Thursday, December 31, 2009

Endings and Beginnings

There is the most beautiful, gentle snow falling outside and there is a cardinal at the bird feeder out in the back yard. I'm sitting in my quiet, pre-dawn house, thinking about the past decade and wondering about the one approaching fast. (And watching the puppy peel a tennis ball. He's very talented.)

I'm not the same person I was on the last day of 1999, partying on the beach in Galveston, drinking Dom Perignon for the first (and last) time in my life. For one thing, I now have TWO children and a mini-van and the lines on my face aren't there because I slept with my face smooshed into a pillow. I've earned them.

Also? I'm not living in Texas anymore. And living in New York will change a person, fundamentally in some ways. In fact, I'd wager that I changed more in the past two years than in the rest of the decade combined. Some of that has to do with experiencing life with chronic pain. I cannot state strongly enough how terrible that is --on one's psyche, on one's spirit, on one's spiritual connection with the rest of the world. It's sort of like being encased in a dark box, with only a small shaft of light. You keep staring at that light but you can't really see anything because you're so overwhelmed by all of that darkness. Still, you know there's life out there if you could only see it.

Anyway, my pain is managed, for the most part. And it's New Year's Eve and we have our good friends Mike, Sherry and Jesse (also Texas ex-pats) coming over to celebrate with us.  It's very different from the big party we used to throw every year in Austin --most people up here have large extended families and they've grown up celebrating with them on every holiday and that's what they're doing THIS New Year's Eve, too.  It's interesting to me that this is the most densely populated area in the United States and I have the smallest social life I've ever had.  I don't THINK it's because I talk (or smell) funny, either. I don't THINK it's a personal thing.  I think it's just that the greatest difference between Austin and Long Island (and I've thought about this a lot --in fact, I am working on a book about it) is that Austinites are almost all from somewhere else and looking to connect, and people up here are from here and have plenty of connections, thank you.

But I digress.  (I may be changed but I am still ME.)

Another big change for me this year is that I won't be toasting the New Year at midnight with anything alcoholic to drink.  Yes, the reason the wine industry has fallen on such hard times of late is because I have given it up. Here, take a minute to sit down and put your head between your knees.  I know it's a shock. 

Initially, I gave it up because someone I love was having a very hard time with that particular demon and because I am so far away from this person and unable to do anything at all to help, it sort of made sense in my own Fuzzy, Squint-At-It, Barb Way to stop drinking FOR this person.  So, I did.

But there were a few things I forgot. One is that I actively battle depression even on my good days and alcohol does not help in this fight.  It's a depressant.  (Smacks self on head--Doh!) Also, while I don't think I have a problem with alcohol, per se, I really do have a problem with MODERATION.  Um.  In everything. So, trying to simply cut down was not especially successful.

I don't know if it's forever (here, breathe into this bag--you look a little shaken) and I'm not working some sort of 12-step program.  I'm just not drinking.  I don't care if other people around me drink and I'm not saying this choice is right for everyone.  I wouldn't even mention it except, y'all, I feel FREAKING FANTASTIC. It's hard to describe, actually. I just feel... MORE. Which is a scary concept for most people but it feels really, really good to me. I have energy and patience and creativity -- I even started taking guitar lessons. Plus, my sense of humor seems to be about three times as big. Gosh, I'm having such a good time with my kids and even my husband has commented that I just seem more like my old self--positive and happy.

(No, I haven't lost any weight.  Sigh.  That moderation thing again.)

So, you know, I feel so amazingly good that I wanted to share. That's all.

I'm looking forward to this new decade so much and I think that 2010 is going to see some wonderful, giant blessings for all of us. I think we'll all grow and change and that we'll find connections with each other on levels we didn't even suspect existed. Thank you all for staying on the ride with me.  I'll see you next year.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy Day After Day After Day After Boxing Day

Okay, so I've been stuck on that Christmas song for three days. (I wish the Robert Earl Keene didn't look so much like, well, a creepy serial murderer in this video. Sorry about that.)

I know. Y'all, I KNOW. But you know what?  It could be the best collection of those random moments that happen whenever families get together ever set to music. It's kind of loving in its snarkiness.


Christmas was lovely even though we were sadly lacking in extended family (and the associated drama) this year.  It was just the four of us and four pets, although two of them could easily have been the Bumpuses' dogs in A Christmas Story.  Santa proved to be a rocker when he brought the girls an electric guitar and amp and a full drum set as well as a blu-ray player disguised as a Playstation 3.  The girls (aided and abetted by Coop) gave me a new lens for my camera (which is totally the best lens I've ever had and makes me feel like a real photographer) and a certificate to a yarn store. I gave Coop a book and the tickets to the National Football Championship that he *** scored online.  (Coop did his graduate degree at UT and he's going with his father, who is an Alabama alumnus. It's a good thing they get along!) (***Yes, my streak of incredible lameness in the Presents for Coop arena continues unbroken.)

After the present-opening orgy, we  had a really lazy day. Three of us never got out of our pajamas.  I went back to bed, (because, ya'll, there was not one clear surface on which to sit in the whole downstairs) and read an entire book. I cooked a turkey but only a few trimmings and I finally broke down and washed a load of clothes, although I'd resolved not to do laundry on Christmas.  (Because, really, nothing celebrates the birth of our savior better than complete sloth and indulgence.) It was a great day.

Then on Boxing Day (I just love saying that for some reason.  Boxing Day.  Boxing Day.  BOXING DAY!) we went over to our friends' house for dinner, ping-pong and knitting.  It was wonderful.

The day after Boxing Day, and the Day AFTER the Day After Boxing Day (BOXING DAY!), we just hung out.  Tried to not get buried under the mound of used wrappings paper.  Filled a sock with catnip and watched the cats try to act like it was perfectly normal for them to be doing 360's  flying down the stairs and landing on the puppy's head. Coop taught Ana (11) how to play both the beginnings of Tom Sawyer AND Highway to Hell on the new electric guitar, thus achieving the high-point of his parenting career.  Had some sleepovers, got excited about the prospect of more snow and bought stuff to make chili.  The chili prospects dimmed when the snow prospects dimmed.

I don't know.  It's been a pretty relaxed holiday so far.  But then again, as I told a woman at the grocery store last night, "Santa brought my daughter a drum set for Christmas.  I'm in no hurry."

Happy Holidays from the Fam-uh-lee-ee.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

How's Your Holiday 'Sprit?'

Since I can't send you each a present during this holiday season, I am, instead, giving you this column. It's one of my favorites.  I wrote it back in 2002 and the year my book came out, it was the one I read to my book club.  As my own eyes welled with tears, I could feel everyone around me welling up, too.  It was my first experience ever with the amazing concept (still to this day, I can't believe it) that something I wrote could actually touch people in that way.

So, the thing is… I’ve been thinking about newborns.
We celebrate Christmas next week.  I tried  --I firmly RESOLVED-- not to let this year’s holiday season become chaotic and stressful.  I shopped early for presents, hoping that I wouldn’t have to go to stores after November 15th.  Nothing robs me of the Christmas spirit more than frazzled and impatient clerks.  Well, unless it’s frazzled and impatient shoppers.  I hate that Christmas music that starts playing in October.  I hate trying to find a parking place and how rude and rushed everyone seems to be.
But the thing is…it’s six days until Christmas.  Our phones have been out for two days.  My parents came to visit and to have their celebration with our kids and I barely saw them since I shamelessly exploited them as baby sitters while I rushed around trying to get something - -anything!--done.  I’m about to have a house full of company.  I’ve misplaced my mother-in-law’s present.  I still need to get some last-minute presents; two strands of Christmas lights have gone out and must be replaced; I have presents to deliver and wrap, cookies to bake, menus to plan and shop for (not to mention cook.)  And everything is taking six times as long to do.  For example, Ana and I made our cards but we haven’t sent them yet because it took me five trips to get my holiday pictures printed and I didn’t even notice there was a typo until I finally got them home.  “May the SPRIT of Christmas be yours.” 
That about sums it up. My Christmas “sprit” was pretty much shot.
I was feeling so incredibly stressed and behind in everything that I developed insomnia and for some reason, at 2:00 in the morning, I started organizing our photos into albums.  I did the most recent photos and the feeling of accomplishment was so great that I started organizing the photos from 1998 when my first child, Ana, was born.
Oh, those pictures captured it all.  There were pictures of my husband and me walking my belly on the greenbelt by our house and pictures of him putting the crib together.  There’s a picture of me asleep, having crashed while reading “What To Expect The First Year.”  I found myself grinning as I remembered how excited and scared we were.
And there it was: the first picture of Ana, still naked on the warming table in the delivery room. 
Pictures of my husband and me gazing at her, and then pictures of the grandparents holding her.  (Since Ana was born during Spring Break, three of the four college professor grandparents were at the hospital when she was born.)  There are pictures of the nurses and of our beloved obstetrician and good friend, Dr. Solomon. 
My mom had four children.  My mother-in-law had two.  Dr. Solomon has delivered thousands, I’m sure.  And yet, on every single face, there is this look of awed wonderment, this quiet happiness.  There’s this calm acknowledgment of having participated in a miracle.  My dad said it best that day on the ride home with my mom.  “There is something so touching about each new life coming into the world.”
It’s been a long time since I’ve looked at those pictures. 
But I found it there, you know.  Right when I needed to be reminded of it, I found the real spirit of Christmas.
Regardless of religious affiliation, it seems to me that every one of us can find beauty in the birth of a little baby in a stable in Bethlehem – beauty in a story of how life finds a way in the most inhospitable of environments.   There is beauty in the hope that is physically manifested by a newborn baby –  each one such a bundle of potential and each one with an endless capacity for love.  Holding a newborn is like holding a ray of light: , limitless, translucent, fragile and beautiful.
Can you picture the barn where Jesus was born?  Perhaps the animals took some of the chill out of the air and maybe in the dim light, the sounds of the animals breathing were comforting to Mary.  Can’t you just imagine the chaos and political upheaval going on all about them and yet, when Mary went into labor, you know nothing else mattered.  (Ana’s birth was via emergency c-section and there were a LOT of people in the room but I only remember the face of my husband and then her shrill cry…)  Maybe there was a lamp or candle so that Mary and Joseph could look at the face of their first-born child.  Maybe it’s THEIR look of wonderment and joy and the dawning of a love bigger than any they’d known that I see reflected in those pictures of the people present at Ana’s birth.
Once again, it seems that I learned a lesson about how unimportant worldly things really are in life.  I feel dumb.  I never wanted the focus of our holidays to be on STUFF and noise and chaos.  When I look back at the Christmases that have meant the most to me, I can’t even remember anything about the gifts.  It’s the way my whole family was (peacefully) together.  It’s the music we played and the carols we sang and the love in the room.  And now that I am grown and a parent, the only things I really want for Christmas are the enchanted faces of my children on Christmas morning and time to spend with those I love best.  I couldn’t buy any of that, even if I tried.  I resolve again not to squander the bounty of love that I’ve been given.  I am so blessed and half the time I am too busy to remember that.
Today, I spent an hour with Jane outside on an unseasonably warm day, digging in the sand box and tickling her toes while I pushed her in the swings.  My cards and baking and cleaning, etc. were waiting for me when we came inside.  But I’ve learned that you have to take your Christmas spirit where you find it.  And that the most meaningful things often come in the smallest packages.
May God bless you all and may you have many—MANY-- moments that fill you with the “sprit” of the season.

(c) Barbara Cooper 2002  

May the blessings of the holidays rain down upon you.  And just in case, you're still not feeling the "Sprit," here's a picture of our puppy.


Love you guys,

PS: The Christmas tree lights won this year.  I have accepted defeat.  Really, I'm okay with it.  As long as I don't look at the darn tree, I'm okay, I mean. It would be childish to obsess over being beaten by some stupid tiny lights, right?

I have been unable to find replacement red tipped bulbs to keep them blinking so right now, I would wager only about 20% of the tree blinks.  Next year, I'm going to pulverize the non-blinkers in front of the others.  That'll show 'em!

PPS: I don't know why Google changed my font size, nor why I can't change it back.  But look at me!  I'm so calm about that kind of stuff.  I'm so Zen!  I'm so eating a lot of fudge!  Hard to be hatin' with a mouth full of espresso fudge... 


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

STILL Not the Big Catch-Up Post

Please ignore the fact that periodically, my computer just up and publishes some half-written, incoherent post without me even so much at LOOKING at the publish button. It's a busy little computer, what with trying to drive me SMACK OUT OF MY MIND and all.  My husband and Ana gave me a new keyboard for my wine-drenched Mac and it works just perfectly.  The real problem is that the laptop keyboard works intermittently, but only when Satan feels like messing with me.  So suddenly my computer will start (I am so not joking) typing random sixes (as in: 666) and then I know other buttons will be pushed.  Posts will be published. Advil will be required.

It's sort of been the holidays of Things Not Working. The coffee pot appears to be on its way out, as does the dryer.  The worst is my Mac, though, because I so LURVE it and also, because it's entirely my own fault.  I took it to the Genius Bar so the (snarky, teenage-ish) geniuses could have a little looksy and they said, "Well, it will be $755 for us to replace the keyboard.  But that might not fix it."

So, now I have a loaner laptop from my friend Sherry but you know how it is when you're trying to get used to a new computer and nothing is personalized the way you are accustomed and then you keep remembering that it's a loaner and you become afraid to exploit your friend's goodwill by customizing her computer to YOUR needs by importing all sorts of files and bookmarks, etc.? So, you import your photos on some other computer, which isn't linked to the one you're using and therefore...

Well.  Anyway. 

Why, yes, that's a big hole in my ceiling, thanks for asking.

But nothing, no, NOTHING, can daunt my holiday cheer because this week, my girls and I made the  three-tiered cookies that are traditional in my family.  See?

I have been waiting for eleven years to make them with my daughters.  It's a dream come true!

The 3-tiered cookies are special because they require teamwork and counting and also, because they were my dad's favorite cookies.  They are simple butter cookies, cut out in three sizes and "glued" together with red current jam.  (Seedless current jam, which I forgot but hey, they turned out fine anyway.) And then they are iced with a lemon juice and confectioner's sugar mixture.

I will tell you that, had I had the patience and energy in the past few years, I might been able to make  them with the girls.  But you know how it takes a lot of energy and patience to do Team Cooking?  I didn't have those things.  I have them this year, though and you're going to laugh when I tell you why.

I don't know if I've ever told you but I don't take vitamins.  They make me sick, whether I take them at night or in the morning and I can never seem to remember to take them when I'm eating.  I have tried them ALL.  No, seriously, I have tried them ALL.  My husband is just a fearsome and relentless vitamin pusher and he's brought me home vitamins disguised as CHOCOLATE.  Nothing doing.  I could manage a kids' vitamin so for years, I took these ones shaped like astronauts, eventually graduating to Flintstone's gummis.

But a few weeks ago when I posted about battling a depressive episode, one of my lovely readers, Joanna, sent me an e-mail about a vitamin she takes called Levity.  (You have to get past the name.) It bills itself as a mood enhancer but seems to primarily be sort of a b-complex vitamin. I figured, "Well, what could it hurt?"  I mean, they're CHEAP at about $7.50 a month, and the worst thing I could think of is that they'd end up stacked next to the bazillion dollars worth of vitamins I have in my cabinet already.

Except, y'all?

I think they changed my life.

Seriously.  Suddenly I have the energy to do things I haven't done in YEARS.  Like, um, COOKING. The vitamins taste sort of disgusting and I HAVE to take them with food but I am actually making that happen because I feel so much better.

Now if I could figure out how to give my Mac a dose of Levity, I could finally finish and post all of these posts I have stacked up.  Once I delete all the sixes and eat a cookie, I mean.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Oh. Oh, I Get It Now.

(I tried to post this all day yesterday, during what seemed to be a MONSOON.  Our Internet and cable and phones were all completely out.  Today it is beautiful and sunny and cold and I'm tempted to just say, "Never Mind!" Except, you know, I had to go run errands in that mess yesterday and I may be traumatized for life.)

So, last year was really our first winter here in New York and the season went out of its way to be ENCHANTING. I couldn't understand what all these people were talking about when they groused about the horrible weather and the ugly snow and the long, long, gray, soul-sucking winters. I found the snow CHARMING --light and fluffy and falling usually on the weekends so that my kids could have fun and exercise by sledding down our mammoth driveway.

Today, however, I get what these New Yorkers were talking about. Today when I woke up, the ground was covered in snow! YIPPEE! Except, dudes, what were those gusts of little rocks flinging themselves at my windows? Oh, that would be sleet. And really big gusts of windy rain.


This weather SUCKS.

Jane (9), naturally, feels the same way I do about the snow, though, and she gamely got bundled up and went outside in it. Until the puppy knocked her down in his exuberance. (The PUPPY, also true to form, thought the snow was for EATING.) (In the picture above, the puppy is the large one. He'll be ten months on the 14th.) (Not that I'm concerned or anything.)

Ana (not a teenager, although she plays one in real life) refused to show any enthusiasm for anything.  Anything at all in this world, which is terrible and this weather, which is terrible, and school, which is terrible.  Of course, as SHE was getting out of the car to walk into school, her umbrella blew inside out (it's one of the umbrellas we bought at the Tour de France which cost a small fortune and is utterly, utterly worthless.  Except for the cute French writing on it.) thus completely reinforcing her mood.  (Poor little one.)

But anyway, this brings up something that I've thought before but never really mentioned.  Why is it that there are so few covered walkways here on Long Island?  I mean, we had them all over the place in Austin (probably to protect us from the broiling heat.)  I don't get it.  We don't even have some sort of covering over our front door so if it happens to be raining when our guests come over, they have to stand in the rain until we can beat the dogs back and open the door.

Also, why do none of the bathrooms in our house have heat lamps?  We had them in Austin and we used them at least three times a year.  Here, we could pretty much use them every day from November through April and there's nary a one to be found. In fact, we had to install an extra outlet in our master bathroom so we could plug in a space heater.

We don't have a gas starter in our fireplace, either--you know, a gas line that starts your firewood burning?  No one I've talked to has ever even heard of one of those up here but in Texas, they're kind of standard equipment in houses with fireplaces.  It just seems odd to me that the weather is such a force up here and so few concessions are made toward making living with it a bit easier.

Maybe we Southerners are just wimps when it comes to the cold and these New Yorkers are a hardier lot?  But then again, maybe these New Yorkers could learn a thing or two from the South. That's probably just my cold feet talking...

Actually, you know what?  Maybe we ALL could learn a thing or two from our cats.  This is what I found when I went upstairs a bit ago:

Sunday, December 06, 2009

I'm Baack

I was cleaning out my office a few months ago and I put one of the stuffed sheep that Ana had given me into the "To Be Donated" pile. (I'm TRYING to declutter and I kept the SMALLER sheep she gave me.) Later that evening, this is what I saw in my office:

Welcome back, buddy. There is always room for something that was given to me by one of my kids. You can sit on the printer.

Okay, then, here's the thing: I'm fighting off a pretty severe depressive cycle, despite the fact that I have A) the funniest, sparkliest kids ever, B) good friends --really good friends and C) a puppy. Sometimes, even the fact that I am the most blessed person on this planet cannot keep the black curtain from descending -- because it is hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head, as Eleanor Roosevelt once said.

Sometimes those closest to me (Coop) wonder why I tell the whole world about such struggles. Well. I talk about them to demystify them. To make sure I'm not living in denial, which is sort of a mode of operation embraced by my family of origin. And also because I want my children to know that struggling to keep yourself balanced and mentally healthy is not a character flaw. I am not a bad person because I battle depression. In fact, taking responsibility for my own mental health makes me a responsible parent and may just be the best thing I model for my kids.

Anyway, that's why I've been so scarce around these parts. Thanks to everyone who wrote asking me if I was okay. I AM okay and getting better all the time.

I'm planning (and actually writing!) a big post about dinner parties and Thanksgiving and going to get out Christmas Tree but I wanted to swing by and say howdy in the meantime. (Also to let you know that the Blink-O-Meter is at 90%, currently.)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Oh, Just Hug Everyone

Oh my goodness, grab a Kleenex and click here.

Sometimes, we forget the real cost of war.

(My good friend Mike sent this to me. At least, I THINK he's my good friend. Seeing as how he keeps making me cry and all...)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Well, Wow, Hi There!

I planted some broccoli back in the Spring when I was in that manic LET'S PLANT EVERYTHING WE EAT, QUICK PLANT A COW, MAYBE WE SHOULD RAISE CHICKENS, OKAY, THEN, ALL VEGETABLES EVERYWHERE WILL GROW AND PROSPER AND MAKE US ALL TRUE FARMERS WHO GET INVITED TO BE ON OPRAH phase. The broccoli didn't come up but I figured that there was just way too much going on in the bed and I had just thrown the seeds in willy-nilly because, hello, MANIC PLANTING.

Today, I went to look for straggler bell peppers and jalapenos and this is what I saw.

I know I'm easy but you know when you take what seems like a leap of faith and you confess something that you think is a big deal which then turns out to NOT be such a big deal and you're all sheepish and, well...sheepish and then it's almost like God gives you a present as if to say, "There, there, Sweetheart. Try to calm down."

Well, it's like that.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Things to Confess

Okay, so I have some things to tell y'all that I haven't shared for various reasons.

Most of which entail large embarrassment on my part.

The first is that, well, my car inspection sticker has expired. It, um, expired in June. I know! I KNOW! But I just can't seem to remember about it until I'm in the car on my way to an appointment. (This is also why I still have a Texas Drivers License. Shhh.)

Now, let's talk about my hair. About six months ago or so, my hair began falling out at an alarming rate. Handfuls every time I showered. I had my thyroid checked and my medication levels were just fine so I assumed I was just...molting. So NOW, I have all this new growth on my head and on really humid days, like today, I look like this:

So, the last thing I have to confess today is something I just realized was embarrassing to me. I'd been wanting to write about it and I just couldn't bring myself to and suddenly it occurred to me that what I'm feeling is embarrassment. Which, GAH, is such a stupid response that I'm just going to tell y'all and be done with it. When we went to Disney, I needed one of those motorized scooter things to get around. Because of my foot. After the first half day at the Magic Kingdom, it was really clear that I couldn't keep up with my family and walk all over. (Plus, it was a reminder of how that kind of pain can erase all the good in your life with one step. I earned my new Grumpy jacket.)

Anyway, I have no idea why this is embarrassing to me. Clearly, I have issues that go far beyond my usual issues. Every time I've sat down to write about this, I've managed to find something that simply HAD to be done --like making my FaceBook language default English-PIRATE. (It's so amusing that I spent one whole day playing with it.) Or scrubbing my grout or something.

It was embarrassing to me at the moment, too. I found myself blinking back tears for the first hour or so. People kept giving me encouraging smiles --it was painful. (Well, except for the New Yorkers and they'd just walk right in front of me, mistakenly confident in my ability to handle the darn thing.) Babies would stare at me from their strollers as if to say, "Dude, what're YOU in for?" I was sort of deathly afraid that people would think I was using the scooter because I was so fat that my bones couldn't hold me.

I just... I just felt like everyone was staring at me.

(I'm, um, kind of crying a little as I write this.)

I think... I think maybe it's hitting me that the reality of living with a chronic mobility condition (no matter how much better it has gotten with these orthotics! Yea for orthotics! I heart you so!) is that I have to admit to not being able to do everything that normal (oh, just hush, you know what I mean) forty-four-year-old women can do. That's embarrassing to me.

And I'm embarrassed that I'm embarrassed because I worked for YEARS on behalf of people with disabilities. It turns out I'm just another unmarried marriage counselor, I guess. Or a racist civil rights worker. Or someone who works for an animal shelter whose dog is a pedigreed pure-bred. You get the picture: Hypocrisy R Us.

(Of course, after I'd been in the scooter for about a day, I really did start getting all, "Hello, where ARE my accommodations?" Disney World is amazingly accommodating to people with mobility issues but in, say, Norway (Epcot) there were some issues with the Maelstrom... just sayin'.)

At any rate, those are my confessions. I have one more about my NanoWriMo book but I'm going to wait until tomorrow to talk about that one. I can only bare my soul so much in one day.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Home Again, Home

So, we returned from vacation last night and found that the pets had run amok in our absence. Well, specifically Sir Edward the Orange Kitty (who showed his displeasure with my absence by peeing on my side of the bed) and Austin, who responded to the boredom of our empty house by eating holes in two of our rugs and gnawing on a chair. All in one night, after which our beloved pet sitter crated him when unsupervised. Which, of course, made her feel badly for him so she came over twice as often and took him and Scout on walks three times a day.

Shown with a cork for my usual scale.

The bed clean up was fairly easy, thanks to my new steam front loader, although the down comforter suffered a bit. (Sparing you the pictures because, well, eeewww.)

I managed to turn the large rug around so that the small hole was under the red couch (which, incidentally, seems to have been party central for one black puppy who is NOT supposed to get on the furniture, ahem.)

But the round rug under our kitchen table is a total loss.

I can't afford to buy a new rug right now because, hello, we just got back from Walt Disney World. (At one point, there was a guy ahead of me in line at the bar who looked at his bill and said, "Mickey Mouse should wear a kerchief and carry a gun and say, 'Stick 'em up!' on the signs.")
Looks a little sterile to me without the rug.

But I guess there's no point in replacing the rug when we still have this guy and he's only just ten months old.
SO getting neutered next week!

Edward sleeping oh-so-innocently on ANA'S bed. (SO going to a kennel next time we go out of town!)

************************** (Clever denotation of change of subject.)

Y'all, I think the lawyers have won.

Here is my snack on the plane coming home from Disney World.

It's a small package of peanuts.

Here is what the packaging says:

Yes, this package of PEANUTS was apparently packed in a facility that processes PEANUTS AND OTHER NUTS.

I dunno. Should we be reassured or frightened that they had to announce this?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Disney Faces

(As always, click to embiggen.)

My Tiger lover watching the tigers at Disney's Animal Kingdom...

and in front of Mt. Everest. (Why, yes, we did climb Mt. Everest and go on a jungle safari all in one day. And also? There was face painting.)

And we went on rides and ate all kinds of sweets and got doused with water on both days so far. I have many, many pictures to show y'all but alas, I am on my husband's laptop since my Mac is feeling poorly and I have totally forgotten how to do things on a PC. Also, we're on our way to Epcot today and I have to pack up. More later about scooters and weather and the magic of Disney World. (Seriously, I am so surprised at how much I am enjoying myself.) (That my KIDS are enjoying themselves is not so surprising.)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Back Up Those Computers

Saturday night, as I was turning around to scold the puppy for eating the older dog's (Scout's) food, I knocked over my glass of wine.

All over my Mac laptop.

I dried it as much as I could and left it turned off overnight.

I hesitate to tell you that the only copy of my NaNoWriMo novel is on my laptop. Also? Most of the pictures I've taken since Christmas when my husband made it possible for me to make the leap to a Macintosh.

By Sunday, the computer would boot up, but the keyboard was having some issues. Like, it started randomly typing sevens. Here is an actual e-mail I sent to my friend Tiffany:


It's just randomly7 t7y7pin7g7 s77 no7w7777777. Wit7h or with7ou7t7 m7y77 a7pproval.

Gosh, 7is 7th7is 7har7d to7 rea7d??&"

Now the seven key won't work at all but this is far better than when I couldn't type the letter "u." I use the letter "u" a LOT. Also, the battery no longer works--that's kind of a limitation for a laptop.

At any rate, my husband hooked up an external drive and backed everything up and I am on my way to the Apple store to ask for professional help.

PLEASE learn from my mistakes and back up your computers RIGHT NOW. And either keep your wine on a separate table or drink it a lot faster.


Thursday, November 05, 2009

What IS a Bad Penny?

Okay, okay, sorry.

It's just that my NaNoWriMo book (I say book since it's not really fiction yet --which is just how I write) has me all on FIRE (I don't mean literally because that would be bad and this is good) and I'm spending my every free moment on it. I haven't been this excited about a writing project (other than this blog) in a long time.

Please forgive the scarcity of posts for a few weeks. Unless I continue drinking VAST amounts of coffee, in which case, please forgive the enormous backlog of posts suddenly appearing all on the same day.

Meanwhile, look what happens when the puppy gets bored: Yes. He ate part of our couch.

Apparently, he (and Scout. Mostly Scout) also barks a lot when bored. While Coop was in the hospital getting his appendix removed, the dogs were outside a lot more and were driving our neighbors crazy. So we've installed this device that hangs on the fence and emits a high-pitched frequency when the dogs bark. Humans can't hear it but dogs can.

It seems to be working.

However, Scout, never the poster child for canine mental health, now refuses to go out into the backyard. Is that a problem?

Here are a series of YouTube videos that I took while trying to take the dogs on a walk this morning. If you are receiving the blog via e-mail, you have to click on the post title and actually visit the blog to see them. (Mom, I'm talking to you. The videos are full of fall foliage! You'll love them! There are a lot of them but altogether, it's only about five minutes long!)

I didn't actually mean to take this one but oh, what the heck.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Today's Halloween Post

Today I was supposed to tell you all about our Halloween. However, instead I am going to tell you that someone really made me mad last week and I've been fantasizing about sending him/her an anonymous present of poop through the mail.

And not just any poop, actually, ELEPHANT POOP. (Don't click on that if you are eating.)

I won't do it because y'all know how I'm from the South and we don't actually DO bodily functions. Well, okay, we DO them but we don't ADMIT to doing them so this means I can't actually acknowledge the fact that this person really deserves a large load of elephant feces delivered to his/her door.

It sure is fun to think about, though.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

A Bazillion Things

I have a bazillion things to tell y'all but this is the first day of NaNoWriMo and my head is swirling with words and plot twists. Both of my daughters have joined me in this insane undertaking and thus far, Ana (11) has finished her word count for the day and almost all of tomorrow's and Jane wrote 500 words on her first book and then changed her mind and wrote another 556 words on her second idea. I'm sitting at about 350 words but I had some stuff to do like exercise and grout my Butler's Pantry counter (FINALLY!) I am drinking caffeine now, though, so watch my dust.

Anyway, since I am going to be pressed for time over the next month, my posts will be shorter. I am actually SO organized...

(excuse me for a second: BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh, wow, that felt good!)

that I have actually planned a series of things I need to tell you about.

Monday: Halloween
Tuesday: Helping out at Jane's School
Wednesday: How Austin Ate the Couch
Thursday: My husband and Me on the Comeback Trail (featuring my personal trainer, Edward.)
Friday: Date Night in New York City

This is not a chronological listing but that's just how loosey-goosey we are around here.

Meanwhile, see the pretty grout: I have decided to add a small backsplash (which I just typed as backLASH--Freud, anyone?) to compensate for the irregularities in the counter itself so the project isn't done yet. Still, considering that we lived with it as a plywood counter for 18 months, this is definitely a step forward.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


So, um.

Five years ago, I started this blog. I didn't really take up blogging as the Great Love Of My Life, feel-like-doing-it-every-day-and-twice-on-Sunday until I had my foot surgery in 2007, but I STARTED it on this date in 2004. It began on the day I left on my trip to New York City to meet my girlfriends from the Mothers of March 1998 Babies, which began as a ParentSoup forum about, oh, a hundred years ago.

And here I am, living 30 miles from New York City now. It's kind of weird how things sometimes happen that you couldn't possibly foresee.

But anyway, I digress. (Some things never change.)

I feel like I should do something to mark this auspicious day. Not counting this one, I've posted 622 blog posts --and probably written at least 1,000, not counting the ones that I've only written in my head. I should--I don't know, revamp my header or colors or start accepting ads or...meh. Why mess with a good thing? (I would hold a contest but since I STILL haven't mailed the relish to the winners, I would feel even worse.)

I know! What if I post some sort of link to the top ten blog posts of the past five years? I looked into doing some sort of poll but can't figure out how to make it open-ended so that y'all could add any posts I've forgotten. Here are the ones that come to mind, though:

Big and Meaningful Post

I Don't do Linear

Socks and Life Lessons

An Unexpected Love Thursday

Memories Do Not Convey

They were Mostly Stuntmen

If You Give A Mom Some Coffee

Edward's Tale and Tail

Joy Rush

Requiem for an Old Dog

Just leave a comment and tell me which ones you like best. OR, tell me which ones I've left off of the list. And while I'm at it, a lot of bloggers open up the comments for questions periodically. I can't think of anything I don't already tell you all but hey, I'd be glad to entertain any questions you might have. You can also send me e-mail if that feels easier or more private or something.

I think blogging has helped me connect with readers I really like and admire during a time when I've had some of the greatest challenges of my life. You have become so dear to me. I love my blogging family. Five years in, I still don't quite know what I'm doing but I still know that I LOVE it and my readers and that I'm always talking to y'all in my head.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

More Things to Ponder

One day this week, in my efforts to avoid eating leftover birthday cake from Jane's party, I ate a yogurt for breakfast. It was a fancy Greek yogurt. I was looking at the packaging when I noticed something. (Might have to click to enlarge.)

Really? Do you think that was really what they were trying to say? "0% authentic?" (Snort.)

So, then, the next morning, in my efforts to avoid eating leftover birthday cake from Jane's party, I ate a yogurt for breakfast. It was a fancy Greek yogurt. I was looking at the packaging when I noticed something. (Might have to click to enlarge.)

Really? Do you think that was really what they were trying to say? "0% Non-fat?" (Eye-rolling.)

(I have this whole post about things I'm taking away from the experience of having my beloved Coop in the hospital for a week but I can't tell if it's just too boring to post or not. You can be sure, however, that it will be 100% authentic and 100% fat free.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Something to Ponder

My husband had to have an emergency appendectomy yesterday. He's doing fine after it but will be staying in the hospital at least until Saturday because his appendix ruptured before he had the surgery.

Here's the thing, though: The guy drove himself to the hospital with a ruptured appendix.


What kind of Crazy On Legs is THAT? It's not like he HAD to, either. There were plenty of people, myself included, who were standing by, ready to drive him once he gave the okay. But instead what he did was text me from a gurney in the hospital as he was being wheeled into surgery.

Y'all, I have given more notice before removing a HANGNAIL.

So, aside from the fact that once I got to the hospital, everyone greeted me with a certain amount of coolness (no doubt thinking that I'd made the poor guy drive himself because I was busy eating bon-bons and watching soap operas,) the other thing that came out of this was how many women have similar stories about their husbands. The first nurse I met said her husband had done the same exact thing. (Because naturally I told her as soon as I could in an effort to get her to diffuse the lynch mob.)

I heard from other people who had similar stories, too. And I started thinking, "Well, dang, maybe this is the KEY to the whole "Men are from Mars, Women Want Them to Stay There" dialogue." Maybe if we could get to the bottom of why men think it's better to risk their freaking LIVES by driving themselves to the hospital instead of accepting a tiny bit of assistance, we'd be able to solve all marital discord and misunderstanding.

I have no idea what the answer is, though. Frankly, I think men are weird.

And when Coop gets out of the hospital, I'm going to smack him hard.

Except, you know, first I'm going to kiss his whole head.

Monday, October 19, 2009

And We All Lived Stickily Ever After

I think it was a good party.

I never actually KNOW, the same way I never knew if I'd done well on a test in school, but I THINK Jane's Ninth Birthday Chocolate Extravaganza was a success.

If it were measured by sheer volume of chocolate available and consumed, I'm pretty sure we'd have won some sort of prize. (As always, click to enlarge.)

I had made shirts for the kids and they decorated them with fabric paints.

We played some games, like stack the Oreos and guess the number of M&Ms in the jar.

Jane opened presents:

Probably the best thing I did was "hire" my older daughter and two of her friends to help run the games. ("Hire" in the sense that they got to eat as much chocolate as they could stand.) I made shirts for them, too, and called them the Oompa-Loompas. They were pretty helpful, even if they did have a tendency to disappear and do their own thing every once in a while. (The nerve!) But they did a great job and even wrote the "Who Gave What" list during the present opening.

In the end, the guests took home these little goody boxes (Yes that's a toothbrush. I must have my little jokes.)

And Austin and I cleaned chocolate off of things like the basement door.

A side benefit to throwing this party is that I had no problem at all starting (RE-starting. Sigh. AGAIN.) my diet today because, LORDY, I am SICK OF CHOCOLATE.

Hey, I guess that means it really WAS a good party!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The CEO Speaks

Today has mostly been spent in preparation of the ten twelve fourteen eight-and-nine-year-olds who will be attending Jane's Ninth Birthday Chocolate Extravaganza tomorrow.

In my house.

For two hours.

When it's raining outside.

(Not that I'm bitter.)

So, part of those preparations were, naturally, the making of the cake.

Jane expressed her distaste for any icing that isn't chocolate and since the cake is chocolate with chocolate frosting, this left little in the arsenal for decorations of said cake.

I decided to use M&Ms.

In fact, I decided to make the CAKE an M&M, only instead of a lone "M" on the top, I would make a "J." For Jane. Because that's the birthday girl's first name.

I got a little carried away and Ana (11) and I started making a beautiful M&M mosaic.

We had gotten this far when the birthday Sergeant girl happened by, burst into tears and ran to her room.

This has happened before but this time I could NOT figure it out. What the heck? There was nary a sprinkle in sight!


It turns out that when I floated the idea of doing a giant M&M as the cake, Jane assumed the caked would have a "M" on it!! I mean, HELLO??!! If it has a "J" on it, it's not an M&M, now, is it? "J" does NOT EQUAL "M," now, does it?




So, I wiped the "J" off and wrote an "M" and then the CEO had her way with decorating the rest of the cake.

Because, you know what?

It's HER cake. I should have let her decorate it in the first place.

Say it with me now, "Process vs. Product. Process vs. Product. Process vs. (freakin') Product."

I am finally learning to let go of control (it's only taken me 45 years to do it) and to keep the end in mind. And the end I was hoping for here was a happy birthday memory.

Tune in tomorrow and I'll let you know how that turned out.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Too Much Chocolate? Too Many Parentheses? Too Many Capital Letters?

I'm Live-Blogging my Latest Crisis.

Jane's ninth birthday party is on Sunday. Since we couldn't find a pool for a pool party (her first choice), she decided she would like a repeat of her seventh birthday party, which was a chocolate party. (It actually was a pool party, so the chocolate just served as fuel for lots of swimming. That party was also made memorable by the chocolate fountain, which was susceptible to gusts of wind and ended up blowing sheets of chocolate all over the place.) We are having this year's party at our house.

Okay, let me sit here and put my head between my knees for a second. I just read through my account of Jane's LAST chocolate party and, frankly, it scared the bejesus out of me. {Smacks self in head, repeatedly.} What was I thinking having ten 'tweens' over for a chocolate party IN MY HOUSE??? TWO HOURS! Two hours of kids HOPPED UP ON CHOCOLATE!!!

And the thing is, Jane went to a birthday party yesterday. It was, get this, a CHOCOLATE party. Only THAT mother has some sense because she had it at a chocolate SHOP. Everything was perfect--there was a chocolate fountain, the girls poured chocolate into molds and decorated it, and then decorated cupcakes. In order to avoid insulin shock, they ate pizza.

Also, did I mention that it is supposed to rain on Sunday?? So, any idea I had of them racing around outside and jumping on the trampoline is but a mere fantasy. (Plus, now we have to do something with the dogs during the party. Not just because they are large and can knock the littler kids over, but also because Austin is eating SOMETHING that gives him gas and WHOO-EE, the dog can clear a room faster than you can grab the air freshener.) (I know, I know, the glamour never ends around here.)

So, seriously? I need to get a grip here. Kids' birthday parties are WHAT I DO! Must immediately find ideas for what to do with the kids.


Because I don't want to repeat everything most of these same girls just did yesterday at a different chocolate party. (Except the chocolate fountain, Jane insists we have that.) (I don't believe we've used it since her seventh birthday.)


I'm thinking that I'll buy brown T-shirts and we'll could decorate them and that maybe, I could get the goody-boxes from the same chocolate store where yesterday's party was held... We'll play speed stacking of Oreos and we'll guess how many M&Ms are in the jar...

Okay, I'm on it.

(But y'all could send some good vibes anyway, if you don't mind.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Time to Reflect

Yesterday, my friend and fellow Texan ex-pat Sherry took my mom and me to a nature preserve so that my mom could do some birding and Sherry and I could be amazed at her encyclopedic knowledge of our avian friends. Sherry's no slouch, either, but I am hopeless. ("Look, that's a bird, right? Oh. Oh no, it's a chipmunk.")

Anyway, I took some pictures and made a little slide show. Here, you can watch it in silence since the fine folks at YouTube have removed my soundtrack.

It was a very quiet place and as we stood there and watched a storm move across the sound, I had a little talk with myself. Do you ever need to find a moment just to center yourself and renew your resolve to do and be better?

The Wednesday before my parents came, I was crazed with the cleaners at my house, etc., and I emailed my friend Linda to tell her that I wouldn't be able to help out at the knitting class from 10 -11. I heard from her yesterday and she said that it had been hard to find a last-minute replacement but she had found one and that person wants to continue to help with the class. She was as nice as possible but I still felt like I got sent to the principal's office and deservedly so. I'm glad Linda found someone who is actually reliable.

I get so disappointed in myself for letting my friends down or backing out of a legitimate commitments because I am already over-committed and not managing my time well. And because I fail to set boundaries because I think I should be able to do everything. Y'all, seriously, I used to be able to do it all! No, really! Now I no longer have the energy nor the mobility to do so. (Also, I find I need sleep and I never used to need THAT either. Man, this getting old stuff is way over-rated.)

Not only do I let my friends down when I get all frazzled and disorganized but, um, there's another issue, too. (Never short of issues in MY world.) I have a To-Do list the size of a barn and because I am always pressed for time, the things that I do just for me tend to get put at the bottom of the list. Things like exercise and, um, mammograms. Getting to the post office to mail relish to blog winners (sorry.) Finishing my novel.

So, anyway, I took a moment there to regroup and to pare down my list a bit. I moved a few things (getting my mammogram (only two years overdue) and getting my NY driver's license (yup, 18 months after the move)) to the forefront, just after planning Jane's ninth birthday party (which happens this weekend) and sending out tomato relish to you lovely winners who have been so patient (really, really sorry.)

Maybe my fear of disappointing my friends will motivate me to do better. Because I truly love Linda and I am truly sorry to have let her down.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jane Evolving

Dear Jane,

Happy Birthday, my little love. It seems hard to believe that you are nine years old today. (And yes, I thought seriously about smacking our friend Mike when he reminded me that you are now "half-way gone." It's a good thing that he looked as anguished as I felt, and, also, that his daughter is older.)

It was a wonderful day with you. I wish I had been able to take more pictures but most of my favorite moments could not be captured on film. My favorite memories are of you rolling out of bed and heading for the bathroom, turning on the light and announcing, "Whoa, Mom, my face has evolved."

(I wish I was so conscious of the various evolutions of my face, and that they happened on dates I could remember.)

For the rest of my life, I will see you sitting, small and resolute, under your headphones on the bench at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum. In front of the John Lennon documentary, you sat singing "All we are saying is give peace a chance" over and over again, full voice.

And then again, at the end of the Broadway production of West Side Story, when Tony has been shot and Maria is insane with grief, you sat crying real tears. Because, Jane? There is nothing wrong with your heart --it is bigger than Texas.

It seems fitting that today, on your Ninth Birthday, that I can honestly say that I love you more than I ever have. Less than tomorrow, yeah, but more than ever. I can't wait until you take over the world, girlfriend.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

I'm Not Sulking

But my heart is just a lee-tle bit sore. These milestones are killing me--I just KNOW she's off to college tomorrow.

And here I thought she couldn't BE more beautiful.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

And Just Like That, It's Over and We're On to New Glamour

Okay, so I woke up yesterday and that weird kind of malaise I've been feeling was just...gone. Good riddance, I say. I've got things to do!

My parents are coming on Thursday so I am completely freaking the frak out. Since I can't A) lose 30 pounds or B) finish my book and have it published and appear on Oprah charming the world with my wit (?), I decided to completely gut my office and turn it into my yarn/creative space.

My husband talked me down off of the "Tile An Entire Room Before My Parents Get Here on Thursday" ledge, though. He's very wise. Because somewhere along the line when I was making all of my plans, I forgot that I would still have to, you know, PARENT, not to mention, um, sleep.


(I did manage to sneak in a little bit of tile work, anyway. Want to see? This is the Butler's Pantry, which has had a plywood counter-top for a year-and-a-half-now. (Shaddup.) (It never DID have a Butler.) (I'm going to grout it tomorrow.)

But then, horror of horrors, Edward the Kitty got sick with HIS familiar malaise. The one where he can't go poop and his meow gets all "crooked," as Jane (almost 9) says.

I called to make an appointment for him but I had to wait to make it until my husband could come home and help me get Edward out from under the guest room sofa. Which my husband did, because he's a prince of a guy. We shut Eddy into our bedroom with food and water until time to see the vet.

Ana (11) and I STILL had to get him out from under the bed--that was fun--and then load him into the carrier. Which was equally fun--although those orange tabbies are so nice. He was fighting like a tiger to keep from going into the carrier but he never scratched me, not once.

He did, however, FART at me.

You know how I feel about that word. (Look at Number 93.)

After I recovered consciousness and Ana stopped laughing, I said, "Let's never speak of this again." (Except, of course, I'm telling y'all because it's so funny.) (And nauseating.)

Then I took him to the vet.

There was some additional feline flatulence on the way there and now I think I have to sell my van.

Also, I told the people at the vet's office that I had tried to buy the low-residue food (which is supposed to make this constipation issue much better) but the pet store required a prescription for it. They were all, like, "Yup, yeah, I know."

And I looked at them. Finally I said, "Well, what is THAT about? How many people abuse CAT FOOD?"

They just looked at me. And then the tech started laughing like crazy.

Y'all? Why are vets writing prescriptions for pet food? I mean, there is nothing MEDICATED in the food. I don't get it. Who would willingly abuse getting some cat food at six times the price without a prescription? Is there a black market for pet food? Do thieves break into veterinary offices and steal cans of bland, tasteless, low-residue food to sell on it?

Seriously, I want to know.

Friday, October 02, 2009

In All Honesty?

I have been reading books from bloggers who have gotten book deals because of their blogs. (Not just because I'm a bitter and jealous woman, either (much.)) Reading these books, though, has got me thinking about the trade-offs and the ethics and a whole raft of issues that I never think about when I sit down to write my blog.

The Cake Wrecks woman released a book which is hilarious. The only thing is --and I hate to be picky-- the editors have edited out a lot of her humor in order to make the book entirely non-offensive or non-actionable, whichever. I understand why they did it and as the book goes on, a little of her edge starts to show. All humor has a bit of an edge, in my not-so-humble opinion. (Another tiny complaint is that my 11-year-old really wanted to read the book and I let her, but I had to warn her that there is an entire chapter on icing that looks like penises. (Penisi?) This was not my favorite conversation of the day. There are already a lot of pages devoted to icing mistakes that resemble poop --maybe that was enough? Just, you know, sayin'.)

And then I did my version of going to the movies, which is when a movie comes out that is based on a book and instead of actually seeing the movie, I read the book. (Because leaving my house to see a movie would be unheard of.) So, I read a good movie when I read "Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously." The book is a little depressing to me (probably an emotional echo of my own days of trying to find myself on no budget while living in semi-squalor and working a dead-end job) and Julie Powell has a seriously foul mouth, but it's an interesting premise. The thing I loved the best about the book was the depiction of her relationship with her husband, which sounds a lot like MY relationship with Coop.

So, then I got into full fan mode and I read the actual blog that the book is based on, and I read Julie's latest blog. I find her writing style a little all over the place, but it's entertaining and she's got a good turn of phrase and I got really interested in her story/success.

Unfortunately, in the course of reading all that, it turns out that Julie Powell has a new book coming out about how she had an extramarital affair.

Which just really made me...sad. And disappointed. In fact, I felt somewhat betrayed that this person in whom I'd become invested had turned out to be someone completely different from who I thought she was.

So, let me see if I am getting this right: I discovered a writer who is putting herself out there, blogging about cooking and life and marriage, who turned out to be someone different from the person she is IN MY MIND (since I've never met her) and I feel misled.

That is Crazy on Legs right there.

I mean, it happened after the time span covered by her book and the cooking blog and certainly, I wouldn't have read or wanted to read a blog about an extramarital affair.

It's just that I have this ...THING about honesty. And as I get older, the less tolerant I become of dishonest people, especially cheaters. Even little white lies make me re-evaluate my feelings for the person who just uttered them.

Then, of course, I started playing Devil's Advocate in my own mind because that's what I do--not content with being just generically crazy like most people. I started thinking about how honestly I portray my own life when I am writing on my blog. Because, you know, I don't detail every spat I have with my husband, or the times when our long marriage has gone through the doldrums. In the same way I don't post truly unflattering pictures of myself (much), or write in excruciating detail about my battle with depression and clutter and endless, endless dog hair. I do this purposefully because I feel like I don't want to add any more cynicism/bleakness to the world. But mostly, I try to practice gratitude and a sense of wonder as a way of life. It seems to me that the more you complain about your life and your spouse and your particular travails, the more common it becomes to see that and only that. My working theory is that the opposite is true, too--the more you exercise your Wonder Muscle (get your minds out of the icing), the more wondrous the world IS.

But is that dishonest? Would you feel betrayed if I reveal to you that things are not always so rose-colored in my world?

I don't know.

And more to the point, does it make for good reading? Because look what happened to Cake Wrecks when it got (mostly) sanitized for our protection --it lost some of its humor and interest.

Discuss amongst yourselves. I'll be over here cleaning up the dog hair...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Okay, so people have been writing asking if I am A) dealing with copious amounts of pet bodily fluids (yes) or B) playing with my puppy (yes) or C) dead (not that I am aware of.)

The truth is that I don't actually know what's wrong with me. It's a little like depression, this feeling, but I am not depressed. I feel a little bit like I'm coming down with something, but I'm not sick. I'm not getting much done except basic tasks. I'm coasting. I'm just sort of...quiet. I seem to be resting up for something.

I KNOW-- everyone is just a lee-tle afraid.

Maybe this is part of living in a place that has seasons --maybe as you get in touch with the cycles of the earth, you also get in touch with your own ebb and flow. Maybe it's necessary to lie fallow for a time before beginning some new season. Maybe it's like the firewood we just had delivered--it has to season for a time before it can blaze forth.

Maybe I'm coming down with something.

The great thing about this quiet before the storm is that I don't quite know what shape the storm will take. Will I be inspired to work and finish my novel? Will I tile the basement? Is there a big landscaping project in my future?

I don't know, but I'm laying in a lot of sock yarn just in case.