Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pool Time

The pool is officially open.

The older two girls were gone, but Sylvia, Gary, and I went for the inaugural first dip. Though to be precise, I have to confess that only my toes got in - at 70 degrees, the water is a mite chilly for me.

Sylvia, however, jumped right in. She said she was freezing, but she loved it anyway.

I love summer!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I am wondering if America got it right.

American Idol, of course. I like Kris. I became a fan about halfway through the season, when I figured out who he was. He was a quiet contender, consistently solid. Then he pulled something out of his sleeve and became very impressive.

Yet I fully expected Adam to win. Adam has a charisma that is very unlike Kris's. He is a bit more boisterous, more theatrical. And there were weeks - several weeks - when Adam was clearly the best performer - the best by a mile.

And while I like Kris - and voted for him, because he was the underdog - I wonder if Adam might have been the better choice. I am concerned that a) people voted against Adam because the judges had virtually declared him the winner weeks ago and, more importantly b) there might have been a "Christian backlash" against Adam, for Kris, because of Kris's reputed ties with his church and concerns that Adam might be gay.

All that said, however, and America didn't lose either way. They are both talented, and Adam will go far, regardless of whether or not he won. Plus Adam and Kris are friends, which was obvious watching the finale. Which, by the way, was great (especially if you watched the recorded version - zipping through any boring parts). I loved seeing Adam with Kiss, and I really loved Adam and Kris with Queen singing We Are the Champions - what a moment. The two men really are friends, and it was fun to watch, knowing that either one of them would truly be a winner.

Champions, indeed.


I am having a hard time giving a rat's ass about Jon and Kate.

To say I don't care sounds harsh. But I don't know them. And they are suddenly everywhere, those two with their marital problems and infidelity rumors. Which they are choosing to share with three million of their closest friends.

What I find most interesting about all this is her complaints about intrusion and how tough their life is. Yet they are the ones who invited the cameras in, who are using this television show and the exploitation of their family as a means of support.

You cannot invite the publicity in then complain that it is destroying your life - you can't have it both ways.

I don't watch the show and have no plans to. But it's hard to avoid the hype - it's everywhere I look.

Maybe those two need to turn off the cameras and lights (and yes, give up some of the cash), sit back, and figure out what is really best for their children.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Bag boy at supermarket:

I watch Fox News - it's my favorite. And I watch it because it's the only news station that gives both sides of the story. All those other channels, they just talk about how great Barack Obama is. I watch Fox so I can hear both sides.

Saying you watch Fox News is fine - you have every right to choose your news source. But to suggest that they are, in fact, "fair and balanced" is to be naive. I am a big fan of MSNBC (Keith! Rachel!) but I do know they favor one side more than the other. And I'm OK with this because they do not pretend otherwise.

For people to watch Fox because they like the right-wing slant but to pretend the bias isn't there is disingenuous. At least admit what you're seeing.


Have you ever heard of anyone dumb enough to leave their contacts in all night? To just forget to take them out before going to bed?

How dumb must one be to completely space that? And have absolutely no idea that's why their eyes feel so strange in the morning, have no idea why they can't see?

Really, how stupid is that? I've been asking myself that question all day long.


Sylvia was to have cleaned her bedroom yesterday. Went in at bedtime, and yikes! that room is a dis-as-ter. Crap everywhere. I asked her what was going on.

"It's an on-going process," she replied.

What a kid.


Gale the contractor & friends are here tiling my back splash. I have a large group coming over for Mah Jongg later today. Let's hope these two activities do not collide.


Many thoughts racing through my head, but no time to collect them. Instead, must start washing machine, must run some errands. Sigh.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Stuff That Bugs Me*

Stuff that bugs me? People who make up names for their family on their blog. They call their kids stuff like "Princess Zoot" or "Raspberry" or "Scudder." The spouse they call "Big Mama" or "The Wife" or "King Wa."

Feels contrived. You're writing about your family on the Interwebs. You really think that by giving them pseudonyms you're protecting their privacy?

(*Not a comprehensive list by any means - stay tuned ....)

American Idol: The Final Two

America, you got it right.

When Season Eight of American Idol started, my girls and I picked our favorites. We watched every minute of those auditions, seeing if we could pick out the winner.

We liked Danny and Jamar (and were so disappointed when Jamar didn't make it on the show); we liked Lil and Anoop and a few others that I can't even remember.

And when they named the top 36, I didn't even notice that kid named Kris Allen. I thought he was a total throw away, assumed each of those early weeks that he would go soon.

Then I started to listen to him.

When he did that James Taylor song early on, I took notice. Then he sang "Ain't No Sunshine," and I was firmly in the Kris camp. And that rendition of "She Works Hard For the Money" turned me completely around - this guy has some serious talent.

Did you hear what he did with "Heartless"? I didn't know the original, but I've gone back and listened and Randy was right - this is so much better than the original. Every week this guy blows me away.

Kris rocks.

Which isn't to say I don't like Danny and Adam. Danny is OK, but his schtick was sort of the same week after week - not risky, not that interesting, what with his drunken-frat-boy-at-ex-girlfriend's-wedding dance moves.

And Adam is good, no doubt. He has mad charisma (oh my god, I'm channeling Randy now ... ) and sings the hell out of everything. So he will be tough to beat - with good reason. For my money, though, I think Kris has more real talent.

It's a different type of talent, that's for sure - but one singer can't satisfy all of us. Adam may, in fact, encapsulate more of what people want in their American Idol. Which is OK by me - he's a talented guy.

But for me, it's all about Kris. He came out of nowhere and captured our attention. Whether he gets the title of American Idol or not, he's a winner.

Let's see how fast I can text in my votes next week.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My day could have sucked so much more

It's a lovely crowd you see at the courthouse first thing in the morning.

But what can I say - I was part of that crowd.

I confess: I was there to pay a traffic ticket. Not one of my proudest moments. But you suck it up and do what you have to do, huh?

I tried, in vain, to avoid this trip. I read the ticket (OK, two tickets - but it could have been three) carefully, trying to figure out if I could just go in. Because the computer was not working, the tickets were hand-written (!) and hard to decipher. All I could read for certain was that 8.30 a.m. court date.

I even went online to try to pay. It appeared to be working, then timed out. When I went back, the option for online payment had disappeared. So I figured I had to go appear in traffic court.

So I did it. The ATM ran out of cash, so I was worried that I would run into problems paying. I was panicky - I could only find a 20-minute parking space, and the last thing I wanted was another ticket - and nervous (this was so embarrassing). And I felt so out of place in line - in ordinary jeans, I was dressed nicer than almost anyone there - I say almost because I thought I saw two prosecutors talking together, then realized the one woman was, like me, guilty of traffic violations (maybe just one in her case). "Appearing in court" actually seems to mean standing in line, chatting with the prosecutor, then being directed to a cashier.

So I went in to pay, with much chagrin (as if the cashiers really care), and to my surprise and delight, it said my online payment had gone through. I don't have to go to driving school. I could have been spared my humiliating trip downtown. And the whole thing took only 20 minutes, thus no ticket on my car. And, to top things off, when I got home, there was a message that my cabinet doors were ready at the glass place.

So, all in all, it could have been so much worse. Let's just hope it's a scene I don't have to revisit for a long, long time.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Mothers Day

On Mothers Day, my girls (with a little help from their dad) make a big deal of properly fĂȘteing me. This year, for example, they made me waffles for breakfast, took me to brunch after church, showered me with gifts (small ones, but gifts, no less), took a long walk downtown with me after lunch (to check out the new city art project), and let me lie on the couch and read while they unloaded the dishwasher and tidied the kitchen.

It does not get better than that.

But this year, I am thinking of my own mother and all I learned from her. Because clearly, had it not been for her example, I would be no kind of mother myself.

Years ago, in a book group, I read The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan. The discussion that evening turned to what we didn't know about our mothers. In the novel, the protagonist's mother had a whole life in China of which her daughter was completely unaware. The hostess told a story about an event in her own mother's life that she only learned of through another relative. And it made us all think about how our mothers were full and complete women before they ever became parents.

Sometimes, that's hard to see - and not only as children, but as adults. We see our mothers as existing solely for us. We don't think about their needs, their desires, their dashed dreams. When we're small they don't even have names of their own (her name is Mommmy), much less ambitions or plans that don't involve us.

My parents were young parents - not uncommon at all for the early 1960s. They were married in their early 20s and had a newborn by their first anniversary. I am the second born, and even the third child was born while they were still in their grad student days - my dad was working on his doctorate at the University of Nebraska, they lived in married student housing, and my mother worked. Sounds hard, but they've both commented that those were happy times. And why not - they were surrounded by friends their own age, all in the same circumstances. Rather than complain about what they lacked, they celebrated it.

My mother followed my dad in his career - once again, not uncommon. She took care of us, but she also worked. She stayed home for a time after my youngest brother was born, and then, when he was about 2, she decided to go back to school to finish her degree. She hadn't finished when she was younger - once again, not uncommon. So when I started fourth grade, she, too, went back to school.

Mostly what I remember about those days is how unremarkable they were. Meaning, my life did not change a lot. She was a full-time student, but our lives were affected very little. She still seemed to do all the housework (I don't recall my dad helping out that much), did the shopping, the laundry, and cooked dinner every night (not a lot of eating out was going on). She had some night classes, yet I was still driven to piano lessons and girl scouts; my brothers had basketball practice and play dates.

Though I do remember her studying, spending hours reading and typing up her class notes in the office she had set up in the corner of her bedroom.

She even had time to help out at school - at my fourth grade class Christmas party, she was there, serving cookies and punch, handing out the favors - snowmen made of marshmallows, wearing tiny top hats, that I know she made. Thirty of them.

She made mostly A's. She finished her degree a few years later, graduating with honors.

I could share hundreds, thousands of anecdotes about the kind of mother she was. Some would portray her in a flattering light; some ... well, not so much. Like most parents, she wasn't perfect. But who among us is? We all have to figure out how to handle this job without any experience. We go on what our mothers taught us, be it good or bad, even when the children we get are so varied, and the times in which we live are ever changing.

She taught me, along with how to deal with my own children (results still pending on tha one), how to be a daughter, as I watched her deal with her aging parents. This is a task she did mostly alone, as both her parents were ill at the same time and she is an only child. She handled it by herself, watching four children while my dad finished up a year overseas. And if she complained, I never heard it.

She was my go-to person when I needed a paper typed. She was not always patient with me, but I think she tried. And when I can catch her in the right mood, she shares stories of when she was not always such a well-behaved child herself - stories that make me smile and do help me fill in the blanks as to what kind of person she really is.

But my very favorite thing about her? What I remember the most? It's when I left a book I was reading on the coffee table. It was a novel based on a movie I had seen. The story was not bad, really, but the novel did contain several very graphic sex scenes. I had left it on the table, and my mother read it. When she was done, she told me she had liked the story, found it very interesting. There were some scenes she didn't think were necessary, but in general it was good.

I could have been mortified that she knew I had read that. Instead, the message I got was that I never had to hide what I was reading. I never had to worry that I would be reprimanded, that I would get in trouble. She talked to me, let me know she had read it, too, and that it was OK. It's a message I never forgot, and one I've passed on to my own daughters.

I love this photo - my mother is on the left, then my dad, then me, my Grandma Dorothy, and my brother John. My mom is hard to see - the old photo is so faded after all these years. She isn't in a lot of our family photos - she always hated having her picture taken. But in this one, she is smiling. It doesn't show up well in this image, but in the original it is clear. Childhood, for most of us, isn't perfect. But it's reassuring to look back all these years later and be able to remember it this way - like the image in a faded photo, where all the disappointments have faded away, and only the happier memories remain.

Which is how I like to look back on the example my mother set for me, now a parent myself. I prefer to overlook the shortcomings and remember the positive things she taught me.

Happy Mothers Day, Mom.

Saturday, May 09, 2009


Today I took Sylvia shopping. Fun time - just the two of us.

Now I am painting Sylvia's room (well, at this moment I'm on a break). I am also listening to my book club book on CD. Icky stuff, all about Chinese foot binding. Shudder.

Then, later this evening, I am off to the Lesbian Garden Party with a group of very fun friends.

All in all, a great Saturday.