Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

I’m going to pull no punches in this one. If you listen to me, you’ll look better and have more fun when you find your jiggly, dimply ass in the sand, in the surf, at the pool, by the lake. I am something of an expert at buying fat swimsuits. I did it wrong for many years, until I discovered the secret. It pains me to hear of women, particularly of mothers, who refuse to put on a swimsuit and join in summertime fun because of their weight. Some of these women weigh 130 pounds. Some of them weigh closer to 300 pounds. It doesn’t matter. If you have children, you need to play with them, and you need to dress for the occasion. If you have friends, same thing. Even if you have no children and no friends, but are blessed enough to have access to a pool, or a beach, or a mountain stream, get the #$%& over yourself and put on a swimsuit and play in the water. You deserve to do that, if only because you are a child of God, put on God’s earth, where God has given you some nice water to play in.

If you do have children, don’t be so self-absorbed that you deprive them of the memories of Mom playing in the water with them, or building sand castles with them, or whatever they might want to do. I know for a fact that American photo albums are full of children and their daddies (of all shapes and sizes, because men don’t give a rat’s ass) playing at the beach in their swimsuits. These are “intact” families, but the photos look like Mom and Dad shared custody, because Mom won’t be seen at the beach, the pool, etc., because there’s a dimple on her thigh, or because her thighs are the size of Parthenon columns. Again, it doesn’t matter whether you’re 130 or 330; it’s the same twisted thinking that says, “I must be something other than who I am right now, before I deserve…” It’s a lie. Stop spreading it.

I, for one, am way too fat to be seen in a swimsuit at the beach or anywhere else, according to societal standards. And you will see me at the beach. More often than not, in a very pretty swimsuit. The fashion myth that most overweight women have bought into is “I will look slimmer — or at least less conspicuous — in a simple black swimsuit.” No. You won’t. News flash: fat is not inconspicuous at the beach. It’s highly conspicuous. So is ugly. If you care what other people think — and be honest, you do, or we wouldn’t need to have this conversation — you really don’t want to go with both fat (which you can’t remedy right this minute) AND ugly (which you can).

So what do you wear? If you LOVE black, you can wear it. But don’t wear it thinking it will make you fade away. Nope. It could make you look like a fat woman in mourning for someone lost at sea. Although I wear lots of black, for summertime swimwear, I’m a fan of tropical colors, happy colors. Maybe you like florals, maybe you like geometrics, maybe a retro print. If the color lifts your spirits, makes you smile inside, that’s the suit for you.

What style? First, I’ll offer that when my daughter was a toddler, I discovered the one-piece “jogsuit.” This is ugly as hell, and makes even the shapeliest person look bad. BUT, you can have lots of fun in it, because you don’t have to worry about adjusting it — almost never. Which means you’re likely to be relaxed, smiling, engaged in life . . . which makes you look more beautiful! See, that’s what it’s about: engaged in life. That’s what makes you look beautiful; not the size tag sewn into your suit.

So, having given the jogsuit its props, let’s move on. Many larger women are in favor of the swimdress. If you adore your swimdress and feel happy in it, knock yourself out. My personal bias is that the swimdress stands on a proclamation porch and announces to all who can hear (see), “May I have your attention, please? There are thighs here that are not fit to be seen. I give you my word, I will do my best to cover them and keep them out of your way.” But that’s just me.

There are many lovely one-piece variations. Some now have coordinating pareos or board shorts, for when you want to be a little more covered. I’m not anti- pareo or board shorts. Again, the important thing is that you feel comfortable enough to not give your suit another thought, and get on with the business of enjoying the place, the people, the food, the activity.

My personal preference for the past few years has been the “tankini.” As covered as a one-piece, but just wearing a two-piece makes me feel younger and (let’s face it, this is the real appeal) it’s way easier to pee in. (Well, you don’t pee IN it, exactly.) Tankini bottoms can be bikini-like, or fuller coverage, or boy shorts, or even a “skortini.”

In my life, I have seen about a bazillion strange women in swimsuits. I remember exactly ONE of them. She was fat. Quite fat. And she was wearing a two-piece suit. Not a safe tankini, but a midriff-baring suit. I couldn’t stop staring. I’ll admit, first I was staring at her rolls of fat. Frankly, you don’t often see that on a white female at the beach. But what I remember most now is her face. She was walking down the beach. She walked with purpose. She looked people in the eye and smiled. I found myself envying that woman. Somehow she had figured out that she had a right to be there. I admired her tremendously.

Now, did everyone on the beach have the same reaction to her? I’m sure they didn’t. I’m sure there were people who ridiculed, even people who were disgusted. I don’t remember any of them. They didn’t inspire me.

There you have it. Buy the most beautiful suit you can find, put it on and then forget about it. If you’re fat on the couch, you’ll also be fat on the beach. And your boring, “inconspicuous,” or downright heinous suit is not going to disguise that fact. People will notice. Some people will even be mean. As I recently wrote to a friend when this subject came up, “… desperately trying to hide parts in a swimsuit only makes us look like someone desperately trying to hide parts in a swimsuit. I now buy the most beautiful suit I can find. I figure people are going to know I’m fat no matter what, and most of them are going to react negatively to that. So my choices are to have people react with, ‘Damn, that’s a fat woman,’ OR ‘Damn, that’s a fat woman, but that is one gorgeous suit.'”


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There’s an ugly property dispute going on within the Fairchild family. Both of the combatants make compelling arguments. As the heads of the household, Jif and I are called upon to render a decision, but we are stymied.


Some weeks back, we took delivery of one black metal baby gate, all the better to contain Riggins with. It has served its purpose well. He stays mostly in the family room. Said family room was added on to the house at some point, and was once a garage. As such, it sits on a concrete slab, and is not particularly well insulated, and frankly, gets cold as Mars. It is difficult to keep the family room warm, especially with no fire in the fireplace. Thus, the stage is set for the appearance of The Toasty House.

LG performed the very valuable service of installing the baby gate, in the space between family room and kitchen. However, when she did so, she did not perform what would also have been a valuable service — that of properly disposing of the cardboard box from which the gate emerged. What she did do with said box, is to slide it under the breakfast bar in the family room, and lean it against the wall — where it remained for far too long. Where it remained, in fact, until Riggins disappeared one day, and we discovered that he had taken up residence in the lean-to structure that was formed by the box leaning against the wall under the breakfast bar. He seemed so fond of this newly claimed spot, that we did not immediately move to take the box away, thereby dismantling the lean-to.

In the meantime, the family room grew colder. Being a person of considerable investigative talents, I investigated. Could there be a connection between the dropping temperature in the room, and the newly claimed lean-to, where Riggins resided? Indeed, there was. There is a heating vent that comes out under the breakfast bar, where the gate box leans. The heat from that vent is captured between wall and box, and makes the lean-to one of the toastiest places in our home. Hence its name, “The Toasty House.” The answer to the question, “Where’s Riggins?” is more often than not, “in the toasty house.” Once we became aware of his love for this home within a home, we did not have the heart to recycle the box as we originally should have.

Riggins chillin' in the toasty house

Over the weekend, the temperatures dropped here. LG began to ponder the possibilities of the toasty house. One thing led to another, and she crawled in, to experience first hand its warm delights. She didn’t want to leave. Riggins was highly offended, but eventually burrowed in with her. This leads to our current stalemate.

LG tries out the toasty house

LG says that she is the builder, and indeed, the architect and designer of the toasty house, and as such, she should have clear deed to it. Riggins argues (we think) that if not for him, no one would ever have discovered that a discarded box against a wall is in fact, a toasty house. The “toasty” part, which is, in fact, what keeps the house from simply being more trash in the family room, was his discovery. They have reached a stalemate, but each has agreed to abide by the decision of the internet.

So I ask you, who has rightful claim to the toasty house?

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I found some gift cards that the in-laws had given us for Christmas, probably a couple of years ago. They were for that really great one-word department store that begins with “N.” LG has a few events coming up that will require something nicer than her usual jeans and t-shirt uniform, but not quite a sparkly homecoming dress. Since that’s the extent of her wardrobe, it’s time for us to do some shopping. And the gift cards will work nicely.

While she’s trying on her selections in the fitting room, I’m sitting on this stool just outside, next to the rack of clothes to be put away. I feel something really REALLY soft and pleasant against my arm. I look down, and here’s this vest, which I assume, there in the junior department, is an inexpensive faux fur. So I pick it up, and it’s LG’s size, and it’s beautiful, and I can’t wait until she comes out so I can show her, have her try it on.

So along comes the young woman who works in the junior deparment. Young, stylish, African-American. She reaches out to take the vest from me. I smile and say, “This is great.” I’m all ready to talk young, hip fashion, like I know what I’m talking about.

She says, with no particular expression in face or voice, “It’s really next-door.” It took me a second, but I caught on. I realized that “next-door” must be some new expression that I don’t know yet, like “off the chain,” or something like that, but it means groovy.

So, always willing to be vernacularly adaptive, I say, “Oh, yes, it really is!”

She looks at me like I’m “special” and pulls the vest from my hands, saying, “It’s really NEXT DOOR.”

And I’m all, “I KNOW. I want my daughter to try it.” By now the thing is slipping through my hands and starting to walk away in hers. The last part to leave my grasp is the tag, on which I read the word “MINK” and a price that’s in the hundreds of dollars. She’s still looking at me like I’m special, but now she’s walking away with the vest, toward “next-door,” which, turns out, means the next department over, in the high-end fancy pants clothes.

What does she know? I still think “next door” is off the chain, as an expression of fabulousness.

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Looks like we’ve done it again. Gotten ourselves a VBD. He’s cute. And so he remains alive. But he’s trouble. He might even be troubled.

We recently had a Girl Scout sleepover. He fell deeply in love with one of the scouts:

He must be supervised at all times. He’s a one-man wrecking crew. Things got a little bit easier when we built a jail for him:

We continue to try to educate ourselves on puppy training. I guess he’s trying, too:

My cousin said in this picture, he's saying, "Ummm...NOPE. That's not really going to work on me." I think she might be right.

Seriously, he’s nearly doubled in size. He’s still quite the handsome boy. But we are having some issues. No matter what we try, from which book, he continues to snap at us. I think he’s still playing — there’s tail-wagging involved. But he’s actually drawn blood from two of us. We’ve never had a puppy that was this tough to teach about “no biting!” Still hopeful we’ll get this worked out, and then all will be well. Have a couple of leads on very good “behaviorists.” Most people don’t want to start training puppies until 18 weeks, but I think we can arrange private consultation in the near future.

Our vet doesn’t think he’s a beagle/shepherd, as the first vet thought. She thinks he ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog. Another opined that he is a Rottweiler. I reckon time will tell. (If he is a Rotty, we REALLY want to nip that biting thing in the bud!)

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So we get in the car to return books to the library, and I had to make LG go back in the house and get my camera. Because we have these books . . .

. . . which we had hoped would help us teach this little monster pup to behave properly. And then we are also returning THIS book . . .

. . . which pretty much demonstrates the uselessness of the others.

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Me (looking out the window): Hey, LG, there are three cute boys walking down the road . . . and one rolling down the road …

LG scrambles to the window, which I find interesting because she’s shown very little interest in boys to date.

LG (looking disappointed): Mom! He’s on a skateboard. I thought you meant he was rolling, like actually on the ground rolling down the road while the other three walked. Now THAT would have been worth leaving my computer for.

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A New Sheriff in Town

I’ve been thinking of you — you being whoever is still checking in here from time to time. Thanks for the encouragement to come back. There’s some news to share:

Last Friday, we did it. We adopted a new puppy. On Saturday morning, I would have posted about how sweet and delightful he was. This morning, it’s more like “I’m too old for this shit.” (Yea, seriously, the shit.) But he is sweet, and mostly delightful and he makes us laugh a lot, which is welcome and needed.

His name is Riggins, after the character Tim Riggins, on Friday Night Lights. The TV Riggins is an irresistible rascal. He’s also a drunken, promiscuous s.o.b. We’re hoping to avoid that part, with our Riggins. Rigmarole; Piggins; Riglet the Piglet. He has brought some joy. Not that we were joyless, but we were operating at somewhat of a deficit, for a little while now.

Puppies are a blessing.

(Would you believe I’ve forgotten how to post photos, or else WordPress has changed the process? So, yea, that’s him in the header, and I’ll post more soon.)

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When the decision to help Biscuit die had been made, we had to talk specifics with the vet’s people. A very gentle, soft-spoken woman named Heather, presented the options to me over the phone. I asked for the prices of each option. I was somewhat in a fog of grief, so I had to ask her to repeat several things. The gist of it all was, Biscuit’s body could be returned to us for burial (no charge, except for the injection); he could be cremated individually and returned to us in a basic urn, or in a decorative urn of our choosing ($200 plus injection and urn cost); or he could be cremated along with all the other animals who had recently died, and nothing would be returned to us ($90 plus injection). After going over the prices, Heather added, “I know your bill is already huge, with the last week of day hospital, so I imagine you want to keep costs down…”

“Well, yes,” I answered, on autopilot, while mulling our options. We had once buried another dog in the yard of our old house. We had been told then that it was illegal to do so in our area, and this was a source of anxiety for a very young LG. I thought aloud that cremation would be better. I mentally dismissed, though apparently did not state, that I did not want Biscuit lumped in with all the other deceased pets.

So Heather continued trying to help me with arrangements. “OK, then, we’ll have $90 for the euthanasia; we’ll do the cremation; the mass is an additional $90…”

The mass? We would, I was certain, say a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing as we buried Biscuit’s ashes in the yard, but we had no intention of having a mass for him. $90? For a priest . . . mass cards . . . ? Just when I was mentally finalizing the funeral arrangements, Heather throws in this monkey wrench. I went through an elaborate inner process, trying to find a compartment for this new mass information. I finally decided that I needed to respond something like, “Thank you for thinking of that [clearly, Heather is Roman Catholic, and apparently assumed that we are as well; she is only trying to be sensitive and attentive to our spiritual needs], but we are Presbyterian [Biscuit has received communion (and by “received,” I mean stolen, and by “communion,” I mean bread) on at least two occasions], so we really won’t need a mass, we’ll take care of our own service.”

I opened my mouth to make this rather odd reply, but instead, out came, “Wait, what?”

Turns out, “the mass” meant “mass cremation,” as in, with all the other pets. That’s not what we wanted. Even though we were already dipping into all the $ we had, and some we didn’t, for his care, we wanted him cremated alone. I told Heather this, and that we’d take the basic container, nothing fancy, and we’d bring him home to bury him.

So that’s the story of how Biscuit was almost converted at the end of his life. We were greatly surprised that the “basic container” which I imagined as a plastic margarine tub, is actually a lovely wooden box with an intricate floral carving on the top. It is now on a bookshelf. I don’t know when or if we’ll bury it. Presbyterian.


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wannabee 1

Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really. — Agnes Sligh Turnbull

James 1:17

Many of you have heard this, but I’m aware many have not. Two weeks ago this past Friday, Biscuit, the VBD, died. With Jif there, our vet administered an injection. Biscuit had developed a digestive problem that made him unable to digest food — any food at all — for over a week. Three good vets tried to diagnose and treat the problem, but they were unsuccessful. He spent the last week of his life, days at the vet, getting IV fluids, and nights at home with us.

On the night before we finally made the decision, LG took him outside to see if he’d play fetch. He did. He ran all over the yard, sniffing out, then returning, his toys. We were elated. For a moment, it looked as though he could recover. I ran in and called the vet, who had raised the possibility of euthanasia, to give her the good news, and tell her that it ain’t over yet.

As I watched longer, it became clear to me what I was seeing. Years ago, one of Jif’s cousins, a heavy smoker in his 40s, lay comatose and dying in a hospital bed. Even as he lay dying, he repeatedly, mechanically raised two fingers to his lips, then extended his arm outward; back to his lips, outward. Smoking was such a part of him, his body wasn’t going to stop going through the motions until it . . . stopped. I won’t say that Biscuit’s fetching was that mechanical — truly, it wasn’t, because I believe he did feel joy in the play, and I know LG and I felt joy, playing with him — but it was so much a part of him that he wouldn’t stop as long as there was breath in his body.

I called the vet back and told her, “I think he would play fetch until he fell over, into a coma.” She agreed. We tried force feeding for one more day, and then made the painful decision to help the VBD do what he had, on some level, already decided to do. On the evening he was to go to the vet for the last time, my back was “out” and I couldn’t walk upright. After LG and I kissed his snoot and told him how much we love him, Jif took him.

There’s another hole in my heart. I don’t equate dogs and humans. Truly, I don’t. But losing my Mom and my dog in the course of a year . . . the two losses are not as dissimilar as I might have predicted they’d be. Perhaps partly because I rarely saw my Mom; in many ways, with the insulin injections and the blindness, our lives revolved around Biscuit’s needs. There is not one speck of complaint in the previous sentence, btw. He more than deserved any TLC he got from us, and then some.

There is more to say. About how they tried to give my Protestant dog a Catholic sendoff, about how people can be so insensitive when commenting on the loss of a pet, and about how grateful I am for the love and support…I’ll save those for the next installment. This is enough for now.

I think most of the posts mentioning or showing Biscuit are categorized under his name, if you want to know more about him. (Thanks to Shawkey for the quote here.)

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inconsolableI think Biscuit approves of the new portrait. It’s a print I’ve had my eye on
here at Ballard Designs. When I got a coupon the other day, I thought I’d go for it. It tickles me as much as I thought it would — it really does look like the VBD.

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