Friday, May 29, 2009

Drawing a blank

Blah, blah, blah.

I like the discipline of sitting down to write something every day . . . but I don't always have anything good to say.

Or anything to say at all . . .

Blah, blah, blah.

Some writers use Fridays for miscellaneous thoughts. Let's try. Let's do five just to be quirky.

1. Shout out to Patty who must be catching up on her blog reading today. Hugs and kisses to you. Patty writes that she understands my humor while others may not. Yeah. Okay. I'll give you that. I just love Patty. She could be on the Real Housewives of New Jersey. She'd be fabulous. She'd tell them what's what and I would just sit there in awe.

2. Good. Doing great. Okay.

I'm going on a date tonight with a real babysitter we will have to pay money. Wait, I'm not going with the babysitter. I'm going with Brent, but there's also a paid babysitter involved. For the children. Not Brent.

Let's move on. This is confusing.

3. Went to niece Ella's kindergarten graduation last night. She had a mortarboard complete with crayon. I think Colin did that too. It was pretty stinkin cute. They had to stand up and say what they wanted to be when they grew up. There was a police officer, a peace officer and a cop. I'm betting my money on that last kid.

4. Huh.

Okay, here's a good one. Remember how well the house training of Fritz T was going? No? Well, it was, and then I got distracted and he peed twice in the bedrooms on Wednesday. Now he is banned to the porch until he learns how to go outside like a big dog. Tomorrow, he may get to move into the kitchen. We'll see. I just know. I just know. I just know if I take the time now, it will pay off later.

I hope.

5. Remember my counted cross stitch glasses case I won on the cruise? No? Remember how I was going to finish it? Yeah, still working on that.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Secret of the Old Blog

No one had any comments to make on my entry on anonymous comments. This makes me chuckle. I have scared you silent . . . or, quite possibly, no one but my mother reads my blog.

Not quite true. My friend Sylvia, the Hollywood actress, wants to know from Tuesday's blog how it is I can read mystery books and watch Miss Marple marathons when I have issues with deep sadness. She raises this concern after learning that I watched the Memorial Day Concert on PBS and used an entire box of Kleenex watching the Iraq veteran who came home with half a head. Wouldn't a murder mystery be deeply sad?

Thank you for asking, Sylive. What an interesting question.

I don't know. I just can. I can also watch 48 Hours Mystery which is true life crime. Now that's deeply sad.

I saw during the President's introduction of her that the new candidate for the Supreme Court got interested in law reading Nancy Drew mysteries. I read my first Nancy Drew when I was 13. It was the first in the series, The Secret of Old Clock. Nancy needed to find the last will and testament of a dead neighbor. Where could it be? No one knows where to look. Where should we start?

I don't know. How about the old clock? It's right there in your title, Nancy.

I was disgusted and moved on to Trixie Belden. From there I went to Agatha Christie, Diane Mott Davidson, Margaret Truman, Jill Churchill . . . and now Elizabeth George (the murder mystery writer not the Bible Study lady, although she is good too.) Elizabeth doesn't pull any punches. There are no winners in her books, just dead bodies and unhappy, dysfunctional families with senseless pain running amuck through each and every book.

I don't know what to tell you. I can't wait for the next one.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Anonymous comments

Author's note: I wrote this yesterday while I was all hot under the collar about the subject. I've read it again, and I think I do have a valid point or two, so I am going to leave it. That being said, you must, must, must know for the record that Cyberspace has a lovely even-keeled temper and saw the whole situation as an interesting interaction with her reading public. I know we have the same parents. How does she do it?

I know two bloggers who were recently plagued with snarky anonymous comments. One of them was my sister Cyberspace Sarah on the entry I sent you to on Monday. If I find it was one of you, dear readers, I am really going to be miffed, and I am firmly shaking my finger at you right now. Here's the deal:

1. The world takes itself much, much too seriously. If you are any regular reader of mine or my sister's, you will know we would never, never say anything to purposely hurt or offend anyone. There is humor in nearly every situation. I, personally, could find something hilarious at a funeral.

2. I am a firm believer in free speech. That being said, maybe Sarah is open to it, but my blog isn't really a dialogue. If you don't like what I have to say, go read someone else's blog.

3. If you really do want to argue with me, you better tell me who you are, because how am I to know you're not just an angry ex-boyfriend with a grudge or something? See #2. I understand that some of you have to leave comments in the anonymous section of that area, but you can still sign your name.

Oh, my goodness, that has gotten me ALL worked up so early in the day. And with my fragile health, too. Make sure you read Sarah's follow up entry just so we are all perfectly clear on her message. Jeepers.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

I have been reading the Maisie Dobbs mystery series by Jacqueline Winspear this spring. This series takes place 15 years after WWI and deals with the aftermath of that war upon England's young adults. Our poem today is a WWI favorite in honor of Memorial Day.

In Flanders Fields
Lt.-Col. John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A . . . a . . . achoo

It's getting much much better, thank you for asking, but I'm still not super energetic or able to think very clearly because of the massive amounts of snot clouding my brain. Why should I knock myself out today when my sister Cyberpace Sarah has summed it up so perfectly in her open letter to our summertime friends from the city.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Achoo 3

I am out of bed today, but not very lively, so today why don't you hum a bit of the Armed Forces March in honor of Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Achoo 2

It's 5:30 a.m. I've been up since 3. Breathing and sleep is for wimps. While I contemplate having some NyQuil at 6 a.m., why don't you catch up with The Jones Family. They are from Minnesota but live in Africa.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I'm sick. I don't know if it's the wind fiercly blowing the pollen around or if I've come down with a cold, but I am waiting for the Tylenol Severe Cold to kick in. I'm going back to bed while I wait.

Why don't you go back to yesterday's entry and review the NDSU school song. Make up your own tune. Sing with gusto.

Thank you for being a faithful reader.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

Who is sick to death of me spouting off about motherhood?

I am raising my own hand.

Good thing it's Tuesday. Here's a poem from Mrs. Clare's classroom about a bird with socialization issues.

There Once Was a Puffin
by Florence Page Jaques

Oh, there once was a Puffin
Just the shape of a muffin,
And he lived on an island
In the bright blue sea!

He ate little fishes,
That were most delicious,
And he had them for supper
And he had them for tea.

But this poor little Puffin,
He couldn't play nothin',
For he hadn't anybody
To play with at all.

So he sat on his island,
And he cried for awhile, and
He felt very lonely,
And he felt very small.

Then along came the fishes,
And they said, "If you wishes,
You can have us for playmates,
Instead of for tea!"

So they now play together,
In all sorts of weather,
And the Puffin eats pancakes,
Like you and like me.

And here's a bonus because I like you. It's the alma mater song from North Dakota State as sung at graduation this weekend.

The Yellow and The Green
A.E. Minard

Ho! a cheer for Green and Yellow,
Up with Yellow and the Green;
They’re the shades that deck our prairies
Far and wide with glorious sheen,
Fields of waving green in springtime,
Golden yellow in the fall—
How the great high-arching heaven
Looks and laughs upon it all!

Here in autumn throng the nations,
Just to gather in the spoil,
Throng on freight-cars from the cities,
Some to feast and some to toil,
Then the yellow grain flows eastward
And the yellow gold flows back;
Barren cities boast their plenty
And the prairies know no lack.

Hushed upon the boundless prairies
Is the bison’s thund’ring tread,
And the red man passes with him
On his spoilers’ bounty fed.
But the Norse, the Celt and Saxon
With their herd increase, and find
Mid these fields of green and yellow
Plenty e’en for all mankind.

Ho! a cheer for Green and Yellow,
Up with Yellow and the Green;
They’re the shades that deck our prairies
Far and wide with glorious sheen,
Fields of waving green in springtime,
Golden yellow in the fall—
How the great high-arching heaven
Looks and laughs upon it all!

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Road

So Saturday, s'on Jeremy graduated from college and Big Daddy officially became father to a college graduate AND a 2-year-old. There is never a dull moment at our house.

I'm not going to lie to you. It was a long ceremony, but there's just something exciting about a Fargodome full of kids (because I am middle aged now, I call them kids) ready to take on the world.

My favorite part is when the professors come in wearing all their robes and goofy mortarboards. Gigi used to work for Community Relations at a university in southern Minnesota, and so I was recruited several times to carry a banner in front of a distinguished looking professor or department. I couldn't wait for my turn to be a serious professor sending my charges out into the world.

I walked through two undergraduate graduations, but I haven't made it to that graduate ceremony . . . yet. Life has a way of going down roads that are different from what you had planned. It's okay. I'd say, in my life, most often it's been for the best. And if I never get to lead the kids out, it won't mean a thing. I've had the tremendous privilege of helping lead that kid out and there are three more to come.

Three more to head down those roads that don't lead where you think. Three more all full of excitement. Three more ready to go when their time comes with someone bright and cheerful by their side ready to take my place.

Good for them. Good for them.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Take courage

Dear Cyberspace,

In the grand tradition of our family, we shall not actually speak of this, but will write it to one another for the whole world to see. (See entry: That the world will know.) Now I must set up a small mirror, so that I am talking to myself as well as you.

I'm back.

I commented on your blog that you are worrying too much about sending Ella to summer rec. A faithful reader of yours said after me, that she would feel the same way you do. Of course, she would. I think we all do. It isn't easy sending them out of our sight. At the risk of sounding like someone we both know, Motherhood is hard.

Oh, is it ever hard. It's freakish and ironic* that our purpose as mothers is to work ourselves out of our jobs. What the heck? What other career asks for that kind of commitment? If we have done our job and done it well, we will have created independent adults who are free to leave us and begin the cycle over again with their own families. And, to top it off, they owe us nothing for the experience. Nothing. We chose to bring them into this world and it is our responsibility to love and care and nurture them through it until they are able to do so for themselves.

And here's the thing that makes me nervous: Not everyone takes it as seriously as I do. Every day people are having children they don't really want and for whom they will not properly care. Then they send them out into the world with my child I have been working my butt off to raise and protect. Ah!! Why is this and what are we to do about it?!

Worry. Stew. Fuss. Send carefully worded emails. Pray for them and ourselves. Love them. Raise them. Learn to trust.

. . . Send them to summer rec. They have fun. It's a half day four days a week for five days. There is plenty of time to enjoy summer. She won't get bored. She won't get too hot. She will make friends if there isn't anyone there she knows . . . because that's the sort of loving, kind, exuberant, funny child you are raising. Let her spread her joy and care around. And, yes, she will run into kids who will need the sunshine that glows from her.

In some ways I wish I had been warned. Motherhood rips your heart to tiny, tiny pieces. Mostly, I am glad you cannot be warned because I don't think I would have done it . . . and I would have missed out.

With love and devotion,
Your know-it-all sister

* Shout out to Jeremy J.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

And it's quiet

After all the excitement of yesterday's blog entry, I am not sure I have anything interesting to say.

Our time with Shelby is winding down. This weekend she is heading to her job at a state park on Minnesota's North Shore.

The Little Brothers love her and want to be with her and want to see what she's doing and just be near her. It's lovely . . . for me. Last week, I just sort of stared at the wall with all my extra quiet time. Today I started to panic. Only a few more days and I had only done one thing on my list of three to do while she is here:

1. Clean Toddler D's closet.
2. Clean my closet.
3. Clean the porch.

I did D's closet way last week and got it out of the way. It's bittersweet to put his little clothes away -- things I have purchase just for him and things which were Colin's and have now been through two cousins to boot. They are all being put away for good. I just took a deep breath and carried it all out to my car and to a friend from church who is having her fourth child under four. It's those little girls from church, you may recall, with whom D is so keen on jumping on the pew.

Today I dived in a did my closet. Ew.

It's not really warm enough to commit to summer things, but once you've dragged everything out, there is no turning back. I spent the majority of the afternoon near tears as I realized all of my winter clothes, which I wear nine months of the year, fit into one little Rubbermaid. Yet, I pulled out t-shirts every color of the rainbow, skirts, six pairs of Khaki shorts, capris, polos, sleeveless shirts . . . like I live in Arizona or something. (Shout out to the sisters in AZ!)

I suspect, maybe even tomorrow morning, I will dig down in that one poor little Rubbermaid looking for a long-sleeved t-shirt, but now I have two things done on my list.

On to number three, where I have to figure out where to store the snow boots. Yuck.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Futile Angry Emails

You may recall last week I sent an angry email to People magazine. I still don't want to talk about it or draw attention to the subject that made me so mad; however, I have all the time in the world at this moment to elaborate on my angry email o' the week which, no doubt, is not read or noticed by anyone.

Perhaps you have been following this Miss California/Miss USA nonsense. If not, let me sum up. Perez Hilton, who is apparently an infamous angry little celebrity blogger, was a judge in the Miss USA pageant, owned for some reason by Donald Trump. Perez (this is not really his name, by the way) asked Miss California if she believed every state should approve gay marriage. She said no. An angry riot broke out led by Mr. Hilton. (Hilton isn't his name either.)

Whatever. Agree with her. Don't agree with her. He asked her opinion. She gave it. He trapped her with his question which was a smarmy thing to do. She participated in a beauty pageant owned by Donald Trump. Smarminess abounds.

Here's that part that makes me angry: Hilton-dude calls Miss California a derogatory female name. He apologizes on MSNBC, saying something to the effect that he was thinking of a worse name when he wrote the first one.

This would be so much clearer if I wrote the words, but I am not going to. Google it. You'll see.

Donald Trump says Miss California can retain her crown, but ALSO says today that Perez Hilton (this isn't his name at all) can return as a judge any time he wants.

So this week's futile angry email goes to the Miss USA Pageant who promotes their candidates this way:

These women are savvy, goal-oriented and aware. The delegates who become part of the Miss Universe Organization display those characteristics in their everyday lives, both as individuals, who compete with hope of advancing their careers, personal and humanitarian goals, and as women who see to improve the lives of others.

. . . yet uses a man who calls women names that start with "b" and "c" to judge them.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

Today's poem is from Mrs. Clare's 4th grade class. I thought it most appropriate in light of Fritz T.

Mother Doesn't Want a Dog
Judith Viorst

Mother doesn't want a dog.
Mother says they smell,
And never sit when you say sit,
Or even when you yell.
And when you come home late at night
And there is ice and snow,
You have to go back out because
The dumb dog has to go.

Mother doesn't want a dog.
Mother says they shed,
And always let the strangers in
And bark at friends instead,
And do disgraceful things on rugs,
And track mud on the floor,
And flop upon your bed at night
And snore their doggy snore.

Mother doesn't want a dog.
She's making a mistake.
Because, more than a dog, I think
She will not want this snake.

Monday, May 11, 2009

8 Cents

So I got into the car Friday to return some library books and noticed a dime sitting on the little ledge where you insert a CD.

Oh, no.

Oh, yes. I flashed on last Wednesday when I'd left Toddler D in the front seat unsupervised while I emptied the groceries or books or whatever it was. I was pretty proud of myself. I knew right where he was. What could happen, I thought. My vehicle requires you to have a foot on the brake to put it in drive and, anyway, I had the keys in my pocket. It's the perfect, fun trap.

Yet, something was nagging at me. Something was not right. It is not right to leave a toddler in the front seat of a vehicle. This is bad parenting.

Well, I fished him out and didn't use my car again until Friday when I saw that dime. As I was fishing the dime out without shoving it in, I saw the penny in the DVD slot.

Instead of getting the penny out, I pushed it in. Great.

I continued to the library. When I turned I heard the change slide around. I had 18 cents sitting in the front. Why I remember this, I don't know, but I fished out the dime, so there's a nickle and three pennies left.

As you may recall, I live a block from my car dealer. When I went in to admit I was a slipshod sort of parent who allows a baby uncontrolled access to the front of a motor vehicle, Connie the service desk person laughed and said, "Well, sometimes it's pretty easy to get out and sometime not."

Ah. This has happened before. I'm not the only one. Hooray! There's comfort in numbers.

It cost $57.17 for them to remove my radio, shake the 8 cents out, and put the radio back. They did leave me the 8 cents. They could have kept it and taken it off my bill.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Autism Brain

I have read a story this Mother's Day about a middle school child with a brain injury who has made a remarkable recovery. Yet the tone of the story was that the parents continue to grieve the child they used to have instead of accepting their new reality.

They have suffered tremendously, and I feel for the shock and scare they have endured. I want to feel sympathy for them. Pity. Sadness. Compassion.

But they had something like eight, nine years with this child to get to know him before the accident.

Now you know I believe that God has created my child perfectly for his purpose in this world, but . . .

I would love to have five minutes with my child in a situation where his brain functioned as it should.

I would ask him why he needs to shake things.
If he sees pictures or colors in his head when he hears music.
If his stomach hurt without him answering, "Does it?"
If he really likes math.
If there's something I can do to make things easier.

If he really understands how much I love him.

Friday, May 8, 2009


The mail was over an hour early today and it has thrown off my whole morning. How sad is my little life? I keep wandering to the front of the house to see if it's arrived. What, exactly, am I waiting for anyway? In today's freakishly early mail delivery was:

1. Pizza Ranch "Large for a medium charge" coupon
2. People Magazine -- which made me so mad I fired off an angry email. I don't even want to talk about it or draw attention to what made me so mad.
3. Credit card bill
4. Disney World vacation planning DVD -- because you can never have too many and they're free
5. Dolly Parton's Imagination Library book for Toddler D (Do you get these books? They are free regardless of income. Very fun.)

Now, that was an exciting mail day, wasn't it? Often it's just a bill or two, a cruise brochure for a line we can't afford, a donation request from the paralyzed veterans with diabetes and cancer raising funds against drunk driving child abuse . . . and maybe a Wal-Mart flyer.

What is it about mail that causes me to focus my entire morning around its arrival?

I think it's hope. Perhaps today, instead of a free Disney vacation planning DVD, there might have been a free Disney vacation. Maybe, instead of a bill, there would be an unexpected check. Maybe instead of a Hollywood beauty obsessed People magazine, there would be a book. (See my link at right.) And, now, when does this ever happen -- what if there was an actual letter?

I'm just an optimist at heart, but when was the last time I sent an actual letter?

Thursday, May 7, 2009


It is too early to plant anything in Minnesota. May 21 is the last frost date, but here's the thing: If I wait too long, seeds or bulbs I plant in the ground will not have time to grow. Well, I didn't start anything inside this year, so I am taking my chances. I finally declared the "hedge" on the side of the house dead and dug it up. I planted some bulbs there. We'll see. There may be a reason the hedge wasn't very healthy over there.

I like planting. I'm not so fond of weeding, thinning, watering and such. Well, I guess watering isn't that hard, but you have to remember to do it.

My grandmother, Gigi, has a real honest to goodness green thumb and somehow she has taken pity and taken over Cyberspace Sarah's front yard. It could be because she drives past Cyberspace's house. Sarah just wakes up in the morning and things are planted there. Grandma's very stealth.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The world will know

One of the harder things about growing up in the family's weekly newspaper business is that Dad's weekly editorial column must be filled. When all else fails, turn to your family for inspiration. My small community knew the cute things I said about church being boring, my inability to fall asleep at night, my tears during student teaching, my SAT scores . . . This was made only worse in that sometimes Mom took a turn.

For a while after college when I was working for him, there was this horrible thing called "My Turn" in which every newspaper employee had to take a turn writing a weekly column. When my week came up, the space had to be filled, and so I shared with my small community all my horrible age 22 exploits myself.

Oh, I shudder even now to think it's all on file somewhere. Oh, I'm getting a headache!

Then Dad sold the papers and -- hooray! -- our lives would be kept to ourselves. Only he didn't really leave did he? And last fall, he started writing a column again.

And there we are again.

There isn't much that can embarrass me anymore. The town knows everything they would care to know about me and some things they didn't care to know. Still, I open the paper to the editorial page with only one eye open and the other squinting.
This week's column starts, "Note to Lisa . . ." Bad sign.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

Today's poem is another from last week's PBS Miss Marple marathon. There has been some confusion about this. PBS normally runs these Miss Marple episodes over two weeks on Masterpiece Mystery. Last Sunday afternoon they were running back to back with a little poetry in between. I looked for this written out, but I can't find it, so you'll have to watch again this week. It's by Kevin Young. He's pretty cool.


Monday, May 4, 2009

Nothing smart to write

I was just thinking . . . you know I have decided to call my stepdaughter Shelby my s'daughter and Jeremy my s'on.

Roxane at Peace Garden Mama refered to them as my s'kids.

Does that make me their s'mother?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Isn't life great?

I was in high school when I first heard Luci Swindoll tell the story of her 40th birthday party. (It was on a cassette tape, for the love of pete.) Luci's friends rented a hearse which they named Patty -- Patty Hearse -- and they went on a great adventure. She laughed and laughed as she told this story. I don't remember where they went, but the rented hearse was towed or something, and they ended up at the police station in the middle of the night.

I remember thinking, "Man! How great is turning 40 going to be!"

And it was a pretty great.

My old Sunday School superintendent sent me an email from beyond the grave via Cyberspace Sarah. Remember Dayna Carvey's church lady? He surely studied her. She used to sing "Blessed Birthday to You." S'aughter Shelby and her roommate called and sang me my first Happy Birthday of the day. My mom called. There was free Caribou. Brent took the day off and we went to the outlet mall where I promptly spent the birthday money given to me by my in-laws. We had Italian lunch with bread sticks and tomato salad and chicken saltimbocco AND creme brulee.

And when I got home . . .

There was a message from s'on Jeremy who is student teaching and I was serenaded by the Fargo North High School marching band! How terrific is that?!?! You have to be 40 to get that kind of awesome treatment!

That's just a terrific birthday right there.