November 28, 2008

The Menace of Electric Cars

Up until today I've been really excited about the prospect of electric cars. For the obvious reasons, of course. I love that we can break our dependence on fossil fuels. I especially love how quiet they are.

My first experience with electric cars was when I was waiting for a client of mine and walked out to meet him when I saw him coming down the road. He pulls up next to me and I thought his car had stalled and he was coasting in. The only sound it was making was the crunching of the tires on the gravel. Oh, to drive a car that rides the wind like a whisper.

Yeah, until today. Today I nearly had a body part amputated by one of those stealth Bringers of Pain. I was in the parking lot of Lowe's loading paint into my car and this woman comes up and opens the door of the car next to mine. I didn't think much of it. She slid into the car and I wasn't being particularly careful because I figured I was safe until I heard the car start.

I proceed to back my hindquarters out of the car, whipping around to slam the door shut when I see the front end of her car swinging around to greet me like a long-lost lover angling in for a hot embrace. She, of course, is looking the other way. I freeze, bewildered for a moment because the car is moving, silently and swiftly, and about to amputate my ass. Or at least maybe my foot. I think she missed me by only three inches.

So, I realize that in all the hubbub of the electric cars being the panacea for the environment and the economy, nobody is talking about butt amputation AT ALL and I think someone should be. I envision old ladies and the blind being knocked flying through intersections, small children being flattened like pancakes by well-meaning
hippiesyuppies hopped up on grande mochas.

Where is Ralph Nader when you need him?

Those NPR Voices

Earlier while I was on the road, I had the radio tuned into NPR and started wondering, do people who broadcast on National Public Radio go to a special school to attain those mellifluous tones with which they all speak? Lately I'm hooked on NPR and I think it might just be those voices. They have a warm, soothing quality that energizes the mind yet keeps one from getting all excitable enough to do something reckless like change lanes without using your turn signals. I can't imagine anyone who is tuned into NPR would ever have an incident of road rage.

When I listen to NPR, I find myself wishing the broadcasters were my best friends. You know, the types of pals I'd invite over for dinner for some interesting new ethnic recipe, some wine (I don't even drink wine), maybe a groovy light jazz in the background. I can see myself laughing (mellifluously) as they review the latest book they are reading or leaning forward earnestly to hear their interpretation of a recent event.

I snapped out of this reverie when a smoke-belching white 1970-something Vega with big wheels and a lift kit whips in front of me and slams on its brakes. It made me so mad I had to turn off NPR just so I could honk at him. I'm not sure what was worse... his driving or WHAT he was driving.

[photo credit: leyslie]

November 27, 2008

A Tender (science) Moment

This afternoon Tristan, my youngest, woke terribly out of sorts, all floppy and snuggly, hair sticking up like a sadistic cow had been licking him. I rolled him up in his blanket and sat cross-legged with him on the floor. He curled into a ball and laid his head on my chest and heaved a big sigh. Aaah.

My oldest came over and was being tender with him too instead of the usual assault and battery they exchange. He'd caress his arm, his face, helped tuck him in and coo to him. He got the photo album and showed him both their baby pictures and told him about when he was born. Tristan smiled happily, sleepily.

At the end of the photo album he was out of stories to tell, so Julius decided to discuss an educational topic.

"Tristan, do you know what is under your skin??"

I blinked, not sure what was coming next.

"Meat! Under your skin is your meat!"

A little snuggling, a little Anatomy 101. Can't beat it.

[art credit: Jason Freeny, Moist Production. Awesome artist!!]

Thanksgiving Day Omelet Massacre

I'm an adequate cook. Not a GREAT cook, but mostly functional and so far I've not poisoned anyone (that I know of). My husband does most of the cooking because he's an exceptional cook.

On the weekends I make the kids a real breakfast instead of the quicky stuff they get during the week. Normally I do a simple bacon and eggs deal, but his morning we were out of bacon and I scrambled around (no pun intended) to figure out something else to do.

Out of the fridge came eggs, some cheese, lunchmeat (??). Well, it's meat and they are kids. Maybe they won't notice the difference. "Hey, how about an omelet?" I yell into the living room where the kids are playing. Julius yells back, "What's an omelet?" (This gives me brief pause to wonder what kind of culinary hell he must be living in if he's five years old and doesn't know what an omelet is.) Tristan yells back nothing because all he ever says is "horse".

My answer to the question was probably the first lie I've ever told my son. "Omelets? Well they are like a, uh, well... they are great!" I hate omelets.

I proceeded to make the omelet, dodging the two year old who wanted to put his hand in the egg bowl then he proceeded to fall off the upside down bucket on which he was standing. He jumped up yelling, "egg! egg!" I assumed the concussion he may have received from falling stimulated some of his communication neurons and they were now beginning to function. At least something was getting accomplished this morning.

Okay, egg... IN, cheese... IN, fake ham product... IN. I realized after going this far I didn't realize how I was supposed to fold the omelet over. I was thinking I read somewhere you aren't supposed to flip an omelet, that it just magically cooks itself somehow. I couldn't get the spatula under the side. It was unruly and slippery and devious. I now hated omelets on a whole new level. They began to represent my failings as a mother, as a wife, as a domestic goddess, as possibly a Westernized human. Probably everyone but me knows how to make an omelet.

I don't know how normal people accomplish the goal, but I used a butter knife AND a spatula and both hands to finally get the task done. I didn't want to risk killing anyone, so I did flip the omelet, afraid an uncooked center would earn us a visit from the food-borne bacteria fairies. Immediately I realized what a mistake was as it became misshapen and lumpy like a picture you'd see in an article entitled, "How NOT to make an omelet".

I served it up, saved myself a sliver. Then came the Thanksgiving Miracle -- the kids both cleaned their plates, asked for more and when I tasted the remaining sliver in the pan I decided that maybe omelets aren't so bad after all.

So... do you have any omelet advice?

[photo credit: sidereal]

November 26, 2008

One Sentence

I ran across this site today and thought I'd share it. What a cool idea!

One Sentence... True stories told in one sentence.

My Son the Attorney

One of the things I find fascinating about children is their distinct personalities and often strange perception of reality. (I say strange, but I mean strange to ME... reality being relative and all...)

My oldest son is 5 and has always had a knack with cutting through to the heart of a matter, slicing away the fat in a conversation to get down to the meat. Up until yesterday I thought he'd be a scientist of some sort because he has a real passion for science and nature. Now, I suspect maybe his talents will lie in the arena of law or perhaps criminal interrogations.

We were in the car driving and somehow got on the topic of riding in pickup trucks. I told him, "When I was a kid nobody really worried about car seats and you could even ride in the back of a truck without having seat belts on." Him being a child of the modern area of supreme safety, he was completely amazed and delighted by this idea. Before he got any bright ideas I added, "Of course, you can't do that now. It's not safe."

"How come?"

"Well," I said, having this conversation perfectly in hand, "because you might fall out, or a rock will fly up from the road and knock you in the head or if you crash maybe the truck would roll on top of you or something." I was concerned about the graphic nature of my explanation but I certainly didn't want to leave any doubt as to whether riding in the back of a truck was a good idea or not.

Julius is a stoic child and difficult to read sometimes. He thought about it for a little while and said, "Did that happen to you as a kid?"


More thinking and quiet. "Did that happen to someone you know as a kid?"


A bit more quiet. "Has that ever happened to anyone you ever heard about?"

"Um... no..."

At any minute I expected him to assert to the court that he rested his case and was done with the witness.

You go, Perry Mason!

[photo credit: lambdachialpha]

November 25, 2008

Happy Thumpsgiving

Yes, you read it right... Happy THUMPSgiving! I'm writing this post in honor of the woman who hit a carjacker with a frozen turkey. If I had some kind of good citizen award to give her I would. In fact, maybe I should make one up just so I can do that!

If you've not heard the story, you can read it here on Yahoo news!

November 24, 2008


I absolutely positively can't get enough of the PostSecret web site. (If you've not been there... run, don't walk to the site as soon as you are done here!)  

It's a fascinating study in... so many things. Secrets, voyeurism, connections, basic human needs, truth, deception, fear, courage. I'm amazed and fascinated that one can get so much out of one collection of postcards.

In honor of PostSecret I will tell you one secret about myself. It is not earth-shattering or dark and will not give you any particular revelations. I'm not even sure why I thought of it today of all days.

When I was in my teens I lived alone with my mother. We lived in a tiny two room house, nothing fancy. My closet was not trimmed out with moulding on the inside and there was a narrow crack along the opening of the framing of the closet.

One night I wrote a small note. I don't remember what it said, but something along the lines of who I was and some of my thoughts. I put the date on it and slid it into the crack of the closet wall thinking that maybe one day someone would find it if they ever moved into this house in the future. I flattered myself to think perhaps I would create some archaeological or historical mystery. (Okay, remember, I was 13 or 14 -- don't hold it against me.)

Fast forward to ... well, let me not say how many years later. I moved out of that house, went to college, married, had children, lived life, moved back to the town where I was raised and began working in real estate. Suddenly I had the opportunity to show the house I lived in to some clients of mine. The little house where I lived as a teenager was sitting there waiting for someone to buy it!

Here we were, me and two strangers walking through the house of another two strangers who were waiting out in the driveway for us to finish and about halfway through the showing I remembered this silly note I've stuffed into the closet. First I wonder if it could possibly still be there. Second I wonder could it be possible that I can go fumble around in their dark closet looking for it?

Indeed in a surreptitious moment, I did run my hand down the doorframe of the closet hoping I'd feel a little note that might have been jiggled out over time. No sign of it. It never occurred to me all those years ago that I'd actually be back living in the town I grew up in. It never occurred to me that someday a neighbor of mine might actually find this wayward note and come wandering up on my doorstep to deliver it back to me after all these years. It's sort of horrifying and hilarious all at the same time.

Sometimes I drive by there on my way to somewhere else. I glance quickly over and see my younger self in there, hiding away a secret little note to strangers in the future. It's like forshadowing for my blogging future!

Do you have any stories about secrets?

November 23, 2008

The Journey

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. -- Lao Tzu
Periodically we all go through this period where we wonder if we are on the right path. Particularly for me, I get in these jobs / places / relationships (and sometimes all three at once) in which I wonder if it's where I'm supposed to be, where I want to be, or if it's my "last job", the one I will want to stick with forever. 

I'm ready to be There (wherever There is). I want to get where I'm going, to skip the book and read the last page to see how it all ends. This is the norm. We are not born patient creatures; patience is a skill we must develop like good penmanship, bicycle riding, or using the remote control in pitch darkness.  
Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.
Mediocrity wears on us like a sandpaper suit. We slide into daily and it degrades us as time passes. We begin to experience dissatisfaction because we go to bed expecting great things for ourselves and wake up knowing we won't use all the skills and talents we possess. Some days it feels wrong, wasteful, disappointing. 
Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb. -- Sir Winston Churchill
Which comes first, the optimism or the success? For some our first reaction is to say that it's easy for Churchill to feel the joy and glory of the climb when he was a brilliant, creative, articulate man who probably achieved everything he set out to do. 
But why would he be any more capable of maximizing his journey than you or me? No reason except that it is easy to be distracted by the nagging sensation that we're wandering blindly through the woods with absolutely no clue as to where we're going. The truth is we all feel it. At times we are all just bumping around in the dark. Probably even Mr. Churchill now and again. 
In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost. -- Dante Alighieri
What is the trick of those who make the best of their lives, who really maximize the time they have on the planet and pack every second of the day with brilliance, intensity, and fullness? It is those who see that, as cliche as it can sound, it really IS about the journey and the grace we bring with us as travelers. They tackle the day with fierceness and courage. They are not satisfied to be carried along with the current, but will push through and make their own way.
No man with a man's heart in him, gets far on his way without some bitter, soul searching disappointment. Happy he who is brave enough to push on another stage of the journey...
Acknowledge uncertainty and doubt, then get out a piece of paper and make a list of all the things you want to accomplish in this life, your "bucket list".  Pick a point on the map and head out, take the single step. Remember, that a traveler never goes it alone. Cast your eyes to the side and you will see many of us near you -- some ahead, some behind.  We're all together in this journey.

What do you want to accomplish along the way? What is on your bucket list? What holds you back?

[photo credit: cindy]

November 22, 2008

Happiness is...

Obviously, I'm happy when my kids burst into laughter or one of them says something brilliant or I have big success at work and solve a huge problem.  We all have the obvious things in our lives that make us happy.

But what about the little quirky things?  The strange or the ordinary?

I was in the drive-thru getting "lazy food" tonight and the air was very cold and crisp.  I had the window open and the heater running nearly full blast.  I could feel the tendril fingers of cold swirl around, grasping, then driven back by the force of air from the heater. Fresh air in my face, hot air wrapping around me, a mix of hot and cold like the pleasures of eating salty/sweet.  I leaned my head back on the headrest while I waited and thought, "Now this is happiness."

The wait seemed eternal so I started making a list of other ordinary things that make me happy:
  1. the first cardinal of winter, the first dogwood of spring
  2. red toasters
  3. frogs singing
  4. a fresh, blank journal
  5. the smell of a bookstore
  6. hot tea with cream and sugar
  7. walking the neighborhood with my camera
  8. a new craft book
  9. a real letter in the mailbox
  10. knowing all the streets in town
  11. riding my bike around the town square after closing time
  12. "circus squirrels" (squirrels that walk on powerlines)
  13. buy one, get one free  :)
  14. fresh squeezed orange juice, lots of pulp
  15. the ocean
  16. trees that hang over a city street or country road
  17. sticky notes and gel pens
  18. a fresh coat of paint
  19. moving sidewalks
  20. peanut butter crackers and a good book
What are some of the things that make YOU happy?

[photo credit: bingbing]

November 21, 2008


My friends hear me go on and on about what a fabulous thing adoption is. I'm always looking for opportunity to promote it because there are so many kids who have a need, especially sibling "sets" which are harder to place than single kids.

I was recently watching the evening news and they had a story on a small church in the community of Possum Trot, Texas who took it upon themselves to care for as many children as they possibly can.

To date the members of this church have adopted 72 children. That's 72 cycles of abuse and neglect that have been broken, 72 children who have a great start at life, 72 committments to make a difference in the world.

What a great number 72 is. Wouldn't it be great if it were bigger??

November 13, 2008

Time for Change in Canada

I don't usually scour the news for weird stories even though it might seem like it these days. However, I did just run across one that blew my mind and I had to share.

It's a story about a carpool startup being sued by a bus company. And WINNING!

Apparently there are quite rigorous requirements in Ontario regarding carpooling. Read the article -- it's worth having your mind blown. How this can happen in the age of "go green" I have no idea.

November 12, 2008


My two year old, Tristan, will only speak one word at a time. I try and try to get him to put two words together in a row and he won't. It's an endless thing we do and my mom speculates he's just torturing me on purpose, that he really can speak but won't.

I felt like I a had a big victory getting him to say a two SYLLABLE word. That was a stretch. But with prompting he will now say "baseball"!

Most of the words he says are in the form of demands that make his life as prince of the house more comfortable and fun. Things like "gook!" (milk), "boo!" (pooh TV), "dorse!" (the movie Spirit), "dewius!" (his brother did something that made him mad), etc. Maybe the problem is we know what he's saying and we don't MAKE him do any better. I wish I were a child-rearing genius but I'm actually tremendously far to the other side of the scale, feeling inept most of the time.

I talk to him a lot, have always done so with both boys so they would hear the language and learn faster. We never used baby talk and Julius was a fast talker, a great conversationalist EARLY. I remember sitting by the crib having actually real conversations with him that made sense.

So, this morning I'm doing my usual blather on the way to daycare. We're driving through the fog and I say, "I sure love foggy days like these, Tristan. These are my favorite kind of days."

From the back seat I hear a very loud and clear, "Why?"

I nearly ran off the road. Um... er...

"Uh, well, I like it because it's quiet and gray and it feels like we're all wrapped in a blanket together, waiting for something to happen."


And that was that. Maybe my mom was right.

November 11, 2008

Green Gumdrops

Sitting on the front desk in my office is a container of gumdrops. Everyone has picked out all the colors except the green ones. They've been lying there for days, rolling around at the bottom of this huge plastic container.

It bugs me that they are still there, like the last kids picked for a team, and yet I leave them there just to see what happens. I have to see if someone will come to claim them.

Is there anyone on the planet who likes green gumdrops? Or green candy of any kind for that matter. I asked my husband if he likes them and he said, "Sort of." What does that mean? The phone rang and I couldn't get a clarification. It seemed neurotic to go back and ask him about it and yet... here I am making a post on my blog about it. Is that less weird? I doubt it.

So, here is what I want to know. Hit the little comment link and tell me... how do you feel about green gumdrops? Is one of you out there a fan of them? Does anyone eat them? If not, why do companies make them? Is it simply because their absence would be conspicuous?

And why do all fruit flavors taste close to the actual fruit EXCEPT for the green ones? Fake lime tastes nothing like real lime. Why is it so hard to hit that nail on the head?

Tell me. Just tell me.

A Day to Remember

Veteran's Day is almost over. Did you call a veteran today? I spoke to both of my nephews, both back from the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We come from a long line of patriots and rabble-rousers. Family history indicates we've fought in every war since coming to America with the exception of our first excursions in the Gulf.

Whatever your opinion about war and foreign relations, let's take time to remember those who stood behind the lines drawn in the sand. Let's say a little prayer for those across the waters who probably would love to be home right now.

Let us not take our freedom for granted.

[photo credit: eqqman]

Where Do We Stand?

I am always desperate to avoid presidential politics. I really hate it. It is often endless, and evokes far too intense passions for my taste. Sometimes it is vile. I wrap myself in a blanket of apathy and despair and snuggle down, hoping for the best. I do my best fighting on the issues and hope occasionally that something will trickle up and make a difference.

This last election was interesting, although I was quite sick of it by the end. It was a fascinating examination of our times. I won't rehash what everyone is saying about women presidents, women vice presidents, black presidents and so forth because it's all been done thoroughly and better than I could anyway.

I don't know that I learned anything more about America that I didn't know before, but I did learn things about the people around me that I would never have guessed. I discovered a long-time friend who I thought was politically aligned with me was voting quite different than I was. I discovered a man who I thought was intelligent and well-informed wasn't voting at all, and for what I thought was a very silly reason. I discovered a racist I know who makes liberal use of the "n-word" was voting for America's first black president.

Frankly, I still don't understand any of those things.

None of that matters, of course. (And as my husband frequently says to me, "You don't have to understand everything...")

What I have found moving is the reaction afterward -- watching the speeches of a gracious McCain and a humble Obama and to watch the Americans who have not lost their optimisim, those who want to work together to rebuild a country that feels like it has been down for a long, long time.

I am buoyed by the project "From 52 to 48 with love". When I am sitting at my desk concerned for our future that is where I will go.

I start my first term in local government in January. I live in a small town where it's possible to get the feeling that you CAN make a difference. I hope my trickle up theory of government works. I'll let you know in a few months.

[photo credit: jbelluch]

November 9, 2008

Hidden Money

Is it just me or does this news story seem really messed up?

The story is that a contractor was doing some work on a house, found a whole bunch of money in the walls and a big legal fiasco ensues over who has the right to the money.

Everyone seems more amazed about the money in general and how much of a fight it turned out to be.

What nobody (but me) really seems to be amazed about is that there was a fight in the first place.

If you hire a contractor to come in and fix your bathroom and he finds a pair of Madonna's panties in the wall or the Holy Grail (to some people the same, maybe) or Ben Franklin's grocery list or $182,000 -- it seems like a no-brainer to me that he goes to the homeowner and says, "Wow, aren't you lucky... look at this cool thing I found in your wall."

Be careful who you let in your house! The cleaning lady, your babysitter, the Maytag repairman. God help you if they find something cool laying around your house. If it's worth something the courts just might say it's okay for them to have some of it!

[photo credit: Tracy Olson]


Welcome family and friends. Welcome new friends I don't know yet.

Pour up some tea, grab a snack, let's talk.