Sturm und drang. So throw me a donut.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Really Bad Poem for Christmas.

Twas the night before the night before Christmas
and all through the apartment
people are loafing
and refusing to work.

The recipes are hung
from the kitchen cabinets with great care
taped up in the hopes that
someone will get off their lazy butt
and start to prepare

for the guests who will arrive
tomorrow night at five
and expect to eat until
midnight at least
because that is what the holidays are all about!

This morning at six
I was at the grocery store
ready to shop for food on my list
when what to my wondering eyes should appear
but a man with his pants
hanging off of his rear!

But I didn't let that deter me
from the business at hand,
I filled my cart up with food-
bottled, fresh and canned.

When I reached the checkout stand
the poor checkout girl in the red shirt
was barely awake and
frightfully curt.

As I swiped my card and
punched the buttons to pay
I gave her some advice to
brighten her day:

You could be at my place
scrubbing the floors
or taking out garbage or
folding laundry that's not yours

but instead you are here
brightening my day
because you are helping me buy food
to make for my buffet.

I bought her a Red Bull and
wished her a Merry Christmas
and then hauled my food home
to get back to the business

of tomorrow night's party
where we'll all eat and drink
and have lots of fun...
all because it's Christmas
and that's how it's done.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Some things just never need to happen

This blog is enough to break my heart.  Every day, I see children who aren't receiving the help they need because help is not available. I needed counseling for my son, just a few sessions to help him through some very unsettled times, and it cost a lot. Only because I had insurance and an open checkbook did I get help quickly. And now he's okay.

But it doesn't work that way for far too many people. The availability of guns juxtaposed with the relative unavailability of mental health care is stunning to this country of such profound wealth. And yes, I own guns.

So let me tell you how this issue of gun control, gun sales and the lack of mental health care has affected me:

Many years ago, a co-worker from my husband's place of work, whom I will call "M.," began a slow spiral into a psychotic break. M. targeted my family, for reasons I don't understand, as the source of all troubles. M. applied for a gun permit, bought a gun and took it home, despite having a record of at least two involuntary commitments in the state mental hospital. The only reason why we knew that M. had bought a gun was because someone called us at home and said,

"Did you know M. bought a gun the other day? I thought you should know."


 All my caller ID showed was a public line from the court house in town.

That information, together with a long, rambling letter that M. had left at our door several days before detailing a fantastical world where we had become the tormentors M. most feared, next to M.'s father and an ex-spouse, filled me with terror. The letter clearly stated that M.  was determined to do something about this...have to end the torment and get rid of you - the people who are making my life a living hell.

For four days, M. was nowhere to be found. The local police, sheriff, and state patrol looked for M. and took turns taking care of us. It was a small town, everyone knew us, and no one wanted to see us gunned down in our front yard or in the grocery store. My husband and I didn't sleep much that first night, nor for the rest of the week. We laid in bed and stared at the ceiling, listening to trains rumble through town every 35 minutes, and counting the toots of the train whistle as it neared each intersection. Just after the bars closed for the night, the engineer blew extra long blasts on the horn to warn all the drunks to get off the tracks. Our dogs barely slept with all the tension and anxiety screaming off of us like dog whistles. Every little sound sent them on a new patrol of the house and back yard. The thump-thump of the dog door flap announced the coming and going of the two dogs, that somehow knew that no other people should be coming into our house. The sound of studded snow tires on the sheriff's SUV ticked and crunched against the compact snow and ice as he drove by every so often, slowing down to shine a flashlight at the edges of the yard and no doubt seeing my dogs all bristly and angry at any stranger even daring too look in the yard from the street.

I had horrible dreams when I did sleep. I dreamed that M was crawling up the stairway to our second floor bedroom, teeth gripping a knife blade, and demented eyes peering up at me from my doorway. My husband couldn't sleep at all. Despite our rule that no guns in the house could be loaded, that ammunition was locked up separately from the guns, we spent these long nights perched on our bed with a loaded shotgun. Bird shot, he said, will do enough damage if M. gets in. Our kids had bedrooms in the basement, two floors below, with doors closed between them and anyone else in the house. I never thought I could shoot someone, until I was faced with someone who wanted to shoot me and my family. I would shoot anyone to save my kids.

On the fifth day, my husband went to work as usual. I drove our oldest son to school, dropped him off at the front door where he was escorted into the building by the principal, and went home with my younger boy to face one more day of self-imposed house arrest. Law enforcement followed us everywhere, so I felt pretty safe. Around noon, I turned on the radio and tuned in the local radio station. We lived so far away from any major city or town that the local low-watt, FM radio station was the only one we could reliably tune in. After a few songs, the DJ broke in with a news bulletin.

"I've just received news that M. is holding (my husband) hostage...just a's been reported that M. is holding (my husband hostage) where they both work."

I grabbed my cell phone, hands shaking, and punched my husband's speed dial number. This can't be happening, I thought. Not with all the police around.

His phone rang and rang. Just that morning, a Federal Marshall had met him at the front door and told him quietly that they would be spending the day together going over the details of a completely unrelated criminal matter.

The DJ started talking again. "One of our reporters is downtown and telling me that people from all over town are flooding the area to see what's happening..."

My husband's phone picked up. "Hi honey. Anything going on?"

He sounded a little worried, but more distracted from being pulled away from his work. I heard other men talking in the background.

I giggled from relief. "The radio station says you're being held hostage."

"Uh, what?"

"Hostage. M. is holding you hostage!"

"Oh shit. No way..." I heard him yell at someone to turn the radio on.

Just then, a police car whipped into my driveway and an officer jumped out of the car and trotted to the front door. I met him there and let him in.

"State patrol just picked M. up," he said as my dogs paced around behind me, following my silent hand signal to stay back. "M. was lying prone in the middle of the road about 30 miles north of here, waiting for someone to run..."

"Oh, really," I broke in as I heard my younger son scramble up the stairway from the basement to see who was at the door. "That's nice..."

The office took my hint as my little boy peeked around me to look up at him. "Yes. We have M. in custody and on the way to the hospital. I thought you'd want to know after that idiot at the radio station started, uh, talking about things."

I was beyond relieved. Life hitched and coughed and started moving forward again. And the hostage story was the fault of low-watt transmitters and over-eager, small-town radio reporters. Earlier that day, M. had turned up in a town 40 miles north of us. M., who had lost custody of three children during a divorce several years before, had gone to that town's elementary school to make an unannounced and illegal visit to the children. The elementary principal locked down the school and called police to report an intruder/possible attempted abduction per the legal papers provided by childrens' custodial parent. The local radio station in that town had picked up the thread of the story from the police scanner and repeated it on air. My local radio station had heard a garbled report, made worse by poor reception, and misinterpreted it as a hostage situation in our town. The radio reporter, who walked the couple of blocks from the radio station to my husband's office, had further misinterpreted all the law enforcement vehicles parked around my husband's place of work.

M. should have been hospitalized, but no one had the legal right to do that. M. had made a few attempts to see a doctor before things started going horribly wrong, but had told me that it would be at least a six-week wait. M. never made that appointment. It wasn't until M. was found lying prone in the road, a gun tucked in a coat pocket and waiting for someone to crush the misery and delusion, that M. got help. It was only poor planning and a series of missteps that led to M. being picked up on the road rather than at our house after attempting to kill us.

I wish M. the best of luck and the best of mental health care so this never happens to anyone else. But should M. ever be allowed to legally own a gun? No. Should there be longer, more in-depth investigations and background checks for people who apply to buy guns? Yes. I'd give up my guns tomorrow for this.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How long has it been?

Too long...too, too long...

1. I am contemplating and taking notes on a series of short stories bouncing around in my head.

2. I just read the entire handbook on how to become a licensed teacher through a program at my local education service district and it's down to either English teacher or early childhood -4th grade teacher.

3. My job is kicking my butt. I'm tired, I stand up all day, I go up and down stairs multiple times each day, and I have to pay attention to lots of people all the time. I like it, but it wears me out.

4. I'd like to make more money. MORE MONEY.

5. I am counting down the days until I receive my diploma AND my new transcript showing I graduated. Yes, it was totally my fault I had to wait this long. The upside is my school loans are in limbo and my six-month grace period won't start until January.

6. If I want to do this program, I have to start now and pray that I am right about how much in expenses we will be writing off on our taxes...and that we'll be getting a large enough refund to pay for everything.

7. But then there's the urge to just runn oft and stop being an adult. Seriously, who WANTS to be an adult these days?

8. My shopping for Thanksgiving is finished. Baking has commenced. My kids have to make stuff, too, because I don't like being a kitchen slave. One son just finished making a pan of brownies and chocolate-peanut butter bark. The other son is still in bed (and it's 10 a.m.). I might just make the lazy son wash dishes, instead. I get to make a couple of pumpkin pies and decide if the store-brand nacho chips are going to be good enough for guests tomorrow. Oh, and the beer is chilling in the fridge.

9. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Back from the edge of death to see Cloud Atlas!

It's been too long! TOO LONG, I TELL YA!

I've been working...and then I got sick. He's been sick. Everyone's been sick sick sick...sung to the tune of Old McDonald of course.

Stomach viruses can be brutal. Having two bathrooms saved our lives. After 10 hours of stereo wretching overnight, my son and I agreed that dawn was a good time to die. But we discovered that using garbage bags in buckets saved us from having to get up and rinse out the buckets. TMI?! It may not have been environmentally friendly, but I'll plant some trees and drive less to make up for all the plastic we used up.

Thankfully, we healed up reasonably well for opening night of "Cloud Atlas" on Friday night. WOW! We loved it.  All four of us went and snuggled up for a three-hour movie marathon (that's including the previews, which were extensive) at a very comfortable theater with plush seats that recline a bit and rock. Well, jiggle anyway. But I'll tell you this: the target audience is older than dirt apparently, because the oldest of the four of us (not me!) was far younger than the average age of the audience. I think all the grandparents in our part of the city were out for a date night...

Here's what I thought of the movie:

A)  I loved all the actors

B)  It's long, but if you like some contemplation, this will please you

C) Action!! Great action sequences.

D) Tom Hanks and Jim Sturgess. Need I say more?
E)  The whole theater cheered when they broke out of the old folk's home - and then WENT BACK to get the darling old man who never said anything but I know I know! He repaid their kindness with starting a brawl in a pub. I almost cried.

F) And just flat out great acting

Here's what actually happened as we watched the movie:
We settled into our seats at 7 p.m. and by 7:35 my breakfast bean burrito was knock-knock-knocking to get out. WHAT IDIOT eats a bean burrito as their first solid meal in four days??? Oh, me. I'm sure everyone sitting in the vicinity now hates me with the burning heat of a million suns. Wanna know what the dude dying in the hold of the ship smells like?

I tried to get seats on the aisle (because I always plan for fires, potty emergencies and nut jobs having psychotic breaks) but I had to sit one seat in from the aisle. The elderly woman next to me, in the coveted aisle seat, had some condition with her legs that caused her lower limbs to be freakishly long, bent at odd angles, and somehow filled up the entire space between  me and freedom. There was no sneaking by that cat’s cradle of limbs.  And there were at least 30 people in the other direction in the row. So, everyone suffered with me.

But what a movie! Now I’ll have to read the book. The story is complicated...but then again really simple: What is the power of love? And how far can a kind gesture travel through time?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Are we there yet?!

I can't wait for this election cycle to be over...I hatehatehatehate the Republican ticket because they are lying and spinning more lies faster than a cotton candy machine can turn out candy fluff. There was a time when I was really interested in moderate Republicans and could vote for some here and there...but they knuckled under to the Tea Party and this insanity clothed in Romney-Ryan.

And the Democrats make me just as angry because they aren't - as a whole - fighting tooth and nail to keep extremists of all stripes in check. I used to think that moderates of both parties had enough in common to work together. A few generations ago, we made a deal to take care of the elderly, the poor, the sick and those unable to take care of themselves. All I see now is wailing and gnashing of teeth over personal responsibility and who pays more in taxes; and the poor, sick and elderly can just go to hell because they are a liability to the bottom line.


I hope that this election is the final death throes of an extreme branch of the Republican party that has taken all of us hostage to the sickening and perverted vision of  a world that the likes of Ayn Rand and Paul Ryan want to use to beat the rest of us into submission so we can be milked like cash cows to feed the 1%.

Romney and Ryan aren't representatives of Christianity any more than I am. To put it simply, they suck. And I am nothing more than a piece of chewed up gum on the bottom of Romney's shoe.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Mutterings for the Week

It's easy: Free association exercise in letting your brain ooze random words from lunanina...
Week 506

I say ... and you think ... ?
  1. Exorcise :: Past lives
  2. Theory :: Ignorance
  3. Possible :: Futures
  4. 1600 :: Conquistadors
  5. Feeling :: Blue
  6. Excuse :: Rectum
  7. Mortality :: Wings
  8. Trivial :: Forgotten
  9. Pupil :: Sunshine
  10. Challenge :: Life

It was a long week last week. Lots of running around, long hours, and 10 hours of safety videos to watch for work; which I left until this morning. My kitchen is now an expert on all sorts of things like:

Slips, Trips and Falls
First Aid

I cleaned my  kitchen, did laundry, cooked and made snacks...all the while podcast after podcast played in the background. I got 100% on every test. I feel just a tiny bit smarter, too. On Tuesday I get to go to a conference and learn about co-teaching. It's nice to learn new things.

I also learned that I have acclimated to 80+ degree weather and 65 degrees feels much colder to me right now that it should. This is not right. NOT RIGHT. I refuse to become a warm weather person...a lizard in search of the sun to warm up...a sweater-toting old lady who thinks anything below 70 degrees must mean winter. Nope. Not happening. I shall sleep with the bedroom window open and soak up the cool temps over night and radiate it back all day tomorrow like a refrigerator. Better yet, like a block of ice.

Living with two seasons, hot and cool, is not going to please me.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Driving home in the storm

It seems like all I do anymore is drive to work before sunrise and drive home at dinner time...along with half the city. What should take 20 minutes takes 45 minutes or even an hour. Such is the life of someone who needs a paycheck.

This afternoon, just after I picked up my husband from his place of work, I noticed some dark clouds to the northwest. Dark clouds moving rapidly. We were halfway home when the storm hit: Hail, torrential rain, WIND, and lots of lightning and thunder. It took about five minutes and the roads were flooding and rivers of muddy water were streaming down the ditches. I am glad I drive a big truck. To hell with the gas mileage! I forded four rivers to get to my apartment, where my kids were happily draped over the couches in the living room, eating junk food, and watching the storm pass by.

The transition from college life to 40-hour-a-week employed life is going okay...but I wish I had a little more spare time. Weekends aren't long enough. But WAIT! Two years ago I was freaking out about how to live on unemployment/savings/school loans. So really, wishing for some spare time is just that; wishful thinking. I could have more spare time and be eating out of dumpsters. I could have lots of spare time and be living in my truck under a bridge. I guess it's just human nature to want what I don't have.

I do have something I want - and it's sitting on my desk. I received the book "Lawless" by Matt Bondurant in the mail today. I saw the movie a few weeks ago and I was smitten. Sure, there are things in the movie that could be better, but I am willing to overlook it because that could be three of the last four towns I've lived in! Just substitute the moonshine for meth labs or pot farms and baby I am H-O-M-E! Years ago, after moving to the first little town in the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest, I learned that many of the small hill towns were populated by families that had immigrated from the Appalachians in the early part of the twentieth century. Today, successive generations of those families are still there...and except for the accent not much has changed.

The motto at the entrance to every one of those towns should be: If you aren't from here, you'll never be from here. So stop trying.

There seems to be a certain aspect of their heritage that keeps many of them rooted in place and suspicious of outsiders. I'm not sure what the payoff is, since poverty is a big part of everyones' life, but I watched one young person after another graduate from high school, leave for a year or two to work in a nearby city and then return and never leave home again. And it wasn't wanting to live there forever - It was not having any desire to see anything else in the world that really disturbs me. I must be a rootless wanderer.

So now I'm going to read the book and relive a little bit of my past. Oh, and lest you think I am pointing fingers at the poor, dumb, criminal hicks: I have a relative who was a counterfeiter, pirate, thief, and all-around scoundrel. And that's only scratching the surface.

Friday, September 21, 2012

TILT for September 20th

Today I am thankful for paychecks. We got PAID with money we earned and our bank account is in shock.

We have not received paychecks that have covered our bills since July 2010. It's now September 2012. I no longer have to use what little is left from our retirement accounts to pay the bills.

I love love love having a job and I never ever again want to go 26 months without enough money to pay the bills and eat without canibalizing our savings. It sucks.

However, I am super thankful for retirement accounts. Without them, we would not have been able to get to where we are today. I fully realize that we are fortunate to have had the resources to make career changes and move to a new state to start new careers.

We are truly the lucky few.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What Would Jesus Do?

I heard on the news this morning that a small piece of papyrus from the second century has some intriguing words written on it:

"Jesus said to them, "My wife..."

(You can see an article here on

The article clearly states that there's no way of knowing who or what was being referred to - whether it means a woman or the church - but it does raise some interesting questions about how little is known of Jesus' life. There's a big chunk of time missing from the story that may never be revealed to us.

Until now.

Imagine if this small piece of papyrus really is the literal truth...

   And lo, Jesus said to them, "My Wife, she is good. Now I have someone to get me beer during the football games." 

   Behold! The house of Jesus did fill up with love. With the most excellent cooking from the Wife, the Apostles started hanging out with Jesus to nosh and watch Monday night football.

   "Dude!" James said to Jesus. "I know you are really proud of the loaves and fishes thing, but your Wife is a way better cook."

   Jesus nodded and passed a plate of deviled eggs to James and Matthew. Prisoners of hope, they watched the Jets struggle through a dismal first half. John leaned back in a bean bag chair and folded his arms over his chest as he watched the game on the big screen tv.

   "I'd rather be watching hockey. How come we never watch hockey?" Andrew asked. "Remember when we used to watch Satan play for New Jersey?"

   "No one cares, Andrew. Stop whining. We took a vote and even the Holy Spirit wanted to watch football this week," Bartholomew said from the rocking chair in the opposite corner.

   "I'm just sayin..."

   "Shhh!" Jesus said. "Your unhappiness is but a drop in the bucket compared to my delight at watching Tebow take a knee every time he manages to make a play. It's like he thinks I sprinkle fairy dust on him if he's a good boy!"

   The apostles quieted for a moment, some adjusting their robes and elbowing each other for more room on the couch or drifting quietly away to the bathroom to recycle the beer. The Wife brought in another tray of snacks, this time various cured meats and cheeses.
   "Dig in, boys. Man shall not live by bread alone," she said before disappearing back into the kitchen.

   "So how is the married life going, J?" John asked, grabbing a handful of cheese. "I heard some rumbling about how people can't be totally holy if they have a spouse."

   Jesus waved an empty bottle over his head for his Wife to bring more beer from the kitchen. "I tell you what, John, it's no big deal. As a matter of fact, I think marriage is the one of the few things that can make a man grow  up."

   "Grow up? What?" Philip piped up from his spot on the couch.

   "Verily I tell thee, being married is both a labor of love and a thorn in the flesh," Jesus said as his Wife reappeared with another twelve-pack of Hefeweizen.

   The men nodded and swilled some more beer in salute as the Wife left the room again, muttering to herself about the mess they were making on the new couch. "...can't even use coasters for the beer bottles on the coffee table..."

   "It is both a howling wilderness and a pearl of great price and..."

   "JESUS CHRIST!" the Wife hollered from the kitchen. "Are you going to take the garbage out or do I have to wait for you to turn it into something like that ridiculous wind chime you made last week?"

   "She's taking your name in vain," Simon snickered.

   "I told you, that was the Holy Ghost being a smartypants!" Jesus hollered back to her.

   The Apostles looked away from Jesus in embarassment.

   "Sounds like the howling wilderness needs the garbage taken out," Andrew said.

   Jesus stood up and sighed deeply before he left to take care of the trash. "Just one more cross to bear, guys."

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Unconscious Mutterings Week 503

Uh oh. I watched Fareed Zakaria before I did this week's Mutterings...I think it shows. I am continually amazed at the lack of understanding and caring in the world. But then I remember, television has become this mainly warped reality show where the audience is wooed with increasingly ridiculous and vapid junk. Where's the in-depth reporting on our food supply? ABC News is being sued by the beef industry for the report on "pink slime," which is a beef product of meat trimmings and connective tissue that is pureed, gassed with ammonia to kill pathogens and then injected into ground beef. ABC didn't lie. But when people got this information, they decided they didn't want to eat ground beef with "pink slime" in it.

And then there's the milk in the grocery stores. A few years ago, before milk and diary prices started going up, I made my own yogurt at home. All I need was some whole milk that had been pasteurized in the regular manner. After the prices started going up, I noticed that I could only find milk that had been ultra-pasteurized. Ultra-pasteurized milk has been cooked (to put it plainly) until there is nothing left alive in the milk. If the milk is completely sterile, you can't make yogurt no matter how much starter you put in it...I tried. So, the milk is really clean and has a longer shelf life. So what? I just paid more for organic milk when I wanted to make yogurt and didn't think about it. But a few months ago, I ran across an article about the ultra-pasteurization being used because milk that had formerly been too old and full of junk to be used for human consumption is now being cooked and cleaned up and put back into our milk supply to keep prices down. I'll admit, I haven't done any more research on it to make sure this is true...but my gut tells me it probably is. Where's the in-depth reporting on what's going on with our food? Oh, wait, that's outlets get sued if they report on something and cause an industry to lose money.

That's what happens with I do this free association game...

I say ... and you think ... ?
  1. Social :: Responsibility
  2. Fairy tale :: Fiction
  3. 0 :: Understanding
  4. Football :: Overpaid
  5. Action :: Lacking
  6. Setting :: Understanding
  7. Boomers :: Liars
  8. Rough :: Roads
  9. Words :: Propaganda
  10. Account :: Swiss

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tilt for September 13th

Things I Love Thursday - AND I MISSED IT!

Thursday was a good day. I was tired-tired-tired, too. The new job is great but it makes me tired to pay attention to so many people all day long. But it will pass...

So, Saturday: Here's what I love about YOU for a change:

Sleeping in, which means sleeping until 7 a.m.
Stretching breakfast out to an hour, at least, as I sip coffee and read newspapers online.
Looking at a new site that is so cool and so positive and! Humans of New York
Not having to wash my cars because it rained so hard Thursday night that most of the dirt is gone.
Clouds. There are clouds covering the sky.
Using my new washing machine. Two years of public laundry rooms has made me grateful.
Reading books I want to read.
(((My new library card)))
Untethering myself from Facebook. It will be hard. But I must do it for my own sanity.

**And the reinforcement of the idea that what goes around comes around: Our new jobs coming to us after helping five other people get of which was the job my husband left.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Unconscious Mutterings Week 502

I think I missed a week...well, I may just have to go with every other week for a bit. This is free association. Whatever pops into your mind, that's what matches with each word. Don't worry...let it go...

I say ... and you think ... ?
  1. Middle :: Earth
  2. Runner :: Blisters
  3. Umbrella :: Winter
  4. She :: Me
  5. Album :: 45 rpm
  6. Speak :: Attention
  7. Completely :: Happy
  8. Underestimated :: Fear
  9. Self-esteem :: Middle
  10. Compartment :: Lost things

Hot Rubbery Water

I just read an article about Coca-Cola's plans to roll out a new drink additive: Flavored drops to add to a bottle of plain water. After seeing the success of other drink drops, this company is jumping on the speeding train of cash crops in the form of useless, flavored additives that give consumers the ability to customize water.

And why not? The consumer has been trained to believe that customizing is a reflection of his or her independence and uniqueness. In the meantime, we're dumping more chemicals down our gullets and spending more money on something that...that...oh, come on! Really? Buy a bottle of water for a buck at the grocery store - water is nearly free from the tap at home - and pay even more money for an additive to make the act of drinking water an experience. Everything is an experience these days; a flavor experience, a driving experience, a purchasing experience. Has life gotten so safe, predictable and boring that even the simple act of taking a drink of water has to be an experience?

But I'm not above making money. I'd like to develop a nostalgia line of water enhancers aimed at people who remember a childhood full of risk taking and blissful ignorance.

Here's my line of Nostalgia Drinks:

Hot Rubbery Water - Just three drops in a 16  oz. bottle water will recreate those hot summer days of drinking out of the garden hose rather than going in the house and risking mom noticing that it is time to come in and take a bath before dinner.

Tag After Dark - Just three drops in a 16 oz. bottle of water will recreate that delicious taste of hot sidewalks radiating heat long after the sun goes down, mosquitoes bites peppering one's arms and legs with red welts, and stubbed, bloody toes leaving half-moon trails on the cement as a bunch of ten-year-olds race in figure eights around the neighborhood trying to get back to home base before that one kid who is always "It" catches up.

Clothes Catalog Cathouse - Just three drops in a 16 oz. bottle of water is enough to take you back to the days when the Sears catalog underwear or lingerie section was hot hot hot!

Smoke in Your Hair - Without all the nasty chemical side effects, just three drops in a 16 oz. bottle of water will bring back the days of mom and dad smoking in the car - with the windows rolled up - on cross country trips to visit relatives that nobody liked in the first place. But they let your family sleep on old Army cots in the basement for free.

Ride Free and Die Young - As a bonus, when you buy Smoke in Your Hair you will also receive a sample of our newest water enhancer meant to invoke the long-gone days of driving on two lane highways without the encumberance of that annoying seatbelt cutting into your neck and shoulder. Those were the days when kids slept on the floor between the front and back seats or hopped over the back seat and slept in the back of the station wagon with the back window cranked all the way down for cool air on a hot day.

Heel Blisters - Remember when new shoes were stiff and hard to walk in during that first week of school? Just three drops in a 16 oz. bottle of water will bring back the scorching pain of new shoes rubbing blisters, and sometimes even actual holes, in your ankles as you hobble to and from the cafeteria, playground and bus stop. One extra drop of flavor enhancer will bring a pleasant Mercurochrome-like aftertaste that will linger on your tongue long after the water is finished.

Orange Baby Aspirin - There's nothing like that fake orange flavor mixed in with the astringent taste of chewable baby aspirin! Just three drops in a 16 oz. bottle of water and you, too, can relive the days of handing out baby aspirin to children whenever they had a cold or fever. But without the danger of developing irreversable brain or liver damage associated with Reye's Syndrome!

Raw Milk Barnyard - Just three drops in a 16 oz. bottle of water will transform your drinking experience into a trip to the local dairy where mom bought glass bottles of raw, whole milk for drinking and for skimming cream to put into her coffee. Nothing beats that combination of creamy milk and dairy cow manure enhanced with the early spring feedings of silage.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

TILT for September 6th

Things I Love Thursday...
Otherwise known as I really do have good things happening in my life!

Today, I love that my oldest son was officially offered a job at the local grocery store. He really wanted this job! I think he'll enjoy it and do well with this company. I also love that he will be driving himself around in my car. No, really! I am carpooling to work with my husband, which is very cool, because we don't spend all that much time together.

I love that the classroom I work in has fabulous air conditioning! I brought a light sweater to wear over my blouse so I wouldn't feel so chilly. Once I start working in different classrooms, I'm sure I'll be back to sweating like a pig, but the last few days have been really nice. I LOVE being cold.

I love having time to read my own books in my spare time. I read a lot of good books over the last few years in college, but there's always the pressure of remembering the details when I read a book for class. Now, I'm reading books at my own speed.

I love having a smallish apartment to clean. We have enough room, but we had to get rid of a lot of stuff to fit all four of us in here. And that means less junk to clean and dust and wash and take care of...which suits me just fine. I think I might get rid of some more stuff over the winter, when it's a balmy 60 degrees outside and I won't die from the heat while I sort boxes in the garage.

I love the tiny lizards that occasionally climb up to my deck looking for bugs. I bet if I put out some potted plants, I'd have more lizards.

And, I love my truck. When I drive my truck around town, people get out of my way. When I drive my car, jerks cut me off and refuse to let me change lanes or merge. I guess it's all about perception.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Don't know much about math

If I had to go to high school today, I'd flunk out. I'd be that kid in the back of the room flipping sharp pencils at the ceiling tiles until they stuck...all in a frantic bid to GET KICKED OUT OF CLASS. I can write papers, write stories, read history books, even do pretty well in geology and zoology. But if you introduce lots of numbers and complex equations, I am lost. I cannot see numbers in my head. I have to write equations down over and over again, and it's only after doing every variation of an equation for, like, a million years that I might - MIGHT - retain it long enough to take a test.

When my kids need help HELP HELP! with math, I cringe and google whatever they don't get and pray that I can find the answer online. The hot web page for tonight is: Chemistry math stuff for Dummies like YOU

Thank you Al Gor....Uh, no...Thank you Vinton Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee for the interwebs!  See, I know something useful. I googled it.

Monday, September 3, 2012

It was a little anticlimatic

My son's reply was: "I feel like such an asshole for believing they knew about it and for putting you guys through all this."

Sometimes, the light bulb moment is super bright and mind altering like we all wish it could be.

My son, who formerly wanted to move over 2,000 miles to return to our former abode, is now ready to face his future here with us; in Texas instead of Washington State. And it took less than five minutes to change his mind. We accomplished this by having an honest conversation with the family who apparently had told him he could move in with them (their son being hysterically best friends with our son). That family had been on vacation on the east coast for the past few weeks, so when our son dropped the bomb we had no way to confirm or deny the details of the plan hatched by our two boys. All we had were two teenage boys telling each other that this was going to work.

Yesterday, my husband and I had a private phone conversation with them. While we talked, I felt that thousand-pound weight lift from my chest and I took a deep breath for the first time in weeks. "We thought they were talking about your son visiting for the summer...and on holidays...that's why we mentioned looking at our home owner's insurance, you know, in case your son fell down the stairs or something...we had no idea it had gone that far..."

Their oldest son spent the summer getting ready for college on the east coast. Mom and Dad were all wrapped up in taking him to his new school and settling him in for his freshman year on the other side of the continent. Yeah, I'd be pretty distracted, too. So, we had a really good conversation about visits back and forth over the summer, keeping the kids connected with Skype and texting, and how to help them continue to deal with the pain of not physically being there for each other.

And my  son doesn't want to go to high school here. That much hasn't changed. He's over high school the same way I was over high school by the time I was a junior. I read up on GEDs and...and...I'll have to change my mental image of GED = maladjusted and unsocialized and undereducated. That was MY misconception of the week. My son wants to finish school. He wants a job. He wants to study psychology, maybe, someday. And he's totally receptive to getting an AA at community college after his GED. And I realized all over again how much I love this crazy kid. He has such a big heart, wants to do so much, and loves so hard.

Life. It's what happens when you live. And the therapist, we'll see him one more time because it's money well spent.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Unconscious Mutterings Week 500...I've ignored you!

I started doing this exercise several years ago, but I haven't posted on for a long, long time. I think I'll start again. Each week, ten words are posted and it's a free association exercise. That's it.

You can play this word game here:

I say ... and you think ... ?
  1. Call :: Home
  2. Instinct :: Mindless
  3. Toffee :: Coffee
  4. Cleaner :: Maid
  5. Gut :: Anxiety
  6. Leveled :: Storms
  7. Discover :: Learn
  8. Together :: Family
  9. Attack :: Idiocy
  10. String :: Sheldon Cooper

And then, if you like the words that bubbled up to the surface, make a poem out of them. I'll try this later...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

TILT for August 30th

Things I Love Thursday - A chance to list and talk about all the good things from the past week.

Is there anything I love today? Or yesterday? Or the day before?

I love that I have a job, a place to live and paychecks starting at the end of  September. I love that we are all together and the stress of wondering what next is over; or almost over. I love that the Big Bang Theory is on all the time because that show makes me happy. I love the feeling of making the right decision after I met the therapist today. I love washing and drying my clothes in my own apartment rather than dragging all of it to a tiny laundry room where something is always broken or being used by someone else. I love seeing clouds in the sky, although it never rains. I love that my older son had a great job interview today and was elated that it went well and he is recommended for the job. I love that my husband is home at a decent hour every evening to help mitigate the stress of dealing with an unhappy younger child. And I really love not having that feeling of doom hanging over us anymore.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What do you do when your kid wants out of the relationship?

Since 2000, we (as in the family) have been chasing this dream of a great career with steady work and decent pay. It didn't happen. Ten years of hoping and working hard, and it all went down the toilet with one phrase: I don't think this is working out. Seriously. That's the phrase that ended it all, ended the career, and ended any hope of ever finding a place in that career again. And in the middle of the recession we thanked our lucky stars for unemployment and four retirement funds.

So, we switched careers. Two years of me in college to finish my degree, jobs to pay the bills, and now FINALLY we are back on track with new jobs - a Career that will last. Just as we (as a family) are getting back on our feet and making a new life, our younger son has decided that he is leaving.

Realistically, he can't leave if I say no. But then he'll make all of us pay. It's like I don't know him anymore. He tells me it's about finishing high school with his friends in our former town, that it's about school and finishing that program and being part of that class. But I feel completely betrayed. We have no extra money, no way to insure him properly if he's not living with us, and no money for him to travel more than once a year. Putting the whole family in financial jeopardy seems to be the last thing on his mind.

So I told him no. I told him he has to stay in school here. I told him he has to see a psychologist to work on the anger. And he has to treat the rest of us with respect. Or it will always be no. Right now, I wouldn't send him off to live with anyone because I don't trust him. I don't think he's mature enough to be in charge of his own life. And how do you ask people who are virtual strangers to be his parents until next June?

So then he said he wanted to get his GED so he could finish school and leave as soon as possible. A GED is not the same as a diploma. He's far too smart to wear that millstone around his neck for the rest of his life. But here's what I can't answer: How he feels betrayed by us for moving every few years. How he feels like he has no control over his life because we took that away. How he feels like he doesn't belong anywhere - except for that one school and that one class of kids. And how he spent months planning this and never said a word.

I told him he has to earn this one. He has to earn his way out of this family, because that's what he seems to want right now: To get out of this family so he can get away from the pain. How am I supposed to respect that decision?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Washers and Dryers and Bears, Oh My!

My brand new washer and dryer were just delivered and installed by two very nice gentlemen from Sears. Here’s a plug for Sears (this is NOT a sponsored post…although I’m totally open to YOU, SEARS, helping out a loyal customer!): I got a fantastic deal and my machines delivered inside of three days.  They run like a dream, too.

Good thing the men installing the machines were thin...

Aren’t they lovely? All wedged into the "laundry area" that is really nothing more than a closet?  I think I’ll call them – oh, I don’t know, what in the heck do you call a washer and dryer? Thelma and Louise? Bob and Midge? Kitty and Red? Maybe Kitty and Red. I’ll see how they like it. My son is grateful for the new washer and dryer because now he doesn’t have to schlep the laundry to and from the laundry room in our apartment complex. There are only four washers and four dryers in that laundry room, so it is a challenge to get more than one load of wash done in a reasonable amount of time.
The dryer was the most photogenic.
Where we used to live, there were 25 washers and 25 dryers, plus a massive commercial dryer that was big enough for five loads of laundry, or two or three toddlers; if toddlers were allowed in the commercial dryer. They’re not. I read the sign above the dryer: Children NOT ALLOWED to play in dryer.

When it comes to using a public laundry room, the rules of communal living can go right out the window. Most people do what is necessary to get along with fellow neighbors, but every so often someone shows up and turns a morning doing laundry into a blood sport. And then the apartment manager hangs up signs in the laundry room spelling out exactly how we are all supposed to behave. This laundry etiquette poster, heavily edited over the year to reflect current complaints, graced the wall of the laundry room of my former abode. I think the rules were overly optimistic.

Rule number one: Do not use all the machines at once.

This was the result of one really cranky man who got ticked off at the mom who had 20 loads of laundry stuffed into plastic bags and a toddler trying to “help” by dragging his snotty nose all over the fronts of the washing machines. I was using the other five washing machines, only because I had seen the mom loading up her van to drive her laundry across the street to the laundry room, so I sprinted back into my apartment, screamed at my kids to GET OUT OF BED and rushed the rest of our dirty clothes out the back door to the laundry room just in the nick of time. You snooze, you lose, buster!

Rule number two: Beware of bleach.

Why? Is a bottle of bleach lurking behind the washers, waiting to leap out and mug me for my quarters? Maybe someone spilled bleach, didn’t clean it up, and another person got it on his or her clothes. Or maybe, after closing down a local bar late one night, one of the younger, single students decided to do laundry and mistook an orphaned bottle of bleach for detergent, ruining a washer full of clothes. It could happen. One Sunday morning, at 5 a.m., I rolled my bin of dirty clothes over to the laundry room and found some dude passed out on the folding table, clutching a box of dryer sheets. I opened the windows over his head so that the noxious fumes emanating from his body would not spontaneously combust should I accidentally throw a spark as I took my static-charged clothes out of the dryer.

Rule number three: Keep children out of, and off of, the machines.

Yes, I’d hate to come back to get my towels out of the wash and discover a shredded toddler in there. That would be much worse than the shredded facial tissue I usually find stuck to my towels.

Rule number four: Don’t ogle the underwear. Maintain a respectful distance from people who are folding underwear.

Since I am basically antisocial and try to do my laundry when no one is around, I never experienced this problem. I have no idea what constitutes a respectful distance. Five feet? Fifteen feet? Stand in the parking lot? And what happens to underwear oglers? Maybe the bleach is on duty and takes care of them. There’s one reason why I don’t want people looking at my underwear: Old lady underwear. I’m ashamed, but I get twice the yardage for half the price of fancier underwear.

Rule number five: Don’t remove other people’s laundry.

I will break this rule if the laundry inhabits a washing machine for so long that the stench leaking out from under the lid indicates that a healthy crop of mold is ready for harvest. I will bag up the accidental science experiment and throw it into the dumpster. And then douse the inside of the washer with that orphaned bottle of bleach. You’re welcome.

Rule number six and seven: Don’t let friends use the facilities AND empty the dryer lint traps after each use.

I don’t have any friends, so this one is easy. But I regularly peel thick sheets of rainbow-colored lint off the lint traps and think of Slater Barron, aka The Lint Lady. Barron is an internationally known lint artist who recreates great works of art entirely out of dryer lint. If ever there was an artistic pursuit suitable to living in an apartment complex, this is it. I wonder if Barron would agree to do my laundry in return for harvesting sheets of lint out of the dryer traps? Barron isn’t my friend, so I wouldn’t be breaking any rules.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

TILT for August 23rd

Things I Love Thursday...just a list today:

Air conditioning

Blue sky

Grackles under the trees

Good restaurants close by

My new job

New shoes

That corner in JCPenney where they sell clothes for short people

No telemarketers calling my phone

My own bathroom

Three different kinds of salsa in my fridge

The swimming pool

Phyllis Diller

I am very sad that Phyllis Diller passed away on Monday. She was one of my favorite comedians. I remember reading this book for the first time after my family moved from the Midwest to Washington State. We moved at the end of second grade, so I had a whole summer to friends yet and a lot of time on my hands.

Phyllis Diller's Housekeeping Hints

I had no idea that it was comedy. I really thought that she didn't clean her house and her husband was named Fang. It was completely out of my realm of experience to read about a woman who accidentally locked herself out of the house so she could lounge in the yard and drink all day; especially when my own mother was a neat freak and couldn't tolerate even a crumb on the floor in the kitchen. When I saw my mom vacuuming the back of the couch (again) and raking the shag carpet in the living room with a leaf rake, I went into my bedroom, closed the door, and read this book again. And again.

Eventually, I understood that it was comedy. Along with Carol Burnett, Vicky Lawrence and Lucille Ball, Phyllis Diller taught me to look at the world from a different angle. It was okay to be funny, outlandish, creative and different. I realized that there was a whole world contained within a woman's point of view. With the passing of Phyllis Diller, there is also the passing of an era. I hope other female comedians are ready and willing to take up where Phyillis left off and keep exploring the far reaches of being a woman in a man's society.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Top Ten: Winter

It's 95 degrees outside...and probably 100 degrees on my just looking at this little guy makes me nostalgic for winter. Why? Because THERE WILL BE NO WINTER for me this year. Or for as long as I live in the southwest. Oh, sure, I can take weekend trips to the mountains and see the snow, but it won't be the same as snow in my backyard.

The Top Ten things I love about winter are:

1. Snow. Of course. Lots and lots of snow. I've been snowed in by heavy snow and/or blizzards and I love it!

2. The cold. Really, I love cold temperatures.

3. The clouds. There's nothing like winter clouds, full of snow, and creeping across the sky and dragging the long, dark tendrils of falling snow behind them.

4. The sky. There is a special blue that takes over the sky on winter day when the sun is shining, the snow is sparkling, and there's not a breath of air moving. It's a deep, dark blue that seems to extend a million miles into space.

5. Ice skating. I love to skate, but I've had very few chances to ice skate these last 10 years. We once had an outdoor rink at the end of our block and it was fabulous. One Saturday night, I took the kids to skate after dark and we ended up skating under the stars and the aurora borealis.

6. Animal tracks. A fresh snowfall plus nocturnal animals equals a fascinating array of tracks through the yard.

7. Snowmen. It would be winter without making at least one snowman!

8. The wind. Is there anything that sounds colder or more mournful that a winter wind whistling under the eaves in the middle of the night?

9. No school. I still get excited when the school closures are announced every five minutes on the early morning news!

10. Long walks, through the snow, for no particular reason at all.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The mess that keeps on giving

Dear Mitt and Paul,

I am not voting for you. And because of the faked crisis of voter fraud and increased faux vigilance for these mainly imaginary criminals, it took me a grand total of 10 hours and five pieces of paper to get a new driver's license, so I can vote, after I moved to a different state. Oh yes, I got my license because I have the TIME, MONEY, TRANSPORTATION, SUPPORT, and VERIFYING PAPERWORK to get one. And both of you think this is okay. I don't. I now understand, in a very visceral way, how it feels to face the assumption that I am being less than honest. I've lived a pretty sheltered and privileged life, and last week I had a glimpse of what goes on just beyond that bubble I've lived in for over four decades.

I am not voting for you because you think my uterus SHOULD be a clown car; or whatever my husband decides is best for me. Or my doctor. Or my priest or pastor. Do you see the pattern here? I find it terrifically pathetic that two white men are sharing a national stage and advocating for the return of this nation to a period of time that is highly romanticized and sanitized for your audience. If either one of you truly thinks that backpedaling to, say, the 1950's in order to set this nation on a more moral and righteous path is going to fix all of our problems, get thee to a clinic and start on some meds immediately. I am very happy with many of the things going on in this country right now and I'm going to continue to support and vote for these changes; things like health care for everyone, freedom to choose what health care procedures suit me, more funding for public education, clean air and water, limits on what banks and corporations can do, and more money - yes I said MORE MONEY - for social services. I see the government as We the People and I want to keep paying people to distribute my tax money to those in need. I want to pay for other people's college education, welfare, food stamps, health care...and I'm not going to insist that I know every detail of how that money is spent or insist that I must agree with every aspect of what it is spent on. That's why I vote for people on the state and federal level to hammer out all those details for me.

I am not voting for you because you hate government. Government is not a dirty word. Government is what gives this country a structure in which to grow and prosper. Sure, we have problems and the structure is not perfect, but the idea that Government should be strangled and drowned in the bathtub, or that it should be induced to fail so that it can be rebuilt from the ashes, is fantastical and irresponsible. And misleading. You both are lying when you say that you want to make this nation great again through destroying the Government. A completely free market and unbridled capitalism is a recipe for turning this nation into a giant fiefdom serving the lords of the corporations. We are a nation of people, not a nation of wealth producers. PEOPLE with hopes and dreams that can't be quantified with dollar bills. Shame on both of you for trying to reduce over 300 million people to little piles of paper and coin. Is that all we are to you?

I am not voting for you because I think you hate me. Or at least, you think so little of me that I am not part of your campaign. I guess I should say, I am beneath your notice and count for next-to-nothing in your grand plan to take over this nation. Mitt, I am poor and relatively powerless. How much time would you spend talking to me to convince me to vote for you because it's in my best interest? And Paul, how much time would you spend trying to make me change my mind about you? All I see in campaign ads, op-eds, interviews and speeches is an attempt to scare me into voting for the two of you. FEAR. That's all you have to offer. Fear of invading illegal immigrants. Fear of taxation destroying my livelihood. Fear of government telling me what to do. Fear of foreign countries. Fear of foreign leaders. Fear of socialism, freedom of thought and speech, and fear of just about anything that might tear the blinders off and show people who you really are. You are both fear mongers and snake oil salesmen.

I am not voting for you because both of you pervert and distort the Bible. You pervert and distort history to suit your opinions. And neither one of you seems to care that you have abandoned the discipline of fact and replaced it with relative truth; or should I say, the truth as you see it through highly conservative and fundamentalist glasses? But here's one thing I have to give the two of you: The abandonment of the discipline of facts and the rise of moral and factual relativism  can be blamed on the Left, too. I guess I expect people who wish to serve the nation to be smart enough to recognize this and at least try to rise above it.

I am not voting for you because I think, beyond political parties and all the issues trotted out by both sides over the past few years, there really is a grand plan that will not be good for me or my family. It's all about money, who has it, and who controls it. I'm not talking about pay checks, I'm talking about the ability to control wealth. As I see the middle class disappear and wages shrink to pitiful levels, all in the name of profit, I practically weep with anger. You do not care about me, you do not care about my family, and you do not care how or where I live my life as long as the profits keep flowing upward to you and your kind.

What I see are two white, privileged men who care about two things: Money and power. I can't vote for that. I won't vote for that. But the truth is, I'll vote for the least objectionable person because that's all the power I possess. And the only reason why I have the power to cast a vote is because I was able to provide the proof that I'm a resident of this state and that I rightfully exist, however minimally...

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Change is hard. Changing the little things can seem like a big deal, until the big things change. It's the big things that cause me to reevaluate my life. As hard as changing the big things can be, these are the changes that have given me the opportunity to redefine my dreams and make them reality. Big changes allow me to winnow out the unnecessary and remove the weight of the needless baggage I've accumulated through inattention.

I choose how I define passage from one life to the next.

"...I shall go with the changes,
I shall look far out over golden grasses
And blue waters.

There are no farewells."

-May Sarton Gestalt at Sixty

Monday, August 6, 2012

Christmas Ham in August

Getting a new driver's license is not supposed to be a big deal. A little paperwork, an eye test, some money and it's all done, right? RIGHT?

I was warned that the office we were going to this morning is always crazy busy. We arrived an hour before the office opened and the parking lot was full of cars. There were at least 150 people in a line snaking out from the front door, down the sidewalk and into the parking lot. The people in line were already bunched up, tired and hot. I think it was 80 degrees by 7 a.m. I got in line and hoped for the best. The shade in front of the building was only 50 or 60 people away. I'd be there in no time flat.

Two hours later, the sun was creeping ever higher in the sky and the shade next to the building was disappearing at an alarming rate. I was nowhere near the shade. But I had all my paperwork, a bottle of water, a vat of sunscreen smeared on my face and I was ready to stand there all day. Melting. Burning. Blistering. Dying. Drying up and blowing away in the wind like dust. If this is what it takes to get my Texas driver's license, so be it. An elderly couple pulled into the parking lot, parked in the handicap space, and slowly got out of their car. Together, they weighed maybe 80 pounds and I'm pretty sure 10 minutes in the hot sun would kill them. No one made eye contact as the octogenarian couple in their matching his-and-hers orthopedic shoes shuffled across the parking lot to the end of the line.

And then the state trooper came out of the building and walked up and down the line checking on everyone. He was concerned about people passing out from the heat. So I waved my hand in the air to get his attention and told him to please please please take that elderly couple into the building and put them at the front of the line. He did. And I felt a little better as I reached a new level of hot. Hell has nothing on the Texas sun in August. If I don't have sunscreen on, within five minutes my skin stings like I'm being stabbed with a thousand little needles. If there's even one skin cell on my face or arms that has even the tiniest niggling of an idea to turn into cancer, I'm dead. I am now on a mission to find a new sun hat because otherwise I will probably end up bald after my hair bursts into flames and  consumes itself.

Another hour went by and finally I was at the front door, sandwiched between huge, sweaty, angry men, and we all shoved our way into the waiting room. The waiting room was full of at least another hundred people being served by eight state employees. Not one employee made eye contact with anyone until that person had his or her number called and walked (or I should say stumbled since we were all so tired and dehydrated) up to one of the clerks at the long counter. But there was air conditioning! And ceiling fans! And a water fountain! And a restroom! And chairs! Normally, I'd say Hell is any government waiting room, but in this case it was so cool, dim and wonderful that I didn't care if I had to sit there all day. Just as I was fantasizing about getting in the water fountain and taking a cool bath, I hear a raised voice at the "Welcome" desk.

Before anyone saw the clerks in back, they had to see the "Welcome" lady first to determine if they were worthy of seeing a clerk at the back counter.

"I'm sorry, Ma'am, but your driver's license expired last week so you must show a birth certificate to get a photo ID card," the Welcome Lady was saying. "It's to prevent identity theft."

The lady protesting Welcome Lady's assessment of her paperwork was at least 100 years old, and all she wanted was a photo ID card so she could, oh, I don't know, have proof of identity on her body in case she died in some out of the way place and no one found her until she was so decomposed that her family wouldn't recognize her?

The old lady shook with rage. She clutched the handles of her walker and leaned over the desk as far as the hump on her back would let her and said, "I was sick for a month. I couldn't get out of bed. And then it took me two weeks to arrange for my daughter to bring me down here to get my ID. All I want is a picture on a card with my name on it! How hard is that?"

And then the old lady grabbed her papers, stuffed them in her purse which hung on the arm of the walker, and rolled out of the office at the speed of molasses on a cold day.

"They didn't even HAVE birth certificates in my day!" she yelled over her shoulder. "I've had a driver's license since I was 18 years old and NO ONE HAD A PROBLEM WITH IT!"

The Welcome Lady punched at some keys on her computer keyboard and pretended to not hear a thing. The clerks were perched on their chairs in a line behind the long, dark counter. Each one used towelettes to carefully wipe down anything that had been touched after each customer left lest someone spread some dreadful disease. All of them began to look like trolls just waiting to deny a poor soul their driver's license. One troll, with upper arms the size of Christmas hams, sat in her chair and stared at a spot on the far wall, avoiding anyone who tried to get her attention to ask her a question.

"Miss?" one young man said, grinning and bobbing his head to try and get Christmas Ham Arms' attention. "Miss? I have a quick question..."

Miss Christmas Ham Arms stared blankly over his head and ignored him, clutching a pen in one hand and tapping her first finger of the other hand on the counter. The man looked a little confused, and then he gave Miss Christmas Ham Arms a dirty look and slouched back to his chair to sit and wait with the rest of us.

And then, finally, it was my turn at the Welcome Desk.

"Ma'am, what can I help you with today?" Welcome Lady asked me.

"I need to surrender my Washington license and get a Texas license today," I said, smiling and putting my stack of papers down on the Welcome counter.

The Welcome Lady laid all of my papers out in a neat row, frowning and shaking her head. "You will need at least one more piece of paper that proves your place of residence."

"But I have everything on the list," I said, smiling wider.

The Welcome Lady pulled a brochure off a stack of papers to her right and held it up in front of my eyes. "Did you consult this before you came down here?"

It wasn't the brochure I'd downloaded from the department website. "Is that new?" I asked.

"As of May 7th, these are the rules. I'm surprised you didn't see this if you were on our website," Welcome Lady said without smiling.

I wasn't smiling, either. 

I left before I said anything unfortunate. The state trooper was still in the building. Four hours of misery and I still have my old driver's license. What the hell. It doesn't expire until 2016. I might not even be living here by 2016 so I'll just keep it for a while.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The thing about moving

Last sunrise over Ellensburg...

Moving seems to be something I'm well-suited much as I'd like to stay in one place for a long time, there are circumstances beyond our control that nudge us back into a UHaul and yet another trip across state lines every few years. 

I think part of it is my refusal to stand for taking what I am handed and saying Please, may I have some more? I am so disgusted and demoralized by the downward spiral of so many things...

Public discourse
The middle class
The value and dignity of human beings
The strength of unions
Intellectual curiosity
and I could go on and on and on...

I didn't send enough stuff ahead in the UHaul. It was a long process to get every box and bag in the right place, and then I still had to stuff the extra things into every crack and crevice. I left behind a box of hangers (no great loss), a cheap TV stand (well, we really could have used it), a craptastic vacuum cleaner that I hated, odds and ends like a dish drainer and all sorts of cleaning supplies that would probably boil and explode on my trip through the southwest, and things that really had no purpose. It's always good to cleanse yourself of things you really don't need.

Even the back seat was full. We had to be careful of sudden one likes getting beaned in the back of the head with a bottle of shampoo.

I've seen Mt. Shasta from the other side, and it was equally as beautiful from this side, from a rest stop on I-5. My son loved driving and wanted to drive all the time. I was happy to let him take charge. Driving is boring and it's hard to sightsee.

Despite all the negative press from some sources about the viability of wind-generated electricity, there are a lot of wind farms up and down the west coast. Someone thinks wind farms are a good idea. I think they are a fantastic idea. I don't think wind turbines are a blight, rather I think they are beautiful in their simplicity and beautiful in what they provide us. We passed a coal-burning power plant in Arizona (I didn't get a picture because the camera had fallen through a crack in the space-time continuum and was being held hostage by the mountain of junk in the back seat) and it was a frightening sight. Compared to a wind farm, the power plant was a hulking, spewing behemoth next to a mountain of coal fed by a dedicated line of rail cars full of more coal. But we all want our electricity for lights, computers, cameras, air conditioning, hospitals, schools...I believe that we are smart enough to figure out how to use alternative energy sources to transition ourselves to less dependence on coal and gas power plants.

This is what I'd like to leave my children...

And this...

Did you notice the oil being pumped in the corner of the photo? Oil will be with us for a long time. This was a wind farm south of Lubbock, Texas. There were thousands of wind turbines stretching to the horizon. And farmers were still farming around the base of the turbines. And around the oil wells. It seems like a good lesson in co-existence.

As much as I love trees, I love seeing rocks. Big rocks, little rocks, cliffs, name it, I like seeing it. New Mexico was lovely.

The moonrise over the plains was breathtaking...this is just outside of Lubbock. The moon always looks like a blob with my camera, but in black and white it looks okay. In color, it was amazing.

The sunset was equally as amazing. I didn't want to roll down my window because it was still 97 degree outside. The toughest thing will be not having a cool breeze.

And one last shot of New Mexico. I'd love to wake up every morning and see this in my living room window. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Distracted by the Olympics...and sleep

San Antonio is hotter, hillier, and greener than I imagined it would be. It will take me a loooong time to get used to the ground radiating massive amounts of heat all night instead of cooling down at sunset and - dare I say - get chilly. There will be "chilly" for maybe six weeks over the "winter." I promise to keep my mouth shut and not make disparaging comments about "winter" down here. After slogging through 8-10 inches of snow to AND from school for weeks at a time last winter in Ellensburg, let's just say that I have a different definition of the season. I kept two sweaters, only because I love them and I couldn't send them to Goodwill. Plus, I still have my wool coat and my shearling coat. What can I say? I have a coat fetish. Every once in a while, I'll have to stand under the a/c vent and wear my coats for a few minutes just to let them know I still love them. It's nothing personal, coats, but it will never be cold enough to wear either one of you outside...unless I win the lottery and take both of you on a ski trip to Colorado.

I've been watching the Olympics and the one thing that really strikes me is the spirit of the games versus real life. The Olympics celebrate the mastery of skills that, while pretty darn cool, are not exactly practical in real life. But that's not the point. The point is the single-minded pursuit of perfection and the strength to compete against other people. Receiving medals, standing on the podium and listening to a nation's anthem is the reward for being the best at that point in time. And it's healthy competition. The athletes look like they are having fun, they congratulate each other, and it seems like everyone is a winner just for being at the games. Right now, I'm watching Ledecky - who is 15 years old -  swim for a gold medal and an American record in the 800 meter freestyle. How cool is that?!

I wish we could all revel in this spirit of competition and support, the pursuit of perfection for the sake of perfection, and an appreciation for just doing something because it's hard and fulfilling. Real life, that life we all live despite having hopes and dreams that may not have anything to do with our regular jobs and day-to-day worries and fears, is such a bummer sometimes. It's all about money, why Mitt Romney won't release additional tax returns, Chick-fil-A and that slippery thing called free speech and opinion, and this national mania to cut taxes, cut services, cut spending and cut people off from anything that pisses off someone else. Imagine if Chick-fil-A stood for truth, honesty and doing the right thing by the employees and customers. That would mean saying "I have an opinion, it's different from your opinion, but let's just agree to disagree and move on." Or am I wrong? Is there a middle ground? Mitt is definitely hiding things. He refused to release tax returns when he ran for governor of Massachusetts...and still won. He's playing this like if he has to fess up and show more tax returns, his privacy will be destroyed and HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOUR PRIVACY INVADED LIKE THIS? Or at least that's how some people are spinning it.

I'd like to see the presidential candidates compete in physical competitions instead of the endless political ads and infuriating debates. If the candidates - and I mean all the candidates that run, not just the two main parties - had to train for a 5K, a 100-meter freestyle dip in the pool, skeet shooting, and a floor exercise showcasing strength and flexibility there would be a lot less hot air and a lot more perfection of physical strength and mental stamina. And maybe this kind of humbling, difficult training and competition would translate into a president with the mental flexibility and stamina to get things done. And I'd like to see the senate and house engage in a massive cage fight; just to clear the air. The vice president could officiate the match. Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready to ruuuuummmmmmbbbbble?! It seems like there's enough hate and angst to put on a really good show. After all, members of congress are perfectly willing to let regular Americans fight to the death over minimum wage jobs with no benefits, and all the while telling us that we're lucky to have jobs that pay anything at all.

On commercial breaks, we keep flipping the channel to watch a bit more of Mississippi Burning. Here's the story of people fighting for the right to be treated like everyone else.

Gabby Douglas is the first woman of color to win a gold medal in the individual all-around gymnastics.

And people here in town are lined up out the doors of Chick-fil-A to show support for a cause I'm not sure they really understand.

Which one of these things is not like the other?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Final Exit

Last night, Lubbock, Texas looked really good under a full moon as the city twinkled at us on the plains. At 9 p.m., it was still 97 degrees (and everyone else was driving around with their car windows rolled down) but traffic was light and we found our hotel. And no hookers.

It's now 6:45 a.m. and the sun hasn't risen. WHAT? Has the curvature of the Earth changed THIS MUCH by driving 2,000+ miles south?! Apparently so. And it's hot already with 90% humidity. Life is going to look a little different from now on.

So, it's breakfast, pack the truck, and drive another 8 hours SOUTH to San Antonio. I shall slather on the sunscreen and stay in the shade from now on. And/or only come out at night.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pimps, Hookers and Johns, Oh My! Or, the night Garmin paid for itself...

Let's just say that I was happy to see Fresno in my rear view mirror this morning.

Yesterday, we left Springfield, Oregon. We spent the day driving the length of the Sacramento Valley and the San Joaquin Valley to Fresno. It was pretty up until we passed Sacramento...and then it was just flat, dirty, trashy, poor and depressing. This is where so much of the nation's food comes from?! It looks like the people who work the fields are slave labor. Oh, wait, they ARE slave labor. Wow. So. It was an education.

The best part of yesterday (and the reason why I didn't blog) was the hotel in Fresno. I picked the wrong side of town....Oh did I pick the wrong side of town!! I pulled off the highway, cruised down the street to the address on my Garmin and HOLY FREAKING MOLEY it was a slum AND hookers were trolling the sidewalks and parking lots of the three hotels and Denny's. All the cars were trashed, except for the BMW parked in front of Denny's - and I bet you that was the pimp/drug dealer watching the "girls." The  very best part of the whole experience was when my son said, "Oh, look! The hookers are color coded! All of them are in pink shirts!" And then a really creepy old man shambled up to one of the girls and she nonchalantly led him away to the hotel.

I kept on driving. I shall post my feelings on Yelp about that hotel tonight. A few miles away, where it looked safe to park, I stopped and pulled up hotels on my Garmin and found a nice Best Western on the other side of town (this is why I bought a Garmin and it did not disappoint. I will be writing to them to let them know how much I appreciate this handy little device). After we got to our room, I called the previous hotel and told them I wouldn't be keeping my reservation. The conversation went something like this:

Desk: Hello...

Me:    Good evening. I have a reservation with you, but I won't be keeping it tonight.
Desk: Okay. It's past the cancellation...

Me:    I know I know let me tell you why I am staying at the Best Western on the other side of town. There are herds of hookers trolling the sidewalk and the parking lot in front of your hotel and the hotel and Denny's next door.


Me:    Okay. But you ARE responsible for the women using your rooms.


Me:    Right. Well, just so you know, I will not be bringing my family to your hotel and I will never recommend this place to anyone. And CALL THE COPS!

I will be lodging a complaint with corporate tonight, now that I can think straight and I have cell service. I think it is very suspicious that the desk clerk had such a tight, succinct response instantly ready for me.

  So, we drove to Best Western and checked in. We had a beautiful room on the third floor where we promptly collapsed and went to sleep.

The drive out of Fresno was uneventful and it wasn't until we climbed out of the valley that it got pretty again. By the time we got to Barstow, it was dark and stormy, with occasional downpours, but nice and cool. Kingman, AZ is a cute town, and the drive up to Flagstaff was gorgeous. And we're still laughing about the hookers in Fresno.

I'll load up my pictures and post something later...someone needs to chat with his girlfriend on facebook :)