Tuesday, December 30, 2008



If I were doing a report for my first grade class, I would start it out like this:

"My mom has the most amazing eyeballs!"

(That's an homage to Aubrey's presentation in case you missed it.)

Alright, I wasn't in first grade when my mom had her first cornea transplants -- I think I was in 6th grade or something -- but that's right, folks, my mom has someone else's corneas in her eyeballs.

That's the creepy part. But it's also amazing.

Growing up, I remember looking into my mom's eyes and being able to see the little ring of stitches -- and, later, scars -- around the edges of her eyes. I always thought of the rings as misplaced halos. I never told her that, but look at what I saw (her eyes are also brown, so this photo accurately re-creates my experience):

Isn't it ethereal?

She -- and her sister, Laurie -- had their corneas transplanted about 25 years ago when the technology was fairly new. But evidently that's about how long the transplants last.

So, here's what the doctors did again to one of Mom's eyes yesterday:

They implanted a lens and transplanted a cornea. They also did cataract removal. Isn't that absolutely amazing?

Why is the cornea so important?
I'm no expert, so I'll pass on what our friends at the National Eye Institute have to say:

Although the cornea is clear and seems to lack substance, it is actually a highly organized group of cells and proteins. Unlike most tissues in the body, the cornea contains no blood vessels to nourish or protect it against infection. Instead, the cornea receives its nourishment from the tears and aqueous humor that fills the chamber behind it. The cornea must remain transparent to refract light properly, and the presence of even the tiniest blood vessels can interfere with this process. To see well, all layers of the cornea must be free of any cloudy or opaque areas.

Its two main functions?

1 - It helps to shield the rest of the eye from germs, dust, and other harmful matter. The cornea shares this protective task with the eyelids, the eye socket, tears, and the sclera, or white part of the eye.

2 - The cornea acts as the eye's outermost lens. It functions like a window that controls and focuses the entry of light into the eye. The cornea contributes between 65-75 percent of the eye's total focusing power.

Considering all that, how's Mom doing?
I spoke with her on the phone last night and she said she had a headache (which she's had all week) and some pain. It didn't help that the light hurt her eyes when she tried to look at the flowers we sent her. (Uh, sorry, Mom.)

Other than that, she's hoping for full recovery. Soon. Which, if you know her, is SO my mom -- she's planning on working from home today, since the doctor says she can't drive for 24 hours. Doesn't that seem too short a time? Again, amazing.

She's doing great so far, and it sounds like there aren't many risks involved. Let's hope that's the case. I need her to keep reading my blog.

Friday, December 26, 2008

In case you missed it on the 12/25 post...

Christmas Day Conversation

Mom: Aubrey, I don't know if we'll be able to get a light bulb for your oven this morning - I'm not sure any stores will be open on Christmas.

Aubrey: Well, Mom... let's just go to a Jewish store!

For all our dreidel-spinning latke-noshing friends...

The Reynolds family wishes a happy holiday to you and your mishpocha. May you know that you bring great hope and pupik to this household.


Barritt, Indi and Aubrey were hilarious.
They wanted some interesting accessories
for their American Girl dolls...

Thursday, December 25, 2008


I might as well take a minute to write this morning since we've been up since 5:30 -- when we heard Aubrey whispering "Dane! ...Dane! Santa's been here!"

She knew that without even leaving the perch in her loft, because Santa kindly left all our filled stockings under the fake tree in their room.

Out in the Living Room
Indeed Santa found his cookies and carrots and egg nog - and the notes the kids left him. (You'll see that Dane chose not to mince words this year and simply drew Santa a picture of a Lego character.)

This morning we found that Santa left them some notes, too:

And Aubrey and Dane found three fabulous gifts from the old chap:

Aubrey squealed as she opened the Easy-Bake Oven she's been asking Santa for for three years now. (For two Christmases they were recalled because kids were burning their hands? Hmmm...) And then she opened her Mia American Girl Doll, which came with a book, a couple outfits and little ice skates. She was so excited. She just knew Santa would get her that doll this year because she doesn't have any American Girl dolls -- and Mia-the-Ice-Skater is only offered this year. (Thank you for running such a sweet racket, A.G. company!) And, finally, if one of Mia's little friends pulls a Tanya Harding on her, Aubrey also got the American Girl Doll wheelchair she'd been hoping for.

Did I say Aubrey squealed as she opened her gifts? Well, so did Dane. The first gift he opened was his biggest -- and it was the Lego Star Wars Republic Attack Gunship, which, we learned, has the rare Commander Cody in it. The kids thought that was so cool they couldn't quit smiling. After Mick and I went for naps around 6:30 (Oh, I didn't mention that? Yes, we did - essential if you can swing it after a 5:30 Wassailing Wakeup) Dane stayed up and set up a majority of the kit on his Lego table. Now he's waiting for Mick to wake up and help him with the rest, practicing Jedi Math on his new Leapster. (This item looked like "Jeapster" on Dane's list - but Aubrey assured him that Santa would figure it out.) Later, we'll play a game of CLUE, Dane's third and final zippy gift from Santa. Can't wait! I want to be Miss Scarlett...

And the 'rents?
Santa hooked Mick and me each up with some books. Looks like Michael Chabon was his main squeeze this year:

got The Yiddish Policemen's Union and I got The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

We also got the Heelys we've been begging for! (Thank you, Mom and Don.) Now we can glide all around Ashland with the kids...

Woooooooooooooo hoooooooooooooo!

AND For All Our Dreidel-Spinning Latke-Eating Friends
The Reynolds family is definitely aware of you. Peace and Happy Holidays to you, as well.

May you know that you bring great hope to this household; hence, the conversation in our home this morning:

Mom: Aubrey, I don't know if we'll be able to get a lightbulb for your oven this morning - I'm not sure any stores will be open on Christmas.

Aubrey: Well, Mom, [as if she can't believe Mom hasn't thought of this herself] let's just go to a Jewish store!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Twelve Days of Christmas Tag
from Shanana's blog

Here's another of those nerdy blog tags I love responding to. If you're just joining us - because you got our blog address on your Christmas card (you know, the one that's the official last milking of Mick's graduation photos?) - then you might want to scroll down to another entry.

This entry is just silly musings. Well, actually, most of my posts might be just that. So I guess you should just read whatever you want.

One amusing Christmas memory: 1975. I was five years old. My Aunt Arlene, a flight attendant, arrived at Sea-Tac on Christmas Eve and drove straight to the apartment where I lived with my mom in Tacoma. I had just gone to bed, barely able to contain my excitement about the next morning, when Aunt Arlene raced up the stairs and burst through my bedroom door, telling me I just had to run downstairs with her, right then and there in my nightie and bare feet, because Santa and his reindeer had just flown over my apartment! When we got out there, I’d apparently just missed him - and I have never, ever forgotten what it was like to be this close to seeing something so magical.

Two theories as to why Santa chooses a chimney as his best means of entry: 1) When he started his job he was thinner and it wasn’t such a tight squeeze, 2) he likes hot biscuits.

Three things you want for Christmas: 1) Heelys, baby! (those shoes that have a wheel under the heel that make it look like kids are hovercrafting around the grocery store - yeah, I want those) 2) a writing class (got it – thank you, Mick), 3) warmer clothes for this cold not-in-Sausalito-anymore climate.

Four of your favorite Christmas movies: I’m not big on holiday movies, but I suppose I’d list 1) Elf, 2) About A Boy (the ending has a Christmas scene, I think?), 3) Rudolph (see Rudolph and Hermey the dentist at right), and 4) A Christmas Story (duh – what can compare to the tongue stuck to the frozen pole, or the too-bundled up kid that can’t get up after he falls over?).

Five ways you’ve been naughty this year: puh-leaze. I know better than to answer this.

Six ways you’ve been nice: not really fair to plead the fifth on naughty and then answer for nice.

Seven people you suspect are elves: Elves as in look like them? That actress, Tilda Swinton; that politician, Bill Lieberman; that rocker, Elton John; that Olympic gymnast, MaryLou Retton; and that prince, Charles. Elf as in gift-giver? My sister-in-law Dana - she gives the most thoughtful gifts ever, like she can’t even keep herself from doing it, as if it’s part of her magical genetic makeup. Elf as in dress like them? Maybe Mick in any cross-dressing Halloween costume he dons.

Eight of Santa’s reindeer: According to Dane this morning: “Dasher and Dancer, Donald and Dixon. And Prancer… Is that eight yet?”

Nine uses for snow: Curmudgeon’s answer? 1) cause accidents, 2) make you way too cold, 3) freeze your pipes, 4) snowballs to the head that spray snow down your back, 5) cancel school. Kids’ answer? 6) cancel school, 7) play outside all day long, 8) soak through your sweats and mittens, which doesn’t matter in the least because you’ve found an awesome sledding hill, 9) that one snowball straight to your mom’s eye while she's chatting with the neighbor.

Ten least favorite things about Christmas: extra stuff, calories, fat, spending, errands x2

Eleven word associations to figgy pudding: 1) piggy, 2) fudding, 3) sticky, 4) gummy, 5) squishy, 6,7,8,9) Jhon Gilroy’s dog’s name, 10) mincemeat, 11) fruitbread

Twelve reasons you love Christmas:
extra stuff, calories, fat, spending, carols, LOVE x2.

If you've read this far, maybe you need to do this Tag, too. Drop me a comment and then post your tag on your blog or send me the Word doc... if you're up for the challenge.

Ho HO ho.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

That's Our Boy
quote of the day

I'd rather be weird than cool. You like stuff that others don't.

-Dane, age 8*

*Photo taken 2006, San Francisco Exploratorium. Special exhibit to test our responses to unlikely pairings. Here's a drinking fountain made from a toilet. Supposedly it was never used as a toilet.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


A woman shouldn’t be ashamed of shaving – her upper lip.

That’s right, folks, it’s time for a Mustache Revolution.

I’m sure this revolution has been started before, by some hairy Betty in some by-gone era who had a few faithful Sallys offering timid support, but it looks like Betty tucked that Gilette away when the rest of her friends quit inviting her to bowling night.

But this hairy Betty is resurrecting the movement. Here’s what I would love to do. No – let the leader of the new Mustache Revolution be more honest than that – here’s what I love to do:

Shave my mustache.

There, I’ve admitted it. I know it’s a HUGE no-no. The whiskers! The masculinity of it! The financial ease of it! At least wax (at home or in the parlor). At least do something hi-tech like electrolysis. At least bleach. But whatever you do, don’t shave! And be sure to do whatever you do discreetly and privately. Do not tell your girlfriends and do not let your children or partners see you.

But what are we afraid of? Looking (or feeling) a bit prickly? Being too much like men?

Well, guess what? Maybe we are. Maybe even growing mustaches is an inherent link we need to admit we share with mankind.

Sure, it’s significant that we even demurely admit we grow them. It’s a step forward that women have the option to wax, electrocute, or bleach unwanted facial hair. But what a step it would be if we could just shave.

Think of the progress we could make! Shaving our mustaches – in front of our partners, our children, our friends – could do more to equalize women and men than any amount of pants-wearing, bra-burning or corporate-ladder-climbing since Susan B. Anthony hoisted her first picket sign.

Of course, the ultimate step forward would be to proudly grow a mustache. Really -- think of the fashion possibilities! Women could start their own Handlebar Clubs (google it – you’ll see what I mean), cultivating the coveted “grass grin” or “splay press.” Heck, we could bring new meaning to their “bush puss.” The possibilities are endless if we could just own our ‘staches.

Unfortunately, though, telling someone you shave your mustache is like telling them you wear a jock strap.

But maybe it’s time one of us untucked our brass balls and took on the challenge. I know mine are knockin’.

Click, click, ladies. It’s time for a revolution.

* * *


After the first graders successfully wrap up their "Breads From Around the World" project, I think their next endeavor should be "Beards From Around the World." Imagine the possibilities for learning:

"My mom has the best goatee..."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ashland Snow
Quote of the Day

Ever since it snowed, these are the best days of my life.
-Dane, age 8

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I MUST CONFESS, I STILL BELIEVE... (still believe!)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


My mom makes the best cornbread!

First Grade Homework Assignment:

1. You will choose one type of bread from around the world. Preferably the bread that has meaning for both you and your family. You may choose bread that has cultural meaning behind its use (i.e. tortillas are used in Hispanic communities and pita bread in Arabic cultures.) Or, choose bread that is used in religious ceremonies or other special family gatherings like Hanukah or Easter. Another suggestion may be bread that is a family favorite used daily or at other family occasions like barbecues or parties. The choice of bread is up to you.

2. You will use a worksheet to record the information and facts you need for a short oral presentation.

3. You will give a short oral presentation about the bread of your choice. You will need to create a display of some sort to use while presenting your bread to the class. The visual display is a tool to assist you while you present. A poster board may be used, but other formats are welcome, such as dioramas, mobiles, or class interactive games. You may want to bring in other items to help with your oral presentation (i.e. Halloween costumes, bread samples, ornaments, Easter candles, Thanksgiving pictures, a menorah, an American flag, or a New Year's Eve horn). Be creative and have fun!


Jiffy cornbread from a box, served with honey and a can of chili.

"My mom makes the best cornbread!"

Alas, she may have chosen bread in a box, but I do believe that this chick rocks!

Note: the sound's not very good, so turn your computer volume high. But even without great sound, you can see how well she knew her material and used her poster to guide her presentation. Way to go, Aubrey!

Monday, December 08, 2008

That Naval Cousin Scott

Mick's cousin Scott enlisted in the Navy almost two years ago. (See "Netty's Brag Page" January 30, 2007.) He's out on a ship right now and sends us these great email updates. An early one was about piracy off the Somali coast, another was about when he was Sailor of the Week (Mmmm hmmmm, everybody say, Go Sailor!), and most recently about a revered Navy tradition, Crossing the Line. Here's what he wrote about that:

Today we crossed the equator. There was a ceremony where all the people who haven’t crossed (pollywogs) got harassed subjected to various torture by those who have already (shellbacks). At 0530 we were to get up, don inside-out coveralls, and wear our “wog” shirts decorated with team spirit material. It was all in good fun of course. Here are some pictures. One is a high speed torpedo evasion drill.

And then he emailed this followup Wikipedia-type explanation for Crossing the Line
- and of course we respect the ceremony all the more now, Scott. :)

* *

The ceremony of

Crossing the Line is an initiation rite in the Royal Navy, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, and other navies which commemorates a sailor's first crossing of the equator. Originally the tradition was created as a test for seasoned sailors to ensure their new shipmates were capable of handling long rough times at sea. Sailors who have already crossed the equator are nicknamed (Trusty) Shellbacks, often referred to as Sons of Neptune; those who have not are nicknamed (Slimy) Pollywogs.

The two-day event (evening and day) is a ritual of reversal in which the older and experienced enlisted crew essentially takes over the ship from the officers. Physical assaults in keeping with the 'spirit' of the initiation are tolerated, and even the inexperienced crew is given the opportunity to 'take over'.[citation needed] The transition flows from established order to the controlled 'chaos' of the Pollywog Revolt, the beginnings of re-order in the initiation rite as the fewer but experienced enlisted crew converts the 'Wogs' through physical tests, then back to, and thereby affirming, the pre-established order of officers and enlisted. Like the old physically- and emotionally-intensive boot camp, the "Crossing the Line" ritual deconstructs then reconstructs the initiates' experience from newbie outsider into the experienced military fraternity.

The eve of the equatorial crossing is called Wog Up-Rising and, as with many other night-before rituals, is a mild type of reversal of the day to come. 'Wogs' - all of the uninitiated - are allowed to capture and 'interrogate' any shellbacks they can find (eg, tying them up, cracking eggs or pouring aftershave lotion on their heads)

* *

I wonder if Scott's a Shellback now that he's presumably gotten the Pollywog treatment? Or, wait, is it the Shellback that gets the treatment from the Pollywog? Whatever the case, this Rogue Reynolds chick has thought about something unusual today, thanks to her favorite sailor.

Friday, December 05, 2008


It's always a little confronting when you realize you're in a little bubble of oblivion and security. Last night we had a great time at the JPR Wine Tasting and Silent Auction Fundraiser, held at the Ashland Springs Hotel. We didn't bid on anything, but we had a lot of fun mingling with old and new friends - and eating more hazelnut cream puffs than any human being deserves. We could afford the entry tickets, we could afford the babysitter, and we have gainful employment and our health.

Meanwhile, 500,000 Americans were laid off last month, and Zimbabwe's political impasse has created 12,000 cases of Cholera with at least 600 deaths.

That's hard to stomach.


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A day in the life

A pencil is pinched in the grip of a hand.
His organs are squeezed until he feels
as if his heart is in his eraser
and his intestines are in his lead.
Each letter looped or straightened
stubs his toes, drags his heels;
each erased mistake balds his hair
in rough, uneven patches.
When the sentence is finished
he is dropped with a thud to the paper
where he nurses a tremendous headache.
The paper is none too pleased either:
he's a dull No. 2, heavy across her abdomen.

by Anjie Reynolds
August 2008

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Those Sweet Reynolds Men

When I married Mick, his grandfather, Maurie, toasted us at our wedding. He told the story of how he and his wife Kay had met me in Juneau, Alaska, when they were up on an Elderhostel cruise. When they'd got into port they'd called Mick and asked him to meet up with them at the Baranof Hotel for drinks (gin and tonics - without the tonic, ew!) and a game of cards. On the phone, Mick asked if he could bring a friend and Maurie had said, "Sure, bring him along." We all had a good laugh as Maurie recounted his surprise at meeting me that night instead of some buddy of Mick's. So, in the dark of the Baranof Bar, with lots of laughter and some serious competitiveness, the four of us played a raucous game of 3-13 and I was smitten with Mick and his grandparents. I hadn't met anyone else from Mick's family yet, so they were my first introduction to the Reynolds clan, and they've all been wonderful since. Needless to say, then, when Maurie lovingly told me on our wedding night, "Anjie, you don't just marry a man, you marry his family," I couldn't believe how sweet he was and how lucky that was for me.

Mick captured my heart a couple weeks later that summer in Juneau when we were carpooling to work. It happened to be the first day of school and we'd stopped for a bus picking up kids. A dad was standing there with his little girl, straightening her coat and sending her up the bus's steps. I looked over at Mick and he had glistening tears in those sweet brown eyes and his shoulders shook a little when he smiled at me.

And then there's Mike. Grandad. He's the reason I started this little post today. He's done lots of things since I met him that have endeared him to me - like pinning his grandkids' names to his chest on Valentine's Day for an e-photo (see picture at right) - but this weekend he was pure honey. He brought his guitar down for Thanksgiving and worked with each of his grandchildren, his "treasures," as he calls them, teaching them the old song, "All Through the Night." Thanksgiving evening, then, he gathered everyone around for the kids to sing - in all kinds of keys, which had its own charm, of course - for everybody. They sang three verses. Here's the first:

Sleep my child and peace attend thee,
All through the night
Guardian angels God will send thee,
All through the night;
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,
Hill and vale in slumber sleeping,
I my loved ones' watch am keeping,
All through the night.

Talk about heart-melting. And when they'd finished, he obliged them when they wanted to wrap it up with their big-time favorite he taught them, "The Cat Came Back," and its many crazy verses. It was about the sweetest thing you've ever seen.

Ah, my littlest honey boy. I read him and Aubrey a book the other night called "The Shoebox." It's a Christmas story about a sad little boy who finds love in foster care after months of silence and pain. At the turning point in the story, when the boy lays before the manger his shoebox - filled with representations of anything that has mattered to him since he entered foster care - I looked over at Dane to find his face red and his eyes watery. Sensing he was about to cry, I asked, "Is this story moving you, Dane?" and he nodded his head and sucked in a shuddering breath as his face got redder. Then he just let loose and let out a cry. I pulled him to me as he cried and took more deep shuddering breaths, trying to get back his control. We stayed that way for a while, talking about sadness and hope and how every kid deserves a home where they feel safe and loved. Later that night, Dane brought up the book again, saying, "Mom, remember the other book that makes me cry?" Before I could answer, he said, "The Giving Tree..." and he looked over his shoulder at me and smiled as he climbed up his loft ladder. I couldn't help but give him a pat on his sweet little butt.

* * *

Other Reynolds Men
I could keep going here, writing about Kai and Rod and Pat and Tom and Chuck - other fabulous, sweet Reynolds men - but that'll have to wait for another blog. I have to wrap this up for now.

Other Sweet Men
I could also keep going here, writing about Don and my Uncle John and my Uncle Lorren and my Grandpa Lorren. I've seen them being sweet as pie, but they'll have to wait their turns. At least I know I've got some more blog material ahead of me....

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Quick Little Book Review

- spoiler alert -

PEONY IN LOVE, by Lisa See
8* out of 10*

The first hundred pages of this novel did not win me over. They seemed a bit wooden, predictable, sentimental. The information about 17c Chinese culture - the government, the role of women, the opera - those were all interesting enough, but the story seemed to simply be the sob story of a powerless, swooning, foolish girl who dies for the love she can't have, which ironically ends up being the love/marriage her parents had actually arranged for her. It felt so predictable and lame when that all came down that I remember smacking my borrowed paperback on the couch and physically sticking my finger down my throat as if to gag, and shooting accusing eye daggers at the red cover because the author had wasted my time.

Is that a strong enough reaction?

Oh, and along the way there'd been awkward sentences in clunky dialogue, which made me feel that the book had just been carelessly cranked out by the author and publisher because Lisa See's previous book, Snowflower and the Secret Fan, had been such a smash hit. (Haven't read it.)

BUT I kept reading because readers I respect had liked this book. And, to my delight, the last 2/3 of the book indeed represented the author's creativity, smart cultural analysis and storytelling skills.

The rituals of the Chinese and their dead were so wonderfully conveyed through the point-of-view of Peony, a sixteen-year-old girl who'd died of that foolishness mentioned in my first paragraph. Caught in the after-world - one of its crazy layers, according to Chinese belief - Peony lives as a ghost where rituals have not been rightly performed and brutal consequences result for her unless she can change them.

So, that foolish girl she had been comes to understand the many depths and ways human beings can love. And, of course, woven in there is a deep (and cultural ?) lesson about women's strength and their rightful claim on the arts.

In the end, while I don't think the book is a perfect 10 in its execution - although I do think the first hundred pages had to set the stage for physical and emotional events to come (maybe only 75 were needed?) - I think the novel's overall depth and uniqueness and creativity earns it a solid 8.

Monday, November 24, 2008

An A/Typical Pre-Thanksgiving,
(Disinfectant) Kind Of Day

The Not-So-Typical Part
Aubs is home with a stomach Flu. Bummer. Fortunately, though, it only lasted a couple hours this morning.

She spent the day on the couch reading books and listening to Move and Groove with Paints Pots on the pink Hello Kitty cd player. Later, she watched Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a ridiculous spin-off cartoon movie kids love.

She said it made her feel queasy to sit up, so she laid there with all those fun things until about 2pm - when she felt like dancing to La Bamba.

The whole day she kept an old dishwashing detergent bucket at her side - no complaints from her about the bucket or the potentional for puke. Just matter-of-fact. I like that about her. I'm not-so-much that way, which gives me all the more reason to admire it.

The Typical Part

A kid on the couch in a pre-guest Thanksgiving house cannot slow a mom down. I've spent the day (can you guess?) CLEANING. Lots of ammonia, lots of Windex, lots of scrubbing, sweeping, rinsing, laundering, vacuuming, mopping. And a big fat To-Do list with little boxes to check off along the way.

And I'm not even hosting the Thanksgiving dinner!

It all feels pretty good - since I've let it go around here for a good week or two, knowing I'd have to spiffy it up exactly the day before guests arrive, so it would feel fresh. Any sooner might mean doubling up and doing it again, heaven forbid. Apparently, that's just my way. It's how I trick myself into believing I'm no slave to the sponge, the broom, the paper towels, the toilet scrubber, day in and day out. That probably makes no sense, but we all get by somehow, don't we?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Junkie" is the first post I ever wrote for the Writing Mamas blog. I see lots of ways I should've revised it, but I just felt like posting it today anyway as-is. Dane's eight now...


Dane, my five-year-old, is sitting on the couch watching Prehistoric Planet, his favorite DVD about dinosaurs.

Leiopleurodon—an ancient whale-like sea creature whose jagged-tooth jaws have been likened to a giant car-crusher—has eaten a dolphin thing. (I don't know it's name, but I'm sure Dane does.)

The kid’s cozy under his afghan, but his hands are cold. He woke up too early so I sit and watch the video with him. I hold a homemade hot latte in my hands. It feels so good I think Dane will like holding it too.

He holds it and looks so comforted I tell him he can have a sip. He raises an eyebrow and cocks his head at me.

“Go ahead,” I coax with a nod.

He brings the cup to his lips, tips his head back a little and drinks a sip in. He slowly brings it back down to his lap, looks over at me, and smiles the smile of a conspirator. I return a knowing smile.

“Good stuff, huh?” I say.

I feel like a junkie who’s just scored a kid his first hit.

Since he’s able to recall every arcane detail about the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, I’m tempted to tell him that these are Blue Bottle beans, voted by some to be the finest coffee beans roasted in San Francisco and home brewed on our Rancilio espresso machine. But that can wait.

Instead, I let him hold my warm cup on this cold early morning as Leiopleurodon makes his way further into the deep.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I'm still feeling the love, folks. Got myself another blog tag. Thank you, Natalie Nelson. This one didn't quite inspire me, but if I am anything (oh, this should have been my first answer) I AM: a good sport! (Notice photo to the left for proof of that.) So, without further ado, here's me playing this game of tag:

I Am: fighting a cold and sitting on the couch all day.
I Want: to make sure this is the only day I feel like this.
I Have: to be healthy for the week of Thanksgiving.
I Miss: the walk I didn't get to take today.
I Fear: I might miss my walk tomorrow.
I Hear: the hum of my computer and the little sounds of the house settling in the afternoon sun.
I Search: the internet for random stuff.
I Wonder: where mincemeat pie came from and why Grandma Seewer liked it, what Skirt! wants from their contributors, when I'll get something published again.
I Regret: that I'm not going to divulge any regrets here. My mantra - No Regrets.
I Love: being healthy.
I Forgive: whoever sneezed in my face or didn't wash their hands.
I Ache: in my nose and in my throat and a bit behind the eyes.
I Always: try not to whine but I do anyway.
I Try: to try not to whine.
I Am Not: 100% today.
I Seem: to have nothing interesting to write.
I Know: there's something interesting to write somewhere.
I Feel: I'll have something interesting to write someday.
I Dance: when I have something interesting to write.
I Dream: of writing something interesting in the next hour.
I Give: Yeah, I give.
I Listen: to the heater turning off and on.
I Sing: like Margo from the Cowboy Junkies when no one's around.
I Laugh: daily.
I Can't: keep going with this list.
I Write: boring stuff on it.
I Cry: out.
I Sleep: not.
I Am not always: interesting.
I See: dead people.
I Need: you to know that last one was a Sixth Sense reference lest you worry about me.
I Should: n't have to explain that.

I tag Shelby?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ten Steps To A Meaningful Veterans Day

1. Talk about why there's no school. Talk about what it means to be a "veteran" and how the holiday is meant to honor the life of any person who's ever worn a military uniform, standing up for the freedoms we have in this country.

2. Talk about who the family knows that's ever worn a military uniform. If the kids have no clue, that's a jumping off point for learning and a sense of wonder. My kids learned their Poppa and their Grandad (as well as my Dad and their great-grandfathers) served in the military. There are many others we didn't identify -- those people can be added to the mental list throughout the year.

3. Have your kids call the veterans they know to wish them Happy Veterans Day. Encourage them to ask questions. My kids called Grandad and learned he'd served 20 years in the Air Force and National Guard, and that he'd served abroad in Korea and Germany, to name a couple places. They learned Poppa served in Europe, where the Army sent him to film projector school. Note: the tones of their conversations might be different -- this is also wonderful and fun.

4. Print up coloring pages from the web for the kids to color. We printed up a soldier in combat gear, a cat in a uniform, a Special Forces character, and a woman reading a list of missing soldiers at a wall. These pages inspired artistic outlet (they loved creating their own camouflage, guessing what color a stripe or badge should be, and making the cat look like a fox); they also inspired thoughtful conversation -- especially the woman at the missing soldiers list.

5. Buy two bouquets the day before Veterans Day and plan to take the kids to the cemetery to lay flowers at soldiers' graves. With a flower or two per grave, you should be able to honor at least twenty or thirty soldiers.

6. Prep the kids with a list of how they might identify a soldier's gravestone. My kids each carried a post-it that read:

Lt. = Leutenant
Col. = Colonel
Gen. = General
Pvt. = Private
Maj. = Major
Sgt. = Sergeant

Note: you may feel you don't know enough. That's okay. My list worked fine, but I was able to identify that I have no idea how the ranking system works -- that's something to research or ask a veteran -- and I left many options out. (Corporal comes to mind.) I probably could've written the different military branches, too.

7. Hit the cemetery on Veterans Day. We walked, carrying the bouquets and umbrellas, wearing rainboots and raincoats.

8. Walk through the graveyard together at first, and then separately, if desired. Our first soldier had an easy give-away on his stone: World War I. There were many WWI and WWII veteran headstones -- something we hadn't anticipated, but now makes sense.

9. Invite family or friends to join you. We invited the cousins and the kids all worked to find places to lay their flowers. It was really sweet.

10. Brainstorm about how you might honor soldiers next year. For instance, I realized it would've been nice to honor living veterans next year -- say, at a VA hospital or Soldiers Home -- and the kids thought we should do something with flags.

Friday, November 14, 2008

and she plays it so well.
Thanks, pal.

Here's what today's Guest Blogger wrote about the 2nd photo in her 2nd folder:

It's from the California central coast - in Cambria. My Grandma Urlie lived there for about 30 years and I spent some of the very best times of my life playing on those craggy beaches. There are seals out there on those rocks, although since this is taken with my phone, you can't see them very well. And there are huge ropes of seaweed, sandfleas, sea anenomes, starfish, bitty crabs, and other strange creatures on the sand and in the little tidal pools.

This memory is making me cry, because she would have just celebrated her 101st birthday 3 days ago and since she passed away in April, it's the first time in close to ten years that I haven't gone down to spend it with her.

Ever since I was a toddler, when I'd come to visit, we'd get all bundled up and take buckets and shovels to the beach, to dig and hunt to find interesting driftwood, and stones, and shells. And later in her life, she told me she would go to the Grill in town and get a hotdog and drive to the lookout very near this picture, sit in the car, eat lunch, and read my letters to her and write letters back to me.

I miss her so very, very much but am so thankful to have such real memories of our wonderful times together.

* * *
I took the liberty of adding a picture I have on file of Karen's Grandma. Here's Grandma Urlie at age 99.

Agnes Erickson Urlie
1907 - 2008

Thanks for playing, Karen.

* * *

(Now pony up, Big Share, cousin Kare, & JJJ. And you, too, Danigirl: Take 3rd folder, 3rd photo - if you really are SBD!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


The Game

Okay, I feel like I've finally been picked to play ball, or I've gotten a long-awaited Oscar nod here: my friend Shelby tagged me.

Do you know what this means? This means she likes me! she really likes me!

See, in the blogging world people play this game called Tag -- usually it's some sort of questionnaire or a photo task at stake -- where a person who's been tagged posts a response to the "tag" on their blog. At the end of it, they then tag a couple of their friends, who respond and tag their friends, etc., etc.

I've been watching fellow bloggers tag each other for some time now. In fact, you may recall I recently tagged myself, things were getting so pathetic.

But now, I've made the team, folks. I've been admitted to The Academy. It's a blogging dream come true.

Tagged - 4th Folder 4th Picture

So, there up above is the fourth picture in the fourth photo folder on my computer.

Aw, it's Aubrey and her best little pal, Gia, in Sausalito. That was one of the last nights Gia came for a sleepover before we moved -- and she lost a tooth at our house! She and Aubrey were so excited, squealing, "Maybe the tooth fairy will bring us both money, since this is so special!" (I believe Aubrey spearheaded that campaign.)

Aubrey, who's never lost a tooth, lay close to Gia that night, their heads nestled next to each other on their pillows. And, lo and behold, the next morning, they both had dollar coins from the tooth fairy!

I love this picture because you can see Gia with the tissue she's been holding up to her mouth, and Aubrey's proudly holding Gia's tooth in her fingers, as if she lost it herself.

Tag - You're It

Okay, I think any of my readers who actually blog have already been tagged (Shelby, Annie, Bethany, Natalie?) so I'm going to do something unconventional: I'm tagging my four loyal non-blogging readers:

Karen (Url) - send me your 2nd photo in your 2nd folder and I'll post it.
Karen (cous) - send me your 3rd photo in your 3rd folder and I'll post it.
Jan (mother-in-law) - send me your 7th photo in your 7th folder and I'll post it.
Mom (do you even have photo folders???) - send me the 1st photo in your 1st folder and I'll post it.

Don't Ask Me Any Questions

Just do it however you want, if you want. Just remember: it means I like you! I really like you!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Naked Lady of Assland

I haven’t seen her yet. She’s elusive, like the wind – but not like the wind, because she’s riding her bike down Main Street. Topless. In a G-string.

Local lore says when she arrived in town, fully clothed, she stood her bike up outside the little police department office. She walked in and up to the counter, asking what the local exposure laws were here in Ashland. When she learned there was no town ordinance on nudity – other than that you can’t expose your genitals – she ran outside onto the little patch of lawn and tore off her shirt and did a head stand.

My brother-in-law saw her this summer on a sunny afternoon, riding her bike along Siskiyou Boulevard. She was just riding along when she stood up on her (moving) bike, hiked her G-string up as high as she possibly could, stretched her hands in the air and shook her breasts side-to-side hollering “wooooooo hoooooooo!”

Later that month he saw her in a bike shop, fully clothed – probably one of those No Shirt, No Service signs at the window – checking out bike horns. He wasn’t sure what she finally settled on, but evidently she needed a little honk to accompany the woo-hoo.

I’ve really wanted to see her myself. Imagine the, um, nerve (you know what I wanted to write there, don’t you?) it would take to draw such attention to yourself! And to possibly ruffle so many feathers! I know I’d have no interest in doing it myself, and I’m not exactly sure how I feel about my kids grappling with the image (although I’m actually more okay with it than not), but I indeed admire her moxy.

So, because I haven’t seen her and because she's so intriguing, I looked her up online to see what her deal was, and here’s what I’ve since learned:

She’s Naked for Peace. She agrees there are probably other things she could do to promote peace, but this is the one that speaks to her. And, when you really think about it, being naked is a very peaceful gesture, isn’t it? How much more vulnerable can you make yourself at that point? I know I wouldn’t assault or attack if I were naked. What if all world leaders and soldiers had to engage with each other naked? Wouldn’t that b… Okay, I’ll stop there.

She changed her name from Jen to Gen because it has a better vibe.

She recently moved to Portland that’s why I haven’t seen her! I had a feeling she’d left town, but I think I’d kind of hoped she’d gone someplace sunny, like Scotsdale, someplace where she could really be a mover and a shaker. Portland seems like a drippy gig for your droopies if your goal is to ride naked for peace.

Alas, she’s practical. Portland peops won’t peek at her peeps much this winter. Turns out she won’t bother to ride topless if it’s just too nippy out.

* * *

So who knows if I’ll ever get to see the Naked Lady of Ashland nee Portland nee ___. Maybe she was just passing through on some sort of nudie World Peace tour and I missed my chance.

I will say this, though, about her: Even if what she’s doing is considered socially unacceptable, and even if I’d probably never in a million years consider riding topless through Ashland myself, she represents something I’m drawn to.

She’s free. She’s fluid. She’s not confined to worrying about whether she fits in.

She’s a child running naked through the sprinkler; she's siblings in the tub, wrestling and throwing suds at each other; she’s college pals tearing off their clothes, running and somersaulting through the air off the end of a rickety old lake dock.

To put it in peaceful terms, she's just hanging out.