August 31, 2008

Copied from an Email, but wonderful!

Mental Feng Shui
~There's some mighty fine advice in these words, whatever your beliefs.~

ONE. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.

TWO. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.

THREE. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.

FOUR. When you say, 'I love you,' mean it.

FIVE. When you say, 'I'm sorry,' look the person in the eye.

SIX. Be engage d at least six months before you get married.

SEVEN. Believe in love at first sight.

EIGHT. Never laugh at anyone's dreams.
People who don't have dreams don't have much.

NINE. Love deeply and passionately.
You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely.

TEN. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.

ELEVEN. Don't judge people by their relatives.

TWELVE. Talk slowly but think quickly.

THIRTEEN. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer,
smile and ask, 'Why do you want to know?'

FOURTEEN. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

FIFTEEN. Say 'bless you' when you hear someone sneeze.

SIXTEEN. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

SEVENTEEN. Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; and Responsibility for all your actions.

EIGHTEEN. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

NINETEEN. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

TWENTY. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.

TWENTY- ONE. Spend some time alone.

August 26, 2008

I've Got the Music in me...

Music is one of the most enduring pieces of the collage that is my life. Music reaches into the depths of my being and reverberates the mood of the moment. Or sometimes initiates a new mood. There are songs that immediately take me to a place hidden in the recesses of my memory banks. The first few bars transport me to that time and place.

I'm one of those moms who makes her children take music lessons. I can sing and play piano reasonably well enough to bring myself hours of pleasure. I'm no professional, but by understanding the work that goes into making music, I have an appreciation for it that a casual listener may not. I am in awe of good musicians, whether their instrument is guitar, piano, or their voicebox. I don't need my children to fulfill a dream I never achieved, I just want them to share my love of music.

Some of my favorite memories are when we sing along to something in the car. Or when they laugh at my music and I think, yeah, I did that too. But years from now, they'll hum it and wonder how they know that song so well. I learned to appreciate Elvis Presley, Peter Paul and Mary, and (scary) disco music. That was part of Papa Fresh's midlife crisis. Give me Donna Summer and I see Papa in Movin' On jeans, gold chains, dancing like nobody was watching and having the time of his life.

Today, however, we said goodbye to our piano teacher. Gleefully. You see, I didn't pay him to come and perform for us every week. If I wanted a front row seat to a show, I would have bought concert tickets. He's a nice person, but honestly, after several weeks of hearing him announce "this is how I would do it" and take over the piano, I realized that he was simply a performer, not a teacher. Sort of the opposite of the saying, those who can't do, teach. Those who can't teach, do?

Fortunately, our guitar teacher doesn't suffer from that same issue. He is in a band, and I'm sure he is an amazing performer (plan to find out next week), but he doesn't use lesson time as a forum to impress. He realizes that if he isn't a household name, there are a thousand other guitar players just as talented. He tries to share his skills and knowledge. Instead of intimidating the mini Freshes with never being as good as he is, he encourages them to improve.

I found myself muttering aloud about the piano teacher the other day, and cursed for the first time in front of them. I said, "He thinks he is King Shit of Turd Mountain". They burst into peals of laughter so intense I thought they would explode. And it was music to my ears. Their laughter. Yeah, I've got the music in me.

August 23, 2008

A year wiser?

Tomorrow is the anniversary of my birth. I'm a 1966 model, so I will be turning 42. According to the Hitchhiker's Guide, I am officially the answer to any question in the universe.

In Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 42 is the number from which all meaning ("the meaning of life, the universe, and everything") could be derived.

A BBC radio script based on Adams' book contains the following lines:
("Cave man" lays out following sentence in Scrabble stones: "What do you get if you multiply six by nine?")Arthur: Six by nine? Forty-two? You know, I've always felt that there was something fundamentally wrong with the Universe. (Faint and distant voice:) Base thirteen!

For the literal-minded and those unfamiliar with terms like "base thirteen," this is a number system in which the number 10 is equivalent to our more familiar decimal 13. A base-13 number 42, therefore, is the same as four 13s plus 2, or decimal 54. So "six by nine" (six times nine) or decimal 54 is, in base 13, 42. For the mystically inclined, 42 in base 13 is the same as 110110 in binary (base 2). This could mean almost anything, and many Adams fans have spent untold hours discovering all of the places where the number "42" pops up. For example, there are many mentions of the number in the Book of Revelation. Others have made a game of finding 42s, such as these:

The angle at which light reflects off of water to create a rainbow is 42 degrees.
Two physical constants in the universe are the speed of light and thediameter of a proton. It takes light 10 to the minus 42nd power seconds to cross the diameter of a proton.
The sum of the ordinal alphabetic positions of the initials (SPG) for Stan (P.) Gibilisco, an oft-published science and technology writer, is equal to 42 (S=19, P=16, G=7).
A barrel holds 42 gallons.

(It should be noted that all of these 42s are base 10, not base 13.)

The pressure is daunting. I've always relied maintaining a degree of naivete and deferring to others (others includes "the Internet") for the tough answers. I have less than 24 hours to maintain that posture, then responsibility for having answers kicks in. I probably should consult with the Mini Fresh, because last time I checked, she knew everything. Evidence of this academic prowess is contained in her two word reply to everything I utter, "I know."

Maybe she is like Max Tivoli, and has aged backwards. Started at 55 and now is 42?

August 22, 2008

Nature Photos

August 21, 2008

Irrelevant and Annoying News

Newsworthy. (n.d.). Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved August 21, 2008, from website
of sufficient interest to the public or a special audience to warrant press attention or coverage

I've been disappointed in what has masqueraded as headlines the past few weeks. Two particular items of "news" have been especially bothersome.

I'm saddened that our media thinks John Edwards' affair is newsworthy. Not for the reasons you'd imagine, however. What bothers me is the insensitivity towards Elizabeth Edwards. How must that make her feel as she continues her courageous battle with cancer to have her husband's infidelity splashed all over the media? It breaks my heart to think that aspect was never even considered before spilling their private issues all over the television and print screens. He is out of contention, no longer a candidate, and his personal choices are anything but interesting to me. Other than the people sitting back clucking their tongues with "I knew he was shady and too slick" (as if shady and slick also indicate unfaithful?), I fail to see why we needed to know that he cheated on his wife.

Somewhat related to this are the statistics, about 60 percent of men and 40 percent of women will have an affair at some point in some marriage "Monogamy Myth", Therapist Peggy Vaughan. Additionally, 50 percent of Americans say President Clinton's adultery makes his moral standard "about the same as the average married man,'' according to a Time-CNN poll. 61 percent of Americans thought adultery should not be a crime in the US. With these statistics in mind, I have to question WHY it's newsworthy, if John Edwards is keeping with the majority, and 61 percent of Americans don't think it's criminal. Sure what he did was wrong morally, but it should be judged in the privacy of his marriage. It's not news.

The other story that is bothering me is about Michael Phelps father. He's not part of the picture. Period. He hasn't been part of the picture since Michael was 9. Is tracking him down useful to either Michael or him? He has nothing to do with Michael's success other than donating sperm about 23 some years ago. He is not newsworthy, and he is about the only one who seems to recognize that as reporter after reporter has contacted him. He said, this isn't about me. Most common sense refusal to talk I ever heard.

Of course, were common sense common, everyone would have it. From the people seeking the stories, to those providing them, to those broadcasting them and those who listen and want more. And bloggers who write about how much they hate such news stories. *smile*

August 19, 2008

Keeping Track of Love

When I first began blogging here, I started with an exaggerated statement about being in love 20 times. Then I challenged myself to think of 20 times, so I could back up my exaggeration. But being the trash talker that I am, I challenged myself to 100, a Ben Franklin-ized amount of love.

At last count, I had written about 5 loves.

I'm far behind on my loving. In somewhat chronological order (unless I forget one and have to digress), I'm going to list the next 15 times I was in love, then I only have 80 to go.

6. The first boy who was brave enough to ask me to dance at the Jr. High after school dance. The lights were low, the girls giggling on one side of the room, the boys posing on the other. He was nervous. I pretended to make fun of him for the benefit of my girlfriends, but only so they wouldn't feel bad that nobody asked them to dance. I secretly was thrilled.

7. The first boy who risked roller skating with me at Skateland. He was good. Me not so much. The entire slow skate he kept saying, "You're going to fall, aren't you?" and held me a little closer. Yeah, I fell. Until the next slow skate when he did NOT ask me.

8. My first job when a boy named Mike would always make sure he bagged at my register. I loved him until he asked me where the "Lean Cuzzins" went. He meant Lean Cuisine. Yeah, even then I was a bit elitist. Sorry, Mike. My cuzzins aren't so lean.

9. The shy football star in my Latin class. He was so handsome and so quiet. I think he didn't know how to handle being a school celebrity. He would ask me for help on some of the tough assignments. I spent two years gazing at his shaved head, wondering what was going on inside it. Please don't tell me nothing.

10. The star of our HS musical. He was the Skye Masterson and every girl wanted to be Miss Sarah when he sang about "Luck be a Lady".

11. My last summer before college, a sweet boy on the beach helped me chase a runaway kite and we spent our nights sitting on the boardwalk wondering if we could see the same stars back home. We could.

12. My first real boyfriend, when I got back home from the beach. Still in the glow of my summer sweetheart, he worked with me at a store. His first words to me will never be forgotten. Wheeling a cart of lawn poison past my counter, he said, "I'm selling poison, how much would you like?" Strangely, it worked. I bought his poison and much more for the next two years.

13. I'm superstitious. There is no 13th entry.

14. The little old man who came through my line at the store and held his wife's hand. He told me the secret to his happy marriage was to always treat his wife like his girlfriend. He always offered me a mint. I wonder if my breath was bad, or he was just being sweet. I hope it was just him being sweet. Either that or he was concerned I may not be kissed?

15. The following summer. My first real boyfriend and I were on hiatus and I met another boy at the beach. Are we sensing a theme here? It was chaste and pure because I was heartbroken, and this sweetheart waited an entire year until I wasn't heartbroken.

16. The BMOC at college. His confident swagger and certainty of ruling the world had all of us captivated. I used to tease him about his harem, but secretly wanted to be part of it.

17. Am I almost done yet? Criminy. Shifting gears. My college roommate and I. We both were without boyfriends that first year in the dorms and we bought each other Valentine's. She remains the sister I never had and I cherish our friendship. Yes, I'm in love with my friend. Still am.

18. My political science professor. He encouraged me to think outside the box and to reach for the stars. I touched a few and may never had if I hadn't been told I could. Sometimes it's that simple, just reminding someone what is within reach.

19. My creative writing professor. The only way to get an A in his class was to have something published in a real magazine. I didn't get an A that quarter, but I never stopped trying. I would have an A today. I'm so grateful, and yes, I loved both of them.

20. Mr. Fresh. I don't even think I have to explain why the man I married is on my list of loves.

Now I just have to fall in love 80 more times.

August 18, 2008

Liquidation of Stuff

Within the past year, our family relocated. We didn't move too far away, only 90 miles, but it was far enough that we had movers load our "stuff" and unload it. We filled a truck with "stuff". The movers told us that on average, people accumulate 1000 lbs. worth of stuff for every year they are together. Doing the math, that means we had approximately 18,000 lbs./ 9 tons of stuff.

Anyone who has ever moved, knows that the mountain of boxes never really diminishes, and I've learned to step around boxes of stuff. Every so often, over the past 6 months, I have gone crazy looking for something, "that I know I have somewhere", and gotten frustrated and gone and bought it, only to find it the following week. Specifically, my staple gun is one example.

In November, it will be a year since we boxed our stuff and moved it from one locale to the next. I still probably have over 20 boxes of stuff that I've managed to live without for nearly 10 months now. I have decided to have a garage sale. An "I have no idea why we moved this stuff" sale. I've got a mound of books, outgrown clothes, shoes that are uncomfortable, no longer stylish throw pillows, and a myriad of dishes and glassware. We also have soccer shoes that no longer fit, cookbooks that I bought for one recipe that wasn't so good after all, and piles of draperies that just weren't my taste when we moved into this new house. I'm not sure if I should thank them for leaving them behind. I don't think that will be necessary.

I thought I had done well. A few years back, we had a possible transfer that didn't take place and so I began to live like we were moving back then. I don't have very much baby stuff or toddler stuff. I cannot even imagine if I had that to liquidate as well. It's a well known fact that Little Tykes makes nothing little. I've tried to motivate the Mini Freshes to liquidate as well. I'm certain that their days of giant blocks and play dough have passed. They disagree. Though when I told them they could get MONEY instead of stuff, they suddenly found stuff to sell. They also discovered long forgotten toys, like a Spirograph that had been mine. That is NOT going, by the way.

I displayed a collection of vintage copper pots, pans, and the sort in my former kitchen. There is no place for it here. I spent hours scouring flea markets and estate sales to gather my collection, now it sits in a box in the basement, gathering spiderwebs and dust. The only way to display it would be to buy "more stuff" for the purpose of displaying "stuff". But will I lose the pleasure I spent seeking my finds, just because I no longer have the finds?

I'm debating whether to get rid of old VHS tapes and cassettes. I'll never part with my vinyl (I don't know why! Sentimental?) though I am considering selling my CDs. The hardest part is letting go of the amount that I have invested and just realize I no longer need to invest my hard earned space and freedom. Most any media is now available digitally, so it would inspire me to come into the millennium with technology. But would it even sell? Probably not. Maybe one CD here, one there. I wonder if it would be better to just sell the entire lot on Ebay. Take it all, and promise not to laugh when you discover every CD by Barry Manilow or the American Idol Season 4 CD.

I'm trying to liberate my self from stuff, but somehow, I just cannot completely let go. What are some things you absolutely "must have" and what would be easy for you to live without?

August 14, 2008

Our Prize!

Wound up being a completely intangible one.

Yeah, we won the five gold(en) collectible coins. They cannot be spent anywhere, but they are shiny and embossed with John Quincy Adams.

But what we won was a few hours of hopes and dreams. A few hours of thinking anything could and may happen. A few hours of thinking, it's all possible.

I wonder what sort of world it would be if everyone took more than a few hours, but maybe every moment believing anything could happen. The world is filled with possibility. When was the last time you believed in something?

August 13, 2008

You May Already Be A Winner!!!

Yesterday, in the mail, since it was ad day, came an advertisement with a scratch off circle and a key. It was from a local car dealer, giving away a car. Naturally, the mini Freshes, especially after spending a week listening to "some other guy who isn't their dad or my spouse" complain about the minivan, winning PersonTheyNormallyCallDad a new car would be pretty amazing.

They did what any two children under 13 would do. They bickered about who was going to scratch off the circle. They agreed to each scratch half. Which revealed a cryptic code, that was supposed to match a code inside the flyer if you were a winner. It did. Then they bickered over who would get to try the key. Then I took the flyer away and announced I would be checking the key, since I was the only one old enough to drive.

Oops. What did I do? Yes. I agreed to take them to the car dealer since we may already be a winner to turn the key on our possibly new car. Clearly, I'm old enough to know that "nobody" wins these things. But I too, was a fan of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and know, that indeed, SOMEBODY does. Somebody has to win that new car. So the Stealth FreshFemales in our family hid the advertisement so ThatPersonWhoDoesn'tReallyGripeAboutCars may have the chance to be surprised. We're heading to the dealership this morning.

I remember when I was little and I believed in magic and luck and the invincibility of chances. If you had a chance, it was as good as winning. I don't think that is such a bad thing to encourage. So with our winning key, we're sneaking out. They've already planned the surprise way to tell Dad he won. We'll be covering the car with a sheet and pretending the minivan shrunk. Or something like that. It was so exciting to hear them planning the surprise that I admit, I'm caught up in it. I think that is the most magical part of all. The contagiousness of enthusiasm.

I did have the Minis go through the fine print, where we learned we ARE guaranteed a prize, but it probably won't be a car. We may have won also a large screen television (they argued about whose room it would go in), I voted for the playroom. We may have won $100. School shopping. No need to argue there. We may have won 5 collectible coins. I'm betting it's the coins. But then again, it may be a car.

Why not?

August 12, 2008

Eat, Sleep, Swim (eat pray love?)

Have you been watching the Olympics?

Normally, I take only a cursory interest in any sort of sports, enough to make polite conversation, since I know what a widely shared cultural experience sporting events are. I've not been much of an avid sports fan since The Cleveland Browns left town, even though the team came back. That was the moment in my life when I realized, it's a business; the business of entertainment. Most athletes don't turn on the TV to watch me pair socks or grocery shop, nor do I have an obligation to watch them do their jobs. I don't dislike sports, in fact I consider myself a fan. Just not a fanATIC. I prefer to find other ways to spend my time.

I know, I know, this is The Olympics. The "amateurs". Those who are only playing for love of the sport. Oh, and endorsement contracts. Cynical? Perhaps.

So, anyway, I've been tuning in. And I'm enjoying what I see, especially with the internet so handy. "What IS that black thing on Kerri Walsh's shoulder"? Oh, it's some sort of new agey healing bandage. Cool.

I watched the men's synchronized diving last night. Holy cow! I don't even like to go into the water head first, let alone from a million miles in the air after doing 20 sommersaults, and 17 twists. AND COORDINATED with a partner no less! Cheesiness aside, that was pretty amazing. I also watched the men's gymnastics. Unreal the amount of strength and balance.

No commentary would be complete without a nod to Michael Phelps. The man is a swimming machine. I cannot help but wonder though, after hearing his biography, what sort of life does an Olympic athlete have? Are they so single minded in their chosen sport, that they have no outside interests? Mr. Phelps, who is likely to eclipse Mark Spitz as the greatest swimmer evah, does nothing but Eat, Sleep, and Swim. Pages of his biography include "what he eats". I found myself feeling sorry for him (as well as some of the other amazing athletes I watched, assuming their lives/habits are similar). He talked about how loud his dog snores and how he likes to watch TV when he's not swimming 6 hours/day.

At what price does his success come? Is there ever an off season? What will he do if he ever cannot swim? What happens to guy #2? What happens if Michael Phelps gets a silver or bronze and not a gold? Is that failure? I wish him well in his quest and in the aftermath. I suspect it won't be long before the endorsements roll in.

August 11, 2008

Vacation Photos

Se(a) the Green
Racing with Seagulls (the gulls won)

That Wile E. Coyote in the Sand dunes on a secluded part of the beach

Guess this photo won't go to show and tell

Dear Mr. Minivan Borrower

*any resemblance to my spouse, Mr. Fresh, is purely coincidental*

Hello, Darling.

I feel your pain. I really do. 350 days/year, it’s mine. For two weeks a year, I hand you the keys and it becomes yours. I understand how driving a minivan annihilates any last vestige of cool. It negates the midi “Bad to the Bone” ringtone on your Blackberry and it wipes out the “I shave my head not because I’m bald but because it makes me look like a rockstar” look. I realize that driving a minivan screams estrogen. I’m sorry.

Click to purchase Garmin sat navI’ve already been through the 12 step “I’m no longer cool” program. Of course, I have the eyerolls and stares of our children to remind me on a regular basis. I knew when I no longer merited effort behind The Eyeroll, but received instead The Glare, I had been promoted to Advanced Dorkiness. In fact, it’s so much more rewarding to KNOW I’m embarrassing the children instead of delusional thinking that I am a Cool Mom.

Since I’ve embraced my dorkiness with fervor, I thought I would offer a few pieces of unsolicited advice. This is also part of my Master’s Thesis in Dorkdom.

While I realize that along with the minivan keys, I gave you title to the road, a license plate bracket that says, “I own the road” gives no credence to your ownership. Also, you are required to be a benevolent owner. This means sharing the road with all those tree hugging compact cars. It also means respecting the SUVs, semi trucks, and cool sports cars on the highways.

I know you want to make good time. I want to make good time, too. However, crowding the vehicle that is keeping you from “making good time” does nothing but make me a nervous wreck. Neither does revving your minivan engine. If anything, revving the engine of a metal box that is encumbered with 4 bicycles dangling off the back and an “EsCargo” bubble on top, merely cements your Dork degree. It’s like your application letter to the University of Dorkiness.

I personally welcome you to the program. When you have successfully embarrassed the children 10 days in a row, you will be admitted to the higher level classes. As a candidate for a degree, you must be willing to sacrifice all self consciousness. This means we may have bumper stickers advertising where our children are honor students. I promise to draw the line at an "I <3 My Dog". As a reward, once you have earned your full accreditation in Dorkiness, you can graduate the PhD program of Midlife Crisis, where your initial course class is How to Trade in the Minivan for a Red 5-Speed, Two Seat Sports Car or a Motorcycle.

Good Luck, and enjoy your time at U of D.

August 2, 2008

Building the Perfect Beast

subtitle: Vacation time

We're doing final preparations for the American Iconic thing known as the family vacation. Every summer we rent a beach house with another family. We have gotten so good at this, I can prep with my eyes closed. Or something like that. If my eyes were closed, I'd probably tumble down the stairs and broken limbs tend to ruin a beach vacation.

I'm borderline OCD, because I'm somewhat addicted to my creature comforts, so last year, I made a "beach box" and "inventory list" of all the things we take on a regular basis. I love to cook, so I have duplicates of all my favorite gadgets (in case the house doesn't have them) and a list of spices to remember. We have a small market there that will pre-shop our grocery order so that we just pick it up on the drive in.

We always make souvenir tie-dye shirts, although in recent years that has expanded to bandanas, dresses, and hats... and we have all the supplies for that ready to go. One year we had a photo of all the kids in a row wearing shirts that said "We" "Know" "We" "Match". The two we's however, thought it would be much more amusing to stand side by said and be a "wee wee". That was the last year we did writing on our shirts. Live and learn.

Another tradition is the "happy hour". Our preteens think we invented the word. We usually did a theme happy hour, until we asked the "we we" kids what they wanted. Since potty humor remains a staple of their comedy routine, they requested tinkle and poop. We thought we'd teach them a lesson and served lemonade and tootsie rolls. It was an abyssmal failure. There just weren't enough margaritas to compensate.

We've perfected the art of doing nothing. It takes a lot more work than you'd imagine to do nothing. I will read, sun, and swim. The biggest stress of the day will be what level of SPF and what to grill for dinner.

Ta ta for now. Have a good week!


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