A Fine Mess

When we leave the house, we put Fay and the puppy in the spare room, which is now the dogs' room, which has baby gates across the doorways. This morning, we went to the Y. Here is the scene we returned to:



Sadie and Lola making monster heads.


Holiday Lola

Lo: Mom, will you get me some more syrup?

TR: (Gets syrup from pantry) Here.

Lo: Can you open the lid, pour it, and put the lid back on so I don't have to get my hands sticky?

TR (Does as instructed, begrudgingly): Anything else?

Lo: I could use a back massage.


Analyze Please

Last night, I dreamed that Georgia was eating a big bag of pork rinds.


Poem by Louise Gluck

The Untrustworthy Speaker

Don't listen to me; my heart's been broken.
I don't see anything objectively.

I know myself; I've learned to hear like a psychiatrist.
When I speak passionately,
That's when I'm least to be trusted.

It's very sad, really: all my life I've been praised
For my intelligence, my powers of language, of insight-
In the end they're wasted-

I never see myself.
Standing on the front steps. Holding my sisters hand.
That's why I can't account
For the bruises on her arm where the sleeve ends . . .

In my own mind, I'm invisible: that's why I'm dangerous.
People like me, who seem selfless.
We're the cripples, the liars:
We're the ones who should be factored out
In the interest of truth.

When I'm quiet, that's when the truth emerges.
A clear sky, the clouds like white fibers.
Underneath, a little gray house. The azaleas
Red and bright pink.

If you want the truth, you have to close yourself
To the older sister, block her out:
When a living thing is hurt like that
In its deepest workings,
All function is altered.

That's why I'm not to be trusted.
Because a wound to the heart
Is also a wound to the mind.


A Poem By Laure-Anne Bosselaar, from Small Gods of Grief


Listen to this: rationalism--
what an ugly word, heady with the sagacious
rational, insufferably suffixed with ism.

I ban it from my vocabulary,
from the only thesaurus I trust:
the abridged one I protect when I make

a fist against my chest, the same fist
I brandish to the fourteen slats of the blinds
I slammed down just now

to stop staring at that immutable
mountain in which I know how to find
consolation, but I don't want it tonight.

I petition to be inconsolable
for today's fourteen sorrows--one per slat:

for a cloud at dawn tearing its heart out
trying to obscure the sun;

for that beech branch on Spring Street
whipped to shreds by each passing truck;

for the gardens I planted, then left;

for the photography of my dead friend
buckling more each day on the fridge door;

for the three times I stumbled today;

for my lubberly body,

the shame of it;

for the fist inside my chest

and for raising it, still, against my father;

for his shame of me,

for the shame of him
in me;

for spurning consolation
with fourteen slammed slats;

for another day of dying

and for welcoming this--against all reason.


Lola's Birthday

Lo turned 9 Saturday:

Are you surprised?

A pyromaniac's idea of birthday candles.

Having some sugar with their sugar.

A gift from our neighbor, Hobart the Labradoodle.


'Tis the Season..for The Ref

Just watch the therapy scene, from 4:00 thru 6:30.


Poetry Stuff

Dear readers (all five or six of you),

I've been under the weather. Still am.

But I wanted to mention that my friend Rick Campbell will be reading (and promoting his beautiful new book, Dixmont) at A Cappella Books tomorrow night, and I will be reading with him. Click here and scroll down for info on that event. In the meantime, here's a poem from that collection:


My heart was suspect.
Wired to an EKG,
I walked a treadmill
that measured my ebb
and flow, tracked isotopes
that ploughed my veins,
looked for a constancy
I’ve hardly ever found.
For a month I worried
as I climbed the stairs
to my office. The mortality
I never believed in
was here now. They
say my heart’s ok,
just high cholesterol, but
I know my heart’s a house
someone has broken into,
a room you come back
to and know some stranger
with bad intent has been there
and touched all that you love. You know
he can come back. It’s his call,
his house now.


Losing Points

Guess what former Father of the Year is missing his daughter's very-first-ever basketball game just so he can attend the SEC championships today? Here's the conversation we had upon waking this morning:


TR: Will you go to Publix to get dogfood and pick up my meds?

Biggy: I can't. I've got to start drinking.


Fay at Work

After a busy morning guarding me from my co-workers and students, Fay really needed a nap. Did I mention she has Addison's Disease? She's quite fragile, you know.

Friday Nostalgia


Must Read

Be sure not to miss George Bilgere's beautiful poem, The Fall, on Writer's Almanac today.

Christmas Wishlist '08

Even though I'm not Catholic.

So I can have my cake and eat it too.

So I can stay snuggie.

Do I really need a reason?


Doggies-Who-Think-They-Are-People Cam

She sat here on her own. This way, she could watch JackMan play Fallout 3 but still keep an eye on what I was doing in the kitchen.


Some Things They Never Forget

Yesterday, I was out and about with Georgia (Remember, she's 19) and Lola:

Lo: Hey, Mom, I didn't turn in that form you signed for our class store.

TR: Why's that?

Lo: Because I changed my mind about what I want to make. Instead of potholders, I'm going to make clay monster heads.

TR: That's fine.

Georgia (suddenly angry): I know what I wish you'd NEVER signed for me!

TR: What?

Georgia: That form in fourth grade science.

TR: Huh?

Georgia: The one giving me permission to dissect. There were cow brains and frogs and baby pigs...I just hid in the back while everyone else did it. It was sick! I'll never get it out of my head.

TR: And it's all my fault?!

Georgia: You signed it.


Sunday Dinner

Sunday, I invited Mamoo over for dinner, to thank (some would say punish) her for watching Stella while we were out of town. I told her we'd have to eat early, around 5, since Jack had Judo. After Mom agreed to come, I got a call from Georgia, saying she was headed back from Athens and would eat dinner with us if I'd let her cook some of it. Then I found out from Jack that he didn't have Judo after all, so suddenly we weren't under the time constraints we had before. I could even bake some yams.

Now, it was full-on dinner for 6, with me being relegated to sous chef, a more appropriate position. Still feeling that pilgrim spirit, I bought a Jenny-O bird-in-a-bag, and we ended up with an after-the-fact-sans-gravy/stuffing/jello-quasi-holiday-dinner.

We used holiday-print napkins instead of paper towels and broke out the matching John Deere dinnerware. This is what a special occasion, planned or impromptu, looks like at my house:



When we returned home from the in-laws' house in SC, I found my son had already gotten back from his trip to Augusta:

TR: Jack, why are you wearing my socks?!

JackMan: Because they're warm and fluffy.

*For the full effect, click to enlarge image.


C-c-c-case In Point

Biggy is back and doing yard work:

But where is he, you wonder...

When Couples With ADD Argue

Yesterday, when I got ready to leave work, I found a thoughtful note on my car window informing me that my right front tire was flat. I mean flat. So I called Georgia, who was watching Lola, to tell her that I'd be later getting home, while someone here was kind enough to put my spare on. That someone also pointed out that the flat was so bald it had split. "Why were you driving around on that, anyway?" he asked.


So once I was on the road, my cell phone rang. It was my husband, who had just picked up his rental car in Boca Raton, where he was about to make a presentation for work. At that time, he was driving around, looking for an OfficeMax:

Biggy: Someone put your spare on?

TR: YES! How did you know I had a flat?

Biggy: I called Georgia.

TR: Why did you call Georgia? You were supposed to call me when your flight landed.

Biggy: Georgia called me first. I was calling her back.

TR: Well, I thought about calling you to complain about my tire, but I decided not to bother you.

Biggy: I appreciate that. And now it's taken care of, and you're on your way home.

TR: No, now it's half an hour later, which means it's going to get dark, and I'll probably get pulled over for having a headlight out! You know I'm a cop magnet.

Biggy: Maybe if we bought a smaller house that was easier to maintain and got rid of the 25 pets, I'd have more time to change the bulb.

TR: Considering I take care of the pets--BY THE WAY, that tire was balder than Howie Mandel! It actually split. And building little bonfires of raked leaves in the front yard is not what I call home maintenance. Why would you want me driving around on bald tires?!

Biggy: I'm going to hang up now before I get really upset.

TR: Well, I'm ALREADY upset--if you haven't noticed.

Biggy: Oooooh, look at that! One day I'm going to own a Porsche like that. It's a work of art.

TR: I'll bet it has safe tires and working headlights too. Why are you going to Office Max?

Biggy: I need some project boards to mount my presentation.

TR: What are you--in third grade?! Why don't they send you with a laptop?

Biggy: Because then I'd need a projector and---

TR: --which any office should have--

Biggy: But this meeting is at a rec hall. The last time we had to break up a canasta game. No...it was pinochle.

TR: A bunch of old snowbirds, huh? I'll bet the men changed the oil in the cars on schedule and made sure their wives' tires were rotated...

Biggy: And I'll bet those men didn't get old by eating tuna helper and Papa John's pizza.

TR: When will you be home?

Biggy: Around noon tomorrow.

TR: You going clubbing tonight?

Biggy: No, I have twin hookers coming to my hotel room.

TR: Rock on.


So Tonight I Dropped By Mamoo's...

You know, I've got another 18 years to reach my mother's level of --um, whatever it is.

But look who's just getting started--George and her dog Mannie:



Friday Nostalgia

The original cougars:

The Graduate

Summer of '42



This morning, Biggy and I were watching a news report about the Grandma Bandit, who's robbed a Bank of America in California twice this year. While my thoughts were hopping from, 'Wow--she must be really desperate' to 'She needs a visit from Family Services,' my husband was thinking some thoughts of his own:

Biggy: I'm gonna rob a bank when I get old.

TR: Yeah?

Biggy: Sure. What would they do to you? 75...80 years old...never been in trouble with the law...They wouldn't throw you in jail. You could just claim dementia.

TR: Sounds like a plan.

Biggy: Oh, I'm gonna do a lot of things when I get old. I can't WAIT!

TR: Do tell.

Biggy: Like crap my pants at the mall and call Georgia to come pick me up.



In my fantasy alternate universe, I'm a costume designer.


Rules For the Gym

I've belonged to our local Y since 1993, when I was a married single parent and their nursery was the only thing standing between me and stretch pants. Over the fifteen years or so of my membership, the facility has been renovated, oh...I'd guess...about fifteen times, during which they shut down chunks of it, so that everyone is crammed into, say, the circuit training area while the free weights are out of commission, or we're forced to ride the stationary bikes in tandem. This will go on for a couple of months until there's a new playscape where the basketball courts used to be and everyone is doing Zumba instead of kickboxing.

Now, they've configured the cardio area so that the circuit actually circuits it, which means I'm subjected to all the politics that occur when someone circles in the wrong direction or refuses to let another "work in" between sets. And the free weights are against the back (mirrored) wall, so I have to witness the macho strutting and preening that happens between the bench press and the squat machine, as well as a beastly amount of back hair and butt sweat.

My simple routine is designed to spare me as much of this bother as possible, meaning I beeline into the Big Room, ignoring the pesky posters reminding me to stretch or encouraging me to spend more time with my children; brace myself for the chicken-soup-and-pickles smell that belies the spa-esque color palette; find myself a functional elliptical machine with a working TV; do my time; and dash back out to the parking lot before any of the folks trying to figure out where they recognize me from remember I'm the person who chastised them for bringing their kids to Publix during the holidays or for paying with cash during the gas crisis. Anything else I need to do, toning for instance, can be accomplished at home with dumb bells, while Lola and I watch Beach Patrol.

But no matter how I streamline the experience or pep-talk myself into a kinder, gentler attitude, I still leave that necessary evil--more often than not--as annoyed as if I'd stood in line for an hour at the DMV, behind an ogling nose-picker with a hacking cough.

So yesterday, while ellipticaling and crying over Something's Gotta Give, I compiled a few simple rules, suggestions if you will, to improve everyone's experience:

1. First, if you know you're going to the gym, forgo the beans and cabbage. Do not make your own special contribution to the already moist and fetid air.

2. Brush your teeth before you go. (See above)

3. Make sure your work-out clothes fit properly and cover your lady- or man-parts. I do not need a shot of your moneymaker while you're on the hip abductor machine.

4. Turn your cell phone off. Unless you've got a surefire stock tip or a way to erase Sarah Palin from our memory, no one wants to hear your conversation.

5. When choosing a treadmill, stairmaster, etc., leave as much space as you can between you and the next person. In other words, if there are a dozen machines in the row and I am the only one working out, do not take the machine right beside me. Seriously.

6. If, however, it is so crowded that you must occupy a machine next to another person, do not turn your TV to Bill O'Reilly. It is impossible to avoid looking over at his smug face when his lips are flapping so fast.

7. Do not let your children play on the machines. The Y already has rules against this, but many parents are under the impression that their own children are the exception. They're the same parents who let their kids wheel the grocery cart into your heels at Publix and let them peer at you under the restroom stall at Target.

8. Do not repeatedly flex and pose in the mirrors. You look exactly the same as you did before you benched those fifty pounds.

9. Do NOT wipe the machines down when you're finished using them. You're not paying over $600 a year to do custodial work. If we all refuse to comply, they'll make one of those teenagers writing poetry at the front desk do it.

10. And, finally, if you are exceptionally fit and beautiful, do the rest of us a favor and work out early in the morning--before class, or in the early-afternoon off hours, before your shift at Hooters.



Stupid Parents Today Show

Biggy and I saw the clip of the kid falling yesterday and after I commented about what a great photo op--your toddler leaning against a rickety post at the edge of a hundred-and-fifty-foot cliff overlooking a violent, rocky surf--I joked, "Matt Lauer will have those dummies on the set tomorrow for an interview." Sure enough! Seems the consolation prize for the Darwin Awards is fifteen minutes of fame--Matt & Co. asking, "Were you afraid?"

And who was holding the video cam? Whoever it was never stopped filming.

I read an article, which quoted the mom:

Alaina’s mother Charlotte said she is upset with the Oregon Parks service for leaving such a large gap between the fence rails near such a dangerous spot.

"I guess the more I thought about it, the angrier I got at the state parks because there's just no excuse for that," Charlotte Pitton said.

Hmmm....large gap between the fence rails...dangerous spot...

I wonder if she ever got angry at herself?!

It Doesn't Take Much to Make Them Happy

Biggy and JackMan are thrilled with the new trick they taught Daisy.


Thumbs Up

I LOVE this commercial! It captures perfectly the low-grade insanity induced by motherhood--and that very measured, restrained SNAP so necessary for preventing the full-blown breakdown that could lead to poisoning the pot roast.


Dear Santa

Please bring me one of these:

I have a big yard. He can sleep at the foot of the bed.



Don't Get Caught Watching This at Work

It's pretty addictive.

Conference Souvenirs

The FLAC conference was really wonderful--gorgeous weather in a town radiating history, the Flagler College campus exquisite in its spirit and architecture. The conference is scheduled for St. Augustine again next year, and I recommend you liter(sc)ary folks plan to attend--unless you disdain events less pompous, posturing, and political than, say, AWP. This conference is far more laid-back and democratic.

I was happy to be introduced to some writers I'd never read before, among them tiny but powerful poet Julia Levine, barely-legal novelist Tony D'Souza, and voodoo-dark poet Sheryl St. Germain.

I brought you back one of Sheryl's poems:

In memory of my brother, Jay St. Germain, 1958-1981

The truth is I loved it,
the whole ritual of it,
the way he would fist up his arm, then
hold it out so trusting and bare,
the vein pushed up all blue and throbbing
and wanting to be pierced,
his opposite hand gripped tight as death
around the upper arm,

the way I would try to enter the vein,
almost parallel to the arm,
push lightly but firmly, not
too deep,
you don't want to go through
the vein, just in,
then pull back until you see
blood, then

hold the needle very still, slowly
shoot him with it.
Like that I would enter him,
slowly, slowly, very still,
don't move,
then he would let the fist out,
loosen his grip on the upper arm--

and oh, the movement of his lips
when he asked that I open my arms.
How careful,
how good he was, sliding
the needle silver and slender
so easily into me, as though
my skin and veins were made for it,
and when he had finished, pulled
it out, I would be coming
in my fingers, hands, my ear lobes
were coming, heart, thighs,
tongue, eyes and brain were coming,
thick and brilliant as the last thin match
against a homeless bitter cold.

I even loved the pin-sized bruises,
I would finger them alone in my room
like marks of passion;
by the time they turned yellow,
my dreams were full of needles.

We both took lovers who loved
this entering and being entered,
but when he brought over the
pale-faced girl so full of needle holes
he had to lay her on her back
like a corpse and stick the needle
over and over in her ankle veins
to find one that wasn't weary
of all that joy, I became sick
with it, but

you know, it still stalks my dreams,
and deaths make no difference:
there is only the body's huge wanting.

When I think of my brother
all spilled out on the floor
I say nothing to anyone.
I know what it's like to want joy
at any cost.

Sheryl St. Germain


Just Because

I listened to a couple of country stations on the road yesterday and heard this song for the first time. I have to say, I LOVE me a good, clever country song.


Traveling is Such an Adventure

The reason for my trip to St. Augustine is the FLAC (Florida Literary Arts Council) conference. I'm reading tomorrow with my friend Marty Williams. It's a morning event, which means we'll probably be reading to the coffee and donuts set-up crew, but whatever.

I'm looking forward to visiting with some folks I haven't seen in a while--and to hearing the various panels, etc. tomorrow and Saturday, but after driving for six-plus hours, I could NOT talk myself into attending the opening festivities. It was dark when I got here, and I'm disoriented. I hate walking into social gatherings alone. I might as well be 13 with headgear.

So I've got an eggplant parmesan sub from a shop down the road and a big bottle of...Pelligrino. Grey's Anatomy's on in a few.

Don't hate me because I'm exciting.

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Harping

Yesterday afternoon, when I picked Lola up from school, she came through the double doors with The Look on her face that let me know I'd committed some offense. Since I hadn't even see her since 7 a.m., she'd had about nine hours to stew about it and practice that expression, so I can assure you, it was not pretty. I braced myself:


TR: What happened?

Lo: Well, to start with, YOU forgot to pack my Target binder!

TR: Crap! I was thinking today was Tuesday...

Lo: It's WEDNESDAY, Mom! And you're lucky we had a sub...

TR: So you didn't get in trouble?

Lo: NO, but that's another thing--we had a sub! I hate subs. And now my book bag is FULL of papers that need to go in my binder. FULL OF THEM! And at lunch today, I dropped my hamburger--which was on a HOTDOG BUN anyway. And they didn't have honey mustard for my fries.

TR: I'm sorry.

Lo: So I'm STARVING. What are we having for dinner?

TR: Tuna Helper.

Lo: You have GOT to be kidding!

TR: No, that's what I planned to have...

Lo: Why are you turning here?

TR: We have to go to PetSmart to get crickets.

Lo: This day just gets worse and worse. Can't you wait and get them tomorrow?

TR: I can't. I'm going out of town.

Lo: WHAT!? Where are you going?

TR: To a writing conference in St. Augustine.


TR: Until Sunday.

Lo: I have to stay with DAD?

TR: Yeah.

Lo: He doesn't even know how to sign my school planner. He won't let me have Pop-Tarts for my snack! Don't go!

TR: I have to go.

Lo: FIrst you don't pack my binder, I drop my hamburger, and there's no honey mustard for my fries. Now, we're having Tuna Helper and we have to go to PetSmart to buy crickets, but I'm sure you won't let me get a rabbit. Then you're going out of town, and I have to stay with DAD and JACK!

TR: Oh, and Dad's taking you to the doctor tomorrow.


Deep Thoughts

Biggy on not feeling well: "I just wish I had one more orifice to blow stuff out of."



Why Was I Surprised?

When I let the dogs out at 6:30 this morning, I noticed some coward had, under cover of night, stepped onto OUR property--which we pay for and pay taxes on, and where we live peacefully (except for occasional temper tantrums and dog fights) and lawfully (except for an occasional illegal bonfire or odd/even watering slip)--and stolen our Obama-Biden sign. Someone small and mean, who thinks nothing of my right to freedom of speech; or someone so lacking in confidence for their own candidate that they're afraid of the power of one Obama sign to every 15 McCain-Palin banners in our neighborhood.

I jog and drive by those McPain signs every day--signs I disagree with planted by people I might not like--and as much as they distress me, I would defend to the end my neighbors' right to display them and to support whomever they choose. In fact, I wish all the McCain supporters would put signs in their yards so I'll know exactly who not to invite to all the fabulous parties I plan to have after I clean the house and Biggy finishes the new table he's building and we get the giant hole in the kitchen ceiling fixed.

As for the thief, you represent everything the GOP means to me: You're greedy, mean-spirited, ignorant, entitled, bigoted, a liar, and--of course--a cheater.

Cheat all you want, though. I've got enough signs to last till we win on Tuesday.


The Man I Married

Biggy was awfully accommodating when I asked him to try on that bracelet last week..and Saturday, I caught him wearing my glasses.

8 Years Later

Maybe I was the last one to see this? I've posted the original first:

Not Even God Is Spared The Scare Tactics



For that price, a plastic surgeon could have applied the makeup permanently.

Friday Nostalgia

McCain in 2000:


Sarah Wouldn't Wear That Bracelet

I was going to post something about Palin's $150,000 wardrobe, but this was so much funnier:


Product Review

A few weeks ago, I received an email asking if I'd be interested in reviewing products on my blog. The deal was, I'd get free merchandise to try out (swag and subject matter--what a deal!). Today, I received a freshwater pearl bracelet from www.pearlnecklacecenter.com.

It's a sweet little thing, beaded onto elastic thread, so it doesn't hang and dangle or slide up and down. I've noticed I lose credibility with my kids or classes when my puppy-dog charm bracelet shimmies around while I'm punctuating the air. These pearls, on the other hand (wrist, really), are nice and snug. But thanks to the stretchiness, I could eat a tub of buttered popcorn or a Denny's Grand Slam and it would still fit the next day.

For you young ladies, it will look fabulous with your disco dress on Saturday night yet transition well for wearing home Sunday morning, dressed in that guy's roommate's sister's Soffe's and his Dave Matthews tee shirt (You earned that shirt!).

Or, if you're looking for a thoughtful yet practical--and reasonably priced--gift for someone special, they also have earrings, necklaces, and more bracelets to choose from. Not just freshwater pearls, either, but Akoya saltwater pearls as well. And everything is guaranteed. Mamoo, this particular bracelet would be a perfect gift for Granny, because she can put it on and take it off by herself instead of calling you to drive over to the nursing home.

Though I usually don't let anyone touch my new stuff until I've had it at least 48 hours, I did let Biggy and Stella try it on to illustrate how versatile it is:

About Me

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Writer, teacher, student, mom.

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