January 31, 2009


By Kim Keever, who creates miniature landscapes in a 200-gallon tank, fills it with water, and shoots large-scale photographs. See more of his ethereal work here.

What Have I Done?

I got this from Jeaux. The rules are simple: bold the items you’ve done; don’t bold items you haven’t.

1. Started your own blog. Duh.

2. Slept under the stars. Once, when I ran away. Since then I've always used a tent.

3. Played in a band.

4. Visited Hawaii. (No. But Jeepguy, look out.)

5. Watched a meteor shower. August Pleiades several times. No telescope needed.

6. Given more than you can afford to charity.

7. Been to Disney World / Land. Since my stepdad was a member of the press, we got to go on the very first day WDW opened in Orlando. Now with family within a couple of hours of each park, I stopped counting after 30 visits. I’m married to a Disneyphile, and I’m Disneyed out.

8. Climbed a mountain. Mt. Riley, base to summit, in Haines, Alaska: 1600 feet in the spring about ten years ago. My older sister and I were visiting my younger sister, who lives there.

9. Held a praying mantis.

10. Sang a solo. In the car just about every day.

11. Bungee jumped. Not a chance.

12. Visited Paris. Bon chance!

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch.

15. Adopted a child.

16. Had food poisoning. Never felt so sick in my life. See “Weekend From Hell.”

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.

18. Grown your own vegetables. One time. The carrots were delicious. That illustrates 50% of my plant success stories.

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.

20. Slept on an overnight train.

21. Had a pillow fight.

22. Hitch-hiked. In the rain. To work.

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill. I did it a few times in my last years of teaching middle school. But it was preventive medicine.

24. Built a snow fort. Only as an adult with my young children. What a blast.

25. Held a lamb. I stepped out of my office into the hall and heard clippety-clippety sounds. I looked left to see a lamb heading my way with its owner trying desperately to catch him. I scooped him up in my arms as he ran by. Sooooooo cute. So soft. The rancher took him back into the kindergarten for show and tell.

26. Gone skinny dipping. It’s been too long.

27. Run a marathon.

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice.

29. Seen a total eclipse. Solar and lunar. Awesome. (I have proper eye gear for a solar eclipse. Don’t EVER look at one without it. Burned retinas don’t feel pain.)

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset. As many chances as I can get. Sunset on the ocean is blissful peace.

31. Hit a home run.

32. Been on a cruise.

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person.

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. My maiden name is Irish, but I’ve been to England and Scotland. I’m sure there must be some mix in my ancestry in there.

35. Been to an Amish community. Every weekend when I was a kid, I would pedal my bike three blocks to the little store in Pine Crest, Sarasota’s Mennonite community. They had candy.

36. Taught yourself a new language. I can hand-sign letters but not words.

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied. Yes.

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.

39. Gone rock climbing. On rock walls at a climb club. It is REALLY hard.

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David. There is a huge replica at the Sarasota Ringling Museum. It was the first male nude I ever saw. Did I say it was huge? I was entranced.

41. Sung karaoke.

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt. I missed it by less than a minute.

43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant.

44. Visited Africa.

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight. It’s really dark, not like in the movies. But when there’s phosphorus in the waves, they light up as they break. It is eerily beautiful.

46. Been transported in an ambulance.

47. Had your portrait painted. Does a graphite portrait count?

48. Gone deep sea fishing.

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person.

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling. FSDA certified at age 16, but I haven’t dived since high school. Still have my snorkeling gear.

52. Kissed in the rain. Sure!

53. Played in the mud. In high school, one of my favorite memories is a mud fight with my best friend and three guys. It was a thorough mess and total blast.

54. Gone to a drive-in theater. And saw “Star Wars” before it was released to the major theatres. I loved it.

55. Been in a movie. In the TV movie “The Flying Wallendas” starring Lloyd Bridges, the aerialists come out in the arena to take a bow. (Actually the term is to “style,” holding your hands in the air.) In the camera shot from behind, as the crowd roars, see those two itty-bitty people in the distance who stand before the rest of the crowd does? That’s me and my best friend! No autographs, thank you. See my people.

56. Visited the Great Wall of China.

57. Started a business. I give my kids the business. Does that count?

58. Taken a martial arts class.

59. Visited Russia.

60. Served at a soup kitchen.

61. Sold Girl Scout cookies. Only for my daughter, to willing co-workers.

62. Gone whale watching. In Haines, Alaska, you can’t help it. They’re always hanging around in the spring. Walking in town, you can hear them expel air even when you can’t see them.

63. Gotten flowers for no reason. Hubby brings ‘em home just cuz.

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma. Regular donor, now that they’ll let me. (History of cancer, have to wait ten years.)

65. Gone sky diving. No way. My sister did three times; says it got scarier each time. Good enough for me.

66. Visited a Nazi concentration camp. I don’t think I could bear it.

67. Bounced a check. Six months after we closed the account, a distant friend decided to finally cash a check that was almost a year old.

68. Flown in a helicopter.

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. I still have Brownie, my puppy from age two.

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial. Missed that one on my two visits to DC.

71. Eaten caviar. Didn’t care for it.

72. Pieced a quilt.

73. Stood in Times Square. Eye candy.

74. Toured the Everglades. Maybe this year?

75. Been fired from a job.

76. Seen the changing of the guard in London. Seems like a lot of fuss.

77. Broken a bone.

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. And on a falling motorcycle.

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person. Only from the air.

80. Published a book. How ‘bout a chapter in a book?

81. Visited the Vatican.

82. Bought a brand new car. (Sigh.)

83. Walked in Jerusalem.

84. Had your picture in the newspaper. Sand castle contest, Sarasota.

85. Read the entire Bible. Probably, but not with intention.

86. Visited the White House.

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.

88. Had chickenpox. Twice. As have both of my kids.

89. Saved someone’s life. Stopped doofus younger brother from jumping over a rapid sluice in a river. He wanted to investigate some cool rocks. Had he missed, he would have gone over a 150-foot waterfall thirty feet downstream. So, yeah.

90. Sat on a jury. I will never serve on a jury. No lawyer is fool enough to pick me. I’ve been the victim of, lessee, four felonies. They would never believe I could be impartial. But I would love to do it.

91. Met someone famous. I was in Drama Club with Pee Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) in high school, but he wasn’t famous then. He wasn’t funny, either, but he was a gifted actor.

92. Joined a book club.

93. Lost a loved one. Oh, yes.

94. Had a baby. Two answers to prayer.

95. Seen the Alamo in person.

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake.

97. Been involved in a lawsuit. Petty stuff.

98. Owned a cell phone. On my fourth. I love my Blackberry.

99. Been stung by a bee. And a wasp, and a spider, and a jellyfish.

January 28, 2009

A Weather Event

That's what the weather people are calling this snowfall.The favorite cry seems to be "24 hours of snow!" We've got eleven inches on the ground with six more hours of snowfall expected. Just about everything is closed, not that it would matter: the snow plows have not found our neighborhood yet. I'm not going anywhere. My kingdom for a Diet Coke.

Update: Twelve and a half inches here, the sixth largest one-day snowfall in central Indiana history. I've just come in from three hours of bonding over snow shovels with my son. My neighbor had run out of gas for her snow blower, so we finished half the drive to let her take our car to the station. She is finishing our drive in return. And! She brought me back a Diet Coke. With crushed ice. Life is good.

January 27, 2009

Why I Must Not Falter

Derek talks about self-acceptance.

Blatantly stolen Borrowed from Spirit & Flesh, with whom I share a common goal.

January 26, 2009

Monday Mystery

I have passed by these things many times as I drive through St. Louis. I have seen structures exactly like this in Atlanta and at least one other large city between Indiana and Florida. There are always two. One has a stair leading up to the top of the framework, but the other does not. They appear to be in use as the property is clean and lit at night. The stairs are lit, too. There are no visible reasons for the framework, which is perched above what appears to be a large tank below. I can see no pipes or cables, other than those that stabilize the right angles on the framework.

What the heck is this?

I have no idea, so I'm asking you.

January 25, 2009


I came to St. Louis to see Chanticleer* in concert. I’ve made the online acquaintance of their newest member, Gregory, who is an absolute delight. That was no surprise; he is as witty and charming in person as he is in the ether. He is also very popular, which is also no surprise. He was kind enough to give me an hour of his time, squeezed in with a visit from an old friend and the arrival of his true love. I am thrilled he took the time to see me. We laughed and learned more about each other that the printed word only touches. I wish we lived closer; I think we’d be lunching together a lot.

Gregory is the self-described “manprano” of Chanticleer. Their concert was held in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, a magnificent edifice whose interior is a national treasure of mosiac art done by Tiffany Studios. It is a befitting venue for Chanticleer.

This is the domed chancel where Chanticleer sang 
without microphones.

This is the view Gregory had.

I’ve never attended a classical choral concert before, and I was concerned that I wouldn’t have the ear to appreciate what I was hearing. That was not a problem. While Gregory was kind enough to send me some concert notes that I researched beforehand, even those songs whose language I did not understand or complexities I did not grasp were able to reach me on a visceral level. Listening to Chanticleer in that venue was a transcendent experience that brought tears to my eyes on two occasions.

The building itself has a voice to add to the music. Chanticleer made excellent use of the space, harnessing the building’s five-second reverb to make it a part of the ensemble. Notes reached out, never too far, parts weaving tonally and in volume, dips and swells, coming together as a single voice with many tones.

The sound was bold with no sharp edges. Sustained notes took on the timbre of French horns, trumpets, oboes, and flutes—wind instruments of the finest caliber. More than once it seemed the soprano tied the knot of the chord that held them together.

Gregory’s distinctive voice came through clear when intended, rising from the surface and buoyed by fellow singers. His solo—in Russian—was utter joy. He really used that space to reach us with the purest tones. Just magnificent.

If Chanticleer is appearing within driving distance, please make a point to see them. It is an experience you will never forget.

*Gregory is not pictured in their website photos yet. Stay tuned!

January 23, 2009


“Room 306,” they said. I wasn’t so sure. Her last name is common; could this be another Mary? It had been two years since I’d seen Mary, my stepmother. She was in that slow decline and had since moved to “managed care” in the south of the city. The city was sort of between St. Louis and home, and I decided to try to see her since I was alone.

Tiny and still, Mary lay with her knees drawn up and hands near her chin, covered in light blankets to her midsection. A tattered teddy bear lay on her chest, peeking out of the covers. Her gray and white hair was short, thick, and curly. When she saw me, she blinked and took my outstretched hand. When she started to talk, I recognized the throaty timbre of her voice. Yes, this was my Mary.

“Who is it?”

“It’s Birdie, Mary. It’s been so long.” Mary began a rambling narrative about what had happened in her life lately, tightly holding onto my hand. I released her hand for a moment to shed my jacket and sit on the side of the bed.

Her roommate in this tiny room was sound asleep in a reclined chair next to her empty bed. A radio and a television were both turned up loud, creating a racket that taxed Mary’s limited hearing (and my own). Suffering from Macular Degeneration, Mary could not see clearly either. It became apparent in a few minutes that she did not recognize me. But she was eager to talk, and I listened, speaking only to comment and prompt.

“Did you know I’m Canadian?” Mary was born and raised in Illinois, moving to Florida where she met my newly-divorced father. They married in a quiet civil ceremony. Mary was telling me about her husband, who was thrown out of the Navy. She said that she told him to move out and she divorced him; she never married again. None of that is true. She is in a world of her own making now.

"I have only one friend now. His name is Jesus. I don't have any family." I, my sisters, and our children are erased from her memory. But she still has her sense of humor.

“My old body is so thin now. My left boob is the size of a quarter. My right boob is worth seventy-five cents.” We laughed out loud at that and moved on.

She rambled about a couple of incidents when people “tried to trick" her. I managed to steer us out of that conversation after awhile. Her conversation slowed and she closed her eyes briefly.

"Are you tired?" I reached out and caressed her cheek, and she closed her eyes as her mouth opened in acceptance of touch.

I had seen that look on my young children’s faces as they lay in my lap. So I did for Mary what I’d done back then: I leaned forward and ran my fingers through her hair, slowly tugging on strands, tenderly brushing her brow and cheeks. It looked like I was putting her to sleep. Her breathing slowed and I continued. After ten minutes my arm was aching. I put it down to switch hands and she opened her eyes.

“That’s wonderful,” she sighed.

I turned off the radio and resumed caressing her with my right hand, and she closed her eyes again. We continued in this quiet tableau as tears ran down my cheeks. I finally had to stop to blow my nose. I gently stepped away and Mary opened her eyes. I returned to her side and took her face in my hands. I put our cheeks together and spoke clearly into her ear.

“I love you, Mary.”

After a sharp intake of breath, she looked straight into my eyes as though she recognized me.

“What’s your name?”

“Birdie.” I had to repeat it. I stood to put on my jacket.

“Please come back.”

“I will.”

I kissed her and she held my head in her hands. Then she tucked her mottled hands under her chin, turned her head and closed her eyes.

She has had a good life for the most part. She is ending her life where she started, most of her family gone. A nephew is faithfully attending to her needs. She is happy.

I don’t know why I’m crying.

January 19, 2009

A Grave Matter

Sheba was in love with books from the start. I read to her almost every night until she was well into middle school. She helped me hone dramatic reading skills to the point that I really got into it.

When she was about four, I think, just before she began reading herself, I bought another big stack of storybooks for bedtime reading. I would read the title and tell her a little bit about each one, and she’d select the one she wanted to hear. Sometimes one would really catch her interest and we’d read it many nights over and over.

One of the books I selected was called Barry The Bravest Saint Bernard. I told her it was a true story about a dog that saved people. She turned it down every time I offered. I pressed her a couple of times, telling her it was a really good story, and it was true. Didn’t she want to read about it?

“No, not really. Maybe another time,” she would say, every night for weeks.

I finally gave up. It went on the shelf and was forgotten for years. Just a few years back, we were cleaning out all the children’s books. I asked the kids to pick the ones they wanted to save. I saw Barry The Bravest Saint Bernard and held it up to Sheba. I reminded her how I tried to get her to hear it and she would refuse.

That’s what it’s called?” she exclaimed. “I thought you were trying to read a story about a dog who died saving people. You know: Bury The Bravest Saint Bernard. In a grave.”

“What?!” I laughed.

“Yeah, I didn’t want to hear a sad story, especially if it was true. I couldn’t figure why you wanted so badly to read it. Seemed kinda weird to me.”

We still laugh about that misunderstanding. Poor thing was trying to be so nice about it while her ghoulish mother wanted to read this "awful" story.

She kept the book.

January 17, 2009

Atlas Shrugs

Mars is a dead planet because it no longer has a liquid core. Doomed from the start because of its size and distance from the sun, Mars lost its protective magnetic field when its core cooled and solidified. Without that magnetic field to shield the planet’s surface from cosmic and solar radiation, the atmosphere and surface water were stripped away. No amount of manmade interference will ever make Mars the verdant planet of old science fiction. Without that magnetic field, it isn’t possible to keep a dense atmosphere or liquid water in amounts large enough to create an ecosphere that can support a complex food chain.

We have life on our planet in part because of our magnetic field. It shields us from searing cosmic radiation and solar radiation by deflecting it into space. Make no mistake, some of that radiation reaches us. We are feeling the effects now in terms of global warming.

Think of the magnetic field as two halves of a hollow globe wrapped around the earth. The polarity we call “north” pulls inward to the center of the earth; “south” pushes out from the center. Created by the effect of a spinning liquid iron core around a solid center, the field is constantly in flux due to the currents of the core and the wobble of the earth’s spin. The “north” half rests on our northern hemisphere and the “south” half wraps around our southern hemisphere. This isn’t as obvious as it sounds, because it wasn’t always so. Every 600,000 years or so, the magnetic poles flip.

Let’s see if I can describe the progression so that you can picture it. Make a “spider on the mirror” with your hands, open and touching on all five fingers, one hand over the other. Now gently pulse your fingers. That is a healthy and strong magnetic field, deflecting the radiation except at the earth’s north pole, where it strips away any possible chance for plant life. As the millennia march on, the flux in the field becomes pronounced, and waves start to form where the polarities intersect. (Make your fingers pulse so that they start to slip between each other.) Eventually, the field is so unstable that portions of each pole begin to show up in the other hemisphere. (Pulse your fingers in big movements so that your fingers meet at the knuckles on the downbeat. See how “north” invades “south” and vice versa?)

This blurring of the poles—mixing north in south and south in north—weakens the magnetic field. It is no longer a strong current leading to one pole. Consequently, more radiation reaches the earth’s surface. Combined with the 33/66/99 year cycles of solar activity, we have periods of extreme drought and global warming until the magnetic field is so unstable that it completely flips and stabilizes—until the next time, about 600,000 years later. And all hell will break loose for living organisms when it does, but only for a blink of an eye in geologic terms. Atlas shrugs.

Our planet is about 200,000 years overdue for reversing the magnetic field. We know this because of lava and manmade pottery. When matter is in a liquid state, its atoms line up with the magnetic field. As the matter solidifies, the atoms are locked into place, frozen for all time pointing to magnetic north. Examination of layers of lava and manmade pottery has allowed us to map out ancient magnetic patterns. Some highly active “hot spots” such as the Hawaiian Islands yield rich data, some of which show changes in polarity literally overnight and back again. We have mapped large areas today which are “polar opposites” to the field that surrounds them. Unusual migratory behavior coincides with these spots.

Earth's magnetic field in 2002. Blue indicates inward pull; 
yellow is outward.
Graphic courtesy of NASA.

The fluctuations of the magnetic field play a huge role in global warming. Why aren’t we hearing more about this? I suspect that political correctness prevents scientists from putting forth this theory too strongly because funding comes from sources attuned to public opinion. Make no mistake, we have to clean up our act environmentally—quickly and with purpose—but mankind alone is not responsible for climatic change on a global scale. That ideology, which make a god of the earth and men its eternal enemy, smacks of the hubris that put us at the center of the universe so long ago.

January 15, 2009

Did You Know?

That, even though I cheerfully volunteered for Rox’s alphabet meme, after one week I can only come up with ONE item I love that begins with “D?” (Dire Straits.) Sorry, Rox.

That if you have read PostSecret every Sunday for the past year or so, you’ve read my secret? (No, I’m not telling which.)

That a research scientist on staff with the FDA begs on a personal blog for readers to pleasefortheloveofGod DON’T eat anything containing Sorbitol? No reasons were forthcoming, but it’s reason enough for me to avoid it. You will commonly find Sorbitol in candy and gum.

That the larger apparent size of the full moon at the horizon is an optical illusion? Hold your arm out and raise your thumb to block out the moon when it’s low. Later that night, go out and do it again when the moon is high. You’ll see that the moon is obscured by your thumb (which covers approximately ½ of a degree of sky) in both instances. Even knowing this, I still think the moon looks larger on the horizon.

That the phrase “did you know” is copyrighted by Disney? Don’t mess with The Mouse. If something happens to this post, you’ll kno

January 14, 2009

Serene Scene

This is posted in an office where I volunteer. I find it especially soothing.

Picture yourself lying on your belly on a warm rock that hangs out over a crystal clear stream.

Picture yourself with both your hands dangling in the cool running water.

Birds are sweetly singing in the cool mountain air.

No one knows your secret place.

You are in total seclusion from that hectic place called the world.

The soothing sound of a gentle waterfall fills the air with a cascade of serenity.

The water is so crystal clear that you can easily make out the face of the person you are holding under water.

January 13, 2009

Customer Service

Abe and I went the nearby Big Box home improvement store for some stuff. Abe found some light bulbs that were on sale, but the price rang up a dollar higher than the display had read. He pointed it out.

The cashier sighed and pressed the button which made the number sign overhead flash. Eventually, the customer service manager, who apparently had just graduated from high school, came over to “help.” The cashier explained the difficulty and Abe, who’d picked up the bulbs, told her about the display. The CSM used her walkietalkie to call someone on the floor to check the display. We waited. She called again. We waited some more. She explained that no one was available to check and stood there looking at us. (I was thinking, “And you can’t move?”)

So Abe, being genial and helpful, volunteered that he might be incorrect; so he’ll go check the display again. A couple of minutes or so later, he returned to report that, yes, the sign says it’s a dollar less.

The CSM stood there and stared at us. We stared back. She said stiffly, “What do we do now?”

Abe started to smile, but I was done.

“Since you’re asking, and not moving, here’s how I see it: The customer is the only one who has tried to solve the problem. I suggest that it’s worth one dollar of corporate goodwill to give us the price break so that we can be on our way. And then you can investigate the problem at your leisure.”

She told the cashier to give us the lower price. Two customers nearby were grinning as we left. Do you think she learned anything? I’m not sure.

January 11, 2009

Sexual Identity And Orientation

Now that I’m having to explain things to my friends (and perhaps eventually, my congregation), I’ve had to gather my thoughts well enough to teach. There’s no better way to learn than having to teach. The following expresses my understanding and observations on sexual identity, and frankly, this is greatly simplified. These are just my own thoughts and are subject to change as I learn more. You are welcome to chime in.

There are three aspects to human sexual identity: sex, gender, and orientation. Of these, sex and gender create one’s inward sense of self; orientation incorporates both of those directed outward. Rather than an either/or dynamic to any of these aspects, I believe that each of them exists in all of us on a continuum.

Sex is purely biological. It is everything from the neck down: genitalia and morphology. Most are born with one set of genitals which determines our sex. The body type also is an aspect of our sex. On this purely nonscientific continuum above, [0] represents male genitalia combined with strong masculine features: muscular, broad shoulders, small hips, body hair (maybe Chris Meloni). The far right end, [10], represents female genitalia combined with strong feminine features: large breasts and hips, soft non-muscular frame (like Marilyn Monroe). An individual born with both sets of genitals expressed must rely more on gender to establish a sense of self.

Gender is psychological. This concept sometimes has little to do with biological sex; it is the idea of self in terms of sex. In this continuum, the extremes represent both sexual and cultural perceptions of feminine or masculine. [0] marks the strongest masculine personality markers like dominance, competitiveness, and territoriality. [10] marks the strongest feminine personality features like submission, companionship, and nest-building. Clearly a great deal more is involved in gender, and it is affected by cultural norms. Problems occur when one’s gender does not align neatly with one’s sex. Even when it does, few perceive themselves at the extreme ends of the continuum. Although gender is not biological in the physical sense, it is hard-wired. Our culture can give us ways to label it.

Orientation is the most complex of the three aspects, and that’s saying something. Like gender, orientation is psychological and hard-wired. We discover our orientation as we are exposed to people, practices, and pictures. We are innately drawn to a given sex and a given gender (and they may not necessarily be the same). This complex aspect is better represented on an x/y axis. Finding the perfect combination of sex and gender may take many relationships as we learn more about ourselves. On this continuum, [0] represents complete attraction—emotionally, romantically, and sexually—to the same sex to the complete exclusion of the opposite sex. [10] represents exclusive attraction to the opposite sex, with no attraction whatsoever to the same sex. My personal belief is that the extremes are rare and that most of us fit somewhere on the less-rigid descriptors of the continuum, yet have a clear preference. Similarly, one’s attraction to gender may or may not coincide with the attraction to sex.

There are circumstances and objects that may draw us as well. I suspect many are surprised by their fetishes and embrace them only as they come to accept them, mostly in private.

Applying these measures to yourself, you might wonder how any of us finds a good partner. Well, it appears we’re not doing such a great job of it. The divorce rate alone tells us that we’re not very good at finding the right partner or keeping him/her. That’s another post book field of study. But looking at others’ practices and choices in light of these three aspects puts us all on the same playing field. We may be on different teams, but we’re all playing the same game. And it really does come down to that.

January 8, 2009


I think Abe was more upset about my accident than he let on. Every two or three weeks he makes a wonderful dinner for me, and last night he decided to do it again. When I came home from a late meeting, he had dinner waiting for me: green salad, shrimp cocktail, grilled salmon, steamed summer squash, merlot, and Girardelli chocolates. Everything I love. That was impressive enough, but after we rinsed the dishes he put on Michael Buble and we hug-waltzed to slow jazz in the living room. A few kisses later he told me to do whatever I liked until bedtime. Then he went upstairs to do some work. I melted into the floor.

January 7, 2009

License And Registration, Please

I hit a car today. It wasn't bad as accidents go: no one was hurt and both cars only need cosmetic surgery; the man in the other vehicle was a gentleman about the whole thing; and the officer didn't give me a ticket. The first and last time I did this was thirty years ago. I can wait another thirty for the next one.

I was on my way downtown on the highway. It was snowing over a thin layer of patchy ice. I was doing just fine but traffic was getting slow in my lane. I turned to look over my right shoulder for a lane change, apparently at the same time traffic suddenly slowed down in my lane. I turned back around, hit the brakes and slid. BOOM! I was probably going about 35 mph.

My fifteen-year-old Bonneville nailed his not-so-old Dodge Ram truck. Fenders bent. My grill and headlight broke. That's all. My muscle car is solid. His truck is pretty good. We're both unhurt. Yesterday, my insurance agent called to see if we wanted to drop collision from our policy on this car. I said I would talk to Abe about it first. Abe said yes but I hadn't called it in yet. Life is good.

The Bonneville was supposed to be Ben's birthday present last year. If you've been following my blog, you know why he doesn't have it. I'm supposed to be driving Abe's car now, but his brand new company car literally went up in flames on the ship in the middle of the Pacific. He'll get another in April. Then I will get his minivan, which I will promptly sell because I am not nor will I ever be a willing owner of a minivan. I managed to raise two kids without one; no way am I getting one now.

And here I've been wondering what to blog about.

January 3, 2009

Christmas Present

The children's church service was a success. After I finished putting away all the Christmas costumes for another year, I had some quiet time and then headed home to wrap presents. We spent Christmas morning at home, where Abe received this lovely gift from Sheba. He has a love/hate relationship with it, so of course it is prominently featured in the main bathroom.

We left at noon for St. Louis and my brother's family of five kids, plus my sister and my parents. It was chaos, but everyone took turns with the little ones. We looked for free entertainment and found it at the Anheuser-Busch brewery tour, where they had this dog-and-pony show in the stable.

On the way home my brother had to show us a house that apparently wants to outdo the one in "Christmas Vacation." This is Teddy Bear Christmas Land, complete with animatronics in a small enclosure and each house window. I wonder what the neighbors think of this indulgence. 

This is my mystery gift to my brother, just because. It is an Annoy-a-tron 2.0, an amazing toy the size of a business card. Its function is to drive people crazy with any of six sounds (your choice!) emitted at random intervals at an adjustable volume. It comes equipped with two powerful magnets so you can hide it in places like file cabinets, refrigerators, ductwork, and trashcans. (Ben has one too, and he has used every one of those places so far.) The sounds include a beep, doorbell, cricket, and a tone only audible to teens and apparently painfully so. I love this thing. You can get one of your own at ThinkGeek.com. Be sure to check out the customer testimonial and action photos.

This is my sister's mystery gift to me. It took me seventeen guesses to figure out this miserable thing. (My sister-in-law saw it earlier and got it in one guess.) Do you know what it is?

Oh, yeah. My gift to her? It's collagen casing, found in the hunting section of an outdoorsman's store, alongside everything you need to field-dress your quarry. Yum.

Update: I took my mystery gift to work today. My colleague guessed it in one guess. Yeah, I'm an idiot. Hint: it's really stretchy.

Update II: Okay, the big reveal. The mystery gift above is a trash-basket gasket for holding a liner bag in place. The triangles provide grip without rolling. Now I'm on the lookout for next year's gift.