Thursday, November 29, 2012

Doubting Thomas

While driving home from work today, I checked out which Christmas carol was playing on the All-Christmas-Songs-All-The-Time-We-Don’t-Care-That-It’s-Only-November station. It was “Silent Night” and I was reminded of some lyrics I’ve gotten wrong since I was a little girl: “ ‘Round yon Virgin Mother and child”. I always thought that line was calling the Virgin Mary fat, as in round (not ‘round). Seriously, cut her some slack! She just gave birth, and in a BARN! Growing up Catholic posed a problem for your basic inquisitive child (me). We were taught stories, doctrine, rules, etc. and were expected not to ask questions. I believe the objective is called Blind Faith. My mother called me a Doubting Thomas more than once. I really had a hard time ignoring questions and just carrying on. In fact, ask anyone who knows me... I NEVER seem to run out of questions. So the whole Virgin birth in the Christmas story kind of threw me. Well, actually, as a child I was OK with it because I had no idea what a virgin was. I got the impression that it was something really special and out-of-the ordinary. Why else would Mary be the only one known by that title? Nobody ever explained it to us. How could they without mentioning S-E-X? Joseph always seemed like a sad, lonely little man. Here he was with his fiance who tells him she is pregnant, but still a virgin. Say what? Somehow he went along with this... a truly trusting soul... after an angel appeared to him. OK here I go again, getting all Doubting Thomasy again. I just can’t wrap my head around this part of the story. I guess it’s good I wasn’t ‘round yon virgin way back then. I probably would have been stoned for mouthing off, or asking too many questions. I think I’ll stay away from the Christmas radio station. Don’t get me started on the Little Drummer Boy. That kid needs a time out, and his drum sticks fed to a goat. Parumpapumpum me not.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Poltergeists & Gremlins

I was doing last minute cleaning in the basement the night before we moved into our house 19 years ago. My son’s bedroom smelled really weird. I got upset because Ben was only 7 years old and would be sleeping downstairs alone. By daylight the next day, the house seemed less creepy and we moved in without incident. Over the next few years, Ben had some weird experiences getting locked inside things. I called home from work one night to find that my husband was in the process of bashing down the bathroom door. It had locked with Ben inside, and he couldn’t get the door open. After that night, Ben got locked inside a locker during a Cub Scout function at a community center. Another day, he got locked in the bathroom at a Starbucks. Writing about it now, these occurrences seem pretty strange. At the time, though, we thought they were kind of amusing (I doubt Ben was amused). The last time this happened, Ben got locked in his bedroom. We took the doorknob off, but the tongue part was stuck inside the doorjamb. It was weird to see and talk to Ben through the doorknob hole and still not be able to open the door. Rick had to break yet another door to rescue Ben. My sister said maybe a playful spirit was at work, which only served to creep Ben out. It would be years before he would sleep in his room. Nowadays, the only inexplicable occurrences in our house involve missing accessories. I’m convinced I have a jewelry gremlin who has recently graduated to swiping my eye glasses. It eventually releases my missing stuff, and fortunately has never locked me in a room. Maybe all those years ago Ben should have offered up a bracelet or earrings. Who knows? It might have saved us a couple of doors.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

I'm Not Gaga

I was standing at the counter of my mechanic’s shop the other day. A song was playing on the radio, and then it hit me... I am SO glad I’m not Lady Gaga. Seriously, it must be exhausting being her. Can she ever let her hair down and just chill with her bad self? I seriously doubt it. I’ll bet it’s been years since she woke up on a Saturday morning and decided to hang out in her sweats, or dig in the garden. She always has to be “On”. I can’t imagine constantly having to outdo my own last outfit or creation. When she walks with her entourage, she is in her weird celebrity persona. A lot of the time, she is holding something - glass, wires, some kind of sculpture. Man, I’m getting tired just writing about it. Unlike most people, I don’t think I’ve ever actually wanted to be famous. Rich? Oh ya, I could totally handle that (or would love to try). I can’t imagine having fans, or paparazzi following my every move. Guys hiding in the bushes, telephoto lenses focused on me. Might as well be an animal in the zoo. Maybe that’s why I have always been bothered by zoos. The animals have no privacy, and are constantly on display. I was totally amused the first time I witnessed monkeys at the zoo throwing pooh at people. The monkeys were the ones who were totally in control. They had the crowd in the palms of their hairy little hands. I realized that day who the real dumb animals at the zoo were. The monkeys were the rock stars, and seemed to enjoy it. So, maybe I’m an anomaly. You all can go out and be as famous as you want. I’ll stay behind the scenes and watch your money... in my sweats.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Gobble Gobble

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and I’m frantically trying to get the smell of yesterday’s turkey dinner out of my house. It’s a good smell at dinner time, but in the morning? Not so much. I’m not a big fan of turkey, or any meat for that matter. I don’t crave it. If I could, I would live on pastries and vanilla lattes. I would also weigh 500 pounds and be unable to get off my couch. Every Thanksgiving, I get out my cookbooks and tried-and-true recipes. None of the process seems familiar. I struggle every year to complete an edible thousand course meal in a timely manner. I still haven’t figured out how to get so many items cooked at different temperatures using one oven. Do the math... it doesn’t add up. The pressure on me is enormous, and I’m not sure why. It’s not like the future of the free world rests on my culinary skills (even though that’s what it feels like). So far, nobody has died after eating at my table. Last night’s dinner turned out fine. I know I will do the same thing next year, with the same level of angst. I have a friend who never eats turkey on Thursdays. I’m not sure why but I find it interesting. Earlier in the week I saw a TV interview with a turkey farmer. There was a huge building with what seemed like miles and miles of turkeys milling around inside. All the turkeys were white and ugly as hell. They looked nothing like the black and gray ones with red heads that you think of when someone says “turkey”. Does this mean the white, plain turkeys at the farm were females? I know little about birds, but I believe the females are usually plain while the males are the fancy ones. Take peacocks, for instance. They are male and flamboyant. The peahens are plain Janes and probably never got asked to dance at high school sock hops. Roosters have that awesome red comb and strut and crow all over the place. Hens just hang out back in the henhouse, blending into the background. Maybe next year I will opt for an all pastry Thanksgiving feast, and give the turkeys a break. At least one turkey girl could go on to live another homely day. It would be my good deed for the holiday season... delicious too!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Please Pass The Fire Extinguisher

When I got married, I knew how to cook one item - cheese cake. Back in high school, I had stumbled across the recipe during Home Economics. Eight years later, my culinary repertoire hadn’t grown much larger. Our first Thanksgiving dinner as a married couple went amazingly well. Everything was tasty, and nobody got food poisoning. I call that a booming success. Or maybe it was beginner’s luck, due to the fact that the next Thanksgiving dinner was a disaster. The night before this second Thanksgiving, I decided to clean my oven. Go figure. The next day, the cooking marathon was on. At some point, I needed to check on my homemade pumpkin pie. I pulled the oven rack out and let it go for a second. Apparently, I had not put the rack back in correctly after cleaning my oven. When I let go of the rack, it tilted, and my partially-cooked pumpkin pie went careening south. The pie hit the oven door, the contents flew out and went splat across my kitchen. It was a special moment. I believe my primal scream caused Rick to think I was being disemboweled. A short time after we cleaned up the mess, I detected a wonderful campfire smell wafting in from the kitchen. On closer inspection, I discovered the source of the lovely odor - My sweet potato and marshmallow casserole was on fire in the toaster oven. Too bad there weren’t still blobs of pie to dowse the flames. I can’t remember what the rest of the dinner tasted like. I do know we were forced out into the neighborhood to forage for dessert. We found a seedy little convenience store with bars on the door, and bought ice cream sandwiches. Seriously...turkey and ice cream sandwiches. I’ve always wondered why I had never noticed that store before, or why it was open on a holiday. Possibly a Thanksgiving miracle? Actually, I think the successful dinner from the year before was the Thanksgiving miracle. The disastrous second year Thanksgiving was saved by the magic Ice Cream Sandwich Fairy. Nothing else could explain it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Best In Show

Every Thanksgiving I watch the National Dog Show while I’m working on dinner. A few years ago, the dumbass Standard Poodle won Best In Show. It was a white male with an enormous ‘fro, whose body had been shaved except for a bunch of pom poms festooning his butt, tail and legs. I’m surprised he could haul himself out of his kennel every day to face hours of grooming, shaving, and extreme emasculation. He was probably depressed, and would most likely opt for rolling in something disgusting rather than winning another trophy. It seemed to me that this dog won the big prize due to his hairdo. That’s the only explanation I could come up with, and I wanted to give the judge a sharp rap on the nose with a rolled up newspaper. One question that always pops into my brain while watching the dogs run with their trainers... Why are the female trainers generally chunky girls? You’d think all the running around would cause them to shed a pound or two. Does that job not attract any slender types? Perhaps the outfits they wear with their sensible shoes make them appear much dowdier than they really are. There’s probably a dress code, which brings up another question... Did an attractive female trainer in stiletto heels take a header and cause the demise of fashion at the dog shows? Maybe nobody wants the dogs to be outshined by the people leading them. Imagine a bleached blonde with big fake boobs running around the stage. I doubt anyone would notice whether she was leading a dog or pulling a wagon full of manure. I’ve always thought beauty pageants were the human equivalent of dog shows, minus the genital squeeze. Walking down the runway in an evening gown is pretty much the same as dog show contestants trotting in front of the judge. Thankfully, they don’t make the dogs bark their formula for world peace or howl an aria from La Boheme. This year I will really try not to be a hater if the poodle wins. Also, I will be thankful I’m not running with the dogs in front of millions of critical people (like me).

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hey Hey You You Get Off Of My Bus

I saw something thrilling today. As I sat at a stop light, I noticed a Metro bus with lots of writing on it. The graphics were announcing the “new Metro” with new rules. Listed among the newness was something like “Pay on entering. Exit at the rear”. Ooohhh, I like the sound of that! I rarely ride on Metro, and am apprehensive when I do because I got yelled at the first time I rode a Seattle bus. Twenty-two years ago when we first moved here, I took my kids downtown on the bus. I put my money in the slot as we got on the bus, and was scolded by the driver. I didn’t know it, but the direction the bus was going determined whether you paid when you got on or paid when you got off. Huh??? What kind of goofy system was THAT? Being chastised loudly by the driver was embarrassing, even though some of the other riders seemed a little off. (I’m talking about you, dirty-man-with-sacks-full-of-soft drink-cans-having-a-loud-conversation-with-yourself-or-possibly-the-cans). I lived in San Francisco for 8 years and rode the bus quite a bit. Now THAT was a trip, and not in a good way. Electric buses were jerky and not fun for someone (me) who suffered from motion sickness. I learned the hard way what an express bus was on the first day of a new job. I dinged the bell to get off at my stop, but the bus accelerated and zoomed past it. I crazily rang the bell even more and yelled “Hey STOP!!!”. Finally somebody sighed and told me I was on an express bus, which meant the bus made fewer stops. I got off at the first opportunity, and had to run to make it to my new job on time. Out of breath and sweaty is not the way to greet a new employer. These days it’s my son who is the bus rider in the family. I’m sure he does just fine, and has probably not paid the wrong way and gotten yelled at. Who knows? By the time he has kids there may be a new set of rules... for flying buses. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hasta La Vista, Twinkies

The world is a little sadder today, and possibly a little skinnier. Hostess is closing its doors. Good-bye to Twinkies, Ho Ho’s, Ding Dongs, Cupcakes, Zingers and all the other yummy but unhealthy treats. I won’t cry over the demise of Snowballs. I think they are weird and rubbery, and I’m not a fan of coconut. But the rest will be missed. I eat a Twinkie about every three years. Anything that tastes so good must be so bad. In 1979, Dan White was convicted of assassinating San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. As proof that he was depressed when he committed the crime, his defense team pointed out that he was eating a lot of junk food. The jury decided White had diminished mental capacity and convicted him only of voluntary manslaughter. This became known as the Twinkie Defense. I was always sorry such a fine snack food was connected to such a heinous crime. It wasn’t the Twinkie’s fault... really. So what happens next? My coworkers ran out to Safeway today to snap up whatever Hostess products they could find. They said the treats were flying off the shelves. I was given a Zinger from their newly acquired stash, and OMG...ecstasy! I threw my head back, and savored every morsel. My eyes may have rolled back in my head. I squelched a tiny moan, being at work and all. Then I asked for a cigarette. Just kidding, but man... my mouth is watering again just thinking about it. Someone read the expiration date on one of the boxes - December 2313. Three hundred and one years... that’s some shelf life. I wonder if the saying about having a “snowball’s chance in Hell” was referring to the Hostess kind of Snowball. Makes sense to me. It’s the perfect snack for eternal damnation. I salute you, Twinkies and Zingers, for all the sugary goodness (and badness) you gave me throughout the years. I will mourn your passing, sort of.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Life As A Spy

I was totally into the life of a spy during the “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” craze of the 1960s. I was glued to the TV on Friday nights. My mother realized this, and smartly used my obsession as leverage when my sister and I misbehaved. This was before “time out” was invented. If we were punished by having to miss an episode of our favorite spy show, Mickey and I had better behave when the reruns came around. Mick and every other female on the planet, had a crush on Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum). I had a pity crush on Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn), so he wouldn’t feel left out. We got some spy gear for Christmas. Mickey got a really cool fake camera that magically turned into a gun. I got a fake transistor radio that had a tiny gun inside. It shot little plastic bullets. This was also in the time before toy safety was invented. The only time I remember actually playing with our spy toys was when our house was getting a new roof. Our neighbors across the street loved nothing better than to watch our house. They had a panoramic view of the entire Salt Lake valley from the back of their house. They preferred, instead, to park themselves at the kitchen window and watch for any movement at our house. During the roof construction, the nosey neighbors finally got to me. I decided to stage a murder for their viewing pleasure. I took Mickey’s spy gun and shoved it into view from behind our curtains. Then I stuck Mickey’s head through the curtains, with my hands around her neck. Mickey dramatically landed on the floor, with her tongue hanging out of her mouth. We thought we were ever so clever. Mrs. Nosey Neighbor did not think so. She called my mother and complained about our antics. There was no shame in her game. I still love a good murder mystery. Rick thinks I am obsessed with watching crime shows. Little does he know it’s just the spy in me.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Bizarro World

I’m pretty sure it’s not a full moon tonight, but I have seen some mighty strange things today. The people who dance to the beat of a different drummer seem to be out in full force. Here is a sampling of what I mean:

- I saw a lady coming out of a local neighborhood market this morning. She was wearing her slippers, nightgown, and a silky cream-colored bathrobe. It was about 40 degrees outside. If you’re going to shop in your jammies, at least be weather appropriate. I think flannel would be more suited to the cold.

- A woman ran past me. She was dressed from head to toe in yellow-green spandex. Only her face and hands showed. She looked like a chartreuse sperm. 

- I drove past a woman who was standing near the street. Some kind of small fireworks or sparkler activity was going on in front of her. She had her arms raised above her head and was jumping up and down. The big election was 5 days ago. Perhaps this was a delayed reaction. 

- My daughter saw a man riding his bicycle. He was dressed entirely in bike gear. He was also wearing a yellow tutu. Awesome! Last time I wore a yellow tutu, I was 8 and in my first ballet recital. I was a bumble bee, with yellow wings and pipe-cleaner feelers. I still yearn to wear a tutu, but suspect I’d now need a four-four. I would dress my kids in them if they were still little. Yes, even my son. That’s how much I love tutus. Maybe Bike Guy was on his way to some sort of dance recital.

Party on, all you interesting rule-breaking free spirits. I envy you.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Annoyance On Board

I was driving behind a car today and noticed something that has bugged me for years. Sitting in the rear window of the car up ahead was a Kleenex box. So, let’s see... You’re driving along, all by yourself, when you feel a major sneeze coming on. What do you do? You’re totally prepared. You have a bigass Kleenex box sitting right there in your back window. Unfortunately, there’s at least a mile between your nose and those tissues. Do you pull over to the curb and hurl yourself into the back seat before the sneeze happens? Or do you let ‘er rip and clean up when you get to your destination? This would be akin to placing your toilet paper across the bathroom, perhaps on top of the shower curtain rod. I’m also highly annoyed by drivers who fill their rear car windows with cutesy stuffed animals. Seriously, if you are old enough to drive, you are old enough to leave the toys at home. I rarely see these critters in cars occupied by actual children. What I do see that shocks me are the “Baby On Board” signs. I thought those went away with the 1980’s. Not that babies aren’t riding in cars anymore, but I just don’t see the need to announce it. Like the only thing stopping me from ramming your car is because you have a baby??? I tend to try NOT to crash into other cars at all times. When I was still living in Utah some 20 years ago, the “Baby On Board” signs were prolific. Seriously, who there didn’t have a baby on board??? These signs bothered my sister so much that she wrote a letter to the editor of the Salt Lake Tribune. In it, she wondered if she was supposed to throw formula and diapers through the car windows bearing these signs. People’s cars are their mobile personae. Some feel the need to share their innermost thoughts and beliefs on their windows and bumpers. My car bumpers are naked. In my little domain-on-wheels I can be annoyed at other drivers to my heart’s content. I don’t flip people off or honk my horn. Good thing, though, my thoughts aren’t posted on my bumpers.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Permanent Record

I read a story in the news today about a Catholic nun, Sister Marie Thornton, who was arrested for embezzlement. Sister Susie, as she is known, was a finance officer of a Catholic college and had embezzled $1.2M over ten years... to fund her gambling addiction. OK, I must be a big jerk because this story kind of thrilled me. I was transported back to my grade school years, where most of my nun interaction occurred. Nuns for the most part were scary, omnipotent, and not big kidders. I was no juvenile delinquent by any means, but I spent a good bit of time standing in the corner (the 1960’s version of Time Out) for “talking to my neighbor”. Or maybe I just made smartass comments to myself and got caught. Whatever. The nuns intimidated me terribly, especially when they told me whatever I had just done would GO ON MY PERMANENT RECORD. Yikes! I have yet to see this record and don’t know where it is stored. I wonder if these records have been modernized and are now kept in cyberspace somewhere. This is why I sort of chuckled at the downfall of Sister Susie of the Craps Table. Finally... a nun with a bad thing to go on HER permanent record! When I was in first grade, we thought it was great fun at recess to race to open the convent door for the nuns. I assume we had also figured out the benefit of earning brownie points. One day, as I had my eye on the prize (the convent door), I didn’t notice a girl bending over while playing hop scotch. I sailed over her head and landed on my face, almost knocking out my only permanent tooth. One of the nuns took me inside the convent to clean me up. I don’t think I noticed the pain or the fact that my lip was swollen as big as a cantaloupe. I was standing in the nun’s kitchen... a real, honest to God kitchen. I guess I expected it to be a cave with bones laying around and bats hanging from the ceiling. I assumed I was the only child to go inside and emerge alive. It was glorious! I felt like I got a bit of sympathy, and would maybe get a pass next time the discussion of my Permanent Record came up. Perhaps Sister Susie should try taking a header in jail. It worked for me.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Out walking my dogs one day, I was wrestling as usual to keep control. Cosmo and Lucy were pulling hard toward an alluring smell off to the west, while Stella was dragging me north to Canada. I suddenly had a flash of the old Tarzan movies from the 1930's and 1940's. There was always a scene of an unfortunate native, usually some poor safari luggage carrier, being tortured. The particular technique my dogs reminded me of was where two extremely tall trees were bent down to the ground. The guy's arms were tied to the trees, and the ropes were cut, presumably tearing him in half. It was horrific, and I used to worry about something similar happening to me. Not too many crazed jungle natives roamed the suburbs of Salt Lake City, but you never know. I definitely crossed the African jungle off any future travel itinerary. These old Tarzan movies often played on Saturday afternoon TV. Tarzan, Jane, and Boy swinging through the trees on vines fascinated me. How cool was that? If I could do that, I would never walk on the ground. How did the whole vine system work? I used to watch to see if Tarzan hooked the vines when he landed where he wanted. He did not. Perhaps vine wrangling was part of chimpanzee Cheetah's job description. So, am I the only one who wonders why American actors in the 1930's had faux British accents? When Jane said "Tarzan", it came out "Tahzin". She said "dahling" a lot, too. Tarzan, on the other hand, was a dude raised by apes. He basically had one word, "Ungawa", which meant everything from "Yo, elephant, come here and give me a ride" to "OMG, that really hurt! Look what I stepped on!" At least he didn't pronounce it "Ungahwa, dahling". Since "Ungawa" worked so well on elephants, maybe I should try it out on my dogs. I doubt they speak Tahzin, but it's worth a try. "Ungawa, to the coffee shop!"