the string detached without opening the piñata was, MAYBE YOU SHOULDA LISTENED TO ME BECAUSE NOW YOU GET NO CANDY. What I actually said was, “OK, then grab another one.” They pulled open the bottom but I guess we’d stuffed the thing pretty tight and nothing fell out. What a letdown. Do piñata stories ever end the way they should?

Jack’s friends know him well; he got lots of Legos and Star Wars gifts, as well as a Hot Wheels set and a really cool make-your-own-superballs kit. And Jack doesn’t know this yet, but he’ll have another big pile o’ gifts to open at the family party (on his actual birthday) Thursday night. He is one happy boy, although he was kinda pissed when we told him he’s not actually seven years old yet and won’t be until Thursday.

(Heh heh heh… truth is sometimes kinda fun to tell.)

Anyway, the party is over and it was great fun for Jack and kids who don’t mind math. Huge thanks to The Lovely Lori and her family for driving up for the festivities and for all the help in making the party happen. Now Vic and I can get back to recovering from this creepin’ crud.


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