Wednesday, March 28, 2007

So, I was cleaning the aquarium tonight...

...the aquarium that the cat sits on top of, periodically...

Whew. That was exciting.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Thinkity Bloggers

Jazz, at Haphazard Life, has awarded me a thinking blogger award, and thus tagged me for this meme.

The meme originated at The Thinking Blogger, in February. The idea is to list 5 bloggers that make you think.

The timing is perfect. As of Thursday, I will be on a mini-vacation of sorts. Now I'll have an opportunity to send you to some other worthwhile reading.

Jazz has already made me think, very hard, as I toggle back and forth, memorizing links, and scouring my Bloglines, to pick out my 5 thinkiest blogs. Still, I've narrowed it down to 5 that will make you think your brains out, and improve your very lives.

The envelope, please:

1. I check in every day to ChezBez. There's always, and I mean always something worth reading here: Photography, music, literature, and general commentary on the Nashville, TN, scene from a hard-working guy that loves his familia. It's never not interesting.

2. Everyday Happenings of a Frugal Mom. This new blogger holds a dear place in my heart, having lived with me for a while when she was 12 years old. She's now a 30-something SAHM of three, and one of the most amazing people I know: she's so many things that I'm not. I knew I was sure to learn from her when she started blogging. She's given me plenty to think of, with her entries of organic foods, local dairies, product reports, and the raising of 3 cute kids.

3. Karla has a blog called Create Something Today. Karla seems to live by example. Her blog is chock-full of photography of her 3 beautiful kiddies, and of her art and paperwork. I love that pen and ink and paper stuff, though I've never mastered putting it all together. Karla has it down. Check it out.

4. I know I've linked to Wendy a million times, and I just have to put her here again. Her blog is very thinky! It's a nice balance of introspective, thoughtful entries, intermingled with stories and photos of her friends and family. I love people that love their people. And their boots.

5. It's Matt's World.
A local blog by one of our Democrat county board members, but there's plenty of think-think-think material for all of you, nation- and worldwide! A mostly political blog with plenty of general commentary to mix it up. I learn a lot from reading Matt's blog, and if I hadn't met him a couple times at blogger meetups, I'd probably be intimidated by him, cuz he's so smart! Smart and genuinely nice: lots of good information here, without the blow-hard attitude.

So there you are. I'll be scarce until next week, but bank on plenty of photos and stories when I get back.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Alien Fun Guys

I got out this morning to start the first round of 2007 yard work, and as I raked up leaves and sticks, little poofs of dirt-smoke kept flying up into the air. Upon closer inspection, I found these things cozied right down into the earth:

Click to enlarge for a good, hard look.

Uck! What IS it? They're about 8 inches wide, look like they're cut from rubber tires, and have little pockets of dusty yuck in the middle. There are about 12 of them, in a 10-foot radius.

My friend Mark suggested they were fungus, but it sounded like he might have been guessing, as he followed up, "it looks like that fungus used in Asian cooking."

Yeah, well, YOU taste it. I think they're Aliens. And smart ones, at that: This one played dead when I picked it up (with gloved hands, of course).

But I swear it's 3 feet closer to the front door than it was this morning...

So, if you don't hear from me in the next threbrwraccppccaaackkkkkkk

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Hair Today...

15 or so years ago, my friend Lori had me in stitches when she observed, "I never knew I was so shallow." She contemplated for a second, and then followed, "Hm! Now I know."

Whew, those words were ringing in my ears this week. The problem? My Haircut from Hell.

I've written, before, about my general lack of hair care: infrequent cuts, $7 home-coloring, call it good. I never cared, I thought, what my hair looked like. That is until, I got the haircut from hell.

I know I made it look tolerable with product and jackhammers. But behind the scenes, I was spending 1/2 hour in the morning getting it into shape. Touching it up in the ladies' room at work. Stopping by home and taking a curling iron and a little pomade to it before heading out in the evenings.

Thursday afternoon I headed out after work, to do a bit of clothes shopping, without touching up the do. I went straight to Macy's without passing go. About an hour into shopping, the product gave out, gravity took over, and my cute little flippy-up began to flippy down. I was moving from dressing room to dressing room, standing in front of mirrors, seeing this:

My hair looked like crap, makeup had worn off, and dammit all to hell, I needed a larger size than I needed a year ago. I'm embarrassed to admit: I felt awful. Awwwwwwwwfulllllll. I schlepped back to my car, with the word "unattractive" whirling around my head. "Unattractive, I'm so unattractive."

No, no, I'm not fishing for compliments, just stop it. I just don't go around thinking or wondering, one way or another if I'm attractive or not: I look like what I look like, what I can do?! I bring it up only because I was surprised at myself for being so upset about something so silly.

But, I was upset! This stupid haircut that means nothing in the grand scheme, upset me. I'd have to try something else!

Friday morning, I got up and put hot rollers in my hair, thinking "I'll look like Marilyn Monroe."

Uh. Hello. I have a bowl cut with a weird hangy-down curtain of hair underneath it. I did NOT look like Marilyn Monroe, I looked like Mushroom Monroe! Here's a view from the back:

When I lamented to a few coworkers, they didn't "there-there" me with false compliments. They said "I see what you mean."

And I got on the phone, and called Studio 9, and found out that Heather, who has cut my hair before, had a 4:30 opening.

There is a God.

Poor Heather. I usually walk in saying "I dunno, just shape it up a bit." Not this time. A dam broke, and I became hysterical, telling her about Carol Brady, and handing her photos of alternative cuts, and yammering, "but you have to cut this thing off, right? Will you cut it off? Do you see it, do you see what I'm talking about?!!" I was nearly shrieking!

Heather asked me "Did you pay for this!?"

I was silenced. Of course I paid for it; did I have an option not to?! Of course I did, she said; I didn't have to pay for a cut that wasn't what I wanted!!

I didn't? It would never have crossed my mind that I didn't have to pay for this bad cut. The stylist did, after all, show up and work on my hair. I did walk away with a haircut, albeit a bad one. I could have just refused and stormed out?!! Really? People DO that?

Well, that is news to me. I did pay for it, and I even, schmuckishly, tipped for it. Someone buy me some cajones already.

The good news is that Heather was unphased with the challenge before her. She looked at and veto'd my suggestions, asked what I'd been after in the first place, listened a few minutes, then said "ok. I know what to do," and she got to it. She worked confidently, uttering the occasional "geez!" at the enormity of the destruction that had been done to my hairs a week ago.

I left 30 minutes later, on my way to meet friends:

My God, I can't believe how relieved I was to get that haircut cleaned up. I coveted my new haircut! Just ask Melissa, who gave me a heart attack when she ran her fingers through my new do, only to have me scream "don't touch it!!!"

That's how crazy I'd become, that's what living with a bad haircut for an entire week will do to a girl.

I never knew I was so shallow.

Hm. Now I know.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


This one's going to be another interactive post; I want to hear back from all of you. I mean it, now!

I wanna hear about the most tedious, boring, or mundane job you've ever had.

I have two, that nearly did me in, coma-ly speaking. Back in 1982, I was a bindery clerk in a large printing company. It was physical, busy work, and mildly stimulating, most of the time.

Mildly, I said. At least you had to stay alert enough to avoid losing limbs in huge machinery. Or your head; there were very strict safety regulations about the length of your hair. If it touched your collar, you had to wear a hairnet, lest your hair get caught in some rollers, and your head be ripped off. I once tired of the hairnet, broke down and got a very short haircut.

It still touched my collar. I mean it *ting* juuuuust tagged up to my collar, if I wore a collar. I was ordered by the safety nazi's to put my hairnet back on, or get written up. I was so pissed off that I bought some big black hairnets, and wore the knot right in the middle of my forehead, Ruth Buzzy style.

The OSHA officials yawned and said "go ahead, you stupid little girl, we couldn't care less." I persisted until the men on the nightshift asked me to stop because they couldn't stand to look at me anymore.

Excuse me. I got off on a tangent. I meant to say, that the work there generally stimulating enough that the shifts went by quickly.

Though there was ONE mind-numbing job: Catching.

"Catching" entailed standing at the end of a long press, and "catching" the paper that came off the end. Then you'd put it in a box, then 1/2 hour or so and then catch some more.

An older woman that I worked with used to just go to sleep when she was catching. The idea of it was mortifying to me; even at 19 I had a strong work ethic, and sleeping on the job!!! horrors! I remember quaking in my boots one night as the supervisor approached my snoozing co-worker. Imagine my surprise when he nudged her and said "Wake up Gussie! Wanna work overtime?" So instead of sleeping until 11:00 p.m., she slept til 1 a.m.


My second boring job was also in a printing company, a textbook company. There, we were given skids and skids and skids of freshly printed pages, and we were to look at every single page, front and back, to check that the printing was good, that there were no blank pages, etc. This job was called "Flipping." Yes. I was a "flipper," not to be confused with a "flapper," which would have been infinitely more stimulating.

Sitting in a chair, and flipping pages, day in and day out, mountains of pages waiting behind us, presses still running and creating more pages for flipping security.

The kicker is that we were not supposed to talk to one another while we were flipping.
The upper echelon apparently thought that we were all so daft that we couldn't talk and do mind-numbing work at the same time.

The problem you see...was, well me. You see how much crap I have in my head here! My head is, and always has been, a multi-tasking head; it simply must do more than one thing at a time! Even as I write right now, my head is off somewhere practicing its spanish. It can't be bothered to sit and watch me blog.

I swear I'd try to behave myself while I was flipping, but after a couple hours, I'd lean over to a fellow flipper and whisper "did you bring your lunch?"

Immediately, sirens and alarms would go off in the front office, and I'd get called up front, and the head honcho would tell me to shut my pie-hole.

It's a wonder I didn't combust.


My friend Di had a job, as a kid, at a company that made balsa-wood curtain rings. Her job, as the rings went down the assembly line, was to poke her finger into the middle of each one, popping out the center circle that was scored into the wood. (hence, forming a ring)

OK, she wins, that was definitely worse than my two worst-est boring-est jobs.


Ding, ding ding!!! Your turn!!! What's the the worst, most boring, or most mundane thing you ever got paid for?

Inquiring Minds...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pvt Jolley: Phone Update

Image from

Today's 2-minute phone notes read: batteries, soap, socks, camels, herds, Baghdad the 25th, 5 days training address

Brian called me this afternoon. He's 8 hours ahead, so I've taken to walking around with my phone clipped to my hip at work. I do NOT want to miss a call from him.

He's doing fine, had just gone shopping for stuff he won't be able to get for awhile: Soap. Socks, and Batteries. For his flashlight, mostly, but AA for cameras, DVD players, etc.

He's surprised by the herds of camels. Camels, camels everywhere, and none in any hurry to get out of the way of a humvee. "I've never seen a camel outside of a zoo," he told me.

He heads to Baghdad on the 25th. "5 days of training in the field followed by 5 days of training with the real thing," he told me...and then onto his station. Or base. Or whatever they call it, I really have to bone up on my military lingo.

He hopes to have a mailing address soon. So many of you have asked, I'll be sure to post it here.

He'll call in a few days, he said, when we'll have time to talk. Love to you all, he says.

Rodger Dodger, Over and Out.

(Gah, how he hated it when I'd use that to sign off of his toy walkie-talkies when he was a 'lil boy! Sighh. Good times.)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Evie's Locks of Love

This is my friend Sally's 5-year-old daughter, Evie. They live in Paxton, a small town about 30 miles north of here. One great thing about living in a small midwestern town is that when there is crisis, people rally. If hardship falls on your family, the "townsfolk" come together to help things right.

Today in Paxton, there was a fundraiser to help one of their own, Janet King, who is struggling with cancer. Sally contacted me a few months ago, and asked if I'd donate some art or photography to the cause. I dropped my contribution off yesterday, after getting my world's worst haircut, and before whining all the way home about about my world's worst haircut, and before blogging about my world's worst haircut.

Evie, herself, made a monumental contribution to the Janet King fundraiser. According to their local paper,

One year ago, [Evie] then age 4, watched a Locks of Love story on The Today Show with her mom, Sally.... [A]s she watched, Evie said she wished that she could cut her hair and share it with Janet, a close family friend who had just lost her hair due to radiation treatment for cancer.

Evie auctioned off her hair. The deal was, up to 12 inches, at $100 an inch. She hoped to raise $1200 for her friend Janet, this afternoon.

I've just gotten e-mail from Sally: Evie's climbing total topped $2000 at the time of writing, and was still rising.

Hm. A certain woman from Champaign, with a certain Carol Brady haircut is more than a bit humbled, this evening.

To Evie, then: Great job, you did a wonderful thing.

You're my hero. And thanks for the reminder about what really matters in life. We could all learn a few things from you.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Just call me Flo-Lo

Time for a new haircut; I arranged to have my hair cut in the same place Mel gets hers cut; her hair always looks great. Her hairdresser was unavailable, so I made an appointment with someone else there. Then the someone else had an emergency, so I got someone else altogether.

I was prepared though. I printed out a picture of what I was after, and gave it to my hairdresser. Here's what I wanted:

Cute, huh? My hairdresser cut my hair, with a razor, with me facing AWAY from the mirror. I couldn't help thinking that what was going on didn't "feel" like the haircut I'd asked for. Imagine my surprise when she swung me around and showed me the results:








Let's Review:

I have to admit I panicked. It just wasn't what I had in mind.

I called Melissa the second I walked out the door. "I'm Carol Brady!!"

Even though she hadn't seen my hair, she insisted, "you are not!"

Yes, yes I am, I'm Carol Brady. I have to get up and give a toast at your wedding in two weeks, and I'm Carol Brady! "No way!" she said.

Way! See?

A few bangs and a flippy up, and we're practically twins!

Holy crap. I drove home as fast I could, took my second shower of the day, and got right about molding my new haircut into something more like I wanted. Lots and LOTS of goo, and curling iron time, and hair spray and bees-wax later, and I ended up:

Ok. Tolerable. I can deal. So much for sleeping until the last minute before I go to work though. Some Assembly required on this do.


I guess it could have been worse.


Melissa and her clan just sang The Brady Bunch Theme song to me, over the phone.
I love my friends.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Drop-in company

My doorbell rang shortly after I got home from work today. Drop-in company at my house is often bad news: encyclopedia salesmen, Jehovah's witnesses, some guy I don't want to see, or the girlfriend I didn't know he had.

Hence, my response to an unexpected doorbell is to freeze. Right in my tracks. Then I carefully skate in my socks to the front door, thus eliminating the sound of footsteps and possibly alerting the bell-ringer that I'm home. I know it's crazy. But a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

So, I peered out to see a petite woman with short hair. I didn't know her, I didn't think, but peepholes distort the peep-ee. I risked it, and answered.

"Is John here?" I told her I was sorry, she had the wrong place. But Oh! Wait. Brian's friend, John, lived here for a few months last summer. Is she looking for John H?

Yes, she was. A good samaritan, she'd found his wallet, and my address was still on his driver's license. I told her I'd make sure it was returned to him, and thanked her profusely.

But wait. She had more to say.

"You need to tell this kid to clean out his wallet, and leave most of that stuff at home," she said. "I used to be quite the thief, and I could have taken over his identity in a heartbeat." That was a bit surprising. Ok, I told her, I'd tell John to be more careful, and store his important documents elsewhere. "Tell him to leave his social security card at home!" she insisted, "I was a thief! I could have taken him. But I didn't. It's all there, it's all there."

You know, this is all of 90 seconds worth of conversation, and you don't have time to process things. "Thank you, thank you so much" was all I thought to tell her.

It was only after she left, and after I'd arranged to have John's wallet returned to him that the implications of so many circumstances set in. This was clearly a woman that had, at one time in her life, struggled with doing the right thing. How long ago? For some reason, I imagined it recently; her declaration of returning the wallet intact was so proud and insistent.

Do over! I want a "do over" with the wallet return.

If I had the chance, I'd tell her THANK YOU. Not only did you do a nice thing, but you did a really nice thing for a really nice kid, one who really couldn't afford the havoc you could have wrought, if you'd decided to. His parents moved recently, and he's stuck it out here. He's 19, and works full-time, 12-hour, midnight shifts, saving money to get himself back in school.

He's smart as hell, and is just as endearingly goofy. "My mom says I'd lose my head if it weren't attached," he told me. That's the God's-honest truth. If you call his cell phone number, the message you get is as such:
"This is John. I ran over my cell phone with my car, so if you want to reach me, you'll have to come to my apartment and bang on the window."
If I got my do over, I'd like to tell the woman that came to my door today, about the life she didn't wreck, when she chose to return the wallet, intact. Not only did she do the right thing, but she didn't do the wrong thing. Yes, if she struggled with it in her past, I think she gets double-kudos for it now.

I, for one, am damned proud of her, and glad I answered the door to her.

Whoever she is.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Week #1

Moving Forward, But Still a Little Unglued

Here's Lathrop and Jolley, at a gas station in Metropolis. I think that's in Illinois, the trip is a bit of a blur to me now.

Brian has called twice since their arrival in Kuwait. As I've indicated before, each time I hear from him, I unconsciously grab a pen and start taking notes. Today's scratch paper reads "Bradleys, dust, memory card, radios, Ginny sends love."

So. They were assigned their Bradley's today. I learned last week that a Bradley is a tank. He was assigned his tank today. Someone hand me a brown paper bag.

:: breathe, breathe, breathe::

Ok. Whew. I'm ok.

He got his radio today.

A dust storm this morning; so much sand and dust in the air that he could not see the horizon; the sky, he said, was the same color as the earth.

He's buying a second memory card for his camera. He will fill one and mail it to me to download, and I'll send it back.

Ginny sends love. Oh, I inadvertently jotted down my own words. Ginny's our neighbor. I'm nervous and I end up dictating the entire conversation, even my parts.

And anyway, I tell him, "not just Ginny. The outpouring is staggering, everyone's sending well wishes and prayers for your safety."

And the outpouring has been staggering. I received 67 emails last Friday, every single one of them expressing love and comforting words. So many of them from you lovely people that I have yet to meet in person.

I took advantage of the warm weather last night, and worked outside at Kopi until 10 p.m. So many people stopped to ask, "how is your son? Did he leave? He'll be fine." Barristas, bartenders, friends, and acquaintances. Some I did not know were aware that I had a son, or that he was leaving.

People do talk.

And people bother. Don't you love it? I'll have you know, it's working. I am comforted. I am both comforted and dumbstruck. I can't begin to explain to you how it feels to know that, if I have a an irrational thought, a pang of fear, or a moment of weakness...that when my inner strength falters, and I stumble...

...that someone is going to catch me and set me back on my feet.

I am not, and never will be, alone in this.

The cat's been sick. I had her spayed a few weeks ago, and she didn't recover so well. I imagine she had an infection of sorts before I took her in; her illness didn't seem to stem from the surgery itself. Look at her shaved little tummy:

After not recovering, I took her back in to the vet, where she was admitted to kitty hospital for 6 days. That St. Joseph Animal Clinic is one wonderful and inexpensive vet; it's totally worth the drive out of the way. She got IV fluids (her little arm is shaved too, for that).

She had bloodwork, stool samples taken, de-wormers given as a precaution. She ate sick-kitty cat food. She came home with a 10-day supply of that cat food, and 2 different antibiotics.

My total vet bill:


Can you believe it? That's amazing.

Oh my God. My kid is Kuwait.


It was touch n go for awhile there, but the cat is going to be fine; she's almost back to her adorable pain-in-the-rearski self, eating the plants and sommersaulting around the house.

In summary, then, kids and cat are doing fine.

Mom still adjusting.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Polar Plunge

My camera and I hit the road to Mahomet yesterday, to watch the Law Enforcement Polar Plunge, a fundraiser for upcoming Special Olympics. When I awoke to a beautiful, sunny day, my initial thought was "darn, the water won't be as cold!" I was wrong; the water looked plenty cold from where I was standing.

The idea is that you get your team together, raise a few thousand bucks, then go jump into ice water. Fun for me, I say! I got there about 1/2 hour early, happy to find that dressing up is part of the fun. There were bikini's:



and condiments:

I secured my photo-worthy spot near the front early, and waited for the first team to jump. I was surprised when Team #1 turned out to be a bunch of little kids:

MM-hmmmm, all the sneaky adults taking up the rear: "You go first, and let us know how the water is..."

There were plenty more though, and every team's response to the water brought peals of laughter from the spectators.

More wimpy spectators, than brave plungers, I might add:

Here's a clip from one of the plunges:

We are SO going to do this next year! I've already started a mental list of my teammates: Melissa, Joey, and Ilaiy, and Mike, to start. I'm smart enough to know that hell would liken the temperatures of this lake before I could get Marcy to jump.

Wendy and Andrew and Reed and Davis and Max are on my team too, though they will have no idea. I'll just nonchalantly invite them to visit me, from Maryland, ignore their questions about why I'm packing the car with towels, and why we are standing in this line with people dressed like ketchup.

Heh heh hehhhhhh....don't tell them!

For more pix, see my smugmug Gallery: Polar Plunge Photos

There are also a few more movie clips on my YouTube account: Polar Plunge Video Clips

Friday, March 09, 2007


Last week I drove Brian and Lathrop back to Fort Benning, GA. We got a late start; 10:30 in the morning before we left this berg. At an average 85 mph, it's an 11 hour drive. A few rapid pit-stops and a 1-hour time difference let me dropping the boys off and was leaving the army base at midnight.

Speaking of Army bases, did you know they have THESE?

Tank Crossing Signs!
Do they just jump out in front of you, like deer?!!

Anyway, how is it that doing nothing but driving for 12 hours can make you look and feel like a trainwreck? By the time I got to my hotel, my muscles had atrophied, and I was moving like I was 110 years old. I was exhausted to the point of running into walls, and zonked out before my head hit the pillow.

Only to wake up and start all over again.

But there was no race home, on Tuesday. In fact, I decided, "I'm burning 2 precious vacation days...I might as well do something vacation-y on one of them."

I phoned Ilaiy, who I know is perpetually hooked up to the 'net. He got right to Google-mapping my coordinates and decided that Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was my best bet. A nice relaxing hike around a scenic mountain! Just the thing!

Relaxing, save one minor point: my fear of heights. I found the drive up to be dizzying; I was shaking when I got out of my car. There was a $15 fee to hike through the tourist attraction on Lookout Mountain, but it was worth it to delay the drive back down.

I coughed it up, only to end up sidling across *this* swinging bridge:

And here I thought my off-road trek would relax me. I was just short of hyperventilating when I got to the other side. Seriously, I had to sit down and catch my breath.

Relaxed just enough to face this: 1000-ton balanced rock. This thing gave me the heevie-jeevies too; a slight breeze might just have un-balanced it while I was underneath, yes? I scurried through this spot.

The waterfall was gorgeous, and I get more points for standing on a little lookout balcony to take this photograph. I focused, grabbed the railing, took the picture, grabbed the railing, lowered the camera, grabbed the railing...I did all but sit down and scoot back to safety.

Lover's Leap
(He's not worth it honey, he's been sleeping with someone else all along.)

Another view from a cool, mossy trail:

And a water mill:

And joy, o joy, Spring flowers line every path.

It was 2 hours of sunshine and daffodils, crocuses, violets, intermingled with breathtaking views, inside and outside of rock. I was refreshed, mentally and physically,when I decided to get back on I-24W, the 318-mile leg of the trip.

Short lived, though; here's a mere 3-second video on my way down:

3 seconds of this view still make my stomach flip; so much for hitting the highway in a relaxed state, eh?

It was still a grand stop, leaving me with a nice memory of warm sun, even as I pulled into my snow-covered driveway 8 hours later.

I got a taste of spring, a month ahead of time.

It was enough to hold me over.


Brian got on the plane to Kuwait this morning at 2 a.m. He's on his way.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Coming to Terms with Fear

Thanks to you all for your support of late: comments, emails, birthday wishes for the kid.

I want to get on here, and tell you that I'm doing just fine, am picking up the pieces and holding it together.

It's semi-true.

It's also true that it's taking every fiber of strength I can muster, every second of the day, to keep my head above water right now. I'm torn about sharing it with you; I don't want to suck out your souls from constant whining.



I feel a tad panicky at times.

I wrote, a week or so ago, of a few of my irrational fears. The entry came to mind as I try to come to grips with completely rational fears.

Folks have asked me, "got any fun plans this winter?" Yes. I plan on worrying.

And still others, "Any plans this year? Any vacations?"

Vacation? Vacation?! How could I possibly think about a vacation, I'll be so busy...worrying! Oh, that's not all: I'll be waiting.

Yes, that's my plan. I am going to fret, and wait, and fear, and worry, for 16-24 months, and buy bottles and bottles of Rogaine, for when my hair starts falling out.


Or maybe I'll get a grip on this fear, and it won't be as paralyzing as I think it is.

At this moment, my worries are based on speculation. Oh, I know they're justifiable, but wasn't it also justifiable for me to worry about my son's riding his bike in traffic? or his being killed or injured in an automobile accident when he first got his driver's license? Alcohol poisoning at a party? Breaking his back, diving?

How much energy can I invest into speculation and hypothetical situations? How many headaches? How much sleep can I lose? How many tears can I shed?

How is that constructive for me? For Brian? For everyone around me?

I know, oh, I know, what the possibilities are here. You'd be amazed at how many people feel a need make sure a soldier's mother knows everything that might happen to him: "Well, if he doesn't die, he could still lose a limb. Or worse." Really? Gosh, that had never crossed my mind, thank you for pointing that out. I liken it to folks that feel inclined to tick off, to a cancer patient, all of the people they know who died from the same thing.

I do not address that last paragraph to anyone that has shared their own heartache to me about this nasty war. Some of you have written to me your stories of your sons, brothers, friends, who have had heinous experiences there. You have my undivided attention. I will listen, no matter how it scares me; you and yours are in my prayers every single day. I love that you cared enough to share, I ache that you ache.

As I try to overcome my fears and heartaches here, I do not intend to run from the reality of this war. It would be an absolute impossibility for me.

I seek, merely,





and Peace.

Who of you, by worring, can add a single hour to his life? Luke 12:25

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


My son has had dozens of people cry on his shoulder in the last 4 days, as they hug him, and tell him to be safe, in Kuwait, and Baghdad.

It was my turn this afternoon.

I hope to God that this was the toughest day of my life.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

This Boy's Life

Brian did make it home for this weekend, after all. He has 4 days off, Saturday though Tuesday. We're so happy for every minute we get with him!

But guess what, I've had a bit of a conflict with him lately. A certain cell phone bill that's in my name hasn't been paid as promptly as I'd like it to be, and we need to figure something out for the upcoming months. Don't sweat the small stuff, I know, but it stands to be a huge expense over the next couple of years, if we don't freeze the account, which is also a possibility. At any rate, we need to get some things straightened out! I admit: I enlisted the help of his Dad: "hey, help me give the kid a nudge, will ya?"

Brian teased me last night, "Hey! Did you call "The Collection Agency" on me?!!"

I stood staring at him for a few minutes, and did the only thing I could do:

I mugged him. Yes, I ran over and got him in a headlock told him I'd have to show him who was boss. I wrestled him right off the couch, screaming a maternal battle-cry. His friends, fearful for their own lives, scattered and took cover. Brian pinned me fast enough though, and said "watch it! I'm a trained soldier! 3 seconds! I could kill you in 3 seconds!" I countered, "but you won't, you won't! You can't hurt a mom! I win, I win, I win!!!"

He admitted defeat, and I declared victory for Mom's worldwide.

I also decided Bush should bring home all of our sons, and send, instead, 30,000 pissed off mothers. We'd box any ears that need boxing, and no one would have the audacity to give us any lip. We'd march over there, demand that everyone play nice together. Anyone who doesn't will get sent to time out. For as long as it takes.

Ahhh, last minute jocularity.

I later asked Brian, "can you really kill someone in 3 seconds?" He told me, "yes." That, he has, himself, lost consciousness to this technique they were taught, in his hand-to-hand combat training. He said "I thought I was talking on my cell phone, and I came to, wondering where in the hell I was."

I know this isn't a game. My son is shipping out next week, and I'm still stunned that he's even a soldier. I don't know him as a soldier! I don't physically see him, as a soldier. When he's home, he's wearing Bob Marley t-shirts, and cutting up with his friends, and drinking Miller Lite. Except for the haircut, he's the same kid that left my house almost a year ago, heading to bootcamp. Isn't he?

He is, and he isn't. I'm surprised at how much I don't know about him, his life, any more. He's so damned strong now. And smart. He knows so much that I don't know. Stuff I can hardly imagine, or that I have a false idea of, in my mind. Part of that is that I know so little about the military in general. I've seen more Army bases on TV than I ever had in person. Last week I had Brian explain the hierarchy of regiments/battalions/companies/squads/platoons.

It's bizarre to me, to be so removed and understand so little about my own son's life. I will continue to ask him questions, hope for lots of letters, and learn through his photos and stories. A lot is explained to me by military veterans also, and I appreciate all the input I can get.

Here are a few pictures that Brian took at NTC, desert training at Fort Irwin, CA. They give me a bit more insight into his life.

He drives a tank. He got the tank-driving gig by chance: Another soldier went AWOL, and he filled the position.

Here's his view from the driver's seat:

This is Brian's friend, and as far as I'm concerned, "another one of my son's," Kyle Lathrop. He was here last week, when Brian was. Another smart kid, I enjoyed talking to him immensely. He's an artist also, and spent a few bucks on some good supplies at our local Art Coop. He worked on his drawings on the 12 hour ride back to GA on Monday.

Here he is holding a big honkin' machine gun.

Brian ran to duty without shaving one morning, and caught hell for it. In this picture, one of his buddies is helping him get the job done, from the confines of a tank. This photo was not staged; he really is getting a shave with a knife. In military lingo, that's "sharp honkin' knife."

A random view at dusk:

And a few of his buddies. Click to enlarge.

They're babies! Children! Our little boys.


They're men.


Our country's protectors.


I still like the idea of an Army of Pissed-Off Moms better.

Friday, March 02, 2007

He's 21 Today.



Happy 21st to Brian!

He's coming home tonight, perhaps for only 24 hours, before he heads back to Fort Benning. He will deploy to Kuwait next weekend. I am rattled and scared and proud and scared and mad and scared and sad and scared.

Enough about me though. Send him a shout out here. If you want his email address, email me at, and I'll forward it along.

Heart ya, Bri.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

More on CU Blogger Bash

I don't usually pay that much attention to my sitemeter; the world map is interesting, and the referrals link shows me what random searches turn up my blog. Funny that "Russian Oil Pulling," something I made fun of a year ago, brings the most random readers to my blog, followed by "Pier 1 Asian Spice Candles." Seems there are hundreds of people still looking for that discontinued scent.

So here's an interesting spike in my blog activity: February 20. 700 page views, as opposed to the average 283! Zowzers!

The last time I had a spike like that was when my blog was noted in the News Gazette. Interesting thing was that then my hits weren't a result of the NG Article at all, but from a local UI student with a crazy-popular blog. He referred to the NG article, and linked to mine. I had coat-tail hits.

What in the heckity heck made me so suddenly popular last Tuesday morning, then?

Ahhhhhhhhhh, Six degrees of the CU Bloggers. Everyone that was at the Blogger Bash wrote about it, and those that read theirs read mine.

Hence, Whh-heeeeee, an off-the-charts site meter reading, for me, a lowly community blogger.

Rubbin' elbows.


Thanks, you CU Bloggers! You've got the Midas touch!