Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hair Prayer

Please pray for my hairdresser. Email all your friends, tell them to send their healing energy. My hairdresser put her back out and she can’t stand up long enough to cut my hair. I am starting to look like Eraserhead. The more stressed I get, the bigger my hair gets. It is as tall as John Wayne’s hat. It is almost a Marge Simpson (just not blue). This morning I lost a cheese blintz in my hair. My hairdresser had to cancel my appointment last week. She just called to cancel again this week. She said she has some good drugs and she can probably cut my hair next week. Pray that her drugs are really good. I have to go, my hair wants a sandwich and a massage. Thanks for your help.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Our quest for the perfect home continues. We thought we could write an offer to buy a house that would be contingent on the sale of our house, since that’s the way we bought the house we live in now. Wrong. I don’t know how we got away with it last time, but it ain’t workin’ this time. Our latest find was a recently remodeled house with lovely features, including a heated built-in pool, hillside gazebo with expansive view, and the office plus workshop plus workout room of Ron’s dreams. He was practically drooling in the pool by the time we left. It didn’t have much space for my part of the living system, but we could always remodel and add a room for my office if the price was right. Sudi (our teenager) has not even seen the house but wants us to buy it because it has central heating and he can skateboard to his friend Brett’s nearby. Ah, if life were only that simple again for me. We made an offer. The seller loves us. He practically invited us to pitch a tent in his garage. But no contingency. “Call me when you sell your house,” he said. What are we to do? Sell our house out from under ourselves and go where?

Cindy-the-Realtor to the rescue. I didn’t realize that we can sell our house with a seller’s contingency that we find a replacement home before the deal is done. Wow. What a concept. Cindy-the-Magician-ess. She better be a magician-ess. Otherwise we will end up living in a storage unit at Big Four Lots, looking at a view of concrete and rebar, stumbling around town in a stupor, muttering “tile in the master bathroom,” “trash compactor,” water filtration,” forced air heat,” “gas stove,” “gotta have trees.”

Perspective: I remind myself how very many people around the world would trade places with me in a heartbeat to have the choices I have.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Just Rewards for Parents

While looking at a house (which we made an offer on by-the-way), we saw a sign posted over the owner’s desk that read:

“Grandchildren are your reward for not strangling your teenagers."

We told the owner we'd take the house if we could keep the sign.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

House Hunt

After living for 16 years on 40 acres of forest, it’s hard to imagine living in town with neighbors and yards and noise. But that’s what Ron and I are imagining these days. Our home is too remote for aging folks, too much work, too far from emergency medical services (it took the paramedics a half an hour to get here one night last summer when we needed them). So we’ve been looking at houses every Thursday with our wonderful realtor Cindy. Cindy has so much imagination that she really should have been a writer, artist, or architect. Or all three. “This potting shed could be a great in-law unit,” she says with glee. Or “If you plant fir trees along that fence you’ll have a natural barrier in just 20 years.” Or “Convert the laundry room into an indoor pool and put the washer in the garage.” She’s actually very practical. When I trip over a step in the middle of a bathroom she notes, “You would need to ramp that.” But really, she’s very supportive. So far we have found the house of our dreams in a subdivision with no plant life larger than a rose bush. I can’t live without trees. Then we found the yard of our dreams with actual mature Redwood trees and a view of a hillside of Live Oaks, but the house had no windows and a long, dark main hallway as narrow as a corridor on a submarine. Also, cottage cheese ceilings. A remodel would cost a fortune. So we’re still looking. We have a date with Cindy again today. Will this be the day that we find the house and the yard both in one property?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Reagan on W

In celebration of Presidents’ Day, I want to share with you a quote taken from Ronald Reagan’s diaries. This entry was made on May 17, 1986. I always thought that Reagan was asleep at the wheel but perhaps he was more awake than he seemed. Or perhaps even a man in the early stages of Alzheimer’s could see what half the country couldn’t (twice). Here’s Reagan’s perception:

A moment I've been dreading. George brought his ne'er-do-well son around this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the political one who lives in Florida; the one who hangs around here all the time looking shiftless. This so-called kid is already almost 40 and has never had a real job. Maybe I'll call Kinsley over at “The New Republic” and see if they'll hire him as a contributing editor or something. That looks like easy work.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Memoir Scandals

Perhaps you followed the scandal about James Frey’s memoir (A Million Little Pieces) touted by Oprah that later turned out to be pure fiction. Poor Oprah was duped into feeling such compassion for Frey’s unbelievably gruesome and horrid experience. If it hadn’t really happened no one would believe it. But in fact it didn’t happen. Columnist Levi Asher published guidance for authors about how to avoid memoir scandals. The guidance is based on real occurrences. You can read Asher’s full article at: Guardian

Here are his eight rules:
  1. Do not use the word "memoir" unless you mean it.
  2. If you're not sure whether what you're writing is a memoir or not, guess what? It's a novel.
  3. No more than half a page of plagiarism per book.
  4. Don't make up exact dates that you can't remember. Instead, be general: "The most important day of my life was the day of my son's birth, in the summer of 2005 . . . "
  5. Just say no to sending a friend out in public with a wig as you.
  6. If you're in a flame war and you're about to go sock puppet, take a 10-minute break and go to a coffee shop without a wi-fi facility. Maybe the walk will cool you down.
  7. Go ahead and make up dialogue. Everybody except Tom Wolfe does.
  8. Pick a name. "Benjamin Black is John Banville" is just not a good look.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Post Valentine Post

My husband was so disappointed that I didn’t post to my blog on Valentine’s Day. I think he wanted me to send a message to the wide world about how much I love him, which I do of course, and I don’t care who knows it. But I couldn’t’ think of what I wanted to say for Valentine’s Day until very late in the day. And this is it. Here is a quick list of what husbands can do for their wives if they really love them:

1. Pay us a real compliment about our physical beauty (often). Not something like “you smell like a girl” (which my daughter’s boyfriend, now ex-boyrfriend, actually said) or “I like your breasts.” Something more along the lines of “you look beautiful in that dress” or “I have to kiss those lips,” or “you are so voluptuous.”

2. Go to the doctor. Get regular check-ups, have him check your prostate even though it’s humiliating. If you aren’t feeling well, find out what’s wrong. Ancillary: do what the doctor says to do, like take aspirin every day to protect your heart and quit eating hamburgers. Don’t smoke. Get exercise. Don’t make us worry about your health.

3. When in the presence of non-football fans, limit your conversations about football to under two minutes. When in the presence of football fans, don’t stop, don’t stop.

4. Get up in the middle of the night with the baby. Don’t put beer in the baby bottle, just walk the floor with her.

5. Load the dishwasher. (Not just on Sundays.)

6. Put the screwdriver back when you’re done with it so someone else can find it. And stop swiping my hammer.

7. Open your socks up all the way before you toss them in the laundry.

8. Compliment your daughter more often on her brains and talent than on her looks. Compliment your son more often on his thoughtfulness and talent than on his athleticism.

9. Be willing to compromise on finances and recognize that for your wife the children’s financial needs are more important than yours.

10. If you have a job that you hate and it’s making you crazy. Quit. The stress is killing you and your wife. Get a job that makes you feel better. (But do get a job. Unemployment is not an option.)

11. Go to the sleep center and do the test so you can get a forced air machine, stop snoring, sleep better, and give your wife a good night’s rest for a change.

12. Remember that watching old movies on TV is not a substitute for a romantic evening and a satisfying roll in the hay.

13. Stop waiting for the children to leave home and the dog to die so you can get your wife all to yourself. She’s having the time of her life with the children and the dog. Don’t kid yourself, you won’t be nearly entertaining enough to fill the void when things settle down. And you won’t be able to eat all the food she is accustomed to cooking.

Just remember that a little appreciation and help with the daily work goes a long way. It’s a team effort. It’s a game of inches (as they say in football). I could go on but I’ll stop here. Ladies, what would you add to this list?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Getting Old, or Not

Yesterday was my daughter’s 24th birthday.  I was doing a pretty good job of not feeling too old. Especially since she emailed to tell me I’m “awesome” after she opened her present that we fedexed to her. In 24-year-old language that means I’m still cool. (My 16-year-old would probably say I’m “sick” and that would be a good compliment too, especially if I’m feeling healthy.) But this morning I woke up with a painful kink in my back, remembered I had a 24-year-old daughter, got depressed at how old I felt, and went back to bed, where the kink was worse. That’s when I realized the back problem had little to do with age and a lot to do with the fact that I had slept the night on my husband’s crossword dictionary. When I emailed him to complain, he chided me because he had spent the night with my earplug case mashed against his cheek. If he didn’t snore like a gargling goose, I wouldn’t need the earplugs. By the same logic, I suppose that if I knew every word in the English language then he wouldn’t need the dictionary. I’ll start with the A's.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Message from John Cleese

OK, forgive me for being so unoriginal as to post a message from the great British comedian John Cleese on my blog instead of thinking up something clever on my own. But this is really too funny. And of course as an American I am clearly unable to manage an original thought without benefit of a thesaurus, two computers, six cups of English Breakfast Tea (diluted with gooey milk), several members of the BBC, a plate of spam, and a stiff upper lip. Don’t hurt yourself reading.

From: John Cleese
To: The citizens of the United States of America:
In light of your failure to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy). Your new prime minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a governor for America without the need for further elections.
Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed. To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect: (You should look up 'revocation ' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

1. Then look up aluminium, and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.
2. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'favour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix -ize will be replaced by the suffix -ise. Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up 'vocabulary').
3. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as 'like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication.
There is no such thing as US English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell- checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of -ize. You will relearn your original national anthem , God Save The Queen.
4. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.
5. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you're not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you're not grown up enough to handle a gun.
6. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. A permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.
7. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and this is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean. Holden Monaro's are also approved.
8. All intersections will be replaced wi th roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you
understand the British sense of humour.
9. The Former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline)-roughly $6/US gallon. Get used to it.
10. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.
11. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer i s also acceptable as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting Nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of British Commonwealth - see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.
12. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.
13. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies). Don't try Rugby - the South Africans and Kiwis will thrash you, like they regularly thrash us.
14. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America . Since only 2.1% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.
15. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.
16. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).
17. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 pm with proper cups, never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; strawberries in season.
God save the Queen.
John Cleese

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Zucchini Relish Champ

My life is complete. I won a blue ribbon, FIRST PLACE, at the Redwood Empire County Fair for my zucchini relish! I had meant to enter my zucchini relish in the Fair for years and finally went for it last summer. The Fair took place in August. I forgot all about it because we had a death in our close circle of friends the week of the Fair. Much later, when I remembered the Fair, I was bitterly disappointed to realize that my zucchini relish had not won. I figured it was because I don’t use as much salt or sugar as those 4Hers with whom I was competing. But as it turns out, my zucchini relish is NUMBER ONE! I got a notice in the mail yesterday, with a check for a whopping $3 prize money, and my blue ribbon. The grand prize. There’s no living with me now. I’m going to frame that check and my blue ribbon. My friend Jessica says I am making a major contribution by thinking of more things to do with zucchini. (She’s a gardener, she knows what’s at stake. Get it? “Stake”?) When I called my friend Linda to boast I said, “you’ll never believe what I won,” and she thought it was the Pulitzer Prize. “No, better,” I told her. “A blue ribbon.” She thinks I should enter my pesto next year. When I told my friend Candy, she told me to enter my cactus mango salad next year. The possibilities are endless. I’m on my way. As Virginia Woolf wrote in To the Lighthouse, “If it were now to die it were now to be most happy.” I have made my contribution. I make the best zucchini relish in the county. I was judged and came up number one. There’s a lesson here. In the bright and shining summer I thought I hadn’t won, but months later, in the dark of winter, I discovered that in fact I won after all. Sometimes, when we think we’ve lost, it turns out we’ve won. Just sometimes. But one can always hope.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Election Bliss

Pinch me. Is it real or am I dreaming? I had to choose my candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination between a brilliant, ambitious, outspoken woman and a brilliant, ambitious, outspoken multicultural, part African American man who was raised in a third world country. I had to choose between two very intelligent human beings. Both with integrity. Both saying real things about real concerns. Is this still America?
The second time Reagan was elected I researched the possibility of emigrating to New Zealand. But my family and friends are in this country. And I’m not too crazy about sheep. So I stayed. But I moved to a remote 40 acres in rural California to hide out. The first time W. stole the election, I started listening to NPR every morning. Molly Ivens and Michael Moore helped me survive. The second time W. stole the election I stopped listening to NPR every morning. It was more than I could stand to hear anything about what was going on. I went on a media diet. After all, who was I? Just an uncounted vote.
I used to be a political activist. I was even arrested for blockading a nuclear weapons facility. But in recent years I have lost hope. Yesterday I voted for Barack. He has the audacity to hope. I think I do too again. Although I would most dearly love to see Barack in the White House, I confess that I would not be too disappointed to see Hillary. Short of doing the job myself, well, these two candidates are the real deal. Is it my country again? Pinch me.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Why Is Life Worth Living?

The fun is back in football, folks.

Without putting too much negative energy out there into the universe, I gotta say it was sweet to watch that plate taken away from the lips of those big bad Pats at the final moment. My kid brother Dan has been a Giants fan all his life and after tonight’s game he turned to his young son Jacob and said, “If you ever wonder why life is worth living, you think back to tonight’s game.” That says it all.

I have watched those Manning brothers with admiration and delight for years. Eli’s determination to win in that game tonight was a sight to behold. He and his whole team. What a remarkable defensive effort on the part of those Giants, huh? When those Manning brothers get married and have children, you better believe that every football team in the country is going to be trying to sign their boys when those third generation Manning boys are in diapers. Well, those of you who love football saw the game and those of you who don’t do football, well you have no idea what I’m going on about so I’ll shut up already.

The game was the final shining moment in a lovely perfect weekend. Squidfest last night was spectacular. A delicious dinner with good friends served slow and special. Friends I have known for years and years, who have known me through thick and thin. The Squidmistress Linda was at the birth of all my children. The venue was the new home of friend Jim whom we have known for nigh on 30 years. His new home that he moved into a few months ago with his fiancé, after finally finding the love of his life when over 50 years old.

Life, like football, is a game of inches. You never know what’s around the corner. What might tip the scales one way or another. What might let you win against all odds. I have to say that I realize that I live in paradise. And I am truly grateful. My greatest hope is that everyone in the world will have the opportunity to live in paradise too. Even the Pats? Why not? I can afford to be generous. I wish them life in paradise too. Just without that Superbowl ring.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Squidfest Countdown Day One

This is my final blog entry before the Day of Squidfest. The Squidmaster Ed has arrived at Squid base camp. Squids’ Maid Ruth is flying in from points North today. The rain has brought out the worms in abundance and I have my little stash set aside for Artie. In a can with Artie’s name on it. A can with Artie’s name on it and not too much slime around the edges. Ron and I have gathered our Squidfest materials and laid them out on the dining room table. His snowshoes. My false eyelashes. The feathers, bailing buckets, spark plugs, life jackets, safety pins, flippers, cactus, whiskey, etc. We couldn’t find our squid pins or fishy tubby toys. A great disappointment. We’ll keep looking. We might suggest bobbing for apples this year as a new event. At least for the initiates. Or possibly a rousing game of whoops and catch. We’ll bring kitty litter, Vaseline, and ping-pong balls just in case. Let the games begin.