Monthly Archives: June 2007

The Red Tent

I finally finished The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.

I would not have said I loved it until I read the final pages but it was then that I realized it had a piece of my literary heart.

The themes of memories, healing, motherhood, the sacredness of being a woman and the world only we are privy to — perfectly woven in this tale which takes considerable license with the biblical account.

From the Prologue:

lost to each other for so long.
My name means nothing to you. My memory is dust.
This is not your fault, or mine. The chain connecting mother to
daughter was broken and the word passed to the keeping of men,
who had no way of knowing.

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Harper's Ferry WVA

2002: Kevin is off doing pre-war stuff in the U.A.E. and I’m alone. With the hostages. So we take off from Oklahoma City and head up to see family in Missouri. Then Chicago just for the fun of it. Stop off in Michigan to see friends (we lived there in residency) and then down to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.

We were going to Washington, D.C., but the sniper hit right at that time and it just didn’t seem as prudent as it did back in OKC.

Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. They were celebrating something about the election of 1860 or the Lincoln/Douglas debates. I forget now.

At the gate, the lady asked, “You do know there’s a sniper loose, right?”

I said, “Here? Now?”

“Oh no, not here, now. There. In D.C.”

“Oh. In that case we’ll just walk real fast. We drove a long way not to stop in. Thanks for the warning.”

I know you can’t tell it, but it’s sort of raining in these photos. And while I am just about all girl, I do not melt in the rain. I rarely carry an umbrella. It’s important for me to point these things out because I have friends and not a few family members who think just because I don’t camp, I must have no redeeming value whatsoever. Well, see? I play in the rain. (I do, however, pop a trash bag over the little one there. Who needs rain coats when you have Hefty?)


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What Stress?

I was doing a bit of research on the stress of moving house, thinking “It’s not really so bad.” But this is what I didn’t need:

Doctors have researched and found there is a breast cancer personality?!?

Actually, how they put it is: “…well-documented and widely accepted fact that personality, stress, and a variety of external factors can predispose to … cancer.” Huh.

Nice. I’ve only not been worried about this since my mother died of breast cancer at the age of 35 and I’m 35 for lessee… 8 more days.

“Our own research, which has concentrated primarily on women with breast cancer, tends to confirm the existence of a cancer-prone personality.”

1. Time Consciousness: “Hard driving” “Less casual about appointments.” “Type A.”

These are BAD things? I mean, who wants to be “casual about appointments?” I time everything. Standing in line at the post office? Yep. How long do the kids take to get into the car after I yell “Let’s GO.” I am obviously riddled with tumors.

2. Personal Drive: “Less ambitious” and “Less competitive.”

Hm. Is wanting to be in the Senate since age 17 really ambitious or merely delusional? Less competitive? Definitely. I forfeit anything I know I can’t win.

3. Satisfaction/Contentedness: They do one thing at a time and they do it slower.

I’m not sure I want to do any introspection on this. I mean, seriously, I’ve got movers here and can’t give it the time it deserves.

4. Interpersonal Relationships: Less interests outside their home and work environments.

I have all kinds of interests outside my home. I meet ALL my online friends outside my home. At least once, maybe twice a year, we get together.

“Furthermore, the women with breast cancer reported significantly more adverse life-events in the two years preceding their diagnosis.”

Well there you go. In the last two years I have had no adverse life-events. No one died. We just made the transition from six years in the Air Force to civilian, moved from Japan to America and then from Northwest to the Midwest. ‘S’all good.

The other risk factors were poor coping skills with life events. I do not have poor coping skills.

“…bottle up emotions, turn inward, and not seek help or outlet for their feelings…”

Come. On. What is internet chat for if not to seek help and vent your feelings? Why does anyone have cancer anymore?

I think I’m in the clear, however it is entirely possible that I’ll be dead within the year.

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Five days. Is that a record?

Surely not. Surely other teen-aged daughters have wrecked their cars in less time.

The stated circumstances:

Speed limit.

Descending mountain.

Hairpin turn.



And someone thinks we should add that someone told the children that if you hit a deer you will total the car. So teen-aged daughter hit the ditch.

Yeah, she’s okay. No harm done. The car wasn’t drive-able home. And did I mention that I leave next week for a cross-country move and that vehicle was needed?

I’m crying and using Navy Words™ on the inside.

Shebang, a word meaning “any matter of present concern; thing; business” or is the “#!” characters in the first two columns of the first line of a UNIX script file. Guess which way I’m using it.

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The house isn’t quite empty, but it is boxed up. We have furniture and boxes. And pillows. Must mention the pillows.

I have been leisurely this morning since most of what I can do is done, at least until the house is completely empty. The kids have not been leisurely. They’ve been bored — so they amuse themselves with a game of hide-and-seek with one smallish twist.

I round the corner into my bedroom and scream for all I’m worth. My 5’11” son attacked me and pounded a pillow upon my head, upon which my sunglasses were perched — for all he was worth.

So that explains the kids’ screams this morning.

What explains the screams yesterday was the Internet. Or rather, the lack thereof.

I’m sitting at my dining room table, surrounded by junk that is so precious the movers can’t pack it, (like dry cereal, bills, and Easter candy) and ordering up new phone service, electricity, water, for the new house. Then, just then, the ‘net fades to black. This is not good. Pandemonium ensues. Can you imagine us here for the next few days without Internet? Frankly, neither could I.

This situation necessitated the opening of boxes because those movers are fast. In no time we have found the router, splitter, and lastly, the modem. And we’re back. Some days I sit amazed at the myriad bullets I manage to dodge.

I now realize how truly, utterly useless my paralyzing worry was the past 90 days. Because it accomplished little-to-nothing. I should have had the modem marked. I should have realized I might want to save out more kitchen items than paper plates, plastic cutlery and cups. But that’s all I saved out. Which, under normal circumstances would have been fine. I like to eat out.

But I have a neurosis. I only like to eat out when there’s a choice. If I have no choice and should eat out, I get frantic with the thought of not finishing the mayo, strawberry jam, bread, crackers, stuffed olives and raw eggs in the fridge. I decide to cook. I try to make pancakes — without a bowl or spatula. We buy both. The plastic fork stands in as whisk. Yes, I could have saved all of these items out, had I been thinking, but I haven’t been thinking for months on end.

Perfect time to start cooking.

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I Loveth You

For as long as I can remember, I have spoken these words to my children:

I loveth you.

Tonight, as my beautiful sixteen year old daughter took the keys from my hand and prepared to walk alone out the door for the first time in her life, she was first: I loveth you.

Decisively — “I’ll call you when I get there,” as I thought, “Wasn’t I supposed to request that?” Then a bit nervously, “Oh. I forgot my train of thought.”

I think you were going to say good-bye. And I was going to pray this isn’t the last time I ever see you.

Everyone thinks things like this. We say them.

She laughed. “It’s not. I’ll see you tonight. I know who has the right-of-way, I’ll drive slow, and I’ll call when I’m leaving.”

She does not, emphatically does not, know who has the right-of-way.

Just today, I shrieked loudly enough to strain the cords, “Good God Almighty, you almost killed us!” when she had the right-of-way and yet insisted on waving on those cars without the elusive right-of-way. The ensuing creep forward / brake dance was not without frustration — writ large on the truck lady’s face to our left.

That was this morning. This afternoon she passed her written driving exam; the last step to freedom. That child missed none on the test. (Kevin later said “She is a serious underachiever.” Capable, yet largely unmotivated, we muse.)

As she drove us home, we laugh. Humor is a huge part of our relationship. She teased me about P.G. Wodehouse’s “Right Ho, Jeeves!” driving me to laughter at the DMV. I teased her about listening to Big and Rich with me.

“No, I am not listening to Big and Rich. Their last song used the word ‘ass’ over and over. How can one song have the word ‘ass’ in it so many times? Some day, that is going to come out of my mouth and I am going to be so embarrassed. I have never cursed you know.”

I know. And if it does come out, you just have to look appropriately shocked and your hand must fly to your mouth. That’s how it’s done.

“Yours doesn’t. You don’t even look appropriately shocked. You always look like you mean it. And might continue.”

She’s a beautiful daughter. Fiery yet fairly responsible. Stubborn yet somewhat teachable. Devoted to her family. Driving our town alone tonight.


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My Son Is Jim Carrey

Tonight we are driving in the extended cab F-250, nice room yet still a bit crowded for six.

Finally, I let loose with “Stop whining and complaining.” Pause. I know they’re thinking, “I’m not whining and complaining.” I add, “If you’re not whining and complaining then Stop. Talking.”

Har, they say.

They live for these moments. Like when I told them they were going through too much bottled water: “Stop drinking so much water.” Or when the DVR was rapidly filling and I mentioned, “You guys must watch more TV.”

Back to the truck. The chatter continues. Dad bellows and son replies:

Dad: Stop fighting!

We’re not fighting. We’re arguing.

Dad: Do. Not. Quibble.

Son, with a dangerous grin: I’m not quibbling; I’m disagreeing.

Dad can no longer keep a straight face. We love these hostages.

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Driving With The Daughter

Kate is driving. Finally, she’s gotten as good as a sixteen year old can/should be. The rest is just practice and experience (said the woman who just scraped the side of someone’s truck while attempting to parallel park…)

So what follows are moments with my sixteen year old:

Kate: Oh, wow, he cut in and there was no room. He shouldn’t have done that.

No, he shouldn’t have. Happens all the time. Gotta watch out for stupid people.

Kate: I mean, what if that car breaks?

Breaks? What kind of breaks? Like, breaks down? Runs out of gas? That’s the weirdest neurosis I’ve ever heard of. No one worries if the car in front of you on the highway is gonna break!

Kate: Mom. Brakes. I mean, applies the brake.

Oh. Yeah. That could happen.

Kate has driven us down a mountain from dance lessons (cha-cha, mi amigos), probably for 7 miles. Laughing, talking, enjoying life.

Kate: What’s that ticking sound?

No idea.

We drive another couple of miles.

Kate: What IS that sound?

It’s a bomb. No, no, small mice in the engine spinning… No. It’s a bomb.

We laugh. We cry. We smell burning rubber.

Pull over.

Err: The Emergency Brake.

(Calling husband): Can you drive a car that smells like this? 1


1 “Sure, but you’re not ever driving my car again.”

(Insert detailed rant on how the brakes were recently all replaced. And he doesn’t care that it’s state law — yeah, really — to use the emergency brake, if either of us ever applies it again…)

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Why Mom

ALL day yesterday I had to listen to “Why, Mom?!?” and “But Mom….” I’m ready to harm the little hostages.

But I have to admit that I fully cracked up and made no effort to contain it when my three daughters were in the kitchen and it went something like this:

Kate: Take this bag downstairs for Mom.

Gwyn (7): No. You do it.

Kate: I’m busy; you’re going. You do it.

Gwyn: No. You’re lazy.

Kate: I am up here doing all the dishes and I’m lazy?!? You think you don’t have to do a blessed thing you little princess, now take this down to MOM. Moooooommmm!!!

Mom: Gwyn get that freakin’ bag and take it down the stairs. You’ve got nothing else to do.

Gwyn: You told her to; I don’t want to. She’s always bossin’ me.

Cori meanwhile gets the bag and takes it downstairs unbeknownst to me. Lovely middle daughter, she.

Mom: Get. The. Bag. Gwyn.

Gwyn: But Moooommmm, I refuse tooooo…..

I can’t even type it without laughing. I know, you guys can’t imagine the scene. It just sounds patently offensive. But it was so whiny and pitiful and crazy funny.

Be glad the hostages are mine.

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Firm It Up

I really am being productive, really I am. Yesterday, just blazing through the house (okay, the upstairs) getting ready for the move.

But this morning, my body is talkin’ to me and I want to share so you, too, can consider whether 58 minutes of lower body torture is for you.

I’ve had, oh, I guess since 2005, this nice workout entitled Firm It Up from the Slim Series line. One of my absolute favorites; I highly recommend it. Very intense lower-body workout. I also read online that Firm it Up was featured on Fox’s The Swan reality show when Debbie was a trainer/judge.

Check out some reviews at Video Fitness and here.

As one reviewer writes:

This is the 2nd time I have laughed out loud during a workout.

This series has a certain je ne sais quoi that is difficult to describe, other than the humor factor and the impressive (and deceiving) difficulty level.

It really does make you laugh when, during the interminable pelvic tilts, Debbie says, “A little tighter,” and Troy, in the background, says:

It cain’t get no tighter!

Workout breakdown here.

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