Wednesday, July 27, 2005

In the span of a week,

My little 11-year-old boy:

1) Ordered a double cheeseburger and fries from McDonald's instead of a big kids happy meal. And he rolled his eyes at the toy his sister got in her happy meal.

2) Asked politely of the waiter at Applebee's if he could have a grown-up menu instead of the kid menu.

3) Suggested that when I am shopping for school clothes this year, would I kindly not get him any more 'little kid shirts'. You know the kind--the ones with trucks/bugs/soccer balls/reptiles, etc. on them. Sports designs are fine, as long as they are 'cool', i.e. Lacrosse, hockey; and only if they are not all 'colorful' or 'cartoon-y'.

4) Has reached the esteemed height of 5' and is now markedly taller than his grandmother (who is 4' 9 1/2").

5) Grew hair in his armpits. If we use a magnifying glass, we can see all six of them.

After a trip to the mall today, which included a stop at Abercrombie and Fitch (where I acted like a clueless mother -- last time I was in there I was shopping for ME), I feel very old.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Lady with the Chestnut Hair...

PHOENIX (AP) - In the span of a week, in the throes of a record heat wave, 14 transients have perished on the streets of metropolitan Phoenix. They lived in obscurity, and many of them died the same way - anonymous, ignored, alone. Their bodies were found crumpled on sidewalks near strip malls or in the shadow of downtown skyscrapers. Some were discovered only after strangers stumbled upon them and dialed 911.

We can all do something about this, can't we? Even if our nation's president cares little for the less fortunate, that does not absolve the rest of us.

Orc Boy

We call our son 'Orc Boy' now and then, and some of you know why. He's going on twelve, and his favorite things tend toward the fantastical sort: Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, both the reading and watching of such and the playing of their video game counterparts. When he writes stories, they include magical, mystical elements, bathroom humor, evil characters, and the sometimes violent killing and eating of various other-worldly creatures. And then there are the scores of mean things he'd like to do to his sister.

Some of you have jokingly offered your sympathies, perhaps imagining my sorrow in visiting Orc Boy in juvie one day soon. Your sentiments are well taken and appreciated in the spirit of fun as they are intended. But I'm not worried.

Last week we rescued gecko number two from the pool. This one was a little guy, young and innocent enough to feel safe in the hands of humans. After an hour, the kids reluctantly sent their new friend, dubbed 'Junior', off to once again fend for himself, warning him to stay out of the pool.

Yesterday, a third gecko in the pool, even more tiny than Junior. But this time my search and rescue efforts came too late--he was upside down on the pool's floor. I was alone when I saw him, and to be honest, I felt like it was one of our pets who died. I don't feel this way with spiders or bees, but geckos are somehow precious to me.

But not precious enough for me to actually touch them. So I did what I usually do when I'm faced with a problem I don't want to handle. I got Orc Boy.

I called him to come outside, and he did.

"Sweetie," I said, "there's another gecko in the pool...but this one is dead."

"What? Where?" His voice had a note of alarm in it.

I pointed to it, and as we crouched together on our haunches, side by side at the edge of the pool, I watched his face. This is a boy whose mind hosts a character named Ithillgorn who would eat a dozen geckos alive as a morning snack, crunching on the bones and laughing in the face of other characters shocked or disgusted by such behavior. And then, on a whim, Ithillgorn might just eat the other characters, too. But there is more to this boy.

At the side of the pool, Orc Boy's eyes were wide and glistening, and his shoulders deflated a little. Silently he got the net and fished the gecko out, setting it carefully on the patio, and touched it gently. Its little gecko legs were limp and awkwardly splayed in every direction. My boy petted the gecko's legs into place, looked at me and said, "We shouldn't tell her."

Whammo. My boy, deep down behind the facade of evil Orcatude and brotherly angst, has goodness. His eyes mourned a tiny creature, and his words loved and protected the little sister he can't stand.

"We should bury it," he said.

I nodded.


Where, indeed. We looked around, knowing all we'd see was patio and stones.

I pointed to a flower urn, abandoned by the previous owner. Inside the urn, precious dirt, a weed or two. "In there," I said, and he nodded, then stared at me until I got the point. He wanted to to do this alone. I said goodbye to the gecko, and went inside.

After a while, he came in and gave me a sad, almost embarrassed half-smile. We don't speak of it, but every now and then we exchange a sad face and a knowing look.

This morning, in between chores, he scans the pool looking for geckos. He walks over to the flower urn and stands there looking at it for a moment. Inside is a flat white stone, marking the grave. Written on the stone in green ink:

? - 7/22/05

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


In the evenings when lightning sets the desert on fire and the dust blows the flames around, the air smells heavy with smoke. When it rains, if it rains, it doesn't put out the fires. I stand on the white chair near the bird feeder so I can see over the wall and look for flames. But I can only see indigo murk from my chair, a blue-black gleam to the north and to the west. Sand works its way into my hair, wood smoke weaves through the fibers of my clothing.

In the mornings I see the flames reflected in the low orange clouds over the mountains. The wind is a whisper now, the air is sultry, the odor dissipated.

Some days I watch the news to see the flames; other days I don't want to see any more charred cacti skeletons or hear how many hundreds of acres this time. But places named Strawberry and Bumblebee and Tonto, tiny towns, a national forest; all of them are crisp and waiting to burn, or crackling and hoping to be saved, or green on grey and struggling to grow back. And always, standing in the midst of smouldering ashes or resting in the small town saloons, the cameras find the locals with grim, determined faces smudged with soot.

Now I know what those enormous orange planes are for, flying too low and too loud over the house like a warning. I wonder how much water fills their bloated bellies, and how many times they go back for more. And if it is ever, ever enough.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005


{Iago voice} Why am I not surprised? {/Iago}

WASHINGTON - President Bush chose federal appeals court judge John G. Roberts Jr. on Tuesday as his first nominee for the Supreme Court, selecting a rock solid conservative whose nomination could trigger a tumultuous battle over the direction of the nation's highest court, senior administration officials said.

Monday, July 18, 2005


Saturday, July 16, 2005

Wheezygirl informed me

yesterday that, according to the Food channel, it's "Cook with your kid" week.

Yes, we love the Food channel here in our house. I don't know what it is about Emeril making goat cheese salad with beets or Paula Dean trying to take a bite of a humongous white bread sandwich that is so intriguing to the kids, but we watch this stuff, and we love it.

And I love to cook, but if I had my druthers, everybody else would stay out of my kitchen. Growing up, I learned that spilling sugar was unacceptable. My poor dear mother was not patient in the kitchen...most times I 'helped' resulted in her loud frustration and my tears. God bless her. I inherited this horrible trait. But, anyone who knows me well knows my greatest fear in life (after being trapped in a house fire) is turning into my mother. So I struggle with this. Greatly. It's a perfectionist thing, a control thing, call it what you will. I admit it. I hate cooking with my kids. And it's difficult for me to chit chat with the girl as she waves her hands around, spilling things all over without me getting testy. And the girl knows this, and she is sensitive to it, and she just wants to help so badly, and she's oh-so-grateful and sweet and thankful if I let her help me. But even if I sigh quietly in an attempt to hold back a not-so-nice comment/criticism, she's onto me and she feels bad. She's learned from experience that I'll kick her out of the kitchen eventually. Because, honestly, it's one area in which I feel like a AM a really mean person. And I don't like that part of me.

So when she told me it's cook with your kid week, I had two internal reactions. 1. God help us all, and 2. Okay, here's a chance for me to work on a flaw which I'm really pretty ashamed of.

I decided to make the best of this. She and I would cook dinner together, and I was going to do it with encouragement, a good attitude and a smile, even if it killed me.
So we made pizzas for dinner last night.

But what I did not know is that we were Rachel Ray and Emeril, live with an ivisible studio audience. (For the record, I wanted to be Giada, whose perfect, shimmering, golden cleavage is enough to make my own hetero salivation glands kick in, but my fate was sealed. I was Emeril. Bammit.) And when she started talking to the invisible cameras, I felt my life slip down the slope to hell. This was before we had any ingredients poured.

Two hours of sheer slow-motion torture followed.

We made dough.
Flour and cornmeal found it's way into kitchen drawers, floor-tile grout, and the phone book.
There was a long, agonizingly cheerful discussion of Parmesan, and the various containers it can come in (including little packets from Pizza Hut), as well as in a solid block.
Tomatoes were 'smashed', and the bowl only tipped over once.
We grated cheese -- mozzarella, asiago, parmesan (thank God the feta was pre-crumbled).
We took questions from the studio audience.
Garlic was discussed in great length, peeled, chopped, roasted, and I said Bam! at all the right times (with some gentle prompting from the Diva).
Sausage was quickly and cleverly cooked and drained without incident during Rachel Ray's potty break.
The mushrooms, wiped clean with a cloth (not washed!) and sliced thin, proved to be uneventful.
Dough was rolled with the Mickey Mouse glass, because (as Rachel Ray told the studio audience) the movers stole a bunch of our kitchen stuff when we moved, including the rolling pin. But sometimes, it's just fun to use a mickey mouse glass to make pizza crust--you should try this at home!
Sauce was spread with minimal splatterage.
Cheese was applied liberally, though some was eaten by Ms Ray on the sly.
Toppings were distributed in random fashion.
Pizzas were delivered safely to the oven without incident.
Finally, the end result came at the rather late hour of 8:45pm:

One blob-shaped, New York style, mostly thin crust cheese pizza, absolutely fabulous-looking on the baking stone.
One double-crusted, bubbling, deep dish Chicago style pizza in the cast iron skillet.

We received much applause from the studio audience, all of whom couldn't wait to try our recipes.

My behavior was nearly exemplary, as Ms. Ray will attest to (there was one moment of near-exasperation during the parmesan discussion, for which I apologized and was forgiven).

And I am enjoying the remains for breakfast.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

Post #3 today. Sheesh, Wheeze.

"I committed a hate crime, she said."

The mother of a 29-year-old lesbian who committed suicide nearly a decade ago told a gathering of gays and their friends and family members yesterday that her daughter died because of the "untruths taught by the church."


Wallner and her husband, Bob, Anna's stepfather, were featured speakers at yesterday's Love Welcomes All conference sponsored by Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). It was held in response to a conference last month that promoted the idea that homosexuality is preventable and treatable.

That June 25 event, sponsored by James Dobson's evangelical Christian organization, Focus on the Family, drew about 1,200 people.

When? When will Focus on the Family realize that they are wrecking families far and wide? My God forgive us all.

Too much crazy news today

And nowhere to post it but here.

Wife has husband's feeding tube removed (as per his living will!), puts it back when 'friend' goes to the press and insists the man is getting better.
Move over, Terri Schiavo.

Justice Sunday II -- coming to a computer near you, August 14, 2005

I can hardly wait.

But The Interfaith Alliance President steps up to say:

“Here we go again!” Rev. Gaddy said. “And, this time the imagery and the implications of the message advanced by leaders of the religious right are more offensive, sacrilegious, and undemocratic than those so integral to Justice Sunday I.

“Right now, the most serious threats to the fundamental rights and liberties in our nation are not coming from a lack of God’s interest but from a small group of religious right leaders who have assumed the mantle of national religious authorities and seek to impose on the whole nation and its constitution their particular views on religion, the courts, politics, and justice.

“One can only wonder about the sincerity of the prayerful plea, “God save the United States and this Honorable Court” when members of the religious right have disparaged certain members of the Supreme Court and some even have prayed for the demise of these members.

“There is no confusion, only manipulation—a manipulation of the holy name of God and a manipulation of the United States Constitution—in the implicit suggestion that only a Supreme Court nominee who wins the approval of the religious right is a suitable, God-endorsed candidate for the highest court in our nation.


“Neither the religions nor the government of this nation will be well served by such pontificating by the religious right. We urge the Family Research Council and its colleagues, please don’t put our nation through this again.”

I encourage you all to watch the simulcast on August 14 at 7pm Eastern, on your computers, and be appropriately outraged.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Christmas in July

While booksellers are getting their hands slapped for selling the new Harry Potter book before the release date "by mistake" (and all I can say, as a former bookseller, is that the boxes of books have warnings, notices, and "DO NOT SELL BEFORE JULY 16 OR YOU WILL DIE" signs in 87 point font, so there was no way, no how, no mistake besides being born stupid), we are 'enjoying' the heat here.

And I just went over to Gothmog's blog and read a funny about his son and nipples, which reminded me of a funny about my son and penises, which I'll tell you in a minute.

But right now, we are going outside to fry eggs on the sidewalk. I'll let you know the results. It's a balmy 117 at the moment, so it might take a while for them to cook. How do you like your eggs prepared?

And back to the boy. Who, I might add, got along famously with Supes. So Supes, Wheezygirl and Wheezyboy were in the pool and I was sitting in the lounge chair along side the pool, when the boy did a cannonball, popped back up out of the water, and noticed his swimming trunks had taken on a giant bubble of air right up front. He does a little whoop and said to himself, "Woo hoo, Father Christmas has a present for you!"

Which became our favorite statement the rest of the weekend.

Egg update: the eggs have taken a surprising turn, and we're not quite sure what to make of it. Instead of actually cooking and the eggwhites turning white, they are simply drying up on the sidewalk. I think this must be how they make powdered eggs.

Which gives me another marketing idea, now that the space shuttle launch was postponed today...

Monday, July 11, 2005

Wheeze and Supes

Two tough cowboys, right here.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

One Thing

We'll be travelling in a few weeks, back to the homeland to see the families in Michigan. My mother emailed me recently (you've missed my mother, haven't you) to let me know what time we'll be eating dinner each of the days we'll be in town. Of course, that was after I told her that we had lots of people to visit. My favorite dinner plan she presented is for Monday, Aug 1, at my parents' house. At 5:25 pm (SHARP) for Fricano's Pizza, their treat. She'd like to know right now what toppings we'd prefer out of the five toppings available from this pizza joint (pepperoni, sausage, green pepper, mushrooms, anchovies).

I need to interrupt and give you some backstory a moment: I remember when McDonald's came to Holland, Michigan. I was maybe 6 or 8 years old, and we was po'. A trip to McDonalds for dinner was a huge treat, and we were each allowed one thing from the menu, plus a courtesy cup of water. Yes--the option was there to get a shake for dinner, or a bag of french fries. That's how special these events were. The words were drilled into my head: ONE THING. One thing. By the time I was 11 and babysitting, I learned to take my own money along if I wanted more. I'm not trying to sound mean or bitter--that's just the way it was, and it's what I knew.

Back to the situation at hand: Choosing toppings for a pizza--does the ONE THING rule apply? I break out into a nervous sweat at the thought of asking for more than just pepperoni. Should I offer to pay for the extra toppings? My parents are a bit better off financially now than they were with four little children running around the house. It *seems* like my mom is truly happy to give us whatever we want. I know she is glad they can afford to pay for our dinner after all those years of scrimping. This pizza night is a big accomplishment for her, and I mean that with respect. I believe if I offer to pay, it will hurt her feelings. But as far as I know, when Mom and Dad go out to Russ', they stand by the ONE THING rule to this day. Plus coffee.

We must take into consideration a medley of other pizza predicaments, too. The 'One Thing' rule started with McDonalds. But, well, there was a pizza rule back in the day, too. We shared one pizza for our family on those afternoons that -- and I say 'afternoons' intentionally, because we ate dinner as soon as we got off the school bus every day back then, but that's a story for a different day -- those afternoons that we were lucky enough to get pizza from the Salad Bowl, back then. Fricano's wasn't around yet. One pizza, 6 people, three of them starving adolescents (I was 12 the first time I tasted pizza). It was a grabfest once Dad said 'amen', as you can imagine.

So, the current day dilemma: Fricano's Pizza comes in one size. I'd guess it's a 12". And it's thin crust. My son, who's almost 12, is at the point where he could probably eat a whole one by himself. The nervous sweat continues. Does the ONE PIZZA rule still apply? Mom said nothing about how many pizzas or how many toppings in the email. If it's Mom and Dad and our family of four, that's six people. It seems logical that the One Pizza rule applies, but they've become more liberal regarding foodstuff in the past years. I know if I ask about it, she'll say "get whatever you want. We're rich now." But following that statement, a silent "as long as it's ONE THING!" echoes across 2000 miles.

Now, you're wondering about the timing -- 5:25pm is an odd time. But you have to understand the logic here.

Fricano's opens at 5pm every day. My mother calls in the pizza order at 5pm, exactly. She knows they will tell her '15 minutes'. When she hangs up at 5:01, she pokes and prods my father until he gets out of his chair, approximately 4 minutes worth. It takes 8 minutes for dad to get to Fricano's, 5 to pay for the pizza and carry it back to the Buick, and 7 minutes to get back home (on the way home, the one-way road is in his favor, so it's shorter). We *WILL* be seated at the table at 5:25pm when dad brings the pizza in the door. Dad will set the pizza on the table, sit down and say grace. And then, it's a frenzied din for 10 minutes, until my mother stands up (with a little precious sauce on her chin, and maybe some crumbs or a piece of pepperoni swinging like a schoolgirl on her glasses which hang around her neck from a chain) and starts taking plates away. Because. One Thing doesn't take long to eat. And when we're done, dammit, we're done.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

I'm sorry, but he's a klutz.

Way to run over a cop, Dubya. Who's the real terrist here?

Monday, July 04, 2005

DHS, leave my family alone.

I just watched a TV commercial, put out by the Department of Homeland Security. This aired during a children's program today. I believe these have been running since November 2004 or so, but it's the first one I've seen:

A little girl is sitting alone at a kitchen table, soberly eating a bowl cereal, looking into the camera. Voice over: "Do you have a plan for terrorist attacks?"

And people support this???

“I hope these ads will encourage parents to take a little time to sit down and map out their family emergency plan today, so they’re prepared for a terrorist attack, natural disaster or any emergency in the future,” said Ridge.

No. It was quite specifically 'terrorist attack'. No mention of any other 'emergency in the future.' You? Are desperate for me to be afraid. So desperate that you will manipulate my children. Shame on you.

The television advertisements feature children asking such questions as, “How do we keep in touch with each other if the phones don’t work?” “If we can’t make it home, who’ll pick us up?” and “Shouldn’t we pick a place to meet?” Homeland Security advises that by simply taking a little time to create a family emergency plan, parents can help uncover the answers to these critically important questions. In addition to the television advertisements, there are also new Ready campaign radio, print, outdoor and internet PSAs.

This ad is clearly not directed toward parents. It is intended to freak out little children, and it has succeeded. Get your pathetic, smarmy, bitch-slapped, tiny, shriveled-up penises out of my house.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Tortilla Flat

Yesterday, a drive into the Superstition Mountains found us passing through Goldfield Ghost Town. We made a quick stop at the shops and Saloon there, and then continued the journey into the mountains through the recently charred desert, 500 acres of which had been destroyed by fire just last week. We could see the smoke from our house last Wednesday afternoon, and were glad to find our favorite Ghost Town intact, though it had been in danger.

After stopping at various overlooks to take photos of the mountain lakes and beautiful canyons, we found ourselves here at the Superstition Saloon in Tortilla Flat. The walls are completely wallpapered with dollar bills, tacked on the walls by people from all over the world.

"To live in Tortilla Flat, you have to work in Tortilla Flat." (Pop. 6)

In 1821, Mexico gained independence from Spain, and an influx of Mexican prospectors poured into the Superstition Mountain region. Don Miguel Peralta was a wealthy landowner and miner from northern Mexico. Reportedly, his expeditions recovered immense quantities of gold from the Superstitions in 1847 and 1848. All but one member of the expedition was killed in a battle with the Apaches at a site commemorated as Massacre Grounds, located at the west end of the mountains. The Peralta legend is the inspiration for quite a few gold expeditions into the Superstitions, even today.

Along with all the prospectors came settlers, which created the need for military outposts for protection against increasing hostilities with the Indians. Military personnel, prospectors, cattle ranchers, and, of course, the Indians, used the Yavapai Trail as a route going into the Tonto basin area. Because of its location, the availability of water, and grass for horses, Tortilla Flat was a good place to camp along the trail.

Later, 1904 and after, Tortilla Flat was a stop for freight haulers on their way to the construction site at Roosevelt Dam. Shortly following the construction of the road, Roosevelt Dam became a big tourist attraction. At that point Tortilla Flat was a stage stop for tourists and mail carriers through the 1930's.
You can read more history here.

After meeting Tasha and Rosie, two young women who worked the bar in the saloon (and were tolerant enough to put up with the antics of Supes, Wheezy and Company -- but what can you expect when the barstools are saddles? The temptation was too great, and our will to behave in public was, er, non-existent), we drove back a short distance to the marina and enjoyed some great food overlooking the sunset, which turned the mountains a beautiful shade of red.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Uh-oh, Karl Rove.

Editor and Publisher reports that, on the McLaughlin Group, MSNBC analyst Lawrence O'Donnell revealed the White House leak in the Valerie Plame/CIA case:

"I know I'm going to get pulled into the grand jury for saying this but the source of...for Matt Cooper was Karl Rove, and that will be revealed in this document dump that Time magazine's going to do with the grand jury."

What's that term for 'I did not have sexual relations with that woman'? I expect we'll find out. Good one, Karl!