Thursday, April 30, 2009

Welcome to The Big FIB!

As this week finds my ACTUAL self at the beach, I've decided, in accordance with the plans of the insanely creative Housewife Savant, to welcome a few of you - my virtual buds - to spend a weekend at my VIRTUAL beach house. No RSVP necessary, you're already THERE baby.

Welcome to Fantasy Island Beach (or, as it will say on our bumper stickers, FIB). Smiles, everyone, smiles!

You'll notice that Shannon is here, tending bar. I asked Shannon to develop a commemorative drink for our little island beach weekend, but he refused. I was a little confused, because he is usually happy to oblige (he's also quick with a joke and to light up your smoke). It became clear when he was given a moment to explain. He wanted to develop a signature drink for each individual visitor to the island. That's just like Shannon, taking the time to get to know you and wanting to make sure you feel special just because you're who you are. That's sort of our unspoken motto here on the island, actually. So chat him up a little bit and let him figure out just what to put in your glass to make your stay more refreshing as well as enjoyable. The resources are endless here at FIB.

Tom is here, too. Tom is playing in a little ensemble for your musical entertainment. Whatever kind of music makes you happiest, that's what they're playing right now. Requests? They live for them. The only request of the band is that if you're in their immediate staging area, you're either listening or dancing. They do not want to be - nor should they be - treated like background music. They're here for you. Give 'em some love.

Jenny Penny is here, but you might not notice her right away. She is spending a lot of time tucked away in a private cabana. I suspect she is taking advantage of the peaceful atmosphere here at FIB and catching up on her sleep. Sweet dreams, Jenny! Sweet, gentle island dreams. No worries. If you feel like a cocktail, or some music, or some socialization - cause we'd all like to bask in your well-rested brilliance a little bit - you know where to go. It's all here. But if you just want to rest in the quiet, that's cool, too.

I see Pam and Anita and Mama-face! There they are! Down on the beach reading. I can't be sure from here, but I think they're all wearing rather glorious sun hats to shade their eyes while they read. That may just be my projection. I love a pretty sun hat, but if you girls don't, just feel free to take them off. Leave the books, though. Man, they've got a whole library in a basket down there. They have fluffy beach reads and bodice rippers, they have historical fiction, they have classics, they have best sellers, they seem to have it all! And the best part? They have an infinite amount of time in which to enjoy them. I'm hoping they all mosey up to the bar from time to time to share their insights.

Swine? Is that you at the bar? I'm so glad you're here! Sorry about all the unfortunate goings on around your name and stuff. Hopefully a few days on the FIB will smooth it over. There are a lot of brilliant, interesting, funny people here on the island. I think you'll fit right in. Cheers.

Gibby! Chris! Stop trying to organize everything and just relax! We've got it all under control here! You only need to concern yourself with your own needs today. Rest. Drink. Converse. Have a massage, if you want. It's all good. No worries on the FIB.

Alex the Girl, I'm so glad you could make it! When the band takes a break, Tom is anxious to discuss sci-fi from the 70's with you! The folks at the bar were all just saying they'd like to hear a good joke or two, so maybe you'd like to head on over that way.

It wouldn't be a party, virtual or otherwise, without Pink. Glad you could make it, Pink. I assume you've already met the official island photographer? I know how much you love to have your picture taken. Well, pose away! The natural backdrops are gorgeous!

Sir Hook! Nobility at my little bash. You honor me with your presence. I think you'll like it here on FIB! Shannon and Swine are chatting over at the bar, Tom says you're welcome to jam with the band, and the ladies here are pretty much unequaled in their beauty and in their conversational skills. Drink, play, chat and gaze away.

Of course none of this would have been possible if it weren't for Housewife Savant. Ms. Savant, may I say that you are rockin' that bikini? I have a special surprise for you: all of the breads and desserts here on the FIB 24 hour buffet are low cal and carb-free. Full taste, too. Not like when they say it's gonna taste good and you'll never know the difference but it totally doesn't taste good and you totally know the difference. Really truly full taste. Don't give 'em a second thought. I don't want to monopolize your time, because I know you'll want to visit with everyone and make them all feel special, 'cause that's just the way you are. Later, though, we are totally going to rock out. Totally.

And you! I'm so glad you could make it, too! Please have Shannon make you a drink, then find your pleasure and indulge in it.

I hope you enjoyed your little stay here on the FIB, where the weather is always beautiful and the water is always clear and warm. Where the sun will tan you (if you want it to) but it will never burn. Where everyone is happy about how they look in their beachwear. Come back any time.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled life, already in progress.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I'd Like to Thank the Academy

Anita at A Wife, A Woman, A Mom just gave me my first awards - TWO of 'em, no less!

The Housewife Savant immediately followed with one of her own.

Who knew it was award season?

As I walk the red carpet to humbly accept my awards, you'll probably want to know that I'm wearing Threadless. People seem to want to know these things. I did my own hair. My jewelry was graciously provided by Swatch. After I bought it. Yep, the glamour and elegance that I live with every single day are heavy in the air tonight.

I take my seat and anxiously watch other bloggers receive their awards and read their acceptance speeches through tears and nervous laughter. I am smug. I shall not succumb to any of that foolishness. I shall accept my awards with the humble nobility for which I am known. Ahem.

Anita takes the stage. She looks lovely, as usual. We'll have to ask her who she's wearing.

She says:

The lemonade award is for showing great attitude and/or gratitude. Each award has a pay it forward concept...

The Rules:

1. Put the logo on your blog, nominate at least 10 blogs, which show great attitude and/or gratitude.
2. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
3. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
4. Share the love and link to this post, and/or to the person from whom you received your award.

The lemonade award goes to: six people who aren't me, and, (drumroll please...) ME! Yay!

I am so honored to be perceived as someone who has a great attitude and/or expresses gratitude. There are some in my direct line of fire who may disagree with this assessment, but they're not the ones handing out awards now, are they?

I would like to do my part to pay it forward by nominating:

Shannon of Pragmatic Optimism
Gibby of Lost in Suburban Bliss
Jenny Penny of Welcome to My Momplex

I return to my seat to look over my shiny new award and try to figure out how to get it to display in my sidebar. I've no sooner figured it out (With a little help from my friends. Thanks again, Anita. And your daughters. And my husband.) than my name is called again.

This time, the award is: The Kreativ Blogger Award. Anita explains that the rules for this one are:

1. List 7 things that you love.
2. Link to the person who has tagged you
3. Choose 7 more bloggers to give the Kreativ Award to.

First of all, 'creative' (or, 'kreativ', as the case may be) is one of the few compliments that I tend to manage to accept gracefully. It's a side I haven't shown TOO much of on this blog, opting instead to have a separate blog just for showing off my craftier side. It's relatively new, but I have a couple wips (works in progress) that I can't WAIT to show off!

Without further ado,
Seven Things I Love:
1. Sunrises
2. Live Music
3. Girls Nights Out
4. Yarn
5. Books
6. Coffee

I would like to nominate the following creative bloggers to carry on the tradition:

Chris of Chez Zimmer
Pink of The Pink Owl Diaries (shameless self promotion)
Becky of Frantic Mommy

Okay, I totally cheated and only nominated three folks for each. I am trying to steer clear of folks I regularly read who have just received the same or similar awards or requests.

Next on the stage is Housewife Savant. She looks resplendent in - hey! - who are you wearing, babe? Ms. Savant's award is described as follows:

Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to grab an award and post. It. Out.
Don’t be afraid. Or do.
Select at least 7 of your favorite bloggers and create the scenario of an outing.
Host a luncheon, see a movie, or go to the park.
Enjoy Ladies Night. You deserve to pretend that you’re going someplace.
Don’t be afraid. Or do.
Treat everyone to a day at the spa, because you’re worth play money.
Go to a play, or the opera. See a movie, meet for coffee, shop at the mall or a bookstore.
The sky is the limit. Because we're all gonna go along with pretending you're that good.

Write something unique that each of Chosen Few would contribute if you actually got met these peeps in real life. Or don’t, cuz real life is the scary part.

Be sure to pick up the check. Your ersatz generosity will impress your imaginary friends.

I think we can all agree that responding to that request will require a post all it's own. Stay tuned!

I will be changing into an elegant pajama ensemble for the after-party, where, if you're really sweet to me, and maybe buy me a martini, I'll let you bask in the glow of my awards.

Rock Out With Your - Well, You Know.

I would like you to meet my new boyfriend(s).

I figured I needed to earn back some cred after all the Donny Osmond/Barry Manilow gushings of late. Enter: DragonForce.

Liv has loved DragonForce from the moment they were introduced to her. We would listen with her and watch her eyes glaze over a little bit. Liv is a drummer and she likes her some speed metal. This band filled that need for her. They are fast! She liked to imagine what it would be like to play that fast and she thought it would be awesome to watch them play. We agreed, and left her with the vague, "well, if they ever come to town..."

They came to town last night.

But first? The warm up bands.

First out was a band called Daath. They were every metal stereotype you can think of. Maybe more. There was smoke, there were angry voiceovers, there were synchronized long-haired headbanging guitarists, there were mystic references, the lead singer did eeeeeevil things with his voice which couldn't have been healthy. It was silly. It was more Spinal Tap than Spinal Tap. I was giggling. The lead singer kept asking us to show him our horns.

He wanted to see our middle fingers. And then, the request that had me completely dissolved in a giggle fit - he wanted to see our lighters. About 3 people obliged him. No-one does the concert hall lighter thing anymore, right? I'm not sure why he wanted us to flip him off. And the horns and the lighters (hee! lighters! shakes head and giggles again) need to be organic and offered freely, not requested. So silly.

Now a little side note about the horns: If you'll remember, Liv dubbed the folks in the mosh pit at the MSI concert 'penguins' because they all sort of moved together. She said the crowd at this show reminded her more of llamas, because the rhythmic waving of 'the horns' resembles the sign for 'Happy Llama'.

So silly.

And yet. And yet. My body was moving of it's own volition, like some sort of whacked out heavy metal bobble head. My mind thought it was silly - KNEW it was silly, but my head was a-bangin' anyway...

During the second bands set, though, the guys from Daath were working the crowd and handing out cards. I met a couple of them and they were very nice. Then I felt a little bad about giggling during their set. But not bad enough to not blog about it.

Second band up was Cynic. I just thought they were sort of weak. They didn't move me with their music and they didn't amuse me with their antics. Be gone, silly boys.

The roadies for Dragonforce started to set up the stage. This involved not only instrumentation, but trampolines. TRAMPOLINE'S, YA'LL!!! I was getting a good feeling about where this was going...

They took the stage, and it was fast and furious from there on out. The guitars, the drums, the vocals, did I mention the guitars? Power metal, speed metal, prog metal - whatever label you want to attach, it was amazing. The energy level was through the roof. Liv told me more than once, "Mommy , this is INSANE! I keep forgetting to BREATHE!"

She said at one point, "Why is that guy licking his guitar?"

"I guess that's supposed to be sexy."

"Well, it's not. And it can't taste very good."


"Besides, it's not licking the guitar - it's the hair."

Ladies and gentlemen, if there was any doubt that perhaps they sent me home from the hospital with the wrong baby, you can extinguish it right here and now. Pretty sure this one is mine...

Ok. So we've established that these boys are cute with the above picture. Well, we've established that their looks are right up my alley, anyway. I guess cute is subjective. But anyway. They are inarguably massively talented. Again, the way they choose to express their talent may or may not be your cup of tea, but the presence of said talent is indisputable. And there was HUMOR! Through all of this really intense music and JUMPING and - just ALL this STUFF, they were mugging and pantomining and - just not taking themselves too seriously. They were the polar opposite of the first warm up band. They were the anti-Spinal Tap.

So this middle-aged squealy fangirl is madly in love and thinking, "but they've got to be jerks, right? Because anyone so talented and so cute has got to have massive ego issues and just be a really rotten person." I wanted to believe this, because I thought perhaps it would serve to squelch my completely inappropriate crush(es). And then they bring a LITTLE KID out on the stage! A fan! A little, big fan! He had to be around 8, maybe younger. And this hot wild sexy crazy lead singer gets down to his level and helps him live out a rock star fantasy, turning over the mike, letting him throw pics out into the crowd, and finishing up with a little bounce on the trampoline. Nice to KIDS, TOO?!? I was in full on squealy fangirl meltdown mode.

When I got home, I looked them up on MetalSludge - a tell-all metal fansite that is usually able to dig up the dirty ugly side. On my new boyfriends? They had nothing. I was really hoping to find something to disillusion me, but nothing was forthcoming.

I guess I'm gonna have to go ahead and love them.

And here's something else I'm gonna go ahead and love, for as long as I can: getting to experience this with my kids. Watching the girls just bliss out at a show - sharing their passion - is amazing. I know the day will one day come when they'll go to concerts without us. I am not looking forward to that day.

But I can't imagine a time in the future when rock and roll devil horns aren't going to make me think of llamas.

So I've got that.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hey! You!

Correct me if I'm wrong, as it wouldn't be unprecedented and my familiarity with other languages is limited, but to the best of my knowledge English is the only language without an acceptable plural to indicate the collective 'you'.

We need one.

This need is met regionally, with each dialect developing it's own answer.

I'm partial to 'ya'll'.

Ya'll makes sense to me. You all. All of you. It works, it sounds kind of nice to my ears, it fills that need.

I understand now, though, in some southern sub-dialects that 'ya'll' is used to indicate the singular and 'all ya'll' is used to indicate the plural. Well, that makes a little less sense... It does, however, make me feel a little better about that time I spent in Texas. When people would call just me ya'll, I would go home and whine to my roommate, "I know I'm BIG, but I don't think I'm PLURAL!"

Where I grew up, the generally accepted term is 'youns'. I'm sure at least one of my Western PA friends will debate me on my choice of spelling. Spell check isn't so sure about it, either. I have seen it written out as 'yinz' and 'yunz'. Youns makes the most sense to me, as it is at least an attempt at a contraction. (you ones?)

Youse? You guys? Youse guys? Youns (yinz, yunz) guys? All regionally acceptable terms in the vernacular.

Yesterday, though, I heard a new one. My family went to the movies, and, as the usher tore our tickets he said, "Enjoy your guyses show."

Your guyses.



We need to come to some sort of agreement on this, because that? Was just out of hand.

Ya'll have a nice day, now.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tagged! Booya!

Pam of Pam's Perspective tagged me. (And if you're not reading Pam already, scoot on over there and check her out. Go ahead. I'll wait.)

I have been asked to reveal thirteen things about myself that you wouldn't already know and then tag three other bloggers to do the same. As I am what they call a 'naked blogger' - I tend to lay it all out there - this might be tough. Those of you who know me in the real world - particularly those of you who have known me a long time probably know most of these things. Some of them may have popped up in the blog, I'm not completely sure. But in the spirit of the game, I've tried to pick things that are obscure or that I don't talk about a lot. Or that I do talk about a lot, just not in this forum. So I guess today I go from naked blogging to nekkid blogging. More naked than naked.

1. My middle name is Lu. That's right, try it on - roll it around on your tongue. Tammy Lu. To misappropriate West Side Story lyrics, say it loud and it's music playing. Say it soft and it's almost like praying. Ahem. It draws up a certain image, no? Tell the truth - whether you have an accent or not, you said my name with an accent. And it wasn't continental.

The story goes that my mother wanted to name me Anna Marie. My father took one look at me and said, "She's Tammy Lu." Wow. Thanks, Dad. When my sister came along two years later, Mom wanted to name her Michelle Renee. Dad said, "She's Wendy Sue." Yep. Tammy Lu and Wendy Sue.

There are people in my life who still call me Tammylu or Tamlu or Tamalu. It's as close to a nickname as I've ever come. It is said with such affection that I have learned to love it. But that took a loooooooong time.

2. I have a small tattoo of a treble clef on the outside of my right ankle. While the ink was still fresh, I fell in love with a bass player who has spent the last decade and a half trying to talk me into a bass clef either below it or on the other ankle. I might surprise him and do it some day. (side note - so now you know that 'Bass is life' who shows up in my comments from time to time is my handsome hubby - does that count as another revelation?)

3. If you want to make me weep - instantly - play the first couple notes of the theme music for 'Brian's Song'. I know that's a pretty big club - the got-way-too-emotional-while-watching-a-daggarned-made-for-TV-movie-about-an-athlete club. But I'm in it. Big time.

4. If when you read "weep - instantly" your mind filled in the blanks with,

"It's in D-minor, which I always find is the saddest of all keys, really. I don't know why, but it makes people weep instantly to hear it."

then maybe we need to hang out. Spinal Tap is my favorite movie ever and if you can quote it fluently and at random, I will probably like you even if I don't like anything else about you. My love for that movie goes to eleven.

My love for Christopher Guest goes to eleven. Maybe eleven and a half.

And I am seeing them unwigged and unplugged next month. Woot woot!

5. While we're talking music (sort of), my favorite song evah is 'Wild World' by Cat Stevens. It is so sweet and simple and it melts me.

6. That revelation being made, the next one might not seem like such a revelation at all. Ya see, I'm a rocker chick. I like pure uncut rock and I like it a lot. I like it loud and fast. Music, that is. Sheesh. You guys have dirty minds. You should be ashamed. Anyway. Yep, a hard rocker. That's me. Sold my soul for rock and roll. A hard rocker who swoons over - Barry Manilow. I have seen him a couple times. Maybe three. I don't know. (I totally know! It's three! And the third time I was in the backstage area when his limo pulled in and he got out and waved at me - maybe at the crowd in general, but I think it was probably just at me - and I yelled, "I LOVE YOU BARRY" and he blew me a kiss, so I think maybe we're engaged.) Truly, though? I have been to a lot of concerts in my day. Most of them, like I said, not exactly in this genre. I have never seen anyone who loves their audience the way he does. It is contagious and fun. I went the first time to appease a friend, but the second two times were all me. I'd go again, too! Don't you judge me...

7. I have a BS in Elementary Education and an M.Ed. in Special Education with a concentration in Early Childhood. I was well on my way to a Ph.D. in Early Childhood with a concentration in
Special Education when I got pregnant with Lea. I developed pre-eclampsia during the pregnancy and was put on complete bed rest for several months. School was obviously put on hold. I took another semester off when she was a newborn. I tried to go back the following semester. It didn't work out. I just couldn't find the sense in sitting in an ivory tower talking about hypothetical children with hypothetical issues when I had a very real baby at home who might be missing me right now. Heaven knows I was missing her. I have a friend who calls that 'uterus tugs'. I couldn't concentrate - none of it made sense anymore. School became so irrelevant for me. I quit - assuming I could always return to it when the girls were no longer babies. The urge to do so has never hit.

8. Rightly or wrongly, I assign a lot of value and importance to dreams. Most of my recurrent dreams are pretty typical and easy to figure out, but when I have a dream I can't figure out, I head straight for the dream dictionary.

9. I have lived in 9 homes in 5 states. I realize that that's a lot to some and hardly any to others.

10. One of those states was Texas. I lived there for all of 11 months in 1984-1985. I still say ya'll pretty regularly and when I get a little liquor in me, "fixin' to" has been known to pass my lips. Eleven months! Over twenty years ago! And the influence is still there. That is one strong-ass accent. Don't mess with Texas.

11. I cry every time the curtain opens on a show. Whether it's a Broadway show or a rock concert or a high school production; a ballet or the opera; you name it - that moment - that split second before the show starts - when all the anticipation is over - I get a big ole lump in my throat and am usually glad that that moment coincides with the lights going down. Because I am a big fat theater wuss. I've even had that reaction to long awaited movies and two or three times to TRAILERS for long awaited movies. Go ahead. Call me a cry-baby. It will only make me think of Johnny Depp.

12. My husband fixes my coffee for me every weekend and vacation morning - basically whenever I'm awake when he gets up. He brings it to me wherever I am. It is such a small gesture, but so very sweet.

13. I do not feel as old as I am and when my body reminds me, I get really pissed.

Well, there you go. Thirteen things. Brevity is not a stronghold, apparently. But that's something you probably already knew.

Now to tag three folks who haven't been recently tagged with this or something similar...

Tom at Adventitious Cerebration
Cassie at Eug
Mama-face at Blog Ignoramus

No obligation, guys, but if you choose to participate, I'll sure be reading!

Friday, April 24, 2009

If You Give a Mom a Margarita

I was at Barnes and Noble earlier this week (I'm at Barnes and Noble EVERY week) and I noticed a book called: If You Give a Mom a Martini. I thought it was a clever title and began perusing it. It contained no parody, and was really just a list of tips for making the most of whatever free moments you can steal. A noble cause, to be sure, just not what I was hoping for.

But it got me a'thinkin'...

With apologies to the original "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" and all of it's legitimate follow ups, I present:

If You Give a Mom a Margarita

If you give a mom a margarita,
she's going to ask for some chips to go with it.

When you give her the chips
she'll probably ask for some salsa.

When she's finished,
she'll almost certainly ask for another.

Then she will probably decide it is time to dance.

She will almost certainly ask the DJ to play 'something from the '80's',
and when he does,
chances are,
she will put her hands in the air like she don't care.

Then she will want to look in the mirror to make sure there are no visible sweat stains her hair still looks okay.

When she looks in the mirror, she might notice that there are some hairs on that lip and chin that she hadn't noticed before she left the house.

While she is fretting about that and realizing that she did not remember to put the tweezers back in her purse after removing a splinter from one of her kiddos,
she will probably notice that her lipstick needs to be retouched.

She will almost certainly notice that you are touching up your own lipstick,
so she will probably ask to borrow yours.

After you say, "Ew! No! Gross! Lipstick is not for sharing" she'll probably borrow some from a stranger in the ladies room.
She may even borrow mascara!

Before she walks out of the ladies room,
she will almost certainly want to adjust the straps on her shoes.

When she reaches down to adjust her shoes,
she will probably notice that her Spanx have rolled down below her belly.

And chances are,
she will decide that Spanx are stupid anyway and she will wiggle out of them right there in the ladies room and whip them around her head victoriously like a battle prize before stashing them in her bag.

When she returns to her table she will probably feel so free that she will order cheese dip and guacamole to eat with her chips.

And chances are,
if she eats the chips,

She's going to want a margarita to go with them.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sick Day

My thirteen year old daughter is staying home from school today. *

She has a sore throat.

It's not too bad, but frankly she's coming off of three days of standardized testing and the eighth grade is still testing today so they're not letting the seventh graders in the halls, thus no class switches. Also, today is Take Your Child to Work Day. Thus the school has decided, in its infinite wisdom, to show the seventh graders movies. She can watch movies at home in her jammies. A little rest on a little sore throat can do a world of good.

Sometimes you just have to make the call.

But that's not what I wanted to write about.

She is feeling crummy. Low grade crummy, but crummy all the same.

She is in her jammies.

As I type, she is watching 'Blue's Clues'.

I mentioned she was thirteen, right?

Not exactly the target demographic.

I tried to just blow it off, but when my teenaged daughter started yelling - in as much as one yells with a sore throat - answers at the screen, I couldn't resist a little ribbing. "Wow, Lea! Good for you! You just figured out Blue's clues, because you're really smart! (yeah!)"

She looked sheepish, but didn't change the channel.

At least she's not watching the source of all evil, Kathy Lee Gifford. So it could be worse.

As I rolled my eyes at the sight of my daughter, taking up the whole sofa with her gangly arms and legs, helping Steve solve mysteries, I thought about how being sick makes all of us regress. Children long past the thumb sucking phase will take comfort in their thumb, children who never want to cuddle will curl up in their parents lap, stuffed toys and lovies long neglected are clung to once again. I suppose when you take all of that into consideration, it's not so ridiculous for an adolescent to want to watch shows geared towards preschoolers.

Me? I want my mom. When I don't feel well, I want my mom. This makes next to no sense at all. My mom was an RN, and, as such was very matter-of-fact and rarely sympathetic. She was much more of a 'brush yourself off, you'll be fine' sort of parent than an 'oh, you poor sweet baby, let Mommy kiss it and make it better' sort of parent. When she erred, it was not on the side of caution. I went to school with mono for two weeks my sophomore year of high school because 'you're just burning the candle at both ends. There's nothing wrong with you a decent night's sleep won't fix.' When my throat swelled completely shut, she was forced to take notice. I think she still feels a little bad about that. I'm sure that is in no way related to the fact that I remind her of it every year or so.

Her mother, my grandmother, was even less big on the coddling.

And yet, when I'm not feeling well, this is how I take comfort:

I wrap myself in the quilt my grandmother made me. She gave me the quilt as a gift when I graduated from high school. She pieced it together from scraps of dresses she'd made for me when I was little. It's seen better days, but somehow that just makes it all the more special. So Grandma didn't coddle. And she didn't cuddle. But she quilted. And that's a hug I can still wrap myself in now - a decade after she left this earth.

I call my mom, who usually engages in one of those 'well, what YOU need to do...' diatribes that I hate so much, I say, but I keep going back for more. Then she'll call me every couple hours till I'm well, to make sure I'm heeding her advice. I roll my eyes like a teenager when the phone rings, but between you and me? There's a large part of me that's wishing I was lying on her sofa rather than my own.

I drink flat 7-up with a straw. Because that's what Mom gave me when she would finally give in and admit I was sick. Flat 7-up through a straw and jello. Jello with a spoon. We were cold, we weren't weird.

And I eat rice pudding. Yeah, that one is sort of extraneous. No connection to my childhood, but it gives me comfort. I try not to spend too much time analyzing it.

So. Just us Howard girls? Or do you regress when you're sick, too?

And please always remember and don't ever forget, that with me and you, and my dog Blue we can do anything that you wanna do...

*She gave full approval on my taking and using this pic. And FWIW? The blanket she's chosen to wrap herself in is one her dear old mom made from old T-shirts. A different era of sentimentality and comfort.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Be Who You Be

I have done a better job of teaching this mantra than I have of living it.

My children live this mantra. I am mostly thankful for this. They know who they are and they don't compromise. One is quieter about it; one more 'in your face'. Both are strong in their convictions. I raised them to be this way. I am proud of them.

Me? I don't want to make waves. I know there are people who thrive on heated debate. I do not count myself among their ranks. I will listen to people whose opinions differ from my own. When they are well-spoken, I even enjoy listening to them. But I rarely offer dissension. There are a few who will push my buttons almost mercilessly trying to get a rise out of me. They rarely succeed. When they do, they are no doubt disappointed that said rise manifests itself in tears more often than it does in angry discourse.

Then I go home and go into a 'can you believe he/she said that?' discourse with my husband who I can usually count on to be like-minded and to offer support for my side of the argument that never even happened.

I wish I were stronger.

I wish I knew how to 'be who I be'.

I hope you know how to 'be who you be'.

Monday, April 20, 2009

And They Called it Puppy Love

Y'know, guys, squealy fangirl is part of my tagline for a reason.

In my long career as a single gal, I dated a couple guys who weren’t musicians. But I didn’t like it.

As it is with many girls, my passion for musicians began with teen idols. Long before The Jonas Brothers, long before Hanson, long before New Kids on the Block and The Backstreet Boys, there were the Osmonds. More specifically, there was Donny Osmond. Donny Osmond – that sweet and innocent puppy-eyed safe haven for pre-adolescent dreams. I listened to his albums over and over, usually with the album cover propped up in my direct line of vision so that my enjoyment could be visual as well as aural - so that I could look into his too-dreamy-to-be-true eyes when he assured me that ours was not a puppy love.

Donny was my favorite. It was his poster that I kissed goodnight every night. But I wasn’t completely faithful. I also loved Tony DeFranco.

And David Cassidy.

You probably get the idea. If ‘16’ or ‘TigerBeat’ was writing about them, and they had dark hair, dreamy eyes and a nice smile, they were ok by me. Countless hours were spent with girlfriends giggling and dreaming and discussing the merits of these fabricated idols.

I will never forget one year – at the height of my obsession with all things Osmond – the Osmond brothers were playing at the Allentown Fair on the same night that I was attending the Allentown Fair. Money had not been budgeted for the concert and I was given a firm and inarguable ‘no’. As we were leaving the fair, the boys took the stage. The sound of pre-pubescent girls who were not me rose and filled the air with its sweet inexplicable angst on that late summer night. I broke away from my parents and pressed my ear against the fence. I was crying and squealing as if I had a front row seat. I was breathing Donny air! As I was dragged away, tears streaming down my face, I reached pitifully, hopefully towards that fence. “Don’t be so dramatic.” My mother warned. Dramatic? I was just getting warmed up.

When I returned to school a few weeks later I was asked to write the requisite “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” paper. It is one of only a small handful of papers I wrote as a student that I clearly remember. It was titled, “The Night I Heard THEM Sing (Almost)”. You can imagine.

I grew out of that stage, as most girls do, eventually becoming ashamed of it – reluctant to admit it ever happened – a Judas denying my teeny-bopper gods. He might have been a little bit rock and roll, but I was ALL rock and roll. 100% certified teeny-bopper free. Yet I clearly remember being at another outdoor festival several years later. The radio was playing over the loudspeakers and they mentioned that Donny Osmond had gotten married. I was over him. I was cool now. Donny Osmond sucked. Except – between you and me? My heart sunk a little in that moment. Married. He was somebody’s husband. There was no longer the potential for our eyes to meet and just - know... That moment was when the era REALLY ended. That was, perhaps, the very moment when I realized that we really were all going to grow up. For all my grown-up posing, I didn’t really like that idea at all.

I'm still not so sure I do.

* - I didn't really have a David Cassidy calendar in 2006. But if there's a nice one available for 2010, you were all just given a great gift buying tip... My birthday is in September. ;-) Thanks in advance.

** - I wrote this entire post wearing purple socks. Donny would've wanted it that way.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What's In Your Wallet - er - um - Bag?

Last week, Jenny Penny over at Welcome to My Momplex discussed finding yourself in your bag in a most delightful way. It made me take pause and wonder if I was indeed hiding in my bag, too. As luck would have it, this brilliant idea occurred to me at a bar (where so many brilliant ideas are hatched then forgotten). I was talking to my husband, my sister and one of our friends about the post and how I was gonna go ahead and look for myself.

I emptied my bag on the bar. I had my own wallet and Olivia's wallet. Nothing too telling there. Phone, keys. Pretty standard. No less than three notebooks and a handful of pens in varying colors. A mostly neglected datebook. A camera. A library book. A reusable shopping bag. And my pizza schlepping apron.

My husband's man bag yielded a first aid kit, an umbrella, several pens, a highlighter, chapstick, a mostly neglected journal, an eyeglass cleaner kit, a reusable shopping bag, a magazine, a wallet, keys, and a phone.

My sister's bag contained a lot of smaller bags. Two for coins alone. Whether she separates them by denomination or what, I do not know. But it wouldn't surprise me. She had the lovely eyeball bag I'd made for her when she first started having problems with her eye. It contained meds and supplies for taking care of said eye. She had a little wind-up walking eyeball toy. She had 2 hair picks and some hair wax. She had another little bag dedicated to feminine supplies. (These, too, found their way onto the bar) She had several tubes of chapstick. She had sunglasses and reading glasses - each ensconced in their own container. She had several little 'business card cases' full of gift cards. She had a toothbrush and toothpaste.

Her friend had a tiny little bag. I expected a wallet and a phone. But there was more. A lot more. She had nail files and nail glue (multiples of both). She had pictures of her kids in baggies. The pictures, not the kids. 'Cause that would be wrong. And, as I mentioned, her bag was way small. She had several lipsticks and chapsticks. And the piece de resistance? She had jelly and sugar packs pilfered from restaurant tables.

We talked about our quite different bags and the contents within and tried to determine what they said about us.

We decided that my husband was the boy scout - prepared for any eventuality.

My sister is clearly very interested in organization - there was a place for everything and everything was in its place. She also has a little thing about eyes.

Our friend had a completely random assortment of things she found necessary for her day to day existence. Perhaps indicative of the random nature of life? Perhaps just indicative of her mad love for individually-sized portions of jelly.

And me? It would appear that I like to document stuff. Weird revelation for a blogger, no?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake

So my friend Beth says to me (she says), "We should take a cake decorating class."

"Oh, we totally should!!!"

She had recently purchased a cake decorating kit and was itchy to get some practice. I am always looking for an excuse to get out of my house. Seemed like a win.

But then we started looking at dates and schedules and decided we couldn't really make a multi-week commitment. I had taken a beginners course years ago, so we decided that we'd have a decorating day, armed only with what I remembered, what we could ascertain from the books I had saved from class, and any tutorials we could find on the interwebs. We are smart chickadees, and not entirely un-crafty - we could totally do this.

We figured the worst that would happen is that we'd end up eating an ugly cake.

We agreed that Beth would bake the cake and I would provide the frosting.

As I was awaiting her arrival, I made a batch of frosting and a batch of decorators icing. And I made an unexpected and completely accidental discovery. I have always liked wedding cake. I never knew why - seemed like it was just white cake with white frosting - which is fine and all, but just nothing I'd really go out of my way for. But wedding cake? Oooooh, I loved me some wedding cake. So today when I was preparing the frosting, I ran out of vanilla. I used all of the vanilla I had left in the frosting and there was none left for the decorators icing. On a whim I substituted almond. Just a little bit, not the full amount of flavoring that was called for.

And it tasted like everything I ever loved about wedding cakes. Awesome.

So Beth arrives with two beautiful from scratch layers of yummy chocolate cake.

And we realize that between us we have no food coloring or - more importantly - no decorators tips. I had books, and a practice board, and tons of parchment, but no tips.


This experiment was gonna be pretty futile without those tips. So we started right off with a road trip to the craft store.

We got back and set to work.

This is what our two layers slapped together looked like. For my Western PA friends - does this not resemble a ginormous gob?

Beth got right to work frosting the cake.

Lea helped for a little while. Here she is piping on a little bit of the border.

And here's Beth piping some flowers directly onto Lea's finger. Yummy!

Our border looked a little something like this. It didn't resemble anything in the book, but we thought it was kinda cool.

Next step was some little blue flowers. We were pretty darn impressed with ourselves at this point.

Next we added these pretty peach flowers. Not bad for a couple novices with no real instruction, eh?

But then it got weird.

We started looking through the book and found instructions for making a little piped icing clown. And here we were with some horrifyingly hilarious clown head pics that I had found in the basement with my cake decorating supplies.

We did what anyone would do, I'm sure.

We made a two-headed scary clown.

With a booty that wouldn't quit..

Why two heads?

I think, perhaps, the more pertinent question would be, why not?

Why a bodacious booty? Child please.

Of course Pink got in on the act... And perhaps the vodka provides a little explanation for the two-headed booty clown.

Seriously, ya'll, You should have seen the concentration Miss Beth put into that booty. Can you see how she even raised one foot in a saucy flirty fashion? Man, we had WAY too much fun with that clown... We pictured it just gossiping and laughing away with - um - itself. Probably on a princess phone. And then we sang a little "Going Steady" from "Bye Bye Birdie". Because it seemed like the right thing to do. Because, really, when is bursting into song NOT the right thing to do?

So, in conclusion:

Delicious cake? Check.
Excellent company? Check.
Extemporaneous Show Tunes? Check.
Scary (but delightfully so!) Two Headed Clowns? Check

Sounds like a good day to me.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Here Comes the Sun

What a difference a day makes.

Yesterday I was whining about needing to get away.

Yesterday it was cold and gray and rainy and it felt like it had been forever and would be for another forever and maybe another forever after that.

Yesterday sucked.

But then there were margaritas and hope.

This morning there was a thick fog. The girls complained about it on their way to the bus stop, but I knew it was gonna burn off. It was a very optimistic fog.

Oh, in case there was any confusion, the fog was a real weather condition. Not the condition of my own sorry brain on account of the margaritas. Just saying.

So it burned off, as I knew it would, and as the day went on, the chill burned off, too.

Soon the pull was too strong. Housework be damned, prematurely aging skin be damned, Momma's gettin' her some Vitamin D.

So I stepped out onto the deck and I let the sunshine hit my face for the first time in days. What my neighbors saw:

A middle-aged fat chick in a T-shirt and jeans. And rollers. I was gonna let that sunshine heat set my hair. God's blow dryer.

What my minds eye saw:

A nubile young goddess emerging from a cave and basking in the first true golden rays of spring. And even though she was previously ensconced in a cave, her long hair is perfect and smooth and her gauze gown has nary a wrinkle. Both billow gently around her in the warm spring breeze.

Both of us, the middle-aged fat chick and the nubile goddess settled into the chaise lounge for a very brief nap before the Jr. High bus would arrive to bring an end to this quiet communion with the sun.

As we - I - closed my eyes, the rays felt even more intense.

I listened to the sounds of birds heralding the arrival of spring. And also cars and dogs and motorcycles. Because the cave opens out on the suburbs. It didn't matter. It was all good.

I allowed myself to sink deeper into it - allowed the warm sun on my skin to push me into a deeper sense of hypnotic bliss. Now many, in this state, might have imagined themselves back in goddess form. Or perhaps they'd transport themselves to an exotic isle. Or both. Truth be told, sitting here in my conscious mind, I'm surprised I didn't do the same thing. But in the state of complete submission to the rays and their will that I found myself in, that's not where I went.

I went to my mom's house. My parents house. The house in which I grew up.

A different suburb. A smaller, quieter suburb. The lounge was on the side of the house because there were woods in the back. And that nubile young goddess thing? Well, two out of three ain't bad. Not bad at all. The bikini was red, the belly was taut and tan. The boobs were perky and stayed in place even though I was lying down. Cellulite was not in my vocabulary. And my biggest concerns - well - hell - all these years later I can't remember a one of 'em. So they must not have been very important. And I soaked up the sun. Melanoma wasn't in the collective vocabulary then, either. I was probably slathered in baby oil. The portable radio was tuned to my favorite AM station and I would roll over to turn it up when 'my song' came on.

So real was this transportation to the past that - even once I was awake and knew I had to head back into the house to greet the kids as they came in from school - I was a little taken aback by my reflection in the patio door.

A middle-aged fat chick in jeans and a T-shirt and rollers.


It was nice to be a young nubile bikini babe goddess for a little while. Maybe the sun gods will see fit to let that dream visit again.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a meatloaf that needs to be put in the oven.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Grass is Always Greener With a Sugar High

I really need a vacation.

Now if you've been with me for a while, you know I had a quick mini-vaca to the Cleve just a week ago. It was snowy, so it didn't count. Not for full credit, anyway. I also had a vacation to Myrtle Beach in February and one to Goodland in January.

That's a lot of vacations! I am one lucky little chickadee!

Except I want more.

More! More! More! More! More!

(Lucky for me, I'm headed to Wildwood in two weeks. That should tide me over for a little bit. Get it? Tide? Oh, Lord I need a vacation...)

Y'know how they say when you're dieting (the one four letter word I hate to use! You won't be likely to see it here again, and I apologize to anyone I may have offended by using it now!) and they say to not use sugar substitutes because they stimulate your craving for sweets? And how eating sweets stimulates your craving for sweets? So you can be okay without sweets, maybe, but once you get the ball rolling, all bets are off.

More! More! More! More! More!

Your Easter candy is all gone already, too, right?


We were talking about vactions.

And how I need one.

I have friends who go on vacation all the time. They make my little list above look like child's play. That was a terrible analogy. THEY'RE the ones who get to play... I'm the one who is BORED, BORED, BORED!!! I'm the one who is in O-HI-O for Pete's sake.

I have friends who never go on vacation. They don't bitch about it nearly as much as I do. That sugar analogy coming into play again.

mmmmmmm - sugar......

I was chatting with a friend this morning. A friend who takes, I think, a pretty normal amount of vacations. She likes to go, like me, though. So she probably doesn't think she takes enough.


She was saying how my life was interesting and hers was boring and I begged to differ because I think hers is terribly interesting and I know full and damn well good how boring mine is. We decided that what makes EVERYONE'S LIFE BUT OUR OWN seem more interesting is simply that it's not ours.

I remember when Lea was a toddler. Bedtime was such a struggle and Tom and I would laugh and say she probably thinks that's when all the fun stuff happens. You don't do anything interesting when I'm up, surely I must be missing happy party time when you put me to bed. Because no-one could REALLY be this boring and continue to exist. Alas, she was wrong. Happy party time was just a continuation of the same dull stuff we did when she was awake.

Is it too early for me to start packing for that next vacation?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Keepin' it Real

My husband got me Kal Barteski's book 'love life' for Christmas. I had asked for it because I am a huge fan of Kal's art and wanted to be able to look at her lovely little drawings all the livelong day. (If you're not familiar with her, you should check her blog out - she's delightful). Anyway. I knew I would love the art, but the little stories connected to each piece turned out to be the real gems.

One in particular stuck out for me.

It was about a boy who wanted to feed chocolate to a fish. He loved this fish and wanted to give it a treat. What better treat than chocolate, no? But the fish ignored the chocolate, finding no appeal in it. At first the boy was offended. His heartfelt gift - the best he had to offer - had been rejected. Then his mother helped him come to the conclusion that - while chocolate is a fine treat for a little boy it provides no such joy for a fish. The fish needed to be treated with something that would give it pleasure - something which would probably not be viewed as a treat at all by a little boy. Or a human, for that matter. The moral of the story was that we might need to tweak the Golden Rule sometimes.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

becoming, rather:

Do unto others what they need.

I love this sentiment. What I need to get through something might not be what you need. So, when reaching out, consider the needs of the recipient - not necessarily what your needs would be in the same situation.

Sometimes we get it wrong, though.

My youngest daughter is a cuddler. She likes to sit close and snuggle in. She likes hugs and kisses and gives and receives both with abandon. My eldest? Not so much. We always say she allows herself to be hugged. And even that, only sometimes. She stiffens beneath my embrace and usually tries to escape it. Clearly she is not a fan of physical affection (at least not from the adults who love her - among her peers it's a whole different ball game). So I gave her less, not wanting to impose upon her. I tried to express my love for her in other ways. Tried to give her what I thought she needed, not what I needed myself.

Then, one heartbreaking day, she said to me, "Why do you love Olivia more than you love me?"

"Why in the world would you say such a thing?"

"You hug and kiss her more. You almost never hug and kiss me."

Well, the child had a point. I surely did hug and kiss her less. I thought I was being respectful of her wishes, since she always expressed such disdain when hugs and kisses were imposed upon her. Turns out I was hurting her feelings and sending a very different message from the one I had intended. So now I hug and kiss her. A lot. She rarely responds to it - unless you count eye-rolling as a response - but I have learned that it is indeed what she needs.

And one more example of letting my own perspective get in the way of what's real:

I was teaching job skills to high school students with special needs. One of my students, a young man with Down's Syndrome, informed me one day that he loved one of the girls in our class and that he was going to marry her. His classroom teacher overheard him sharing this information with me and inserted herself into the conversation.

"We've talked about this before - what do you need to do before you can get married?"

As his job skills teacher, I was pretty confident that she meant he would need to get a job, and I nodded affirmatively. His answer threw me for a loop. He slightly bowed his head and mumbled, "I need to learn to tie my shoes."


So I guess we'll further tweak the old platitude: Do unto others what they need, but make sure you know what they need, first.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

ACCCKKKK!!! Sweat drops! Sweat drops!

I like shopping. There was a time when I loved shopping. Now I just like it. You can take away my girl badge, if you think that's necessary. But there are three things that I never liked to shop for and I don't believe I ever will. Those three things are: bras, jeans, and bathing suits.

The older I get, the more dread I work up at the prospect of shopping for these cruelly necessary items. Now I suppose my choice of the word necessary could be argued on all three counts, but, come on. Asking a woman who came of age in the late 70's/early 80's to do without jeans is like asking a woman who came of age in the 40's to do without housecoats. Asking me to go without a bathing suit either keeps me off of beaches completely, which would change my demeanor in a way you would be unlikely to find pleasant, or confines me to very limited beaches where the sun would be likely to burn me in places that would, once again, make my demeanor take a turn for the decidedly unpleasant. And go without a bra? Seriously? Let's stick with, just no.

So I need to shop for these things, like it or not. Like it or not, in the very near future I will find myself in a dressing room taking my shirt off, taking my bra off, trying a bra on, putting my shirt back on, repeat, repeat, refreakin'peat until I'm so damn tired of looking at my own boobs I'll eventually settle for something that seems to fit and doesn't pinch too much. I hear stories - stories of magic and wonder - wherein women find bras that support, lift and enhance their bosums in angel soft comfort. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that the moment I discover that bra, they will discontinue it.

Jeans. Deep, deep sigh. I am the not entirely uncommon pear shaped woman. I probably need say no more. But I will. I'm sure it goes without saying, even to my more proportionately distributed friends, that if I find something that accommodates my ample ass and thighs, it sags miserably around my smaller middle. When low rise jeans first came into fashion, the hubs said to me (he said) "This is perfect! Your problems are solved! You don't need to try to find something that fits both your hips and your waist, they just need to fit your hips. Go! Buy jeans!" And I went forth and I tried on jeans. And I liked them. Standing there in the dressing room mirror, I liked them more than I'd liked any jeans I'd ever owned before. I practically skipped out of the store, so anxious was I to wear my new jeans with their wonderful fit in the real world. Except in the real world? Sometimes you sit down.

And if this post had a soundtrack, this is where you'd hear a needle skipping and scratching across a record...

But I've saved the best for last, haven't I? Bathing suits. A fresh hell, revisited annually. I've started buying mine online. It's a gamble - usually a very high stakes gamble - but it keeps my fish-white-flabby thighs out of the judgmental fluorescent lights and three way mirrors of the dressing room.

But now my daughters are getting curvy.

Welcome to a whole new level of bathing suit shopping hell.

I took the girls bathing suit shopping today. Liv had to be convinced that it really was ok to show a little bit of skin. If it was entirely up to her, I think she'd wear a neck to below the knee scuba suit. Or board shorts and a T-shirt. Lea, on the other hand, needed to be convinced that a bathing suit needs to both cover everything that needs to be covered AND show some potential to continue doing so when wet. It was a hard sell. Liv ended up with a one piece halter suit. She looked lovely and I think she knew it. While admiring herself in the mirror, she said, more than once, "I can't believe how grown up I look." That makes two of us, sweetness.

Lea ended up with a tankini with boy shorts. She, also, knew exactly how good she looked. She did a little dance in front of the mirror, then announced, "If you buy me really cool sunglasses, I swear, I'll wash your car every day in this thing." Um, thank you?

I remain, despite absolutely knowing better, an unapologetic sun worshipper. But this summer, as the mom of these two, I may find myself praying for rain...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hello Cleveland!

I wonder if people in Cleveland get tired of hearing "Hello Cleveland!" or "Cleveland Rocks!" or, the more recent, "If the whole world moved to their favorite vacation spots, then the whole world would live in Hawaii and Italy and Cleveland."

We just took a very whirlwind trip to The Cleve for spring break. We had taken the girls to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before, but they didn't remember it, so we wanted to take them back now that they're all about the music.

I am so glad we did.

It was so awesome watching young people - not only our own young people, although they were doing it too, but young people in general - being interested in and learning about the roots of the music they love. I watched my eleven year old (Hee! She goes to eleven!)getting into a serious groove while listening to Cream. I watched my thirteen year old mirror the knot in my throat at that signature Roger Daltry scream.

Now, reacting to that Roger Daltry scream has some history in her family.

Somewhere around my twelfth or thirteenth year, a girlfriend and I went to the movies one weekend to see ‘Tommy’. Our motivation, initially, had been that we liked Elton John and wanted to see him perform ‘Pinball Wizard’. That was quickly forgotten when the movie began. The heaven’s opened and the angels sang. And the angels looked a lot like Roger Daltry.

There is a moment in that film – where Tommy falls through the mirror and lands in a body of water and swims to the beach where he strips off his shirt and runs on the beach in his jeans – and his chest – and his hair – I think perhaps there may have been an audible click in my pituitary gland where a lever switched from a giggly “cute boys are fun” to a throaty “oh, HELL yeah”. I felt all kinds of warm and tingly things I’d never felt before. It was frightening and awesome and fully unexpected. My standards were set. No doubt about what turned me on.

Apparently it's a legacy I'm passing along...

My youngest allowed me to sing 'Thunder Road' to her while we read the lyrics on the wall on the way up a winding staircase to the temporary Springsteen exhibit.

As a young girl growing up in a blue collar town in Pennsylvania (the very Johnstown mentioned by The Boss on 'The River', since you asked...)and later as a Jersey girl, Springsteen has a special place in my heart. I didn't go all squealy fangirl looking at his memorabilia, I looked at it with a near reverence. The black white and PINK (I know! Who knew?) shirt that he wore on the black and white cover of the aforementioned 'The River', the beat up old guitar that he bought for $180 and continued to use WELL into his successful years, handwritten lyrics, it was all there.

You can hide 'neath your covers
And study your pain
Make crosses from your lovers
Throw roses in the rain
Waste your summer praying in vain
For a saviour to rise from these streets

Oh, HELL yeah.

We stood in front of 'The Wall' and read the story about the inspiration behind it. I watched kids who weren't alive when the movie came out, much less when the songs were written, be moved to silence.

We walked along the actual Hall of Fame, touching the signatures of the people who make and made the music we love as well as the signatures of the people who influenced them.

I watched my youngest pass up everything in the gift shop except a bumper sticker which read, "Drum Machines Have No Soul". Awesome.

So Cleveland? I'm sorry to feed into the cliche, but you so rock.

And the Winner Is...

Ok, here's the thing. My husband got me a Flip for Christmas and I said, "Oh! I can do cool things for my blog with this!" Then I didn't. For reasons which will become evident when and if you choose to watch the following video.

I figured I'd draw a winner for my Billy Two Shoes CD in front of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It made sense. It would've been awesome. Except for a couple things:

- The weather - the weather in Cleveland was snowy and windy. We were there on our spring break!!! We actually DID try to do it in front of the Hall of Fame, but it was so windy you couldn't hear a thing I said. None of us wanted to try it again, it was really miserable. Did I mention it was our spring break? Sheesh.

- I need to never ever ever under any circumstances ever again ever turn my profile to a camera. Ever. Great googly mooglies!!! This medium is not flattering. I'm sure that's it... Also, don't they say the camera adds 50 pounds? They don't? Well, they should, is all I'm saying.

- I also need to become less self conscious and talk more loudly.

That being said, here we are, choosing a winner just INSIDE the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

And in case you didn't want to bother watching, the winner is: Cass

Congrats, Cass! Get your contact info to me and your CD will be in the mail this week!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Reunion: Powered by Facebook

I had a friend once who, when talking about friendship, classified her friends as forever friends and situational friends. These positions are, of course, not static. Situational friends can become forever friends. Forever friends can drift apart. Usually we spend more time with our situational friends (office friends, neighbor friends, mommy friends, etc.) than with our forever friends. Situational friends are those folks we see every day. We are kept up to date on the day to day details of each others lives for no other reason than proximity. We know what our situational friends are making for dinner tonight. Unless our forever friends are situational as well, we rarely know these little details about them.

That was before the popularity of social networking sites.

Facebook, Twitter and blogs allow us to connect not only with situational as well as forever friends on a very mundane day-to-day basis, but also with virtual friends and, possibly my very favorite - long lost friends.

It started out as another way for the young 'uns to stay connected but us old 'uns have sort of appropriated it. It makes great sense! A friend forwarded an article to me - which I wish I could link, but I can't recall the source - about how much more sense it makes for us. Young kids are still pretty much surrounded by everyone they've ever known so far. Keeping in constant touch with each other is an important part of their social constitution. When a parent of a young person punishes with: 'no phone, no internet' it's like cutting off their arm. This provides us, as parents, with some nice leverage, but that is, perhaps, another story for another day.

Us old 'uns - this old 'un, anyway - certainly use it to keep up with the people who are close by, too. It's convenient and nice and practically omnipresent. But for us it's way more than that.

For me, it has meant reconnecting with a whole group of women with whom I went to high school. Some of them were actually in my social circle back in the day, some were just acquaintances. I had only kept in touch with a very small number of them. That small number, should you be wondering, was two, I believe. Now there are a couple dozen of us. We communicate almost daily. We talk about our lives and we find a lot of common ground with enough variation to keep it interesting. We have formed a very comfortable commaraderie that feels way more forever than situational. How awesome is it to be in your mid-forties discussing teachers you shared in fifth grade? (The question was really rhetorical, but if it hadn't been, the answer, I assure you, would rhyme with 'berry".)

For me, it has also meant being able to maintain and grow new friendships from what would have, without the benefit of social networking, remained pleasant chance encounters.

For me, it has also meant reconnecting with four (so far!!!) of my college roommates. For three years various combinations of five to six of us shared one living room, one large kitchen, three bedrooms and one small bathroom. You read that right, kids. Six women in their late teens/early twenties. One bathroom. And this was in the early 80's. The hair products of six women alone would've crowded that bathroom. You would think that the sort of intimacy established by a situation like that would almost have to be forever. But you move, and you grow, and things change, priorities change. You swear you'll stay in touch, but you don't. It's not bad, it's not good, it just is.

Facebook brought a few of those women virtually back into my life and last night it brought one of them back into my life literally. Twenty-five years post-graduation we found each other on Facebook and discovered that we lived on opposite ends of the same city. Last night we got together amidst tears and hugs. It was amazing. I won't say twenty-five years melted away because they didn't. It was not a night filled with nostalgia and 'remember when'. There was, of course, a whole lot of catching up to do, and we did that. (Not all of it. We needed to save some for next time.) I enjoyed catching up, but I think I enjoyed even more getting a chance to spend time with the woman that my long lost friend has become.

I use that term a lot, I find. My long-lost-new-found friend.

Remember Girl Scouts? (I've reconnected with a few of my fellow Brownies, too...) Remember singing "Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold"? That didn't mean too much when I sang it (as a round, of course) at the age of seven. Now it makes good good sense.

So whether you are a new-found friend or a long lost friend, a virtual or actual friend, a forever or situational friend, silver or gold, know that you are valued - possibly more than you realize.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New Shoes

Billy Two Shoes long awaited CD was finally released yesterday!

For those of you who are not aware, Billy Two Shoes is a band in which my husband plays upright bass. I am so impressed with these guys - not only because they are all accomplished musicians - which they are - and not only because they are amazing songwriters - which they are - but also because they are just plain swell guys. Ever since their inception, they have donated their profits to food banks in the Appalachians. I ask you, how patently awesome is that?

Josh, Keith, James, Jason and my handsome hubby, Tom

I'm going to go ahead and provide linkage, because this story is not mine to tell. Give them a little listen while you're there, and maybe a little love.

But here's something that is mine: My very first inaugural give-away.

I will send a copy of the CD to one super-lucky randomly chosen commenter. I will be drawing that name from entries received by Saturday, April 4 at 5:00 EDT.

I will choose randomly, so a simple 'howdy' will be sufficient, but I thought - since these guys are using their talents to help others - it might be fun if you could share how you use your talents - or could use your talents - to help others as well.

Be the change...

Music is love, man.

Nobody's Fool

Thought I'd share my favorite April Fool's Day story with you today:

Around the turn of the century - 19th to 20th, not 20th to 21st - my paternal great-grandmother was largely pregnant. She went into labor on April 1st and a doctor was summoned. With his assistance alone, in her home, she delivered not one but two healthy baby boys. The second baby had never shown up on the ultrasound, so this was a total surprise.

My paternal great-grandfather finished out his day in the coal mines and headed to the beer garden for happy hour. Just after ordering his second beer, a townsman ran into the bar and said, "I just talked to the doctor! You need to get home right now! Your wife just delivered twins!"

My great-grandfather - no-one's fool - laughed at the man. "Right. My wife delivered not one but TWO babies. Conveniently on APRIL FOOL'S DAY. And when my beer is full and in need of someone to drink it. I suppose you were planning on relieving me of that duty and having a nice long laugh at my expense. Not this guy, my friend. I am no-one's fool".

So he finished his beer and two more after it before paying his tab, gathering up his lunch pail, and heading for home.

Of course he went home to find my great-grandmother lying in bed with a baby in each arm.

And that is how my grandfather made his entrance into this world.

Oh! Oh! And did you catch my jokes? There were no ultrasounds in 1902!!! And, while everyone did indeed go to the bar - I mean, the beer garden - after working in the mines or the factories all day, I don't believe anyone ever referred to it as happy hour!!! Yeah, that's probably as good as I can do. Sad, isn't it? I am not great at fooling and am very good at being fooled. This is not traditionally my favorite day of the year...

It is, however, the one day of the year that I NEVER forget to think about my grandpa. RIP.

Also? I want a beer garden.