Archive for August, 2005

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Okay, I had in mind this very entertaining comment…

August 30, 2005

Okay, I had in mind this very entertaining commentary to post, but things sometimes change and it doesn’t happen that way. Today, my head is swimming (honestly, it’s possible I have some sort of mental illness – or well, maybe I’m just a freak.)

When I was 20, I met this really groovy chick named Jessica. We worked together at Bruegger’s Bagels and then spent many years drinking too much wine, smoking too many cigarettes, and dancing like fools to Trailhead. She was right there by me when all kinds of nasty things went on with my life and she never faultered. Now, she’s the one with craziness. You see, Jessica now lives in New Orleans. She is the head pastry chef at Emeril’s. As of last evening, New Orleans looked to have faired Katrina pretty well – but late last night, the levy at Lake Pontchartrain gave way. The French Quarter, which seemed to escape the worst, is now filling with water from the lake. There is damage to be seen a full mile inland. My husband, forever the pessimist, comments that you know, these people CHOOSE to live in a town that is 12 feet below sea level. Yeah, he’s got a point. But, it’s a little harder to be so harsh when it’s my friend. And, really, the girl can make some pastries. We’re talking about a devestating loss. Let’s everyone keep Jessica in our thoughts today as well as her thousands and thousands of brothers and sisters in need in Louisianna, Mississippi, and Alabama. Let’s hope they got out, and can soon come back to rebuild.

I have one living grandfather. I never met my maternal grandfather, he passed away a few weeks before I was to meet him for the first time. So, I have one grandfather. He’s 80 years old and lives in my state, but I very rarely see him. Honestly, I may have seen him for about a total of 3 or 4 hours in the last 7 – 10 years. He’s got some interesting stories, but it’s hard to hear him talk because it seems to just ramble about. He drove a truck for Swift and Co. during the 50’s and then worked on trucks for years until he retired, sometime in the late 80’s or maybe early 90’s. Because of him, I know that the best mashed potatoes and gravy come from truck stops and you can almost always find a nice piece of pie for dessert. Regardless, Grandpa is an interesting character. He’s not doing well. He had surgery for an aneurism a few weeks ago. As a result of the surgery, he developed fluid around his lungs. Upon scanning for the fluid, the doctors discovered that not only does he have fluid on his lungs, he has several spots on his lungs as well, supposedly from asbestos. He’s due to have more surgery soon. To top it all off, his partner of 13 years or so has been diagnosed with lung, liver, pancreatic, and colon cancer. She has weeks to live – and he doesn’t know.

This is heavy stuff. Makes me wonder, frankly, if I would want to know if I had just weeks to live. If I knew, would I tell anyone? What would I do? I’m going to think about this and then will post my findings.

If you’re a devoted reader and have read from the beginning, you might know that a couple that is very close to me separated. I was truely conflicted by this. This past weekend, they announced that they are, in fact, REUNITING. Yep. Moving back in together. Happy Happy Happy. Or, is it? I mean, what has really changed? From what I understand, this is their MO. They do this – fight, talk about divorce, separate, throw everyone through total hell, and then suddenly get back together as though everything is groovy. This cycle repeats every few years and has been going on since the early 1970’s. Talk about a roller coaster. We’ll see how it goes.

I have a very dear friend (who’s cool with letting folks know that I was also her doula,) who is pretty well known in the world of abstract art. If you googled her, you’d see that she’s everywhere. This past weekend, I visited her and her family and she presented me with a framed piece of her artwork. I was stunned. It’s beautiful – and I am blessed to be surrounded by such amazing people. She ordered a felted bag from me – it will be the largest one I’ve ever made. I’m pleased to do it for her – I’ll post a picture when it’s done.

DuCK has been hiding behind the recliner in the play room. WTF?

Last night, B was working on some mats for some artwork he’s been commissioned to frame. I watched him deliberate for ages about just which mat color and texture would look best, which molding would make the best frame, take and retake measurements for the little title cut out. Every few minutes he would come and ask for my opinion, and together, we found the right combination. But it’s him, you see, who does the hard stuff. The art and beauty comes from his mind and fingers. It occurred to me that we both have an art, a craft, that is based in creativity and beauty and creation. This is so cool. And folks like what we do and are willing to pay for it. It’s certainly not enough to support ourselves, but it’s nice to have a creative outlet that brings people pleasure and often brings me sushi.

I have three baskets of clean laundry in the laundry room. They’ve been there for days and days and days. I have no, let me repeat, NO motivation to do anything with them. I detest folding and putting away. Any volunteers?

My brother is going back over to the sandbox that George W seems determined to crowd. To be honest, we don’t know exactly where he’s going. He’s not allowed to tell us. Not even when he gets back. But he’ll be gone for a few months. WARNING while he’s gone, I’m going to, more than likely, verbally eviscerate W on a daily basis. I’ll try to remember to do it in a different font or something so you can skip it, if you’d like.

I need more coffee.

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new hair cut. 

August 29, 2005

new hair cut. Posted by Picasa

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For your viewing pleasure

August 26, 2005

Okay, you gotta see this. There are some things in life that are just so bad, they’re beautiful. Maybe inspirational. Maybe nauseating. Fine line, each and every one.

The Sun’s Worst Album Covers Ever

I’m quite sure that I may have seen one or two of the Jesus albums in my house once upon a time. Heh. And folks wonder why I like whiskey.

**Credit goes to Mark for this one – don’t know how he stumbles across this stuff, but I’m glad he does. Hey Mark, send postcards.**

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BIG

August 22, 2005

Something very strange happened to me today – something that very rarely, if ever, happens. I was struck speechless – in the strictest sense of the word.

The boys and I ran into one of our favorite women this morning. We had been visiting with our friends and on our way out, we saw our friend, so we all went to say hello. We’ve known “Cass” for about a year and half and have always enjoyed speaking and joking with her. She’s funny and kind and respectful and just a really amazing person. I like her enormously. And so do my boys. Cass has lovely strawberry blond hair, infectious laughter, a bright welcoming smile, and a way with kids that would make any parent wish they could take lessons from her. Cass is a gem.

She is also largely overweight.

My son, looking and sounding angelic as always, looked up into her expectant eyes and said, “Wow Cass! Look at your body!” I said, “oh yes, isn’t that a beautiful shirt??” And my son said, “It’s so fat!!!”

It’s so fat.

That was it for me. I couldn’t speak. What do you do in that situation?

She looked at me with this very strange look of “what the hell is going on here?” Her eyes were big and I honestly had no idea what to say or do. I just kind of gasped my son’s name under my breath and tried so hard to not mess my pants. Finally, she looked at my son and said, “hey, it’s okay,” but then quickly said goodbye.

Ouch.

Parenting is hard shit. Folks think that the biggest challenges are dealing with laundry stains, frogs in pockets, keeping them from watching hours and hours of TV, and keeping the sex toys securely locked away, but sincerely, it’s moments like these that make even the most accomplished parent want to give up and move to a monastery. There just isn’t a right answer to this situation.

On one hand, he was telling the truth. In plain old language, Cass is, indeed, fat. There are some folks who have absolutely no issues at all with this. Some folks, in fact, relish the fact that they are obese and there are many people out there who find it so desirable that a person of even average weight and size would be completely out of the question in terms of attraction. And then there are folks who are overweight and miserable and filled with self loathing. And then there are folks at every stage in between. The trick is that we never ever know who fits into which category. Ugh.

And, of course, this also brings up the issue of ‘what is fat?” What I consider fat is certainly not what other people consider fat. It’s all a matter of opinion, which is decidedly a nasty way to go because most all opinions are based on our societal norms and expectations. Surely I don’t have to continue on with all that is wrong with our society norms and views on weight and beauty. Dear Elvis, that’s another post entirely.

Essentially, we had a long conversation about body image and that folks come in all shapes and sizes and folks have all kinds of different feelings about their bodies. We never know how folks feel about their own body shape and image, and their bodies don’t really matter at all anyway, so it’s probably best to just not comment on people’s bodies at all.

By the end of the conversation, my son and I both felt satisfied – he knew where I was coming from, I knew where he was coming from. I have confidence that it won’t happen again, or if it does, we’ll all be able to handle it better.

Where did he learn about this, though? I know for a fact that I have never commented on Cass’s weight. But you know what? I know that I’ve commented about my own weight. I know that my anorexic sibling talks frequently of weight and often talks about fat people. My in-laws are always talking about getting fat, being fat, avoiding getting fat, losing the fat, the dangers of being fat. It’s also possible that my dramatic weight loss put some ideas into his mind – truth be told, we’ve never discussed it with the kids because, frankly, it didn’t seen important. I’m learning that *it’s all important.*

What started off as a situation all about social niceties and acceptance of all shapes and sizes has opened up a whole can of worms about societal pressures, the horrid over eating and under exercising habits of Americans, body image, healthy life style choices, compassion, and understanding. Fortunately, we had the time and desire to discuss it all. We came to a great peace about it. My children understand so much more about folks now than they did this morning. They understand, as well as their little minds are able, about media and pressure and excess.

And they understand that Cass is, indeed a large woman. Large in heart. Large in thought. Large in spirit.

Wouldn’t be great if we were all so big?

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Brain Spill

August 19, 2005

I have no idea when I’m actually going to be posting this, but I’m writing it at 4:11 pm. If you’ve been a faithful reader, you know what this means -I’m usually in the midst of “what in the world are we gonna eat,” but today I know what we’re doing (swordfish with sundried tomato pesto, if you wanna know.)

My mind has been working over time lately and I’m not sure whether I should write all about it or keep it all to myself. It’s rather interesting, I feel as though I’m a lazy susan of sorts – gimme a spin and see what you get. DeeDee has a blog that I find terribly entertaining, mostly ’cause I find her terribly entertaining, and she recently posted the10 things that suck thus far about 2005 and the 10 things that rock thus far about 2005. Pretty good, really, and I agree with them all. I suppose, with the consideration of my 4 loyal readers out there (if there are more, right on,) I should do something that organized.

Sorry. It ain’t gonna happen. So I’m just gonna spill my brain for a bit. I will leave some of it intact to serve two purposes – 1) to keep me breathing and 2) to keep you guessing. (OHHHHHhh, what is she keeping in that mind, that little mynx?)

Sandie rocks. She just does. I’ve known her for 2 years or so now and she knows all the insanity of my gig – she’s a doula, too, although I don’t know how busy she is ’cause she’s got 2 adorable little girls. Regardless, she listens to much the same music as I do, reads much the same stuff as I do, and really really laughs at the same shit as I do. She recently posted about this comedian that Brian and I have always referred to as, “You know, that guy comedian we love so much because he’s so fucking funny – you know, That Guy.” Turns out the guy is named Mitch Hedberg (honest to Elvis, he’s so funny it HURTS. It’s PAINFUL. And you’ll LIKE IT.) I posted on her blog that if she burned me a cd, I’d love her forever. Now, of course, I’d have loved her forever anyhow, but the very next day, the CD SHOWED UP IN MY MAILBOX. Yep. No fooling. That goddess burned the cd and MAILED it to me!! She spent money on postage! I couldn’t believe it. And, as expected, I ruptured a few things listening to it that night. So, Sandie, I love you forever and then some. In honor of Gobo Fraggle, I decided to “Ungh Ungh Pass It On” and then burned the cd and mailed a copy to my brother, who is in Wichita, KS, where there is nothing funny and no hope for a humor revival, so I figured it was sort like being Mother Teresa, Gobo Fraggle, and Hysterical Laughter fairy at the same time. I want proper credit, Elvis. Write it down. I’m sure that alone made up for my 17th year on this planet. Well, okay, maybe half of it. Let’s not nitpick.

My mother in law needs a swift dose of reality. Now, in all fairness, I’ve only known her for the last 6+ years, but I’ve always wondered what color the sky is in her world. Sometimes it’s entertaining, sometimes it’s confusing, right now, it’s outright infuriating. Everything is about her. EVERYTHING. Well, guess what?? This blog ISN’T about her – so I’m gonna stop writing about her. Although, boy howdy, it’d be a good post. Ah hah, and here in lies the mystery of what’s still left in my brain. If anyone would like to get rip roaringly drunk and film an expose about the struggles of life with a lunatic mother in law, gimme a call.

I love my husband. I mean, I REALLY love my husband. And I’m so glad. Unfortunately, many many folks don’t have that feeling, that luxury. Now, that’s a comment – how messed up is it that loving your spouse is now a luxury??? What the hell? Regardless, I’m lucky and blessed. I couldn’t ask for more than him.

I’m such a dork.

My kids are so freaking cool. They make me laugh, the make me think, and the love that I have for them is so fierce there aren’t even words for it. You lovin’ mamas, you know what I’m saying. You know that love. That, “Don’t even think of fucking with me and my kids ’cause I’ll tear you to shreds with one hand and my teeth, asshole” love. I just finished Protecting the Gift and I have to say, I walked away from that book feeling so empowered. I KNOW I have what it takes to protect my kids. I KNOW I have what it takes to teach my kids to protect themselves. I KNOW that I am a good mother. I KNOW that I’ll not hurt them and they are at an advantage because they have a loving, caring mother and father. But I also know that there are kids out there who don’t have that. I know there are kids out there who go to bed every night thinking, knowing, that their parents don’t love and accept them. I know there are kids out there who feel that they are worthless because their parents have told them so. I know that there are kids out there who serve no other purpose in their parents’ minds than to increase child support payments, government assistance, and to be a pawn in the never ending battle of hate and childishness between ex-spouse’s. I know there are kids out there living in pain. I know there are kids out there who’s idea of self expression is a slap against the head and who hear “you’re so stupid” more than “you’re so worthy.” It tears me apart. Some of these kids are kids that I love. Some of these kids are in my circle of family (maybe blood related, maybe not – my family is HUGE ’cause it’s not limited at all by marriage and DNA.) If you see yourself here, know that I’m a witness. Know that I’m watching. Know that I will do whatever it takes to protect them.

Kindermusik starts again for us next week. If you’re in the area, you have to check out it. SINCERELY. Brenda is amazing, the classes are amazing. It might seem pricey to some, but it’s worth every cent. She’ll even let you come and sit in on a class for free to see if you’re interested. You have NOTHING to lose and everything to gain – and so do your kids. It’s so good for them.

I’m nearly done with another bag. I’ll post a picture soon. This one is custom made for my friend, JP. I hope she loves it – she deserves something great.

So you all know that I love Waiter Rant and Jason Mulgrew. Here’s a couple more:

Clublife oddly similar to Waiter (heh heh heh, where’s that phone booth when I need it, Lois??)

Will Wheaton dot Net Yep, it’s the cutie patootie from Stand By Me and later on Star Trek. Will has turned into an accomplished author (he’s published 3 books,) a great blogger, and, from all accounts, a kick ass poker player. Check him out. It’s entertaining. Really entertaining.

My anniversary is in February. 5 Years married, which seems like nothing. BUT, we never went anywhere after getting married, so I’m now planning a late honeymoon. Suggested locations are welcome. If it’s extravagant, you’re paying for it, so suggest accordingly with a strict budget in mind.

Um, I had more, but B just walked in. Guess you’ll just have to do some more guessing…

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The essence of Soul

August 17, 2005


Lynette Johnson of Soulumination

Some of you may know of Lynette Johnson. Recently she appeared on the Today show and folks all over the world are becoming familiar with her work. Lynette is an amazing photographer who’s organization, Soulumination, provides beautiful portraits of terminally ill children at no cost.

Lynette and I have emailed back and forth a bit in the few weeks since she appeared on the Today show. She has spent nearly every day photographing children and families. She is truly doing the work of angels. Please take a minute to learn more about Soulumination

From an email Lynette sent today to many of her supporters:

My wonderful friend Gretchen brought me this poem one morning and
we bothcried together as it touched me and spoke so clearly of the work I
havetaken on with this project. After all that has happened with the
airing ofthe Today Show I thought I would share it with all of you who have
reachedout with love and compassion. I see that Soulumination is being
embraced bythis nation and I see that the need is great. I suffer through
the loss ofone beautiful baby this past week and realize that I need help in
manyareas.

I thank all of you who are offering to take photos across this
country andhope to be a mentor to many. At this time I feel I must let you
all knowthat we need financial backing to make this all work. I promise to
spendevery dollar wisely. Please remember that there are no costs to the
familiesfor this service, so donations truly cover costs that are for
film,processing, printing, office supplies, hopefully a phone line, the
lovelyprints for the show in October and so forth. Please realize that
even thesmallest donation can help us as we are efficient with funds and will
useeach dollar to document these families and babies with love and honor. Wewill
move to educate and mentor so that the program spreads throughout
thiscountry……you can give through our Soulumination.orgwebsite or by mailing
to Soulumination, 1431 East Ward Street, Seattle, WA98112….my heartfelt
thanks, Lynette.

To those of youwho already donated, we can’t express our
appreciation enough. Your dollarsare already hard at work as I have photographed
3 families in the last 6days, each on remarkable, each story so emotional.
If you know of anygrants that might apply to this work, please let us know that
also, as weare making a list for when the 501c3 comes through.

if you can’t go to sleep

my dear soul

for tonight

what do you think will happen

if you pass your night

and merge it with dawn

for the sake of heart

what do you think will happen

if the entire world

is covered with the blossoms

you have labored to plant

what do you think will happen

if the elixir of life

that has been hidden in the dark

fills the desert and towns

what do you think will happen

if because of

your generosity and love

a few humans find their lives

what do you think will happen

if you pour an entire jar

filled with joyous wine

on the head of those already drunk

what do you think will happen

go my friend

bestow your love

even on your enemies

if you touch their hearts

what do you think will happen

Rumi.

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Lady killers

August 15, 2005

A 5 year old recently told her mother, “Duck is my boyfriend,” and her 3 year old sister told her mother, “Stealth is my friend.”

They will only get older and, presumably, more handsome. Duck more charming, Stealth more persuading.

I am so screwed.

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Ma’am

August 13, 2005

I’m 29 years old. Still young, I guess. Still really young, I suppose. It all depends on who you ask. I feel good in my skin. I know what I like, what I don’t like. I know what I know and what I don’t know. I have enough life experience to understand most of what folks go through. Hell, by the time I was 24, I’d lived more life than some folks who are 42 – even 82! Not bad, I guess. You pick up lessons along life’s path and you put them in your pocket to keep them with you. I’ve long ago filled all my pockets and now carry around a back pack and a huge purse to carry them all. I don’t let things pass by me. If there’s a lesson to learn, I learn it, no matter how hard it is.

Today, I learned a gnarly lesson:

I am a Ma’am.
I spent a few dreadful hours dragging my poor sons through department store after department store trying on dress after dress for my BIL’s wedding.
I made my way to the ladies sections and the women’s sections and I found WONDERFUL, BEAUTIFUL gowns, also on sale. They would have made Milton Berle gorgeous as they were about his size. I looked like I was wearing a lovely silk beaded tent. Honestly, no need to book a hall for the reception – the party could have been in my dress This would not work. While it may have been terribly fun to have a party in my dress, I don’t think there’s enough time to change the invitations to read, “Reception to follow in SIL of the Groom’s dress.”
So, we schlepped on.
Before I go any further, my kids deserve a million gold stars. The behaved, made friends with the sales ladies, and said, “Oh Mama, you look beautiful” over and over again. But they were lying. I did NOT look beautiful. I looked like an 80 year old woman in hot pants and roller skates.
While I didn’t have my quads on my feet nor did I wear shorts or satin of any kind, I was, actually, dragging dresses out of the Junior section now to try on. After all, they were on SALE!!!! And, being about as tall as a mailbox, it truly is hard for me to find clothes that fit me that aren’t from the Jr’s department (okay, yes, there are petites, but sincerely, all I can find is stuff that my grandmother would like and she is decidedly not petite, nor do I any longer have a relationship with her, so you know, it’s a waste either way.)
As I spent countless minutes trying to find the zipper on dresses, trying things on, sucking this in and pushing this out and telling my boys a million and twelve times a second, “DO NOT LOOK UNDER THE STALL TO ANOTHER ROOM!!!!,” I had to face the facts. I am not a Junior. Not when it comes to dresses.
Yesterday morning, I spent a delightful few hours with my best girlfriend and her daughters. Over the summer, she has regularly brought her daughters (who are the same age as my sons) to go swimming with us. The kids all play in the water and we talk. Yesterday we spent a good amount of time discussing the fact that I am no longer 18 and neither is she. We both have spider veins on our legs (“it can be taken care of for $100 and an office visit,”) I need an eye lift, she has a Hillary Clinton ‘do. But we both see ourselves as early 20’s. We still feel young and vibrant and alive and young. We feel like Miss’s. But we are not. We are Ma’am’s.
OH DEAR ELVIS, we are Ma’am’s.
This is a hard thing to face, I’m telling you. I’m the “baby” in my family, the same age as the “baby” in my husband’s family (although, the baby is getting married to someone who is 5 years younger than us, so now, looking at this 24 year old all the time, I really am faced with my Ma’amness.)
Upon deep reflection, though, I think I can handle being a Ma’am. There are things that come with age that I wouldn’t trade for ANYTHING in the world. I am comfortable in my body, in the most part, and it hasn’t failed me so I’ve learned to not fail it. I am comfortable with my sexuality – I know what I like, what I don’t like, and I’m not afraid to say the words I need to say in order to get it. I DO NOT HAVE TO DATE. I am past puberty – LONG past puberty. I know who I am, regardless of what I look like on the outside or who I am with. I am constant and consistent. I know what I believe about religion, politics, ethics, literature, freedom, human rights, sexuality, social sciences, education, power, media. I have reasonings for all my beliefs and I can back them up. People can say whatever they want about me because I know the truth – if they’re wrong, they’re wrong. I have learned to not be a doormat, but that I also do not have to be a brick wall – there’s room in between the two and it’s called an open mind. I have two children who I believe that, while it will it be hard, I can raise them to be respectful and conscious and aware.
I sat down in the dressing room and looked at my children. One of them was saying how lovely I looked (I’m sure – my jeans were around my knees and my shirt was stuck over my head as it got tangled in my hair clip,) and the other one was busily exploring my lip glosses while singing, “I just can’t wait to be king” at the top of his lungs. This is my life. This is my age. This is me.
I packed up the kids, got all my clothes on in all the right places and left without buying a single thing from the Junior or any other department. I grabbed my kids some Wendy’s (also part of being a Ma’am means understanding that the drive thru is occasionally fine dining,) cruised through the Taco Bell for myself, and happily decided to wear something that I, GASP, already own. It’s NICE, pretty trendy, can be dressed up, I don’t have to wear the most evil contraption ever invented, it’s comfortable, sexy as all hell, and age appropriate. Wahoo.
So I took my dress money and spent it on one of the most important thing a Ma’am can buy – a proper fitting bra. Yep, I have found the most amazing gravity defying device. I bought two. I can handle being a ma’am, as long as my breasts are in the right hemisphere of my body and are not tucked into my jeans.
That’s right. I’m a ma’am and proud of it.
But I still have my girls. Heh heh heh.
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No pictures, just words

August 10, 2005

I’ve been posting a lot of pictures lately. LOTS. To be honest, it’s probably because I’ve got some heavy shit going on in my life now and it’s easier to ignore it than to write about it. And, to be totally honest, when I feel like this, I shut off from folks – even myself. Pictures are nice because they show only what you want them to – I can choose what pictures to put out there, but believe it or not, I cannot always choose what words my fingers type. But, here it is, Wednesday morning and I actually have been so freaking productive already that I’m not going to tell myself that I have a million things to do and therefore have no time to write. I’m going to write and maybe you’ll read and possibly, when it’s all said and done, we’ll sit around a campfire and gorge ourselves on S’Mores. Or not.

Have I mentioned how screwed up some of my family members are? Immediate (whom I’ve written about) and extended (whom I’ve also written about,) I have some real LuLu’s in my family. It’s hard because sometimes I want to scream at them, “OH YOU GOTTA BE FUCKING KIDDING ME!!” This would go over about as well as a fart in church (thanks for that one, DDFF.) For many years I have sort of tip toed around what I said to some of them because, in all reality, some of them are somewhat parental sorts. This has always put my non-existent panties in a wad because really, aren’t we just peers now? We’re all adults, spouses, parents, home owners, voters, tax payers, etc. The “need” for these people has gone from a survival thing (meaning they are needed to survive,) to a survival thing (meaning, oh dear Elvis and eggs over easy, I have to survive yet another encounter with them.) As of late, I’ve just sort of said my mind. They don’t cuss, but I do, so I guess they’re hearing a lot more “shit” and “damn” and the occasional “fuck” than they’ve ever heard before. “But what about respect,” you say. I say, “Yeah, what about respect? What about respecting my choice of words as a literate, educated, adult woman? What about respecting my right to NOT censure myself!” I think they’re getting it. This past weekend, I told one of them to, “Go ahead and bury your head a little deeper in the damned sand!”

And the choir said, “Lord almighty, who passed gas???”

This morning I watched a documentary about The Endurance. If you haven’t heard about this amazing story, let me give you a brief run down. In 1914, Ernest Shackelton crewed a ship with 28 men on a journey to Antartica. Less than 100 miles from the shore, they become trapped in pack ice. Long story short, these men spent over 2 years away from home, rowing across the ocean to small islands, surviving blizzards and ship wrecks and dysentery and frostbite and everything you can possibly imagine and more – and they ALL SURVIVED. The details are so mind boggling, it would be nearly impossible to believe had it not been for a film maker and photographer that went along on the journey (photographic rights were sold in order to finance the journey.) Were it not for the actual footage and photographs, I highly doubt any living soul would believe the tale. This brings to mind 2 very profound thoughts. 1) Don’t tell me you cannot live without Cable TV. These men lived without drinking water and adequate food and land, for Elvis’ sake. You can, too, fix that toilet. These men lived in an overturned safety boat for over 4 months! And, thought number 2) Could I have done what it took to survive? Could I be the amazing leader that Shackelton was? Would I give my own ration of food and drink so my crew would not lose morale? Would I forfeit my fur sleeping bag and sleep in soggy wool so that my crew would remain warm? Amazing. Just amazing. And the honor of these men was simply overlooked because of Europe’s involvement in WWI. You have to learn about this trek. You have to learn about these men. You have to fix your own freaking toilet.

I’ve been reading Protecting the Gift by Gavin de Becker, author of The Gift of Fear. If you have children, you MUST read this book about keeping children of all ages safe from violent crime (kidnapping, physical abuse, sexual abuse, etc.) It’s amazing, this book, full of ideas that contradict all the age old advice we’ve passed on to our children for years ( “Don’t talk to strangers,” “Never say NO to a grown up,” “Do what the baby sitter says,”) yet what he says makes so much sense. And I have to say, there’s nothing flowery about the way he writes, which is a wonderful thing because, frankly, when talking about self defense and protection and avoidance of risk, the last thing we need to read is, “Maybe it would be a good idea if you tried to listen to that little voice.” What we need to hear is, “YOUR INSTINCT IS TELLING YOU WHAT TO DO. LISTEN OR DIE, YOU IDIOT.” It is overwhelming, to be sure. I wonder if I’ll be able to teach my children what I need to. But, I just have to go with my gut and if I teach my children to listen to theirs, that’s a pretty damned good start. READ THE BOOK.

My brother in law is getting married in a few short weeks to a wonderful woman that I am so pleased will be sharing the fun fun fun life of having the same in-laws as I have. Okay, in all fairness, I really have lucked out. I bitch about my in-laws, but truth be told, other than some rather extreme quirks, they’re really quite right on. But, you know, those quirks are a bitch. Ah, I digress … So, there’s a wedding. My husband is best man. My two sons are both ring bearers. Count ’em, that means 3 tuxedos. I am not in the wedding (a first in a long long time,) which thrills me, but you know, I am the “date” of the best man and the mother of the two little boys in the fancy pants, so I’ll more than likely be noticed by someone at some point. There will be family pictures, as always, and I’m sure I’ll have to be in at least one of them. So, considering all of this, I realize that I must buy a dress. I don’t want to be surrounded by the men in life wearing tuxedos while I look like I just schlepped out of Wal-Mart on my way to Hardee’s. This buying a dress freaks me out. So, any suggestions as to where to get a semi-formal dress for an evening wedding without having to take out a second mortgage and without giving up every cell of my bohemian existence are welcome.

Jerry died 10 years ago today. It’s so hard to believe. No, I’m not mourning and I’m not wearing tie dye (although DuCK is,) and I’ve not got “Box of Rain” on repeat, but I am thinking about Jerry, the Dead, and how my life has been impacted by the music and the art. My first Dead album was Skeletons and then American Beauty came following shortly thereafter. I remember getting into my car when I was a teenager and driving with the windows down, Dead blaring, speeding like nothing else, chain smoking Marlboro lights, trying to get away from my truth – my parents were splitting up and I had nothing to lose. Friend of the Devil, indeed. The Dead and, later on, Jerry and David Grisman, have carried me through broken hearts, broken marriages, broken promises, shattered dreams, and bottomless pits. And I’ve also danced and laughed and loved and lived more than most folks, with the music as the soundtrack. Working Man’s Dead is my husband’s album and it tells his story of youthful escape and the mature realization that you can never escape yourself. I’d say that I miss Jerry, but the truth is that he’s still around, played at least 3 times a week in my house, touching souls and minds at a magnificent rate (and, of course, nauseating others at the same speed.) His influence is growing and expanding – like a Ripple in Still Water.

There’s more in my head, but I’m spent. Have a great day, everyone.

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Celestial (close up) 

August 5, 2005

Celestial (close up) Posted by Picasa