Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Lesson from "Amelie"

A scene from the movie Amelie, in which she suddenly takes a blind man by the arm and races him through the market, narrating to him everything he's been missing:

"The drum major's widow. She's worn his coat since the day he died. The horse's head has lost an ear. [Of a sculpture] That's the florist laughing. He has crinkly eyes. In the bakery window, lollipops. Smell that! They're giving out melon slices. Sugarplum ice cream! We're passing the park butcher. Ham 79 francs. Spareribs 45. Now the cheese shop. Picadors are 12.90. Cabecaus 23.50. A baby's watching a dog that's watching chickens. Now we're at the kiosk by the metro. I'll leave you here. Bye!"

I watched that beautiful scene the other night, and contemplated how often I race through my days--my WEEKs, and how I myself could stand to slow down for a little narration.

The Turtle Report

Folks, I've been inundated with e-mails on the Turtle Fry. Here it is then:

[Note to Momo: Just skip to the pictures; this next bit is morbid turtle-hunting talk.]

The Turtles WERE of the tiny pet store variety. Leland catches them with a net, and boils them alive, until their tiny shells are tender. Then he batters them and deep fries them, and serves them up in a basket, like little jalapeno poppers. One bite and you're done.

Do you believe that?!!

Because I made it up. Ha! What a gulli-BULL!

Alright, here's the real stories, with pictures to prove it. We DID go to The Turtle Fry, and we had a fantastic time. Here's what I learned:

To catch a turtle, you muck around in a creek (that's "crick" to us midwestern crackers) with a big old pole, and you poke around until you here a "ka-thunk" that sounds reminiscent of turtle. Keep your pole in place, and put your hand on the back of turtle shell, then feel down to find the ridges on the back of its shell.

Or was it the front? No matter, the important thing is to keep your hand on that shell; don't toss your fingers around willy-nilly, or you're likely to get one snipped off by deadly pit bull turtle jaws.

Oh, yes; the ridges were on the back, so then you can grab it's tail, and lift it out of the water. If you want the "sacrificing" details, you'll have to read back to my cousin's comments on the last turtle entry; she explains it all there.


Batter it, deep fry it.


I'll admit I approached it with some trepidation, but by the same token, there was no WAY I was passing up the opportunity to taste it. Here's my report, then:

Tastes like chicken.

Here's Leland and a bin-o-turtle:

And Lee again, cooking:

And me, with actual turtle in my actual mouth:

Turtle Fry is annual; ya'll come along next year and try it!

Little Rock, 1957

Part of what I do for a living involves laying out and composing college textbooks (typesetting).

I recently set a book that included this famous photo, and it stopped me in my seat in each phase of production. The caption read:

In a famous photograph, Elizabeth Eckford ignores the hateful taunts of whites who oppose her attending the previously all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas (circa 1957). ...(Photo credits go to Bettman/Corbis)

This photo moves me so. I have questions.

LOOK at the hatred in the white girls' eyes. Where are they now? Are they still alive? Have their opinions changed? Are they, or would they be ashamed to see this photo, or is their racism eternal?

Elizabeth Eckford: You look so proud: unaffected and dignified..and unshaken. It makes me shake to think about having been in your shoes this day; were you not terrified? Was the military presence any consolation?

I look at this photo, I want to weep, and say, "I'm sorry." Someone needs to, forgodsake.

(There's a lot of info on the internet regarding Ms. Eckford's walk, with 8 other black students on this day. I'm ignorant of this particular day in history. I'm going to read up.)


After kvetching last week about having nothing to do, I have a huge project.

Never one to be happy, I am seriously annoyed now, about how this blasted work is cutting into my blogging!

TurtleFry pictures to come!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Birthday traditions...

Now, smile for the camera, honey.

Ha, we make our own Christmas cards every year. This was an idea we pitched...but maybe I'll use it this year.


There's me, and that kid that won't get a job. Don't you love him?

A blond moment...

My friend Shy_smiley and I set up the occasional wine date—on the telephone. She lives in Tucson, so it's just sometimes the best we can do: clear up an hour and get out the glasses, and talk.

One evening during a particularly long conversation (that is, nearly an entire bottle of wine), a disgusting possum slunk across my back yard. I immediately exclaimed to SS, "Ohmigod, there's an otter in my yard!"


Yeah, yeah, I put the bottle of wine away (no I didn't) and sent her this little homemade graphic the next day.

PsychoMom Physical Evidence

Brian and I like to change the screen saver on our computer to annoy and embarrass each other. While reminding him to do his homework one time, I put this photo of a beating re-enactment on the screen, with post-its and threats, and then I went on to bed.

I awoke to find that he'd enhanced my features in photo shop before he headed off to his own dreamland.

(Oh, and ask me sometime, about the photo I posted when I was trying to deter him from a Prince Albert piercing. I guess I'll never *really* know if I managed to ward that off or not.)

...and with strangers

Sappy, I know, but I just like this picture.

DownTime, Part Deux

Ok, I'm bouncing off the walls here. I caved in after reading that last list of things to do, and have decided to take 1/2 day of vacation. "How did you spend your vacation?" "Sitting in the lobby of Jiffy Lube, and pulling weeds."

So. I've decided to post the funniest of the photos I have on my desktop at work. If you've seen my website these will bore you, check back for original updates tomorrow.

That up there is a bucket of chicken feet. A year or so ago, my friend Princess Poonani and I went to Chicago's Chinatown for lunch. Our only criteria for the restaurant was that there should be no white people in it; we wanted authenticity, baby!

Authenticity we got: A dim sum menu written in chinese, and a waitress we couldn't communicate with. Perfect! Just what we were after. The waitress rolled carts of dim sum around, and served off it it, which made the point-and-eat system more efficient for us. We pointed at several items of questionable origin; mostly doughballs filled with mystery meats. Or mystery vegetables. Or mystery gel.

I digress; we were merrily ready to try anything, until the waitress opened a bamboo bowl filled with deep fried chicken feet. Princess P, having managed to act worldly and composed up until then, suddenly squawked, "CHICKEN FEET? NO!!!"

I am an adventurous diner, folks, but I wasn't even remotely inclined to try eating a chicken's foot. As with frying a turtle, I wouldn't have known where to begin. Is there meat to gnaw off of it, or do you just crunch the entire thing, toenails and all?

We left that restaurant not knowing much more than we had when we went in: we had no idea what I'd ordered or eaten.

We meandered down to a chinese grocer, where chicken feet ingredients were sitting out on the counter, no doubt getting warmer and warmer and growing chicken foot fungus by the minute. I surreptitiously snapped this picture, had it made into a mouse pad, and mailed it the Princess.

The end.


There is, currently, not a thing for me to do at work. Projects are caught up, in limbo, we are in a "hurry up and wait" phase. I study Adobe InDesign. I work on my website. I blog. I pee. I clean my purse. I look up books on Amazon. And I check the clock; it is 8:10 a.m., and I have 7 hours and 50 more minutes to kill.

I'm frustrated. Here's a list of stuff hanging over my head, that I could be doing at home:

1. Finish Melissa's paintings. There are 2, and they are within an hour of being finished up. They've been one hour away all summer long.

2. Clean my car; it is a dusty mess. Change the oil, I'm 3,000 miles over the 3,000-mile-change-your-oil due date.

3. Get a haircut. My last was in March; I've been periodically snipping my bangs out of my eyes, and calling it "good enough." It's time for a little shaping up.

4. Write a complaint letter about the $300 rug I bought for my dining room, that will not lie down; in fact, it curls more as it ages. People trip over it constantly, and I'm going to have a lawsuit on my hands if I don't remove it from my home.

5. Analyze my financial situation. Create a budget. Figure out how I can work a few more pieces of furniture into the house so that my guests don't have to dine on the floor around the coffee table.

6. Start studying up for the part-time freelance design job I just accepted by bluffing my way through the interview, promising to deliver something I've never done. Just because I've never done it doesn't mean I can't.

7. Go to the post office and turn in my P.O. box key. Feeling paranoid and insecure, I secured the box at the time of my divorce a year ago, hoping to redirect legal and financial statements to the new address. I immediately found out that these sorts of statements cannot be delivered to P.O. boxes. I have then, never checked the box, nor paid for the next 6 month installment. I picture ninja's dropping from the ceiling the minute I insert my key, cuffing me and hauling me to jail til I pay the fines, which are probably in the tens-of-thousands of dollars by now.

8. Finish the cat painting, which I started almost 2 years ago.

9. Tidy up the yard and sweep the driveway, so that I won't be such the outcast neighbor. I share a front yard with a nice lady. I swear you could set a plumbline down the middle of that yard: hers is vacuumed clean and trimmed and tweezered, while mine is covered with leaves and twigs (Does she blow her twigs into my half while I am at work?)

10. Get the garage back in order so I can park there again this winter. It's been a warehouse while I was "under construction" this summer.

Sigh... That's just half of it, I didn't even throw in laundry and dishes and shaving my legs.

So, tonight, when I get off work, I am going to...

...blow off all my responsibilities and go hang with my friends at the coffee shop!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Laughing with Strangers...

There is little that elates me more than a random belly-laugh with a complete stranger. A smile and a hello, in these parts, are pleasant and common place, but striking a cord strong enough to share a good guffaw makes me feel happy for days.

I held the door for a very tired looking guy wearing paint-splattered whites, at our local library the other day. He mumbled a thank you, and we went our separate ways.

Afterward, I drove the few blocks to my favorite coffee shop, parked about a block away and walked in. As I approached the shop, there, again was the painter from the library. Upon seeing me, he perked right out of his stupor: "Hello! Hello, how are you?" he said, taking my hand and holding it in his. Well, I was just fine, I told him, and asked the same. He said, yes, he was fine, fine too, and finally "how do I know you?" Amusement began to sink in as I told him "I just held the door for you at the library."

He dropped my hand immediately. "Ohmigod! I do not know you! I am so sorry! I just worked 13 hours and I'm exhausted. I recognized your face from somewhere, and decided to bluff it and pretend I remembered you! I thought maybe I'd seen you at church before." He confession turned to embarrassment, and then delirious giggles, which, under the circumstances, were contagious. We both stood laughing in the street before he moved on.

Trying to save face, he was, and ended up holding a stranger's hand. Hilarious.


I live with my a 19 year old son. He's a handsome, thoughtful young man, who can easily be persuaded to take Gramma out for ice cream, who stops on the street to help those in need, and who can't tolerate people having their feelings hurt.

He is unemployed, dropped out of college, and is wandering a bit.

I am in constant quandry what to do with this child of mine, trying, at times, everything I can possibly think of to motivate him, and at others, bowing out to let him find his own way. I cannot seem to find my own answers, in this thing we call parenting. I am, as many pushover parents are, guilty of inconsistency in my messages, caving in constantly, and, I've come to figure out, incapable of tough love.

Everyone *else* knows what to do though; the advice comes hurling at me—sometimes unsolicited, but more often at my own request. Often to no avail for me: For any one bit of solid advice, there is someone on the other shoulder telling me, with the same conviction, to do the exact opposite thing: "Give him space!" "No, kick him out!"

I've tried then, just not asking for advice, keeping our relationship one-on-one; it's too complicated to drag "everyone says" into it.

Don't think for a minute that he isn't tolerating any odd behavior from me, while he (hopefully) finds his direction. Tuesday night, he had a few friends over, and we laughed and talked for an hour or so, about everything under the sun. They brought me back some incense, knowing I liked the scent of sandalwood.

Wednesday afternoon, I came home to find cigarette butts in my driveway and in my (sorry-assed) flower bed. There were 4 boys in my house, playing PS2, working on my computer. I'd loaned my son money the night before, asking him to bring back change, and he'd spent it.

I was in a mood, I guess. I seethed through a shower and ended up marching back into MY living room (mine, by God) wearing a nightshirt and a towel on my head, and giving my kid the what-two-fer about everyone using my property as a giant ashtray! I squawked like a fishwife about his cel phone bill, my second, part time job, and how much it just chapped my ass to come home to a gaggle of boys enjoying my space, having to ask if I can check my own e-mail. Get out of here and fill out applications til 10:00 tonight! Have a job by Friday! Rahr!

Boys were throwing on shoes and running for their lives, probably figuring I'd pull out an uzi. Cha! Everyone out!

And, although I know I'm within my rights to make demands, I ended up feeling a bit chagrined about acting like such a bipolar nut-job-gone-off-the-deep-end.

And...I don't really have any tidy little means of wrapping up this blog. Son of mine did come back in and tell me how he hates to fight, and how he hates borrowing money, and how he will find a job. And I told him that I love him more than anyone I ever will, and my frustration and demands are not wrought from mean-spiritedness.

And today is a new day.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Yertle the....

Guess the heck what?

My cousin invited me to a Turtle Fry this Saturday!!!

I am SO excited. What the HECK is a turtle fry? I sent back an immediate response asking just that: "Are you really going to fry turtles?" I haven't heard back yet. Stay tuned. I considered waiting to blog this blog until I found out for sure, but I'm overcome with excitement.

Me imagination runs amok. Maybe they don't really fry turtles, anymore than they really "roast"ed Pam Anderson on comedy central last week. They didn't ROAST--that is, bake her with carrot and potatoes, they just told awful jokes about the size of her poonani ( while Courtney Love acted like an assbag idiot in the background.


Maybe they're really going to fry turtles, as "Turtle Fry" suggest.

Do they take them right of their little turtle shells? What the hell must THAT look like, a turtle, Unshelled? I'm picturing a gizzard. With legs. A gizzard with legs. Gizzards aren't so bad. There are family fights over gizzards at every holiday in our household.

Are the Turtle-Gizzards breaded? Grilled, brushed with BBQ sauce? Sauteed with a little garlic & onion?

Be still your hearts! I am going to show up with my camera and a fork, and I will let you know what happens. This is going to be so much better than mooning nuns.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Running of the Nuns...

I got into town from Chicago late last night, and was still in quite a groggy state when I headed off for work this morning.

I rounded the corner in my neighborhood to see:

Running Nuns.

I am not making this up. 2 nuns, in full habits--FULL habits, the long dresses, caps, and all--and tennis shoes, on a morning jog.

Oh, for a camera!!! Not that I could have kept up with them, to take their pictures, they seemed to have a pretty good stride. I'm still not convinced it wasn't a gag, or that someone didn't slip some nun-inducing hallucinant into my coffee this morning.

Life's Little Accomplishments...

A landmark occasion in my life Saturday night. I did something I'd not yet done in my life:

I mooned someone for the first time.

It took me 42 years to get around to it, but I did it, by God! Well, WE did it, I had an accomplice.

Still, that's one more thing I can scratch off of my "Things To Do Before I Die" list.

It feels good to get things done.

Saturday, August 20, 2005


Driving with my friend Di today when I noticed a ... well, a body! lying near the road, underneath a bicycle. I instantly began yammering to that body, as if it could hear me: Hey, Buddy, are you ok? What's up? What's going on? as I came screeching to a halt. Diane, not having spotted said human being, thought I was off my rocker until she got her own eyeful. We raced over to find that our body was alive, an older woman who had succumbed to the heat while she was test-driving a bicycle from a shop down the road.

She was a bit disoriented, smiling, and saying she had felt dizzy and decided to lie down. We could move along, she told us.

Yeah, she'd decided to lie down right underneath her bike. I didn't think so, and I wasn't "going on" anywhere while she was still stretched out. Soon enough several other people stopped, offering bottled water from their cars, cel phone, and general assistance.

We got her sitting up and hydrated, and she insisted on continuing on her trek, refusing to let me put her bike in my car. We let her go then, but we sneak-followed behind her, tippy-toe-ing from parking lot to parking lot in the car, to make sure she made it back.

And...I just wanted to write THIS post--on how nice people really are, how many people stopped to help--a 19 year old kid and his girlfriend, a large family, and how I went home feeling restored, after my kvetching about rude people that don't say hello in the workplace, in the OTHER blog entry.

People are inherently good.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

In a Pinch...

I put lip balm on my toe last night.

I had to; I'd split it open, and then discovered that first-aid sundries are something I've overlooked while stocking my new place. Carmex was all I had in the way of medicated ointments.

A few months ago I found myself 10 minutes into my workday when my bra "tuh-WANG'd" itself, broke right in the front, middle, leaving me with a cup under each armpit. Hey, The Girls might not be front & center anymore, but they're not under my armpits...yet. Hence, a dilemma. I found one of those big black notebook binder clamps, and made the necessary repairs to get me through the day. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

I know women who, when they acquire a run in their panty hose, cut off the leg with the run...and then combine two one-legged pairs to make one whole pair. (I'd personally rather gouge out my eyes with scissors before squeezing into TWO pairs of control-tops, but that's just me.)

C'mon, you've all forgotten your toothbrush and pasted up your index finger, I know you have!

It's Confession Time! Open up! Spill it! Send me the quick fixes you've made to tide things over in minor emergencies! I'm dying to know.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Coin Toss (abridged)

A revised excerpt from my website (sorry for the repetition if you've seen it)...but it fit the format here, so thought I'd air it for the "public."

[While I was at Arby's last week, standing around in a state of Indecision Paralysis, on what I wanted for lunch] an elderly man walked up next to me. He looked at the menu board for a second, then stood back, and flipped a coin, caught it, turned it, checked it, and placed his order.

I can't help but contemplate: How many daily decisions does this guy make by tossing a coin?

What would it be like, to live your life based on heads or tails? Could I do that? Could I commit? Would it simplify my life? Heads: Its jeans today, Tails a skirt.

Skirts it is! Brilliant! What a time saver!

But wait.

I have 12 skirts. I'd need a comprehensive trickle-down hierarchy, to eliminate 10 of them and establish come to a Final 2. Maybe I could use leftover sheets from the Big 10 basketball tournaments, to come to a Final 2: Purple skirt gets the No. 1 seed over the denim.
Next, the blouse. The shoes. The earrings. I am bogged down with paperwork before I even get dressed.

And what if the Bra Draw has me heading out the door wearing the polka-dotted black bra under the baby-blue t-top? Can I argue with The Almighty Coin?

I would most certainly complicate this Coin Toss Simplification System...I would over-analyze and argue, and make a lot of noise and talk about it behind it's back, that cursed coin. I'd be insolent and pouty because I hate to be told what to do.

Even in the face of insecurity, exhaustion, frustration, or whatever else might come along to make me act wishy-washy and indecisive about decisions large or small, when it comes down to brass tacks, I know what I want.

We all do.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Oxford's New English Dictionary, 2006?

I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend a private party Friday night: Free food, free beer, karaoke, and 200 people that all work in the same place. I knew very few people there, and less about what they were talking about (health insurance), but it was soon enough that the free beer mentioned above loosened everyone up so that no one cared anyway.

A few hours into the evening, I excused myself to the Ladies', only to open the door and find a line of women...singing and dancing in sychronicity. Whoa! Have I just walked straight into a musical? There's Rizzo and Sandra Dee!

A very happy invitation was extended: "We're Pee-Dancing!!! Come on in!!"

What could one do, but sashay herself to the end of the Pee-dance line?

And here I was thinking of taking salsa lessons.

Friday, August 12, 2005

To Tattoo or Not to Tattoo...

Comes a time in a 40-year old woman's life, when her 40-year old peers, lifetime girlfriends, gang together and decide to get tattoos. We've come a long way since calling Kentucky Fried Chicken and asking the guy if he has chicken legs, haven't we?

It's not that I haven't considered the idea. It's just that I'm not sure whether it's lack of courage or common sense that keeps me from committing to it.

I can't even find a PURSE I like for more than 3 weeks, and I think I can decide on a tattoo?

I design and layout college textbooks for a living, and we recently set a book (on deviance, of all things) that had an article on the sociological reasons folks get tattoos, and the circumstances leading up to them. Commonly a group endeavor, spur of the moment. Women: Post-divorce, to mark their new-found independence.

Sociologically speaking then, 2 of us are relatively freshly single, and one of us is relatively freshly giddy-in-love with her future husband. My decision will be well thought out: I've been turning down the idea for years.

A celtic cross? A sun? A yin-yang? I'd want something relatively representative... shoulder? My hip? the back of my neck, hidden under my hair, peek-a-boo style? My son reminds me that I'll someday be a little old lady and will probably wear my hair short...that's something to think about.

Any input?

Singles Scene: New to Me...

I hit the streets of Chicago with a friend last Friday night, two of us back into the singles scene, and ready to get out of dodge. We had only one condition on our final, unknown destination, post dinner: No meat markets. Gack, I hate that club-type, howYOUdoin' (wink, wink) atmosphere.

Superficial conversation with insincere compliments annoy hell out of me; say something of substance, or get out of my face.

We ended up meandering into a place called Dugans, in Greek town; a friendly bar, with a jukebox and casually-dressed folk from all walks of life. Although we *were* accosted by one space-invading fellow before we'd even had time to pull our chairs out, our social circle for the evening was soon established when we were saved by a circle of off-duty sheriffs. We'd found the evening we were looking for, full of laughter and banter, and a few slightly-off-color jokes.

Here was my surprise for the evening, making me realize just how far out of the dating loop I've become: When did it become acceptable to flip your cel phone open in someone's face, and ask for their phone number? Welcome to the 21st century, I guess, but wow, this takes the wind out of your flirting sails... or, at least mine. Each time this happened, I leaned towards an abrupt "I'm not giving you my phone number."

What did I do "before" this system, when I was single, 12 years ago? Hmmmm...probably mentioned something about finding a pen & paper later, which gave me enough stalling time to continue the conversation and decided whether I was handing out my phone number or not.

I'm not very smooth yet. I'll figure this out.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

A couple of weeks ago, while I sat with friends outside of our favorite coffee spot, a squad car came RACING up and squealing brakes in front of us. A police officer jumped out, and proceeded to chase some into "our" cafe, yelling "Hey partner!!!..." We all sat stunned, wondering which derelict character he could possibly be after.

He returned in seconds with a relatively nice-looking, clean-cut guy wearing black dress pants, a white shirt, black tie. Officer was short with him, demanding to know if he had a weapon.

We sat with our jaws hanging open as several more squad cars pulled up, and the man in custody progressed into a screaming, laughing, violent, hysterical maniac! It didn't take 4 cops very long to drop that guy to the pavement and, literally, hog-tie him, with his feet crossed behind his back.

Oh! Ouch! Very exciting cup of coffee, it was!

And what strikes me most is the various responses to the encounter. Though we were all shocked, and once we knew we were safe, kind of excited about it...I found so many different emotional responses.

The waitress in the coffee shop was turned on: "God, those cops are so hot, I am so horny right now!"

My male friend was most disturbed with the level of violence, the way the cops dropped crazed fellow, even out of necessity and their own safety.

And I myself felt an intense sense of safety and gratitude that there are men out there that really will swooop down out of nowhere, and remove evil from your presence, as if with a broom and dustpan. Ta-DUHhhhhhhhhhhh! As you were folks, as you were; nothing to see here.

I suspect the legal issue was more one of schizophrenia than all out felonious crime; there was rumor of assault elsewhere...but I still felt awfully damned...protected.
I often hear "you have the funniest [weirdest/most exciting] stuff happen to you. What is it about you?" Though I rarely voice my response, I always think, "the same things are happening around you; you just aren't paying attention."

I think that the people and events we often encounter, whether good or bad, enrich my life, cause me to pause and think... And I've decided this is going to be my them for this blog. I've others, for anonymous venting, and a website for public sharing of life's generalities; let this one reflect my observations.

Monday, August 08, 2005

My first post, while I try to figure this place out. Nothing much to read yet, but LOOK OUT, baby...I'll be back.