Friday, June 29, 2007

Because I am petty and immature

I was just reading one of my favorite blogs (sweetjuniper) about an awesome dollhouse he built for his daughter. This got me to thinking about an experience I had with a dollhouse that to this day still almost makes me pee my pants with laughter.

See below in that class picture? Front row, dark blue outfit with rainbow-striped suspenders? That is Cheri McMasters, most popular girl at Hawthorne Elementary. Besides Kim, Cheri was one of my best friends. We had a complicated relationship, Cheri and I, as most sixth grade girls do, and I was secretly insanely jealous of her. First, as mentioned, she was wildly popular. Second, she was one of two daughters who were lavished with love and attention by her parents (her mom called her "Little Darling of the Sweethearts"...) She was fawned over by all the boys at school, all the girls wanted to be just like her, she always had great clothes (which we immediately copied) and also: she had all the coolest toys ever.

So one year her doting father built, for her birthday, this extremely elaborate 3-story Victorian dollhouse. It was full of the most beautiful reproduction mini-Victorian furniture, sweet little rugs, and even had teeny-tiny canned food in the see-through kitchen cabinets! Oh, how I burned with envy. Of course she had to show it off and invited me to stay the night. As the Powder Pink paint (her favorite color of course) was still drying on her new Victorian Dollhouse, we lay on her pink canopy bed talking. The lights were still on and we finally got tired enough to turn them out. We'd been telling really creepy stories and we argued over who had to get out of bed to turn the lights out. Somehow she lost. We were giddy with fear and spazzy as only 12 year old girls can be; she raced across the room to hit the light switch, and literally LEAPT through the air back toward the bed. But in the dark, she'd miscalculated the bed's location, and all I heard was the loud crash of freshly painted wood....

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Since we're strolling down memory lane...

I thought I'd share my sixth grade photo. Go ahead and laugh about our outfits and hair. I'll wait. Although, for the record, this was BY FAR the coolest outfit I'd ever owned. It came from this very upscale boutique where my best friend Kim shopped. That's her in the red polyester jumpsuit. Oh, how I envied her wardrobe and the fact that her mom took her shopping at places like that. Not like in our family (hi mom! love you!!) where we shopped exclusively at Anthony's, which mortified me. Anyway, somehow I talked mom into buying me ONE outfit at this boutique. It probably cost more than anything she'd purchased for herself in her entire life. This is what I chose: yellow gouchos, cute matching top and I paired it all with yellow striped socks. And my hair? Stringy and yet oddly defying gravity by pulling to the left. Damn I was hot.

Now, our teacher, Mr. Gleason, was by far the coolest man on the planet as far as we were concerned. He was bald, smart, was a totally hip dresser (Turtle-neck and blazer? Very cutting edge!) and drove an avocado green Karmen Ghia. I mean, was there anything cooler in 1977 than an avocado green Karmen Ghia? Unfortunately, he didn't seem to like kids. In fact, his contempt for us was palpable. Once, he even pulled my hair. Anyway, there was one boy, Brian Duffy, who was the class clown and a complete Spiderman fanatic. He was the one kid Mr. Gleason liked. Look what those two crazy guys, one an 11 year old boy, the other a 40-something year old teacher, cooked up for our class photo:

Can you see it? Our beloved teacher, our role-model, is holding a HAND GUN to Brian's head. Aahhhh, those were the days.

Edited to add: Thanks, Jodi, for lightening this photo for me; it's much easier to see the weapon now!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Let's have some fun, shall we? I have this HORRIBLE song stuck in my head and I don't know why....was it on as background Muzak when I ran thru the grocery store after work? A commercial for the new Ford Minivan? Or did it just seep it's evil way into my brain without invitation? I'm not going to tell you what it is because I want to know YOUR Top 3 Worst Songs of All Time. If you can, gimme 5....

Guess who's coming to dinner

Ok, I finally downloaded some photos of "Honey", the fawn that came to stay with us Friday night. For my siblings, these ought to bring back some memories....Is she cute, or what?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

But enough about me

So I'm reading this memoir called "But Enough About Me". It's about this girl's childhood during the 70s, and it's downright scary how much she reminds me of myself when I was young.

It got me thinking about my childhood, and some of the characters that passed through my young life. When we moved to Boise, I hooked up with the hoodlums of the neighborhood. As anyone who has ever been "the new kid" knows, it's the misfits who will accept you first. So my new friends were the outcast kids whose families were dysfunctional enough to make us want to stay outside until the streetlights came on. That was the rule back then: "When the streetlights come on, it's time to come home." And anything else was fair game. Seriously, our parents had no idea where we were or what we were doing for the oh, fourteen hours a day that we were outside.

For instance: I hooked up with this CRAZY kid, Betty. Her family had recently moved into a house down the street that probably should have been condemned. All the neighborhood kids thought it to be haunted and we couldn't believe it when a family actually moved into it. We avoided it (and it's occupants) like the plague. I met Betty one day when I was walking home from tennis lessons. I was 9 and she was 7; she leaned out the window of that falling-down house and yelled "Hey! Ya got a cigarette?" And that was it...I was pulled in like a fly to honey. She had this crazy raspy voice that sounded like she'd been smoking all her life, and she was the funniest person I'd ever met. She may have been 7, but she had the soul (and life experience) of a 72 year old lounge-singer. Anyway, Betty and I became great friends; she and her family exposed me to things I'd never even imagined. Her family lived like gypsies; I don't think they ever stayed anywhere more than 6 months. They had lived all over the country and whenever whatever it was that they were running from threatened to come close, they piled their 9 kids and 5 dogs into an ancient beater of a car and hit the road. On to the next town. I never knew what the story was, but it intrigued the hell out of me and my white-bread existence. Even now, I identify them as the most dysfunctional family I've ever known; Hollywood's best and brightest screenwriters could never come up with this. Her oldest brother was a transvestite (this was Boise circa 1974 ya'll) who's friends cycled through the house like a never-ending freak show. There were other transgendered people, drug addicts and, I shit you not, several midgets and a few carnies. He and his friends would parade around the house telling us stories that just blew my young mind. I think I must have just stood around with my mouth hanging open. Betty's family didn't stay for long, of course, but she made one hell of an impact on me.

As soon as I finished that sentence, Lala called. I told her I was writing a post about Betty Fultz and she just cackled. She remembers Betty well (for her brief time in our lives, Betty made a life-long impression). Lala said "I have to say, I think Betty had a huge influence on who you are today". I replied "Why, I oughta kick your ass for that!" but then I thought about it and thought "Ok. I'll take it." Because Betty taught me, at the age of 9, that no matter what life throws at you, you've just gotta laugh. Now that I know more about life and the things that probably led to them being on the run, I shudder to think what went on in that house when it was just them. Betty had already learned that seeing the humor in life was a critical to one's survival. I learned that from her, and it continues to serve me well.

Betty, wherever you are, I hope you're still laughing too.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Someone's been living under a rock

because that's the only reasonable explanation for this:

"Devoted Republicans name baby Georgebush"
Some people really love George W. Bush. Like Doris and Daniel Neeway, for instance. When it came time to name their baby, they wanted to choose something in honor of their president.

Too bad they didn't have twins. They could have called the other one Crazyassdipshitdictator.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

My little Loretta Lynne

As most of you know, I can be a snob about some things : ) but wine isn't one of them. To my friends' chagrin (Hi Christina!) I've just never developed an appreciation of fine wine. I can't tell the difference between a $5.99 bottle and a $25 bottle, so why bother buying the expensive stuff? Anyway, I usually have a bottle of inexpensive white wine in the fridge to have a glass in the evenings. In fact, David and I refer to it as "Cheap-ass wine" as in "Honey, I'm going to the store, shall I get you a bottle of cheap-ass wine?" (Yes, this has been said in the presence my daughter. Go ahead and call Child Protective Services. I'll wait.) Well, last night she was in the bath, singing to her herself as she played with her horses. Now, since she was little, she and I have loved to make up our own songs, sometimes to the tune of our favorite Bluegrass songs. So as I listened nearby, I heard this:

"I got a brand-new girlfriend,
and I kiss her all the time.
But when I say I Love You,
she starts drinkin' Cheap-ass wine!"

I think she's got a future, don't you??

Monday, June 18, 2007

Have I mentioned

that I believe that people who post comments anonymously should be run up a flag-pole and left to hang by their arm-pit hair? : )

Friday, June 15, 2007

I am a Benevolent Director!

My personalDNA Report

Because I am a dork with too much time on my hands, I took this personality test. Seems mostly right on....exept the part where it says I don't force my opinions on others! ha!

Thursday, June 14, 2007


I was having a conversation recently with my niece (Hi Heather!) about religion. As I mentioned in the "about me" section over there, I am a "recently out of the closet Atheist". What does that mean, exactly? I use the phrase "out of the closet" because identifying myself as an Atheist feels like what I imagine it must feel like to someone who finally comes out as gay. There is definitely societal pressure to be a believer. Think about it: our pledge of allegiance says "One nation, under God"....our national anthem mentions God. And our money says "In God we trust". And yet "Separation of church and state" is in our constitution. Clearly, it's not really working, but it's in there. We grow up hearing about God everywhere. Not in my childhood home, necessarily (we went to my grandma's church about twice a year), but Christianity is definitely the pervasive religion in this country. And yet, so many things about organized religion seemed wrong to me. At the minimum, how do the followers of one religion (Christianity, for example) explain the fact that believers of other religions (Buddhism or Muslim, for that matter) believe just as strongly that THEIRS is the "one and true" religion? Who is right and who is wrong? Why does anyone have to be wrong? The big thing for me is how so many people use religion and their interpretation of the Bible as an excuse for intolerance and hateful behavior toward gays, toward women, toward people with other religious beliefs. Think about how religion is behind almost every war ever fought. Is that not ironic? How many people of been killed and/or tortured in the name of religion?

Anyway, I had always considered myself a "doubter". I, for one, can not reconcile the discrepancies between the idea of God creating the earth and all its inhabitants, with the scientific proof of evolution. It can't be both ways, can it? And so many, SO MANY, parts of the Bible just seem so....crazy to me. The reality of Noah's Arc? Moses parting the sea? Immaculate conception?? The Bible always seemed more like a fable to me than reality.

So. I've been asked "What was the defining moment" that I decided I could no longer consider myself merely a doubter? One "aha" moment for me was hearing, by chance, Julia Sweeny's story called "Letting Go of God". I heard in on one of my favorite radio shows, This American Life. Julia Sweeny is a writer/actress/comedian who was raised (in Spokane, coincidentally) Catholic. Educated entirely in Catholic schools and wanted to be a nun when she grew up. And then her brother got cancer and died. And then a year later, she was diagnosed with cancer. In her immense grief, she decided that perhaps what she needed was to get back to her religious roots, which she had let slip over the years. So she joined a Bible study group and began reading the Bible again. Which is when it all went downhill. I won't go into the details of her personal revelation, but hearing her talk about it was exactly - EXACTLY - what I'd always thought but couldn't articulate it as well as she did. She has since written a book and recorded a spoken-word cd also called "Letting Go of God". I encourage everyone to read it or listen to it right now. Really. Go. She happened to come through Spokane a couple of months ago, to tell her story here in her hometown, with her still-very-Catholic family in attendance, and David and I went. It was fantastic. She doesn't try to change any one's mind; it's just an explanation of why she doesn't believe. And it's exactly how I feel.

All that said, I have many people in my life, friends and family, who I love dearly and completely respect, who are strong believers in God. I hope I haven't offended anyone; I'm simply talking about MY personal beliefs. I understand the need to believe in a higher power. I have certainly called on it during times of struggle in my past. But I have now come to terms with the knowledge that there is no one "up there" pulling strings for me. And I have to say, taking ownership of my own destiny feels wildly liberating.

So. Tell me your thoughts. Do you believe in God? Do you believe in Hell? Do you take the Bible literally or do you "adapt" it to your personal beliefs? How does religion (or lack of) affect the way you live your life and treat others?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

yeah, she's bilingual

The other night Anna and I took Moby out for an evening walk. Being a boy dog, he absolutely MUST stop and smell every. single. bush. which has ever been peed on in the history of the world. We are working on that, as it's very annoying and he's wildly strong. So when he stops, you stop. Anyway, as we're going along, I kept saying (per David's advice) "On-by, Moby. On-by." Anna picked up on it and started saying it as well. Finally, after a while, she looked up at me and said "Mommy, is 'on-by' French for 'move it?"

File under: Humiliating

So as most of you know, our house is under construction. Well, it's being remodeled. It's a 1909 Craftsman, and while we love it, it was lacking in a few necessities. Like closets. So we decided to have Tom, our contractor, build on a mud-room addition. Along with that, our back deck was torn off and a new one built in it's place. Now, I adore Tom. He's sweet, he's good at what he does, and he's the father of TWELVE. That alone earns him some sort of award. Anyway, Tom's not the most....uh....organized builder. For example, he tore apart our porch and then, before finishing that project, moved on to the mud-room. Well, we park in the back of the house and our only access from the cars to the house is via the porch. Which no longer had stairs. For almost TWO MONTHS. Now, I don't feel like I can complain much, because, well, I'm not paying for any of this. However, not having steps back there was a safety hazard, and on more than one occasion I almost bit it while carrying groceries and trying to navigate all the lumber, tools, extension cords and lack of stairs. I had been grumbling for a week or so, trying to get David to push Tom to finish the stairs, when one day last week I was in the kitchen on the phone with David when I realized our dog, Moby, was outside the fence. In my rush to get Moby back in the yard before he took off after some squirrel or something, I raced out the back door and TOTALLY WIPED OUT as I stepped off the porch. Right in front of Tom and his two sweet, innocent, very religious teenage boys my legs flew out from under me, my skirt flew up around my waist and my Granny Panties were exposed for all the world to see. In addition to my extreme humiliation, it hurt like hell: big scape on my lower back, bruised butt and twisted ankle. Yes, David heard the entire "crash" over the cell phone.

The good new is: we now have steps.

Friday, June 8, 2007

let's have this conversation in 10 years

So this morning Bug was having "one of those days". Everything upset her. The clothes she had picked out to wear were all wrong for the day's planned activities (apparently I've forgotten how hard it is to play horsie in a skirt) and it went downhill from there. While helping her get ready, I playfully put some of her hair up and asked if she'd like a pony-tail. She burst into tears and wailed "Ow!! You pulled my hair REALLY HARD!!!" Once I got her calmed down, I helped her down off the counter. "Ow!! You hit me REALLY HARD with your knuckles!!!" and she continued to cry as if her arm had just been ripped off in a tragic farm accident. At that point I'd reached my "patient-mommy" limit and said "Oh for gods sake. I didn't know you were such a delicate flower. You wrestle with the boys every day at school and they tackle you. How can you stand that?"

"Because!" she said. "The boys don't hurt me!!"

inaugural blog

Well. I have very little to say but that's never stopped me. So let's start with the kiddo. It's Bug's first day of summer vacation, after having successfully completed kindergarten. I took a few pictures of her yesterday, as she and E were leaving. Here is a photo (L) of her on her first day, compared with the one taken yesterday (R). She has grown so much this year; emotionally as well as physically. While she put on a brave face, that first day was hard on all of us. New school, new kids, new teacher...she even rode a bus for the first time to go to the after-school program. Anyway, I'm wildly proud of her for overcoming her fear of new things, her shyness and most of all for handling our big changes with so much courage. Anway, here are a couple of pictures. Love those new big front teeth. Obviously, we got a bit lazy about the hair-combing. what?? we combed it last week.