Archive for November, 2005

Jif and I try to teach LG proper table manners. Our example isn’t always the best. Elbows on the table is a particular weakness of ours. But honestly, we try. Like a gateway drug, elbows on the table can lead to more egregious violations of etiquette. To the most egregious violations . . .

We’re all at the table on Saturday night. Eating, conversing. Every now and then, Jif or I (OK, I) will say, “LG, elbows.” Then LG sees an opportunity…

“Daddy, elbow.”

Jif smiles/smirks and removes the offending joint. But he does not learn his lesson.

“Daddy, elbow.”

Jif does not respond.

“Daddeeeeee! Now BOTH of your elbows are on the table!”

“Yes, but that’s only because I’m eating my porkchop with two hands.”

Who ARE these people? LG and I begin to laugh, and I say, “You know I’m blogging this.”

LG continues to laugh, harder. So hard, in fact, that she commits what might be the most egregious sin of all, at the dinner table. She — er — passes gas. Loudly and long.


She laughs harder. “Are you blogging that?”

“No! I wouldn’t know how to spell it . . . “

Then my rude daughter becomes thoughtful, helpful, even. “I think maybe f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f . . . “

The gentlemanly Jif offers assistance, “I think maybe a ‘t’ at the end . . .”

I don’t know these people.


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Sunday Post ~ “When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.” –Tecumseh

1 Chronicles 16:34

file under: &Sunday Post

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We celebrated Thanksgiving with Jif’s entire family, at his parents’ home. It was very special because Nana and PopPop are moving in a few weeks, down-sizing to a smaller place. Here is my SPF attempt at:

  • Something/s/one that makes Thanksgiving.
  • Your Dinner
  • The Aftermath
  • Bonus Points: tacky centerpiece
  • The thing that “makes” Thanksgiving:

    children's table

    A kids’ table. This is the only time of year when there’s a separate kids’ table. As you can see, we fed the kids two carrots each. That is all. And they were lucky to get that.

    the before picture

    The table “before.” Isn’t it elegant? Isn’t it classy?

    Warm family moment at the table:
    BIL Spritz (gently touching the dried flower ring on the centerpiece): Don’t call me Richard Simmons again, but this is really nice.

    I didn’t really get pix of the food, because we ate buffet style, and well, have you ever seen vultures on road kill? You don’t go into a scene like that and stand still with a camera.

    But here’s the table after dinner, before dessert:


    Warm family moment out front:
    The lovely and talented Aunt Jen has the very fine idea of taking a family portrait in front of the house, since this will be everyone’s last holiday in this home where Jif and sibs grew up. Parents, sibs and spouses, and grandchildren all gather in front of the house. Aunt Jen sets up the tripod, runs to get in the pic. This was no easy task; it was cold, the kids were not happy with the project, but WE DID IT! Whew! Thank the Lord that’s over . . .

    Slugger’s mom: Wait! Where’s Slugger?
    Everyone looks for the littlest grandboy, who apparently did not make it into the picture. Except, maybe he did, because then Aunt Jen sees him looking out the window of the storm door, sticking his tongue out at the freezing family. After his brother went in and wacked him, and after he mostly stopped crying, we took another one.

    Here’s an “after” pic: I had what she’s having!

    mmmm chocolate
    Cindy Lou Who and the Chocolate Factory

    Warm family moment:
    I walk through the family room and slip on the braided rug which sits, un-grippered, on the hardwood floor. I regain my balance, don’t hit the deck, and I hear my loving BIL from the recliner:
    “Don’t fall. I’d have to get up.”

    Well, as you’ve seen (and heard from Spritz), Nana did not have a “tacky” centerpiece.

    ::tangent:: Family visits here. Do you REALLY think I’m going to identify ANYTHING in my MIL’s home as “tacky?” I thought not. ::end tangent::

    If we were at my home, I could find you some tacky. Here’s our centerpiece right now. I don’t know that it’s entirely tacky. It is more “country” than is my taste, but I do embrace the sentiment:

    count your blessings

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    turkey farm

    Across the hall from my office is what I believed to be a daycare center. Turns out, it is some sort of work-release program for 3- and4-year-olds, from which they operate a turkey farm. As you can imagine, it’s been a busy place this week. I’ve dealt with a turkey or two in my day, so I thought I’d take a moment to offer some last-minute turkey selection guidance, with a little help from my turkey-raising friends across the hall.

    Do look for:

    good bird

    A plump, confident bird that will look you right in the eye. All parts should be . . . “in the ballpark,” so to speak.


    visually challenged turkey

    A bird that appears intoxicated, or just effin’ goofy. You don’t want that.

    inverted bird

    The upside-down turkey, with crossed legs and shifty eyes. May also exhibit a paranoid demeanor. This bird will NOT digest easily.

    ingrown turkey

    Watch for the inbred turkey. Its feathers and legs tend to grow inward. Also be leery of turkeys with excessive glue or other miscellaneous white liquids dripping from their beaks. You just don’t know where a turkey like this has been.

    afflicted turkey

    This is the “WTF” turkey. Any bird that elicits, as your first response, a startled “WTF?!” is to be avoided. Just say no.

    In the true spirit of Thanksgiving, please accept my sincere


    for visiting me here, for reading, commenting, lurking. Thank you for your interesting, funny, strange comments, and for your kind and encouraging emails. Blogging is so much more fun than I ever would have guessed, thanks to you. Yea, you.

    Americans, enjoy your Thanksgiving. Everyone else, enjoy your tomorrow.

    Thank someone for something!

    file under: &The Kids Across the Hall

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    From the Files

    Can Sensitivity and Common Sense Coexist?

    My client tells me last week that her boy was suspended from high school, 12th grade, for five days, charged with “biased behavior.”

    Seems his “Living Skills” class was having a discussion on negotiating in the marketplace. The teacher asked them what they could do if they wanted to buy something that they thought was overpriced.

    My client’s son answered, “I’d try to ‘jew’ them down.” Except even in his thoughts, he didn’t put “jew” in quotation marks, because he wouldn’t have known to do that. There in the classroom, in addition to students and teacher, was an administrator from the school board, there to observe. The administrator was a Jewish man who took offense, took extreme offense, at the boy’s answer. With no confrontation, no explanation, the man went to the office and started the process that would suspend the boy for five days and put a notice of “biased behavior” in his school file. The mom was called. She apologized for what her son had said, adding that, regrettably, she expected he had heard his grandfather use that term. She pleaded, saying that she was certain her son had no idea of the term’s origin, or that it even related to a group of people, and certainly no idea that it was an offensive term. So far, the suspension stands, the record stands, and my client is the only person to have taken the time to explain to her son what he did wrong.

    My client, who works in education, said that she could not understand why the teacher and/or administrator wouldn’t have made use of the “teachable moment,” to help the boy and all the other students examine the statement, understand why it would be objectionable, and replace it with something else. I agree with her. I have never used that term; I have heard it, and I find it offensive. And I still say that this situation is political correctness / cultural sensitivity run amok. A little common sense is called for. Incidentally, the teacher thoroughly corroborates, via an email which my client showed me, the story that the boy clearly had no intent to offend, and indeed, appeared to completely lack understanding of why he was in trouble.


    I got a phone call from a former client, whom I hadn’t heard from in a couple of years. When I met her, she was utterly alone. The story she told was one that would not have been realistic enough for a soap opera. If it can go wrong in a person’s life, it had gone wrong in this woman’s. Illness, disaster, violation, victimization, betrayal by family, friends, church. And you might think, yea, but did she….? Yes, she did. Yea, but was she…? Yes, she was. Imagine a bad scene, and she had been there. She was living in her car when I met her, here in a country that was not her own, staying in this town to complete her cancer therapy.

    She was calling to tell me that she has written a book, which will be published next year, and in which she wanted me to know, I get a “shout out.” I am not showing false modesty when I say to you, as I said to her, “I didn’t do anything.” She says I helped her immeasurably, and that she wouldn’t have survived if not for me. I don’t see it. Indeed, I was often amazed that this woman was not suicidal, and it was not because of anything I was doing. Her needs were so great, anything I had to offer barely made a dent. I actually remember thinking, more than once, that if I were her, I would have to seriously consider suicide. Her past, present, and prospects for the future, seemed that bleak. She amazed me then, and she delights me now. She is indeed, a survivor. I can’t tell you how happy, truly happy I was, to hear from her.


    Had a little training session for the grad student interns, on interpreting children’s art in therapy. Student One holds up a client’s drawing of his family, in which she’s calling attention to everything but the ONE thing that jumps out at me from across the room.

    Me: What is that, there, on the Dad? Is that pubic hair?

    Student One (obviously seeing what I see for the first time): Ohmygosh, I didn’t even notice that! (looks more closely) No, I think it’s like laces, they’re like lace-up pants…

    Me: His Dad wears lace-up pants? Did he wear these in session? (other students giggle)

    Student Two: I think they’re balls!

    Student One (with absolute seriousness): No, it couldn’t be that, he doesn’t have any. In fact, that’s one of the things we’re working on, trying to get him some…

    Me: Well, OK, as long as you document that as a goal in your treatment plan.


    Sometimes clients, even uncooperative ones, will feed me the perfect set-up.

    In this family, I’m trying to get the single mom and all three teenagers to take responsibility for their own actions, to stop blaming one another, or anyone else for the choices they make. I am at that point in the session when a concrete example would be useful. Just then, the 13-year-old says something very disrespectful to the mom, such disrespect being another target of treatment.

    Mom looks stricken, as she always does when this kid lets loose her venom. I say to the kid, “Gidget, it seems to me that you are so accustomed to being unkind to your mom, I wonder if you even recognize how hurtful your words are to her…”

    Gidget says, “Oh, yea. I know I’m being disrespectful. She gets on my nerves so much, she makes me so crazy, that I have to be disrespectful to her!”

    Mom retorts, “See? See what I live with!? I had quit smoking today, but you know what? I’m going to smoke! They behave so badly that I’m going back to smoking as soon as we leave here!”

    Hmmm. Wonder where Gidget learned her technique…

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    photo by my …

    squirl's tree
    photo by my friend, Squirl

    Sunday Post ~ “Friends … they cherish one another’s hopes. They are kind to one another’s dreams.” — Henry David Thoreau

    Romans 12:10,15

    file under: &Sunday Post

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    This is a box in my closet that I call my “keeping box.” Inside are ticket stubs, little souvenirs, nice notes that people have written to me, sentimental things. Whenever someone writes something to me that makes me feel good, I put it in the box. Then when I don’t feel so good, I can take the good stuff out and read it, and feel better. I highly recommend a keeping box, a pretty one, for everyone.


    Just a couple of things inside the keeping box: the little baby hat LG wore in the hospital and the “rag” (actually a washcloth with crocheted trim around it) that she used to chew on, which had been made by Jif’s great grandmother.



    The above mess was present on my kitchen floor this morning when I returned from walking LG to school. I left a box of tea on the counter, and Biscuit the VBD felt the need to dump it on the floor. Indeed, this is a need he feels any and every time tea is left out. He needs a therapist. But it can’t be me, because…


    This is also my present. Case files. I am working too much.



    I’m trying to be mysterious, so work with me here. This is a tease of future posts. Pretty far into the future. No more info is available now, but it will be big, BIG, I tell you, when the time is right.

    Blog Princess Kristine sponsors/hosts/orchestrates, etc., SPF. Check with her every week to get the assignment, if you want to play 🙂

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    Kiss and Tell

    I was late getting my first kiss, compared to my peers. This was because I lived in the country. I remember going to a party at one of my town friends’ homes (the one whose dad was a funeral director, and whose house was attached to the funeral home), and listening to the conversation about who kissed how. I had no idea. But the town kids were together every evening. My more rural peers and I only saw each other outside of school on special pre-arranged occasions, which involved parents driving us to get together. It was simply a matter of opportunity meeting preparation. We were in eighth grade when I realized how far behind I was. I resolved to catch up ASAP.

    My boyfriend was Mike. He was a year older, a freshman in high school. He was very much a hippie. Big, curly ‘fro (he was white), and he wore wire-rimmed glasses and a red fez. I can’t defend the fez; at the time, it seemed jaunty. He lived near town, and the only way he and I saw one another was on the school bus. Until the day his mom agreed to drive us both to the movies. Both his mom and dad came to pick me up

    ::tangent: I wasn’t allowed to “date” at that age; as far as I know, I am still not allowed to date, so I don’t know what we were calling that little rendezvous, and in hindsight, I’m amazed I was allowed to go. There may have been lying involved. On someone’s part. ::end tangent

    and I remember a big, blue car (got me a Chrysler that’s as big as a whale and we’re about to set sail!) and two big parents. They were really, really fat, and looked very much alike. They were hippies, too, but didn’t have the ‘fros, they had long, straight hair. They were nice, but not a bit parental, as I recall.

    The movie was probably a Billy Jack sequel. The kiss occurred when they took me home. I don’t know if Mike had arranged this with his parents or not, but as I recall (gosh, I hope I’m senile or something, because this is too bizarre) he kissed me in the big blue car, in front of my house, with the big hippie parents in the front seat. I don’t remember the kiss in detail. I do remember thinking things like, “I think he didn’t do that right, because . . . is that it? He must not be a ‘good kisser.'” In case you haven’t gathered yet, I was not in love with Mike. (I’m not in love, don’t make a fuss . . . yea, that crap;) That was it. The first kiss.

    That was not the most colorful part of the Mike story. The most colorful part was when I tried to break up with him, not too long after that. I guess he could be called a stalker, although the term had not been coined yet. After too many phone calls that I ended abruptly, he came to see me. Hitch-hiked, some 10 or 15 miles. I saw him across the road from my house. My dad was home. My dad had no clue that I was interested in boys, or they in me. And there, across the road from my rural ranch house, was Mike with his red fez. He stood there staring at the house for a long time. I was getting tummy trouble from the anxiety, and prayed he would get tired and leave before my dad noticed him. He got tired, but he didn’t leave. He just lay down. In the ditch. With his red-fezzed head sticking up above the ditch-line, staring across the road at my house. Son of a mother…

    OK, insert Dad’s southern accent here. “Susie, there’s some ol’ boy a-layin’ in the ditch. Do you know that boy?”

    Boy? Ditch? I looked out the living room picture window. “Um, I don’t think so…”

    “I’ll go see what he wants.”

    “NO! I think I know who that is. He rides my bus. I’ll go see what he wants!” And out the door I go. He would not leave. I begged. I went back in the house and told my father, “He wants to talk to me, but I don’t want to talk to him. I just want him to leave.” Then a strange thing happened. My father, who had no respect for hippies, and I would have thought, even less respect for red-fez-wearing, ditch-lying hippies, said to invite him in. I can only imagine that my father remembered what it was like to be a teen-age boy, “sweet on” a girl.

    Mike came in and was very polite to my father. We talked on the back porch, and he finally called his parents to bring the blue whale and pick him up.

    The next boyfriend was Ricky. I liked him much better. He could have lain in my ditch any day.

    ::tangent: That reminds me; Mike wasn’t truly my first kiss. My VERY first kiss was from an earlier Ricky, Ricky Canterbury. He was from West Virginia and looked just like Howdy Doody. We played baseball. I did love him. We were in third grade. end tangent ::

    This is a motif Monday post, brought to you by mrtl. mrtl is also responsible for the tangents in this post. She is the tangent master. Wax on, wax off.

    If you didn’t do motif Monday, tell us here about your first kiss!

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    hedgehog collage
    Sunday Post ~ “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” — a woman I met last week

    Hebrews 4:16

    file under: &Sunday Post

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    Dominick, the furnace guy, just left. He inspired me to contemplate how one brief encounter can cause a shift in perspective, for better or worse.

    I started today knowing pretty much what I was in for. We haven’t yet turned on our heat this year. For a couple of reasons. We like to get the oil burner maintenance done before we turn it on each Fall. And we’re trying to wear sweaters and use the fireplace, because we’re a little worried about oil prices. Believe me, we haven’t suffered; we’re neither cheap nor hardy, and we’d turn the heat on if we were uncomfortable. Last year when the furnace guy (his name was, um, NotDominick) left, he gave me a speech about how our furnace is operating at only about 70% efficiency, and he’s doing me a big favor by “approving” it at all, and next year we’ll definitely need a new one. So I wasn’t looking forward to what this year’s furnace guy would say.

    I stayed home today, my day off, to wait for the furnace guy who would arrive between 8 and 12. I hoped it was closer to 8. It wasn’t. I HATE waiting for service people in those ungodly huge, unreasonable windows of time they give us for appointments.

    He arrived around 2 p.m. He was friendly, and nice to my dog. I’m always relieved to get a “good vibe” from home repair and maintenance people. I’ve found that part of home-ownership so disconcerting, that letting strange (sometimes VERY strange) men into my home when I’m alone in the house, seemingly even alone in the neighborhood. I imagine men don’t think much about things like that. I think other women do, though; don’t you? Anyhow, Dominick was friendly, so I didn’t give him a hard time about how late he was. I know perfectly well how easy it is to start out the day right on time, and get progressively behinder with each appointment. I did, however, have to say to him, “I was expecting you earlier, so I have some afternoon commitments. If you can give me a ball park as to how long this might take, I’ll call my husband to be home when I have to leave.”

    He looked at me like I needed some special help and said, “I’ll be here about 25 minutes.”

    “Twenty-five minutes?”

    “Well, could be 30.”

    “The guy who came last year was here for two and a half hours.”

    “I don’t know what to tell you, ma’am. Your system is in good shape. I’ll vacuum it out and replace a couple of filters, maybe a nozzle.”

    “I’m not complaining; that’ s great. I’m just surprised.”

    “Well, I could sit down there and balance my checkbook or talk on the phone, and bang on the register every now and then so it sounds to you like I’m doing something, and spend 2 hours here. Or I could do my job in 25 minutes.”

    “Dominick, DO YOUR JOB!” Woo-hoo!

    So I sit at the kitchen table doing banking kinds of things, while Dominick does his job. And sings. He sings, “Who’s That Lady (who’s that lady?)” and “Cuts Like a Knife,” and “I Can’t Get Enough of Your Love,” and a couple of others, and his voice comes up through the vents into the kitchen. Quite a repertoire, and not a bad voice. Then he’s done. He brings me a paper to sign, the same kind of paper that last year’s guy pointed to while he told me that my furnace was in such bad shape he could shut me down if he had half a mind to.

    But Dominick says, “Your furnace is at 84% efficiency; you’re fine.”

    “But the guy last year said we’d need a new one this year. It was at 70% last year. How could it improve?”

    “It didn’t improve. It’s like this. If you get a new unit, I get a commission. My conscience is more important to me than my commission. I believe in a God. If I weren’t running so late, I’d tell you my story and you’d understand just why I believe in a God. But my point is, I believe in being honest with people. Your furnace is fine.”

    “Thank you for that. I was not looking forward to replacing it; we’ve got other things going on right now. I’m going to ask for you next year when I schedule the maintenance.”

    “If I’m still living, that’s fine. You have a real nice weekend, Mrs. Fairchild.”

    You, too, Dominick.

    Good things come to those who wait?

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