Tuesday, June 26, 2007


The First Annual Mother/Daughter Extravaganza took place last weekend.

These are friends I have had since 1981, when I moved to our small town and took up a desk beside them in the 2nd grade.

Now, we each have a daughter.

The mini us-es.

One mom thought it'd be a good idea to expand our girls' weekend idea and have a weekend where we brought our daughters. This way, they'd know each other pretty well and be good friends. It's all very Ya-Ya Sisterhood without the divine secrets.

I know what your mothers did in high school...

You can't get girls together without there being some dancing and/or jumping.

Not a given, but, pretty close. Especially after sports.

I'm only home for a day, then we jump back in the car for a trip to Boise, Idaho to visit grandma for a few days. OC wants to show off her recently-lost teeth.

The beach was a four hour drive, Boise will be a five hour drive. Luckily, I have made use of the library's audio books section. While I have to be particular when it comes to titles because I have OC with me and can't listen to say, Fear of Flying, I have found plenty to bring along. We listened to The Light Princess on the way to the beach; Ballet Shoes on the way home; Bridge to Terabithia will get us to Boise. For the drive home? Who knows. Maybe something about the concise history of Rome....

Bon voyage!

Friday, June 22, 2007

It Just Wasn't My Day, And P.S. My Neighbor's a Freak

You know how some days just aren't yours? Yesterday was like that for me.

First, I decided to go swimming. This was a stupid idea for a number of reasons. Several weeks ago I had purchased a booklet of tickets for entry to the parks and rec swimming pool, and that coupled with something I read about "active recovery-or-other" and "doing another activity to give your regular running muscles a break-a-ding-ding" led me to think I should give swimming a shot. So I did.

Except, I can't really swim.

If by swim, you mean: "get from one side of the pool to the other without drowning"? Then yes, I can swim. But if your definition is the more traditional sense of crossing the length of the pool with a form akin to one that is widely recognized....then no, I can't really swim. You know the stroke where you propeller your arms around and at some point, breathe from the side? Yeah. I can't do that one. I can do it for three or four strokes, then I ingest water or it goes in my nose and I get all sputtery and have to stop. Instead, I do that stroke with my head out of the water, which is not graceful, nor is it very quick. The only thing it really does is to relieve my anxiety about taking in all that pool water when I do it the other way. Sure, I look like a novice and a fool, but what the heck. That horrendous form was hard to keep up, so for a break I would do the butterfly stroke-whosit. I do the old lady version, veeeeery sloooooowly. Oh well. I got through it.

After swimming I decided to go get a healthy lunch. There's a homestyle Mexican food place with a drive through, so I went there. Except I had placed my car in what I thought was the drive through and it turned out not to be the drive through, but rather, the parking lot for employees wherein they all park in a single file row. Nice! I was on the phone getting directions to the oral surgeon's office where I had an appointment that afternoon, so in my defense I wasn't really paying attention. I was sitting in what I thought was a long drive through line, so I thought I'd get on the phone and take care of the directions before I got driving again. See? Very responsible!

After I got off the phone a nice lady and her young daughter walked over to my car to tell me I was in the parking lot, not the drive through. She was very sweet, but no doubt inwardly thinking, "That is singlehandedly the most idiotic woman I have seen yet today!" I don't blame her.

At least I can give this town something to laugh about.

The day was not a total loss. I took an online quiz and learned this about myself:

I'm just like Lisa!
I'm Lisa, who are you? by NoHomers.net

Yay! I'm not like Homer! And online quizzes are such wonderful stores to set your self-esteem by. At least, they are when they work in your favor.

Oh, I forgot to talk about my neighbor. To set it up, this is the second conversation we've had about this same, apparently important and fascinating-to-him topic. Our neighbor is a guy who lives two doors down from us with his mom. He's 20-ish, has dreadlocks, and is nice enough but there's just something about him that makes me feel like something is not quite right. Not dangerous or scary, just not right. Like Bobby Hill if Bobby Hill grew up to smoke dope, wear tie-dyed t-shirts, had dreads, and lived with his mom.

Last night, he knocked on our front door when we were all inside and asked where the cherries were on our cherry tree, did they drop off, he wondered? I replied that yes, a lot of them had but there were some on the tree if you looked closely.

He asked, not without a bit of paranoia, "Do you have a lot of birds? That's so weird that I haven't seen the cherries this year!" And on and on about the cherries and where were they and why is the tree not full of cherries?

Did I mention, this is the second conversation we've had about this? The first was months ago when he told me what a killer cherry tree we had, and that he couldn't wait for them to ripen. Which.....whatever. I guess the previous owners let him have some? I don't know. He also mentioned in this first conversation how he couldn't believe how much my husband had hacked on the apple tree right next to the cherry tree, and how I'd pruned the lavender back so much. I don't think he really understands the concept of pruning, and I am by far not an expert, so I just said simply that it helps the tree or plant grow better. I don't think it sunk in.

He had a few more incredulous comments to say as I listened and looked at him to see if his pupils were dilated, then he mumbled something else and left. Hey, maybe this was his "munchie" tree and he was freaking out about it.

It wasn't a terrible day, just, you know, kind of weird. I may even go swimming again, but I don't think I'm going to develop a swimming obsession just yet.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Running With Librarians

This morning I drove OC to day camp, then took a detour to a neighborhood in the southwest part of town to check out the running conditions on the roads and the hills. When I got home, I opened up Google Earth to check the mileage of this route. I won't bore you with details of what I have learned about cadence and speedwork, and so let me just say that I think I may be a little obsessed with the running thing. Runners World magazine mentioned this might happen. (How did they know???)

I went for a run with my friend - the marathon runner - while in DC. I was grateful to her for going slooooowly for me, the barely-can-do-a-5k-er. The air! in DC! is thick! I felt like there was much moisture in the air I could have practically drank it. Run along, breathe, open mouth, drink!

That would have been convenient, actually.

How do people cope with the humidity? I am an admitted fan of wet weather, but not HOT wet weather.

Speaking of DC: I cannot help but think that it stands to reason that if someone had put a pamphlet for the Library of Congress in my hand as a high school senior, I would have had a very different life. Instead of the glamorous mommy blogger that I am today, I might have been an analyst for the Congressional Research Service and spend my days analyzing public policy and writing reports. Sound boring? Well, maybe some subjects would be, but think of the topics you would uncover without knowing you ever wanted to in the first place? It's like traveling with the goal to see all 50 state capitals. There may be no other reason I'd go to, randomly, Connecticut or Alabama - but doing something like that would open up a whole new world of exploration. Not to mention boring slide shows. (Here's the capitol building from yet another angle, each slightly less interesting than the previous. Woot!)

The Library of Congress has an amazing collection of original works: James Polk's handwritten diaries, music scores by Gershwin with his pencil marks on them, one of three existing copies in the world of the Gutenberg Bible. All that and more, here:

I did not see the whole place. No way. It's too big. If you go to DC, you need two weeks, or more, and even at that you will be exhausted at all the sites. It will only take you several minutes to be annoyed at all the tourists, forgetting that you yourself are one.

Someone figured out how to do a mosaic on a ceiling:

I think the decor is called "non-understated irrestrainedness".

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Growing Up

I had to look at the timestamp to find out today's date. Oh! It's June nineteenth. Already? Wow. So, today I came home to a tumbleweed in my driveway. I live in town.

This is the first week of summer camp. I had trepidation about leaving OC the first day, yesterday, because I called last week for directions and no one called me back. Hello? What is that?? When I got there yesterday morning the woman apologized and said someone should have really called back, she doesn't know how it happened, blah blah blah. All I could think was, I'm leaving my child in your care, please tell me this isn't a sign of neglect. Tell me it was that last week, the counselors were so busy watching every kid like a hawk that you couldn't answer the message-only line where I left my message, and that the live line you were tending to like it was Bambi after his mother was shot. Still, I went to see OC at lunchtime - just to be sure she was feeling okay - and she was fine. No, she was not fine, she was great! She was having a blast with her new friends and then she had to deal with her mother horning in on her camp time. *draws square in air with fingers

When I picked her up that evening she was a dirty, happy kid. And hungry. I had brought an apple with me because I knew she'd be hungry but also because I knew it would work on loosening her second loose tooth even more. It worked like a charm, because that tooth came out when we got home. It's a good thing, too, since both the adult teeth had already shot through the gums and were ready to replace them. The roots are still down there from both her lost teeth, and the dentist said they'd come out in pieces. Yick.

She was SO EXCITED about it that she told her dad about it IN CAPITAL LETTERS. She was a little ooged out by the tiny amount of blood, but got over it quickly at the thought of the tooth fairy's impending, dough-laden visit.

How is it possible to want to see your kid grow up and then, when they do, you just want to cry and make them stop?

It turns out the tooth fairy gives generously for the first tooth, then scales back for the second.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hello! I'm drunk. I love you!

Where to begin?

It's been ten days since my last post. Bless me father, for I have...not posted often enough.

My husband is going to hate this post, what with all the "f*cks" and "motherf*ckers". I just can't help myself, it's who I am. At least, it is when I'm drunk.

I'm back from DC. It was quick, an airline miles kind of thing. In other words it was a time for the airlines to tell me, "f*ck you, Occidental Girl, we're going to stick you on flights that are cancelled both ways and also, just for fun, you are going to be selected to go through super security because the flavor of the month is Single White Female. Don't mess with the U.S.A."


I made it to Portland before my overnight US Airways flight was cancelled due to thunderstorms. Over Pennsylvania. Did I mention I was flying out of Portland, Oregon? I know thunderstorms are serious, but like, the ones that the airlines were so fervently avoiding were on the east coast and maybe were, I don't know, likely to clear out during the five hour flight across the country? But what the f*ck do I know.

DC was great. Once I finally got there. My friend took me to brunch, the National Cathedral, dinner, a movie; standing in line to grab the very last tickets to ride the elevator at the Washington monument ahead of a boy and his grandparents (to whom I said, " I'm sorry!"), the botanical gardens, meeting blogger Mommy Needs a Cocktail and her beautiful son, Nathan over glorious mojitos, monuments, Library of Congress, monuments, monuments, monuments. My Target sandals held out for 7 hours, but the last two hours my feet were killing me. We walked all over the city, it was fabulous. I knew the Lincoln Memorial wound be cool, but holy shit! It was huge and very f*cking cool.

The humidity is something I don't enjoy, although what I did enjoy was not having scaly, I-live-in-the-high-desert lizard skin. For a few days, anyway.

Back to Central Oregon desert f*cking mother f*cker. Sorry, I'm a bit drunk tonight. Red wine is good!

Oh, books? I'm reading Nick Hornby's High Fidelity. I missed it when it came out a few years ago, but I saw the movie. Movies? I saw some offbeat flicks in DC. Loved "The Valet". It was very French, but very modern. It didn't pigeonhole the mistress, for once in my f*cking life. My friend and I rented "Julia" and "Old Joy". "Julia" was f*cking nuts; discombobulated plotline and whatthef*ckever. Jane Fonda needs to pull the corn cob out of her ass, is what I have to say. Her acting style is so stiff. "Old Joy" was filmed in Portland, but why they have people driving to Bagby Hot Springs via Highway 30, I'll never know. That drove me nuts. It was good in a "this isn't going anywhere" kind of way. Then, in the spirit of cinema verite, we saw "Killer of Sheep". You can't see it, like, anywhere, but we saw it, like, motherf*cker. My friend called it a great slice of life. It was, if you like your slices of life coming at you very slowly, very undramatically. I'm glad I saw it since it was shot in black and white and a UCLA film school project thingy and there is nothing like that around here.

Somebody told me I needed to post more pictures. Okay, fine. Tomorrow, when this hangover clears I'll post some pictures. Motherf*cker.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Travels in the Occidental World

Does anyone want to live on the Oregon Coast? Because I have information on a house for sale, with ocean views, right here. My aunt and uncle are trying to retire so they can move to McCall, ID but they can't until they sell their house, so please, somebody please buy it. Thank you.

I never did talk about our trip to Seattle. (That is my way of providing you with some clever foreshadowing.) Last month, we went to Seattle. The airport here in Redmond is about.....five, no....six minutes away from our house, door to door. The flight to Seattle was an hour and twenty minutes, with free beer! It's the northwest, you see, and we're big on our microbrews although really I think it's the airlines' way of taking passengers' minds off the fact that they're on a little, tiny plane which may, or may not have the latest in flight equipment and whatnot. When the passengers are liquored up - but not too much - they're much happier! I think. It was the morning, we didn't drink, although I wasn't unhappy. Hm.

So, Seattle. What a great city! (Oh, but here is my confession: I don't have any pictures. I forgot my camera. It was a very "D'oh!" moment when I realized I had forgotten it.) We went to the Space Needle, of course. OC and her uncle ran around the deck, racing one another. The Needle sure has changed. I was there maybe 10 years ago, and it's much nicer. There are new displays and I'm not sure, but maybe new carpeting, too.

Near the Space Needle, Seattle Center has carnival rides for kids. OC liked the Viking Ship, and also tried the bumper cars, and the Tornado. After she got off the Tornado, having spent most of the ride with a serious face and her eyes shut, she told us with a big grin, "That was fun, and a little scary!"

I wanted to see the Olympic Sculpture garden, a new installation located on an old industrial site right on the waterfront, and which features a 35-foot Alexander Calder sculpture. I was the only one of our group to appreciate the sculptures, the other two adults with me called it, "a waste of metal". OC thought they were nice, and that the artists "did good work on them". It was worth seeing, with free admission, and there's a path so you can wander and end up on the waterfront. It's not a bad way to spend a little time.

We also went to Ballard, a neighborhood not far north of downtown, and found a wonderful bar with an extensive selection of Belgian beers. REALLY good beer. I have to hand it to the Belgians, really; I had NO idea they were so gifted! We were there for a couple of hours, eating from the appetizer menu and tasting beers, then splitting a turtle chocolate dessert. Ooooh, that was good! I forget the name of the place, otherwise I'd link you up.

Those were the highlights. The baseball game was good, albeit late at night. I forget who we watched, OSU? Portland Beavers? It was somebody Beavers. Anyway. We had a good time watching that, and otherwise spent time downtown and at Pike Place Market.

Moving on to this past weekend. We hung around our area, and on Sunday afternoon we went fishing on the nearby Deschutes river. Our model displays current stylings you may want to consider for your next fishing trip:

Notice the pink heart-emblazoned rubber boots, a must for any young girl this season.

The model, hitting her modeling stride, strikes a pose.

Best fishing companion EVER.

The month of June so far has brought rain every day. Some days, it rains for five minutes; other days, like yesterday evening and overnight, it has rained on and off for hours. I am loving that. It smells SO good.

Thunderheads rolling in. There was lightening, but I wasn't able to capture any on camera.

* * * * * * * *

Next trip scheduled: Washington D.C.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Sometimes it's Hard to be Introspective

I had a dentist appointment today to get my very old fillings fixed. They were old and leaking, a lovely thought.

(What is it with my life paralelling hers, anyway? We quit our jobs at the same time, moved at the same time, and now a dentist appointment on nearly the same day! What are the odds of that??? It boggles the mind, it does.)

I love my dentist. He is upbeat and effervescent. If any a dentist were NOT going to kill himself, it would be him. You've heard of that right? The survey that was done years ago that said of all the careers where suicide is likely, dentists rank highly? Well, not mine. He even makes train noises while he gives me the shot of novocaine (chuka chuka chuka chuka). I'm assuming this is to make the fact that he's sticking a needle into my mouth flesh more of a fun thing than it is? Maybe he thinks I look very young, almost childlike, and so would like train noises? I don't know, but he's eminently positive and I love that. It makes me feel good. Which is, rather obviously, the point.

There is a tv screen on the ceiling and they give you earphones and a remote. Today I watched an interview with Chris Rock on "Inside the Actor's Studio" and it was hard because it was so funny and all I wanted to do was laugh, but I couldn't laugh with all the dental equipment in my mouth. There I was, all dental-dammed and laughing - on the inside.

The Heaven Can Wait 5k run was this past Sunday. I told myself my goal was to complete it in 35 minutes, which changed when I thought to myself, "just finish in less than 40 minutes, please God" while in the middle of the race. As I approached the finish I saw the clock and it looked like it read 38 minutes. I couldn't tell, because the scaffolding was in front of it. I just knew it couldn't say 30 but was awfully disappointed that it had already been 38 minutes. And then! As I got closer and the seconds passed the minute mark, it read 31! I had completed the race in 31 minutes, 10 seconds. I couldn't believe it. Here is proof that praying works.

There were 2,700 people there (woot!) and 700 of them were runners. It was amazing to stand there with so many caring people who'd been through hell with their loved ones and friends. I was there for my dad, brother and young cousin who died of Leukemia; my great-aunt who died of breast cancer; my other great-aunt who had breast cancer but survived due to having a mastectomy; and for my father-in-law who survived Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Can I just say it's hard to get pumped up for a race when, in the minutes that precede the start, you are crying because you see things like a 10-year old girl with a sign on her back which says she is there in memory of her mom? Or, the mother/daughter pair who wore tank tops on which was printed "Heaven didn't wait for my soulmate" on the mom, and "Heaven didn't wait for my dad" on the daughter. The mom was crying, I was crying, and so were many others around me. Another intense moment came just before the start when the announcer asked all the cancer survivors to stand while everyone else knelt to the ground. Talk about profound silence. Then there was about 5 minutes of applause. And, more crying.

(Unrefined segway...prepare yourself for rapid change of topic just ahead.)

I have a friend who likes to analyze. People, relationships, situations, you name it; she is the one asking "what do you think they meant by that?" It makes sense that she would be analytical since she's a mathematical type. It's more inexplicable that I would be, except I am always searching for answers. (I happen to not give a fat frog's fanny about answers to do with math, sadly.) I think she's very wise, because all that inspection will eventually yield answers. I am not the friend in the above scenario, cleverly disguised by the pseudonym "friend", but I admit that I like to examine things, too. Probably too much.

Socrates said, "An unexamined life is not worth living." What I have to say to that is, you said it, brother.

There is a downside to being an introspective person other than the obvious one about not being the life of the party. Paris Hilton, I am not. People will never be think of me and then say, "She's always so much fun, let's invite her to our party!" Of course, I'm also not going to jail but that's not the point. The point is, the downside to being introspective can be a propensity to ask "Why?" and to not only NOT figure it out, but to place an unjustly serious tone on otherwise good conversation.

I watched a movie the other night called "The Fountain" because after reading her memoir, this is apparently my Ellen Burstyn period. (I plan to watch most all her work except "The Exorcist" because if I watch that film I won't be able to sleep at night for fear that our house is haunted or some other melodrama.) The film was done by Darren Aronofsky of "Requiem For a Dream" fame. The imagery was great at evoking feelings and creating mystery, but the story was a bit too mysterious in that I didn't really understand it. Hugh Jackman's character (maybe that explains it?) is that of a Spanish Conquistador who searches for the Tree of Life which was lost in the Central American jungles. Queen Isabella, played by Rachel Weisz, sends him on this search during the Inquisition in which her life is in danger. The two also have contemporary characters; she with the brain tumor, he the doctor searching for the cure.

I got to thinking, why do these characters want to live forever? I don't see the appeal. I mean, I see the appeal maybe knowing you will live to be 70 or 80, be in good health and not die young; but not the appeal in living forever. And, aren't there things we really aren't supposed to know? Furthermore, things which we'd be much better off if we didn't know? Like, how badly your mouth will hurt if you don't go to the dentist more often, you silly, stupid woman?? I'd be better of having known that, but then again, I did know that and chose to ignore it. Let that be a lesson to you.

I think a better question to ask than, "Why are we here?" is instead, "What is the best I can make of my time here?" Or even, "What am I supposed to learn?" I like that one.

I just don't think we're supposed to know the reasons for what we're doing here. I think we're supposed to figure out how to get along with each other, not unlike toddlers at a playdate. I think it's just that simple. Although I won't tell that to the Palestinians or the Jews, the Hutus or the Tutsis, the Khmer Rouge and the Cambodians. Good grief, there are a lot of terrible things in this world. Good thing there's a lot of goodness to counteract the bad. There really is a lot of good. Especially when you look for it, it shows up.

Ahem. Undue seriousness, anyone? I can dance on tables, really, just make enough cosmopolitans for me and my mood lightens right up. Is that what this blog needs? More cosmos?