Archive for September, 2006

Just before LG entered first grade, we stretched our budget in order to move into a public school district that is among the best in the state. Not only do they have excellent teachers, but they have really cool after-school programs. LG just enrolled in an after-school language immersion class — French and German, this semester. After the first class, I received the following email from the coordinator of the program, a former president of the PTA at “Cool School.” We scrimp and sacrifice so that our Cool School kid can learn, among other things, how to communicate effectively:

The dismissal process at Cool School was a bit hectic last week due to so many wonderful after-school activities. Talks between the PTA and the Cool School administration have established a way for teachers to easily view which students go to a particular PTA sponsored after-school activity on a daily basis. This should help to prevent confusion for teachers, staff, and for students. Parents do not need to write a reminder to teachers for after-school activities weekly. I suggest that you send a note to your child’’s teacher to inform him/her of your child’’s participation. If your child is enrolled in other after-school activities, you may want to include the day and that activity as well. Please remind children who normally take the bus home from school that they have an after-school activity. Bus riders are dismissed prior to children for after-school activities. If a child is missing from the language class, I would first check with the school office to make sure the child was not absent that day. If the child was at school, I would then start to call the emergency numbers provided on the registration form. I will not stop calling until I reach someone! You may want to talk to your child about a plan if this ever occurs, for example what neighbor they could go to for help.

Um….alrighty then. Maybe I’ll go to a neighbor for help in figuring out what this email says…

file under: &Family


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For Our Friends

The first blogfriend I made was the one and only, truly original Bucky Four-eyes. It was love at first read, for me. I call her my blog Godmother, because in ways I can’t fully articulate, she (without knowing she was doing so) gave me the courage(?) to start blogging. And then it wasn’t too long before I learned she has a sister! A classy sister, Squirl. These talented, funny, smart, kind-hearted women adopted me and some other sisterless friends. And I love my adopted family.

For the past few days, Bucky and Squirl, and their brothers, have found themselves in a place that many of us find ourselves at some point in life, if we are blessed, as they have been, to have a loving parent who has lived a long life. Their mother is very ill. And they are at the point of gathering the family, and living moment to moment, and perhaps of being uncertain of what to even hope or pray for.

So, you sweet, generous people who find your way here. You know what to do. My gosh, how well I know that you all know what to do! Go give my girls some love. Pray for them, for their whole family. I humbly thank you.

I didn’t publish my Sunday Post this week with them in mind. But it surely is fitting. So I want to do something I don’t usually do, which is write out the text of the scripture I used. As I’ve explained before, I usually just put the scripture reference without writing out the verses, because I’m trying to be a manipulative bitch and force people to open their own Bibles. But I’ll do it for you this time:

“If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

file under: &Neighborhood Watch

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emma joe and abby

Sunday Post ~ “The road to a friend’s house is never long.” — Danish Proverb

“Especially if you know your friend’s URL.” — Susie Fairchild

Ecclesiastes 4:10-12
(Thanks, Ern 🙂

file under: &Sunday Post

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The Wind Beneath My Wings

OK, first, I really dislike that song. I know a lot of people find it very meaningful, yadda, yadda. But it annoys me. HOWEVER, it suits my purposes today. Two things I aim to do with this here post: thank some people, and do the music meme that I’ve seen at Nilbo’s, Squirl’s and Bucky’s.

I don’t like “The Wind Beneath My Wings” because . . . wind. Who wants to be called “wind?” Like, “You blow.” Or “You’re a fart.” You know? I don’t want to be anybody’s wind!

BUT . . . I guess it sort of means . . . “you lift me up.”* And that’s a lovely sentiment. So that’s what I want to say to many of you reading this. I’ve written a couple of emails in the last 24 hours, saying so, but there are a lot more people I want to say it to. In very many ways, you people, most of whom I’ve never met, and (as much as it hurts my heart a little bit to write this) I never will meet, are more of a support to me than my IRL friends. That’s not anything against my IRL friends. I have some stellar friends, who would do anything for me. It’s something about me. I’ve never been one to ask for help. I’ve been one to offer help. But somewhere along the way, in the last many months here, I’ve learned to ask for help. And I’ve gotten it.

My IRL friends would come over and cook, clean, whatever. If I’d let them. (Some of you have offered to come here, from Texas, from Washington, to help out . . . and I swear, I think you would if I’d give you the OK.) I like to feed people. I like to make people laugh. I like people to feel like their spirits have been warmed when they visit my home. I can’t produce those effects right now. And I KNOW it’s me. I know it’s my “issue.” No one expects me to produce for them; that’s not why they’re coming around. But it’s hard for me to have visitors and not do those things. It’s something I need to grow through, get past, I know. But I’m not there yet.

I can come on here and rant, and cry, and bitch, and be scared. And you don’t get in your cars and show up at the door when I don’t have any cookies for you. And that works for me, dammit. I couldn’t sleep last night/this morning. I went out visiting about 4 a.m. Some of you, I left a note or two for. Some of you I just laughed, or prayed for, or sent you some love, and quietly left. And I didn’t wake you up in the process. I’m not going to call or visit an IRL friend at 4 a.m. And I don’t want them visiting me. You all visit me when it’s convenient for you. I don’t worry about imposing on you; I know you’re only here because you want to be.

Many of you have sent encouraging notes, funny pictures, jokes and such. Many of you, some who don’t even comment, have sent me ideas about what might be wrong with me. And not ONE of those ideas have been off-the-wall, or . . . negative in any way. All thoughtful, reasonable, worth checking into. We’re talking about strangers online, people! Isn’t that amazing and wonderful? I surely think so. And then, all those of you who send me love and healing energy. And those who pray. And those who have said, in some form, “I don’t pray; but I’m making an exception for you.” And those whose little ones are praying for me. OK, now you got me misty. Thank you. I PROMISE it makes a difference. I promise I feel better than I would otherwise because you’re doing what you’re doing. That is what I believe with my whole heart. And sooner or later, one way or another, all will be well. And you helped make that so. BIG SNIFF. Thank you. God bless you.

Now. Where’s that meme thing?

What is the first music you remember hearing?
Two things come to mind. I had a little record player with some big, thick orange vinyl 45 rpms. A nice lady sang “A Tisket, A Tasket” on one; and at the end of it was the rhyme:
There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead
When she was good, she was very, very good
When she was bad, she was horrid!

I aspired to that. The other thing I remember from very, very early, is my mother, singing at the kitchen sink. Hank Williams, Patsy Cline. And with six kids and no dishwasher, she was at the sink a lot.

Did you come from a musical family?
No one played an instrument. But both of my parents sang a lot. Not formally. Just when they were doing what they did. Mom washing dishes. I remember my father singing while he shaved. Which, this moment, I find rather odd. But, he did.

Do you remember a lullaby from your childhood? If so, what is it?
I remember my mother singing the mockingbird song. “Hush little baby, don’t say a word, Mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird…”

What song(s) changed your life?
This one is tough. Songs keep changing my life. I almost always have a song in my head. God speaks to me through the radio. A lot of hymns come to mind. “Amazing Grace” (btw, a blogfriend sent me herself singing that; how beautiful is that?), “Be Thou My Vision.” And some pop songs. Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love.” That’s what we all want. “I will wait for it . . . I’m not too late for it . . . ” OK, if you didn’t think I was nuts before, you will now: When LG was a tiny baby in the crib, she “sang,” perfectly in tune, gibberish syllables to “Ode to Joy.” It was just a tad eery. We did not (to my knowledge) play that song at home. We heard it maybe once or twice a year at church . . . but my baby was “singing” it. Daily. She talked very early, and when she was old enough and I heard her singing “her” song, I asked her, “Where did you learn that song?” And she said, in 18-month-old speak, “From the little brown-haired girl who comes in my crib when you and Daddy are asleep. She teached it to me.” Insert Twilight Zone music. I’m just telling you what the kid said. Believe it or not. I can’t say it “creeped me out,” because, I find it quite lovely. I guess it confirmed my belief that we arrive here on the planet with access to a lot more knowledge, more truth, more beauty, than we have by the time we are adults and those avenues of access have been blocked somehow.

If you could have dinner with three dead musicians which three would you choose and why?
Well, I will clarify, as Nils did, that I ain’t sitting down to a meal with no damned dead-ass people. (But Nils didn’t say it like that, because he’s a professional communicator, not a Snoop Dogg/Dr. Phil hybrid.) But if they came back to life for the occasion . . . let’s see . . . Elvis. Marvin Gaye. Handel. Elvis, because . . . handsome, brilliant, kind, in need of a good shrink. Marvin Gaye because . . . brilliant, sexy, Dude, your father SHOT YOU? What’s up with THAT? And Handel . . . well, I never get over marvelling at the Messiah. I want to know, from one in the know, what it feels like to be possessed by that kind of intense, concentrated brilliance.

You are stranded on a deserted island. You are allowed the complete musical works of one band and its members. Which band or musician would you choose?
This one isn’t too tough for me. The Neville Brothers. They have everything. They are a blend of so many different kinds of music. They have music that makes me think; makes me dance; makes me feel like rebelling against something; makes me feel like I’ve been to church. I loves me some Nevilles.

Does music play in your head? If so, what is playing right now?
Ohmygosh, yes. Whether I like it or not. Right now . . . Melissa Etheridge, “Keep it Precious.”

Can music truly soothe the savage beast? If so, what music soothes your beast?
OK, as others have pointed out, the quote is actually “savage BREAST.” But I think you’re supposed to pass the meme on with the original error intact. Either way, though, yes, music can truly soothe the beast, the breast, the beast’s breasts, whatever. This is tough, because I don’t often use music to alter my mood. I’m more likely to choose music that matches my mood. And maybe that helps me move through the mood, if it’s an unpleasant one. I know when I have insomnia, I’m always tickled to find an infomercial for the Time-Life Soul Ballads Collection. Or even the *gasp* disco collection. Maybe nostalgic music soothes my beasty breasts. Breasty beasts. Soul music. R&B. Funk. They’re probably the most likely genres to change my mood for the better.

So, you wanna do the meme? Do it here or at your place, and tell us about it 🙂

*OK, it occurred to me as I wrote that, I could have used Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up,” which is not a bad song at all, and I could have totally avoided the objectionable “Wind Beneath My Wings” thing. But then I would have had no excuse to say, “you blow,” or “you’re a fart,” and really, what would this rambling post be without those two bits of profundity? Hmm?

file under: &Memes &Meta-blogging &Partial Nudity

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walking home in the rain

rainy day roses

rainy day rocks

rainy day hedgehog

Sunday Post ~ “The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears.” — Native American Proverb

Psalm 126
(Thanks, Nick 🙂

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Over the weekend, I binged on the Miami Ink marathon on TV. I was fascinated both by the talent of the artists, and by the many odd and wonderful reasons people get the tattoos they get. I don’t have any tattoos. Until recently, I never even considered it. And I still probably don’t seriously consider it. But maybe. I arrived just a tad too early to be in the generation of women who think tattooing is no big deal. It’s a big deal to me. Although I don’t know if my tattoo skepticism is due to my generation or to my temperament, my spirit, my A.D.D. Anything one enters into with the expectation of (relative) permanence is a big, HUGE deal to me. Marriage, mortgage, parenthood and the like. Getting my ears pierced at 13 was a big deal. How do I know I will always want this? is what I ask myself. As I inflicted episode after episode of Miami Ink on my family, LG asked her father and me if we had any tattoos. Both of us answered in the negative. Would we ever get one?

Me: Starting to think about it.
Jif: If Mama makes us watch this show much longer, I am going to get one . . .
LG: What would you get, Daddy?! Where would you put it?!
Jif: A stop sign. Right here (forehead).

One of the most-tattooed people that I’ve had the privilege to know well was a client. He was a young man who looked like, but wasn’t, a skinhead. He “talked black,” and walked with a very exaggerated swagger. Both arms were heavily tattooed. I did my best to resist judging him based on appearance, as he ambled into my office. As I got to know him, I discovered that he had one of the purest hearts I’ve encountered. What I thought was some kind of affected badass walk was actually the product of having had numerous cancerous tumors removed from his femur. The symbols, dates, etc., on his arms were in memory of his two babies who had died shortly after birth due to a rare chromosomal abnormality — his genes and his wife’s were very likely to result in this abnormality again, and they were pregnant again. So, he was the first person with whom I really “got” what tattooing is about for some people. Not an adornment, for some, but a way of telling their story. And I love when people tell their stories.

Recently, I’ve seriously considered “inking” myself to tell a story. I’ve mentioned here before how lymph nodes pop up and down like little bitty wack-a-moles. And I’ve thought that if I just “Sharpied” a circle around them when they pop up, I could show the docs exactly which ones are busy, and I can keep track of how often they emerge, etc. No?

My kid watched some Miami Ink with me over the weekend. Posterity may show that this was a bad idea. She’s kind of into “ink” now. We’ve always done the rub-on tattoos, the face-painting and such. I’m not able to go out and do fun stuff with her like I used to, and will again soon, I hope. Thankfully, her Dad and our friends and family are good about that, so LG still has plenty of fun. On Sunday, a friend took her to a local street fair. She got “airbrushed” stencilled tattoos, including this one:

LG Ink

She is tremendously impressed with her own coolness right about now. She likes to pretend that this tattoo and the one on her arm (allegedly the Chinese symbols for “lucky”) are real. She spent the other night with her grandparents, going out to dinner and breakfast with them, at which time she showed her tats to the waitress. Nana is something less than impressed with LG’s coolness right about now. In fact, Nana is more like mortified that anyone would think her 10-year-old granddaughter is tattooed.

On Saturday, Jif and another Dad took LG’s Girl Scout troop to the “Big Event,” a GS Cookie pep rally of sorts. (Curiously, some of the girls couldn’t go because it was Dads going instead of Moms. I find that sad and unfortunate.) The event featured all sorts of funstuff booths, including face-painting, done by older Scouts with varying degrees of skill.

True story: The “seasoned” face-painters had drawn up a design board, showing the selections that they could do for the girls, identified by number. LG chose #13, which was a stylized, winged, lightening bolt kinda thing. Turned out fine. Her friend, Roxie, wanted the same. Fly in the ointment: Between LG leaving the painting chair and Roxie occupying it, a new painter came on board. Roxie tells the new painter, “Give me #13, please.”

Jif and the other Dad are standing by, but not paying too much attention. When Roxie comes over to show everyone, Jif says to her, “Oh, that’s nice. Does that have some significance for you?”

“No, I just liked it when LG got it.”

Hmmm. LG didn’t get that. Jif tries again. “Is that your soccer jersey number?”

“What? I got a number thirteen…”

Jif gets it. “No, Roxie . . . you got THE number 13! You got a 1 and a 3!” Jif and the other Dad CRACK UP. Seriously, I know Moms would have laughed, but I think there would have been a little more sensitivity involved. Jif offered to help Roxie explain to the painter, and get a new one, but she declined. Poor girl walked around the rest of the day with a 13 on her face. At least it wasn’t a tattoo.

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9-11 Recycled

Watching TV this morning, as we come up to the “second moment of silence.” Thinking about this today. Don’t have anything new to say. Peace to you.

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Just Testing the Waters

All the other kids are doing it, and I’m not sure if I want to do it. But I thought I’d claim my name, just in case . . .

This one looks a little tougher, for a techno-dunce. We’ll see.

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Sunday Post

leaf in a storm

Sunday Post ~ a song

“I was sure by now
You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.

But once again, I say ‘amen,’
and it’s still raining.
And as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
“I’m with you.”

And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives . . .
and takes away.

I’ll praise You in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side

and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry
and raised me up again

My strength is almost gone.
How can I carry on
if I can’t find You?

And as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
“I’m with you.”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives . . .
and takes away.

–“Praise You in This Storm” recorded by Casting Crowns

Psalm 121

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devil dog

Because he really is very bad.

On the first day of school, I let Biscuit out into our fenced backyard. When it was time for LG and me to leave for school, I went to let him back in. He was gone. We had to leave, so I walked LG to school (less than 10 minutes, across the street and up the hill), and assured her that he would probably be home by the time I got back. I even planned to call the school and get a message to her that he had returned safely, so she wouldn’t worry.

I arrived back home, and no Biscuit. But there was a voicemail message. “My name is Jack Ho and I’m calling to let you know that Biscuit is at school . . . oh, wait, someone’s here claiming him . . . ” Click. I hoped and assumed that “school” meant LG’s school, but I could not imagine who was “claiming” him, unless it was LG — although I secretly hoped he was being dognapped (because he’s bad, very bad). I got a leash and a treat and went out the door. Mind you, I have WTF Disease and one trip to the school per morning pretty much kicks my ass, but because my dog had gone to school and retrieving him seemed like the right thing to do, I set out for my second trip. Just as I was crossing the street, I saw Biscuit leading our backyard neighbor down the sidewalk toward our house. Thankfully, the neighbor had claimed him and hooked a belt to Biscuit’s collar, walking him home. And the neighbor, Bill, had seen LG and told her what was happening, so she wouldn’t be worried.

When LG returned home that day, she told me how Biscuit was the talk of the school. It seems while he was in the yard, he had seen and heard some groups of children heading to school, and had elected to leap the fence and join them. Once there, he walked right into the building with all the kids, and made himself at home. They said he was very friendly to adults and children alike, and sniffed several rooms on his way to his final destination : the guidance counselor’s office. LG was quite a celebrity that morning — the girl whose dog came in to see Mr. G. and get counseling.

You might say, “But, Susie, he’s not bad . . . that’s cute . . . he just wanted to be with the kids . . .” Fine. How about THIS:

My church celebrates “the Lord’s Supper,” communion, on the first Sunday of each month. On the Monday following that Sunday, the pastor and one church elder go out to the residences of the “shut-ins” of the congregation, delivering home communion. Rev. Dr. Fruity has a nifty little leather case just for this occasion, with a tiny silver plate for the bread, and teeny glasses for the grape juice. Last Monday, Rev. Dr. Fruity was in our area, doing home communions, and she called and asked if I’d like her to stop in and give me communion. I was happy to have the opportunity. (I must state here that I am NOT a “shut-in,” thankfully; I can and do go out, not as much as I used to or hope to, but I do. I am more of a “shut-up,” meaning that speaking is sometimes difficult for me, and I often stay home from church rather than attempt talking to people, especially when all I have to say is “Yes, still sick; no, don’t know what it is.” So. Not shut-in; just shut-up.) Now, where was I? Ah, yes . . .

Rev. Dr. Fruity, and an elder, and Jif, LG and I, are all seated around the table on our deck. Rev. Dr. Fruity has placed the silver plate of bread cubes and the teeny glasses of juice on the table. We all close our eyes and hear Rev. Dr. Fruity pray over the communion.

We also hear, in rapid succession, rustle . . . clatter! . . . SNARF! . . . LG yelling, “BISCUIT!!!!” . . . and the unmistakeable sound of a larcenous canine running away from the scene of a most sinister crime.

Yea. He stole and consumed the Holy Communion bread.

Oh, Biscuit. To paraphrase one of my favorite bumper stickers, Jesus loves you; everyone else thinks you’re a VBD.

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