Sunday, August 26, 2012
Homeschoolers in the U.S. tend to overwhelmingly lean toward the strictly religious and the political far right. For the record, I have no personal problem with either of those things. It's the trappings for the female half of those populations that make my hands involuntarily clench into fists.
Long skirts or jumpers (frequently denim) and long sleeved, high necked blouses. That's the required uniform. It is what I call the American Burka.
Also frequently, all the sisters in a family (or all the sister wives of religious sectarians) are dressed alike. Same pattern of skirt, same material, same color. Possibly variation of color in the blouse (although not always) but all sewn (often by the wearer of the garment) to the same specs. Same hair. Same allowed hobbies, skills and professional ambitions . . .
Modesty is a Biblical principle (as well as a principle in many other religions) and you'll find no argument from me about adhering to that. The argument from me is how modesty is achieved--specifically in American culture.
My question is this: at what point was it decided that the only accepted definition of dressing modestly for religious women in America is based on fashions of 1800s homesteaders?
In the summer I volunteer at the county fair helping my friend who is the superintendent of all the 4-H sewing projects. Every year, kids (mostly girls) turn in garments to be judged and some to be modeled during the public contest. Approximately 90% of the contestants are home schooled girls. Approximately 90% of those girls dress in the American Burka. Colorless, drab, matronly, frumpy outfits that work tirelessly to hide all traces of overt femininity.
One perpetual contestant has a penchant for period pieces. She dedicates herself to hours of research in the styles, patterns, fabrics and sewing techniques encompassing the period spanning the Civil War up to the 1940s--as though broaching the styles of the happy-go-lucky 50s or beyond to the rebellious 60s is tantamount to rebellion itself. Costumey and anachronistic, these are the everyday clothes she wears.
Her mother's eyes light up when, at a fabric fair for 4-H kids, this girl chooses yet another dingy, characterless calico. "Oh--that brown is really your color!" Why is it threatening to wear non-bleak colors? Is it possible to wear a cheerful yellow or a vivid blue without being construed as preening like a conceited bird?
We also have a family of 5 sisters who all sew, wear and turn in for competition ankle length denim skirts--each one as boring, plain and impeccably crafted as the next. For special family occasions, the girls sew and wear identical dresses or skirt/blouse combinations. Why must they all dress alike? Is having no individuality part of being modest? Looking at them (at the way they stand, walk and talk) and considering the other fair entries they turn in (paintings, food items) it is obvious that these girls are as different as any 5 girls you'd meet on the street--sisters or otherwise. Why are they being trained to look the same when they are anything but the same? Is that somehow modesty?
One of our American Burka-wearing 4-H families is actually quite prideful about their way of life. Prideful about the daughter's sewing skills (which are remarkable,) prideful of how hardworking the mother is, prideful about one of their sons' woodworking skills (also remarkable,) prideful about being a "certain" kind of farming, homeschooling family. Pride does not equal modesty, no matter how dowdy your clothing is.
Back to the accepted fashions: why only skirts and dresses for these women? Why are pants considered to be inherently immodest? Yes, they show the shape of the legs and the hiney, but the mere fact of having legs and a hiney doesn't constitute being provocative. Pants can be conservative, flattering--and convenient in a woman's life--without being vulgar.
Modesty in clothing can be achieved in a fashionable way. Length and style of sleeves, style of neckline, darts, non-calico fabric can all be employed to make a comfortable, respectable garment that is pleasing without crossing the line to immodesty.
We non American Burka-wearing homeschoolers, obviously, are making a lot of judgements about the families who choose to dress like they belong in a little house on a prairie. But make no mistake--they are making just as many judgements about us. Judgements about how serious we are in our relationships to God, judgements about whether we're training our children the "right" way, judgements about whether we are valuing our girls above rubies (as though allowing them to be individuals is devaluing them.) It becomes a very "us vs. them" sort of attitude on both sides of the coin. It's destructive, really.
I started doing a little questioning about men and modesty and about the idea that perhaps it isn't entirely up to women to dress modestly; perhaps men bear a responsibility not to be pigs and to control their base instincts. Poking around a bit, I tripped across this fascinating blog. For your consideration: The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker.
There's more going on regarding women's clothing in Indian culture and American homeschooling/religious sect culture than modesty. The level of control that Indian women are subject to, and a specific section of American women are willingly subjecting themselves to, under the guise of 'modesty' is disturbing. It might be said that putting so much focus on adhering to an unusual style of dress is taking focus away from other areas that might otherwise flourish. AND it's interesting that by setting themselves apart from mainstream American culture, the broader principles that these families stand for aren't appreciated because of, ironically, their appearance.
Just a thought.
Friday, August 24, 2012
Part of my irritation with the use of that term is that it is, more often than not, misdirected. Most frequently when someone says vagina, what they really mean is vulva. Sometimes they're so far off the mark, what they're really trying to talk about is the uterus, occasionally the ovaries or fallopian tubes. Is this purposeful stupidity for effect or do we, as a culture, so severely lack accurate knowledge of the female anatomy?
A couple years ago at the gym I was subjected to an episode of "The Girls Next Door." To celebrate Hef's birthday (and I just looked this up--it was his 82nd birthday--and may I just add a hearty blech?) the girls cast their private areas in chocolate. Because really, what else would you give an 82 year old? During the personal interviews, one of the girls waxed poetically about how famous she is for having such a lovely looking vagina. No no no no no nooooooooooooooo!!!! Not vagina--vulva. Or labia--major and/or minor. Or even clitoris. But not vagina. Dumb bunny.
I understand the origin of our current frankness and open conversation about the vagina (rightly or wrongly identified) stems, in part, from "The Vagina Monologues." And I get that the play was, in part, meant to honestly and unabashedly dialogue about everything having to do with the feminine experience--warts and all. I'm on board with that, but what I'm not on board with is how this sincere, funny, candid discussion has devolved into boorish, silly, childish, everyday slang. Vajajay? Seriously?
It is, to me, on a much smaller scale, akin to what has become of feminism. The fight for equal rights, equal pay for equal work and freedom for women to express themselves sexually has become something so markedly different as to be unrecognizable. To add insult to injury, we now don't know what our vaginas actually are, we are expected to keep our "vaginas" hairless like prepubescent girls and we are (according to popular culture) expected to allow our vaginas to be used freely without emotion or consequence.
Makes me so mad. I just want to punch someone in the vagina . . . .
Friday, May 18, 2012
Because we were a homeschooling family, we had time together. Lots of time. So much time to explore and learn and just be. During his high school years, Number One Son took a Great Books tutorial on-line. The instructor encouraged the kids to take as much time as they could to do other things while thinking about the books they read. He considered having that kind of time extremely important in everyone's lives. He called it time to "Hmmmmm . . . " I didn't realize it back then, but "Hmmmm . . . " time was one of the greatest gifts I have ever given my kids.
When the older two were grade school age and my youngest was a toddler, we lived in a quiet community with forest all around us and a splendid beach just down the half paved lane from our house. We took walks in the first warm rains of fall. In nice weather we sat out on the big wraparound deck and read or else we would go out at dusk and watch the bats flitting around eating mosquitoes.
We spent all day, every day at the beach during spring and summer. Such a beautiful flat, sandy beach--the tide would go out almost an eighth of a mile. We played in tide pools with tiny fish and crabs. We waded and swam and the kids built all manner of sand structures. We watched birds and took plaster casts of their footprints. We took backpacks with sandwiches and apples and tried not to let the food get sandy while we ate. We walked around our neighborhood and down to the tiny store that was the community hangout.
Coming home late in the afternoon, the kids would continue to play outside while I sat in our sunny living room reading and watching the birds at the feeders. The kids climbed trees and built forts and picked the "hats" off the blooming poppies. We also had slug patrol at sundown, salting the heck out of those garden ruiners.
I admit, there were many, many nights when we had mac n' cheese or pizza or chili dogs for dinner because I did not have it in me to cook after spending all day playing and reading and generally enjoying just being. At the time I felt deep guilt for not being more structured about school and for not devoting a whole lot more time to housekeeping. But if I had it to do over again, I'd do it all just like I did the first time.
My daughter's life is uncontrollably busy with the demands of her youngest child's disability. My youngest son's time is also suddenly very taken up with doing yard work for other folks and school and sports activities. My own life has wound up to a speed that I'm unaccustomed to. And I miss that blissful, innocent time with my kids. I wish so very, very much that my girl could have those long, sun soaked days with her own kids and that they could all "Hmmmmm . . . " together.
Even back then I understood that not everybody had the kind of life I had and I was privileged to have those days. I did appreciate it. I knew it was special. I knew it wouldn't last forever.
What would I give to go back and relive one of those afternoons when my boys spent hours engineering perfect sand garrisons and my little girl wore sundresses and danced on tiptoe at the edge of the incoming tide?
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Okay, yes, I am actually going to say more than that :)
I hear and read a whole heck of a lot of complaining about Valentine's Day being fake and being commercially overproduced. And frankly, I'm kinda tired of hearing about it.
People sanctimoniously go on and on about how insincere it is to show your love to the people in your life on one Hallmark kind of day. I disagree with that charge. I will agree that we live in the most commercial nation in the history of forever and any business wanting to capitalize on the potential river of money that will pour into their hands will unapologetically join the hype. But I disagree that the sentiment behind most people's celebrating of V Day is artificial.
Why is it disingenuous to set aside a special day to remind your partner or child or parent or friend that you love them? We have a few examples in our culture of choosing specific days for which to celebrate other important ideas, so why not for love and devotion?
- Every November we set aside a special day to be thankful for all that we have. Are we unthankful the rest of the year? No, of course not. But taking time aside from our normal lives to think about it, appreciate it and share it with our families is good reminder and a renewal of our commitment to be thankful during the regular days.
- Every December we set aside another day. For those of us with religious persuasion it's to celebrate the glory of the birth of our Saviour. You can't tell me that just because I choose to observe Christmas it means I don't care about the fact that our Saviour humbled himself to live in a mortal body like the rest of us on the other 364 days.
- I can't speak for non-religious people as to their reasons to have Christmas festivities, but I suspect it's a season for family and joy and care. Again, I'm pretty sure there's joy and care the rest of the year, but the annual symbolic reminder is a lovely time to gather and make peace and gain perspective.
- Easter, for the Christian world, is the time to rejoice in the miracle of the Lord rising from the dead. For the secular world, it's a day of rejoicing in the energy and beauty of Spring and a new year. Yes, Easter is also a little overly hyped with the candy and pastel everything, but don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.
- We commemorate each other's birthdays. Do we not care for each other every other day of the year?
- As a nation we make a pretty big to-do on July 4th. I would argue there are millions and millions of Americans who are thankful on more than just one fleeting day for the freedoms we enjoy and appreciate the fact that people laid down their lives for their belief that we, as humans, are entitled to those freedoms. It's a sentiment deeper than a summer BBQ.
- First day of school, anyone? There are 180 days of school for our kids but especially on that first day we take pictures, have fresh haircuts, new clothes, the latest in lunchboxes. It doesn't downgrade the rest of the school year just because we so honor the first day.
- In some parts of the country the first day of Boating Season is a *huge* deal, but we still enjoy boating during the rest of the summer. There's Kentucky Derby Day, but people love horse racing all season long--not just on that one day. There's Groundhog Day, for goodness sake, and nobody complains about that! (Well, okay, I admit that I actually *do* complain about Groundhog Day, but I'm like the only person in the Western Hemisphere who does.)
- And the big daddy of celebration days? How about funerals. It's not that we didn't love or care about the deceased while they were here, but we set aside a day after their passing to pay respect to everything we knew and felt and loved about them. It's not fake or forced just because a funeral parlor, a florist and a caterer are making a buck on the proceedings.
So to all of you anti-Valentiners, I say this: Don't be a hater.
And happy Valentine's Day :)
Saturday, September 18, 2010
I haven't posted--or even been inspired to post--in forever. Sad.
And I haven't been checking in on anyone else's blogs in the last couple months. Also sad.
A quick update on my family before I close the door on the Country Mouse House:
- My beautiful daughter and her husband have taken 3 month old Logan back to the hospital because he has a painfully difficult time digesting food. They haven't been able to get anyone to take their concerns seriously until now. Logan, when he isn't in agony, is a happy, sweet little guy. He has hit all his developmental milestones on schedule and appears to be headed in the right direction. The food/digestion thing needs to be worked out but besides that he's really doing miraculously well.
- My darling little Sweet Pea will celebrate her 2nd birthday in a little over a week. She is extremely verbally competent and, like her older brother, is quite clever. A little too clever sometimes : )
- And speaking of Sweet Pea's older brother, Gabe started Kindergarten this year *and* caught a 15 pound King salmon while fishing with Grandpa! w00t!
- Youngest has his driver's permit and thinks he's all grown up. As 15-year-olds do : ) He also had his very first day of school EVER recently. He's attending a private school for a couple classes a week and doing the rest at home as per the usual schedule of events. He has matured enough to begin to know his strengths and weaknesses and to know where he needs help. He also has become a much harder worker with school and sports and is doing well at football--freshman team (his first year playing.) He's such a laid back, sweet kid. It's great to see him coming into his own : )
- Number One Son is engaged!!! He finally asked his girl to marry him and it looks like the wedding will be next July before they move to Texas for grad school. Number One is also on the front cover of a climbing magazine. Kinda cool! He did some climbing with a friend this year in the Brooks Range in Alaska and actually named a mountain. Named it after his fiancee. What an unusual, and beautiful, gift : )
- My not quite adopted son, Guy, and I don't have as close a relationship as we once did but I think that's a good and healthy thing. He has come a long way--he has grown and has taken my naggy advice on many fronts. He will *never* admit to that though : )
- My sweet Mister and I are continuing to enjoy getting to know each other again now that we pretty much have an empty nest. He is still funny and sweet and a pain in the ass. Nothing's changed : )
- And the voices in my head for which I started this forum? Still there : ) Still raucous and bickering and still making me who I am : )
Thank you all so so so so so much for hanging out with me and being supportive and funny and loyal. I wish you all the best. Take care!
Monday, August 2, 2010
First of all, Logan is doing fantastically well!
Secondly, thank you so much for all your thoughts and continued concern for our little guy.
Logan was finally discharged from the hospital about a week and a half or two weeks ago (I'm sorry--you'd think I'd never ever forget that special day, but . . . )
He is living at home now with his big sis and with regular visits from big brother. He was sent home *without* a feeding tube or any other medical intervention. He is still having some difficulty with food and seems to be suffering from colic but is otherwise healthy and completely normal for an infant his age.
Both his neurologist and pediatrician have said that Logan is, so far, exactly where he should be in terms of development. The pediatrician went on to tell Logan's mommy and daddy that he has seen children who were deprived of oxygen during their births who then had cool cap therapy and children who haven't had the therapy available to them and the difference is drastic. Children who have not had cool cap therapy are visibly affected and it's devastating. On the other hand, children like Logan have outcomes that are about as close to 180 degrees opposite as possible. I cannot even begin to tell you how humbled I am by how blessed our family is. My heart goes out to families who are the other side of that fateful coin.
Again, I am so touched by your support. Thank you all so much!
Friday, June 18, 2010
Logan had an EEG on Wednesday morning but his mommy and daddy have been so busy tag teaming with his care and with the care of their other two children that they haven't had a chance to sit down with Logan's doctor and get the full report. What they have learned from the nurses and one phone conversation with the doctor is that he is making improvements! His sleep/wake patterns look normal (via EEG) and the voltage in his brain is higher than last time, however, I'm not sure if that's universally or in limited places.
On the downside, he is having some seizure activity. Not full-blown seizures, but it is problematic enough that he is on the highest possible dose of phenobarbitol and will have to be bumped up to the next level of anti-seizure drug. I do not know whether there are any long term side effects to be concerned about--I can't think that far down the road right now. I can only concentrate on the here and now at this moment.
I wish I had updated pictures to share! I have some on my phone but no way to upload them from the house where we are staying. I am returning to work next week on a restricted hour schedule. I will still be able to help the kids and I hope it will only be a couple more weeks until Logan can come home.
Again--thank you all for the thoughts, prayer, and support. You have no idea what strength I have been able to draw from that : ) And someday when things slow down, maybe I'll be able to catch up on your blogs as well!
Monday, June 14, 2010
Logan has been breathing on his own for a couple days now and hasn't had any seizures (to my knowledge) during the last couple days. His outlook is good enough that the medical staff will likely be moving him up to the intermediate nursery sometime in the next day or two. Praise God : )
Here are a couple pictures--much easier to look at than the ones I posted before. And thank you all for your thoughts and kind e-mails!
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
He is a beautiful, 8 lb 8 oz, baby. He's well filled out and physically healthy and lovely. His heart and lungs seem to be strong and functioning well, but there is brain damage. He is currently on a cold cap and will be until Thursday. On that day they'll do brain function scans. I don't know what or how much that will tell us.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
One bright spot in my day was that my sweet, sweet husband, without knowing a thing about how sucky my day was, dropped by to see me at work and brought me flowers. Just because. Just because he loves me and likes to surprise me from time to time and let me know how much he appreciates me. You can't buy that kind of devotion.
Non bright spot? After Doug surprised me with flowers, I asked him to go over to the coffee shop and bring me back a cup of cocoa since it was way too busy for me to go myself. When he returned with the cocoa I was in the middle of a transaction with one of our regular customers, Mr. M.
Handsome Mr. M was standing at the counter holding his 3 year old child while sliding his debit card through the terminal. While Mr. M was looking down to enter his PIN, Doug put my cup down on the counter over to my right--out of Mr. M's view. As Doug was leaving I looked over his way and said, "Thank you, Honey. See you later." When I looked back at my customer, I could see a funny expression on his face. I laughed and explained, "I wasn't calling you honey--my husband was over there." Of course by then Doug was nowhere to be seen. Mr. M forced a nervous chuckle and told me, "I just thought you were talking to my daughter . . . " AWKWARD!!!
Another a non bright spot? And this one isn't even funny? Sweet hubby took me out for dinner and drinks later that evening. I was just unwinding and feeling okay when hubby's aunt walked in. Hubby's aunt is a little doom-and-gloom, a little woe-is-me. Also? She has never approved of homeschooling--even in light of my older two kids' success . . .
I was trying to be cheerful by mentioning the light of Aunt's life--her grandkids. "Youngest is going to attend the private school with your grandkids next year," I happily reported.
"Oh, good," she replied, "because every time I see Youngest he looks so unhappy."
a) He's 14. Both my daughter and I vividly recall cultivating that look on our faces when we were that age. That look that reads, "I cannot believe I'm stuck with these people." It's a teen thing, right?
b) Whenever I mention this run-in with Aunt (and believe me, I mention it a lot) everyone says, "Happy-go-lucky Youngest looking unhappy?" Exactly.
c) Aunt only sees Youngest once--maybe twice--yearly. WTH is she even talking about????
d) So what if Youngest does look unhappy. Who says that to someone's mom? Who talks that way?
On the other hand, I went home that evening with a man who understands and loves me. Aunt went home to an aging cat. Now who's having the crappy day?
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
"Check it out," I said to Youngest and nodded toward the unusual scene I was watching. "An older man walks to the corner of the high school campus, puts a suspicious box on the ground and takes a step back."
"Wearing a cowboy hat and a suit," Youngest takes up the thread. "And he's putting his hand into his pocket."
"You think he's going for the detonator?" I ask. "Oh, wait a minute," I change my tone, "the side of the box is printed with the letters NKJV. He's passing out Bibles to the students as they leave school . . . "
"Nice going, Mom!" Youngest chides. "You've just made a terrorist out of a well-meaning pastor!"
Eh. Can't win em all : )
Thursday, April 29, 2010
She looked to be in her late 60's, maybe early 70's. He looked 10 or more years younger. Maybe. I couldn't decide what kind of relationship they had. Were they a married couple? Was he her care giver? Relatives? I don't know. What fascinated me was that they both had books and were independently reading between courses.
At first I wondered why they would bother sharing a nice dinner if they weren't going to also share conversation. But then it occurred to me that if they're both retired and spend all their days together anyway, they're probably all talked out. They both enjoy reading. They both enjoy good food. They're not eating alone. So what's the harm? Still though, I was glad to be eating with my friend and partner and having interesting and funny discussion.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
They've known each other since they were kids. For a few years, they even worked together. That was the worst. There was no end to, "Hey Honey, guess what Chuck told me today?" and, "Chuck mentioned this book he thinks I should read." Ad nauseum.
It went so far as, "Chuck thinks we should build the porch this way . . . " with, as you might guess, my reply being, "But I think we should build it that way."
In a not terribly surprising coincidence, my lovely daughter went through a similar phase as a teenager. Only it wasn't Chuck to whom she deferred, it was her mentor, Sara.
"Hey Mom, Sara thinks I should take summer dance classes at Cornish to stretch my range and broaden my horizons!" she told me one day. Funny how she didn't hear me say exactly the same thing only days before.
"Mom, Sara wants me to start teaching classes at her studio. She thinks it will help my confidence and be a good addition to my dance resume." Really? Sara thinks that? You don't remember me thinking that several months ago?
Today, Beautiful called me with a medical/pregnancy related question. She does that a lot lately.
"You don't have a fever?"
"And you're not uncomfortable?"
"And you aren't having any other symptoms that concern you?"
"And the nurse said it was fine to wait until tomorrow to see them? She wasn't panicky like you should come in right now?"
"No, she was calm. She said it would be fine to wait."
"Okay, then I don't think you have anything to worry about. You're seeing your doctor tomorrow anyway and if you have *any* discomfort or fever tonight then you can just go in to prompt care. But I'm pretty sure your husband has said all the same things to you, hasn't he?"
"Yes. But I evidently ignored every word he said and went directly to the phone for your advice."
"You mean the way you used to do to me with Sara's advice?"
"Yep," she laughed, "just exactly like that."
Ladies and gentlemen, we have achieved full circle : )
Now if only I could get rid of that Chuck guy . . .
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
When walking around in any grocery store, it's considered polite to let the handicapped, the elderly and women with small children go before you, Mr. or Mrs. Regular Customer. For a grocery store employee, the code is a little more complicated than that. The sequence of who gets priority goes a little something like this:
- Handicapped with service dogs
- Handicapped in motorized carts
- Pregnant woman in her 3rd trimester
- Self-important SOB from nearby Island Community because, goodness knows, they own the very air we are privileged to breathe.
- Handicapped not in motorized carts
- and/or confused
- Mother with a child who needs to go potty RIGHT NOW
- Mother with a child who needed to go potty a moment ago and is now a wet, embarrassed, bawling mess
- Pregnant woman in her 2nd trimester
- Mother with an infant
- Mother with a 2-year-old
- Rogue 2-year-old
- 60-something woman with long gray hair and a blindingly pink velour track suit--don't look directly at the track suit!
- Customers who dawdle along, oblivious to anyone else in the world, sniffing all the handmade soaps and trying out the backscratchers with no concern whatsoever for the other people who exist in the same space and have either shopping or a job to do . . .
- Regular customers
- Employees taking out the garbage
Today, however, I made an executive decision and amended the rules. The card that trumps them all, the situation, no matter who is in the aisle and with what infirmity, that outweighs all other situations is: Employee Carrying Bag of Vomit.
Could my job *be* any more glamorous?
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Remember this little girl?
Well, she's grown a whole lot!
Hi again, Lily! Oh, wait--what does your shirt say?????
Yep! Our little Lily is going to be the big sister very soon! The new baby is due on May 30th. All the babies in the family have always been late--so I'm shooting for June 12th . . . which just happens to be my birthday! Beautiful isn't willing for any such date. Beautiful is willing for, mmmm, let's say sometime in late May. And that is all. Period. We'll just see : )
Oh, and guess what else?
And just one last picture because I am, after all, the Grammy and I am, after all, contractually obliged to shamelessly indulge : )
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Oh, that poor, stupid little bastard.
"First of all, Youngest, you're not having any dinner tonight. Secondly, here's a heads up for you: If a girl is ever cooking you a meal do not start a sentence with, 'You know what's really good?' You'll thank me later."
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Twenty five years of wedded bliss. Or as close to bliss as anyone in a relationship for 25 years can muster : )
Our favorite toast when we're out with friends is, "To whores!" There's a funny story behind that, as you could probably guess, but I'm going to leave that out for now and just tell you right up front that I had no intention of toasting to our wonderful life together using that particular sentiment.
That toast aside, we've been talking for a year about how we wanted to celebrate this truly Herculean feat. I wanted to go to Hawaii. Doug wanted to take a cruise. In the end, we decided we didn't want to commit that kind of money. We were just about to book a room for a couple nights at our favorite hotel at the ocean when Doug turned to me and said, "You know, it wouldn't cost too much more to go to Vegas instead."
He was right--airfare and a nice hotel didn't cost much more than spending the same number of days at the ocean. However, as we all know, add in the ground transportation, baggage fees, higher end restaurants, show tickets, rental car, tips for everyone and his brother, and it's a little more expensive after all. But at some point we stopped tallying the cost and decided that after 25 years together we could just relax and enjoy the ride.
And that is exactly what we did.
Also, as everyone knows, as long as you're in Las Vegas, you're pretty much obliged to get married. Only we're already married. So we opted for a vow renewal. Which is odd because it seems like such a hokey, saccharine thing to do--it's really not in my character to buy into that sort of thing. But buy into it, I did!
All I was really looking for was a moment between my husband and me at a pretty outdoor location. I wanted to wear a lovely dress. I wanted a bouquet (which I didn't have in our original ceremony) and pictures by a professional photographer (another item we didn't have 25 years ago.)
I looked online at a dozen little chapels and called the wedding coordinators at a number of the larger hotels. I couldn't get a photographer without also paying for the clergy, the witnesses, changing room, certificate, keepsake silk flowers and the rest of the tacky Vegas wedding trappings. We even dropped in on one of the little chapels at the far end of the strip to see if they'd cut us a last minute bargain. When I told the woman what I wanted, the first question out of her mouth was, "Do you want Elvis to officiate?"
Not. Even. Close.
In the end, we decided that we'd dress nicely, I'd have a bouquet, we'd choose an outdoor location, spend a few moments alone together and take photos with our own digital camera.
Surprisingly, it was Doug who picked a romantic location. He chose the observation deck of the fake Eiffel Tower at night with all the twinkly lights below us. Unsurprisingly, his choice was at least 50% attributable to the 50% off coupon he had for the Eiffel Tower elevator . . .
Surrounded by a bunch of other tourists oohing and ahhing over the lights and the Bellagio fountain show across the street, Doug and I stood aside to talk to each other about the past 25 years, the accomplishments, the disappointments, the changes, the kids, the grandkids, and the future.
Yes, I cried. A little. Or whatever . . . And Doug gave me a lovely silver ring. As he put it on my hand, he got a twinkle in his eyes and said, "To whores!" And I could do nothing but laugh because that sense of humor is exactly the reason I married this wonderful man and have stuck with him through all the good, the bad, and the everything in between.
This is my favorite picture of our trip. We were at Red Rock Canyon. I'm telling Doug how to operate the camera ("No, Doug--tilt the camera down a little or it will cut me off!") and he's intentionally cropping my mouth out of the photo. God love that man! I sure do : )
At the last minute our coach pulled out because she was concerned that the level of competition was way above our heads. And boy was she right! Instead of competing, we took a fantastic road trip to watch the meet. The girls who we watched were so far out of our league that they had a different zip code than our league. My teammate and I looked at each other with relief and gratitude for being saved from what would have been certain humiliation.
So. While I was trying to tell hubby of my near Junior Olympic moment, I accidentally said that when I was a kid I was slated to take part in the Special Olympics . . .
Yeah. I'm never going to hear the end of that one.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
A couple weeks ago, we lost a dear family friend: my car. My dependable, comfortable, fully loaded car.
The circumstances surrounding the death of my car are still unsolved. While it's clear that my car was slain in cold blood, it is yet uncertain as to why this tragedy occurred and whether it could have been avoided.
Had my car been parking beneath another tree? Did it come home late with foreign pollen on it's windshield?
We may never know.
All we do know is that it was ruthlessly butchered by the vengeful tree in our front yard. Sadly, a few innocent bystanders were also injured in the attack. Our daughter's car is in serious, but stable, condition. Hubby's truck, our boat and a classic car suffered minor injuries. The extent of Jet Ski A's injuries are undetermined. Jet Ski B and the jet ski trailer are not likely to survive.
Though the tree attempted to end its own life, it was not successful. However, the prosecuting attorneys (hubby and me) asked for the death penalty. The judge (our insurance company, and let's face it, insurance companies are the final authorities on everything anymore . . . ) concurred and has sent the tree to the chair, so to speak. The date of execution has yet to be released.
Pictures do not capture the true carnage, still, here are few photos from the crime scene. (Note: Out of respect for the victim, the graphic photo of the jagged branch stabbed through the back seat of the car has not been posted . . . )
These photos don't even *begin* to capture the true violence of this attack.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
I knew then that her diet was going to fail in short time just as certainly as I know now, twenty years later, that the girl is still fighting that battle. And I'm quite sure that inside her head there has been a catalog of justifications, bargains, excuses and plans.
Visualizing her slimmer frame, she's been telling herself, "in time for graduation . . . " "before my 10 year high school reunion . . . " "before the wedding . . . " "I'll start right after the holidays . . . " "after the baby is born . . . " "when the little one is in school full time and I can exercise regularly . . . " "before my 20 year high school reunion . . . " each time allowing herself to have that one final indulgence before getting serious and really doing it.
Having waged a similar campaign on and off over the last 10 years, I know better than "the last hurrah." It's an act I've never much participated in.
At work, five technicians and one pharmacist are going on the crazy-ass diet as of Monday, January 4. Since, once again, I allowed a few holiday pounds to make themselves a cozy home on my hips and thighs, I'm joining the madness and going on the diet with everyone else. And I've revelled in enough special treats lately that I won't be feeling any deprivation and, in fact, am quite anxious to start this regime in order to get back to healthier eating. I have had no "last hurrah" mindset. None whatsoever.
Still. All it took was working with Robbie on Saturday. He mentioned that he and Tracy would very likely eat fudge brownies on Sunday before buckling down to the rigors of the diet on Monday.
Fudge brownies. Mmmmm . . . fudge brownies . . . . It was all I could think about during the last couple hours of our Saturday shift.
By the time I clocked out on Saturday evening, I was famished. And I couldn't go home to eat dinner because I had to drop some things by my daughter's house first. Just to tide me over, it wouldn't hurt to eat a brownie or two in the car, right? A last hurrah, if you will . . .
Arriving in the bakery department, I realized the fudge brownies that I was craving so weren't cut into convenient pieces. Just a sheet of brownies in an aluminum pan. How could I eat a brownie while driving?
I did the unthinkable. I grabbed a fork from the salad bar. Yes, I drove in the dark, in the rain to my daughter's house while maneuvering a pan of fudge brownies and a fork. I knew without doubt that the paramedics would have no difficulty seeing what caused the accident I was surely destined to die in. There would be fudge smeared all over the smashed windshield and my face would be mingled blood, bone and chocolate.
"It was a classic 'Housewife Special', " they would tell the police officers. "Eating while driving," they'd say with authority.
I'm just going to pre-order my headstone now. It's going to say, "But she would have looked great after the diet!" I think that about covers it.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
My brother is that guy.
Now I can say he was that guy.
Almost a year ago he started a relationship with a wonderful, warm, faithful, giving woman. A woman worthy of my brother's kind and bountiful heart.
My brother, B, didn't even introduce his girlfriend to our family until August, so conservative was he with sharing the news that he had met someone who made him happy lest it all evaporate quickly as it had appeared.
The girlfriend has 3 children. Two are teenage girls who like B very much. The third is a 7 year old boy, Mikey. Mikey adores B. And the feeling is obviously shared.
For Christmas B built an electric train table for Mikey. Mikey ecstatically raced into the room--barely able to contain his joy! He looked and oohed and ahhed for a brief couple of moments before turning back around and making a bee line for B. Racing to B's side, Mikey spontaneously wrapped his arms around B and hugged him tight. B put his arm around Mikey's shoulders and hugged him back--an unheard of shower of affection from B.
I was immediately misty. That moment--that tiny, lightning quick moment was, for me, all the love and joy and familial warmth that is the meaning of Christmas.
I hope you all had a Christmas season filled with little moments.
Happy New Year!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Today at work, the tall, slender, pretty girl pharmacist and the slim technician with the nice rack were both looking at me. Said the willowy girl pharmacist while gazing in my direction, "I'd give anything for that body." "Yeah," the tech concurred.
They were talking about my hair.
Also, a couple days ago I wrote what I thought was a touching tribute to my mom's unflappable spirit and the giving heart of a teacher. It garnered almost no comments. Today I opened up my mail to find--yay!--another comment!
The comment was via robot. The equivalent of junk mail. But worse. Because it was from an escort service . . .
You see where this is going, yes?
Friday, December 11, 2009
The family was lucky to have food on the table. Anything else--be it toys or proper clothing--was considered great fortune. The only doll my mother remembers having was a sack of onions she packed around, wrapped in some scrap of fabric for a 'blankie'. With 10 mouths to feed, Dolly didn't last long.
Many Christmases my mom and her siblings each had a small present only because of local charity. The children didn't bother with any notion of a man called Santa Clause. A fact which slayed their father.
One very cold December when my mom was seven, the second grade teacher took Mom over her knee and spanked her (way back in the day when teacher meted corporal punishment was commonplace : ) for not wearing her snow boots to school in such miserable weather. It was only after the spanking that my mom had the chance to admit, with red hot shame, that she didn't wear her snow boots because she had none.
The teacher was taken aback. Of course she was.
A few days later on Christmas morning, inexplicably, at least to my mom's 7-year-old comprehension, in addition to the annual Benevolence League donation of candy, there was a pair of warm winter boots in bright wrapping just for her.
It was a hard time in a poor fishing town. Lots of families went without things that you and I would consider barbaric to live without today. No doubt that teacher had a dozen students, or more, with some pretty hard luck stories and on a teacher's salary she couldn't have fixed everything for them. But God bless her soul for having tried.
Does it look suspiciously like a dining room table covered in Mom's craft crap?
Those are pieces of old music carefully torn into 4 x 6" sheets with the the edges glued and glittered. I'm one of those people. I am a Christmas Themer.
This year's 'theme' is music. I had this lovely idea to use old music as the backdrop to our Christmas drama. The torn and glittered bits are to be strung as garland. For our tree I wanted to make the pieces of music into cone shapes or something--haven't quite fleshed out that idea yet. Nor will I get the chance to. Because Youngest has effectively put an end to my fun . . .
"Oh no. Not a theme!" he groaned.
"Yes! A theme! The theme is music--isn't that perfect for Christmas? Flocked tree, lots of silver and glitter with a little red and green for accent!" I chirped.
Youngest was unimpressed. Youngest is 14 and is unimpressed by everything . . .
"Can't we just have a normal, old-fashioned Christmas?" he whined.
"Hmm, okay, what does 'normal, old-fashioned Christmas' mean to you?" If it meant that much to him, I was willing to bend a little to make him happy.
"The tree with all of our regular ornaments on it? Not just the ones that fit your color scheme?"
Translation: All the tacky crap we've ever purchased or been given by anyone. Like the Luke Skywalker ornament. And the blown glass Buzz Lightyear. And the gumball machine . . .
"Okay, fine. Do whatever you want with the tree, but I'm going to have my garlands up on the windows."
"No!!! I don't want your theme all over the house!"
"Seriously? I'm trying to compromise with you. You get the tree the way you want it and I get the garlands. That's not good enough for you?"
Later, having forgotten that his mother is the most despicable creature on the Earth, he came to ask me advice on gift giving. Advice which he refused to take. I mentioned he's 14, right?
And speaking of Christmas gifts--Number One Son generously purchased tickets for Beautiful and me to go watch ice dancing at the Olympics. At the OLYMPICS!!! I am beyond excited.
I have to renew my passport in order to collect on this wonderful gift. Which means a new passport photo. UGH!!!! I am a seriously craptastic picture taker!
Tonight I went to Costco to have the photos done. I was wearing my nice leather jacket with a becoming, festive red scarf. I have a really fun new chic, short haircut. I looked great! But the camera was evil and didn't like me and made me look like a chubby, colorless 40-year-old mom.
To recap: My themed Christmas is a bust. My 14 year old--who is normally a delightful kid--is practicing his morose, languid, detached teen skills. And my older son gave me a huge downer for Christmas disguised as something I should have loved.
Yep. Sounds like a normal day around here : )
How are you all doing with your Christmas and other holiday plans?
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
My concern about his isolation stems from several e-mail and phone conversations. In one of which he reported to me that he'd spent the whole of the previous day in his sweats.
The next time I spoke to him, I asked what he'd been up to. "Have you been doing anything interesting lately? Getting out of the house much?"
Why yes, he in fact had gotten out of the house recently. He'd spent the afternoon doing errands with a friend. "Oh, good," I remarked, "that must mean you didn't spend the whole day in sweats!"
"Yes, I did!" he answered with not just a little bit of defensiveness. "But I wore nice sweats. They even have pockets. And a back pocket for my wallet."
"No," I was adamant, "I'm not going to let this go. Sweats in public? Not an option. Not if you have any hope of being found attractive by women. No. Not even if they're nice sweats or unstained, unripped sweats. Not even if they have pockets! (And by the way? Just because they have a back pocket for your wallet does not make them non-sweats . . . ) Not even if they are your dress sweats. Just no.
"You're a good looking guy, Dude, but most women do not find men in sweats attractive. Trust me on this."
"But I was wearing my nice leather loafers!" Dude countered. Seriously. That was his defense.
"Yeah? Leather loafers? And were you also wearing an ascot tie? And a jaunty cap? Because that would make it . . . STILL SWEATS! And still completely repellent to women!"
"I'm wearing my sweats again today," he said, and I could almost hear his lower lip jutting out as he said it : )
"So, how's that working for you?" I asked with sticky sweet mock concern in my voice, "Wearing sweats. No girlfriend. Correlation?"
"Probably a correlation between the sweats and something," he reluctantly capitulated.
"Ah well, at least you're comfortable, right?" Yes--straight for the jugular! I am such a good friend!
Funny, Dude hasn't called or e-mailed me since then. I wonder why?
Monday, November 30, 2009
Yeah, our lives are provocative and wild!
As we pulled into the driveway I cheerfully said, "Hey, thanks for the date!"
"Sure," he answered, "anything for my lady." And then we got out of the car and he started walking to the house well ahead of me.
"Wait!" I whined, "Aren't you going take my hand and walk me to the front door like you used to when I was 17? Like you used to when you were hoping for a kiss and maybe to touch a boob?"
"Nah," he laughingly answered, "I don't want a kiss, you've been eating garlic crackers. And nowadays I have my own boobs to feel."
Middle age. Awesome!
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Canned Black Olives + Vicodin = Higher Than Normal Threat of Divorce. That's a standard formula, right?
Thanksgiving bylaws are complicated. What can I say?
Consequently, we get no house full of Thanksgiving smell, no leftover turkey (no turkey sandwiches or turkey soup!) and no apple pie for breakfast over the weekend.
Eight or nine years ago I made my own damn tradition, thankyouverymuch, wherein I treat my hubby and kids to a scrumptious, gluttonous feast. The day before the real feast. Rendering the actual Thanksgiving Day dinner rather "leftoverish."
Don't you hate when your attempt to solve a problem only begets its own set of problems?
So. To remedy that issue, I vary from the conventionally accepted Strict Menu Of Thanksgiving, thus making Thursday's meal entirely different from my Wednesday meal. Except for the turkey. And the stuffing. And gravy. Cranberry sauce . . .
Also? I am not a fan of what Thanksgiving has become. I loathe pushing a cart through the grocery store late in November and finding that my basket has identical contents to every other basket I pass in the aisles.
- Sparkling cider? Check.
- Boxed stuffing? Check.
- Cans of pumpkin and evaporated milk for pumpkin pie? Check.
- Ingredients for "The Green Bean Casserole"? Check. Check. Check.
I diverge from the party line. I'm a rebel with my Thanksgiving menu. Gone rogue, if you will : )
While I was preparing our Thanksgiving Eve Thanksgiving Repast, hubby started opening a can of jumbo black olives and asked which dish I wanted to serve them in.
"I'm not serving olives." I answered, matter of factly.
"Why?" he was perplexed.
"Because they don't really go with the food I'm serving tonight."
"But we always have olives and pickles on the table at Thanksgiving," he counters. "Why do you have to be all 'fancy'?" And by 'fancy' he means, "This is different from the way my mom does things--therefore I don't like it."
"Not serving canned jumbo black olives qualifies as 'fancy' now?" I ask with not at all disguised contempt.
He continues opening his can of olives, puts them in a pretty bowl and sets them on the table. I seem to have lost that round. Bastard.
Later, when nibbling from the hors d'oeuvre dish, he quips that he needs to go check his Pilgrim Manual to make sure that pear/onion/cheese strudel was served in 1621. He's completely lost sight of my intention. I've lost another round. Bastard.
Oh, at this point I should probably tell you that I have a non life threatening, temporary medical condition and, since it's a holiday weekend and all, my physician has put me on constant and strong doses of Vicodin just to get me by. So my head's a little fuzzy. And I can't string two thoughts together, much less make a complex recipe or finish a conversation without looking around and asking, "What?" as though I've just entered the room and don't know what's going on . . .
My original idea was, instead of serving squash at the meal, to pay homage to the gourd family by making roasted pumpkin and garlic hummus. I put all the ingredients into the blender and it was all a yummy orange puree speckled with seasonings. Thank you, prescription narcotics, I got a little confused and poured my lovely blended concoction into a pie crust . . . I lost that round too and it wasn't even my husband's fault.
Later, while singing Comcast karaoke with the kids, I was 100% committed to belting out a song I love, Kryptonite, when I realized I really didn't know the lyrics and was singing completely different words. In a different key. With different timing. And they were all chuckling at me . . . "Take another pill, honey," my sweet mister mocked. He wins another round! Damn, that guy is good! El bastardo!
And when did this whole day become a competition anyway? Actually, let's face it, any day that is about family and celebration where a husband and a wife have different ideas about things, and where alcohol and/or medication are involved, naturally becomes a competition.
Can't wait til Christmas!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
A series of e-mails between me and my Aunt Candi who is hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year:
You and your family are cordially invited to have Thanksgiving dinner with us! If you can come, think about what you'd like to bring.
Thanks! I’m not picky about what to bring for dinner (okay, except I hate Jell-O : )
We feel the same about Jell-O. Guess what I'm assigning to your mom? :D
Are you looking for specific veggies or side dishes or are you wanting everyone to just bring what they have a wild hair to make?
(Hint: don’t give me too much leeway because I’ll pick a recipe I’ve never tried before, I’ll realize at the last second that I don’t have one of the essential ingredients, have to run to the store, start making the food an hour later than I need to in order to make it to your house on time and I will not have read the recipe all the way through and won’t realize it needs to chill for 4 hours and can’t be served the moment I finish making it . . . in my car . . . on the way to your house . . . )
The moral of the story here is: don’t trust me with anything of major significance : )
I suspect there is a grain of truth to your story as I seem to know exactly what you're talking about from my own personal experience!
I'm just working up the details of what we should have to eat. No hurry right? After all, I've got 3 whole weeks to figure out the details, clean the house, prepare food, oh, and clean the guest house because my younger son's girlfriend will be staying there a few days. We all know what is (or should I say isn't) going to get completed so, as usual, bring your dusting cloth!
I think the only requirement to make it a true Mouse Family Thanksgiving is pie. Fourteen different kinds of pie! Also, if I get around to it, I might supply peppermint schnapps and cocoa mix if that’s okay with you? I like a warm, sleepy drink after a tryptophan laced dinner : )
Best of luck with the planning and shopping and cooking and cleaning and cleaning the guest house and all that! Glad it’s you, not me : )
Schnapps and cocoa - that's a good idea! Oh, and the house cleaning is a little behind schedule. Because I've never met my son's girlfriend before. So I had to run right out and buy a new bra. You, of course, understand . . .
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Somehow we got to talking about intellectual giant, Levi Johnston, and it went south from there. Because really? Where else but south could it have gone?
a) I'm pretty sure the only people who read Playgirl are gay men. Ergo, the only people excited about seeing Levi Johntson's Playgirl spread are gay men. I can't fathom it. He's not all that great to look at. And maybe kinda dumb? Maybe it's not his brain they're excited about : )
b) According to a gossip website (which, I'm sure, is impeccable in its reporting) one of Kate Moss' favorite quotes is "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." That just irritates me. That's a *terrible* message to be putting out there for young girls! Both for the ones who will ruin their bodies, teeth and health obsessing over being Kate Moss skinny and for the ones who can never achieve that kind of skinny and will forever think they don't deserve to be happy because of it. Biotch!!!!!!!
a) And Levi's conservative and probably doesn't support gay rights so why would they want to look at a big, stupid, ignorant teenager who knocked up the daughter of what some people say is what's wrong with America?
b) That's a profoundly stupid quote by Kate Moss. Are we conceited much?
" . . . why would they want to look at a big, stupid, ignorant teenager who knocked up the daughter of what some people say is what's wrong with America? "
I think that's my favorite the quote of the year. And I'm totally blogging it : )
Thank you :) But seriously, it's true. I hope people aren't stupid enough to buy that Playgirl issue for the novelty or something.
Here is a list of people who should not be allowed to be interviewed ever again:
1)Carrie Prejean. Because she has completely embarrassed anyone who is opposed to gay marriage by her double standards, skankiness and all around stupidity. Any time the girl opens her mouth it's a train wreck.
2) John Gosselin. Need I say more?
3) Kate Gosselin. Not quite as bad as John but is talking about wanting a TV career when she's supposed to be Mommy Of The Year at home with her kids not out globe trotting and working so hard to make herself look better than her embarrassment of an ex.
4) Sara Palin. The woman made such a fool of herself and the Republican party and makes rednecks everywhere look bad. Same thing as Carrie, every time she opens her mouth it ends badly.
5) Levi Johnston. His only talent seems to be that he knocked up his teenage girlfriend. Okay, and his incessant whining. Why is he getting interviews? We do not care. So far, he has had nothing profound or remotely interesting to say and should not be famous! You know, the media jumps all over young mothers, especially ones in Hollywood, for taking teen pregnancy too lightly. But the only thing Levi has ever done to be noticed is to get a teenager pregnant so what kind of message is that sending?
All these people should step out of the public eye and go be good people. Or at least try not to daily embarrass themselves and our country.
Can I get a witness?!
*Editor's Note: Beautiful is concerned that she comes off as a negative whiner in this post because I cut out all the parts of this conversation where we talked about kittens and rainbows and unicorns. Trust me, she's not completely negative. Wicked funny, sarcastic and cutting, but in a happy, positive, life-affirming way.
Also? Add Tyra Banks to my list of people who should shut it already. Just sayin.