Posted in Just Funny, Quirks and Other Weirdness, Uncategorized

That which we call a rose…

My mother calls me “George”.

We’ve had a cat named “Puppy”, a Mustang “Sally”, and a “Charlie” horse.

I have a pair of stuffed animal racoons from high school days dubbed “Smokey” and “Bandit”.

My iPod is named “Soma” after the addictive drug in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Kevin named his “Life Support”.

You already know about the cow called “Patty” and her offspring, “Slider”, and the two calves christened “Norman” and “Mailer”.

For her 4th birthday my daughter received her first Barbie. She could have named her Buffy or Ariel or Jessica, but instead, she chose the prettiest name she knew: LEONARD.

Our vehicles have had the following names:
“Stella!!!” (An ‘old lady’ Buick)
“Tank the Sable Tooth” (The 1992 white Mercury)
“Fiona” (The green monster Taurus)
“Armadillo” (Kevin’s little gray Dodge)
“Lucille” (Kacey’s current van because, and I quote, “She drives like she’s drunk and she’s always kind of angry and loud.)
And, of course, my beloved “Eddie van Honda” Odyssey.

My kids answer to “Daughter-Face” and “Kevie-Poo”.  And Mayah and Charlotte are affectionately known as “Yaya” and “Latte”.

But of all the weirdly-named things in our little world, my favorite was Kevin’s first Beanie Baby. It was a lobster, which, as a preschooler, he pronounced “lomster” and christened it with the biggest word in his little vocabulary: APPARENTLY.
Appawently the Lomster.
Posted in Uncategorized

half-past what?

I have an artsy doula client whose extreme right-brainedness makes even my hippie self look like an accountant. When making our last appointment before her due date she texted: “Let’s meet at the coffee shop on Friday sometime before darkish.”

“Sure!” I replied.  Then I began to contemplate our arrangements:  Darkish? WHO SAYS “DARKISH”? Exactly what time is darkish? Is that as the sun is actually setting (which I googled and is apparently at 7:35 p.m.). Could it be the half hour previous to sunset?  Or…did she mean the few minutes before total darkness when everything loses its color and fades into silhouette?

And even if I COULD decide exactly what time darkish is, how much “before” darkish IS before? Half hour? Ten minutes? I had no idea. But I didn’t want to text her again and come across as uptight to this free-spirit, so to be safe, I showed up an hour and seventeen minutes early and waited in my minivan.

One of the barristas kept coming to the window and staring my direction.

Pretty sure she thought I was casing the joint.

Posted in Just Funny, Minimalism

Real. Simple.

We were discussing the discipline of simplicity.

The concept of living simple lives…
1. Don’t “buy” things just to “have” things. (Like all those empty Rubbermaid containers I have in the utility room, just waiting for me to get one of my overwhelming urges to organize.)
2. Take joy in giving things away. (It would make me very happy to give you the bills for my eye surgery.) 
3. Develop a deeper appreciation for creation. (Like the weeds in the flowerbed?)
4. Reject anything that oppresses others.
5. Get rid of the distractions that keep you from staying on task.

The question was asked, “How can we be more intentional about simplicity?” A lovely, professional mother-of-four commented that she tries to limit her schedule to three things a day. She said anytime she tries to squeeze in more than that, it makes her a “grouchy mommy”.

Well, I don’t want to be a grouchy mommy either.

So today I got out of bed, shaved my legs, and drove to the coffee shop for a Cinnamon Latte.

One, two, three. It worked. I don’t feel grouchy at all. Mission accomplished.

Simplicity is good.

Posted in Hippy-Dippy Stuff, Quirks and Other Weirdness

Call me Sybil

I just took a Myers-Briggs personality test because I’d already had dinner and I needed an excuse to not do the dishes. One of the questions was:

  • “Regardless of what other people say, deep down do you feel that you are kind of weird?”

Kind of??

I haven’t always felt this way.  Once upon a time I was a completely normal, self-conscious, easily-embarrassed, “just wanna fit in” kind of girl who spent two hours every morning trying to make her hair look like Farrah Fawcett.(#bighairfail)  But then I gave up my hot rollers and moved to new places and lost people I loved and read Upton Sinclair and developed personality quirks…and embraced my weirdness.

ENFJwordleMyers-Briggs classifies me as an ENFJ (Extraversion, iNtuition, Feeling, Judgment). ENFJs only comprise 3% of the population, so there aren’t that many of us. However, ENFJs are statistically the most likely of the 16 personality types to have a Facebook account, so we do make our presence known. Ha.

A few of my test highlights:

  • It is more important to be: tactful. (Tact over truth. This does NOT mean my pants are on fire.  It means the Feeler in me is more concerned about making you feel all warm and welcome than telling you the “truth” about how your haircut makes you look like your dog.)
  • In everyday life: it is rare to meet someone who seems to be on the same “wavelength” as me. (Yep. Show of hands: how many of you are wanna-be hippies who wear sandals in the snow or birth your babies on the bedroom floor or dream of living in a Tiny House? That’s what I thought.)
  • I think rules and regulations are: necessary for other people.  (True. I fully admit my rebellion. Rules are for toddlers and beginning drivers and people who are incapable of governing themselves. I’m good on at least of those.)  
  • 4c67673e980a15c9a1193ee2a95b700cI am at my best when: my surroundings are clean and uncluttered.  (I know what Einstein said about messy desks, but my inner minimalist NEEDS things neat and orderly and at nice right angles lest she feel completely out of control.)
  • I take pride in being: dependable. (You can count on me, the people-pleaser. Ask me to go back into the burning building to rescue your favorite Kate Spades, and I will risk my life and leg hair to make you happy.  I’m accommodating, generous, helpful…to the detriment of my own well-being.   )

Anyway, I’m weird.  I’ve known it for a long time. My children remind me often.  Even my mom has been known to ask, “When did you get like this??”

I’ve decided it’s because a Feeler, a Hippie, an Anarchist, a Minimalist, and a People-Pleaser all live in my middle-aged body.  It’s crowded in there. And sometimes confusing (like when my mother felt STRONGLY that I should wear a skirt to my Granddaddy’s funeral so Granny would not have a cow.  Now, the Feeler in me did not want to cause Mom further anguish, and the Hippie relished the idea of a flowy skirt, but the Anarchist did not want to adhere to societal conformity, and the Minimalist agreed because she already had a perfectly good pair of black pants in the closet, but the People-Pleaser acquiesced and bought a $40 black skirt that was never worn again.)

So it’s crowded and confusing living in my body. The Anarchist has some very radical opinions about mainstream behaviors you will likely never know because the Pleaser doesn’t want to isolate you, and the Hippie has grandiose “DIY” ideas that stress out the poor Minimalist, and with all that inner conflict, the Feeler just keeps eating mashed potatoes trying to make it all better.

Posted in Just Funny, Parenting

The summer of our discount tent…

a Shakespearean tragedy in six acts

I’m planning our second vacation within a year. The REAL kind where you stay in hotels with spa services and see “bucket-list-worthy” things and indulge in food that rivals art.

I’m being spoiled, and I gotta admit, it’s glorious.

To date, most of our vacations haven’t gotten past the dream state.  We’d talk big, but when reality set in there was either no time, or no money, or no time and no money. tentThe trips we did take, however, had one common denominator:
A little, gray nylon two-person tent. We probably still have it somewhere in that hoarder’s paradise we like to call a garage.  And we used to sleep in it. The tent, not the garage.

Act One
To pee or not to pee
That is the question. Many moons ago, I went on an overnight retreat with some college friends to an island in the middle of the lake. We were armed with a few coolers, fewer tents, and a bass boat. I was fine with the tent arrangements, but it never occurred to me to ask what the arrangements were for the, uh, facilities. Turns out, there were none. No arrangements. No facilities. We were completely sans potty. No bathhouse, no wooden outhouse, not even a respectable bucket. So, “to pee or not to pee?” The answer was not. Not to pee. Not once. I “held it” for 36 hours.

Might be my proudest accomplishments to date.

Act Two
The lady doth protest too much, methinks
I was a whopping 8 months pregnant when we set out on this next little adventure with a couple of friends. My body desperately needed sleep, but I did not want to be tossing and turning, as this was the point where I had to wake fully, lift my belly with both arms, and roll carefully in order to avoid stretch-marking. So why we thought tenting was a viable option at this point in my gestational journey I will never know.  Yet there we were, camping on the beach on our way to ‘The End of the Road’ in Homer, Alaska.  Pam and I got the tent. In retrospect, I have no idea where the guys slept, rocksbut I suspect they snoozed on a king-sized air mattress under the stars while she and I were left to sleep on the rocky beach. Rock. Not those cute little pebbles for landscaping. Rocks. Boulders, really. The pitting alone lasted a good week. The resulting stretch marks I carry with me still.

Act Three
To sleep, perchance to dream
Two years after “tent on the rocks”, I volunteered as the activities director at Midnight Sun Camp. Kacey was two and tagged along easily. Half the camp was comprised of teenage girls who refused to let her walk. My toddler fell asleep one night after dinner in the arms of one of these sweet girls.  When we settled into our tent at bedtime, I was exhausted, having been awake since 4:30 that morning. Kacey, however, was bright-eyed and bouncy.

Being a good mommy, (or at least being moderately concerned she would escape from our tent and encounter a hungry bear), I stayed awake and sang songs. Lots of songs. Repetitive songs. Annoying songs. I think I was hoping to bore her to sleep. “Old MacDonald” had an enormous farm. “Found a Peanut” took me from a rotten nut all the way to playing a harp in hell, Dear Liza nagged on and on about “The Hole in her Bucket”, I caught dozens of “Baby Bumblebees”, and “The Wheels on the Bus” went round and round and round and round and…

Act Four
Sweets to the Sweet
Up to this point in my parenting I had opted not to give Kacey sugar, in any form. No soft drinks, no cookies, no M&M’s, just a healthy little girl who was happy eating fruit and veggies. So, as the Wheels on the Bus went round and round and tried to coax her to sleep, I was the one who drifted off… and woke at sunrise to find my baby girl face down on the tent floor, starburstdeep asleep in a self-induced sugar coma, encircled by a rainbow of wrappers from eating an entire BAG of Starburst she had discovered in the suitcase. An ENTIRE bag.

Act Five
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears (and your washer)
When Kevin was tiny, we went to Gatlinburg on the absolute cheapest vacation possible. Our plan was to hike, fish, swim in the river, grill our own meals and sleep in the two-person tent… yeah, all four of us. It really had to be cheap because we had no money. I mean, we had NO money. If we had, you KNOW I would have hired a team of dogs to sniff out the nearest Marriott, but there was absolutely no wiggle room in the budget.

My “shoot from the hip” husband didn’t want to make reservations. After all, we were just tent-camping. We’d “wing it” and find a perfect place. My IOP protested (that’s Internal Organizer Person). She screamed inside my head, “NO!!! We have children and I’m neurotic about spontaneity if it’s not properly scheduled in advance.” But I played along, mostly so I could say “I TOLD YOU SO” later.

We went in June. I mentioned Gatlinburg, right? And June? And the fact that we had no reservations?

Well, I had reservations alright, but not the kind that held a place for us to pitch our tent.

So at 5 p.m. we started looking for a spot to camp… and at 11 p.m. we finally found ONE open site.

Act Six
Out, Out Damned Spot!
The elkmont camp site (2)spot we got was on the trail to the bathhouse, so every person who walked by woke Kevin, who at 18 weeks old, had one skill: screaming. And he showed of his talent all night long, every night. Kacey was forced to sleep at a 79-degree angle with her head above ours and her feet in my kidneys. Did I mention she was a kicker?

The following night our car broke down, and I was left on the side of the road for three hours with two hungry kids while Greg dealt with mechanics and tow-trucks. Three hours of “Mama, I’m hungry” from one, and wailing from the other.  At least the screamer could use me as his personal vending machine. I quieted the other with a stick of Trident.

Paying to repair the car meant the travel budget had now crossed over into credit card territory. We caught no fish. It rained. And a tick the size of Bora Bora embedded itself into Kacey’s cranium.

By the time we left, we didn’t even have enough money to do laundry, so we made a bee-line straight for Mom & Dad’s house. When we arrived, I placed Kevin on their doorstep. I rang the bell and ran back to the car, leaving a note on his chest that read, “My family is destitute. Will you please feed us, give us a dry bed, and let us wash our dirty laundry?”

At the end of our “vacation” we were frustrated, beyond broke, and taking home a child with a serious lymphatic infection.

Our clothes, however, were spotless.

Posted in Down on the Farm, Just Funny

The Naked and the Delicious

Norman Mailer is dead.

Wait, wait.  That’s not where I want to start this story.  I’ll come back to that, okay?
Let’s start here instead:

As Jami Gertz exclaims in Twister, “We got cows!”.

And when I say “we”, I mean my husband, the cowboy, has a small cattle farm.  My involvement with the cows is threefold:

  1. angusComplaining about the odor of manure when the wind shifts toward the house.
  2. Taking parts of them, neatly wrapped in butcher paper, out of the freezer to thaw. And…
  3. Ironically naming the ones I can see from the kitchen window.

My naming venture began with Patty Cow. (Hamburger patty, Patty Melt, “Don’t step in the cow patty”).  When she had her first calf, he was so little, I named him Slider. Probably would have been funnier if he had been triplets.

When the cowboy got his first “herd”, I named them Wendy, Hardee, Krystal, Arby and, of course, Mickey D.

Once the cowboy started buying Angus cows, the names upgraded accordingly: Morton, Doe, and Ruth’s Chris. (Since his cattle venture is becoming lucrative, I’ve decided the next few will be Cash, Sacred, Holy! and Mad.)

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah, the obituary.

Norman Mailer is dead.

No, not the Pulitzer Prize-winning author (though he has been “Naked and Dead” since 2007). The Norman Mailer to which I’m referring was a cow. Or rather, two cows. Greg thought it would be cute to name his first calf after the one Billy Crystal brought home in “City Slickers”.  Hence, Norman.

Mailer got his name because once you have a calf named Norman, well, duh.  The two writers in the family thought It was the obvious, whimsical choice.

After a happy little cow life grazing in the sun, Norman and Mailer grew up and took a field trip to the slaughterhouse.  It was then that our son confessed to punching Mailer dead in the nose one time when the cow kicked him.  The cowboy was shocked by the disclosure, and made a snarky comment about children who abuse animals going on to become serial killers.

t-bonesKevin responded, “Dad, the cows are now T-bones.  Consider what I did as pre-tenderizing.”

Norman Mailer.  It’s what’s for dinner.